What Am I Doing Now?

david-1

Me in Hebron, Palestine – December 2014

I thought it might be a good idea to catch everyone up on what I am doing and where I’m at. First of all, I suspended my ride around America in July of 2012. For a variety of reason I decided it was best to move to Arizona and be near my father and his wife. So here I am in the quaint little town of Wickenburg which is about fifty miles northwest of Phoenix. It’s small and there isn’t much to do here. I ride quite a bit still and during the winter have some “snowbird” friends that I can ride with. The lifestyle is way different than it was in Portland. Kind of a cultural wasteland to be honest. Not many restaurants and one theater with one screen. I like it here in the winter because the riding is great compared to the northwest. The summers however are brutal. Not sure I’d ever get used to them.

As you can see from my home page I’m involved with Christian Peacemaker Teams which is a Christian humanitarian organization that has teams around the world in heavily militarized and conflict zones. I went to Palestine in December 2014 and if you are interested I write about my experiences as well as provide resources for Palestine on my website. I am applying for a full time position with CPT and hope to go back to Palestine or northern Iraq next year.

So, now you are caught up. That’s my life right now.

Gathering clouds

DSCN0350Each afternoon, warm moist air comingles with colder air and thunderstorms are born. Towering cumulous clouds begin to build tens of thousands of feet into the sky. It’s a sight to behold and one I’ve seen time and time again. This dance plays out nearly every day during the late spring and summer in every corner of the country.

It’s a habit I developed a couple of years ago when I first rode across the country. Ever mindful of the weather I look around for potential shelter spots in the afternoons when these storm clouds begin to mount. It may be an old barn or an abandoned building. Or it could be someone’s home that I can ask politely for temporary shelter. The last place one wants to be during a lightning storm or hail is out in the open. It happened to me one time in Wyoming when I was pelted with hail and it’s not something I want to do on a regular basis. Another time in Colorado I had lightning strikes so close to me that there was no discernible time lapse between the lightning and the thunder.  Read more »

On the road again…Sumpter, Oregon

???????????????????????????????Greetings from Sumpter, Oregon. Yes, this is only my first blog entry since my journey started. It’s been a whirlwind the last few weeks in the run up to my departure. The last time I rode across the U.S. it was for only four months and really no big deal. This time however I had to prepare to be gone for the better part of a year. It’s interesting to unplug your life for a year. I sold my car, put everything into storage courtesy of West Coast Self Storage of Vancouver and vacated my apartment.

Most of you know why I’m doing this 12,000 mile trek. As I did the last time, I’m doing it for Share in Vancouver, Washington which serves the homeless and hungry in SW Washington. It’s an organization I’ve been affiliated with Share for nearly eight years now and they do a superb job at delivering services to the homeless and hungry men, women, children and families of Vancouver. Read more »

A simple gesture

sharesymbolShortly after joining the Share board a few years ago I was on a business trip up in Anchorage. One evening I decided to indulge in a little fast food so I headed to the local McDonald’s. When I was walking in I noticed a man in a wheelchair outside but didn’t give it much thought. After eating and reading the paper I walked outside to go back to my hotel. The man was still sitting there. I knew he was homeless and likely hungry so I asked him if he’d eaten. He hadn’t so I gave him a few dollars and told him to get something to eat. And then I asked him if he had a place to sleep that night. He told me he didn’t and I knew that a spring storm was coming in that evening. I walked inside and asked one of the counter people if she knew of a shelter in town and she told me about one near downtown. I got the address and directions and walked outside. “Let’s get you to the shelter, have you stayed there before?” He told me he had stayed there but that it was likely full given the approaching weather. I told him to not worry about that. I helped him into my rental car and loaded his wheelchair in the trunk. The drive to the shelter was about twenty five minutes and perhaps one of the most enlightening experiences of my life. I’d always kept my distance, never fully engaged with homelessness. Until then.

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Are you hungry?

As a kid my step dad used to say this to me – “You cry because you have no shoes until you see the man who has no feet.” He said this so often that it became a phrase with no meaning. It wasn’t until I became a more traveled adult that it began to make sense. And over the last several years since becoming involved with Share it’s really resonated with me. This morning it echoed through my head as I was putting food into canvas bags as part of Share’s Backpack Program.

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Coming together and picking up speed

columbianThings are picking up considerably over the last couple of weeks as I plan this next journey. I’m a bit overwhelmed by the outpouring of support as we move from the “dream” phase to the “execution” phase. Jack Hardy did a press release last week and my website, Facebook page and Twitter feed went nuts. The Daily Insider and the Columbian both did articles which if you are curious to read are on my website under the News tab. Read more »

Around The Edges

Well, I am now actively planning my next journey. I’ve decided to embark on a one year long bicycle adventure around the United States. Literally. It will total nearly 12,000 miles when all said and done. For those of you who followed last years trip you will recall that I was struck by how the economy had decimated the country, especially the heartland. On this journey I’ll be taking a video camera and conducting interviews with people with the goal of doing a documentary film about “the state of the nation.”

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Once more unto the breach

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…..”  Henry V

Life has a funny way of revealing itself. I’ve been thinking about the next great adventure and what that might be and now I know. A couple of weeks ago my brother Mark called me and told me he wanted us to ride bicycles across the United States together. Needless to say, I said yes. We’ve been orbiting on different planes much of our lives and haven’t spent as much time together as we wanted. He retired from the army a few years ago, a veteran of tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. And he’s turning 50 this year. My little brother is turning 50. It’s kind of hard to wrap my brain around that. His kids are  grown as are mine and more importantly he got a hall pass from his wife, my sister-in-law so now is the time.

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So now what?

One year ago I celebrated July 4th in Yellowstone and was well into my journey. Today I am working with my friend Scott on a couple of projects related to internet marketing. I’ve joined the Vancouver Bicycle Club recently and am starting to do some of the club rides.

As I reflect back on that four months in my life I realize that it changed me. Today as I am out riding it feels different than before I left. As many of you know I wasn’t really a cyclist before my journey. The bicycle felt uncomfortable to me in a way. The action of turning the crank was strange. Now I am one with my bike. In the afternoons when I go out to my garage and see my old Surly it’s almost like visiting with an old friend. I climb on and it’s natural to turn the pedals. While I may not be as fit as when I was in the Rocky Mountains I’m still in good shape and ride between twenty and fifty miles several days a week.

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The end of the road

davidbeforeafter_smallI arrived home late Monday night after completing my journey in Wilmington, North Carolina on Sunday, October 10th. That last weekend I rode from my brother and sister-in-law’s in Hope Mills down to the coast without my trailer and was grateful the entire way. Grateful because in America we are afforded the opportunity to live our dreams. Grateful because I’m blessed with a lot of great friends and family. Grateful that I made it safely across without injury.

My daughter Jennifer was waiting at the airport on Monday night and smiling broadly. We embraced for a long moment and she stated flatly – “I knew you’d do it, I told everyone you’d do it.” When I last saw Jen in Astoria I wasn’t as sure as her. I had no idea when I clipped in and started peddling in the streets of Astoria toward parts unknown that day what lay ahead. I knew it would be challenging, but had no clue about the great adventure in front of me. It surpassed my expectations by a country mile. And made every other adventure I’ve been on in life pale in comparison. Except for being a parent. Now that’s excitement. Read more »

Bowling Green Kentucky…wind sprints

DSCN0593I’ve made my way to Bowling Green, Kentucky after taking a rather circuitous route since leaving Missouri. As you recall, I went off the TransAm Trail awhile ago and am now blazing my own path across the United States. A few days ago I crossed the Mississippi River into Illinois out of Cape Girardeau Missouri. It was an emotional experience for a number of reasons. The Mississippi River is huge for one and really impressive. Second, it does symbolically separate the east from the west. And crossing it meant that I had ‘officially’ crossed over and was in the eastern part of the country. At that time I’d done 3,000 miles and now my odometer reads 3,337.78 miles.

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Is this thing on?

DSCN0569I have to apologize because apparently an email I sent out some time ago didn’t actually get sent. My laptop went south after I left Colorado and I didn’t have internet access for awhile. I tried to send an email blast out from a public library in Kansas and it didn’t go, probably due to operator error. Then my cell was left behind in another town and it finally caught up with me a few days ago. It too has a few issues which I will have to get addressed when (and if) I ever get to a town that has a cell phone store.

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Horace Kansas

DSCN0555I’m sitting in the Barrel Springs Hunt Club in Horace, Kansas. Today I bid adieu to Colorado and for the next five hundred miles will be in Kansas. After leaving Kremmling, Colorado I headed to Frisco which is a nice little town near Breckenridge. I’d met the President of Bighorn Rentals the second day I was on the riding on the Oregon coast. He told me to contact him when I got to Colorado and he’d comp me a room. I wrote John Forrest a few days before heading to Frisco and as promised had a nice room waiting for me. I spent took an off day in Frisco which allowed me to explore the area. Also to eat some mighty fine food that was unavailable for the last couple of months. Ahi, polenta and all kinds of good stuff. I reckon that in most of the towns I’ve cycled through if I mentioned polenta someone would say guzentheit.

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Kremmling Colorado

When we last left our intrepid cyclist he was in Lander Wyoming……

DSCN0361I have made my way down the Rocky Mountains and am now in Kremmling Colorado. As always, it’s been an adventure the last week and a half. In Lander I made the mistake of eating at a Thai restaurant and got sick as a dog. I lost weight I couldn’t afford to lose and had to take a couple of days off. Not a pleasant experience.

RollingAcrossAmerica factoid: My wheels have turned 1,449,336 revolutions since leaving Astoria over 1,868 miles.

Between Lander and Rawlins Wyoming there is 120 miles of nothing. My plan leaving Lander was to make the halfway point which is Jeffrey City and camp for the night. Well, I didn’t quite make it. It was very hot, mid 90’s and I had a bit of a climb out of Lander. I was pretty dehydrated from my ‘Thai’ experience and bonked in a major way after 45 miles. What is bonking? It’s when the glycogen our muscles use is totally depleted and they no longer function. I got to this wide spot in the road called Sweetwater Station and camped at the Mormon Handcart Historical Site. I’d read that they allowed camping there and took them up on their offer. It was really interesting. About 200 LDS were gathered at the site for a retreat and I was permitted to pitch my tent on the grounds. Since my original intention was to make it to Jeffrey City I had very little food. I was fed dinner and breakfast the next morning which was very nice. Good group of people who were very interested in what I was doing and why. Read more »

Divide…..and conquer

Hoosier PassWhere’s Waldo? That’s what my daughter asked me when she called the other day. Well, Waldo is in Lander, Wyoming. It’s been awhile since I sent out an update so thought I’d better catch everyone up. Over the last week and a half I’ve toured Yellowstone and am nearly to my next major milestone which is Rawlins, Wyoming.

I’ve covered some 1,562 miles now (see trip log for details) and over the last four days I’ve crossed the Continental Divide four times. There’s been a fair amount of climbing including the second highest pass on the TransAmerica Trail – Togwotee Pass at 9,658 feet with 2,700 feet of climb. Did that the day before yesterday and it was really something. The only break I got was a four mile stretch under construction when I had to load my rig into a pilot truck because they couldn’t permit cyclists to ride through the construction zone. One of these days I’m going to sit down and calculate how many vertical feet I’ve climbed over this journey. I suspect it’s a big number. The good news is that for the most part I’m peddling instead of walking these days. When I first started I was intimidated by the hills on the Oregon Coast and now they look like speed bumps compared to what I am doing these days. Read more »

Caution: Cows On Road

DSCN0351Well, that doesn’t happen every day. Being stopped by a herd of cattle that is. Today as I was riding from Jackson Montana to Dillon I came upon a sign on the side of the road – CAUTION: COWS ON ROAD. I moseyed on down the road a piece and yep, there were cows in the road. Lots of ‘em. As you can see from the photos I was pretty much stopped in my tracks for awhile. The cowboys were driving them from one grazing area to another smack dab down the middle of the highway. As they got closer I was a little concerned and didn’t know what to do. Do I turn around? Do I just sit there and hope they have the sense to walk around me and not through me? Luckily a local came along in his truck and had me follow behind him as he pushed them aside.

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Muh-zu-lah Montana

DSCN0328Greetings from Big Sky Country, Missoula Montana. I made it here yesterday after a three day, 173 mile push from Grangeville, Idaho bringing my total mileage to 986 since leaving Astoria. My back gave out on me after the grueling climb out of White Bird so decided to lay low for a couple of days and give it a rest. Lots of stretching and Aleve. Tuesday I made the trek from Grangeville to Lowell and stayed at the rustic Three Rivers Resort at the confluence of the Clearwater, Lochsa and Selway Rivers. I’m starting to run into a lot of cyclists now which has been interesting. People from all walks of life are riding the highways and byways of America. Although I haven’t caught up with her yet there’s a woman who is riding a unicycle across the country. I’m sure to catch up with her in the next couple of days. I rode for awhile with a guy from Australia, a teacher from Virginia and a guy from Kentucky.

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Grangeville Eye-dee-ho

Greetings from Grangeville, Idaho. I’ve been in Idaho for a few days now and only 172 miles from Missoula, Montana. It’s been a treat getting out of the rain now for the last week or so and in fact got sunburned one day while riding from Halfway, Oregon to Cambridge, Idaho.

Me with a couple of Brits on the road in Oregon

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Halfway Oregon

DSCN0271Walking into the saloon I tell the barkeep, “Hi, my name is David Jones and I have a room upstairs reserved tonight, number ten.” An older dignified gentleman was sitting across the room at the video lottery machine, Stetson sitting squarely on his head. A doppelganger for Sam Elliot including the massive neatly groomed moustache. He turned to me and inquired, “You aren’t one of those left wing environmental wacko’s are you?” It must have been the straggly beard I’m sportin’ and the ‘do rag’ on my head. I wasn’t exactly spoiling for a fight, mostly just wanted a hot shower and meal after making the fifty four mile ride in from Baker City. I looked him square in the eye and said firmly, “I’m a dyed in the wool libertarian who’s supported Ron Paul for half my life. I subscribe to the Austrian School of Economics more than the Keynesian crap of Bernanke and Greenspan. We should repeal the 16th Amendment, abolish the Federal Reserve and return to the gold standard. And yeah, I think we could do a better job with the environment starting with widespread deployment of nuclear power and stop being held hostage by the Saudi’s and Hugo Chavez while burning all those fossil fuels. Any other questions?” We looked each other in the eye for a minute and then he slowly turned back to his lottery machine, ”You can stay” he said.  Well, that’s how it played out in my mind but what I really said was this, “Nope, just a weary cyclist looking for a bed and a shower.” Welcome to Halfway Oregon, population: Conservative.

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John Day Oregon

DSCN0242Well, yesterday I rode 70 miles from Mitchell to John Day. I was in the saddle for 8 hours total over one 4,300’ mountain pass. It was like and 8 hour spin class. Needless to say when I rolled into town I was spent. I stopped at the summit of the pass and watched a bald eagle soaring across a ridge which was incredible. Later down the road a deer ran out in front of me not 50 feet away and nearly startled me off my bike. There are snakes and road kill, elk poop and rocks. I’m certainly gaining strength and confidence with each passing day. And I’m learning what to do and not do. For example, never leave on a 50 mile trip without eating breakfast. I’ve never been a breakfast eater so I have to force myself to eat sometimes. Also, as the country becomes more rural know what is ahead and expect the unexpected. The other day I left Prineville without eating breakfast knowing (yeah, right) that there was a little market up on Ochoco Pass that I could stop at to eat. It was closed. So I ended up riding from Prineville to Mitchell – 50 miles – over a 4,700 foot pass fueled only by Gatorade and one PowerBar. Not very bright.

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Prineville Oregon

Well, I’ve made it to Prineville Oregon. So far I’ve gone 374.24 miles since I started on May 18th. It’s been an adventure to say the least. Yesterday I did a little 43 mile sprint from Sisters to Prineville in just over 3 hours. It was the first day with no rain which was pleasant. My bum wasn’t even tired when I rolled into town. I have to say I’ll be glad to get out of Oregon. Not because of the rain (though that is a factor) but because it feels like I’ve been here forever. The TransAm Trail takes a rather circuitous path throughout the state.

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Blue River Oregon

Greetings from Blue River, Oregon. Mile post 40 east of Eugene. So far I’ve covered 267+ miles since leaving Astoria and am now beginning to do some real riding. If you look at my trip log I’m averaging now well over 40 miles per riding day which is a far cry from how I started. Yesterday I rode from Eugene to Blue River. Today I begin my ascent of Santiam Pass which is my first real test in the mountains.

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Corvallis Oregon

I made it to Corvallis yesterday after a nearly 47 mile ‘jaunt’ from Grand Ronde and taking a rest day. Needless to say, it has been an interesting first week. The Oregon coast was grueling. A couple of days I was battered about like a rag doll by 50+MPH winds on the coast highway. Someone told me there were gusts of 80MPH that day. The rain was unceasing and I wondered sometimes if it would ever stop. 101 was built in the 20’s and as such built on top of the mountains instead of the cut and fill approach of today. This means lots of hills and steep grades which were physically demanding. I’ve done 182+ miles so far since leaving Astoria last week. Not as far as I’d like but given my age and physical fitness level I’ll take it. Once I get to Eugene tomorrow I’ll head over the Santiam Pass into Central Oregon. And be done with Map 1 of 12 of the TransAmerica Trail.

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Against The Wind

Against the wind
A little something against the wind
I found myself seeking shelter against the wind

–  Bob Segar

The first week is behind me now. I’ve peddled some one hundred and eighty two miles. I’m in Corvallis Oregon at least for another twenty four hours when I’ll move on to Eugene. Today I’m taking a day off to rest my body and charge my batteries a bit. Did a little maintenance on my bike this morning. Took it across the street to a car wash where I got rid of some of the road grime that had accumulated the last week in the rain. Cleaned and lubed my chain and drive train and made sure the rims of my wheels were sparkling clean.

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The Perfect Storm

Jennifer and I in Astoria on departure day

Jennifer and I in Astoria on departure day

These first days have been a little more grueling than I thought. My daughter Jennifer took me to Astoria on Tuesday to get underway. It was great that she was with me as I embarked on this journey. I made it to Cannon Beach after a little more than twenty five miles. The coastal highway has some nice little grades, some over 7% and as much as 9%. Going up I have to use my lowest gears and going downhill I have to lean on my brakes. For the most part 101 is great for bikers but when a big truck goes by it’s a bit disconcerting.

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Departure

Well, it looks like I’ll be leaving on Tuesday the 18th.  A few days later than I wanted but no harm. It’s taken a little longer than I thought to wrap things up, get everything into storage. It may sound a little trivial but when one is going to be essentially homeless for a few months there’s a lot to consider. Where do you forward your mail? I’ve found that I must make my life as self contained as possible which is challenging. Read more »

Preparation

equipmentI went over to Portland today to a bicycle show at the convention center. Lots of bikes and accessories. I connected with a woman who provides bicycle repair classes and workshops. Her name is Tori Bortman and she’s the owner of Gracie’s Wrench. I’m in the process of arranging a couple of one-on-one classes with her to learn a bit about repairs and maintenance before I get on the road.

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Miles and miles

DSCN0213I picked up my trailer from River City Bicycles on Saturday and took it out for a little 15 mile jaunt on the Sweetwater Corridor along the Willamette River. It’s really easy to pull when it’s empty. I didn’t even know it was behind me for the most part. I decided to get the Ibex instead of the Yak because it has a suspension system which I’m told will trail better in the mountains, especially going downhill. So, without further adieu, here’s my transportation system for the next few months:

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Training and equipment

DSCN0217I’ve started training in earnest the last couple of weeks. Getting out most every day and putting in a few miles. I’m getting used to my new bike and love it. The muscles used to ride a bike are different than running so it’s taken some time to get used to that. I’m sore like when I was running a lot but in different areas. I’m going to upgrade my saddle sometime soon to something a little more comfortable and easier on my tush. Last weekend I ordered my trailer which should be in next week. Stefan over at River City Bicycles again spent a lot of time with me helping me get my gear. I bought a computer (Cateye Strada) and rear rack which I installed Sunday. I’d thought about getting a high end GPS based system but have decided to keep it really simple. No fancy wireless gear or things that can break. Very simple, very reliable equipment that won’t break.

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And so it begins…

This is the first of what promises to be many posts. Today I bought  a new Surly bike from River City Bicycles in Portland. Stefan over there has spent a fair amount of time with me the last couple of weekends and today I took possession of my new Surly Long Haul Trucker. When I got home I hit the road for a little ten mile jaunt. It’s a great bike and I’m looking forward to putting in a few miles before the trip begins. Last week I went over to REI in Clackamas to pick up some camping gear I’d ordered online. New tent, sleeping bag and pad. I have a three page spreadsheet with all the equipment I have to get the next couple of months. The bike is one big ticket item and the other will be the trailer which I’ll order next week.

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