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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Days 40 - 44 /// Heat + Headwind = Kansas

I find myself writing this from the super posh, boutique Comfort Inn in Newton, KS. I wanted to crash the Newton Bike Shop and Hostel, but the owners left a couple days ago for vacation and have closed shop. Bummer. I was really looking forward to meeting other TransAm'ers, having my bike massaged, and sampling the all-you-can-drink beer they apparently have on tap. Again, bummer. 

We're all up in Kansas now and it's incredibly hot. I mean literally hot... and windy. It seems to blow northeast constantly, which is pretty rough to push through when headed west. It's no wonder everyone heading W to E talked about how miserable the Ozarks were. I reckon they were used to being pushed along like a sailboat on pancake flat ground for ~1k miles. Personally I thought the Ozarks were easy compared to Virginia and the Appalachians.

We've been meeting more bike tourists as of late. Jamie from Manchester and a nice couple from just outside of Munich to name a few. On a funny note, I met Erica and her two friends in Ash Grove. After meeting them I had three random guys ask if I'd "seen the three girls". There are so few females doing this, that all the guys get excited. So I call them the famous trio now. Hilarious. Erica, if you read this know you have a couple different groups of guys chasing and trying to track your crew down. Giddy up!  

Services in Kansas have been sparse to say the least. I rode 75 miles today from Eureka to Newton and the only place to get water was in Cassoday from a well in the public park. Hysterical, yesterday I rode through Toronto and stopped at the only open store in town. It was a liquor store, but Kansas law meant they couldn't sell anything non-alcoholic. So here I am, in the middle of F all Kansas, in 100 degree heat, and the ONLY thing I can get to drink is booze. Awesome. A nice couple saw me laughing about the whole thing and directed me to Lizard Lips, a restaurant two miles up the road. Plenty of fluids there and the best baked beans I've ever had. 

Aight... Time to rest up a bit, then eat like a fat kid.

Famous trio - The Femme Fatales

Best pie this side of the Miss'ippi

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Days 35 - 39 /// State of the Union

A little update for ya... As usual, until I'm on my own you can keep up to speed on our bicycle adventure via my dad's very detailed journal. As for me, I'll pepper in a few things...  

First, today is my birthday. My mother messaged last night to remind me that at 1:42am, 38 years ago, I hatched. Being 38 is strange. In the mirror and on paper I'm seemingly getting older. However, I feel just as healthy as ever, and still haven't quite figured out 'what I wanna be' when I grow up. Then again, has anyone? I guess I still have a couple of youthful years until the big 4-0, so I'm gonna take advantage!  

On a random topic, what in the F is going on in the world?  We left on June 11th and the $hit has literally hit the fan. Ever since a lunatic gunman opened fire in an Orlando nightclub five weeks ago, we've been hammered by news of bloodshed in Istanbul, Dallas, Nice, Baton Rouge, and others. What gives? All that, plus the ridiculousness of the current American political system, the incredible poverty and general fucked'up'ed'ness of most of the areas we've ridden through, cops and citizens at war, and the absurdity of Brexit. I'm beginning to think we're seeing a global 'fall of Rome', and it saddens me deeply.  

The other day we stopped at a gas station in the middle of nowhere and I came across a stack of old NatGeo magazines. The first one I grabbed was from 1970 and the headline was something about pollution, and how we're "killing the environment" and need to change our ways or we'll create a little thing called "climate change". Fast forward almost 50 years... did we do anything? Of course not. 

We are an interesting species capable of compassion and kindness. We love and romance, cry for each other, even tear the very organs from our bodies and give them to strangers. At the same time, we slaughter one another, and destroy our only planet simultaneously. We are certainly compassionate and kind, but we are also clearly very susceptible to greed, gluttony, and lust. I don't know what to do about any of it. I see nothing being done but people arguing their opinion is the right opinion. I won't share my opinion on any of it. I'm just going to try to be a better person to myself, others, and the environment. I wish others would take a step back and do the same. 

On one hand it was a wonderful birthday. On the other, I can't help but think what things will be like in 5, 10, 25 years. For now, I'll just stay present watching the wheels go round.  

Here's a few pics from the past few days...  

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Days 23 - 34 /// Brief Update

Day 34 and we've ridden just shy of 1,600 miles. Again, until I branch off solo I'm going to direct most of the updates to my dad's journal, which can be found here.  

Made it to the amazing Al's Place (bike hostel) in Farmington, IL
Rippin' it up on the Surly LHT

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Days 15 - 22 /// Still Truckin'

Not sure why, but I haven't felt the urge to write much this trip. The last adventure (moto journey) I was compelled to jot things down every day.  Route advice, feelings, crazy mishaps, adventures with friends, etc. I guess this round I'm taking more time for myself. Fewer pictures, fewer written words. More thinking, more reflection, and more introspection. Again, if you want the play-by-play, feel free to visit my pop's journal here. He has done a great job of keeping up daily entries.  

For now, I'll keep up the photo journal look/feel. Seems best until I get inspiration to write a bit more. Enjoy, 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Days 06 - 14 /// Finding a Rhythm

This bicycle travel thing is harder than expected!  Don't get me wrong, I'm loving it, but haven't had much time to write.  I feel like we finish each day ~5pm, and by the time I've unpacked, showered, set camp, eaten dinner, planned routing for the following day, and contacted friends/loved ones, it's time to head to bed.  I'm sure I'll get better/quicker at the routine, which should allow more time to write.  For now, let me get caught up.  

So far we've bicycled 14 days, through five states, and 697 miles.  My legs and glutes (i.e. ass) are killing me, but I'm seriously loving this form of travel.  Moto travel is stellar, but being on a bicycle really slows things down.  All of my senses have been on high alert.  The sights have been great, the countryside has had a sweet smell the majority (most likely from the flowers and honeysuckle blooms), and the birds are chirping and cheering us on.

Here is the breakdown of our stops thus far...  

Day 01 - Brooklyn to Warren, NJ
Day 02 - Warrington, PA
Day 03 - Elverson, PA
Day 04 - Mount Joy, PA
Day 05 - Jarrettsville, MD
Day 06 - Ellicott City, MD
Days 07/08 - Washington, DC
Day 09 - Prince William Park, VA
Day 10 - Orange, VA
Day 11 - Afton, VA
Day 12 - Lexington, VA
Day 13 - Troutville, VA
Day 14 - Blacksburg, VA

Here are some pictures of the ride thus far.  See captions for add'l info.  We have a 'day off' tomorrow, so I'll try to update with another post that includes more on highlights, lowlights, tips, tricks, recommendations, and shout outs.  

Until then, 
First campsite of the trip at French Creek State Park
The Amish doing their thing - truly a throwback
Made it to D.C.
Somewhere in the middle of nowhere - dirt road for days
Blue Ridge Parkway 
Blue Ridge Parkway

Death hills - BRP
One of the most special places I've ever had the honor to see and/or stay in.
We glamped in the house, and made a warm meal.  HIGHLY recommended
for anyone passing through on the TransAm.  RIP June Curry (Cookie Lady)
Inside the Cookie Lady's house.  Absolutely filled with postcards,
letter, and gifts from all around the world.  Dating back 40 years.
Headed into Blacksburg, VA 
Headed into Blacksburg, VA 
Troutville, VA is the friendliest little town. They cater to Appalachian
through hikers and bike tourists on the TransAm. Free camping in the
city park, and laundry/showers/gym at the fire dept.
Headed into Blacksburg, VA