Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Now This!

Just the latest and greatest in the life of Long Haul Ryan! More to follow but here's a start. Please read this article and the amazing comments associated with it.

http://gothamist.com/2010/10/18/cyclist_off-duty_cop_pulled_gun_on.php

Time to get a new bike and get the hell out of this corrupt backward ass city!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

My Blog was Stolen!

When the bike was stolen, so was my literal voice concerning this blog. My thought patterns went from thinking about fun things to write about to "what blog." That's what it seems like to me. Maybe it was all those hours on my Brooks Saddle and being able to think about what I wanted to write about that helped.

Almost at the end of this chapter of the journey. Sitting at my hotel in San Diego. Gonna fly out of here the middle of this week and head back to NYC. My buddy John who has been following along with the journey this whole summer told me he felt like he was left hanging. It's true! Going from writing a few blogs per week to nil!

I must say it has been an unforgettable journey for me. Over 5000 thousand miles of bicycling. Countless new friends along the way. So many small towns and big that I may have never seen if it were not for this trip. Met and hung out with so many old friends along the way as well. Most of them with their kids. I love Kids! Especially here in San Diego and all of Cali. It's sick, like 7 of my friends also have 2 year olds.

Now I'm kind of decompressing and chilling in SD. Ate at my favorite Mexican Joints. Drank some of my favorite coffee here. Driving around the old neighborhood and hit the beach a few times. Feels good to be here for a minute. Doesn't feel like home though. Got my fill of poker too. May be a few more sessions before I depart. I just love to play poker. '

One funny thing that has happened my whole journey has been the weather. It's uncanny how many times this summer I heard people say over and over again how good the weather was. Every single place I visited people remarked that it was the best weather they had all summer. Including today while swimming and trying to paddle board behind the Marine Room in La Jolla. My buddy Mike Wilson who is a school teacher and had the luxury to be at the beach about 30-40 times this summer said it was the best day he's had and it's late September. In Alaska and many other states and cities I heard the same thing. Even at Burning Man this year was supposedly the best weather they ever had. It's reminds me of all the Padre's games I've ever been too. They never lost a game that I attended. If you want nice weather I have to come to your city. Oops....Mike W changed his last name to Starr. That's pretty cool I think. His grandfathers name was Starr. So him and his whole family changed their names. Now they are Mike Starr, Shea Starr(Which is what I used to call her anyways...Sheaster), Kai Starr and Miley Starr.

What's Next? I'm not sure just yet. There are plenty of ideas rolling around in my head though. First off I need to have my achilles looked at by a few professionals. It is still very painful and inflamed. Once I find out what needs to be done with that I can plan ahead. Definitley planning on going to Brazil very soon. This wander lust is no where near gone. That has been with me forever and will always be. When your traveling and staying at Hostels and hitting cool cities you meet people from all over the world and folks who are pretty well traveled. That just breeds ideas and fantasies of far off places that you need to experince. That's the way it is for me anyways.

Then I think about this injury I suffered over 2 months ago in Idaho. Here we go, a turtle aka tortoise. Follow me here. They are known for moving very slowy. Now think about my injury. This turtle saving injury slowed me down tremendously. My friend Casey pointed out how I tore this.(Tortoise/TORETHIS) They sound pretty similiar. Also what helped cause the accident in the first place was the turtle trying to escape my clutches. The clutches that were trying to get him to safety. I had the turtle in my right hand when it started to piss on me. Then It started scratching at my fingers to be free. Can't help me think about times in my life I was clawing and scratching to be on my own. I've never pissed on anyone but I definitely tried to ignore help. When the turtle started doing those things I extended my arm to get him as far away from me as possible. What if I never stopped to help the poor thing? There is definitley some symbolism going on there. Don't have it all figured out but it's there.

My bike being stolen is a whole other ball of wax. What if? Some many questions can be asked. A friend of mine in NY said to me, "you never know....you could have been hurt on your bike if you were still riding." This is something we'll never know. Sure I could have went right back to Portland and bought a bike and continued the trip. It just didn't feel like the right thing to do after meditating on it. Sure I do want to take that ride down the coast still. That will just have to wait for now. The coolest part is that I did make it across the country. That is a hell of an accomplishment. I did go to Alaska and meet some amazing people and have one of the best times of my life. Then I did come back down and bike with my friend Casey for a few weeks before going to Burning Man. That is something that came to me a few days into the trip.

Rich and I had originally planned on biking from NY to Astoria, OR. As soon as my wheels started rolling my head started spinning with ideas. One of those was to go to Burning Man. I've been wanting to go for over ten years and I had the time money and would be in the right vacinity as well. Boy that first misty cold morning we left NYC I remember getting over the George Washington Bridge saying to myself, "I don't fucking know if I can do this." It was the first day I had road my bike with all my gear. It was cold and it was all a mental game from there on out. One of the best days of my trip was getting to Burlington, WA with Lee & Luke from Ashville and finally seeing the West Coast.

Then it was in Yellowstone that I met three kids biking West to East. They were from the Northwest and told me about the ferry from Bellingham. When I thought to myself that I was way ahead of schedule and have only three states I've never been too. One of those being Alaska. Fuck it, why not? Started checking out schedules and made the decision to go up there. Kind of the way most of the trip went. Very "Organic", free and fun. Watch out North Dakota and Minnesota, your next. Then I will have been to all fifty states, pretty nifty HUH?

THE END!

Not so much. I still have plenty of thoughts and ideas that I want to share. I'm still on the road so technically I can blog til at least then. But that is bullshit, there are no rules! This blog has brought so much joy in my life. Nothing like hearing all the positive feedback I've gotten this summer. Still have to post a bunch of pix as well. But they have a 15 minute time limit on the computers here in the lobby of my hotel and there are folks waiting. More to come. Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Quick snip-it and some pix

Article from the Daily Playa about the bike being stolen. Went out to tens of thousands. Haven't been to movitated to write but wanted to do a post. More to come. In LA having a blast in Venice seeing old friends and there new babies. Heading to Dago next week.


Some art on an RV when we were leaving.


$25 one hour massages in SF. The guy was insanely good.


Some cool artwork in an alley in SF.


No chance to flip off a bike in SF...sad!


Peacefest...kind of a boredest!


Yum...some good Indian food in inner Sunset.


Hastens in Culver City with some friends.


Cool ass bike chain chandelier at a community bike shop in LA. Can't imagine how much that thing ways.


Me! With my cool hand crafted shirt I got at the burn.


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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

So long San Fran.

I'm sitting in SFO right now. Waiting to board a flight to LA. Yes that might sound weird to some of you. Without a bike it's the best way to get around. My bike was stolen while I was at Burning Man.

It was September 1st and I was hanging out with some of the NY crew at the burn. We were going to bike to another venue around midnight. Came back to where we left the bikes and didn't see them. I had my bike locked to my friend Sue's bike. So we're looking for two bikes leaning against one another. Hmm...walking all around and can't find my bike. Some other folks we were with bikes were very close to ours. Turns out Sue's bike is laying on the ground with my clipped lock around it.

My feelings were so hurt. Here I am at this wonderful artistic energetic event in the middle of the Black Rock Desert. My stomach hurt. It felt like somebody dismembered me. That bike had become an appendage.

The other three stood there waiting for me to make a move. I surveyed the surrounding area. Criminals are dumb. They always like to return to the scene of a crime. Watch their work in progress. Not this time though. If there was a light switch to bring the daylight and then a boost up and just hover 50 or a 100 feet in the air, that would have been great. Get a birds eye view and look for the bike. Would have loved to get my bike back and impart some justice and pain on the guilty party.

What could I do but sulk at that time. Fuck Burning Man! Should have listened to Jack and never gone. That was what I was feeling. In the middle of the night in the desert. This city that was constructed in just a few weeks. Where do I begin to search for my whip? Then I started to step up my game. Replay the nights events and think like a criminal. First of all a lot of bikes go missing at BM. Most are inexpensive bikes that drunkards take to get back to their camp. This bikes lock was clipped. These thieves aren't going to be riding this bike around the playa. This bike was taken to a remote area where there is a trailer that is being loaded with stolen goods. That's what I think anyways.

Over 50,000 fun loving people and a handful of scumbags. Everybody I talked to had their own opinion. Of who stole it or what to do. So I did take some advice. Went to the radio stations and to the newspaper. Yes, BM has three radio stations and two daily newspapers. My story made front page news.

It's kind of a cool story. This guy bikes across the country only to come to BM to have his bike stolen. The camp I was at had about 100 people. One of the guys from my camp named Tom put a fund together for me. They collected just over $500. How amazing is that? A group of strangers pulling together to help out a fellow burner. My heart was really touched by that. At first my pride was against it. But if that happened to any of the folks I was camping with I would have done the same.

That night I walked back to camp looking at every bike that went by me. Made it back and told a new friend that I'd made. Had to share my pain. The next day the news spread like wild fire. Kind of hate being at the center of attention, especially for something like this.

When I went to the radio station there was another guy who had his bike stolen as well that night. The stories kept coming. His bike was also worth over $2000. My bike with all the gear it had on it was going to cost over $2000 to replace. From what I know my bike was the only one that was locked. Not that it made it any better. But there was a theft ring going on. Learned a valuable lesson if I ever go back to burning man.

This really almost ruined my adventure. It really changed the course of my trip. My plan was to head back to Portland and continue biking down the coast. Now what should I do. Could have gotten a ride back to Portland but don't really have any connections there. A few folks started offering me rides to different locations. I decided on heading to San Fran. That was going to be the next big city down the coast anyways. Had a place to stay and regroup.

Still wasn't sure if I was going to buy another bike right away and continue my tour. I contacted Surly to see if they could help a brother out. They offered a 10 to 15% discount from a local dealer. They said they would find someone in SF that would do that and call me back. Never heard from them.(Thanks Travis at Surly) So maybe I won't replace it with a Surly.

About to get on the plane. So I'll continue this later. Thanks for following along.


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Friday, August 27, 2010

When I say Port, you say "Land."....Port

The kissing booth at "Last Thursday" on Alberta in Northeast Portland.


Just some pix from Portland so far. I'll write a blog in a few hours.

Some artwork from the guest house.



Local neighborhood brewery.



Ad from there local paper that I found clever.



Big ass organic Tomato at Fred Meyers. Which is an amazing store in the Northeast part of the world.



Bike tools and rack in the basement of the guest house.



UBI bike college. Clean and serene.



Art!



Electric shifters on UBI bike. Yup electronic shifting.


The crew of the Williams street bike friendly guest house. The tan guys are Brits who just road across the country starting in NYC. The other dude Chris is the proprietor of the establishment.


Costume from the block party.


Fucking Rad!


He said he wasn't going to BM. Said his friend got that for him from the Olympics. Bitching machine!


Artwork from a local bar. Stay tuned, more to come.


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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

TreeThuggers

Oh what a day in Portland. I'm sitting in The Bike Friendly Guesthouse.(www.friendlybikeguesthouse.com) It's only been around for a few weeks now. Last night Casey and I stayed at the International Hostel on the other side of town. He was determined to get home to his wife and kid, so he flew out this evening. I myself had to find some new digs.

My friend Julie Rae from Juneau/Haines told me of her friend that lives here in PDX.(heard that's the nickname for Portland) She just left town for Nicarauga though. Thought about warmshowering it but was planning on being here for a few days. The hostel from last night was sold out for the next few nights as well. Don't really feel like being in somebody elses space. There isn't really a camping option, so this guest house is the next best thing. Come and go as I please. Brand new and close enough to downtown.

Here's the kicker! It's located a block from UBI. Yes you say, what is UBI. The United Bike Institute I tell you.(www.bikeschool.com) So this place will host pretty much anybody with the bread to spread for a three night stay min. $30 a night plus tax. Oregon is great, no tax on anything else. If your going to the school you can stay here. Great, I'm bicycle touring and have two current students here. Was hanging with one today and he's going to spend some time with me on my bike.

It's about that time anyways. Sure it's holding up well with just over 5000 miles on it. Had my broken spoke fixed in Seaside the other day by an expert mechanic for $15. Free is always better. Will also be nice to learn how to make a few tweaks and adjustments myself. Hell, I may end up taking a course there. Going to check out the school in the next couple of days.

The photo of the vending machine in the previous blog was filled with bike shit. Patch kits, tubes and other stuff. How sweet is that. It's in this bike garage in Seattle. You can park your bike with 24 hour access for $10 per month. With a stand and some tools in there to use. If you have any mechanical needs you fill out a fix it ticket and the mechanics who are there during the day will get it done. They have these big roll up doors they open during the day. At night they close them to block of their tools, work stations and parts they have for sale. Ingenious.



This Portland is a real bike friendly city so far. A bit hilly but fun to bike around. Yesterday Casey and I biked in from Seaside. Which is an 85 mile ride. Was not looking forward to that ride. There is a bus we could have taken. Casey really wanted to do the ride. It was going to be his last day of the tour so I obliged. I'm going to be coming back this way anyways after burning man. So I could have taken it or left it.

Most definitely glad we biked it. It was a killer 85 mile day. With about 6800 feet of climbing and tempatures in the 80's to 90's. The route we took sucked. The road was very narrow for the most part with no shoulder. Traffic was just whizzing by. But like all those days I didn't feel like riding, it always feels better when I've done it. The pay off was the last climb before we reached the city. Climbed up this 1600 foot radio/tv antenna mountain where it was all downhill into town. Casey thought it was a sick joke that we had that last climb. He thought that was done for the day.



Once we got into the city and out over the river onto one of the bridges. I realized there really isn't a good view of Portland. It's not a very distinguishable skyline. Looks like it can be any city USA. Once you start getting into the smaller neighborhoods is where the charm kicks in. Some sweet treats lining the streets. Houses painted in all sorts of colors with great designs and architecture. Then you just pop out onto another cool little main street here and there. With plenty of shops, bike lanes and bike parking to boot.

Treethuggers was a word I heard in the apple store earlier today. Was asking about some mapping questions with my iPhone. They sent over the resident apple store bike enthusiast. We start talking and got onto the subject of burning man. He was telling me about a dj he likes that will be at BM. Then said that a lot of tree Thuggers also like him. I'm like what's a TT. He says their wannabe hippies that deal drugs and wear LRG clothing.(baggy clothes) At least I think that's what I remember him telling me. A bunch of hippie thugs.

The apple store is great to get online. I can download skype and see Ryla. Which is the best part. Most libraries and Internet cafes don't have cameras. Apple machines are super quick along with their Internet. They don't seem to care so much. Also it's free!

Free! I feel free again. It's great to travel with someone. Especially a great friend like Casey who can put up with my bullshit. On the other hand it's nice to be flying solo. You can do whatever the hell you want to. If he wasn't with me. It's likely I would still be in Canada. Had so much fun being in Vancouver and Victoria. Loved it up there! On the other hand it's good to keep moving. But I want to move at my pace. Eat when I want to eat and do whatever I want to do. I'm a very independent person and always have been.

Finished reading my second book of the trip. Picked it up on the ferry up in AK for free. Was carrying it around for too long not to have read it. The Confedercy of Dunces. What a spectacular read. Loved it! Made me laugh and want to be just like the protagonist. Love Ignascious's style. He's got plenty of it. WWID? Casey started reading it along with me. From being traveled so well, the book started falling apart. So when we met up I threw Casey the first section. Then like a balding man the sections kept falling off. So Casey has all but the last few pages that I will send him tomorrow. How great is it though. You can just tear a book in half if you choose and share it with a friend. This way you can both laugh and share about it together. The story reminds me of a Harold. A Harold is a form of improv developed by Del Close of second city out of Chicago.

Ok. There's so much more I have to write. Went to see Eat Pray Love on Monday. Read the first two parts of the book a while back. Didn't even remember it to be honest. The movie was pretty good. Loved the opening of them in NYC. Made me miss home for a minute. They filmed in SOHO and in Tompkins Square Park. My stomping grounds.

A few weeks ago I was talking to someone and they had just seen the movie. They said my trip reminded them of the movie. My stories a bit different but cooler. What is my story?

The place I worked at burnt down for starters in February. People are always asking me, what was the reason for this journey. Usually I say I wanted to reboot my hard drive. The job was one thing. Then number two was my apartment. A new landlord was buying the building and wanted us out. So he took us too court. That is still going on. Third was my relationship. We had been dating almost a year with a break up or two. Then when I told her about this trip, she said "she wouldn't be happy for me!". Can't blame her. If she was planning on leaving me for 90 days I'm not sure how I would have felt.

In a way I'm truly grateful that everything went down the way it has. If she stuck by me I probably wouldn't be laying on this couch in Portland today. Eat pray love. That movie moved me and filled me with emotion. It really is where I'm at in a way. Haven't really been eating yummy food. Nor have I been filled with love lately. Sure I've been doing some praying. I did realize that I want more of those things in my life and this journey is perfect for that.

Peddling and being by yourself all day really gives you plenty of time to think. Sometimes I think about what I want to say in this blog. Most days I relive my life. Think about decisions I've made and the future. Often I am in the present, fortunately.(its good to stay focused on the road) Most of all I think of my family and friends. Wish that I could have all of you with me on some part of this journey. See the things that I have seen this summer. Whales, bald eagles, coyotes, bats, elk, moose and you name it. Meteor showers in the Alaskan sky from the deck of a ferry and the other wonders of nature. Like calving glaciers. It's just a lot of time in this head of mine.

Went to that movie by myself which I have no problem doing. It was me and all woman. Gave me this zest to keep this journey up. Not stop after burning man or San Diego. Just keep going!

One other thing I've been thinking about the past few days is the last book I read. The White Tiger. Growing up and sitting on my stoop in Queens, I always fantasized about traveling and being other places. Just part of who I am. Whenever I had the opportunity I took it. Sometimes I would travel as far away from the house as possible and be back without anyone knowing. That's part of growing up as a Latchkey kid. Didn't have too much supervision. Hence the independence.

When I did my first moving job from the Hamptons to Westbury in long Island I had found that way to travel and make money, the honest way. That's what I did through high school, college and beyond. Not only did I get to travel but see things I've never been privy too. Like that book describes he found his way out of his world. My world before that was my neighborhood. Filled with bars drugs and drunks. Sure it's fun to hang out til all hours of the night and get wrecked. But how long can that last before the troubles begin?

Soon enough I was driving trucks from NYC down to Florida. The original Long Haul Ryan. Wow, traveling and getting paid for it. Not only that, it was a manual labor job that was like a workout. My body was transforming as well as my mind. For a couple of summers I used to bike back and forth to Westbury from my place in Queens. 10 miles to work. Which was really "work!". Then sometimes at 11pm bike 10 miles home. So when people ask me if I'm in sick shape yet. I think back to those days.

Never really dawned on me how much those few things have influenced my life. Truly my biggest nightmare would have been to be stuck in the neighborhood I grew up in. Being able to get out of there and see the way other people lived made me want more. I've been saving for years and not living out of my means to take this trip of a lifetime when it presented itself. Well for me it's a pretty amazing trip. I am truly living a dream. This a dream that has been realized. Even from the first few days of this trip I told Rich I'm going to go to Burning Man. Sure we had a lot of miles ahead of us but it was intended. The ticket wasn't bought til a few days ago. But it was part of the plan.

Just like the book/movie eat pray love is sparking folks passions to experience more. I hope my journey does the same. After Alaska I was chilled out. Casey got me off that gear rather quickly. Time to get back into that mode. I like that Ryan. No need to be in a rush. I'm not sure the American Dream/nightmare is all it's cracked up to be. I'm going to try carrying as much love and light as I possibly can.(sounds new agey)

It's also been lonely on the road. Just like Liz Gilbert I've gone from "relationshit" to relationship. Having had so much time alone has been nice. Since boulder I haven't even kissed a woman. Well since Wyoming that is. There have been so many beautiful woman along the way as well. Not going to force anything though. Just let it happen if it's meant to be.


Time to hit the rack. Thanks for reading along, stay tuned!





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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Seaside, OR

It's a glorious Sunday morning here in Seaside, OR. Enjoying a breakfast buffet at McKeowns restaurant. $11.99 for all you can eat and coffee. Fresh waffles and omelets made to order. Need it after yesterdays ride.



Rode just over a 100 miles. This way Casey could feel like he accomplished something on his trip. He's been complaining about not biking enough. Fine, I'll ride your ass into the ground. Then we'll see if he changes his tune. It was a pretty chill ride. Did a few thousand feet of climbing and my GPS claims I burned over 9000 calories. Last time I'd checked I'd burned over 500,000 since I began. Figuring I'm close to about 5k miles so far with plenty to go. Bike trip facts.



Glad to have the new IPhone. This thing is lighting fast. Had no service all day yesterday. Just thought AT&T was slacking over here. Then after 85 miles I see an AT&T store. I'm like "what?" The guy at the store just did a hard reset on my phone and it was fine again. I like staying connected.



Two days ago, August 20th marked a day 20 years ago that will remain as vivid as any. It was the day I was on a Campus Life bike trip to Maine. The 7-11 bike tour. A fully supported bike trip for our youth group that was biking 7 states in 11 days.



That day we we're staying in New Hampshire and just biking up to Maine for the day to eat lunch then back. The trip ended abruptly just like Kim Masterson's life. Kim was 18 and off to college when we returned. We were biking up a slight ascent on route 1 in Maine. There was about 8 people in our group. We had been riding for about a week already. I was in the back of the group. Kim started losing control of her bike. It was a narrow shoulder on a two lane road.



It's customary to call out things in the road. ie. If your in the front you call out "glass.". If your in the back on a small road, you call out "car back.". We called out truck back when Kim was staggering back and forth from the shoulder into the road. This tractor trailer got way over. He was halfway into the other lane. Kim went right under the trailer. The back wheels went over her and snuft out her life.



That image and what took place right after have been replayed in my head many times. It is a day that I will never forget. When I planned this trip I thought about that day quite a bit. Had lunch with my buddy Jack Crabtree who was leading that bike trip just before I left. He was at the front of our group. Both of us went right over to Kim. I was feeling for a pulse while he started administering CPR. I think she was gone instantly.

Believe both of our lives were changed forever that day. He has biked across the country twice. Him sharing about those trips sparked my interest so many years ago. Three months later and across the country myself with an excursion to Ak and the Yukon. Just want to say, RIP Kim.



From here it's a days ride to Portland. Gonna kick it here and bike the 75 miles to Portland tomorrow. Broke a spoke yesterday and need to have that fixed. Gonna spend a few days in Portland and then take a bus to Reno. From there I think it's a 150 miles to Burning Man.

Bought my ticket the other day. Gonna come back to Portland after that and continue down the coast. Til next time, stay tuned.

The pix are just some random pix I've taken with the new phone. That one is a vending machine at a bike garage in Seattle.


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Location:Broadway St,Seaside,United States

Friday, August 20, 2010

Seaddle!

"Jesus...when you come back, will you save me?" One of three homeless kids sitting together asked me that yesterday as I was biking by them. I had some headphones in an couldn't hear them. Stopped at the light I take the ear bud out and ask what he said. He repeated, "Jesus...when you come back, will you save me?" Also got Forrest Gump last week in Bellingham. My beard and hair are growing at a rapid pace. As I biked off I smiled and said, "sure I will." Didn't know how to respond to that. It was the last thing I expected to hear.

This was on my way to the Apple Store yesterday. Decided to take a different way back. Had to cross a river so it was a diversion to another bridge. It's more fun to take different routes anyways. So it's getting dark and I'm getting hungry and tired. When I get to the bridge I see a ton of cops. They had traffic stopped in one direction. But they were still letting pedestrians walk across and traffic on one side. As I pull up on the scene the lady cops asked me to please use the path. She also says, "don't stop on the bridge at anytime...just keep moving." I could see a few vehicles parked facing the wrong direction in the mid of the bridge. Traffic is moving slow just like most rubbernecks. More and more cops as I approach the middle of the bridge. Trying to bike by people that are retarded. There is three feet of space. You are walking directly at me. There are two walls on either side of us. I'm on a bike coming directly at you. Instead of walking side by side, fall behind the person your walking with and don't wait to the last minute. The cop said keep moving!

Pass by a few more people that are walking their dogs. Come on, get your dog to one side folks. Finally I get to the middle of the bridge and see what's going on. The cars facing the wrong way are cop cars undercover. There is a woman standing on the outside ledge of the bridge. There is a man that appears to be a police officer standing about ten feet from her. Then another cop standing in the middle of the traffic lane directly in line with the jumper. Then on the path on the other side is what appears to be the woman's boyfriend. He's sitting there on his bike with his arms folded over the handle bars while sitting on the top tube. Don't want to say, JUMP! That may not go over well. Don't want to stop and take a picture although I want to. So I just say a quick prayer for that poor woman and the situation and keep on keeping on! They appeared to possibly be homeless or junkies. Maybe homeless junkies!

Get over the bridge and don't talk to a soul. There are a lot of cops on the other side of the bridge as well. I'm surprised they let anyone over at that point. It's weird, the cops had no looks on their faces. It was all part of a days work. Does this happen everyday on this bridge? I did trying looking it up online last night. Only thing I found was a bridge they raised the fences on because of the amount of suicides here in Seattle off of it. It was a strange and eery feeling to witness this type of event. Was she serious? Is she high? What is going on in her mind?

Didn't see anything in the news about it. Maybe she lived. Below the bridge it was water. At least for about 100 feet across from what I could make out. But it was about 150' drop. Thought about going to other side and trying to get a view of the situation. Then I was like, I don't want to see that. So my prayer was all I gave. Strange though, how everyone around the scene was. Things were in slow motion but it didn't really seem to phase anyone. Maybe people just don't know how to act in that situation. It was back to the hostel to meet up with Casey. There was so much traffic from that event too. For about 2 miles from the bridge all the way to the Space Needle, traffic was jammed.

We ended up going to the movies. Saw that Scott Pilgrim movie. Like a video game turned into a movie. Pretty good, well casted and edited. Still want to see dinner for schmucks, just hasn't been showing near to where we are. I'm a movie buff, what can I say. Also hear that the Jersey Shore is off the hook this season. May have to imbibe in that on my IPhone, MTV.com. Maybe they have an app. They do, a shit ton of them! They have one called, jersey shore yourself. Maybe I can get DJ Pauly's Hair don't.

Got to say it was a great day in Seattle! Casey is ready to get a move on. Me, I could stay the whole weekend. Time to compromise and get on the ferry tomorrow back to the Peninsula. Today just kind of chilled out in this area for most of the day. Cruised around the market which is great. Tons of great vendors and people watching. Kind of reminded me of walking around SoHo on the weekends. Just slow moving! Then stopped by the Hastens showroom to say hello to Kirsten and Lina. The showroom is really nice here. It was nice to meet Lina and see Kirsten again. Lina was in the middle of selling a bed while I was there, good job!

Also had to take care of my own bed. My Neo Air by Thermarest, $180 camping air mattress. It's been maybe a few months since it's developed what we could call a slow leak. It started happening in the mountains. Thought it might have something to do with the altitude. After a few hours I would have to blow the mattress up again. Not that big of a deal, but annoying. Was in Bellingham about 5 weeks ago and stopped at an outfitter. There I spoke to the sales girl and told her my problem. She contacted the manufacturer for me. She told me I could send it in for repair or replacement. Not really an option since I'm using it all the time and don't have a mailing address. Figured I would take care of it when I got to Seattle where they are located.

But along the way I have been a bit suspicious. It happened to Rich before it happened to me. I weigh a lot more than him too. So it probably wasn't a weight thing. This happens to be a new product design. Forget where we were, but some other shop worker kind of hinted that there may be a problem with the design. Like the guy who helped me at the warehouse today. Another 5 mile bike ride out of town. Into an industrial area filled with factories and warehouses. Asked him if he wanted me to blow it up for him. Ya know, trying to be nice. Don't want him to have to or want him to blow up my air mattress. That's kind of personal, putting my air nozzle in his mouth.(ok, there's a set up for a bad joke) He informed me they have a machine that can do that. So I wait in the foyer and he disappears for bit. He comes back wielding a brand new mattress.

He's like, here you go. Great! Asked him what the problem was and he mumbles, "a hole near the seem." Then he says, "it had a big hole in it." Then he says, "it doesn't matter though because there was a problem with the nozzle" or something. He just gave me a brand new one. Should have asked him to show me the big hole. Also to show me the hole in the seem. Didn't bother, just took the mattress out of the box and gave that back to him. Was a "happy camper" and hit the road. He also mentioned that mine was the first generation. Looks like they did have problems with the product. They are just trying to hide that fact from the public. A big cover up. Just do a recall. You guys sell a great product at a high price. Back your shit up!

Then as I was biking back I said to myself. Should have kept the box and sold it on eBay. Who cares! Just use it and enjoy it. Your gonna be dead soon anyways. Ya know what I mean? Why do I care about a box or trying to resell something on eBay. Going to be using it for how ever much longer anyways.

That's enough out of me for now. I'm tired! Have a great weekend! Stay tuned and thanks for following along.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Vehicle Prowl!

Woke up at 2:00 a.m. to "Police Department!" Flashlight shining on my tent with the shadow of a big terminator looking figure showing through my tent. This was just after falling back to sleep from being woken up by the parks sprinkler system. We rolled onto the Olympic Peninsula in the late afternoon on the ferry from Victoria. After a few hours of riding and then dinner it was already dark. Not in AK anymore where it stays light til Midnight. That comes in handy sometimes. So after eating some pasta we crashed in a park right across the street from the restaurant instead of cruising 4 miles more in the dark to the campground. Which we biked by this morning and it looked bitching!

So after I wake up to Casey laughing about the sprinklers coming on it was round two, the PO PO. Well Casey didn't bring a tent. He has a sleeping bag and a tarp. Trying to fall asleep next to a biggy Jiffy Pop is more like it. Him tossing and turning and crinkling. So about midnight we got pelted with a sprinkler assault. My tent was nice and dry. Then he woke me up again this morning right at 7:00 a.m. Dude let me sleep! "Come on Ry, we gotta get going!" Where dude, we're gonna get there. Yo, I'm not in a rush to get anywhere. I just rushed across the U.S. and that was OK. But out here in the West it's time to chill. So far every place I've gone I could have stayed. Vancouver was a blast and over in Victoria it was just as cool. My new philosphy is to kick it hard if I'm enjoying some place. This dude is in a rush to get somewhere. Oh well, you always got to iron out the kinks. We're just on same trip with different agendas at the moment.

I'm sitting at the Apple store about 5 miles from Pikes Place where we are staying at the Green Tortoise. Yup, another hostel. Sick location, right across from the Pike Place market. When we rolled into Seattle I started calling around for the new IPhone. Called AT&T, Radio Shack some Mac Store and no one had the phone. Called the Apple store and they said, yup. Be right there homes. Got on the whip and cruised right over. Casey and I had about a 60 mile ride today. Quite a hilly fun ride at that. Riding around the Olympic Peninsula is really a beautiful ride. Kind of looks like Jurassic Park over there. Nice winding hilly roads that meander along the coast. We road from Sequim(SQUIM) to Bainsbridge Island today. Think Casey was a little beat. He was suprised I was going to hop back on the bike to go get my phone. I've been waiting almost 2 months for this thing. There was no stopping me.

It was one more ferry ride over from the Peninsula. Feel like I've been on every ferry up this way lately. Really nice to get out on the water. Some great views you wouldn't otherwise see. Great angles and perspectives of the cities and landscapes.

Vehicle Prowl! What the fuck is a vehicle prowl? Thought we were going to get kicked out or ticketed for sure. Woken up out of deep sleep from the Police Department while stealth camping. So he starts questioning us. Casey laying there in his tarp with the light shined on his face. That must have been some sight! Me in my Taj Mahal, as Casey calls it. We ask what a vehicle prowl is. He tells us a car got broken into. I'm not even sure how he found us. We were off the beaten path and behind some bushes. That must be a really safe town to live in. So after a few questions and his keen detective skills he realized it wasn't us. He was like, "well I guess one night won't kill us." He asked us where we from and was like later. That was really cool of him. Time to get back to sleep now. One of the problems of stealth camping. Well I guess it wasn't so stealth.

Getting dark again and I got to bike back downtown to shower up and hit the scene. Time to grab some grub. Stay Tuned! Get it?





Monday, August 16, 2010

Just made it to Victoria BC today! Another bitchin' spot on the tour. Took the ferry from Vancouver to Swartz Bay here on Vancouver Island. Then it was just over a 20 mile bike ride down to Victoria that turn into about a 40 mile ride since we took the scenic route following the water. Amazing architecture and natural beauty. Reminds me a lot of the North East. Looks a bit like Rhode Island, Maine and Mass up here.

Staying at another Hostel right in the heart of downtown. People of all ages from all over the world. Just like Vancouver where I heard so many different languages, more than any place else I've ever been. Truly an international city. So funny too, ran into Aubyn's dad right in the middle of downtown. Aubyn is the girl I met in Haines at the state fair and stayed with in Whitehorse, YT. Casey and I were hanging at a Starbucks watching the sunset and I see him in the back of a cab. Called out to him but he was gone. A few minutes later he rolled back over to say, "hello." He was staying a hotel just two blocks from there. Wearing his "hanging with my gnomies" T-shirt. His shirt had three of those travelocity garden gnomes on it. He was off to meet someone and just wanted to come back and say wassup. Just funny to run into that dude of all people in a city I've never been too.

Casey really jumped on at the right time. This leg of the trip has been some of the best so far. From cool ass Bellingham all the way here to Victoria. Some amazing coastal riding with epic sunsets every night.

About to head out and go find something to eat here in Victoria. I'm wiped out right now. Just been sitting in the sun the past three days working on the tan. Feels really good to be back in the blaring sun after being in the AK for a few weeks.

I can see why they ask all the questions at the border now. This place is filled with homeless, junkies and crackheads. Riding around just about an hour ago took this turn and saw a tent set up right in the middle of the street. Literally in the middle of the traffic island on some grass. Then I see a church with a shit ton of homeless and shopping carts all lined up. Then I see this brother down on his knees with a big stem that his buddies are lighting for him. Smoking crack at 8:30 at night right in the middle of the street in front of church. But for the grace of god, there go I.

Last night Casey and I went to see "The Other Guys." Which I can write a whole separate review for. The editing was horrible but the movie definitely was funny. Mark Wahlberg plays a great straight man with Will Farrell. We took a cab to the theater cause we didn't want to lock our bikes up. Bike theft in Vancouver is all time bad. As soon as we pop out the cab we have homeless junkies surrounding us for a loonie or a toonie. Those are the coins they use up here in Canada. A loon is bird and it's on the one dollar coin. The two dollar coin is just called a twoonie cause it's worth two bux. This hunchback woman and this other dude glom right on. Trippy feel. Then we get out the movie and it looks like "Grand Theft Auto." Cops blaring thier sirens. A homeless guy in a wheel chair being pushed by his shirtless friend. Then just skells walking between the alleyways. Another old woman rolls up on us and ask us for change. I told casey this is like a movie or a video game. Just totally looks contrived and seems unreal. Guess that socialized deal is real appetizing for folks looking for a free ride.

So if you've never stayed in a hostel, too bad. It's a scene upon itself. Fun to meet folks from all over and just watch how these ant farms operate. Communal living for a day or two and then new folks coming through. Casey was like with the money we spent we could have just gotten a hotel of motel. Sometimes it's just easier to stay at a hostel. Computers, kitchens, the internet and live entertainment with good people watching. They also are usually very centrally located. The ones we've stayed at this week have been really cool with tons of great art work.

Time to go eat some grub. Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Vancouver, BC!

Sitting in the Hostels International here in Vancouver, BC. It's so exciting to be in a big city, especially one I've never been too. Yesterday morning rolled into Bellingham, WA. after being on the ferry for 3 1/2 days. Casey said he would meet me at the ferry, but was a no show. He had a tough first day getting out of Seattle and was still a ways from the Bell. So I was like take your time, see you when I see you.

After that it was back to Old Town for breakfast. It was the last spot I hit in the Bell before getting on the ferry. Great place with good coffee and breakfast. Last time Luke and I went and sat at the community table. Great place to shoot the shit and chat with some folks. We met a couple that had just come off the ferry so they gave me some good info. Kind of how being on the road works. Just word of mouth traveling so to speak. Like yesterday morn for instance.

As soon as I roll up to Old Town I'm locking my bike up and this dude starts chatting me up. You can tell he's a cyclists from his built. Sinewy legs that say biker. We start talking and told me how he just got back from being on a bike trip in Europe for five weeks with his wife. They've been doing it for like 20 years. They have two children and used to take them as well. Now his science is light as possible. He basically goes with the clothes on his back. I like it! A bit tough when you need to camp. But he stays at hotels and says your never far from the best bakeries in the world. We finish chatting and he tells me him and his wife own the restaurant. I go in and he takes off. Next thing you know, I finish enjoying my breakfast. The waitress comes over and says Vic wanted to buy you breakfast. How sweet is that, just rolled back into Bellingham and wholla. Set the tone for another great day! Thanks Vic, and many more years of touring for you.

Didn't really want to bother Casey and had no clue what time he was going to arrive. So I started biking around town and ended up online at the library for a while. Then outside reading some more of "Confederacy of Dunces." Which I'm really enjoying. The relationships in that book are hilarious. Casey finally rolled in about 4:30. We hung for a minute at the library so he could catch up with himself. He gave me my mail that I had sent to him. 3 months worth of mail, all crap pretty much. None the less, good to get and sort through. Then we hit a burrito shop in town. ugh, the small details. Why bother? Well he happened to be riding on the day of the RSVP bike tour. A ride that goes from Seattle to Vancouver. So much the same as our first day of biking so many months ago when we ran into that cop bike tour. Casey also got to bike with like 1300 bikers. Which is pretty cool! So Bellingham was packed with bikers because that was the destination for day one.

Meanwhile, all day I was trying to figure out accommodations for us as well. Was trying Warmshowers. Hit a few peeps on there. No reply til today from a few of them folks. Then hotels were all booked. He told me his wife's aunt lives in Lynden. Which is right on the Canadian border. Sounded good, it was in the direction we were going. A little off the beaten path but a free friendly place to stay is always nice. Forget that plan, we headed straight for the border. We decided to get to Vancouver last night. Vic told me once you get over the border go left into Whiterock and take public transit. So that's what we did.

Again the border crossing was a nightmare. This time it was more TJ border crossing style less the chiclets, mexi blankets and Bart Simpson on a surfboard ceramics. Just a ton of cars and a lot lanes. We bypassed all that and headed directly for the office. Again, with the dumb line of questioning. Then we were told to have a seat. Soon enough we were on our way. Is there that many Americans going to Canada and staying there that their this worried? They were concerned we were coming there to find work.

Boom, in Canada baby! It was dark by this point. Got to Whiterock and started looking at the bus stops. Found a couple of teenagers and asked them about mass transit into downtown Vancouver. They hooked us right up. We put our bikes on the fold down bike rack on the front of the bus and were headed to the hostel. Two buses and a train later we were in downtown Vancouver. Holy Shit! I was in Toronto back in the 80's and that's what it felt like. Tons of junkies, prostitutes and homeless scattered among the plethora of young people out on a Friday night enjoying the beautiful weather. Also a shit load of bikers with bike lanes everywhere. Yeah baby, I like this city! A ton of grit and attitude. We made it to our destination and bunked down for the night.

Bellingham is also a really bike friendly town. I wouldn't have minded staying there last night. Actually as we were biking out of town we passed a "bike in." They shut the street down and have a block party for cyclist. They were showing bike films as well. We met a couple of locals that were leaving and biking our way. So we biked with Daisy and Erin for a minute. They went left and we went right for Canada.

There is so much more to write about. But it's time to get out and explore Vancouver. Have a great weekend and "stay tuned."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

On a Ketchikan radio!

Last stop on the ferry before the 36 hour ride down to Bellingham, WA. This town is a bit of a bore. Just another place filled with cruise ships and over fed old tourist. The coolest part is all the fish are jumping in the marina. Sitting in a cafe next to where all the brothels used to be. A cool looking boardwalk with all these little two story houses. Those guys needed to spend there coin somewhere back in the day. There is bridge that a bunch of people are fishing off of. Seems like every cast someone is catching something. Haven't fished in AK but don't feel like getting messy before getting back on the ferry. These fish are crazy, getting like 3' of air.

Just finished reading my first book of the trip. The White Tiger. Took 5 books with me at the beginning. Most of them were meditation books along with Fight Club and one other. Never picked any of them up so I sent them home. Inga who we stayed with in Bellingham threatened my life if I didn't return this book. Going to be in Bellingham Friday so I figured I better get the pages turning. Also have Confederacy of Dunces with me. Gonna pick that up again today. TWT was a fun read. At first I thought it might be a life changing book. Like there was going to be a gem of knowledge that I've been waiting for. Turned out to be a page turner surrounding a fun story. One of my favorite lines:

"The moment you recognize what is beautiful in this world, you stop being a slave." Adiga

In my tent after leaving Whitehorse the other night I was smelling something that smelled like chemicals. Soon I recognized the smell, it's ammonia. My body started to smell like ammonia. All my clothes and me. Disgusting smell actually. After a little research it looks like I was eating to much protein and not enough carbs. It's called Ketosis. Seems to have disappeared the past couple of days after doing laundry and taking a shower.

When and if you travel out of the country what do you fear most? Last weekend in AK I couldn't get any money out the ATM's. Late Friday afternoon and worried cause I can't get cash. Tried both ATM's in town and nothing. Then I tried again and realized I was doing something wrong. I never use ATM's out of my network. My ATM's always have the checking button as the first option to take cash out. In AK they had the Savings on top. So after freaking out, I took my time to read and look at what I was doing. Back to fears while traveling. First off, I'm not going to get or wear one of those stupid neck/pouch things. They remind me of the pouches all of the crack dealers used to wear back in the mid eighties. Anybody remember those leather Louis Vouton pouches they used to wear around their neck. Maybe that was just a NYC thing. I am always concerned about where my passport is though. Always happens at night too. Where did I leave it? Is in my shorts or in my pannier? Then I buggout about it til I fall asleep. Then I always find it the next day. That reminds me of camping just outside of Haines Junction last week. Fell asleep with some food in my tent. Was too lazy to get dressed and get outside to put the food in my panniers. Then I woke up in the middle of the night and remembered it and fell back to sleep. Living life on the wild side.

Truly happy I got to experience Alaska. Been a great few weeks exploring up here. Next time it won't be on bike. Highlights of Alaska are definitely all the chill folks that I met. South East Alaska state fair was also amazing! Then you really can't hold a match to the natural beauty. The eagles, mountains, fish jumping, bears and beautiful vistas. Check it out for yourself if you can.

Monday, August 9, 2010

$40,000.00

That's the amount of the reward for the escaped convicts from Arizona. Time to head back down to Yellowstone and make some moola. Could you imagine being on your family vacation that sometimes people plan years in advance. You really have to book your stay in Yellowstone about a year in advance to stay in one of their facilities. Camping is not that big of deal but for RVs you have to reserve well in advance as well. So you finally get to Yellowstone and there are two stone cold killers on the lose. Your not only looking for Grizzlies but gun toting thugs ready to rob and kill you. Just read one of them was caught in Meteetsee. I biked right through there not to long ago. A lady was sitting on the steps of a church chatting one of the escapees up and went home and saw him on the news. Easy way to make 40K.

Just sitting at the public Library here in Skagway, AK. A few hours before I have to board the ferry for my three and a half day excursion to Bellingham, WA. My friend Casey from San Diego is going to meet me there. From there we will go from Vancouver down the coast as far as we can in two weeks. He may actually bike to Reno and drop me off at Burning Man. Which I'm so looking forward to. It is a bike community. Maybe I'll get some props for riding the whole way there. But that is basically the only way to get around while your there. Anybody else coming or want to go?

Stocked up on some food for the next few days. Alaska has been great for a lot of reasons. Mainly because I have been preparing all my own food which I really have never done. In NY it's so easy to be a bachelor. Not always the best option do to cost but then again it all depends on what your noshing, Eh! I was writing A, then realized it's EH! Fuck that noise, it's so annoying, EH! Glad to be out of the Yukon. No offense to my Yukonian friends. After eating so much crappy food with bad service that is way overpriced I became proactive. Anyways, it's a big deal for me. Now it's mostly PB$J's the next couple of days. Started to get a little fancy with those as well. Great to sprinkle some granola on the sandwich then sandwich it together for some crunch and goodness. One day had some left over pancakes and made PCPB&Jw/G. Now I just need to get bettered equipped for the road to make some meals and coffee. That could ended up saving me a lot of coin in the long run.

Sent out almost 50 postcards in the past couple of days. This one coffee shop I was hanging at had color pencils. So some of the cards are going to be quite colorful. They also had a little public sketch book which I found cool. You can doodle it and just leave it there. Kind of like an old school black book. Years ago graffiti writers would carry a book and hand it off to other writers to take and do a piece in. I'm sure it still goes on.

Today I ordered my Pacific Coast maps for the next leg of the trip from Adventure Cycling. Having them sent to Casey's house. It's good to have them this way you know what your looking at. For instance, the last week of riding from Missoula to Bellingham we were in for quite a surprise. Who would have know the Cascade Mountains were really mountains. Thought it was going to be a breeze getting to the coast. Big mistake, hurt Achilles and some of the toughest riding yet. 6000 feet of climbing and 100 mile days builds character though. Was on a mission to make that ferry to AK. Definitely glad I did. Have seen some amazing sights and met some truly terrific people. Ak will remain in my heart forever. Anyways, the maps are going to be key for topography. Gonna need to know what I'm facing in the next couple of weeks to plan accordingly.

Well my half hour is up here at the public library. The Internet at the hostel is super slow. Also the machine is quite outdated. This thing is super speedy fortunately. Thanks for all the kind words and comments. Make sure your having fun!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Back in the US of A!

My AT&T data charges while in the Yukon were only $560. Note to self, when traveling out of the country add more data and change rate plan. Option B, shut the phone off and leave it that way. Fortunately they changed my plan starting on the time before I arrived in the Yukon. Basically they prorated it and charged me $60 bux for 50MB instead of $560 overall. Who wins?

Sitting in the Skagway Home & Hostel which will no longer be come Mid Sept. The guy is shutting down after being in biz for 21 years. If your looking for a business opp, this could be your moment. $15 a night for a dorm room with bunk beds, warm showers, Internet and close to town. Also get to use the kitchen to cook your meals. Which has been key for me lately. Sick of paying crazy prices for shitty food and crappy service. Could be the best thing that ever happened to me quite frankly.

After typing my previous blog which I'm still uncertain about. Not sure how I feel about airing that "dirty laundry," but whatev's. It was time to crawl in the top bunk that I was staying in. Small two bunk bed room at the Beez Kneez in Whitewhores. The nick name for Whitehorse I found out from the Hostel manager. So about 1 in the morning and I crawl into the top bunk. Damn, I should have tested the structural integrity earlier in the evening. My fear was I was going to crush this poor 19 year old British kid staying on the bottom bunk. First of all there wasn't much room for me to climb up and in. The ceiling was low and I had to maneuver my way up there. Creaking, twisting and wood stretching. I've lost 20Lbs this trip but still weigh close to 230Lbs. Could only think of the scene in Stepbrothers where one falls on top of the other. Then I started thinking about my safety. Which way was thing going to fall? Will my head go down first at an angle? Will I land directly on his head? I laid there with my arms braced at the sides hoping I could grab on as the plywood and mattress gave way. Don't want to move, but I'm a side sleeper. Now I roll on my side and start to worry that I just concentrated my weight into a smaller part of the bed and now it's really going to collapse. Literally laying there in fear that this is going to give. Soon enough morning arrived and I had made it through along with the Brit.

Then it was off to a 110 miles of biking down to Skagway. About 12 miles out of town you turn south. As soon as I made that turn the wind hit me directly in the face. Biking has not been fun at all for me lately. The Yukon has been especially challenging. There is nothing up here for many many miles. So it was only 60 more miles directly into headwinds. At just over 70 miles I stopped and camped on the side of the road. Then today it was just another 40 to get to Skags. Prolly the toughest 40 miles of the trip thus far. It wasn't a lot of climbing, just cold, wet and wind in the face. Not a fun combo for biking. Thought about putting the thumb out but never did. Was looking forward to the 11 mile downhill into Skagway from the US customs station I've been hearing about. Big deal, 11 miles downhill with winds in your face is not fun.

Glad I made it and did the biking. Realized I'm sick of being in the mountains and need to get to the coast. Almost sick of biking already. Hoping the coast and watching sunsets every night will make all the difference. Been in the mountains ever since I've reached CO. I'm a city boy and miss having services, seeing people and biking through at least small town after small town. Sure I'll miss all this soon enough.

I'm tired and going to hit tonight's top bunk. Hopefully some folks are leaving tomorrow and I can switch it up. As a kid if I was sleeping in bunk beds I would always want the top one. I'll try and post some more pix to Picasa over the next couple of days. If you haven't gotten a postcard and would like one, text me your address. Just sent a bunch more today. Kind of fun thing to do. Have a great week, thanks for following along.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Aroarus Boryellus!

Can't spell it or say it correctly and don't feel like looking it up. Sending a postcard from Canada or the Yukon to the states cost a buck! Sent one to Brazil and it cost $1.70. I'll be sending some for .28 from the good ol' US of A soon. Decided to stay at the lovely Beez Kneez for another day. Woke up and had invited some folks I met to the Hostel for pancakes. Only of those people showed up but plenty of people ate. Who is going to say no to pancakes during breakfast? Then tonight made a spaghetti dinner and fed some more folks. Just giving back what has been given to me on the road thus far, A LOT OF LOVE!

Thanks for all the correspondence from the previous post, I was feeling lonely and not missed. Seems to not be the case. Everyone keeps asking when am I going back to NY? When does the trip end? When I know, I'll tell you. So far just going to keep on trekking. Skagway tomorrow and then take the ferry from there on Monday back to Bellingham. That's a 31/2 day ride down. After that going to meet Casey and bike up to Vancouver. After we are going to bike down the coast together. He only has two weeks so we may just do WA and Or together. I'm still going to try and make it to Burning Man!

Met a woman tonight tonight here at the Hostel that is going. She is from New Zealand and it will be her first as well. She was telling me about some different tribes she may meet up with it. They have some interesting names. The Hook Up crew and The Debauchery Crew. She also said she may join a smaller camp. I don't know enough about it. Just going to try and get there and figure it all out. Was telling another guy from Britain about it. He had never heard about it and went to the website and immediately noticed, "clothing optional." Maybe I'll be completely naked for a whole week. We'll see how cold it gets and how comfortable I feel upon arrival.

It's almost midnight and just got dark. Want to wait for the Northern Lights but I'm beat. Just kind of took it easy the past couple of days here in the Yukon. Mostly just had fun meeting people from all over and laughing and having a good time. Last night I spent a night in some lovely accommodations. For $30 bux I got to stay in the rear of the Hostel in an old Volkswagen Camper Van Circa 1970. That thing is great! The bed was pretty comfy. The roof shoots straight up at an angle where I can stand full monty, A! Then the front passenger seat swivels around to just kick it in like a recliner. Only slept in the thing but it seems like it would be a fun way to travel. Thought I was gonna leave today but wasn't feeling it after the pancake breakfast. So I hung around the Hostel to see if any vacancies opened up. If not I was going to shoot down to Robert Service Campground a few miles down the road and stay there. $12 more bux and you stay indoors without setting up your tent plus warm showers and the interweb.

Spent most of the morning just hanging around reading and watching the girl who works here trip out. She had just broke up with her boyfriend and she was afraid he was going to come here and storm in, in a fit of rage. She told me he gets very crazy! So I was waiting to see what happened and how this was going to go down while reading a great book online. In my mind thinking about how I'm going to get shot and die in Yukon over some domestic violence. How crazy could he be? How big could he be? The drama subsided later in the day as the Hostel started filling up and he never showed. Found out he came over in the evening and they had a solemn break up.

Definitely the highlight of the day was getting to read a few more chapters of Exile Nation by Charles Shaw. So wonderfully written and crafted in a fun language that is easy to breeze through. His first chapter was released earlier this year on Realitysandwich.com. He is releasing chapters only on there through 2010. It is a gripping true portrayal about our prison industrial system. If you haven't heard about this yet, you will! He talks about his own experiences in the joint. Plus tells the tales of many more while describing how our corrupt nation just keeps flooding the prison with non violent offenders to keep small town economies afloat. Can't help but think about my brother who is serving a 10 year prison sentence right now. Hate to even talk about it, but they say that can take away the strength it has. It's embarrassing to say my older brother is in prison. He just completed his first of ten years. Could you imagine losing your freedom like that? I'm still sending him postcards on the road but I don't hear from him. Actually he had another inmate have his brother e-mail me to tell me he needed money. I've been sending him money since he got locked up. www.jpay.com You can send inmates money online, it only makes sense in today's day and age.

Now we'll see if he tells his inmate friend to have his brother e-mail me to say thanks. Prolly won't happen. There it is, my brother is serving 9 more years in a Florida prison for what boils down to being a drug addict. But he did commit the crimes that landed him where he is. Then not to long ago I heard a guy speaking about how he hit and killed somebody in a blackout while driving and got only 4 years! It doesn't make sense. From what I read in Exile Nation, the sates need white inmates to fill a quota for the amount of brothers that are locked up. The states also receive 20 to 90K for each prisoner. That money plus the money generated in those communities from visitors and the folks that work at the prison really adds up. I remember when I went to the Waffle House the morning I went to visit Peter this past December. The waitress knew exactly what we were doing in Rairford. It is basically their economy.

Bet you weren't expecting to hear about my brother Peter in prison. It's amazing the effect that can have not only his life but everyone around him. 10 years gone. No checking your e-mail, no movies, no bike trips, no sex, no communication with all your "friends and family." I'm the only one that writes him supposedly. That's a fucking,sad ass existence.

Peter Stepka
D87081 E1123S
Lawtey Correctional Institution
7819 N.W. 228th street
Rairford, FL 32026-2000

Sorry, I go from send me comments I'm lonely....to write my brother in prison. Well if you want a pen pal or to kick your carpel tunnel into gear give it a shot. I used to type letters and then print them out and send them to him. Got to say there is something nice to handwriting something though. Before sending a ton of postcards on this trip that is really the only time I write by hand is when I send him letters. He is a great compassionate man when he has his head on right. Also a good artist, so ask him to draw you something, maybe a Ligor!

Who would have known that the tragic twist of my blog would focus on incarceration. Let me be the first to tell you how grateful I am for my freedom. Very, very grateful for that. It is the most valuable thing I have. Being able to come and go at will as I desire is something I cherish. Sometimes I get caught in my own prison between my ears and those times are not fun. So my goal on a daily basis is to really enjoy life to the fullest and if I am not having fun it's time to switch gears.

Thanks for following along on the long haul. It really was nice to hear from all of you. Almost went and edited the last paragraph of the previous post out, but that was how I was feeling. Glad that I can share myself honestly on here. This is just who I am! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

THE YUKON

Where you say, look at a map I say. Yeah, I don't know much about or ever remember learning about the Yukon Territory. Got a quick lesson though as soon I got here. Made the stupid decision to ask if my Mountain Dew which cost $2.50 was in American or Canadian. The clerk quickly replied, "Where are you, A?" Duh, of course it's Canadian. My next question was, what is the exchange rate? Another quit reply, "I don't know!" Welcome to Yukon, Yanky!

Left Haines on Sunday right after the state fair. Made friends with the Kirby Vacuum cleaner salesman that was driving back to Anchorage after the fair. He told me he would give me a ride to Tok, which is 200 miles from Fairbanks. Which was my original plan. I ended up getting a ride over the border and 140 miles to Haines Junction. It was a beautiful road, but I'm definitely glad I took the ride. There were no services for that whole distance pretty much.

A few mentionables. The fact we were sucking fumes the whole ride. Second was the border crossing. We get there and are waiting in line. I feel so bad for Jim whom I'm driving with. My feet smell worse than the hippie girl that was dancing next to me at the state fair. This hip hop band came on and kept saying put your hands in the air. Every time she put her hands in the air I would almost puke or pass out. She STANK! It smelt like beef jerky gone rotten. There was a whole tribe of pungent spinning dancers but she took the cake. Back to my feet. At the crossing which was only 40 miles from Haines I decided to take off the sandals, my keen riding shoes and put on my new kicks. Had to buy sneakers in Juneau because my feet were killing me. Not only my Achilles which is still healing but the lack of support that those keens don't provide after wearing them everyday for over 2 months. Can't say enough about good shoes, it's like having a good bed.

Ok, took care of the fungusamongus. Still waiting to cross the border I'm waiting to see how this is going to go down. The last time I crossed into Canada I didn't need a passport and had no problems. Great we pull up to the crossing and it's a female Canadian border agent. She asked where we are from. Jim tells her Anchorage or Eagle Creek wherever he lives. I tell her NYC. She asked what we have in the Van. Also if we have more than 10K in cash. I was concerned that I was going to get my bear spray confiscated. Not allowed to bring weapons across the border. She did ask if we have any weapons as well. Jim told her he just had some vacuums. She took our passports and asked how we knew each other. He told her we met at the fair and he was just giving me a ride to Haines Junction. She took the passports and went into her little station.

At this point there are quite a few cars lining up behind us. Jeesh, border crossings! Jim and I shooting the shit and she's taking her time. She finally comes back out and starts asking me questions from the drivers side window. Starts asking about my plans up in Canada. How much money do I have on me. She said, "do you have money for food.?" "Do you have credit cards with you?" Literally the questions she asked me. I asked if she was concerned for my well being and she just said she was doing her job. Then let us on our merry way. Interesting experience none the less.

Then a few miles after that I peer over to the gas gauge. Notice that we have less than a quarter tank and a 100 miles to go. Oops, we're in the Yukon, 130 Kilometers. Jim, let's out a big, "A shit!" He totally spaced on it. We asked somebody that was on the side of the road if there was a gas station in the distance, he had no clue. We didn't want to have to turn all the way around and cross the border again. So we gambled. He was a bit antsy and still had quite a bit of driving to do after my departure. Of course we don't want to talk and dwell on the fact that we're going to run out of gas in the middle of nowhere. He sees a camper ahead and speeds up. What he thought was a gas can on the back was a spare tire. I really didn't care either way, I was in it for the long haul. If I had to bike and get gas so be it. I'm sure we see something or somebody would come by with gas if we ran out. Nothing, still no sign of civilization. A forestry compound with nobody around because it was Sunday. Just signs telling us we were getting closer and closer to Haines Junction. Mind you, I usually have an idea of what my vehicle is capable of. When I asked Jim how many gallons was his tank. How many miles do you usually get on a tank, he didn't know. He just said he usually puts about $70 in and it's still isn't full.

Coasting down the hills whilst not putting his foot on the gas, we made it. Pulled into Haines Junction literally sucking on fumes. He filled up as I took my bike out. We are in the middle of no where. Said our good byes and I was on my own in the middle of the Yukon. That's when I ran into that nice lady who sold me the mountain dew. Thought about getting a hotel since it had been so long since I've stayed at one. A bunch of shitholes that cost too much money if you ask me. So had a burger and asked the girl who worked there about camping. She told me 5k down the road was Pine Lake Campground. That's what I did. Ate the burger and headed out.

Great campground right in the heart of the Yukon. Still don't know what the conversion rate is. The cost for camping was $12. How much is that in American? So I took an envelope and toured the campground which is what you do. Find a camping site, leave your stuff then come back and pay. Go back and set up camp. As I was biking around there was a large group of folks and one of them muddled, "Long Haul Ryan." JK....he said Long Haul Trucker. I kept biking around the campground and then went back to their site. He walked over and we started talking. His name is Anthony and he works for AMG, Alaska Mountain Guides out of Haines. He had bought a LHT thinking he was going to do a tour and then sold it. He had just come off a 24 day river trip with this group of folks. Started talking about how cool Haines is and how the fair was. They were all upset they missed it. I told them it wasn't very good, which was an outright lie to make them feel better. Then we had a quick chuckle. Yeah, so what I chuckle!

Ended up camping on the periperhy of their site on their dime. Sort of stealth camping or stealing, you decide. It was their last night as a group together and they wanted some alone time. It was an attractive group of people that was evenly mixed of guys and girls. Looks like it would be fun to do one of those adventures, either with them or NOLS. Who I've also seen here in the YUKON. If you don't know what NOLS is, look them up or don't. I heard them leaving in the morning but didn't want to get out the tent yet. They were really nice and left two power bars on my rear rack.

Yuck, I've been off the bike for about 2 weeks and have a 100 mile day ahead of me. Wha, I want to cry at this point. The road to Whitehorse was Boring. There were signs all over for, watch out for moose and elk. Didn't see a dam thing. Actually turned around to see what was coming behind me a few times. It was either big rigs, RV's, pick ups or small cars. Two times when I saw pick ups I put my thumb out. This is the first time I've ever done this. It felt so foreign. Both times they blew right by. 15 miles, 25 miles, 30 miles my GPS goes dead. Shoot, now I can't even keep track of how far I've gone or have to go. Oh well, just keep peddling. For me if it's a 100 mile day I feel good after 50 miles. Ya know, knock the first 50 out and then it's 50 to go. Sure if there's stuff to see and it's nice road of course. Oh boy, did I pick a day and a road to restart my trip. Just about half way through I found a rest area. Ended up taking a nap in the blaring sun. It felt good, hadn't been in the sun like that for weeks. A few RV's pulled in. Luckily too, because I was just about out of water. Yeah, off the bike trip mode for 2 weeks and I forgot to fill my bottles 30 miles back when I had the chance. Fortunately I was able to fill two bottles from this nice family in the RV.

These two other couples pulled up and start giving me the 3rd degree. Where you biking too? Where did you start? When do you finish? ARGH....leave me alone already! But they have vehicles. Maybe this can be my 50 mile support vehicle to Whitehorse. Just had a civil conversation and I biked off into the sun. I can do this on my own. So there I was, half way through the day with some new sun on my face and two bottles of water to get me through. 70KM to Whitehorse, 40KM to Whitehorse and then welcome Whitehorse. Just keep going, your not there yet. It was the farthest from town welcome sign that I've come across. That sign is about 10 miles out of town. Finally a gas station. Mountain Dew please. The guy was real nice and gave me a map of town and told me about some camping. I was planning on staying at a youth hostel called Beez Neez! Don't know why I insist on calling a "Youth" hostel instead of just hostel.

Wow, I have reception again. Yeah no reception once I got a few miles out of Haines. There were a few text and one from a girl I met at the fair. She's a nurse here in Whitehorse and was there with a bunch of other nurses and her friend from Nova Scotia who was visiting. They left abruptly do to some medical stuff Saturday morning and she wanted to apologize for not getting the chance to say good bye! Texted her right back and told her I was in Whitehorse. My plan was to head to the hostel when she invited me to stay with her. Sure, what's your address. She's really cool, her name is Aubyn. Her and her roommate are about to embark on their own one year adventure. They both just took a year off of work. It's fun talking to her about her plans. Always nice to be kicking it with a local too.

The night I arrived she had to go right to work from 8pm til 8am. So I was on my own. Ended up just hanging around town and going to the movies to see Inception. Then the next night her friend invited us over for dinner. We had to pick up some salsa and wraps for the bear we were going to eat. Yup, I ate black bear meat. When in the Yukon! So all and all a good time in the Yukon after my long boring ride that I didn't want to do. I'm glad no one picked me up when I put my thumb out. My figuring is, still have plenty of biking to do. Alaska and The Yukon were going to be my chill out spots. Have a 110 mile day ahead of me tomorrow to get to Skagway. At least I'll be back in the US of A. No offense to the Yukon or Canada, but you know....it's nice to be on home turf.

If you made this far, thanks for reading. Guess I really want to write today. Once I start pedaling again I should be updating more frequently. I've been a bit discouraged though. Feel like no one is reading these and it's a waste of time. There's a handful of you out there that are, this is for you. Just would be nice to get more comments and hear from people. Feel like I'm completely out of touch with everyone. That's my pity party, thanks for coming. Til next time, see you down the road.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Getting Antsy!

Almost time to hit the road again. This has been the longest I've been off the saddle in months. Probably going to leave here tomorrow or the day after and head up to Whitehorse in the Yukon. About a 250 mile trek from here. Then after that head down to Skagway and catch the ferry to Juneau. Have to catch that ferry by the 10Th of August so it screwed with my plans a little. If I went with the original 1100 mile route through AK I would not have been able to get back down to Bellingham til the end of August.

My friend is planning on meeting me there on the 14Th and we will bike to Vancouver and then down the Washington and Oregon coast together. I may still make it to Burning Man. We'll see how it goes.

The festival here in Haines has been a blast. Well it's actually the South East Alaska State Fair. there are actually quite a few state fairs here. So most of the vendors and acts travel from fair to fair throughout the "summer." I put summer in quotes because we are in AK. The weather up here is quite finicky. It's raining out right now. So I had to muster up to get on the bike and trek the 7 miles into town in the rain. Didn't want to miss the state fair. The first night I felt like I was intruding on a family reunion. It's really small and quaint. The musical acts and entertainment have been amazing. Glad I stayed to experience this.

The decision to do a smaller route through the Yukon and back into AK I think is a good one. At first I thought I wanted to see all of AK. Sure it would be nice to say I've been there and done that. But it is so much nicer to spend time in one place. You really get to see the charm. Have already met a ton of people here and feel right at home. I'm sure if I wanted to stay I could do it very easily. But I have a mission ahead of me. I really am looking forward to biking down the Pacific Coast. Also looking forward to sharing part of this journey with another friend.

Hope everyone that is following along is having a great summer!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My Beard is gone!

Sitting at the Haines public library here in AK. They close at 9pm and give you one hour on the Internet. That is a pretty sweet deal when your traveling. And the fact that they are open so late is cool as well. http://seakfair.org/index.php Tomorrow is the start of the state fair here in Haines. That's why I have extended my trip here. It has also been nice to be off the saddle for a bit. Still been biking, but not 70 miles a day average. To get to town it's 7 miles each way. I'm really staying out in the "boonies." But then again AK is the boonies.

The house I'm staying at is tuff to leave. So nice to be there and chilling out. Been chopping and stacking wood for the past four days. Literally all I've been doing. Great upper body workout after doing so much on the legs. First day about wore me out. Then the consecutive days just got more and more fun. I've never chopped so much wood in my hole life. I remember telling my GF last year that I could just chop wood for a living. Well I got to see first hand how that would feel. Not sure it would pay the bills, but it will definitely make for a warm winter.

Learning quite a bit on how to live off the land up here. Been out to eat only a few times in Ak and the food is edible and the service is worse. Learning to cook and make do for myself. At the house I'm staying at we have a chef actually. She is staying in the yurt on the property. So we've done some cooking and then she just cooks and leaves food around. Then another couple showed up with their two kids yesterday. The wife stayed with Stephanie 18 years ago and is now traveling with her family in there VW Eurovan. They have 2 fantastic kids that are running me ragged. They are 5 & 7. Gotta love the energy that kids bring. She is also a really good cook, after this heading home to eat some pesto.

Really has been a great learning experience coming here to AK. Also have had a blast doing all these fun activities I've been up to. Cooking, chopping wood, helping build some bookcases, demolition and who knows what's next. Did go for an afternoon swim yesterday too. In the cove that the property sits on. It was hot for AK. Robin, the father of the two children needed help to get the Sea Kayak up the beach so it was perfect timing. It was cold but refreshing. After chopping wood for hours it was needed.

I made a deal with myself back in St. Louis. Was not going to shave til I jumped into the Pacific Ocean, fully submerged. I think going swimming in AK counts. But now I really like my beard and it's fits up here really well. Last night I had a few nightmares. Dreamt that when I woke up somebody had shaved my beard. Guess I'm growing attached to it. Then I dreamt I was back in NYC going to school and working again. Dreamt that I flew home to NY from AK. Was really upset that I didn't get to bike down the coast. Glad it was just a nightmare.

Should meet up with my buddy Casey in a few weeks and we're going to bike down the coast of Washington and Oregon together. Maybe as far as San Fran. We'll have to see how the timing goes. He may actually meet me up in Vancouver.

The highlight of my day was getting to skype with Ryla. They are five hours ahead of us here in AK. She was a bit tired. Can't wait to see her soon.

Also looking forward to spending some time at the state fair this weekend. Looks like they have some funky bands coming from all over the place to play. This town is pretty eclectic as well. So it could just be a fun place to people watch and eat some good fair food. Thanks for reading along.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

"You can never step in the same river twice"

Here is a link to some photos from the trip so far.

Long Haul Ryan


Plenty more to come after this. Just don't have the capability to upload a bunch of pix quickly with my phone only.

Still in AK. Loving it! Bit cold or chilly the past few days. But it is gorgeous up here. Staying in this great house on a beautiful cove. It's a friend of Diane's that I met in Juneau. Stephanie is the new host. Turns out her son who is a photographer lives three blocks away from me in Manhattan. It's a small world getting smaller. No phone service back here in the woods. This is a community of a few families that bought 87 acres back here in 1973. They have all since built houses and raised families. It's been great listening to Steph talk about all the history here and challenges of living in AK.

I'm getting concerned about things that are out of my control. So I'm just going to try and turn that all over. Have to continue my journey and live one day at time. Just really in my head right now.

May stay here in Haines til next weekend. The South East Alaska State Fair will be in town. I hear It can't be missed. Stephanie studied philosophy. She told me that is one of the lines that she loved back in college. "You can never step into the same river twice." It's very true and for her it means that you never know what the new day is going to bring. Everyday is different, enjoy it!

Time to make some pancakes with real maple syrup. Made banana bread yesterday with Theresa who is another of Stephanie's guest who is living in the Yurt on the property. That wasn't so successful, but fun. We tried to double the recipe and it didn't translate well. This has been like a big home ec class for me so far here in AK. Been cooking, building bookshelves and a little demolition. Also trying to conserve as much power as possible. Stephanie is also the head of energy conservation up here. So I'm learning quite a bit. If your not using it, unplug it. Turn it off and so much more. Surrounded by outhouses and compost. You really live a different lifestyle up here in AK. My life has been changed forever.

I should tell you a little about this home I'm staying in. It is three stories tall and I am staying on the third floor. They got all the wood from an old state building in town. The state was trying to figure out what to do with it. These good ole' boys offered to demolish it for $10,000. The folks that live here in the cove offered $11 to dismantle it, they won. Then they all built there houses from the wood they recovered. Just a real charming home set back in the woods surrounded by gardens and nature. There is a path through the yard that the moose like to take. Haven't seen any yet. Then right across the cove is a glacier. That is the view, a glacier with a beautiful waterfall flowing from it. The exterior of the house has windows that go up the three floors at a 60 degree angle. They used to have solar panels on them. She just got electricity here not to long ago. Living off the grid.

She's got a few addictions though. Reading and gardening! Not bad addictions. Thanks for following along. Time to make pancakes.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Good bye Juneau, hello Haines

It's been five days and four exciting nights in Juneau. Having no plans turned out just fine. Juneau has been another great city. Great folks with plenty of things to do.

The king salmon dinner with Jim in his friends was great. We had salmon, halibut and a bunch of other great food. Jim is a good cook. His place is great. We ate on his porch that overlooks downtown Juneau. He lives on Douglas island just across the channel.

That evening ended up going for a flight with my other new friend Jason in his cessna. It was a bit rainy and overcast so we just flew over downtown Juneau and the Mendenhall glacier. Very cool to see the glacier from above. You can really see the size and shape much better. The crevasses are really amazing to see. The blues on the glaciers are dope. You really have to see them in person. Also hearing a hearing a glacier calving is something else. Explosive thunderous sounds when the ice falls into the water.

Met one great person after another in Juneau. Hanging out with Diane all week was a joy. We built some book cases together. Tore the remainder of the roof off of her house. She put me to work and it was fun. All of her friends are great people too.

Today got one last hike in too. Went up to the glory hole on the perseverance trail. It was wet and I got soaked. But a great hike none the less. Ate some wild berries and saw some great views. Back in those mountains is rich with gold mining history and a lot of remnants. You can see the old mills back there.

Wednesday was a super long day on the Tracy Arm tour. A ten hour tour out to the glacier. The glacier was amazing and got to see a ton of wild life. Bear, whales, seals, mountain goat and eagles of course. Supposedly there are even more in Haines. Most of the people on that tour boat were from ny. Out of 27 peeps it was over 10 NY'ers. The captain was really good too. Great at spotting wild life and getting into all the nooks and crannys. He glided through the icebergs and got the boat right under some waterfalls so we could stick our heads under. "it was the beast" as my friend from new Zealand on the boat would say.

That's it's for now. Let's see how the rest of Alaska is. Have a great weekend! Look forward to hearing from you.


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