No Plans

When we left Mobile, Alabama this morning we didn’t know where we were going to be sleeping tonight. This is fairly common for us. I have an Excel document with our route plans and some notes, but more often than not in the “Sleeping” column it just says “Off Road”. Which basically means “fuck if I know, I’m sure something will work out”. Tonight, like 99.9% of the time, something worked out.

As dusk was approaching we biked past a woman who was walking on the same trail as us. She was probably in her 60’s or so. She flagged us down and asked about our ride and, after a little bit of small talk, she said that we could camp on her land. Her father just died and she is in the process of selling all of his belongings and preparing the house for someone else to live in. We chatted with her a bit before she left us alone with the house, giving us free reign to shower, power our things, use the kitchen, and sleep.

If we decided to plan every moment of our ride we would miss out on these serendipitous moments. If we stayed in hotels or reserved camping spots, then our rides would be about travel instead of adventure. Our decision not to worry about little things like where we are going to sleep or how we are going to get where we want to go have allowed us to live fuller, richer lives filled with interesting people. And, I like to think, by living a little unconventionally we add something to other people’s lives as well. Life cannot, and should not, be planned too strictly. Sometimes it is best to just walk out the front door and see where your feet take you.

Advertisements

People Rock!

We get warned by people, a lot. People in cities warn us about country folk. People in the country warn us about city folk. Suburban people warn us about everyone outside of their housing development. Violence happens everywhere. Well, except the place where we currently are. Everyone else is violent, but not here, people here are good. It is everyone else who is “crazy*”.

Often, people tell us to carry a gun or a knife or something. We have both of those things, including bear mace, but I’ve loaded the weapon less than 20 times in the last two years and kept it outside of the case even fewer times. Most of those times we were in areas with potentially dangerous wildlife like alligators or bears. The change of an attack is still miniscule, but I still feel more comfortable if I am ready.

I kind of understand everyone’s fear, particularly from people who haven’t spent a lot of time out of their hometowns. If you watch the news there is always someone committing an act of violence “out there”. Even fictional television shows encourage fear. Shows like Law & Order (and their seemingly hundreds of offshoots) come up with a case of rape, murder, and kidnapping every week. These crimes happen somewhere else and seem to reassure the general population that the only safe place is in their homes. Going outside is dangerous. Travelling is dangerous. Every mile you venture outside of your bubble your chances of being a victim is magnified tenfold.

Luckily, none of that has been our real experience. Despite all the warnings we have had an almost universally positive experience with everyone we have encountered. We really only had one personal experience that I would call bad, and it wasn’t a violent one, we were just accused of a crime by some people in North Dakota. Everyone else has been incredibly supportive. People offer us water, shelter, food, money, and weed all the time. When we use websites like Couchsurfing and Warmshowers (which do have varying levels of security) we are invited into stranger’s homes and often left there alone. Hell, the couple we are staying with now gave us a spare key after knowing us for less than three waking hours.

People are generally good. Out of thousands upon thousands of people we have encountered over the last two years of travelling none have gone out of their way to harm us. It would be easy to harm us too. We could be killed by a car on a lone road and nobody would be there to help us. We could have someone try to steal our bikes or equipment and we would be left alone without any support. But that hasn’t happened, we haven’t even felt like it is likely it would happen. Nearly all people on this planet want to go their whole lives without hurting another, cooperation is in our nature.

I do realize that there is an element of privilege in this. Anna and I are two white, relatively young, not completely unattractive, people who have access to showers, razors, and clean clothing. If we were a different race or much older or looked like unemployed transients it is possible that we would be open to more violence or, at the very least, being treated with less kindness. Though, overall, things are getting better. Violence is down. Crime is down. Prosperity is up. Opportunities are up. The improvement is not dispersed equally in the US (and definitely not in the world) but we are getting there, and I think we need to recognize that. Living in fear and seeing fellow humans as “the crazy other” is no way to live.

 

 

* As someone who has seem mental illness and has my own mental demons I hate when people use the word “crazy” when they mean “dangerous”. We could unpack this a lot. People who say this seem to be implying that in order to be violent you must have a mental illness, but that mental illness tends to be the sole problem of everyone else. The person talking is the only sane person in a sea of chaos, that is why we need things like the death penalty, police, the war on drugs, NSA surveillance, appeals to God as the foundation of morality, etc. We need these parental figures for everyone else, but not us. Blargh.

The End of the Ride

In an effort to improve my writing I am participating in a free Coursera course “Writing for Young Readers”. Writing for children isn’t a particular passion for me but I figured it is good to do more writing and have others read what I wrote. What follows is my first assignment for that class. Due to the assignment limitations (500 words) the story is a very short version of the true events, but I’m writing a book about my cross-country bike ride and the final day will be explained more extensively in the book. Any comments or advice would be appreciated.

I awoke to the sound of lawn sprinklers dangerously close to my tent. In my hazy, early morning daze I knew something wasn’t quite right but my mind was moving too slowly to figure it out. Then it hit me. Literally. Water began to blast into my tent, soaking through the thin nylon and creating a growing puddle around my sleeping bag. The sun was barely coming over the hills and I wanted nothing more than to curl back up and go to sleep, but that wasn’t going to happen. Besides, this was my final day and I should be excited.

Over the last two months I had been riding my bicycle across the United States. After over three thousand miles and countless memories I had finally made it to my final day, the day when I would see the Pacific Ocean and start my new life in Los Angeles. I was happy and excited, but I was also a bit sad to see this journey come to an end. A part of me wanted to keep riding forever and neglect the responsibility that came with adulthood. It was easy being on the road with no concerns beyond finding a place to sleep or grabbing a meal. That leisure life of cycling had come to an end and ahead of me was the unknown. I had no job in Los Angeles, all I had was a friend who was willing to let me sleep on his couch until I got my life together.

So, I grudgingly got up and got ready for the last hundred miles. I went through the morning routine of coffee, breakfast, and packing that had become second-nature to me. Most of the day went by as a blur, a collection of faded memories that blended with the rest of my ride. At some point every farm, every town, and every road starts to look the same. Even the photos I took barely remind me of what I felt at that time. That changed once I got onto the final trail before I hit the ocean.

I rode that trail almost as if in a dream. My mind was unable to comprehend that the moment had finally arrived. Seeing the ocean had been something I had played over in my mind hundreds of times over the previous months. This moment kept me motivated when my bike broke down in West Virginia, when I faced 50 mph winds in New Mexico, and all the other times that I broke down mentally and doubted myself.

I can still picture the ocean coming into view, taking my breath away. Tears streamed down my face as I walked to that clear blue water. I fell to my knees and just sat there, sobbing and smiling. It was bittersweet, but the adventure was over. I had done it. I had biked across the United States.

Helena to Bozeman (or, The Hills of Methtana)

Helena proved to be a fun little town. There was definitely a more rural feel to it than Missoula, but it still had some great breweries and bars, and our Couchsurfing host was amazing. She showed us around town a bit (took us to Blackfoot River brewery as well as Lewis and Clark brewery), and she graciously let us take over her backyard and house for a few days. I feel like Helena has a lot more for us to find if we had time to explore and dive in a bit. Maybe someday we will be back for an extended stay.

Higgs. Chillin'.

On Wednesday (5/20) we hit the road again. Our next major stop was Bozeman, Montana…another city we knew nothing about but shows up on a map. The day started out a little late for us, it is always tough to gather up and get moving after a few days off, but by 11 AM or so we were back on the road. It wasn’t long before we were greeted by our old friend, Headwind. Headwind sucks and I want to punch him in his cocky throat. The first hour or so was a little rough with Headwind plus a slight uphill, but eventually the wind settled down and things got a bit easier. The time passed quickly as we wound through the mountains, and we even saw some antelope (antelopes?) in a field!

The last ten miles or so of the day were pretty easy, it was mostly downhill. We are now coasting along the Missouri River which eventually finds its way to St. Louis (thank you informative sign at the campsite for that info). Also, Lewis and Clark hung out around here a couple hundred years ago, which I find kind of cool.

Home is where the tent is.

Our place of rest for the night was a little campground along the Missouri (Indian Road Campground). It was free, which is always a bonus. Also, someone left a full can of Coke on the table near our spot so we mixed that with some rum we happened to have. I don’t remember where the hell we got a small bottle of rum but I’m glad we had it. It was nice getting into the campground a bit early, I was able to plug in the solar system, get some work done, and even do a little reading. This camping thing is pretty cool when you have some daylight to enjoy it.

The night was fairly uneventful and our morning was calm and relaxed. We eventually hit the road around 10:30 AM and made a quick stop at a gas station in Townsend to get some water. The campground we stayed at was wonderful in many ways (including being free) but it didn’t have any potable water available. But, nothing a stop at a gas station couldn’t fix!

The route for the day was similar to yesterday, a gradual uphill for about two-thirds of the ride and then a downhill into our planned camping spot near Three Rivers. Despite an early appearance by Headwind (blast him), things went smoothly until about 10 miles into the ride. Then, we hit some construction. This wasn’t just normal construction with flaggers or a detour of a few hundred yards, this was serious construction. The entire road had been torn up and was basically gravel-covered mud for about five miles. Hardly ideal for a car, much less a bicycle. We didn’t really have a choice, as no alternative routes showed up on any maps, so we just continued through the construction zone cautiously as semis blazed past us at alarming speed. (It seems they really don’t care if there are no road markings or actual pavement to drive on.) About halfway through the construction, one of the workers stopped us and said we could ride in an area that was sectioned off from the main road. Apparently they weren’t doing any work in that area today so it was all ours. It was still gravel, but at least we didn’t have vehicles flying past us spraying us with mud and flying rocks.

Reluctantly crouched at the starting line. Engines pumping and thumping in time. The green light flashes, the flag goes up.

We eventually made it through the construction, got back on solid road, and were finally able to take a much-needed break. We saw a hitchhiker who waved to us, but that was about it. Then, a few minutes later, we spotted a bicycle chained to a piece of farm equipment. Sitting nearby was a bedroll, a backpack, and some other belongings. One of the tires on the bike was flat and we realized the hitchhiker may have actually been a cyclist who needed assistance. If that was the case, we wished he would have asked for our help! Regardless, Anna and I both promised to start explicitly asking any travelers we pass, especially those on foot, if they need help instead of just smiling and waving. One benefit of riding so heavy is that we generally have plenty of water, food, and electricity to share with anyone who might need it.

Peter admiring that world famous "Big Sky"

Eventually we got back on the road after our break, climbed to the top of our hill, and found ourselves staring at dark storm clouds right in our path. It was tough to judge distance but we guessed they were a couple miles away, coming our direction. There wasn’t much we could do so we just pressed on and hoped for the best. Luckily, we somehow missed the storm and made it to our campground without really encountering anything more than a few random raindrops.

Hmm, that doesn't look good.

The campsite (Missouri Headwaters State Park) was a bit of a disappointment. First off, it is expensive as fuck. It is $28 for a tent spot (despite saying $10 online). Normally a campground will offer you some amenities for that price, like running water, electricity, possibly a shower and/or laundry facility on site, maybe a pavilion, or even just beautiful scenery. Unfortunately, this campground did not get the memo. It is miles away from any actual rivers or trails or anything you would come to the state park to see. There is no electricity, showers, laundry, or even trash removal on site. The bathroom is an outhouse. And the only place to refill water is about three miles away from the campsites…which meant we had to bike an extra six miles to fill our water bottles. We essentially paid nearly $30 for worse amenities than we had at the free campground the night before. Kind of disappointing, but not much could be done. (We were pretty beat at the end of the day and biking an unknown number of extra miles to avoid this campsite didn’t sound fun.) We set up our tent, ate some food, charged the solar battery for a bit, and went to bed. Soon, we would be in Bozeman.

Rainbow!

The road to Bozeman was fairly straightforward – we had some rolling hills with small towns and farms along the way. We met some friendly horses who ran up to their fence and eagerly snatched up a few baby carrots out of Anna’s hands. This might have been some sort of farming taboo, feeding horses that aren’t yours, but everything seemed to turn out okay.

Anna feeding some carrots to our biggest fans.

And, of course, we were surrounded by meth. Anti-meth signs were everywhere. The hand-drawn “not even once” posters dotted the landscape and every city advertised (bragged? warned?) that they were a “Meth Watch” community. I really never knew Montana had a meth problem and part of me seriously wonders why. Is it just impossible to get good drugs? I guess Montana is pretty far from the traditional drug pipelines of Seattle, Chicago, New York, Miami, San Diego, etc… but man, this is the age of the Internet. I know for a fact you can order incredibly clean MDMA online and have it delivered by the postal service, and all you need is an Internet connection, Google, a few hours of spare time, and a ninth grade level reading comprehension. Oh well, I guess out here meth is king, which is really kind of sad because MDMA is such a better experience. I’ve never actually done meth unless it was mixed with Molly to make it a bit speedier. Much like heroin it really doesn’t appeal to me, but I do know people who use meth recreationally and are functional parts of society.

I’m torn on these scare tactics. I could see them being effective in a limited way if only applied to certain drugs. If we had a comprehensive education program about drugs and ended the tyrannical war on drugs, then it could be effective to have a couple drugs (like meth) that are advertised as too dangerous to try even once. But clearly that requires us to stop putting weed, MDMA, cocaine, ketamine, 2C-B, LSD, shrooms, and everything else into the same category. If you tell students that all drugs are really bad (mmm-kay) and they end up smoking some weed and see that it isn’t that bad, then you undermine the entire program. If the government is willing to lie about weed, why should I trust them about meth?

Of course, the best thing to do is to legalize everything and put more money into health services like Portugal did. Further research into addiction is showing that the environment is a major factor, and people (or rats) don’t sink their whole lives into a drug if they have a community to be a part of. The research and work done by Dr. Carl Hart is really changing how we look at drugs and policy, but sadly not many politicians are listening because power is gained by blaming drugs.

Anyway…that was an unexpected tangent.

About halfway into Bozeman, we started getting some ominous clouds forming over us. I thought we were going to be luck out again, Anna wasn’t so sure. Anna was right. I should listen to her more. After lunch we ended up getting soaked for about 20 minutes. To be honest, sometimes that sucks more than it raining all day. Getting pissed on for just 20 minutes feels like a prank. Like Zeus and Poseidon are on Mount Olympus laughing at our happiness and thinking it would be funny if we had dripping wet socks, but not wanting the farmers in the area to actually get their crops watered. Fuck you Zeus and Poseidon.

Welcome to Bozeman?

Despite the downpour (and another one soon after that, which we escaped by hiding under a Safeway awning), we made it to our wonderful Couchsurfing host’s home in Bozeman around 6 PM. We chatted for a couple hours, despite all of us being pretty tired (she had early work in the morning). Our host is going to start a European bike tour later this year and it was fun to exchange experiences, talk about equipment, and hear each other’s plans. Sadly, we are only staying here one night and the rest of our time in Bozeman will be with someone we met off Warm Showers. She seems pretty awesome too so I am sure things will continue to be great. In some ways this bike ride is more about the people than anything. We meet such awesome fucking people. Hell, we even had a stranger offer to let us crash in his living room when we were buying supplies at REI. The world really is filled with beautiful, amazing souls who genuinely want to help others reach their potential and experience all this world has to offer. It is an inspiring thing.

**If you are interested in more photos of our journey we have a Facebook page you can follow (www.facebook.com/shiftsandhiggles).**

Helena to Bozeman - Map

Helena to Bozeman - Elevation

Serendipity

Disclaimer: This is an adult blog with adults doing adult things to other adults and to themselves. So if you don’t like drugs, banging, blah, blah, blah please view our PG-version of the adventure at www.10LegsWillTravel.wordpress.com and you can view all of our pictures at our Facebook page (aren’t we so legit!).

We ended up spending three full days in Medford with my friend Adam and his wife. During that time we borrowed their car to drive to Crater Lake, we took about a day and a half to relax and recharge, and we explored Ashland a bit with Adam and Julia. All these things were necessary in their own ways.

The trip to Crater Lake was absolutely incredible. It is a place all of us had wanted to see since the beginning of the ride but our change of route and slower pace made it momentarily unlikely. We had a discussion and realized a lot of places like Crater Lake will be unreachable unless we make some changes. We can’t change our pace but we can certainly open up our adventure a bit and allow for car travel when biking isn’t available. So, we borrowed Adam’s car and drove up to the gorgeous Crater Lake.

10286899_1417146448570601_1529339890298610309_o

The drive up there was amazing for all of us. Not only could we sit back and just relax a bit, it gave us a chance to listen to Dan Savage and bond in a way that we haven’t been able to recently. Despite travelling with each other and cramming into a tent at night we don’t have a lot of intimate bonding time. This few hours allowed us to chat about the future (and act as amateur advice columnists to the question’s sent to Savage). I wish I could really describe the beauty of Crater Lake but it really is one of those things you need to see for yourself. We took some pictures but they pale in comparison to real life. If you get the chance you should go. Higgs also loved it, he got to play in snow for the first time. He wasn’t impressed in the beginning but when we started throwing snowballs for him to chase or catch he had a grand old time.

10258634_1417148195237093_3001327742470928299_o

Our time exploring Ashland a bit (with more than a few drinks thanks to a winery and brewery visit) with Adam and Julia was a lot of fun. It is amazing how we can all fall back into old roles and reminisce with people that we haven’t seen in years (or decades). Kicking back with some drinks and just talking about the world and such brings a little bit of “normalcy” to our dynamic lives that is often needed. It was unfortunate that we had to leave and continue our ride so soon.

The trail out of Medford up into central Oregon wasn’t too bad. We had some sun beating down on us but the hills were manageable and we had either a good shoulder or low traffic. That first night we found a local fire department and asked if we could set up on their land. They didn’t care at all and were very friendly to us. It is amazing the difference in attitude between police officers and firefighters. In theory, the two suffer from the same problems all government institutions do, but clearly there are cultural factors or something that makes the way the two view the public as very different. We still avoid law enforcement but firefighters have been nothing but helpful… and who can resist those sexy uniforms?

The second day had a pretty big hill for us to conquer… basically anything over 800ft or so is considered “big” to us. It wasn’t so bad though and it gave us a really nice 10-15 mile steady downhill ride. That night we found a rest area near a river and set up our tent there. This was another time when we just assumed nobody would be checking a random, dark place on the side of the road on a Saturday night. As is often the case, being near a secluded water source encouraged us to get naked. So, Naked Saturdays has been bestowed upon our trip and will continue until we forget.

Sunday was a steady ride into Myrtle Creek, where our hosts (Mike and Pam) live. You may remember that we met Mike and Pam weeks ago outside a hotel when we were in Paso Robles, California. It was a serendipitous meeting. They weren’t supposed to be at that hotel (their preferred hotel was booked) and neither were we (we had some mechanical difficulties as the sun was going down). I’m glad it worked out this way though and we felt incredibly welcomed when we rode onto their beautiful farm.

Their farm has Morgans (a type of horse), chickens, a couple of wolfhounds, a little dog, and some cattle. They farmed a lot of greens and almost everything we ate came straight from their farm. Because my veganism comes from an ethical place I had no problem with indulging in the beef and eggs provided by our hosts… and oh man, the meals were fantastic. Pam also bakes her own bread and we purchased a couple of loaves of it for the road because it is literally (and I’m not exaggerating here) the best bread I have ever had in my life. Mike and his daughter (Katherine) also do some AMAZING metal cutting. I wasn’t there for the tour of the workshop but the art they create was absolutely stunning. I will want one for my own home if/when I get one.

The day of our arrival was pretty low-key. We had a vegetarian chili (provided by the neighbors), chatted with our hosts a bit about subjects we all enjoy (spirituality, physics, philosophy, the state of the world, etc), and hit the sack. Monday during the day was a work and errand day for us, and coincided with Mike and Pam being out of the house so it worked out really well. That evening we went over to the neighbor’s place (Amanda and Vince) to meet them and use their hot tub.

Vanda live on a beautiful home, currently for-sale, where for many years they had an intentional community. Several families shared living space and created a peaceful sanctuary to explore alternatives to the consumerism that has become such a strong part of the American identity. I can’t recall everything we discussed that night but Vince and Amanda are inspirations to us. After their house sells they are going to travel the country in an RV with their kids and I have a feeling our paths will all cross again.

That night we all took some pot cookies we acquired before going to sleep… it wasn’t the best idea for me. Edibles are notoriously hard to dose and when you are drunk your judgement is already impaired. I took a half of one (the recommended dosage) and when I wasn’t feeling it enough I took a whole cookie on top of it, and then I fell asleep. The food was slowly digested and my system took more weed than I was prepared for.

I woke up at about 2am in a bit of a panic. I was too stoned to walk or anything so I crawled out of the tent and tried to get some water from the water bottles on our bikes. It took several tries to get my body to respond to my brain and crawl to Anna’s bike. Her water bottles were empty so I crawled over towards my bike. At some point I gave up and just laid down to sleep outside. Then one of the crazies experiences of my life happened.

I regained consciousness to find myself on my hands and knees and banging my own head into the ground. I distinctly remember doing this at least three times before regaining control. I don’t know if I sleep-walked or what but I remember nothing between falling asleep near my bike and waking beating myself up a few yards away.

Fucked up, I know.

Well, I crawled my ass back into the tent and passed out. It wasn’t until the next morning when I looked in the mirror and saw a near black eye with several mild cuts that it really hit me what had happened. Be careful when doing drugs and make sure you dose yourself properly. All drugs should be legalized, but people need to act responsibly and take care of themselves. Don’t be stupid like me.

Needless to say, I was not in great shape when I woke in the morning. We had to put down some mileage on our way to Eugene but I was still pretty stoned (damn edibles) and my whole body ached. We finally hit the road around 2pm and had agreed to try and knock out 20 miles or so. A pretty moderate ride with an unavoidable big hill in the middle of it. To make matters worse the road the hill was on was gravel so we ended up pushing our equipment up it with very little traction. At several points we even had to help each other push equipment after leaning our own bikes on something, only to have to go back down the hill to get them later.

We made it into Roseburg completely mentally and physically exhausted. We found an abandoned lot of land off the highway and set up our tent for the night. It was dark pretty quickly but I wasn’t quite asleep when familiar blue, red, and white flashing lights lit up our tent. It is such a fucked up world when your response to those who “serve and protect” is fear, paranoia, and discomfort even when you aren’t doing anything wrong. I silently hoped that Higgs would be his normal quiet self and not give the cops approaching our tent any excuse to commit puppycide.

The officers informed us that we were trespassing and the property owner (who lived next door apparently) wanted us gone. The cops took our ID’s, ran them for warrants or whatever, and eventually left us alone to pack up in the pitch dark and find a new place to sleep. Because there is nothing safer for cyclists than to navigate unfamiliar roads in the dark while barely awake… We found a nearby Motel 6 and decided to get a room, as much as it pains us to spend that type of money on our pretty tight budget.

To be honest, the saddest thing about this is how quick the property owner turned to threats of violence instead of talking with us. People are so terrified of “the other” that they call men with guns who can do violence with impunity instead of simply telling us that we can’t stay on the property, or even just striking up a conversation with us. Nope, the first response is to call the police, to call guns, to issue threats, to terrify instead of communicate. It sucks, but it is unsurprising given the modern media and political situation.

We made the best of the hotel situation though and recharged our electronics, gave me a mohawk, showered, masturbated, and got to bed fairly early. Despite a ton of sleep we still didn’t hit the road until about 11am. Hotels are still tough to leave, but we had a good ride that day. The sun was beating down on us and we had a terrible hill (we seem to average one a day) but we pushed on. We can usually handle hills, hot sun, and wind, but not at the same time. As long as only one or two of those hits us at a time we do alright.

We were kind of paranoid about being on the side of the road again due to our run in with the police but we didn’t have a lot of options. We found a place that we are pretty sure isn’t private property that couldn’t be viewed from the road and set up for the night. We slept well and hit the road fairly early for our last day of travel into Eugene.

The ride was pretty uneventful… up small hill, down small hill, repeat… until we got a few miles out of Eugene and Anna saw a motherfucking bear (literally a bear, not literally motherfucking). It apparently ran across the road right in front of her and hopped over a few fences in broad daylight. This is our first time crossing a bear and it was successful, as long as you measure success by the low standard of “nobody died and nobody sprayed themselves accidentally in the face with bear mace”. But, here we are now in Eugene and we are really excited. In the next few days we are travelling by bicycle with a band to a show/party (The Dirty Dandelions), participating in the World Naked Bike Ride, going to Ninkasi brewery, getting some vegan comfort food at Cornbread Cafe, renting a car to go to Bend for more breweries, hiking, and the clothing-optional Terwilliger Hot Springs. It should be a lovely time.

Out of the Salinas Valley

Pre-Post: Well, despite my half-ass efforts I have not really maintained this blog in addition to the other two I’m running. I think I will just start posting the same thing here that I post on the blog for our 2-year bike ride, Barely Functional Adults. This was originally posted on April 23. As a reminder,this is pretty much an uncensored version of the events of our bike ride. If you are uncomfortable hearing about sex, drugs, profanity, etc you should check follow our PG-version at www.10LegsWillTravel.wordpress.com . This is a warning. If you don’t want to hear about these adult actions please leave now

Recap… we just woke up behind an abandoned(?) church after a terrible night of paranoid “rest”. We only had a short day of travel ahead of us into King City. Now, on with our tale.

After waking and quickly breaking down camp we hit the trail early. The morning fog reflected our moods and the damp darkness seemed to creep into our souls. We were all a bit on edge and uncomfortable, the night before had brought little more than stress that added to the physical exhaustion we felt from fighting the wind all day. The only bright spot was knowing we had a short ride, 10 miles, into the next city where we had a county campground available for only $5.

The ride itself was quiet and uneventful. The weather prevented us from really noticing or caring about the landscape and none of us really seemed to be in the mood to talk. After about an hour or so we arrived at the King City Starbucks and set up for the day. Anna had a ton of work to catch up on (part of the reason for the long stop) and we needed to secure a rental car so we could get back to LA for Anna and Higgs’ appointments. Besides the work and organizing the rest was much needed for our bodies and minds.

New1

We ended up spending about 10 hours or so at Starbucks. The staff was absolutely great and we actually brought Higgs into the store. He was well-behaved and quiet… he just slept underneath the table. He is really pretty happy as long as he is with all three of us, though the parade of Easter Sunday coffee drinkers annoyed him from time to time. The hours were well spent, even if when we found out that King City no longer has a car rental place (Google fail) and we had to postpone the trip to LA until next week.

After all that work we were really looking forward to camping out and after about 500 feet of cycling we arrived at the campground. Unfortunately, the fee was $28 not $5… apparently I was lied to on the phone or there was some misunderstanding. Pretty obnoxious but still the best option we had available, we paid the fee and got to camp to set up. We were the only tents in the area, there were a lot of people in RVs “camping” nearby but they stayed inside their vehicles and watched tv most of the time. People like that are so lucky to get out of the house whenever they want to explore nature.

New2

Our site itself was perfect. We had trees to set up a hammock where I got some reading in (“The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss… if you like fantasy you should probably stop reading my blog and start reading this book. It kicks ass), a store nearby to get beer, and flat soft grass for everything else. There were also showers and a laundry place nearby to stop our stink. After a nice dinner we laid down for the night and got some banging in. It is becoming increasingly obvious that we are getting more fit because of the ride. Whenever I have sex with Anna or grind up on Hans the ass and legs feel much more toned, and I have even noticed some of my middle pudge slipping away. Apparently exercising daily for 4-8 hours and eating mostly fresh foods is good for the body. With our sexiness increasing and our bodies getting used to daily exercise Anna and I should be up to our 5-6 times a week bang schedule that we prefer.

New4

With refreshed minds and bodies we set off along northwest again along the Salinas valley. Generally our routes have been pretty good but it is clear that Google bike directions are great in some places. Whether it is telling us to take roads that don’t at all exist or defining private paths through vineyards as “roads” you need to be cautious and comfortable with making changes to your plans. This didn’t through us off too much though, we got to explore some more farmland and enjoy a nice morning ride. We arrived in Soledad in the early afternoon and everything went to shit.

New5

When we stopped in Soledad the weather was pretty good and we saw an opportunity to catch up on some work at a local coffee shop, get some more groceries, and take it easy before we plowed on another 10 miles or so. We didn’t have a place set up to stay so we were on the lookout for anything on the side of the road to offer shelter. But then the wind came and kicked our ass.

The wind really came out of nowhere… it went from a calm breeze to a ridiculous hurricane of evil dust in a matter of minutes. To be honest, it reminded me of Burning Man. There was a whiteout in the distance and I knew that our evening ride plans were dead if it kept up like that, and it definitely kept up. When it didn’t settle after a bit we decided to see what options we had in Soledad, which ended up being some woods by the Salinas River, a handful of churches, and a motel. We tried them, in that order.

New3

After walking a mile or two in the crazy winds (riding was not possible) to the river we found out that there was a barbed wire fence around it and nobody was allowed there. This has been a common problem for us. Much “public” area is fenced off or restricted from use for no real reason. This is particularly true of city and county parks that don’t allow people there after sundown. How can you really claim a park belongs to the people if bureaucrats are able to criminalize simply existing there during a certain time.

Trespassing harms nobody, trespassing is about control and reducing freedom in exchange for a government officials convenience. I am sure they will claim it is either for our own safety (thanks daddy government for protecting me from myself, I don’t know how I ever can get my daily necessities like food, water, shelter, and jerking off without you… I would probably accidentally stab myself in the face while cutting carrots if it wasn’t for you) or they will claim that criminal activity happens during those hours. But that is bullshit too. To assume any person who exists in a location during a certain hour is going to harm somebody or something is to see us all as guilty until proven innocent. It is the opposite of justice. It is tyranny. There is no good reason that public parks (and other land) should not be available for all peaceful people to use as they wish as long as they do not harm another person or property. But, laws aren’t about peace or freedom, they are about coercion and control. Just remember, when the government fines or jails somebody for trespassing what they are doing is taking a piece of their life. It isn’t a free exchange. It is men with guns throwing others in cages and calling it “freedom”.

After the river was a bust we walked back to a parking lot in the city. I took all the stuff off my bike and decided to check out the churches by myself, it would just be faster for me to go alone on bike than all of us caravan all over the city. This didn’t end up working though, one church was too far, one had nobody around and no place to lay a tent, and one was in the middle of a funeral. The local fire department was also no help because there was some emergency a few blocks away that was taking up there time. It looked like the hotel would be our best bet so we crashed there for the night… it sucks, we are trying not to waste our time at damn hotels. We are learning though and getting better at finding places to sleep well ahead of time so we don’t get stuck in cities.

The sleep at the hotel was a little rough… despite some good sex. Can anyone resist banging in a hotel room? We seem to get later starts in hotels because actual beds are tough to get out of, it is just some much quicker to rise and shine when camping. We planned on hitting a beach campground about 55 miles away but in the end that just couldn’t happen. Our Google route again was filled with weird turns and it got to the point where we just cut through farms along their roads. I don’t know if this is legal or trespassing (or, as I like to call it, “finding the most efficient route from point a to point b as long as you aren’t told ‘no’ ahead of time”). We actually ended up riding along the fence of a state prison for a bit and the sounds of gunfire filled the morning air. I am assuming by the lack of sirens and screaming and general chaos the gunfire was the guards at a shooting range.

New6

Riding by the jail was an interesting thing for me. I found myself a bit afraid and protective of the girls. There was one point when some prisoners rode by us in a truck and I felt the adrenaline start to rush. I know that most prisoners in America are unjustly imprisoned. I know that we have the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world. In many very real ways we are a police and prison state. Anybody can be chucked in jail for next to nothing and everyone just assumes it is just. I know it isn’t just. I know most people aren’t violent. But I was nervous just the same. Conditioning is a bitch.

By time we reached Salinas it was pretty clear that we were not going to reach the campground. I sent out a quick email to the only church along the way that I could find an email address for. (Sidenote: Why don’t churches have updated websites, or at least email addresses published that people actually check?) This turned out to be wonderful for us. Pastor Bill of Grace Community Church in Prunedale contacted us quickly and offered to let us stay at his church.

New7

So, after climbing some hills, one of which Hans started calling “Pencil Dick” because it was long, skinny, veered awkwardly to the left, and she wanted nothing to do with it, we reached our home for the night. The youth pastor, Mark, met us there and let us in. Both Mark and Bill were incredible. They didn’t ask about our religion, they didn’t set up any stipulations for us staying there. Nope, they simply offered shelter for weary travelers. They were real examples of peace and love. Christians and non-Christians could learn a thing from them, and while I probably don’t agree with them on many issues they are the type of people I would want to surround myself with.

After setting up camp and some brief conversations with our hosts we got to bed. Only 27 miles ahead into the Santa Cruz area where we are staying with one of my friends… well, I don’t know what to call her, we were friends in college but also used to sleep together a bunch. Whatever, she is a friend and we are staying with her and her partner.

Post-Post 1: Also, we have set up a GoFundMe account for our ride. If you enjoy the adventure or just want to receive a post card, booty pic, or vegan meal check us out here

Post-Post 2: If you would like to see all our pictures you can check out our Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/10legswilltravel.

Windfucked

Pre-Post 1: Well, despite my half-ass efforts I have not really maintained this blog in addition to the other two I’m running. I think I will just start posting the same thing here that I post on the blog for our 2-year bike ride, Barely Functional Adults. This was originally posted on April 20. As a reminder,this is pretty much an uncensored version of the events of our bike ride. If you are uncomfortable hearing about sex, drugs, profanity, etc you should check follow our PG-version at www.10LegsWillTravel.wordpress.com . This is a warning. If you don’t want to hear about these adult actions please leave now

Pre-Post 2: Also, we have set up a GoFundMe account for our ride. If you enjoy the adventure or just want to receive a post card, booty pic, or vegan meal check us outhere**

Pre-Post 3: If you would like to see all our pictures you can check out our Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/10legswilltravel.

Image

Okay, then… to recap, we are in a hotel room in Santa Maria and I think the date is 4/16.The hotel room gave us a much needed break and for once we didn’t smell like the awkwardly terrible mixture of sunscreen, sweat, dirt, hippy, and excitement. We hit the road excited and our path continued along the beautiful scenery of orchards and farms. I did get a flat tire early in the day but that is to be expected daily. That is one of the things about travelling as a group instead solo, your chances of hold-ups increase greatly. Two tires will go a week or so without a flat but with 10 tires we can pretty much guarantee a busted tube each day or so. We stopped in Arroyo Grande for a food resupply and coffee but it took longer than expected because the Albertsons in this town is terribly designed and doesn’t have bags… seriously, they don’t have bags for you to even purchase. Fucking stupid.

After the resupply we had a pretty decent ride to our sleeping location, a little college town called San Luis Obispo where we had a host from Couchsurfing in a freaking bus. A magic bus. A magic festival bus. A magic festival bus of awesome.

Our host was actually at Lucidity Festival and lived similarly to us. He is a burner who lives minimally and builds his life around community and experiences instead of things. We had a great time talking to him about festivals, cops, drug use, and life in general. I hope our paths cross with him again someday, and I am pretty sure they will. The universe kind of works that way. We caught up on a little work, shared a beer with our host, and charged our devices before crashing for the night.

We didn’t bang though, which is kind of a shame. “Banging in a magic school bus” isn’t exactly an item on any of our bucket lists but it would have been a cool bit of information for future drunk rounds of Never Have I Ever. It didn’t happen though because of logistics… not “people are around” logistics, we clearly don’t care about that, but just adventure logistics. Despite our increased sex drives from daily exercise we are all kind of mentally and physically exhausted by the end of the day. Basically, Anna and I will lay in bed horny but feel like getting the condoms out of the backpack on the other side of the room is just way too much effort. So at best we just half-ass grind on each other and pass out.

After leaving San Luis Obispo we headed towards Morro Bay on the coast where we had to make a pretty important route decision. We could either head up the PCH or cut over the mountains and take the inland route north. We ended up deciding on the inland route because it was safer. The first day or so of riding towards the new route would suck with the elevation but everyone we talked to said the PCH is hell for cyclists up here… narrow roads, lots of turns, low visibility, and shitty drivers. So inland it was.

Image

Morro Bay was an interesting experience. The town itself was a cute little place right along the coast, very different from the busy hustle of LA area beaches. Everything was in walking distance and you got the feeling that most of the people knew each other, but it clearly had some issues. There was a strong separation between the residents with houses and the residents without houses. In fact, we often were treated fairly poorly because we appeared “homeless”.

Actually, fuck that term. The term homeless is wrong. The people who we talked to us who lived on the street weren’t homeless, they were houseless. A home is a place of love, family, and community and these people had all of those. What they lacked was a piece of property that our society says, mistakenly in my opinion, is necessary in order for you to be a respectable person. Words matter and the term homeless helps steer people away from what is really going on. To lack a home is seen as a character defect or something deserved, it is the inability to make connections and have loving relationships. Being houseless sounds more temporary or an intentional decision to live without something… much like being car-less or tv-less. Technically, all of us on the ride our houseless but we certainly aren’t homeless… we actually have many homes, filled with love and support, in Los Angeles, Washington DC, Portland, St. Louis, and everywhere we roam with our friend-family. The houseless people of Morro Bay are no different, they are intelligent, loving people who clearly had a community and a city that they cared for and about. Some of them may want houses, some may not, but to call them “homeless” is to ignore the issue and in many ways dehumanize them. Home is love, and they had love, what they lacked was property.

We left Morro Bay in the mid-afternoon knowing that we wouldn’t make it to another town before needing a place to sleep. The route through the mountains had some good climbs to it so we wanted to break up the day a bit and camp out in the woods. We had a scare or two as crazy people on the highway during the first few miles decided slowing down for 10 seconds was a waste of their time and worth risking our blood on their windshield, but after we hit the back roads things got much better. We had a beautiful climb along some pastures and the whole area made us think of Ireland/Scotland… which we have never been to but I almost expected a painted Mel Gibson to come running over the hills wielding a giant sword and yelling FREEEEDOOOMMM!!!!

Image

The paved road ended and we continued the ride on gravel through a heavily forested area. Time was ticking and we were quickly in need of a camping spot. Luckily we found a clearing with some abandoned sheds on it. It probably belonged to someone but it didn’t have a fence around it and was flat and safe. We had some dinner, pitched our tent, and got settled in for the night. We were all a tad nervous so we had sex to relax our nerves. Anna and I did our thing while Hans busted out the vibrator. We were all pretty close before this ride but at this point there really is nothing that bothers us… we’ve had sex in front of each other while sober, held conversations while peeing near each other in full view, talked about poop, etc. Walls are stupid among family.

The night went without incidence and we awoke with the sun and got an early start. The first part of the day was almost entirely uphill and we had to walk most of the time. It was draining but the ride was gorgeous and it gave us some time to chat and enjoy everything. Life can fly by so fast, even on bike, that you can miss the wildlife and connections that make living more than existence. After a couple hours we got to the top of the mountain, took some pictures, and started our smooth and wonderful descent into Templeton, CA.

Templeton was just a pitstop for us but it was a good one. They had a Trader Joe’s and a coffee shop with a very friendly employee (manager? owner?) named Joshua who loved what we were doing. We talked biking and adventuring for a bit while we got some work done. I would have liked to talk to him more but, as usual, I was tired, awkward, and felt a bit rushed as we planned the rest of the day. We quickly moved on to Paso Robles where we, unintentionally, spent the night.

As the sun was setting I blew a tube and for some reason the pump was having some issues. I couldn’t get it to fill up the tube at all… I would later find out that the tube was defective, not the pump. So, thanks to the generosity of our friends we tapped into our savings and got a cheap hotel room nearby that was dog friendly. We were able to clean ourselves, charge our devices, and catch up on Game of Thrones (as fate would have it the two episodes that we had not seen were both on HBO that night). We got a little sleep and were up early again for the road.

Originally we planned on getting up at around 7am and knocking out 55 miles to King City. We were running behind, as usual, but it was a good thing we were. As we were loading up our stuff we met Pam and Mike, two fucking amazing people who have an organic farm in southern Oregon. They were actually supposed to be at a different hotel that night so it seems the universe kind of brought us together for a moment. For about 30 minutes we discussed many aspects of life from government to spirituality to veganism and I’ll just say that they are our type of people. They kindly offered to let us stay at their place when we come through the area later this summer, an offer that I am looking forward to taking them up on. They loved what we were doing, our views on relationships and family, and I am sure many other things. I hope they are up for some chats over a cold beer, I think we have a lot to share with each other.

Image

The miles flew easily by throughout the first part of the day (Saturday, 4/19… for those keeping track, I can barely remember) but after our picnic things got kind of shitty. The afternoon winds hit us head on as we rode through the Salinas Valley and our pace slowed to a crawl. It was kind of like riding your bike with two flat tires through mud while someone slapped you in the face with sand over and over and over again. Quite frankly, we were windfucked… or windraped as Hans put it because it wasn’t consensual and no didn’t mean no.

Our motivation was dying slowly, tears were being shed, and every time I looked down at our speedometer to see 4.7mph I wanted to just give up. On all sides were hills creating a wind-tunnel that seemed designed specifically to give cyclists hell. It became increasingly obvious that we wouldn’t make it to King City before darkness took over the land, much less with time to hang out and rest. We had no choice but to look for shelter as we came into a 200 person “town” called San Lucas.

I spotted a church and headed there hoping that someone would be inside and could grant us permission to sleep inside, or at least put our tent up near the building for shelter. The church was barely standing and nobody was inside so we decided to just risk it and set up our stuff on the back side out of sight and out of mind. We had already been seen by about 5% of the town and the last thing we wanted was more attention.

Image

That night was one of the scariest of my life, and by far the scariest since I left the army. Hiding in a small town where you don’t know anybody turns every sound into a potential enemy. For better or worse we are designed to err on the side of fear. Dogs roaming the streets became Cujo. Footsteps became murderer or rapists. Cars became gang vehicles looking for an easy drive-by target.

For all my beliefs in “people are good” and similar philosophies that shit does not mean anything when you are in an unfamiliar place in the dark surrounded by potential hostile forces. Words and beliefs are worthless shields that can be shouted by martyrs but won’t keep you alive and safe. It made me realize how different things were when I was in the military and equipped to defend myself and others against “all enemies, foreign and domestic”. A firearm is not a theory, a firearm is solid. Metal in your hand, a weapon to protect, something that you know exists. Freedom, community, and peace are all concepts that become worthless and their potential for non-existence becomes glaringly obvious when compared a tool gripped firmly.

So, as we became known to a big dog who liked to come around and bark at us hourly throughout the night, or as we heard someone working on their car at 3:30am, I didn’t fall back on “people are good”. I put a weapon in my hand (a small camping ax… all I really had), I stayed awake, and I tried to trust my training to lead me to the best decisions possible… the decisions that would keep us safe, or at least cause as much damage as fucking possible to any would-be attackers.

But, as is often the case, the sun rose without incident. My fears turned out to be nothing more than shadows and dust. When I saw the dog that wandered by hourly it was clear that it was no more of a threat than the roosters that stayed up all night making noise (Sidenote: Fuck roosters. They don’t crow at sunrise, they crow at sunrise, 1am, sunset, because a car drove by, because a dog barks, 11pm, and for no reason at all. Why do people own those foul beasts.). With light from the sun illuminating the cloudy world we packed things up and hit the road the final 10 miles to King City where we decided to take a day off from riding, camp at a county park, and just relax.