Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Total Distance Traveled for the trip: 3,590 miles
Wyatt and I reached Imperial Beach, California around 1 PM Pacific Time on August 2nd, 2009. It will be a moment that I will cherish for the rest of my life. That last day I was remembering everything that had happened on the whole bike ride and was starting to get a little emotional as the miles melted away. Slowly, but surely the miles left to go went from 73 to 60 to 30 to 5. The way I felt as the end approached is almost indescribable. We had gone so far over so long a time that it was just weird to be almost done. When we were two miles away we finally saw the ocean on the horizon. We started yelling and letting out war cries. Once we arrived at the pier at Imperial Beach we saw the people that mattered to us and gave them huge hugs!! Thank you Donna Marie and Cynthia for letting us stay in your house!!
We took some pictures then I unloaded my bags onto the ground which weighed 55 POUNDS!! Then we took off into the ocean. I brought my bike along and once it wouldn't roll anymore I carried it into the water. We started yelling and screaming. We were in heaven. I won't forget that moment for the rest of my life. I won't be modest now. It was a huge sense of accomplishment!!
There were moments on the trip that I seriously doubted myself. The desert was by far the hardest part of the trip. There were times I thought if the wind started blowing in my face while we were out there we just wouldn't make it. If we got stuck out in that heat it could have been the end. I think that was me just being worried, but it was desolate out there.
There were a few things this trip definitely helped me out with. I was lying to myself when I thought I had completely grieved about my brother. I thought I had dealt with his death, but truth be told I had just pushed it away and tried not to think about it. I had not realized that before, but now I do. I spent anywhere from 6 to 10 hours a day on my butt riding on that bicycle and I had so much time to think. I thought about my brother constantly wondering what he would have wanted out of me. I thought about how life dealt him a bad hand. In the end I realized that he wouldn't want me to be angry at the world or to be sad all the time. He would just want me to be happy and to always remember him in my thoughts. I did and will always. He will continue to live through me. Whenever I saw something amazing such as a rainbow, or biking up to 10,300 feet in cloudy and rainy weather, and then once I reached the top the sun came out and I had the best view of my life, I thought about him. I honestly thought he was with me. I will always remember the good times that we had. Each day I rode, I thought about 5 different good times that we had and then wrote it down. I now have a list of 250 memories of him. I don't think I would have remembered half those things if I hadn't done this. He was my best friend and always will be. I love you Andrew.
I'm more focused. I clearly know what I want to do in this world. I want to help people in anyway I can. I used to have a more selfish attitude, I was more of a me person, and I regret that. I am so lucky for everything that I have. I have parents that love me, a family that supports me in what I do (for example this bike ride), and money was never an issue in my family. I saw so many people on this trip that had nothing. They were poor, their parents were drunks or ignored them. I saw such poverty in this country that it shocked me. The amazing thing was that these people were still so nice and generous when I talked to them. They would buy me lunch, stop on the side of the road and give me water, or let us sleep in their house or yard. It was just amazing to me. These are people that deserve a chance to succeed and I want to do anything I can to help them.
I just want to say thank you to everybody for their help and support. You have know idea how thankful I am to everyone who donated and believed in me to do this. I promise I will call everyone of you in the next few weeks and personally thank you.
I will always chase my goals and I hope you do too. This journey was life changing for me.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
I'm not sure if I'll have sufficient internet to write in the blog tonight, so if not i'll talk after the ride is over!!
Oh and we're going to be less than a mile from the Mexican border at times in the next 130 miles. I have border patrol on my speed dial right now!!
Total Distance to date: 3460 miles
Well sleeping at the hotel pool failed miserably. We thought we could sleep on the roof of the pool house, but a person that was staying at the hotel saw us up there and we figured it would be good to leave and not get caught by any person of authority up there. So we head out to a park that turned out to be decent. Wyatt sleeps on the picnic table and I put up my hammock. 2 hours later these lights are flashing and a cop says, "what are you guys doing?' We're pretty out of it, but we're able to mumble the right things. He says he'll let us stay there, but he takes our licenses to make sure we don't have any warrants out for our arrests. We don't and he breaks the rules and lets us stay.
We head out to Brawley which was a 90 mile bike ride. We started at 5:30 AM, but it was just too far to make before the heat came. The worst was that for 60 miles there was absolutely nothing. There was nowhere to stop and nowhere to get any shade. About halfway through this guy pulls up about 300 feet in front of me and stops. He starts waving at me. I stop and it turns out he has all this water. At first I thought he was a mirage and I was hallucinating. The heat goes to your head. Thankfully he was real!!! It got to 115 degrees yesterday and we road right through it. I feel like if we can ride 90 miles in that kind of heat, we can do almost anything physically. The craziest part of the bike ride was that all of a sudden these sand dunes rose up. It looked like the Sahara desert in Africa. I really don't think I've seen anything like that in America before. these dunes were hundreds of feet tall and were made of white sand. It was awesome.
We got to Brawley and are staying with someone from couchsurfing. He was at work when we got here so he just left his house open for us. It was nice to take a shower and get that sunscreen off me. I'm wearing SPF 60 and I coat it on myself. I put enough on my face so that i look like a ghost.
We have some mountains to climb today and tomorrow, but it should finally cool down sometime tomorrow morning as we cross over them. Imperial Beach is coming!!
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Total Distance Traveled: 3363 miles
Still in the desert. Still hating this heat. Yesterday we left early from the fire station and made record time to our next town. We got to a little breakfast restaurant around 10 am, just before it became unbearably hot. Luckily the waitresses there were very nice to us. The place started filling up and before we knew it we were both asleep in the booths. Apparently a few people tried to get us kicked out, but the waitresses said "where would they go?" Nice women!! These hot places in Arizona are all destinations for northerners to come in the wintertime so in the summer everything closes early. They closed at 2 pm. i quickly saw that we were in a dilemma so I started to talk to one of the waitresses and mention that sometimes people will just invite us back to their houses. This girl then said she had a pool! She ended up inviting us back for a swim and her mom made us dinner. The family loved us and we ended up camping out in their backyard.
We woke up at 5 am and started out towards California. We were pretty stoked. The only thing we were slightly worried about was that we had to ride on the interstate today. We have avoided it previously because there were always other roads, but now there was nothing except the interstate. We got on and it turned out to be great. There was a wide open shoulder and the road was recently paved. It was all downhill too so that's always nice. We get to the state line and take millions of pictures. We had some people honking congratulations at us. Sadly, I got a flat tire about 20 feet after the state line, but that's not a big deal.
We made it to a McDonald's at like 11 am and this is where we've been all day. It's currently 8 PM. We're just happy to be in a place that is air conditioned and open until we can leave at night.
The problem with this area is that you can only ride at night or early morning so you don't get much sleep and then you can't do anything in the day except sit inside.
Our plan is to leave McDonald's when it gets dark. I found a pool at a hotel nearby and they don't lock the gate so it's pretty much open to the public so we'll just go sleep on a lawn chair for a little while and then head out.
Three days to go. 229 miles. We'll be arriving at Imperial Beach at about 1 PM pacific time on Sunday, August 2nd.
if you want to see the route we're taking for the rest of the trip just click this link.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Total Distance Traveled: 3250 miles.
The last two days have been interesting. We went from probably having the best bike ride of our lives to one of the worst. We started off in Flagstaff and headed down about 40 miles into Sedona. This was the most breathtaking ride ever. All of a sudden you ride into this canyon which is about 3,000 feet lower and you transition from forest to red rocks. You drop this elevation in about 9 miles. The roads are narrow and two lanes and wind around the mountains. The cool thing was cars can't go much faster than 25 mph so we could actually go faster than cars. It's a sight that I will remember forever.
We dropped down then we had to go right back up again and we ended up stopping two nights ago in a town called Jerome. It's a town that's right at the top of a mountain. Apparently it's a big tourist town. This guy on a motorcycle passed by us as we were riding to the top and asked us about our trip. He was pretty impressed and proceeded to buy us a cool beer when we got to the top.
We camped out on a dirt road by and old church and fell asleep instantly. We awoke to MADNESS!! All of a sudden these lights turn on right behind our tent. It's a truck and then he REVS his engine. We're screaming in the tent and yelling swear words. We thought this was the end. Luckily, he was just playing with us and probably was wondering why we were camping out there. We laugh about it now.
The next day (Yesterday) was when we realized what we're dealing with. We descended from about 5500 feet and 100 degree weather into the heart of the desert. The gas station right at the top before you dropped down to 2000 feet said that we were entering the "gates of hell." I can't think of a better description. All of a sudden besides a few cactus's life disappeared and it was just dark rocks. The temperature increased by 15 degrees and so we were hit with a 115 degree weather. I literally felt like I was being roasted in an oven. It was so hot!! We persevered and made it to Wickenburg in the heat. I carry about 20 water bottles with me so I'm very hydrated as a much proven method has shown me.
we stayed at a fire station last night and I slept pretty well. We were treated to a good meal and some good company. It's about 4:30 am and we're about to head out to Salome, AZ.
We have 332 miles to go on the journey. It's hard to believe that's it.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Distance Traveled so far: 3091 miles
It's been quite a few days and right now is the first time in a while that I've been able to access the internet. 3 days ago we set out for the Grand Canyon. We really wanted to go there, but it was about 100 miles out of our way. We sucked it up and just said we could do the extra miles. So after about 10 miles we hit this road construction and we don't think any of it and just proceed. The road crews were laying tar and asphalt down on the roads in 103 degree heat. So we bike into it after the cars and the stuff they lay down starts sticking to our tires. After a few minutes I start wondering why we're going slower. I look at my tires and realize that the road is sticking to them and we now have an extra 1/2 inch of crap on them. After a few minutes we just stop because this road stuff is hardening on our tires and starts rubbing against our breaks. We're in a pickle at this point. We're thinking that maybe it's our fate to not get to the grand canyon. We figure we'll just hitchike past this road work (which was 15 miles long) and go back to our original destination.
So we start putting our thumbs out, but that doesn't really work, so I get the bright idea to just start waving my arms like we're in a serious emergency. This does work!! An RV pulls over and they let us in. It was a family from the Netherlands that was inside and they said that they're going to the grand canyon. They're going to the EXACT SAME SPOT that we wanted to go to. They said they'll take us there and we're overjoyed. We throw our bikes into the RV and hop in. This family was so nice. They had two kids that were hilarious and spoke very good English. We watched movies with them and learned about living in the Netherlands. When we got to the Grand Canyon, they said that we could camp in their spot with them and we just set up our hammock and tent next to their RV. Then we went on a hike with them around the rim.
It was BREATHTAKING!! This is a spot that all people should go to. We spent the next morning fixing our bike tires, which was tedious work, but eventually we finished. We biked 77.7 miles to Flagstaff to get back on track. Now we're here and about to leave. We spent yesterrday and today here with a girl that I met off couchsurfing. Her name is Kimmy and she was very generous. We head out to dinner with one of her friends the second we arrived here and they ended up paying for us. It was very sweet. Couchsurfing really is great too because when you go to a town you don't really learn about it or know whats great about it. But this provides you with a local that is more than willing to tell you anything and pretty much invites you into their home while you're there.
We're about to head out to Prescott, Arizona now. About half way we're supposed to bike through a place called Sedona. This is supposed to be one of the prettiest places in the country. If you get a chance google it. After Prescott we'll be hitting the most intense desert the world has ever seen. The heat reaches 120 degrees during the day and we'll be in that until we get close to San Diego. So we think we're going to start riding at night.
We only have 6 days of biking left. We have only 487 miles to go until we reach the Pacific. It's really hard for us to believe.
Oh we finally figured out how we're getting home. Turns out that the cheapest way is taking the train home since we can ship our bikes back for only 20 bucks. We got this pass that is 350 bucks and it takes you to as many places as you want to go as long as your down in 15 days. Flying would have cost way more PLUS you wouldn't have the chance to see all these places. It looks like we'll be getting home around August 20th now.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Total Distance Traveled: 2934 Miles
So we've been pretty fortunate the last 2 days and nights. We've crossed into Arizona finally and visited the 4 corners. We've had wonderful places to stay which will continue tonight as well. Also, we've had people drive by and stop and talk to us because they saw are article in the newspaper that was in Farmington a few days ago. Our morale is very high.
2 days ago we arrived at the four corners and got a little crazy with our pictures there. People were being quite timid at the center and were just standing on the actual point. We get in there and start lying down on all four states having a good time. After that you should have seen the change in the crowd. All of them got the same picture.
After we arrived in Teec Nos Pos and stayed in a Navajo chapter house, which is kind of like their administrative building and a community center for their town. We got their and met all the local officials and luckily a lot of the kids were hanging out there when we arrived, so we talked to them about what we were doing and why we were doing it. The people were very hospitable to us and one even brought us spaghetti, sauce, and a pot, so that we could cook in their kitchen. It was nice to have a home cooked meal for once. We hung out with the head of the town (kind of like a mayor) named Roy and he ate with us. We learned quite a bit about the Navajo culture and their future plans for helping their citizens. It was a really good experience.
Yesterday we departed and headed for Kayenta and had one of the best rides ever. We rode through amazing magnificent terrain that was desert, mountainous, and had many canyons. The wind was at our backs so that always makes a ride good as well. We arrived in Kayenta fairly early and we stayed at a HOTEL!!! Our friend Lizzy Solti's parents in Utah arraigned for us to have a hotel here and a hotel tomorrow. These hotels also have pools. It's a life of luxury right now. The thing is I had so much trouble falling asleep in a bed last night!! I slept in my hammock at the community center so that was more normal. A bed is almost too comfortable that it's uncomfortable. It's so strange to me.
2 cool things that happened. One we're at the border of New Mexico and Arizona taking pictures at the Arizona sign when a SUV pulls up and says to us. Are you the guys that were in the paper yesterday? We say yes and they give us some money and wish us luck. Also, yesterday when I'm in the middle of nowhere in the desert, a van pulls up in front of me. I'm a little scared at first because there really is nothing out here, but a guy gets out and he says, "you're the guy in the paper." I say yes, and he hands me a water bottle for the travels. Really nice people out here.
We're about to head to our next town called Tuba City. It's our last town in the Navajo nation. The next day we see the Grand Canyon!
The end is near. 10 days until the Pacific Ocean.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
I find out that the wind will be going on until midnight so we decide to just stay here and then do a 120 miles today. We ended up asking the house across the street if we could camp in his yard and the guy says sure no problem. He was a hay farmer and we ended up sleeping next to these hay piles that were 20 feet high. Well it gets us out of the wind, but thats when I realize that i'm allergic to tons of hay. It was rough!! I was sneezing all night. Apparently these wind storms are very common after 5 pm. So we're going to try to do all our riding in the mornings now.
So now i'm about 20 miles from the 4 corners and we're inside the Navajo Nation. We're excited to get to a new state. I'll probably update this later today once we're in Kayenta, Arizona for the night.
oh you can read the article at this link: http://www.elpasotimes.com/newmexico/ci_12880416
Monday, July 20, 2009
Total Distance Traveled: 2786 miles
I'm currently lying in a church. I gave Pastor Jennings a call yesterday morning and he was nice enough to let Wyatt and I stay on a pull out couch in one of the rooms. As soon as we got to town him and his wife Cindy took us out to dinner. They were extremely nice to us. Not only that, this church had a shower!! Our first showers in a little less than a week. I feel like a new man. We're back to our old pace. We went about 95 miles yesterday and went through some beautiful canyons. The roads we biked on were the ones people get scared to drive on. There are no guard rails and right next to the road there are 100-200 foot drops straight down. It was an intense rush to ride through. We've been in Indian Reservations the last day and will be heading into the Navajo nation today.
Before we set out today I have so many packages awaiting me at the post office. I told everyone who wanted to send me stuff to send it here. One of the packages is my new license and the only problem I foresee is that I don't have any photo ID. I just have a print out version of my license. Hopefully they'll understand my dilemma and give me my stuff. I'm especially looking forward to eating Tracy's cookies!!
We're heading west into Arizona and will hit the 4 corners of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. I'm thinking of all the clever poses I can do so that I have a part of my body in each state. Apparently where we are going to end up today...Teec Nos Pos..is desolate. So we're going to have to bring double the water, in case we don't see a place to pick up more water until the next day.
The other day, we stopped at a restaurant in Chama, New Mexico called Fosters. We're all excited to eat since its the first town we've seen in 7o miles. We get our computers out because they have wireless and we're hanging out. We eat TWO main courses each and after an hour we're told that we need to leave. What a horrible place, we bought more food than any other customer and probably would have ate a 3rd meal and they kick us out because we've been their too long. If you're ever in this area, do not go to this place.
Arizona = 13th out of 14th state!! the end is near
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Total Distance Traveled: 2685 miles
We've taken it a little slower the last two days since we're ahead of schedule and since we're in pretty high elevation. The last two days we've probably gone only about 90 to a 100 miles. We needed it. Yesterday we slept for 12 hours. I went to bed at 8 pm and woke up at 8 am. I don't remember the last time i've slept that long. The beauty of yesterday's sleep was that it got down to about 35 degrees so i could snuggle deep into my sleeping bag and sleep like a baby.
Today was the hardest ride of our lives. We rode from Antonito, Colorado to Dulce, New Mexico and we knew we were going to climb. We started at 7890 feet and off we went. It was pretty flat for about 20 miles then it was uphill for the hardest 7 miles i've ridden. We went up a 7 to 8 percent grade averaging about 5 to 7 mph. The views became magnificent. We went from desert to a forest. slowly but surely we made it to the top which was 10,230 feet. We took a lot of pictures at the top and we felt like beasts.
We descended down the mountain at speeds of 25-30 mph for 11 miles into New Mexico. This is our 12th state. Only 2 to go.
Funny thing happened yesterday. I was in a fast food restaurant and I went into the bathroom to change into my bike clothes. I thought about it and decided I really needed a shower. So I take my shirt off and start putting water into my hair and on my chest. I get soap from the dispenser and put it in my hair and start washing my body. I make a little mohawk with the soap, when this elderly man walks in. He just stares at me wondering why this half naked guy is taking the closest thing to a shower that he can in the fast food bathroom. I just smile and say I have no alternatives. He laughs and laughs. I smelled a lot better after that shower though.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Total Distance Traveled: 2584 miles
So we had probably one of the best days of our whole trip today. We were a little nervous to see what the climb up the mountain would be like. We didn't know if we could handle it. Well we could. It wasn't easy, but it wasn't as hard as we were expecting. We climbed about 3000 feet over 30 miles and once we reached the top we celebrated. We took some pictures and then started our trip down the other side into the San Luis Valley. This was the most beautiful sight i've seen. The valley is about 7500 to 800o feet high and it is surrounded by mountains on either side. I just looked it up and apparently it's the highest valley in the world. It's so amazing to just be in the middle of this paradise. Once we got over to the other side we would cruise through the valley at around 25 mph because it was always slightly downhill from the La Veta pass to Alamosa.
We realized that we want to go even higher and luckily we saw that right before we reach New Mexico we'll hit an elevation of about 10,300 feet. That should be pretty epic.
A funny thing that happened today is we went to get some lunch at this diner and we were sitting in one end of the diner. People started coming in and they looked at us and just went to the complete opposite end. Eventually we realized we stink. This was confirmed when a group of 7 people came and sat next to us. Then after 2 minutes they got up and went and sat at the other end of the restaurant. We were laughing pretty hard at this.
We're about to go squat in some woods. Should be an adventure.
Distance Traveled so far: 2508 miles
We arrived in Walsenburg last night around 10:30 pm and immediately tried to find some food. Yesterday was the first day where we went from our starting point to our ending point with absolutely no towns in between. Luckily we carried about 10 bottles of water and enough food so it wasn't a big deal. That's going to be more common as the days go on. The scary part of the ride was that we had two storms about 20 miles away on both sides of us. All we could do is keep going and hope they didn't start coming at us. It was a little scary to see lightning strike on either side of you. The awesome part was that we some sweet rainbows and it cleared up just in time to see a beautiful colorado sunset.
Once we arrived in Walsenburg we tried to ask the locals for a place to camp and they send us to their baseball fields. We think that would work out just fine. We get there and are just about to set up the hammock and tent when three cops come by and flash their lights at us. Apparently camping is not allowed. So he tells us to go to a state park 4 miles down the road. I was skeptical because I've never heard of a park letting you in this late. Usually they close around 10 at the latest.
So we head off towards the park and they must have been scared we weren't going to head that way because after about 2 miles the same cop passes by us and then as soon as he sees us turns around. I guess we looked DANGEROUS on our bikes. We get there and guess what the park was closed!! It had a gate up blocking any cars from getting in, but the thing is we are not cars, we ride bikes. So we just bike on in around the gate and find a nice spot in some bushes. We made sure that we were completely hidden from the outside world.
We fall asleep instantly. This morning I woke up to beauty. We had biked the last 20 miles yesterday at night so we had just seen the mountains from afar and rode into them at night. So when I woke up it was so amazing to be inside them. I was not expecting it!!
This morning, we met up with the local reporter and had an interview. It will be our seventh newspaper we've been in. All of the reporters we met with made sure they got our address and will mail back some copies to our houses. Now its time to get to business.
Today is the day we climb to historic heights. We will be going uphill all the way to Alamosa, Colorado. We will go through the Lavita pass which hits 9400 feet. Depending on how our bodies hold up we might alter the route slightly. It adds 9 miles to the overall total, but we would then go through some other passes. One of which would hit 11,000 feet. I can only imagine how that would feel on our bodies and how pretty it would be up there.
We're now on the homestretch we crossed 2500 miles last night and have less than a 1000 to go. We can hardly believe that we'll be done in 2 and a half weeks.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Total distance traveled: 2433 miles
So I was wrong about the elevation. La Junta is only at 4500 feet. TODAY when we ride off to Walsenberg, Colorado we'll start our climb. We'll hit 7500 feet. Then the next day we're going to cross a pass that reaches 9400 feet. We're very excited to get to these heights and see if our body is able to survive.
We had a wonderful 2 days hanging out with Jerry and Meredith in La Junta. They were the perfect hosts. They fed us and took us around town. we met Meredith's father who even made us some homemade energy bars. I probably showered 8 times in 2 days. I was so excited just to be in a house. Wyatt and I were in the local newspaper here and it comes out today. They had a little teaser about us yesterday on the front cover as well.
We spent the day at the pool which had the nicest waterslide. It was really nice to relax and just take it easy. The highlight definitely was seeing Harry Potter at midnight. I'm a huge harry potter fan and was very excited to finally see the movie. It's sad to leave our new home, but we've realized that we can't get too attached to one area ever.
Thank you Jerry and Meredith for the hospitality and we'll see you soon!!
We're off to our next town. We have an interview with the paper there as well which will be our 7th paper so far.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Total Distance Traveled: 2355 miles
So we crossed the border into Colorado last night. We were thrilled to be in a new state, we've been in Kansas for over 400 miles and it's a nice change. As soon as we got to the border we saw that the Colorado sign was huge and we climbed about 8 feet off the ground to stand next to it. We get to the first town inside Colorado, when powerful crosswinds start blowing. We stop at a gas station and find out there is a tornado warning for the area. We figure this a good time to stop and we hang out and wait for the storm to blow over. We also realized that we're now in a new time zone. So we're now two hours earlier than the east coast.
We find a nice park to sleep out, and I was able to put up my hammock. I slept like a baby because it was the first night the temperature got down into the sixties. It's been so hot lately during the day and night.
This morning we headed off towards La Junta, Colorado where we have a place all set up to stay through a church there. The pastor set us up with a family in her church. We stopped in Lamar today because we had an interview with the Lamar Ledger, the local newspaper, and now I'm writing all this while I'm eating McDonald's.
We are going to start climbing some serious mountains today. We started the day at 3100 feet and by the end of the day should hit 7800 feet. It'll be a nice change of scenery.
Something really amazing happened when I got to McDonald's. I was just getting my computer out of my bag when a man started talking to me about the trip. He then said he had NF and I heard his story about being diagnosed when he was a young kid. He said his son had it as well, but they both were surviving with no major problems. He was so thankful for what we were doing. If you read this sir, it was a pleasure talking to you.
More to report when we get to La Junta
2322 miles = Colorado border
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Distance traveled: approximately 2300 miles
So we arrived in Garden City at about 8:30 PM and this was by far our best ride of the trip. We made 105 miles in 5 and a half hours. For the first time this trip we had tailwinds that made us fly. At one point we were cruising at 30 mph and even got up to 35 mph all on flat ground. We get there and the two places we're told we can camp out at turn out to be inadequate. This is a city and we've heard stories that you shouldn't be in the southwestern part. Well it's getting late and the 2nd park we checked out is in the southwestern part. All of a sudden we see a family of 8 people sitting out front of their house and we ask if we can camp out in their backyard. they say that we can and even pull out some mattresses for us to put our tent on so that we can have a comfortable sleep. We don't think anything about this being a bad part of town and eventually just fall asleep. This morning we get up go to McDonalds and get to talking with some of the locals. They asked us what we did last night and we told them we camped out over on 4th street by the zoo. they were beyond shocked. they told us that the gangs in the area live over there and they dont even head to that part of town. We were pretty shocked, but we really didn't feel threatened at all. Maybe we were just lucky.
We're about to head off in a bit and we'll ride into Colorado today, which will be a nice change. We're ready to see some sweet mountains and do some climbing. This flat ground is getting to us. We go a whole day and the scenery is the exact same thing. It makes you think you havent gone anywhere.
I have to admit Kansas has been good to us though. We've been in three newspapers here and had a legitimate place to sleep every night.
we're starting to get a little sad that the trip is going to end soon. We're starting to contemplate whether we should just keep going and go around the world. We figure at our current pace we can make it in 8 months......
Saturday, July 11, 2009
This trip has shown me that I really don't need that much stuff to survive. Once I got used to the fact that I wouldn't shower too often it's been easy going. It turns out that girls still are interested in us even if we smell!!
So on the back of my bike I have two blue bags that are on my rack on the back of my bike and one bag that attaches to my handlebars and in them I carry:
- one Carolina t shirt
- one pair of shorts
- two pairs of bike shorts
- two bike jerseys
- one sweatshirt
- one rainjacket
- one fleece
- one pair of flip flops
- one pair of bike shoes
- 3 ipods
- various chargers that all charge into my computer
- digitial camera
- video camera
- sleeping bag
- bug net that covers head
- hammock straps
- 7 water bottles
- 3 pairs of sunglasses
- bike lights for riding at night
- bike pump
Friday, July 10, 2009
distance Traveled to date: approximately 2140 miles
Kansas has been quite good to us. We met up with Emily Moffitt in the small town of Mcpherson, Kansas yesterday. She's the girl that organized a place to stay for Wyatt and I 3 nights in a row. Tonight will actually be are first night in Kansas where we have to fend for ourselves. Well Emily like her friends treated her right. She even opened the car door for us, which made us feel quite special. She organized her local paper to do an interview on our trip and apparently we're on the front page of today's issue. At her house, which is a farm, I met the family who taught me pretty much all I need to know about farming on a 1,000 acres. I know all about the harvest and what type of irrigation system is needed for what terrain. I'm ready to be a farmer. Wyatt was overjoyed that there was a 4 wheeler there and he played on that for a while.
After we left Mcpherson this morning, we started our trek to Larned. It's completely flat out there and hot. It's been hitting the high 90s everyday for the past week. We're eating lunch when I decide to just start contacting newspapers on the route for today. I call 5 up and it worked out really well. We had one guy do a little story and take some pictures of us when we got to Larned and we're meeting up with a guy tomorrow in another town. So we're pretty much just trying to find every newspaper along our route now.
We have a sweet camping spot tonight in a nice park. I'm sleeping in my hammock since this park contains the only trees for at least 50 miles. It's definitely a nice feeling to be way past half way now. The end of the trip is definitely in sight.
If anyone is wondering why i wear the same Carolina t shirt in every picture it's because it is the only shirt i brought. I'll actually provide a list of all the things we brought with us to survive on this journey in the next posting. It'll be a short list.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Total distance traveled in the last 24 hours: 175 miles
Well quite a bit has happened since David dropped us off in Monroe City, Missouri at 4 pm on July 5th. We picked up our bikes that we had left there and realized that we had to ride about 245 miles to Lawrence, Kansas in 36 hours to be back on schedule. Child’s play we said to each other. David rode about 30 miles down the road with us, which was fun because we had some nice drafting for a while and could make sweet bike formations. After David leaves Wyatt and I are exhausted since we really didn’t sleep at all while we were in Chicago, so we get to a small town and lean our bikes against a small church right on the main road. We lie down on the ground and fall asleep. I wake up an hour later and I’m cold so I get into my sleeping bag. It’s still light outside and we’re sleeping next to a church like hoboes right where hundreds of cars pass by and look at us. We wake up refreshed around 8 pm and start back off on our journey. We go another 40 miles and get to another small town around 11 pm. We’re dead tired and know we need to sleep. So we ride to the outskirts and try to find a nice place to camp.
This is where the worst night of our lives occurs. We have a lot of trouble finding adequate bushes to camouflage our tent when we see something that is beside the train tracks and about 30 feet from the highway. We head up there and put our tent up behind some bushes about 15 feet from the train tracks. We didn’t think a train would go by since we’ve been on this road all day and had yet to see a train. How wrong we were.
About an hour later we wake up to what sounds and feels like the biggest earthquake known to man. The ground is shaking and Wyatt and I our screaming when we realize a train is coming by. It lasts for about 10 minutes and it feels like our world has gone upside down. We eventually fall back asleep, when a few hours later TWO TRAINS come by in opposite directions and the earthquake has become a 9.0 on the Richter scale. Wyatt and I again wake up screaming and then in all the commotion we head butt each other since we can’t see anything and so now not only are we in the worst earthquake in history in the state of Missouri, we now have throbbing headaches. Word of advice never sleep anywhere near train tracks.
We wake up at dawn and are sad to realize we still have about 175 miles to go since we only went 70 miles the night before. This is where we learn what our bodies are made of. We have turned into machines. We slowly cross the 100 mile mark around 5 pm. We enter Kansas City, Missouri and get lost in the ghetto and still we continue. By the way the people were very nice there. Then tragedy strikes as we are on the outskirts of the city around 9 pm. I’m fishing through my bag and I realize my wallet is lost. All day looking at directions and the wallet fell out of my bag! I’m screwed, but I try to take it in stride and realize I can’t do anything about it in the dark still about 50 miles away from Lawrence, Kansas. I’m now without any form of ID more than halfway across the country.
We arrive at our final destination in Lawrence after riding about 50 miles in the dark, which was okay, we now prefer riding at night since the heat during the day is getting ridiculous and will only get worse. The only thing we’re sad about besides the wallet going missing is that we didn’t see a welcome to Kansas sign, so we’ll have to take a picture of one when we leave Kansas.
We arrive at Karly and Valisha’s house in Lawrence at 2 am and we’re welcomed with hot showers, beds, and Valisha’s Lasagna specialty. She was being modest, but it was delicious. I sleep with Karly’s dog Presley, who is quite the cuddler.
I figure out my wallet situation and it turns out I can have a debit card sent to me by tomorrow, but I won’t have an ID for a while because it takes 10 business days in the state of North Carolina to process my request and send it out to where I am. So I won’t receive it until I walk into a post office in Bloomfield, New Mexico. I’m truly off the grid right now.
The next day is our rest day and we head off to KU and see the campus and all the sports complexes there. We had a sweet tour and after headed to the beach about 15 minutes away. The girls proceeded to bury me in the sand and turned me into a sandy monster. The girls are nothing but nice and generous to us. They take care of us, cook for us, take us out to eat, and Valisha even sewed for me! It’ll be sad to go since we know we’re heading back into the wild. Thank you ladies!
We’ll be in Kansas for a long time and we’re a little scared about what we’re going to see. Apparently western Kansas is a scary sight compared with the east. We’re off to find out if the legends are true. I have a feeling we'll survive.
Only 25 days until we plunge into the Pacific Ocean!!
Sunday, July 5, 2009
We arrived in Missouri in a very small town and stopped at a gas station. This small town apparently didn't have much of a night life because when we got to the gas station, there was about 20 drunk kids just hanging out. I started talking to this one really nice girl who asked about what we were doing. Before I knew what was happening, she had all her drunk friends donating money. It was really sweet. We slept for about 2 hours in someones yard, then biked to the airport where we met David Strosberg. David is a great guy who biked with us a bit then flew us back to Chicago.
In Chicago, David let us stay in his awesome apartment downtown and then we just explored. I saw an old friend that goes to Northwestern and then some friends that we met at the beach in North Carolina. It was nice to walk around the city. There is one thing that we have found out though...our bodies are not meant for walking. We get sore from walking a few miles, but we can bike hundreds of miles. It's about 6:30 am and we're about to head back on the plane to MIssouri, then continue our bike trip from where we left off.
We have a pretty hectic 2 days ahead of us before we get to Kansas. It could get a little brutal and I think some nightriding will be necessary. Halfway point is sometime today or tomorrow! I'll report in again in Kansas!!
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Distance traveled today: 78 miles
Total Distance Traveled: 1454 miles
Cool fact: Abe Lincoln practiced law in Mt. Pulaski before he became president.
Yesterday was our rest day and we spent the entire day at this restaurant in Paxton, Illinois. We ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner there. It was total relaxation. We mingled with the locals all day and ended up meeting this nice guy that let us stay with his family. His son races cars and he took me to their shop where I saw 4 race cars. I got into one that was 750 horsepower and when you revved the engine it was a pretty crazy adrenaline rush. Probably the loudest thing i have ever heard.
We got up earlier than usual today and rode 78 miles to Mt. Pulaski very quickly. It was 71 degrees outside today so it was perfect for riding and we had one of our best averages ever since the wind was very faint. Way back in April I emailed a church in this town and they offered us a place to stay. At the time I thought it would be a small room, but it turns out we're in a massive room and have the whole church building to ourselves. There's enough room in here to run laps and apparently they have concerts and put on plays here. It's really awesome. We've been running around enjoying ourselves and made a huge spaghetti dinner in the kitchen. We are about to perform a play on the stage. over and out.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Distance traveled today: 70 miles
Total Distance traveled: 1376
Today we didn’t start as early as we wanted. We ended up lounging around the house and then when we finally left we realized we were hungry. So we stopped at Panera Bread and ate some food. I got to talking with this guy named Matt who started to ask about the biking. I told him that one of the things about biking was that we always got a little bored. So he told us he would give us all these audio books that were on his external hard drive. One thing I figured I could do on this trip is learn Chinese since China is going to dominate in the future. Matt pulled through for me because he has learning Chinese on audiotape. He also gave us learning Spanish and Japanese. Thank you Matt!
We finally started to ride and were hit by tremendous winds. It was a lot worse than yesterday, but again we made it. We crossed into Illinois today and what was great was that the roads were completely empty. We would go almost 30 minutes without seeing a single car When we got into Illinois we finally changed time zones. We’re now on central time.. It started to get dark and we finally got to do some night riding with our lights. It was so intense riding with our lights. They looked like strobe lights bouncing around. I was blasting techno music (Tiesto’s In search of Sunrise 7) from my Ipod so it was a good mix with the lights. We got to our town around 11 pm and stopped by the police station and asked where we could camp out. He told us there was a spot about 2 miles out of town that was an old park that they had closed down. So off we went and we found it about 15 minutes later. We set up our tent and I’m writing to you lying here in it about 10 feet from the road.
How am I able to be on the internet right now? Well I have my blackberry and I have my laptop. Verizon offers this service called tethering where I connect the blackberry’s internet to the laptop and bam I can be online anywhere even right next to the highway in the middle of nowhere.
Tomorrow is a rest day!!
Distance Traveled Yesterday: 89 Miles
Total distance to date: 1306 miles
I was wrong about the wind. I thought the day before yesterday the wind was not a big deal, but man yesterday it was gusting at 30 mph right into our faces. It's all farms out here and barely any trees to block any of the wind so it hits us with full force. It really impacted our time and instead of averaging around 15 mph we only averaged 12 mph. In spite of that we made it, and we're over 1/3 of the way!
We stopped at McDonald's with about 40 miles to go for lunch and in there this man named Kevin starts talking to us about our bikes. He's from about 20 miles from Lafayette, so we ask if he knows anyone in the area to let us camp out. He calls a few people with no luck and right before we leave he says hold on, "my friends son has a house very close to Purdue." So he gives him a call and it turns out the son (Anthony) won't be there for the night, but since Kevin thought we were nice people he uses his good name with Anthony and gets him to allow Wyatt and I to stay there by ourselves. We were overjoyed!!
Kevin met up with us at the house in Lafayette later and then treats us to this place called Steak n Shake, where I had the best burger in a long time. He then gave us the grand tour of Lafayette and Purdue and dropped us off. Kevin probably is one of the nicest guys i've ever met and don't worry we didn't sully your good name. Thank you Kevin! Whenever you feel like heading south with your sons you're welcome to stay.
We're about to leave this 3 bedroom house in a few minutes and pull out of Indiana and head into Illinois, which will be our 8th state out of 14.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Distance traveled yesterday: 87 miles
Distance after 16 days of riding: 1217 miles
Today we rode 87 miles to Huntington, Indiana and we made really good time in spite of all this extra weight that's on our bikes. The ground is so flat that we are averaging about 15 mph even though the wind is going against us most of the time. There was a huge traffic jam along the highway with cars backed up about 3 miles. This doesn’t bother us at all since we can just go around traffic. It turned out that a car had smashed into a house on the side of the road. As soon as we got there helicopters were landing to take people to the hospital.
Later on right before we crossed into Indiana, I suddenly saw an Ipod on the ground. I yelled, “Wyatt was that an Ipod?” We made a mad dash back to it and I picked it up. It was all scratched up, but it still worked. It’s a 120 GB one! I think what must have happened is that David (it says david IPod on it) was driving along the road in the middle of the night and suddenly saw an asteroid flying through the air. He swerved and slammed on the breaks. The ipod that was sitting on his dashboard flew out the window and landed on the road. David barely missed being hit by the asteroid by seconds and it took a while before his heart stopped pounding. An hour later he realized his Ipod was lost forever in darkness along highway 224.
David if you ever read this. We can figure out a way to get the ipod back to you.
We arrive in Huntington and the people were staying with Tim and Mary Bowman had set up a camper for us in their backyard. They made us a wonderful dinner and Wyatt and I lounged in their pool. All in all it was a great day.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Distance traveled: 1130 miles
So in the time since i've last written, quite a bit has happened. We left Westlake, Ohio and rode to Monroesville, Ohio where we passed a 1000 miles and about 5 miles before we arrived the nastiest thunderstorm hit. Luckily we were in a town and took shelter in a church before it got really bad. We waited the storm out and then made our approach to the beautiful Angie Wilhelm's casa where we had a delightful lasagna dinner and cheesecake all made by Angie. Whoever marries this girl will be a lucky man!! She can cook a scrumptious meal! We met Angie 3 years ago at the beach in North Carolina using the sunscreen technique and when I realized our bike ride took us right by her house I knew we had to reunite! So, she and her family gladly took us in. They made us feel right at home and you know what we felt like part of the family.
We left this morning and this was when Brandon left us for good. He drove back to north Carolina and now it's just Wyatt and I and all our stuff on our bikes. The true adventure begins. we have no lifeline anymore. WE MISS YOU!!! We made the ride with no problem. Except at one point this dog started chasing us. We survived! We were lucky today because this couple Gerry and Susan drove from Cincinnati and took us out to dinner and put us up in this really nice bed and breakfast. Hope you guys made the drive back safely. They were really generous to us and both them and Angie's family are welcome to come visit.
we have quite a long ride tomorrow and i dont know when i'll have a bed again so i'm going to take advantage and go to sleep.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
980 total miles ridden.
Passed through Pensylvania and now we're in Ohio
I'm writing as i'm laying down in a bed for only the third time in 2 weeks and let me tell you it feels really good. I have to thank John and chris for providing us lodging and cooking us a fabulous meal. We all played some Wii. They've made us feel right at home today/tonight. The riding has started to get a lot easier since the ground is so much flatter. I think it will stay flat until we hit the rocky mountains. We're really excited about breaking a thousand miles tomorrow. These next few stories are about the generousity of people that we met in ohio.
1. So we ride across the border and stop at a town called Conneaut, Ohio. We decided that we'll go ot the midnight showing of Transformers because we haven't really had any entertainment. We walk up to buy our tickets around 9:30 pm and we get to talking with the people that work there and one of the guys happens to be a biker. He goes on to offer us a place to camp in his yard for the night. We're very thankful. Just so you know I fell asleep during the movie. Riding lots of miles and staying up really late doesn't work out to well for me.
2. We're riding today and stop at Arbys because they had a sign out front that said get a free sandwich if you pay for a small drink. So we stop since we're ALWAYS hungry. We order and this couple asks Wyatt and I if we were in Pennsylvania the other day. We said yes and they said we saw you two riding your bikes the other day. They ended up giving us some money for food after we told them what we were riding for and wanted to take our picture to show their grandkids.
So that happens and then we talk to two other women in Arbys and they both also gave us money and said to buy food. We were very thankful to these people. If they read this. THANKS AGAIN!
3. We're about 35 miles east of Cleveland, Ohio and we stop at a gas station to find out if there is a way that we can bike around Cleveland without going through tons of traffic. This guy starts talking to me and says he used to bike with olympians back in the 7os and he starts telling me the route we should take to get past cleveland. so we follow his advice and we're about 5 miles into his route when a car pulls up right behind me and honks. At first I thought it was an angry driver, but it turned out to be the same guy. He had gone home printed out step by step directions on his computer, then drove and caught up to us and gave us these directions. We got through Cleveland just fine thanks to him!
I'm sure some people are wondering how we talk to all these strangers. Well these things usually happen when we have our bike outfits on. People ask about what we're doing and then things go from there.
Looking forward to sleeping in a nice bed tonight!
Monday, June 22, 2009
Distance traveled to date: 804 miles
Reporting in from Angola, New York. We’re about 20 miles south of Buffalo right now and we’ll be out of New York today! We went 101 miles yesterday, which is a personal best for both of us. If we do about 85 today we’ll be caught up from the day that we got 4 flat tires. It shouldn’t be a problem. We got new tires for our bikes that are meant for touring instead of racing. Those 100 miles was the most intense ride we’ve had and we did it in about 7 hours. When we got to Angola which is right on Lake Erie, we set up camp on a sand dune, which was about 30 feet above the lake and went to sleep. Wyatt and Brandon slept in the tent, but I set up my hammock since was the first night there wouldn’t be rain since we started our journey. I woke up this morning facing the lake as the sun was just coming up. It was beautiful.
We want to thank the girls from Starbucks that let us stay in their apartment the night before in Canadaigua, New York.
We’re just eating breakfast right now and then heading off into Pennsylvania.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
When we got into town last night I went into a dollar general and asked if there was anywhere we could camp for the night. I made sure to ask in front of the line with the most people. I then asked if there was any place that we could possibly camp in a yard. This woman named Kate stepped up and said we could camp out in her yard. What a nice woman!!! She told us about the fair that was going on and we ended up seeing some fireworks. Our main concern right now is to get out of this rain!!! At one point today we stopped at a Bass Pro Shop and went to the sleeping bag section and got inside them to get warm. We were very inconspicuous and people had no idea we were in there.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
We get to Gloversville, the town that used to make gloves for the United States and immediately are greeted with Ted's amazing hospitality. He cooked us a Thanksgiving dinner complete with a whole turkey, stuffing, and potatoes. It was so tasty and by far the best meal we've had on the trip. He even gave up his bedroom and let us sleep in there. What a nice guy.
The next day (yesterday) was our rest day Brandon and I went to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. It was awesome, the first 15 years of my life were consumed by baseball and it was great to see all the old players and history of the game. That night Ted again made us dinner, his famous chicken wings and homemade french fries. For dessert he made Brownies with ice cream. This guy was a champion!
We give Ted a five star rating due to: the amazing food, the great company, the great sleeping arrangements, and jaccuzi. I highly reccommend it.
We're about to pull out for Oneida, NY. we have a 84 mile bike ride ahead of us. It's raining outside, but thats how its been 5 of the 7 days we've ridden so we're getting used to it.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
New Hampshire was interesting while we were biking through it we thought that there must be more motorcycles here than anywhere in America, but when we get into the town we were stopping at for the night we learned that it was really New Hampshire's bike week, which is the oldest in America. We went and hung out with some bikers for a little while and took in the experience. Also, we found a really nice hotel and proceeded to do a little sneak dog technique in through the side door and ventured into their pool and hot tub. I'll tell you something that hot tub felt so amazing that we stayed in it for an hour.
Vermont has been very mountainous. Yesterday, 95 percent of our bike ride was uphill and then when we were about 5 miles away from Manchester, Vermont the road dropped thousands of feet for those last 5 miles. It was the biggest rush of our lives going down that mountain especially since it was 40 degrees and rainy at the top and as we descended the clouds opened up, the sun came out, and it got hot. It was an amazing experience.
The thing about this trip that is amazing to me is how nice people are when we tell them what we're biking for. Our last night in Maine Brandon asked a guy that owned a storage unit if we could just camp out there and when it started to rain he said we could just go inside one of his units so we werent outside. My first time sleeping in a storage unit!
In NH we were finishing up eating and we went into the bar next to the restaurant and asked some people where would be the best place to camp, when this guy (Joe) who was in his 70s said that we could sleep in his guest bedroom. we were overjoyed to have a place to stay and we took our first shower in a week.
We're off to our next couchsurfing stop in New York. Over and out.
Friday, June 12, 2009
The past two days have been pretty intense biking days. We've gone 150 miles and most of it had been in the rain. Today we saw the sun for the first time since we left North Carolina and it was glorious. Finally it was warm. It got up to 80 degress today and we were able to see the real Maine.
The best thing about yesterday when we got to Liberty, Maine was the place that Brandon found for us to sleep. It was in this park right on a huge lake and we just set up our hammocks and slept like babies next to the water after we ate 2 pounds of spaghetti. It was our own personal lakefront property.
Today Wyatt and I both got our bikes up to 39 mph which are personal bests for the trip. we actually were going faster than traffic since it was in 35 mph. The best part of the ride today was at mile 60 we went through this town that had our first shower in 4 days. We saw a fountain that was shooting water and we proceeded to play in the fountain. IT felt so gooood. We did scare some people who were probably not used to people bathing and playing in the fountain in their bike shorts.
Right now we're about to pull out and stay with this nice family that we met at the end of our bike ride. They saw us struggling up a huge a hill and so we asked them where Poland was and they said that we were in it. Then we asked if there was anywhere we could camp out and they said anywhere really. So we asked if we can camp out in their backyard and they said sure thing. Such great hospitality.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
right now we're in Franklin, Maine and are using some stores wireless. We're pretty exhausted and will be retiring into the tent pretty soon. Maine has these cool areas where you can just pull 20 feet of the road and set up a tent. It's supposed to be rainy and cold tomorrow, but since everyday we're going further south we figure it will get warm soon engough.
Fun fact: Franklin, Maine is the Christmas tree capitol of the world
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
We all arrived at Lubec, Maine today around 6 pm after 24 hours of straight driving. We’re definitely happy to be out of the car and are ready to start riding tomorrow. As soon as we got here we went to the lighthouse which is the eastern most point in the United States. We felt pretty awesome knowing every single person in the country was to the west of us. We’re about to set up camp and cook some spaghetti. We’re near a beach access and since it says no camping on the beach, we figure we’re okay to camp out right before the sand. At least that’s our logic. Tomorrow is the big day. Over and out.PS – Wyatt says that it’s extremely beautiful here and Brandon says this is a place that should be visited.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Our local newspaper (The Pilot) wrote about our bike trip today so check that out at this site: