Pedaling for Peace

On April 15, 2012 I started riding my bicycle cross-country from Jacksonville, Florida in voluntary support of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF) and the work of author and Peace Leadership Director for the NAPF, Paul K. Chappell. By July 4th, I had covered over 1300 miles to just west of Luling, Texas where a major mechanical failure brought this first stage of my cross-country journey to an end. After storing my bicycle and trailer with my aunt and uncle in Weatherford, Texas, I flew from Dallas to Santa Barbara, California to attend the NAPF First Annual Peace Leadership Summer Workshop. I then lived and worked in Santa Barbara for several more months before I returned to Jacksonville and sold off the rest of my possessions that I could to help fund a continuation of my journey. Starting June 8, 2013 and ending August 9, 2013, I rode from Weatherford, through 400 miles of the central Texas hill country, including Austin, Texas, back to Luling. It was at this point that a friend of mine invited me to work for a brief period in Pennsylvania before flying me back to Santa Barbara where I continued volunteering for the NAPF as well as for the Santa Barbara Bike Coalition. As of August 9th, 2014 I began"Stage III" of my cross-country adventure, this time heading south from Santa Barbara to San Diego and then east to El Paso, TX. It was there that illness, winter weather, and diminishing resources brought that leg of my journey to an end. After staying with another friend in Columbus, GA for several months, I moved "back home" to Kentucky to stay with my dad for a while and build a better "resource base" for future endeavors including review and further tracking and primitive survival skills training at Tom Brown, Jr's Tracker School , and a possible longer tour of the east coast, northern tier, and north west coast back down to Santa Barbara, CA.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Journey Continues

I am grateful to share that with some assistance from my Safford, AZ host, Mons Larson, I was able to properly update my iPad without losing all of my data (including photos)! At some point, I feel I need to sort through and reduce the number of photos I have stored so that I can upload more to iCloud, but for now, it's more or less back to "business as usual". ("Usual" meaning I still have to jump through some hoops to get photos added to these posts, but that is what it is!)

In addition to assisting me with my iPad update, Mons also took me up on my offer to work for him at the new Ace Hardward store he has been helping to open in the nearby copper mining town of Morenci, AZ. Mons has been the computer network and inventory management technician for the Safford Ace Hardware store for over 20 years. I found that for a lot of technicians out there who think they know what they're doing, Mons really impressed me as someone who actually knows what he's doing! For the first time in a long time he put my Navy Electronics Training (and capacity for attention to detail) to use - requesting that I add terminating clips to the phone and ethernet cables that had already been run throughout the store by the building contractors. Mons taught me how to properly install and test my terminations. With a bunch of cables to work on, I soon had a system in place that optomized my efficiency. Every "Pass[ing]" result was a bit of a thrill! Consequently, my 17 hours of work (including some much needed cleaning of the office spaces) actually turned out to be a lot of fun - fun that I got paid for! The $13.50 I had at the end of my last post was increased significantly, was good timing given the (relative) plethora of stores in Safford and nearby Thatcher where I could shop in order to re-stock my food supplies and even buy some spare tubes for my bike.

This trend of working to raise more money for my trip has continued to my next destination 35 miles southeast on HWY 70 - Duncan, AZ and the Simpson Hotel Bed and Breakfast run by Deborah Mendelsohn and Clayton Jarvis.

I arrived in the late afteroon and was directed to a small, mint green travel trailer where I would be sleeping and storing my gear while in Duncan. As Deborah had warned me, I would be right next to the roosters so I should be prepared for early morning crowing (which, except for one particularly cold morning, has generally been around 4:30 am).

Given my sensitivity to light and the absence of curtains on the trailer's many windows, I got creative with hanging articles of clothing and rain gear over the windows the first night. However, the next morning at breakfast, I asked Deborah if she had a sewing machine and offered to make curtains. Although she did not have a machine at the time, there was one available. It was retrieved from the nearby Tibetan Buddhist Temple and retreat center at Iron Knot Ranch by Justin Taylor, one of the other guests at the hotel who was going up there to visit that day anyway.

He returned with a Brother Electronic machine, and although it was not like my tried and true Bernina, I endeavored to work with it in the relational "zen" way I had learned from reading Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. In three days I was able to sew and install all 12 panels. I also used a strip of wire to secure/mend the springs on the cot/couch before covering it with a better color-coordinating sheet.

So now the trailer is more cosy for me as well as for any future cyclists who decide to take this "lower" route from Safford, AZ to Las Cruces, NM!

Nevertheless, my "work" in Duncan did not stop there. After a short break - a rainy day spent working on this post - and another involving catching up on laundry and doing a few other minor mending jobs on curtains in the main part of the hotel, I was duly commissioned to assist with the installation of a sign at the entrance to the Sandra Day O'Connor Walkway for the Duncan Pride Society. Unfortunately, we had to wait close to a week to get all of the city utilities to mark the courses of their power, water, and phone lines!

During that interim, I joined my hosts on a side trip to Silver City, NM (where I would have passed through if I had taken the official Adventure Cycling route). There I was able to shop for a few more things including: chamois cream and another spare inner tube, a pair of blue jeans that were a relaxed fit to work in, two pairs of gloves, and everything I needed to make my own pair of warm sleeping socks. I felt really lucky to find jeans that would fit my proportions and I only had to pay $1 for them! I suspect you'll be seeing a lot more of those jeans in the weeks ahead!

I was also able to stock up on some other bulk items, mung beans, dried apricots, etc., as well as buy ingredients for Tofu Peanut Butter Chili, a recipe I remembered from my college days at Tennessee Tech that I thought my vegetarian hosts might appreciate. As it turned out, they put me on the spot by inviting a couple of guests to share the meal with us! Everything worked out fine though, and now there's a new chili recipe for the household along with ginger cookies and cream cheese for dessert!

However, after all the fun, it was back to work! We finally got the approvals we needed to dig a couple of holes for support posts, and laid the foundation for the new sign. After that it was up to me to lay the brick for the base, and then Clayton and I split the work on the columns. Although the work got extended a little longer than I'd anticipated, by the end of nearly three weeks here, we had our sign installed, and I had some more money to help me along my way, including buying more time with extended rent payments for my storage unit back in Florida!

On another side trip to Morenci for groceries, we were able to stop by the newly opened Ace Hardware Store. And as luck would have it, Mons was working there that day, and although I had to be patient because they were keeping him so busy, I still managed to pull him away for another photo. So here we are in front of the OPEN Ace store (that I helped get up and runnng)!

We stopped in Clifton on the way back to Duncan. There I was able to buy a hat to help keep my head warmer especially when I'm sleeping. (I will probably make another one myself, but this one was blue, and only $0.55 so I figured it was worth it!) We visited our previous dinner guest, John, who gave me another generous donation for my trip. We also stopped briefly at the "Cliff Jail" of Clifton which was next door to the thrift store where I bought my hat.

Then it was back to the hotel, to wrap up work on the sign, sew several more personal projects (while I had access to a machine), and then attack the daunting task of packing everything, new and old, after THREE WEEKS off the bike!

My new gear includes: Extra pairs of short socks graciously offered from my host, Deborah, my new pair of hand knit socks, light nylon foot gaiters and hand gaiters (for wind protection), two new pairs of gloves (liners and outer gloves), head cover and arm warmers I made from pants that I bought at the Family Dollar (THE store here in Duncan), plus another pair of pants to wear early in the morning when it's cold, a blue knit hat, my "new" jeans (that fit very comfortably), a furry blanket and nylon "pillow-case" cover, along with another big skein of red yarn donated by another Duncan resident, Doug, who is actually famous in this town for his crocheting! I'll be knitting some more socks and who knows what else from all that yarn!

In addition, using the fabric from the upper part of one pair of grey, fleece lined pants, I added several more layers of padding and used the ribbled knit waistband from the pants to make the drawstring casing to go around the bottom of a refurbished saddle cover. It all went together surprisingly well and I'm glad not to have to deal with adjusting the old cover that was totally falling apart!

So that about wraps it up here for me in Duncan, AZ. And "wrapping up" is exactly what I will have to be doing as the temps have shifted significantly in the three weeks that I have been here. But, I feel I have accommodated as best I can and we'll just have to see if I'm going to survive the chilly nights ahead, in which I do anticipate at least a few nights camping outdoors!

To conclude this post though, I thought I'd share a photo of the kittens, their mama, and their "apartment building" in the background, after all, the Simpson Hotel is a "Bed and Breakfast" for its feline inhabitants as well as its itinerant guests!