FRAANK
    Family Ride Across America to Nurture Kids
50@50

Daily Journal & Log
April 2012    
SP=Start Point  -  EP=End Point -  DM=Days mileage - TM=Total Mileage

Day 1   4/16/12
SP: Cornville, AZ
EP: Juneau, AK
DM:
TM: 0

Notes:
7am  The pilot just announced that we've hit an altitude of 34,000' and that momentarily
the flight attendants will begin the in fight beverage service...yadda, yadda, yadda.  
The plane is packed to the gills, as most flights are today in the competitive airline
industry. I can't remember the last time I was on a flight that wasn't. It seems the airlines
have figured out a way to streamline operations to a point that they are able to utilize
every last bit of available resources to avoid raising fares and thus discourage airline
travel. Unfortunately, for the passengers, this has resulted in a less then pleasant
experience while flying. Gone are the days of unlimited baggage check in, empty seats
to spread out on, and unlimited drinks and food. I suppose it's a sign of the times.
I'm on the first of two flights in route to Juneau AK, the launch point for my dream of
traveling to all 50 US state capital: a trek of nearly 17,000 miles using only self-powered
means of transportation (kayak, bicycle, and row boat).  The first flight to Seattle is
about 2 hours, then after a short layover, we board the second flight bound for Alaska
where we're due to arrive shortly after noon.  
Accompanying me is my good friend and fellow Cornville resident/sign maker
extraordinaire, John Alvey.  John and I have known each other for many years, mainly as
clients to each others business, but only in the last couple years have we got to know
each other and do things together.
John will accompany me on the first leg of the journey which involves a relatively short
paddle (65 miles) in an ocean kayak from Juneau (the glacier and ocean locked capital
of Alaska) to the nearest road possible out of SE Alaska. That road is about 100 miles
north in a little hamlet named Skagway at the head of Alaska's SE inner  passage.
Though it might seem somewhat counter intuitive to be traveling north, when the goal is
to head south, it is the best and fastest way to get down to the lower 48. To head south
out of the capital would entail hundreds of miles and several weeks of precarious ocean
kayaking, a sport to which I am admittedly a novice, in order to reach a road with access
to the lower 48.
The first 40 miles, from the actual Alaskan capital building to Echo Cove,  will be on a
rental bike (my bike is packed up and will be flown to Skagway from Juneau as cargo
aboard a small regional airlines.
Having never been to this part of the world, everything I've learned about, and thus
planned for, has been through Internet research and to which  I have spent countless late
night hours on the computer.

11:30am. Aboard flight 2 bound for Juneau. The weather in Seattle was overcast and
chilly, from the looks of things inside the warm, dry terminal. We had a 2 hour layover so
we had some breakfast (yogurt and cereal) and sat around in the food court chatting
about the upcoming trip and life in general.
John's good friend Brian Midciff passed away yesterday from his battle with cancer. It's
hard to understand that disease and it's cruel sometimes seemingly randomness. My
father died of cancer 23 years ago at the relatively young age of 67. But he had been a
lifetime smoker and hadn't always taken the best care of himself; a  lot of those of his
generation hadn't. But when we see a young man in the prime of his life, or even worse
yet children who haven't even experienced any of life's sacred or treasured moments
(one of the beneficiaries of the FRAANK fundraising effort, Dakota Nash, has leukemia
and is scheduled to have a bone marrow transplant next week), it can't hep but make
one contemplate the meaning of it all.
After all the advances in medicine and countless resources spent on research, cancer
still remains a mysterious and indiscriminate killer.  Brian was 39 and  left behind his
wife and kids (2 boys and a girl).

1pm. We just started the decent in to Juneau. Out the right side of the plane are the
snow capped coastal mountains of British Columbia and SE Alaska. All I can see is
white. I'm starting to get concerned how I'm going to ride my bike through all that snow.

10pm. We just got back to room after grabbing a bite to eat at a restaurant overlooking
the Gastineau Canal called Hangar's. The atmosphere was exciting and the view idyllic
but as with so many like styled restaurants, the food below average. Our waitress was a
robust and informative (perhaps a bit too informative) young lady originally from
Minneapolis.  Hangar's was only a few blocks from our hotel, the aging yet character
filled Prospector. John and I both think this was probably the first hotel ever built in
Juneau.
Yesterday I went to pick up the rental bike I plan to ride from the capital building (only  2
blocks east of the hotel) to Echo Cove (our launch point on kayaks) tomorrow morning.
The owner John McConnichie was helpful and gracious enough to meet me at the shop
to arrange the pick up (it is Monday and they were closed) and not charge me for the
bikes usage. So far the people John and I have met here in Juneau have been very
friendly and hospitable. Perhaps they can tell right away were not from around here.
Our room faces the ever ebb/flood tide flowing Gastineau canal and the surrounding
snow covered mountains. The day was beautiful; mid 50's and sometimes sunny. The
town itself of Juneau has an alaskan frontier feel to it and is not very big even though it is
the capital.
I'm really tired after getting only a couple of hours sleep last night so I think I'll call it a day
and get some well needed rest.


















Day 2    4/17/12
SP: Juneau, AK
EP: Juneau, AK
DM: 0
TM: 0


Notes
5pm.  I finally had a decent nights sleep last night (even with John's snoring), and did it
feel good in the morning.  And I needed it as today was one of those 'constant on the go'
kind of days.
10pm. We were dinner guests tonight at the home of Scott Foster. Scott is a member of
the Juneau kayak club and I first met him through a series of emails back several
months ago when I was first researching the possibility of kayaking from Juneau to
Skagway. He has given me an abundance of useful information about the area and
kayaking in general. He and his friend Gayle along with a later arrival, TJ, hosted us
warmly with a fabulous meal, stimulating conversation, and an interesting slide show of
the area we will be paddling through over the next several days.
When we awoke this morning it was raining but it wasn't long after that the weather
cleared up and the sun began to slip out from behind the patchy clouds. It turned out to
be another beautiful day like yesterday. We had a meeting scheduled for 10am with the
governor of Alaska, Sean Parnell (Juneauan's informally refer to him by his first name,
Sean). John and I arrived to the capital and his office on the 3rd floor about 5 minutes
early and checked in with the receptionist, as told to do by his scheduling director. We
were told that the meeting was not until 10 and I said well that's why we're here now.
"Sorry sir, but it's 9:00" replyed the young attractive check-in girl with a look of
bewilderment. I glanced at my cell phone it read 10:00.  Hummm.  It didn't take me long
to figure out my smart phone never transferred to Alaska time and I was still on Arizona
time because I had the wrong settings programmed.  In other words the smart phone
was smarter than me. Embarrassing moment # 1 of the day.
We, John, Becky (the lady who is owns the kayak shop and is outfitting us for the paddle
to Skagway) and I came back an hour later and had a short but productive meeting (I
made my best sales pitch for the FRAANK causes) with the governor and before I knew
it we were taking pictures and shaking hands goodbye. Governor Parnell is the same
age as I, 49, and I got a chuckle after we left his office when John, who is 52, remarked,
"You know you're getting old when the governor is younger than you".  I would like to
thank Gov Parnell for taking the time out of his busy schedule to meet with us.
The rest if the day was filled at Becky's warehouse of Above & Beyond Alaska (ABAK)
the name of her company. With the assistance of her knowledgeable and helpful
employee, Dawn (like the morning sun, not the dish washing liquid), we were able to
gather and arrange all our gear needed for the paddle.  Becky has been an invaluable
resource (as well as friend, now) to my efforts of planning for this initial stage, and I not
only wish to recommend ABAK to anyone considering an outdoor trip to the Juneau
area but want to thank her and her staff for all their gracious help with planning and
outright hospitality they afforded us while here.
The rest of day was filled with shopping for last minute essentials and a brief radio
interview with the local public broadcasting station. The interviewer's was Pat Moore
and he was amused when I told that that was also my wife's name before I married her.  
Pat is also a longtime ham radio operator and he gave me some interesting ideas with
regard to outfitting my boat with a ham radio for the row to Hawaii next year.
Tomorrow, around 10am, I depart on the first stage of this year plus long journey. And
though a little nervous to be underway and on the actual undertaking, I feel greatly
relieved to be done with the planning stage of all this. Never, in my past,  can I
remember anything  occupying so much of my day to day time and attention as this.
Between the actual logistics of the trip and the fundraising aspect I have devoted literally
hundreds of hours of time and countless amounts of energy. But like so many things in
life that we voluntarily commit to, it has been a labor of love. I have thoroughly enjoyed all
the planning over the last 6 months and feel in the end that it will all be worth it.  In a few
hours from now, when I pedal away from the granite steps of the Alaskan state capital
building, 50@50 goes from planning to execution.
This will be the last journal entry for several days as once we leave the Juneau area cell
phone coverage ends and without that there is no way to send back daily updates. I
should have coverage once again though in Skagway and this blog will be, in a few
days, updated once more before heading out in to the Yukon Territory and BC where
there will be no coverage for a 1000 miles and 2 weeks biking.   



















Day 3    4/18/12
SP: Juneau, AK
EP: Juneau, AK
DM: 40
TM: 40


Notes
Notes:  Houston, the Eagle has landed. We have made it to our launch point for the
kayak paddle to Skagway. Mile # 1 is in the books.
We are camped just above the rocky shore at the end of Echo Cove near the boat
launch. The day has been spectacular: mid 50's and sunny. The weather guy said this
morning that record highs were in the forecast for today, and I believe he was correct. I
departed from the  capital building around 10:30 with John, Scott, and Gail seeing me
off. John drove the rental car to the airport with all our gear, including the bike and trailer,
and Dawn met him there in the ABAK van with the kayaks. He sent my bike and trailer
with Wings of Alaska, a small regional fleet, north to Skagway. It should get there soon
and they will hold on to the bike until I get to Skagway.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGJCq9hDE94&feature=youtube_gdata_player

















Day 4   4/19/12
SP: Juneau, AK
EP: Juneau, AK
DM: 10
TM: 50


Notes
7pm. We have set up camp about 3 miles north of Pt St Mary on the east side of Lynn
canal.  Pt St Mary is the rocky point just opposite Pt Bridget and at the North end of the
entrance to Berners Bay. This camp is I believe the best camp I've ever had in my life.
It's on a beach with small pea size rocks which I love because sand and dirt doesn't get
everywhere. There is a little brook with plenty of fresh cold, sweet tasting water. There is
so much dry drift wood strewn about that I could make a fire big enough for the
occupants in the space station to see. We are sheltered from the wind. There are signs
of wildlife all over, from sea lions frolicking at the waters edge (about 200' to our front) to
bear tracks all over the beach. And best of all is the view with snow covered mountains
in front of us to the west and the gorgeous canal in front of us. The sound of sea gulls
and geese and lapping waves on the beach just add more to this most ideallic of places
to find yourself.

11pm. We finished our dinner of freeze dried pasta about a couple hours ago and then
hung our remaining food from a tall elder tree about 100 yards down the beach at the
edge of the tree line. We use the counter balance method which consists of tying two
bags on opposite sides of a rope and hanging from a tree branch high enough off the
ground that a bear can't reach it. The branch must hang out far enough from the trunk of
a tree that a cub can't crawl out on it and knock it down. This is the method used in
Yosemite because bears have become such a problem there.
We crossed Berners bay in about an hour. It was a perfect day to do it as there was no
wind and the water surface appeared like glass with the surrounding snow covered
mountains reflecting off the water. We saw several whales and lots of sea lions. There
were also numerous bald eagles soaring about. When we reached Point St Mary we
stopped to rest and have some lunch. The sun was out and it was warm and beautiful.
The sea lions were all looking at us from a safe distance off shore about 100 yards.
After lunch we began paddling again heading north and continuing on the east side of
the canal. The wind started to pick up and soon afterwards we cutting through 3-4 foot
waves. It was a little fun
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTvyfRwqcQk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVQH2ZEIXL8













Day 5   4/20/12
SP:N58'45.619/W135'03.579
EP: Eldred Rock Lighthouse
DM: 15
TM: 65


Notes
12pm. We stopped for lunch just south of Pt. Sherman. It was pretty windy this morning
and the waves were between 2&3 feet for a while. The wind is out of the north so it's
been slow going. The sun had broke out but now it's getting overcast again.  There is a
water fall about 200 yards down the beach were on and for now we are somewhat
sheltered from the wind in this little south facing cove. Our goal is to paddle at least 10
miles today and if possible camp on Eldred Rock, a small island in the middle of the
canal, where there is a lighthouse.

9:30pm. We made it and just in the nick of time. There is a huge storm outside with gale
force winds of 40 knots (that's between 40&50 mph). We are camped in the lighthouse
itself which sits on a small rocky island in the middle of the Lynn canal. The multi-storied
building is completely abandoned and has been for apparently some time. Fortunately
the door was open and when we paddled in from across the canal on the eastern side
and found it that way we were greatly relieved. Today was one of those days that would
make even the most devout doubters of divine intervention start to reconsider their
beliefs.  After lunch we the morning wind subsided and we started to make better time.
We finally came around Pt Sherman and the wind calmed down so much that the water
turned once again to a glass plate. My eyes started to grow heavy and for a while I
thought I might start to fall asleep while paddling. Just after Pt Stewart I looked back to
see if John was still behind and as usual he was, about 50 yards. I wasn't paying much
attention but we had drifted out in the middle of the canal. I started feel a slight breeze
on my back, the first from that direction since we had started paddling 2 days ago. Tiny
sand waves began to develop and I felt an slight increase in my speed. This was great
as up to that time the going had been slow. Within a minute though that gentle breeze at
my back began to increase and at such intensity as I have witnessed only during
monsoon season back in Arizona when the winds can come up to gale force with out
any hesitation of notice. Before I knew the force at my back was  now gusting at what I
can only estimate to be 30-40 knots, from what was total calm less than 2-3 minutes
prior. My first instinct was to try to angle over to shore which was by then close to a mile
away. But now it was too far and too dangerous for that. The wind driven waves were
beginning to crest at my back and crash over my head.  The bow of the kayak was
being covered with at 6" of water every time the 4-5 foot swells would envelop the both
of us. My only concentration was keeping the bow pointed directly ahead and not
allowing the boat to weathercock and turn us sideways to the rear coming waves. All
around me were whitecaps and I had no idea where John was or how he was faring. I
was too frightened to even turn my head around to look for him fear of losing my angle
and capsizing. So many things were going through my mind and time began to take on
a different dimension; what seemed like an hour was probably only a few minutes. Why
did I allow myself, and thus John who was tracking from behind, to drift off so far from
shore? I had our only radio, a marine VHF, and if we separated or he was in distress
how would he call for help. What's worse, I had the tent so if we were separated for the
night how would he survive the night with only a light down sleeping bag in these harsh
conditions. Why hadn't we brought along a two radio to keep in contact with each other
in the case we became separated?  But for the time being I had to keep my focus on the
situation at hand and first keep myself from getting swamped and swallowed up by
these treacherous seas. I had my dry suit on and knew I would be ok if I were too
capsize, but I had no idea for how long the suit would keep warm enough to avoid
hypothermia from setting in and effecting my thinking. One thing I was certain of was that
in the dreadful event of a capsize in these awful conditions the odds of my being able to
self right again was slim. If such were to happen I knew I would be forced to ride it out
until the tempest blew over. Eventually I started to notice a slight let up in the winds and
within minutes the huge waves followed suit. That was the good part. The bad part was
that the consistent 5 foot swells were being replaced with erratic choppy waves from
every which angle making it hard to control the boat. I frantically used all my strength to
keep the angle of the boat at right angles to the oncoming waves now slapping me from
port to starboard. My arms and focus were both starting to lose the strength I knew was
needed to keep situation from becoming a tragedy. Eventually the winds continued to
subside even more to the point I felt more comfortable in angling over to shore. It took
me about 15 minutes to finally reach the comfort of land no matter how rocky and
unforbidding it was. I landed and climbed to the top of the highest rock I could find to see
if I could see John but no sign of he nor his kayak. Good thing I thought; he must have
made it to shore before me. I decided to paddle up the shoreline to see of I could find
but before I could launch I was relieved to see him come paddling along from behind a
bend on the rocky shore. We both looked at each other with utter disbelief in both our
faces at what we had just gone through. Not missing a beat in his dry Arizona wit the first
thing John asked me was, "Anything new and exciting happen lately?". Not to be
outdone in the humor department by my partner in adventure I quipped back, "Welcome
to Alaska".
Not out of trouble yet, we still had to figure out what we were going to do for a camp spot
for the night. The shoreline was impossible as there was no beach or even opening to
squeeze through the impenetrable rocks and gradient of mountainside extending all the
way to the waters edge. Our only option would be to cross the canal over to Eldred Rock
in the middle of the canal where we were told there was a abandoned lighthouse we
could use as shelter. But that would entail tackling these high and still threatening seas
again which, although much calmer than earlier, were still dangerous. We had no idea if
the brunt of the storm had passed or there still was a second punch on the way. We
decided to go for it and after another physically and mentally stressful and frantic hour
long paddle we made it to the relative safety of the non windward side of the small lone
island. Words cannot describe how relieved the both of us were to had made it and we
both gave each other a bear hug embrace and in unison let out a huge sigh of relief. We
portaged out gear up to the dark, cold abandoned, even ghost like building standing on
the top of this isolated rock and carried the kayaks above the high tide level and up the
long ago straight and operable, but now barely recognizable,  tram tracks which
apparently carried the supplies from the water to the storage buildings. As we were
making our way up to the lighthouse the wind again began to pick up and the rain come
down. Within minutes the tempest had regrouped and was bringing its fury on again with
gale force. We had made it though and could relax knowing now that we were off the
water for good and had shelter for the duration of storm. We had made it with only
minutes to spare.
We made ourselves at home in the cold, dank lighthouse and cooked dinner and
showered and talked about the afternoons events, recalling the horrifying experience we
had just had. We now were more than just casual friends and knew that from then on we
would be bound as life long comrades which only an experience like that we had just
went through has the ability to create in life.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5R6xAIpwEo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T72cg3uPpEE&feature=youtube_gdata_player


















Day 6   4/21/12
SP: Eldred Rock LIghthouse
EP: N59'10.554/W135'20.848
DM:15
TM:80


Notes
Camp tonight is on another beautiful rocky beach with total seclusion, a creek with fresh
water very close by and tons of firewood everywhere, the most incredible views of the
snow covered Kakahun Mt range to the east, and best of all total solitude except for an
occasional sea lion popping his nose out of the water or a whale spewing out his breath
as he passes by. We are only about a few miles south of Haines on the west/east facing
side of the canal. This place is absolutely gorgeous.
We made very good mileage today for the time we spent on the water, mainly because
there was a southerly wind blowing us north.  We got started about 10:30 after a long
time contemplating whether or not to venture out with there still being 20-30 knot winds
and white cap covered water. It was also cold so that weighed heavily on our minds.
We finally decided that the waters had calmed down enough after the previous days and
evenings tempest to venture out. The forecast on my VHF radio was for reducing winds
do that helped to boost our courage somewhat. It took us at least an hour and a half to
carry our dry bags down to where we had left our kayaks on the tram tracks the evening
before and then to load them and lower them down to the waters edge as the tide was
at least 10' further down.
Once on the water our concern, as the day before, began to increase again as the
waters were much bigger on them in a kayak than they appeared to be when looking at
them from 50' higher in the lighthouse and from the safety of an enclosed building.
Eldred Rock sits in the dead middle of 5 mile wide Lynn Canal and when turbulent
water, either from the north or south hit it they split and then come together with force at
the opposite end of the tiny island. As we set out from the middle of east facing side of
the island all seemed fine, that is until we approached the north end and the split, angry
waters came back together again. There were 5' waves slamming our boats from both
directions sending the kayaks every which way. I felt like I was I was in a replay of
yesterday afternoon when the storm first came on the seen with all it's force. And as
yesterday, I again just tried to focus on keeping the bow at no less than a 45' of the crest
of each wave. The good part was, like yesterday, the wind and waves were still mainly at
my back so I was moving fast and knew eventually I would be out of it. Our goal was to
hit the northern point of the next northern island called Katagumi, but that was about 3
miles away. Eventually the parting seas came together and the waters calmed enough
for us to keep our bearing. We both sighed a big relief when we reached the next  land
mass and celebrated with a snack of peanut butter (found in the lighthouse) and apples.
Heading north we encountered the first kayakers, actually human life, since leaving Echo
Cove on Thursday morning. 3 guys heading from Skagway and paddling to Juneau
were on day 3. We chatted with them for a few minutes and then headed on our way.
The winds, and the currents were in our favor and we did excellent time and
mileage today.

















Day 7   4/22/12
SP:  N59'10.554/W135'20.848
EP: N59'17.703/W135'24.872
DM: 10
TM: 90


Notes
2pm. We paddled in to Haines about 2 hours ago and had lunch at the Lighthouse
restaurant which was right where we landed. We had burgers and pie and relished
every bite of it after living on freeze dried meals for 3 days. John as usual poured on his
semi Arizona country boy charm on to the waitress, Rhonda, and she no doubt enjoyed
the attention. After lunch we went shopping at the IGA and I went across the street to get
a 6 pack of beer while John hunted down a book store.  Haines is a small fishing village
with perhaps a few hundred people living there. It sits at the base of high covered
mountains and, according to one fella we met there, received 35 feet of snow this past
winter.
Camp tonight is directly across the bay from Haines. When we left we were thinking
about camping somewhere down the shore but decided to make the crossing over to
the east side of the canal as the water was calm and winds light. It took us about 30
minutes to paddle the 2 miles across. We're in a little cove facing south and just north of
the Taina inlet which leads to Skagway and is the northern most point of the Lynn canal.
We had to camp on large rocks as there was no real beach to speak of.  There is a ton
of driftwood so we built a somewhat level platform with some planks we found among
the piles of wood to put the tent on. I made some pasta for dinner and a nice salad from
what I had purchased from the store in Haines. We had a hard time finding fresh water
here and John had to climb half way up a steep hill on the east side of this cove to fetch
any. Our fire tonight is just on top of the 8" size rocks and I put a long 12" plank I found
down to sit on. This is a rough camp, but doable
.  





















Day 8   4/23/12
SP: N59'17.703/W135'24.872
EP Skagway, AK
DM: 10
TM: 100


Notes
6pm. We arrived to our final destination of the opening kayak stage of 50@50 about 2
hours ago and are now showered sheltered and somewhat spoiled. Tonight will be
spent in the relative decadence of an aging tent trailer in the Pullen campground. We
landed on a sandy beach  within the jetty protected harbor and to our surprise found this
campground just above the harbor itself. The park appeared to be closed down but I
called the number on the office window and a fellow answered saying he would be right
down.  I don't believe he was planning on opening but figured what the heck. Nick, the
owner is a young pleasant guy and he set us up with a tent trailer for the next 2 nights for
real cheap. He turned on the showers and prewarmed them for us. Never did a hot
shower feel better.
We departed from last nights camp on the rocky beach at the  entrance to Taiya Inlet
about 11am. At first the going was slow from still wind and thus water. Eventually the
wind picked up from the SE again and  began to push us along our way. We stopped
only several times to eat a snack, take a picture or grab a few moments rest. Upon first
sight of Skagway we were both felt elated yet letdown. We had made it to our final goal
but knew that now another chapter was about to begin; for John the return back to
Arizona and life as usual and for me the beginning of part 2 of 50@50, the long part.
All day while paddling through this majestic beauty I kept having thoughts of what this
second part of the journey was going to entail, both physically and mentally, as well as
spiritually. Am I up to this formidable task awaiting ahead of me: 14,000 miles
zigzagging across the country on bike, with this initial part of going through BC, 1600  
miles in early May?  According to google map there are only 2 small roadside gas
stations between here and the next town with any services: Prince George a thousand
mileis away.  The first 20 miles out of Skagway is uphill to an elevation of 3500' where
according to people I have spoke with there is still so much snow that from the road
someone riding in a car can't even see the side of the road due to the snow pilings. Do I
have enough clothes?  Will there be dry wood for me to make a fire at night?  Will my
sleeping bag keep me warm enough with temps expected to get down to the low teens
some nights?  So many questions. But for now I must celebrate as the part 1 is over with
a stunning success.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7TesMF8dhY




















Day 9   4/24/12
SP: Skagway, AK
EP  Skagway, AK
DM: 0
TM: 100


Notes
Skaqua (Skagway) "A windy place with white caps on the water". That's the ancestral  
name given to this  hunting and fishing area here at the head of the Lynn Canal  by the
Chilkoot Indians. Skagway gained its fame in 1896 when George Carmack and 2 Indian
companions, Skookum Jim and Dawson Charlie, discovered gold in the Klondike
Valley, an event which triggered the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897-98.  The first railroad
in Alaska was built to facilitate the gold seekers quest and it started in Skagway with its
terminus in the Yukon. It went over 3,500'  White Pass, 10 miles north of Skagway, the
same pass I will summit tomorrow morning in the first miles of the bike portion of
50@50.  
Today was mainly a day to get everything organized for the beginning stage of the bike
ride to get back to lower 48 states. We had breakfast at the Sweet Tooth cafe and then
walked up to the air terminal and picked up the bike and trailer. Nola and Rick, the
airlines representatives, we're friendly like most everyone we've met here in SE Alaska.
We talked about the area and other topics for nearly an hour and they presented us with
a couple Wings of Alaska caps as souvenirs.
While I was packing, John pedaled a 3 wheeled bicycle all over Skagway, shopped for
souvenirs, and met probably half the population of this little town.




















Day 10   4/2512
SP: Skagway, AK
EP  N59'45.546 W134'57.795
DM: 27
TM: 127


Notes
2pm. I departed Skagway shortly before noon and now I'm stopped at around mile 12
for a snack. The ride so far has been nothing but a climb as the road gets closer to
White pass. I saw my first bear of the trip about an hour ago, an oak barrel sized black
bear who was just off the side of the road, behind a guard rail and about 25' away. I saw
him before he me, and when he finally did see me was spooked and ran about 15''
down the rocky mountainside, stopped and turned around to see if I was still there. We
had a stare out for about a minute which gave me time to grab my phone and take a
picture.
The day is overcast and as I climb this steep long mountain the temp keeps dropping
more and more. I hope I can summit before long and get back down the other side
where hopefully I will be able to find warmer temps and perhaps some shelter. The
going up to now has been, needless to say, slow. There is a steady 10-15 mph wind out
of the north, my direction of travel. There have only been a handful of cars to pass me so
far, mostly in clusters, and my presumption they are from the 1pm ferry arrival from
Juneau.
8pm. Camp/night 1 on this epic bike trip, and for Gods sake is it lonely; unspeakably
beautiful, but gut wrenching lonely. Nothing though that a sip of whiskey and a Johnny
Cash melody or two can't cure.
Camp is about 4 miles north of the Canadian customs station on the left side of hwy 2 or
the S Klondike highway. There is snow everywhere, piled as high as 10' in some places.
This place I'm camped is the only cleared area around as it seems to be a parking lot
for snowmobilers. I believe the name is Log Cabin but I can see no log cabin around.
There are toilets but I can't get to them as the snow is piled to high. I would love to make
a fire but there is no wood, much yet dry wood, anywhere. The altitude I believe is
around 2700' but by the looks of the trees and land I could easily be at 10,000' in
Arizona. I'm just below tree line here.....incredible. White Pass topped out at just under
3300' at around mile 15. There was no big decent on the canadian side like most major
climbs I've done.
About a couple miles past the summit a couple of Landrovers stopped to talk to me and
they turned out to be on a world wide journey to all 7 continents. They are titled
Expedition 7 and though I'm not sure of the relationships between all of the members,
they appeared to be a husband and wife and 2 teen boys, a cameraman, and some
other friends/guides. One of the friends/guides is named Scott Foster and he lives in
Prescott AZ and knows my brother Pasquale and has arranged with him to help lead
their expedition along the Skeleton Coast in Namibia. There are probably few living
Americans who know Africa as well as my brother. In fact he lives there for a good
portion of the year. He has been to north, south, east, west, and central Africa on
numerous occasions. So it was without incredible surprise when Scott told me that he
had contacted Pasquale to help them arrange their travels across the continent. What
was a complete surprise was how we had met; out here in E Canada on a lonely, cold
snow covered road where perhaps 50 cars a day pass through this time of year.
Anyway, the trip leader was very generous and gave me a nice donation for FRAANK,
so Patrice if you're reading this put Expedition 7 down on the Donor page. Thanks
Expedition 7, have a great trip and hope we meet again some time in the future. And by
the way, Patrice, put them down on the reservation book for about 2 weeks as I told
them to come down for dinner when they pass through N AZ.
It's amazing how quiet it is here. I can actually here the scarred tissue in my ear drums
ringing. The wind has stopped and with that a more comfortable temp. When the wind
blows up here it gets really cold. The forecast, last I heard, calls for 60% chance of
precipitation which, according to Alaskans I have spoke with, means rain or, in the
location I am, snow.  I hope I don't wake up to snow on the ground and my tent.
I must have been carrying at least 75 lbs of gear on my bike up that steep pass today.
Combined with the weight of my bike that makes over 100 lbs. Combine that with the
fact I'm very out of shape for biking, and that was a horrible day 1. But the weight will go
down everyday as I go along and my legs should become a little stronger.
It's so weird being alone after having Johns company this last 10 days or so. I guess I
need to get use to it. After all I'll be alone for 3 plus months on the pacific ocean next
year.






















Day 11   4/26/12
SP:  N59'45.546 W134'57.795
EP:  N60'17.821 W134'16.018
DM: 58
TM: 185


Notes
8am. I woke up about an hour ago and geez is it cold. My cheap little REI temp gauge
says 30 but I think it's colder, especially when the wind blows. I'm huddling around my
camp stove with all my clothing on and am dreading getting on the bike here soon. I
would make a fire but there is no wood around. It is still overcast and that's a good thing
as without this cloud cover I believe it would be a lot colder. I've only seen one truck pass
by the highway since I've been up. I slept really well last night and woke up only once
when I thought I heard something outside. Turned out to be only the wind wrestling the
tent flaps around. But I did sleep with my bear spray right next to me.
12pm. The day seems to be getting colder, perhaps it is just the bone chilling head wind
I've had all day. I have been riding along the banks of frozen lake Tutshi for at least 10
miles now. There are intermittent snow flurries swirling in the wind, but fortunately not
enough to stick on the road. Other than my freezing toes and fingertips, I'm doing ok
though.
4pm. I'm stopped in Carcross, the first town since leaving Skagway yesterday. Not much
here but a gas station/small store with very limited food stuffs. They have wifi here so I
was able to upload yesterday's journal and pics. It's still really cold outside and I don't
feel like going back out there and leaving the warmth of this little store. Was going to buy
some beer until I found out it is $15 a 6 pack. Folks here seem very friendly as nearly all
greet me and inquire as to my origin and destination.
9pm. I feel a lot better now than I did about 2 1/2 hours ago when I was cold, wet, and
trying to find somewhere to camp. Now I'm warm, dry, at camp (overlooking  lake), and
clean after taking a warm shower (the first in 3 days). Camp tonight is less than a mile
before the community of Tagish, which I have no idea how big it is or what's there as
when I arrived here I saw this spot above the lake and decided I had had enough riding
for the day. It started to rain a couple hours back and I was wet and cold riding through it
but now it is warmer and for the first time in days I can see blue skies. In fact the setting
sun has even poked through the western horizon. I have a comfy warm fire and my
spirits are doing well, and for the first time in my life, I am above the 60th parallel, which I
believe, I crossed over upon entering the Canadian Yukon Territory earlier today when it
was snowing.
All I can hear from my perch above lake Tagish are the geese and the snap and pop of
the warm campfire. There are two beavers swimming around in the frigid waters below
which, unlike the other lakes I passed earlier today, is not completely iced over. Not sure
exactly what my altitude is but this area seems to be warmer from that which I passed
today.
When I'm out doing my thing on bike trips there is a necessity some times to come up
with solutions for problems, not matter how trivial. One such problem, if you can call it
that, is stinky gloves, which in turn make my hands stink when I take them out. The
gloves are neoprene and they have been great at keeping my hands warm both while
kayaking and now biking. But my hands sweat in them and, like feet do so often when
kept in shoes, they emit a foul odor that I'm afraid others can smell, especially when I
shake their hand. So my solution since I can't wash them, there being no laundromat
around, is to put some of my armpit deodorant on the inside all around the fingers and
palms. Not sure if it will work or not, but I'll keep you posted if it does. If nothing else my
hands should smell like Speed Stick for a day or two.
I've decided, heeding Alveys advice, to not shave until we reach $50,000 in donations
for the FRAANK causes. I'm certain this will be the source of much annoyance to my
wife and daughter and others who actually look at me. But it is a visual manifestation of
my resolve to succeed in what is the most important aspect of 50@50; helping those
who need assistance. I just hope there is a little pepper in my beard and not all salt












Day 12   4/27/12
SP:  N60'17.821 W134'16.018
EP:  N60'12.378/W132'51.293
DM: 69
TM: 244


Notes
I decided to stop for breakfast at Jacks Corner which is at the intersection of the Tagish
road and the Alaskan highway. Now I will head east for about 200 miles before going
south. I haven't looked at my gps coordinates but I believe I am now the farthest north I
will reach for 50@50.
Not much here at Jacks Corner but a few gas pumps and this restaurant. There was
nothing in Tagish. The next stop in the road is not for 60 miles and that is called Tenlin. I
sure am glad I didn't rely on the services up here for my supplies. The day is like every
other day for the last week, overcast and cold. At least I'm not fighting a headwind
though and  making better mileage than the last couple days.
Ahhh, that was delicious: 3 eggs with a generous helping of home fries, 3 big links of
sausage and slabs of crispy bacon, and well done (like I like it) Texas size toast. After
eating food out of a bag for 2 days a home cooked meal really hits the spot.
Just crossed over the Teslin River after making a brief stop at Johnson's Crossing
which was all closed up. I found wifi there but could not get it to work. Now the highway
turns SE so I'll probably lose my tailwind. The highway is more crowded than yesterday
or the day for but I use the word crowded lightly; there are perhaps 10 cars every half
hour vs. 2 yesterday.
I'm feeling a little better now after having one of those 'why am I here? I really miss and
want to go home' moments. A nice warm fire, pretty sunset, inspirational music from the
iPod, and of course a sip of whiskey and that horrible sunken feeling of gut wrenching
loneliness  seems to crawl back in to its hole, at least for the time being.
Anyways, I'm camped in a public quarry of some sorts on east side of hwy 1 only a few
miles north of Teslin. The lake is on the other side of the road and it is still frozen solid
like most all the lakes up here. No spectacular view tonight, like last night, but at least I
can see the sunset, which is the first time I've seen the sun since leaving Echo Cove and
crossing Berners Bay over a week ago. OMG..has that been over a week?  Where did
the time go?
I'm a few miles south in latitude from where I camped last night on Tagish Lake, so I
guess I hit my farthest point north in latitude some time today after Jakes Crossing and
when hwy 1 turned SE. Probably around Johnson's Crossing. From  on it will be South
mostly until Honolulu which is at the 21st parallel. That's a long way.
I met a fella biking earlier this afternoon going the opposite direction and we stopped for
a while to chat roadside. His name is Chris Figureida and he has been biking since
march when he left from Death Valley, Ca and plans to reach Denali (Mt. McKinley), to
climb that and then, if that's not enough, bike back to Death  Valley. Incredible? Yes, I
thought the same thing. What's more amazing is how he was traveling with very limited
'ultra light' means of equipment. He only had 2 bags on the rear of his light road style
bike, in to which all his means of survival out here in the cold, barren Canadian outback
were stuffed. Compared to my huge overweight mini Winnebago, his contraption
standing next to mine looked like David and Goliath. We spoke for about 20 minutes
and he told me I was the first biker he had seen since leaving DV back in mid March. I
believe his website is ridefor theheart.com but can't remember for sure. If you want to
look him up just google his name and I'm sure a lot of hits will come up.
So, for the first time in days I can actually see the blue sky and what's more the waxing
moon in the western sky. I am so thrilled to see blue sky again and, earlier, to feel the
suns rays. It is actually shaping up to be a beautiful day tomorrow though tonight will
probably be cold. I'm astonished how cold it is up here when the wind blows. It makes
you want to lower your head in to your jacket, kind of like a turtle backs his head in to his
shell when threatened.

















Day 13   4/28/12
SP: N60'12.378 W132'51.293
EP: N59'55.178 W131'17.713   
DM: 66
TM: 320


Notes
1:30. I stopped back in Teslin  at the hotel/restaurant to have breakfast and freeload on
some wifi. I FaceTimed with home and it felt good to see everybody, even the cat. The
day is partially sunny, but compared to the last week it seems like Florida. But it still is
chilly. I shopped at the grocery store in Teslin for some salad fixings. It's the first fresh
produce I have found since Skagway, in fact it was the first real store I've come across.
The road is quieter today than yesterday. Perhaps a car or two every 5 minutes or so.
One can't help but become a bit introspective out here with such beauty surrounding you
and the accompanying solitude. Yesterday I saw a moose but he scrambled off in to the
woods before I could take his picture.
9pm. The one thing I can't get over here in Alaska is how cold the wind is. If it were not
for the wind it would not be nearly so cold. Tonight I am camped on a concrete
foundation. That's it, just the foundation. The walls, roof, and every other sign that there
was once a building here is completely gone. I had a hard time finding wood for a fire
but eventually did and now I am showered and relaxing for a bit next to the fire before I
make dinner (something or other from a bag). Life out here would be totally miserable
without a fire.
I have seen the largest footprints today, both on the side of the road as well as around
here at camp. I believe they are from a moose but I can only hope they are not from
bear. There is also some piles of dog looking poop around here. I know it's not from a
dog because there is fur from some animal mixed in it, like the coyote piles back home.
My guess is it was left by a wolf because I saw also some really big dog like tracks near
the poop. I also heard one yesterday.
I'm starting to get use to being alone. I know this because I'm talking to my self all the
time. When I talk to myself it means I'm getting accustomed to being alone. Another way
I know I'm getting use to being alone is that I don't need to listen to music as much as
before. I guess this a good thing because there are many days ahead of me before I
have any company.
I am about a half mile from the road and can barely here the traffic as it passes by, not
that there is that much anyway.
Tonight is half moon, which is really a quarter moon but who's counting. It is so beautiful
and opaque here at this latitude. It's possible to make out all the details the naked eye
can take in. I remember the last full moon sitting outside the back of the restaurant and
thinking that the next full moon I would be in Alaska. The moon is a pretty good indicator
of life moving forward.






















Day 14  4/29/12
SP: N59'55.178 W131'17.713
EP: N60'04.950 W129'22.155
DM: 80
TM: 400


Notes
7am. I'm being serenaded to by a pack of wolves this morning. Can't tell how far away
they are, only the direction. It's a harmonic, soothing sound; not like the scoundrel
coyotes back home or the dire threatening omen the movies try to portray it as being (of
course I hope it stays at an unseen distance). This is the first time I've ever heard wolves
in the wild. If they do it again I'll try to record it. Just as I write about the wolves a band of
geese fly squawking overhead.  So many sounds up here.
I've found out that if I put my iPod/phone in to my titanium pot that the sound is amplified
and I can hear it all around camp.
There are now soft random flakes of snow drifting down from the once again overcast
skies. Guess its time to pack up and hit the road. From what my body is telling me this
is going to be an Advil day. No time to feel sorry for myself; after all I chose to do this.
Which leads me to wonder; why do we make the choices in life we do so often and then
complain, be miserable, and take out on others when the outcomes which follow from
those decisions don't meet our expectations? Such frailties are ever more pronounced
especially when compared to those who just make the best out of the hand they were
dealt, no matter how crummy the cards may be. Guess its just another one of those
unexplainable human anamolies as we all do it at some time or other. Think I'll listen to
Ashokan Farewell (song to the Civil War) for the millionth time.
This highway is almost completely free of any litter and debris. Its amazing compared to
most highways in the States. Every 10 miles or so there are bearproof trash
receptacles. The highway signs that inform you when they are coming are funny; they
look like a picture of the Sesame Street Grouch with his head sticking out.
1:30pm. I'm stopped for lunch in Rancheria on the east side of the continental divide
which I passed over about 10 miles back. Great big burgers here and boy did it go
down good. The lady who owns it and the girl working for her are real friendly. If you ever
come through this way you must stop in and have a bite to eat. I guarantee you, and this
is coming from someone who has spent his life in a kitchen (when not out riding his
bike), you won't be disappointed.
7:45pm. Camp tonight is next to a cell tower, the first of many I'm sure for 50@50. Jim
and I often camp next to cell phone towers for many reasons. First they are generally
close to roads but they also have a clearing to pitch out tents and be relatively bug free.
No one has ever bothered us when camped next to a cell tower and though not public
land, everyone has a cell phone so indirectly they are public zones of communication.
My reason for camping here tonight is that there are few roads that branch off this
Alaskan highway and those that do are choked off with 5' of snow still. Even the ground
that is free of snow is soaked from runoff. I'm lucky to have found this place which is not
technically on the cell tower grounds but just outside the fence. There is plenty of dry
wood and I'm on a dry bed of pine needles.
I started noticing about 20 miles back that graffiti here takes on a whole new, how
should I say, naturalistic art form. Kids, and perhaps grown ups, write their names and
messages using 6"-10"rocks imbedded in the ground (apparently when the ground is
wet) and on slopes facing the highway. They are everywhere. And what makes this so
unusual is that there is nothing around for miles. I'm not sure if these are 'local' kids who
come out here from god knows where or tourists passing by who feel the desire to
make their mark on the world. Whoever the culprit, it is an 'artform' I have never seen
before and, feeling the urge to copy everyone else, gave a half hearted attempt to write
50@50 along the highway embankment. I didn't get very far before I realized it would
take a lot longer than I was willing to put in to the adolescent act. I stepped in to knee
high snow and got my socks all wet (I'm wearing biking sandals) and to this moment my
feet are still cold.
Earlier today I passed by a frozen lake, one of hundreds over the last several days, and
there were a few guys down on the ice fishing. I had to stop and grab a pic and chuckle
a bit to myself, all the while thinking of all those poor souls down in Phoenix already
living in air conditioning. One thing that's been on my mind and that I'm very fortunate
about is that the bugs are not out yet because it is still too cold. I bet another month from
now and they will begin venturing out in force. We encountered a few Mosquitos back at
Echo Cove but it was not bad. One thing I noticed though is that the Alaskan mosquito is
the biggest mosquito I have ever seen. I'm glad I'm not going to be here in June. Another
good thing about coming up here to bike and camp this time of year is that since the
temps are at or near refrigeration, food lasts as long as you want. Nothing really goes
bad because it's like living in a refrigerator. I've had cheese for 2 weeks that's still fine.
Chocolate doesn't melt so you can bring as much of it as you like.


















Day 15   4/30/12
SP: N60'04.950 W129'22.155
EP:N60'00.251 W127'55.567
DM: 65
TM: 465


Notes
7am. I've made it 2 weeks. Now on to week 3. I took a couple Advil before going to
sleep last night and my knees, neck, and just about everything else feels better this
morning. 20 years ago I wouldn't have had needed it. But that was then and this is now.
As John is fond of saying when quoting his Mt Kilimanjaro guide "Today is today and
tomorrow is tomorrow".  I'm missing my kayak partner. There never is a boring or quiet
moment when he's around. His sense of humor sometimes is just what's needed when
the occasion so calls for it. I'm lucky to have several good close friends over the years.
One way you know you have a good friend is when you haven't seen each other for a
while and you take off right from the point you left off. Another way, and more importantly,
is when you desperately need something and that person doesn't hesitate to give it to
you or help you out. Good friendships, relationships in general, are not based on
needing but helping, and to some extent, depending on each other when the time calls.
Pop use to say with his broken english "Life amy son isa give ana takea".
Another neat thing about being here in the cold is that your clothes don't start stinking
after a few days like when you ride in warmer climates. It's probably because you just
don't sweat much. Its been nearly a week since I did clothes and everything still smells
wintery fresh....almost.  
8:30pm. Camp tonight is another gravel quarry. Nothing fancy but practical; it's clear,
open, flat, public, and close but not too close to the road which, I would estimate, has a
car every 10 minutes go by. This yard is right across the street from the Iron Creek
Lodge. From its appearance it was at one time a pretty nice place but now it is all
closed up. I was thinking of camping on the 2nd story outside deck facing a lake. But
when I got up there I heard a generator running not too far off and figured that someone
close by might be watching over the place, so I came across the road to this empty
gravel yard.
I made a long stop today in Watson Lake, the first real town since leaving Skagway. It
was just a few stores and gas stations and some government buildings but after seeing
nothing but small road side stops for over 300 miles I was pretty excited. I did my
clothes and sent of a package with a lot of excess crap I brought along. Found a wifi
hotspot to send off yesterday's journal and topped off my gas stove container then I
headed out of town. A little past town I stopped to relieve myself on the roadside and a
lady driving a pick up pulled over on the opposite side of the road. I thought at first I
might be lectured for peeing on the side of the road, like has happened numerous times
to me over the years.  But when she motioned for me to come over she handed me a
paper plate full of barbecued pork chops. What a pleasant surprise that was (what I was
going to do with them for dinner was already going through my mind). I thanked her and
she was off. That was it, that simple. I think the expression is random acts of kindness.
Good people doing good things....just because.
Today I saw a bald eagle, dozens of peregrine falcons, a couple of caribou crossing the
road (they are a lot bigger than I ever thought), 2 black bears, and a mountain lion.
What! A mountain lion? Yes, but it was dead and in a glass case at the public library in
Watson Lake. I can't just look at a mountain lion and admire it for the beautifully adapted
creature it is. When I look at it's strength and agility and cunning, intelligent eyes, my
mind goes back to that warm beautiful August afternoon in 1992. No sense in reliving
the story again, especially out here and alone. But I must have looked at that thing for at
least 10 minutes without taking my eyes off of it. Right now I have pork chops on the
brain.
SP=Start Point  -  EP=End Point -  DM=Days mileage - TM=Total Mileage




Day 16   5/01//12
SP: N60'00.251 W127'55.567
EP:N59'37.474 W127'05.166
DM: 54
TM: 519


Notes
10am. Stopped about a mile back at the only store (if you can call it that) for the next 90 miles. Asked to use their wifi to send out
yesterday's journal but the owners (I presume they were) told me they didn't have it which I knew they did as it showed up on my phone.
Some people up here (like everywhere) are not very friendly or helpful.
Right now I'm stopped on Contact Creek where army engineers met (hence the name Contact Creek) in 1942 for the completion of the
southern sector of the Alaska highway from Fort Nelson in the south to Teslin in the north, about a thousand miles.
A young guy and his wife in a white pick up pulling a Uhaul trailer just rolled in from the opposite direction, rolled because his battery is
dead and truck won't run. They are stuck. There is no traffic today and he will have to go to Watson lake to get service. I waved down a
truck coming and he picked them up.
Now at historic mile 585....but I'm not sure what is historic about it. Might be that it's right on the 60th parallel, the dividing line between the
Yukon and BC. Up ahead off the side of the road are some wild buffalo. There are only about 100 of them in this area and they graze on
the side of the highway as there is so much grass for them to eat. In the early 1800's they estimate there were nearly 200,000 bison in the
forests of NW America but hunting and harsh numbers reduced their populations to zero within a hundred years. They were reintroduced in
1995 with 50 Wood Bison, but obviously they're numbers are not taking off, most likely due to getting hit by vehicles.
Earlier I saw a red fox. Tried to stop and take his picture but he skeddaled off before I could. Another windy day and again it's from the SE,
my direction of travel.
6:30pm. All day I pedaled in to a nearly constant 10-20 mph headwind out of the SE. Finally about 4pm I decided to call it an early day and
20 minutes later the wind changes direction 180'. For a brief moment I considered packing up and taking advantage of the new wind
direction, but it was too late by then. I told myself this trip I would not yell and curse at the wind like past times. That I would resolve to just
take it in stride and assured myself that there would be plenty of 'good' wind days when I would have it at my back and think I was the
strongest biker in the world while humming my favorite tune and taking in the scenery (anyone who has ever ridden a bike much knows
what I'm talking about).  Well so much for the concept of self persuasive thought patterns. I fell right back in to my old ways today, arguing
with the wind and why it was trying to make my life so difficult. And though not getting as frustrated and angry as days past, I still had a few
choice words for the natural phenomena. All in all though I can't really complain about the weather I've had thus far.
8pm. No sooner did I write that last statement did it start to rain and for the last hour has not let up. The storm is out of the north and I still
have not set up my tent. I would like to wait for a little let before doing the tent so everything doesn't get wet in the process. I do have a
warm raging fire though and am keeping warm. There is a huge pile of drift wood next to me so there is no worry of running out of wood.
This place here is called the 'Whirlpool' and I'm guessing because the Laida River here does a big turn to the right and at high water in
spring probably deposits a lot of drift wood crashing on to left bank where I am camped. Fortunately I am high and far enough away that
even if it did flash flood tonight I would be safe...I better be right. There are large sheets of ice still floating on the water and I would hate to
have to take a swim in that frigid water.
9pm. The rain is still coming down and harder. At some point I have to concede defeat and set up my tent no matter how much things get
wet in the process.
11pm. Well I'm in my tent, mostly dry, and feeling good. The rain is still coming down hard but as far as I'm concerned, let it rain. It paused
just enough and just long enough for me to get the tent set up and get a shower. I ate the leftover pork chops from yesterday and a salad
and some peanuts for dinner. It all tasted great. Now my eyes are getting heavy and I should sleep well listening to the drops of rain
tapping on my rain fly. I just hope tomorrow morning it will be over.



















Day 17   5/02//12
SP: N59'37.474 W127'05.166
EP:N59'06.791 W125'50.364
DM: 69
TM: 588
Week 1: WM:419   TM:419   AVG PER DAY:60 miles


Notes
8am. Just how I like it; sunny and blue skies. If it has to rain it's best in the night and then like this in the morning. The squirrels are out
hopping around from tree branch to ground and then back to tree branch, birds are singing from every direction, and the sun feels
marvelous on my back. That was a pretty good storm that passed through yesterday afternoon and evening (and reason for all the wind). I
wish I had had some warning. Unfortunately up here I can't get any news.
A little while ago a herd of perhaps a half dozen bison started to follow me trotting in single file for about a mile. I tried to get out my
camera to film them but they cut off in to the woods. I guess they thought I was Mama. Also a little earlier a fella in a truck stopped to warn
me about the wild bison here, that they are not as tame as the ones in Yellowstone. He also added that if I should see crows eating
alongside the road to not stop, that there could be a bear nearby keeping watch over the road kill being eaten by the crows. His advice if
should get chased down by a bear...lay down under my bike. Hummmm, not to sure about that one.
Stopped at the first place for anything this morning at Liard hot Springs resort. They were just opening for the season and all they had were
some cruddy pre-made sandwiches and soup. The lady, whom I took to be the proprietor, and her daughter and some non English
speaking lady cleaning were the only ones there and not too friendly. I ordered a bowl of chili that was awful (tasted like canned non
cooked tomatoes with some ground beef and a few kidney beans. The owner said she had she had just made it (maybe it gets better with
age) and she put corn and mushrooms in it....YUCK!  Anyways, I regretfully paid my hefty bill of $15 and headed out of town where began a
serious climb shortly after. It's not very steep so far but I do believe I've already gained at least a thousand feet of altitude. Right now I am in
Muncho lake park and it is pretty with snow covered soft rounded peaks in all direction and cascading waterfalls carrying heavily laden
gray sediment filled snow melt. The best part is it's a sunny day today.
8pm. Just a little over 2 weeks in to this, a week on the 7 month bike portion, and I'm already feeling worn down.  Can't quite figure it out.
Part of it I believe is vast remoteness of this country I'm biking through. It is big up here, really big. There are long distances between
service areas. When I say service area all I mean is a little nothing store or gas station or if I'm lucky a restaurant. Since leaving Watson
Lake, 170 miles ago, I've rolled in to 2 places: the first was that stupid little store in Contact Creek with nothing but some commercial
premade sandwiches and an old unfriendly lady who wouldn't let me hop on her wifi (probably because there was an old desktop computer
they were charging $5 for 5 minutes of use) and that terrible chili place I had lunch in today in Liard. I have never been in a place so
remote, save the time I visited my brother in Namibia. But I wasn't biking then. When you're biking the distances are so much greater.
What takes a morning drive in a vehicle may take a bicycle 3 days. Except for an occasional car or truck that blows by me, to whom I
always salute, there is very little human contact, something I'm use to having a lot of in my life. Add to that-all the harsh windy, cold, and hilly
conditions while riding and I'm already burned out. Wow!  Did I just say that?  Burned out? No way. I've just begun. There are thousands of
miles ahead of me to go, many (especially on the row to Hawaii) with no one or thing to anticipate. This is not good. I need to snap out of
this and soon.
Tonight I am camped along the east side of the highway about 50 yards back in Muncho Provential park. There are beautiful snow covered
peaks surrounding me from all over. My fire tonight for some reason is constipated and can't get going very well. As a result I have less
time to talk to you, my blog, and more time fidgeting with the fire. That sucks.
Tonight I really long to be home.
10:30pm. Ok. I'm dressed with a long sleeve turtle neck, fleece pullover, long underwear, two pairs of wool socks, fleece beenie cap, and
all tucked inside two down sleeping bags inside a 3 season tent with rainfly. But, at least I'm not cold. I had a nice warm fire but once I
strayed away from it I was freezing. It is so cold up here. I can't even imagine what it's like in January. How can anything exist in such cold
climates?  Tonight for dinner I had my usual salad with lettuce, tomato, onion, garlic, and rehydrated peas. Dressed with olive oil and a
pinch of salt. Delizioso. I also had one of my emergency freeze dried dinners, doctored up with some olive oil, garlic and Parmesan
cheese. Not too bad.
At night I keep my bear spray right next to me in the loaded position. Not sure why I am paranoid, but I am.  Probably from hearing all the
stories from these Norwesters up here. Sometimes I think they like to talk here just like Texans. I wonder who could spin a better tale
between the two.



















Day 18  5/03//12
SP: N59'37.474 W127'05.166
EP:N58'50.716 W125'05.430
DM: 53
TM: 641


Notes
9am. Stopped at the overlook to Muncho lake ("big lake"in the native American Kaska language). It is one of the biggest natural lakes in
the Canadian Rockies at 7.5 miles long. Usually the water is a jade green color from the meltwater that the surrounding mointains feed it
but his morning it is completely white, frozen solid, just like my water bottle this morning. It was probably down in to the low 20's when I
awoke. I made a fire and had my coffee while my knees were shivering. No wildlife yet except a couple lazy and fearless caribou munching
on something in the middle of the road. They didn't seem to mind me or any cars passing by. Must have been pretty good what they were
eating.
11:30am. I'm stopped for breakfast at Jacks Place in Muncho Lake. It's a real casual place with no sign on the road nor building and with a
little old black and white poodle dog roaming the parking lot but friendly enough to come greet me.  When I entered through the old
squeaky one hinge door just the cook was here (Jack; the pot-bellied 60 something  owner with a worn-out-from-life look on his face and a
dry sense of humor).  He asked me what I wanted to eat. I ordered the bacon and eggs and then he asked me with homemade white or
brown toast and, "How do you want me to f..... up your eggs?". "Over easy... please" was my only thoughtful response. He actually peeled
the potatoes and shredded them with a cheese grater before cooking them right on the griddle. Just finished eating and it was wonderful.
Best place yet, even better than Rancheria's double hamburger, no matter the owner/cook's unique personality. There was so much good,
thick juicy bacon I'm going to take some with me for lunch or dinner. Now, as I get ready to leave, there are a bunch of truckers in here, all
are local drivers and know each other and are talking about this or that person and the road conditions. What a classic place.  Good thing I
didn't eat at the fancy lodge a few miles north up the road from here. Would have hated to miss this place.
3:30. Stopped at Toad River and pigged out on the leftover bacon and loaf of bread I bought back at Jacks Place. My stomach finally feels
full.
4pm. The N Canadian Rockies through here have alluvial fans of rock debris all over. They are barren rocky areas at the bottom of steep
canyons as they reach rivers. There are quite a few in the grand canyon as they are developed from flash floods. But I've never seen so
many before as there are around here.
8:30pm. I feel really good right now, owing much to a nice hot shower a few minutes ago without having to hide from the cold wind ( not that
I wasn't somewhat cold, just not shivering cold). Now I'm in dry warm clothes sitting next to a warm fire and engaging my best friend out
here...my electronic diary.
Camp tonight is about 5 miles south of the roadside service stop of Toad River in what else, another aggregate yard. I realized earlier why
there are so many of these along the Alaskan highway here: because these yards are where they quarry the stone for the chip seal they lay
on the highway. It is great rock ranging in size of 2-3" and I would love to have some for my drive way back home in Cornville, as any
resident of the Verde Valley knows what a hassle it is driving in soft sand. Anyways, a Greyhound bus was stopped at the store/coffee
shop/campground/lodge of Toad River and several of the passengers were wandering around the bus and the yard of the store. Most
looked dazed and 'bus weary' as only someone who has ridden a greyhound for long distances can fully attest to.  I started talking to a
young lady from Montreal who was going to Whitehorse to visit her sister for a month. She told me how much she would rather be riding
her bike than riding in that stupid cramped bus with all those strange, sometime obnoxious people around. I told her, feeling a little tired
and road worn, that I would love at that moment to go sit down on one of those seats in the bus and take a nap and not worry about where
the place was going to be for me to get something to eat or when the next major climb was coming up or if it was going to rain soon or
when the damned headwind was going to subside. In other words, I really wanted a break. And then, looking at that old Greyhound bus
resting there in front of a hokey little stop like Toad River with all the passengers milling about, I had a flood of memories come back when
I use to ride the Greyhound or the nonexistent Continental Trailways. There is something that is just unique about that experience,
especially long distance, like several days. If you've never done it I suggest you do before bus travel becomes extinct. I remember my
mother recounting her journey of her bus travels all the way from back east to California in the late 1940's when she came to Hollywood to
try to become a singer in show business. Unfortunately, I guess not for my sake, she met my father who was washing dishes in an Italian
restaurant in Hollywood and the rest is history. But the stories she would tell of her long journey of over a week would set my mind in action,
dreaming what it might be like. I did do some bus traveling many years ago and the memories are still there, though not quite as I had
pictured them hearing my mother tell them, but memorable nonetheless. Today we are all in so much of a hurry rushing here and there,
getting this and that, that bus travel is looked at as something only the recently discharged from the 'Institution' partake in. Just think of all
the time reading you could have? Or how about how much spectacular country you could see? How about the 'interesting' people you
would meet that you could fill up your journal recounting their tales? I really hate flying but due to time constraints am forced to fly. But I think
I'm going to do a cross country Greyhound ride at least once before I die. Just one more 'must do' in the bucket.



















Day 19   5/04//12
SP: N58'50.716 W125'05.430
EP:N58'40.520 W123'42.710
DM: 64
TM: 705


Notes
8am. I did some calculating mileage yesterday and I've fallen way behind schedule, that is an unrealistic schedule to begin with. When
scheduling for this first part of the trip on the kayak and then the bike through BC and on down to Olympia, I simply looked at the mileage
and divided by the amount I believed I could do everyday based on past riding trips (I had no experience with kayaking trips).  I did not
factor in to the schedule the intensity of the riding conditions (wind, hills, and the weight of the gear and supplies I'm hauling) nor my poor
physical riding condition (I haven't really ridden since last summer). Nor did I allow any extra time with the paddle to Skagway which ended
up taking a day plus longer. Lastly I had mapped out the shortest possible route to get to Washington state which google maps took me
along the Cassiar route west of here. After speaking to several knowledgeable people of the area, I decided to take this route I'm on now,
the Alaskan Highway, as it has more services along it and more vehicles in case I ran in to trouble and needed help (always factoring in to
the situation that I am alone). Well the Alaskan highway is almost 100 miles further than the Cassiar route (the two routes form a complete
circle of BC called The Great Northern Circle and, I might add, would make a great Adventure Cycling tour if anybody from that
organization is reading this). This adds over a day riding at my pace. With all accounted for, at this point, I'm already 4-5 days behind
schedule and by the time I reach Capital 2, Olympia, I could be nearly a week behind.  It's difficult for me physically anymore to ride more
than 6-7 hours a day if I'm riding everyday. That comes out to roughly 70 mile days, or 500 mile weeks, at best and if the riding conditions
are at least satisfactory.  A day or two I can make up with a good tailwind day or two. But a week I doubt I will ever make up.
10:30am. This Alaskan highway was built in the early 40's, my guess as another depression era project to put people back to work. There
may also have been some national security reasons with worry about the war coming on. The army corps of engineers was responsible for
layout of the route and I do not doubt they found probably the best way over and between all these mountains (the northern Canadian
Rockies) and rivers. But for the life of me I can't figure out why back then they made the highway so undulating (up and down in short steep
sections) rather than at a continuous medium grade the way roads are laid out now when climbing long mountains. It makes for a hellish
time on a bicycle. The only reason I can think is that back then the vehicles couldn't climb the way they can today (they also overheated a
lot) so the short steep bursts of up and down provided the vehicles, especially trucks, with some gravity fed horsepower to climb.
11:45. Been following two caribou along the highway for about a mile. They're not really scared of me because I'm so slow but aren't taking
any chances and letting me get too close. They have no fear of vehicles whatsoever.
12pm. Now I just passed a small herd of mountain sheep who had no fear at all of me. I believe I could have gotten off my bike and pet
them if I had wanted. The truckers sound their horns at them to scare them off the road.
12:30. Nearing the top of some climb now and had to grab a shot of this beautiful rocky bottomed glacial cut valley. If I had time, or energy,
I would love to hike up it to its origins at the base of these magnificent mountains. This area is so beautiful. Sometimes I feel like I'm the
only visitor in a scenic/animal park. Probably would be anywhere else but up here.
6pm. Just finished the 2nd major climb of the day and am I tanked. Stopped a little earlier at Tetsa River lodge for a cinnamon roll "the
best buns this side of the galactic cluster" read the sign as I approached the lodge. Ben the owner apparent 'bun maker', and Trekkie
marketing man was friendly and helped me out with a little salt (my losing it today when the container opened in one of my bags). I ended
up purchasing a raccoon tail hat from him for my friend Tony who likes hats like that. Now I'm admiring the Majestic view of the
Muskwa-Kechika mountain range which is what I've been crossing the last several days, hence all the climbing.
7:30pm. Tonight's camp is another classic, even by my standards. I actually have a room with a queen size bed and comfy couch on which
I have parked my duff right now as I peck out these words. Did I finally break down and plunk down the Master Card to get a nice room at
one of the lodges I pass on a daily, or at least semi daily, basis. No, not me. Anyone who knows me at all knows I'm too cheap for that. No,
this room is free, no charge, gratis of whoever the owner of this place I'm bedding down for the night. Let me explain and quit beaten
behind the bush. About a couple of miles after the last pass (I have no idea what it was called as there are so many up here that they just
give them numbers based on their highway number) I saw an abandoned lodge/store/camp ground on the left side of the road. From its
appearance it has been left to deteriorate for some time. The doors to everything were knocked out so I made my way around checking
everything out. By its looks the people who had run this place got out and in a hurry as there was stuff all over in the kitchen. There are
about a half dozen trailers scattered about the property and all looked like the restaurant (evacuated in some type of a hurry). If only these
walls could talk? Anyways, one of the guest houses on the property is my abode for the night. It is perhaps 15'x20' and at one time was
probably a pretty cozy little place with a great view out the west facing window of the Muskwa-Kechika mountains. Now there is scattered
crap all over the floor left behind from the previous occupant and a few mouse turds but all in all I'm a content man. I have a real roof over
my head and didn't have to pitch my tent again. There is a bed that is reasonably clean and still in decent condition on which I plan
sleeping, the first bed since the Prospector hotel back in Juneau, unless one can call the foam pad in the tent trailer in Skagway a bed.
There is a couch on which I'm sitting now and how comfy it is. I'm almost ready to go to sleep. It is kind of cold in here but as soon as I'm
snuggled in my warm sleeping bag I'll be fine. The only thing I'm missing is my nightly warm, cozy fire.  I thought of building one outside but
too tired after all the hard riding today. Plus I don't want to attract any attention just in case there is someone looking over this place. Plus I
found an unopened bottle of beer in the parking lot which I am indulging in now, the first in over a week. Spending the night I places like
these (and I've done this several times over the years) is a little creepy and I know a lot, in fact most, people could not sleep in some
abandoned, dirty house. But I don't mind it. It's only for a night and it's all in the spirit of adventure. What a story I have to tell. If can read
some of the receipts spread out over the floor or look at a picture and contemplate who that person was. Once again, if only these walls
could talk. I remember the first bike trip I ever did shortly after my father died in 1989 and I was pedaling through Colorado on my way
across the country. It was threatening to rain and I came across what appeared to be an abandoned motel on the side of the road, not a lot
unlike this one, but in better shape (there was actually electricity and running water, hot to boot). I found a room open and went inside and
made myself at home, took a hot shower and made dinner and then went to bed. Well about an hour after I closed my eyes I heard some
commotion going on and looked out the window to see some vehicles outside and a bunch of guys all standing around talking in Spanish.
A little while later one of the guys came right in to the room, saw me laying on his bed, and with an astonished look on his face turned
around and went back outside. I can't recall what I had said to him I'm sure I would get quite a laugh now if I could here those words.
Anyways a little while later another older, more official looking fella came in asking what I was doing there and when I explained my
situation he told me he was the owner and that he used this old motel to house his migrant workers working his nearby fields. I offered to
pay him for the night and he said some amount, I don't remember how much, and I paid him and tried to go back to sleep. But what an
experience. I'll never forget the feeling of panic that overcame me when I was awoke out of a dead sleep to see cars and trucks all around
and everyone speaking a foreign language.
Unfortunately I left one of my good water bottles up at the pass and I have I have no intention of climbing 2 miles to go get it. I have lost so
much stuff already, casualties of 50@50. It's just part of the gig: losing stuff when you travel like this is inevitable. I lost my sun glasses back
in Laida hot springs and every time the sun comes out I regret that one. I'll have to get a new pair when I get to Fort Nelson tomorrow. After
Ft Nelson the highway heads south so I really start dropping in latitude and hopefully it will start to get a little warmer because it is still really
cold. Today was one of the coldest days yet, even though it didn't rain or snow and there was actually sun breaking through the clouds at
periods of the day. When the wind blows at you head on you really feel it. It is the coldest wind I've ever felt. I had burritos and a salad for
dinner. Now I'm trying to stay warm huddled around my camp stove. Think I'll go to bed and call it another day in the northern latitudes.
Tomorrow I finally reach FT Nelson and am still nearly a thousand miles away from the US border in Washington. Amazing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPuajjanbbE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZHXrylRNW4

















Day 20   5/05//12
SP: N58'40.520 W123'42.710
EP: N58'30.363 W122'42.184
DM: 74  
TM: 779  


Notes
7am. I think I had a bedmate last night, the cute, quiet four legged kind. Topino the audacious mouse I believe was out and about as he left
one of his droppings on my bed, and right next to my pillow. Maybe he wanted to snuggle up close because it was so cold or perhaps he
was a little upset I had invaded and took over his comfy quarters so he came right next to my ear to say "it's time to get up and out of my
place.  Hit the road buddy". Whatever his message to me during my deep slumber, he's the first roommate I've had since John back in
Skagway, and Topino didn't snore. And any hows, I don't really mind Topino sharing my  bed as I've been pretty lonely for company these
days.
It got really cold last night and even though this little room was no hotbox itself, I'm glad I wasn't outside. All the puddles from yesterday are
frozen solid which tells me it got down to a hard freeze, maybe in the teens. But it's warming up nice now as the sun is shining and for the
first time I think since Juneau the skies are completely blues. Oh how my spirits are buoyed by clear blue skies. Now it's on to Ft Nelson
today. I have about 45 miles but they should be relatively easy compared to the last few mountainous ones. I really need to do some
shopping to replenish my supplies for the next long section to Fort St John, about 250 miles.
11am. Only about 15 miles from Ft Nelson and I can't wait to get there. The day is a beauty, finally. Sunny and warm and best of all I have a
nice tailwind pushing me along. Stopped right now beside an old army WWII vintage dump truck. Provably used to make this highway 70
years ago. Looks like the original paint. Wish I could get in and drive it around, like back to Arizona. I would like to see Patrice's face if I
returned home in this thing.
11:45am. I finally come across farm fields, the first yet. By the time I finish this trip I will have crossed provably millions of acres of
agricultural fields, but these are the first.
2pm. Nothing too special about Ft Nelson. Just a dusty, dirty frontier like town. There was an IGA so I was ecstatic to buy some needed
groceries. Did clothes and sent off blog so now I'm set till next far off destination: Ft St. John, about 250 miles south.
8:30pm. Tonight I'm camped next to a small lake on the west side of the  Hwy. about 25 miles south of Ft Nelson. The good thing is that I
don't have to melt snow being next to the lake even though it still has a layer of ice on top of it, but it is getting thin and breaking up around
the perimeter. I have no idea what this lake is called nor do I think it even has a name. It does look like people come out here in winter to
ice fish because there are ice fishing jigs set up all around. For tonight there is no one but lonesome ole me and a pesky mosquito or two.
Ahhhh. It feels good to have a fire tonight as last night in the 'cabin' I couldn't have one. It is also considerably warmer as my altitude is
below 2000' and I'm finally out of the mountains. Not sure if I could have taken another day of mountain riding. The topography since before
and after Ft Nelson has been flat. As a result my mileage is going up. The highway has also increased traffic. No more are the times with a
car or truck every 10 minutes. Now they come whizzing by with regularity. I'm not going to miss the icy cold of up north but I will long for the
solitude, especially as head further south in to the thick of things. What an experience these first few weeks have been, one I will never
forget. Think I'll keep my beard at least for a couple more weeks until I'm certain that the frosty cold is behind me.
Dinner tonight was my favorite when I'm out here: A juicy T-Bone steak grilled to perfection over the coals of native woods, penne ziti with
garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and parmesan cheese sprinkled on top, mixed salad ( with those sweet juicy 'on the vine' tomatoes), and what
was left over from that monster size 'farmers' chocolate chip cookie I had bought back at Jacks Place in Muncho lake. Having a good
dinner always makes me feel satisfied.
Think I'll hang my food tonight as something about this place makes me think of bears.


















Day 21  5/06//12
SP: N58'30.363 W122'42.184
EP: N57'48.288 W122'53.869
DM: 56  
TM: 835  


Notes
7:30am. My nose constantly drips out here, just like a baby. Slept pretty well even though when the trucks roared by I could almost feel my
tent poles shake. Another beautiful day from the looks of it, though there is an ominous SW wind already brewing. After clambering out of
my tent this morning it took me a while to start to loosen up the joints. Not sure if it's just early season riding or age related stiffness. I hope
it's the former. The backs of my feet heels are cracked, probably due to the dryness and the sandals I'm experimenting with this year. I
remember John was complaining about the same thing so I guess it's the sandals. Does anybody know why sandals do that and more
importantly, what can be done to help it other than the obvious; stop wearing sandals?
Today is the end of week 3 for 50@50, and I feel and look like I've aged 23 years. The looks I get from people who see me are the ones
you know what's going through their mind: "What freak show did this guy walk out of?", and that's in an area where there are a lot of old,
grizzled looking fellows. I try not to heed much attention to them as I figure some of it may be in my mind. Maybe if I shave it will help a little;
but the facial growth keeps my face warm, especially when that cold wind blows a header. My hobbling around because of all the stiff and
sore body joints and these painful heels doesn't help my physical disposition much either. But I'm certain I just have a worn out look in my
eyes that one just can't miss, even if only with a stranger like glance. Good thing I'm the only photographer on this journey. I'm not looking
for any sympathy; after all I choose to live like this. But these biking trips are difficult no matter how organized or experienced you may be,
especially the way we do them which is almost entirely self supported. For a few days they're no problem, but after a few weeks and
months, you really get worn down. But that's what it's about; the physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental challenge. Anyone can ride their
bicycle for a few hours everyday, probably millions of people do everyday. But living life out here self sustained is the real challenge.
Except for the benefit of not having to hunt for food and having nice paved highways to travel on, life is very similar to how humans
(hunters/gatherers) have been living for thousands of years (no wonder people live longer lives today; it's not just because of advances in
medicine).As my good friend and bike traveling partner Jim often says; its life in its basic, most simplest form. Stuff we take for granted in
our everyday life at home is not when out here on the 'adventure cycling' road. My friend Darren (who will be joining me soon on this trip)
put it quite simply after an extended trip and observing a toaster, "What's its purpose again?". Some of us relish this life of basic
necessity, even with all the associated hardships, and others not, all the while wondering why anybody would want to live like that. I guess
it's all a matter of opinion who is correct (or more sane) and who is not. It's pretty obvious which thought I subscribe to as I feel more alive
and in tune with who I really am when out here, no matter how many physical aches and pains.  I love my life back at home and wouldn't
change it for no amount of money, pleasure or fame. But sometimes I get to feeling like a lethargic zombie, arms stretched out before him
and mindlessly moving through the fog of everyday life. Being out here for a while wakes me back up again. In that sense I guess its kind of
like active therapy. So if you're tired of feeling like a zombie, and traditional therapy just doesn't cut it, give me a call and we'll try a bike
trip. Just promise not to hate me afterwards. Of course about now you may be thinking I probably need some traditional couch therapy.    
It's getting late; better get packed up and hit the road.
The traffic since leaving Ft Nelson has tripled at least. I also have a 10-15mph header. My goal today is to not let the wind get to me, at
least too much. Funny thing about the sun up here at these northern latitudes; it never gets to high but it's out most the time. It seems to do
this funny stroll throughout the day first along the eastern, southern, and then western horizons. And it never feels really hot like in Arizona,
at least not this time of year.
Two things: one is the road has improved vastly since Ft Nelson(not that it was bad before). and two I have never ridden where there are
more courteous, respectful and conscientious drivers before as are here in NW Canada. They literally give you the entire road.
1pm. Have you ever felt like you could keep eating and eating without stopping?  That's how I feel now. Food never tasted so good.
2pm. Sometimes random, and very stupid, thoughts come to mind while I'm riding boring stretches like the one now. Here's one: before it
was called by its generic name 'trail mix' we use to call that mixture of hiking food 'GORP'. The G was for granola and R&P were for raisins
and peanuts. Does anybody remember what the O stood for?  If so can you please email the answer as it is driving me crazy.
2:30pm. Prophet River....nothing, not even water.  Time for The Doors.
7:30pm.  Camp tonight is close to a mile from the highway on the west side. After being literally a stones throw from the trucks screaming
by last night, I wanted to make sure I didn't have the same experience tonight. I came to the bottom of a pretty long descent with a climb on
the other side which I was too tired to do, and I saw a dirt road that took off west so I followed it and here I am. I can still hear traffic,
especially when the wind stops but nothing like last night.
I am really tired tonight after riding all day in to that headwind. I managed to churn out 56 miles, but a lot of that was spent cursing the wind.
I've learned over the years that it's not worth trying to muscle through days like this. Just spinning in the lower gears yields the best
outcome for the energy expended. For those who have never ridden a bike seriously, the analogy I like best is: is it worth it trying to bust
your butt for a low paying job and a boss who doesn't appreciate the effort you make?  Of course not, then why try to kill yourself on a day
when the wind gods are just not in your favor.
I had a first today: a truck driver going the opposite direction on a two lane highway, and down hill, stopped to talk to me while I was riding.
Wow, only in BC I thought to myself at first. Had this happened further north, when I saw on average one vehicle every 5 or 10 minutes, I
would have thought no big deal. But since FT Nelson the traffic has increased substantially and my concern grew when he came to a
complete stop in the road. He apparently wanted to chat a while mentioning that he wanted to try bike traveling, especially with the trailer
which a lot of guys are still intrigued by. I noticed that he had a an older mountain bike bungeed down in back of his cab. He didn't look the
biker type (of course, he was a truck driver) with an old scraggly beard and slouch hat covering most his head and face (kind of like me
these days). But you could see the look of envy in his face when he saw me pedaling up the hill. Somewhat concerned with the potential for
a serious accident with us talking in the middle of a busy highway (I had to wave a couple trucks through during our brief exchange) I
shouted out the name of my website and that he should contact me and I could help him in any way to get started with bike traveling. End of
story. No dramatic ending, thank goodness, but a real strange experience that managed to break up the toil of a hard day.
The spot I am camped is on the side of a dirt road of which I was explaining earlier. When I first got here I set out doing my usual ritual of
setting up camp before I settle down for a drink and moment of relaxation. Anyways while I was searching for dry wood I stumbled upon a
small hidden grave about 75 yards to the south of this pullout where I'm camped. It is hidden in the trees and there is no defined marker or
trail leading to the gravesite. All there is is a simple wooden cross with a small concrete headstone with the name of the person buried
there and the dates of their birth and passing: Julie Notseta...1934-1947 RIP and a little heart afterwards. This being her burial site is
obviously the reason for this pullout along the road and hence my camping here for the night and stumbling across her gravesite. She was
only 13 when she died. How sad her parents and siblings must have been. I wonder who around here, in the middle of no where, comes
out to look upon the site and, perhaps, sheds a tear or just reflects for a moment on Julie. What a place to have a monument.  
The coniferous trees are still a couple weeks at least from dawning their leaves and the ground still moist from the winters snows and
springs early rains. Patches of snow still carpet the terrain as the feel of total withdraw from winters grasp is still in the offing. But I feel
warmer, surer, and more content now than I have since the beginning of this trip. British Columbia is a magnificent place.
















Day 22  5/07//12
SP: N57'48.288 W122'53.869
EP: N57'05.156 W122'36.223
DM: 60
TM: 895


Notes
7am. This morning is the least  coldest morning in weeks. It must correspond to my dropping latitude. This trend should continue as I head
due south in the upcoming weeks. The bad part, bugs. Oh well, I'll take the trade off. Slept really well again last night. If I wake up it's only
briefly to turn over. I never sleep like this at home. No wind yet, oh please let it be.
I'm still hobbling around but not as bad as yesterday. All my clothes have holes where the hot embers from the fire have landed on them
and burned right through the fabric if and before I even notice. All my nice fleece jackets look like wholly messes.  I'm down to my last pair
of reading glasses which are missing the right ear piece when I stepped on them a few days ago. I'm sure I probably have nose hairs
approaching my upper lip and eye brows starting to resemble tumbleweeds. One good thing about an untrimmed wild beard is other
unkept facial hair tends to not get noticed as much. And last I saw back at the laundromat in Ft Nelson my beard is beginning to approach
St Nick white.
1pm. Finally arrived to the first of anything since leaving Ft Nelson nearly two days ago. Buckinghorse River, about half way between Ft
Nelson and Ft St John is another one of these NW BC service stops that has a lodge (ie: an old motel) coffee shop with adjoining souvenir
shop, and a gas pump or two. This has been it for 120 miles, and probably the next 120 miles. According to local folklore Buckinghorse
got its name from the frequency of bucking pack animals crossing the river hereabouts in the 1800's. The area was by the US army during
construction of the highway in 1942 as a camp, fuel, and rest stop. In fact the end of the dining room in which I am eating was one of the
original barracks built to house the engineers.
Just finished the Buck Burger (I think they put a little of everything in the kitchen on it) and am stuffed.  
7:30pm. Camp tonight is on a little hill above a creek with occasional sheet of ice floating by. It's a beautiful place and I'm all alone but
there's only one problem: I'm on private property. There is an old cabin on the hill above where I have set up camp but no one is there and I
don't believe it is used much, maybe in the summer a bit.  There are old junkie cars around and a big firepit where it appears they have
some rip roaring parties. I was thinking at first of sleeping under the porch I'm case it rained, but knew I couldn't make a fire there, so here I
am. On the property but away from any structures. I doubt very much anybody will notice my squatting here but if so I'll just talk my way out
of it. It was a hard day riding in to a 10-15mph headwind and I'm tired.
9pm. The trucker from the other day who stopped in the middle of the road to chat passed me again today, this time going the same
direction and again he stopped, this time off the side of the road. His name is Jim he is in his mid 60's and spends his winters down in
Quartzite AZ on Hwy 10 a few miles before the border of CA. Jim was a real friendly fellow who has traveled a bit and wants to do some
more, but possibly on bicycle. In his words he said he has learned enough already in life but just wants a chance to process it all. I believe
that is where the bike traveling may come in to the picture. I think that was pretty interesting and also think sometimes I don't want to go
anywhere or learn anything, just figure out what I've already learned and reflect on where I've already been. But he's a few years older than I
so I can't go there yet. It's a weird feeling when you're only company is your diary.














Day 23  5/08//12
SP: N57'05.156 W122'36.223
EP: N56'35.275 W121'25.748
DM: 65
TM: 960


Notes
7am. I think it's possible to become antisocial after one has been alone for an extended period. The best cure, obviously, is to start
interacting with people again. But there is a transition period that can be stark, especially to those around you as well as the person
themselves.
Last night there was a lost goose that kept flying up and down the creek here, apparently looking for his flock, honking without stop. I
almost felt a little sorry for him. I wonder if the transition period from being alone will be harsh for him once he finds his family.
Very windy this morning and from the same direction; the south. Prevailing winds on this western side of the N. American continent come
from the south and west, anywhere between 180'-270'.  To travel at that direction on a bicycle requires more time and patience. I should
know that by now and just except the natural fact of wind direction; it's not just a bad luck of the draw. It was my fault for not planning the
schedule around the weather patterns, mainly wind, and the topography of BC (hilly). But I'm still making progress, albeit not like I was
hoping. Every time the wind really gusts up and the thought comes to mind that the bike with me on it have come to a near stop, I just
glance to the side and focus on something going by, a tree or clump of grass or pole, and I see it is moving. It reminds me that I am still
moving in the direction intended. I have less than a hundred miles to Ft St John and on a good wind day, even a still wind day, I could  be
there in the later afternoon today. With this wind though I'm looking at two days. I don't think I've ever had a bike journal whereby I didn't
bitch at the wind and my apologies to anyone who may read this and is tired of hearing me go on. It's just that there is no one around to
hear me vent, except that lost goose and he has problems of his own.
11am. First stop of the day was less than a mile from camp; Sasquatch Crossing. Had bacon and eggs  and sent off blog, sent out
necessary emails informing those that are meeting me that I'm already over a week behind schedule. FaceTimed Patrice and skyped my
brother. Headed out the door 2 hours later in to a 15-20mph wind, mostly from the west so it's not too bad, yet.
8pm. Camp, and I have now dropped to below 57' latitude from north of the frigid cold 60 th parallel last week. And it is definitely warmer.
Even when the wind blows there is not that stinging bite to it. Feels good. I still have a fire and my sleeping bags are doubled up and I wear
my long underwear with two pair of woolen socks and of course my fleece cap, how would I have fared that first night after summiting white
pass without my fleece cap, but I can undoubtedly feel the weather warming up.
Anyways camp tonight is just off the highway perhaps a quarter mile on the left (east) side of the highway a little over 30 miles north of Ft St
John. The wind was steady at 20mph and gusting upwards of over 30mph but luckily for me the direction shifted just enough to the west
that it actually helped me at times. Today is the end of the 2nd week that I've been biking and I did a little better than last week (63 miles
per day (mpd) average vs. 60 mpd last week). All in all I am really content with the mileage I've been able to do considering the adverse
riding conditions (hills and wind) and the fact that I've been weighted down pretty good with supplies and gear I've felt we're needed for the
conditions through which I have passed here in N BC and SE Alaska. My physical, and to some extent mental, condition were also big
factors which played a part in mileage these first couple weeks. Neither my body nor mind, looking back on it now, I believe were prepared
for the sometimes challenging, sometimes grueling conditions that presented themselves. I knew it would be remote  that through which I
passed, but not that remote. Going 250 miles without any thing but one 'Twix Store' (I love that term) is something I've never done before in
my years of bike traveling. But now as I travel further south the times are a changin, perhaps a little too fast than I would like. The traffic has
increased numerous fold and the remote outback frontier feel is all but gone. Today for the first time I started to see vast logging
operations and gas wells going in all over. Much of the traffic now on the highway I know is due to the gas wells going in. Drill baby, drill.
There's coming a time on this trip and soon (I can feel it already) when that peaceful solitude of the last two weeks will be nothing more
than a fond, precious memory; something of a dream.
Anyways it's still pretty darn remote and beautiful where I'm at right now and I'm going to appreciate it for as long as I can. Around 4pm this
afternoon I rolled in to typical roadside 'service stop' along the Alaskan highway, this one called Wonowon, a windy, dusty place with a line
of connected trailers on the east side of the highway (apparently temporary housing for the gas well workers) and a store with one gas
pump out front on the right side of the highway. I decided to stop at the store and perhaps pick up an item or two (edible of course) to tide
me over till Ft St John, still a considerable distance away. I was shocked upon entering the warm establishment because here was, what I
would consider, the first real modern convenience store I had seen since leaving Arizona over 3 weeks ago. The only thing missing was
the soda dispenser which I could care least as I don't drink much soda (I did end up buying a bottle of Pepsi though). But there was actually
a station for coffee with packets of sugar and little plastic cups of cream. There were aisles with limited grocery staple items. There was
even a modern reach in fridge stocked with beer and soda. And the most amazing part was there was a fast food chicken place with meal
deals (2 strips and 2 sides) complete with a soda. This is something I thought, regretfully, would not happen until much later in BC. But
here it was, the end of the innocence. The best part (or perhaps not so best depending on how you look at it) though is that there was a big
beautiful digital TV on the high wall above the chicken deals and you'll never guess what they had on.....the NBA playoffs!  OMG, I must
have died and went to heaven was my only thought. Here I am still thinking I'm  out in the middle of the Alaskan/BC outback trying to
survive, and all the while I am actually sitting in a warm building in a comfortable chair looking at Charles Barkley and Shaq commenting on
Joe Johnston's lack of performance during TNT's half game report. It was almost a surreal, out of body experience. Part of me wanted
nothing more than to order a deluxe all white meat combo meal deal with all the fixins (with a couple beers from the cooler to boot and a
tub of Ben & Jerry's from their namesake ice cream bin) while the other part said "Oh god, it's time to hit the road and forget about this".
So I acted, and you need guess which I chose; yes, I got up out of my comfy warm chair, limped outside, and got back on to my cold
uncomfortable bike saddle and rode away. Wow, what a cold, empty feeling that was. If the temptation had not been there I never would
have known the difference. I felt, I'm supposing, like something of an alcoholic who was sitting at a bar being tempted with a fond drink but
knowing that just a sip would spell disaster.
11pm. At these latitudes the big dipper is directly above head.














Day 24 5/09//12
SP: N56'35.275 W121'25.748
EP: N56'03.572 W120'37.947
DM: 56
TM: 1,017
Week 2  WM:442  TM:861      AVG. PER DAY:62.5-63 miles


Notes
7am. Again this morning there was frost covering my tent fly and frozen water in my bottles. Made a warm fire and laid out the map to
figure out which route to take, as for only the second time in two weeks and over 900 miles I am at a junction in the road. In a few miles I
approach hwy 29 through the Peace River canyon, a route which will save me over 30 miles but bypasses the towns of Ft St John and
Dawson Creek, two resupply spots for the next long, nearly 200 miles with almost nothing, stretch in to Prince George.
2pm. Stopped for lunch in Ft St John at the first McDonalds I've seen since Juneau. The wind is howling outside at a steady 20-30 and
gusting up to 40. Several times I was blown in to the lane of traffic but fortunate enough that there were no cars coming at the time. Also
fortunate that the wind is from the west and I've been heading south/southeast all day. I've actually been helped by it a little. Ft St John is
the first city I've come in to yet since leaving from Skagway two weeks ago. There is a actually a downtown area off the main highway.
Nothing really much to see or visit, it seems like a regular old blue collar working place. The jobs I suppose are related to the gas industry
in the area. The sign as you enter town says 'Welcome to Ft St John; the most energetic place on Earth'. This morning I stopped for
breakfast at a little unnamed place about 20 miles north. As I clambered in through the front door an older fellow sitting alone invited me to
sit with him, so I did. A few minutes in to our conversation he asked me in his typical Canadian accent if I ate a lot of garlic, and loud
enough so that the other tables in the place could here it. Oh no, was it that obvious? Was my breath reeking so bad that someone sitting
across the table could tell instantly? Who else could tell, the cook in the back. Not a good thing to hear for someone already quite self
conscious about his looks. 'Yes' I admitted trying to look away and cover my mouth as I said it.  "I eat a little garlic and onions every night
with dinner". "Oh, why that's good for you. You should eat a lot of garlic and onions. It's good for your heart and will keep you from getting
sick" was his reply in a nonjudgemental sincere tone. I told him I appreciate his advice but that I need to watch how much I eat as not to
offend the few people I come in to contact these days. "Oh nonsense. Eat as much as you like. To me it smells good. If folks have a
problem with it poppycock to them". Good advice but I still think I have to watch out how much I eat.
8pm. Camp tonight is a cold one, not so much because of the air temp but because of the wind. It has slowed down a bit from earlier when
it nearly blew me off my bike and in to traffic a couple times, but it is still gusting up from time to time. The wind here usually blows like this
from the west where it carries with it the ice cold seas from the Gulf of Alaska across the still colder snow covered mountains of the
Northern Canadian Rockies as the temps drop even further. By the time it reaches the central rolling plains here it feels like a stinging ice
cube on your bare skin. I'm at the most 15 miles south of Ft St John on a side dirt road, the purpose for which it's here I have no clue. All I
know is it's not a private residence and it looks infrequently used. I'm not very far from the highway either. First thing I did after setting up
my tent is make a fire. I don't want to think how miserable things would be without a fire. Without one I would probably go in my tent, get in
my sleeping bag, and cry. But this wonderful phenomena called fire makes all the difference. How miserable life must have been before its
invention: cold, damp, dark, and lonely. No doubt our evolution as a species is due in no small part to fire.
Tonight should be my shower night but I've decided not to. Too cold and quite honestly I don't really feel like I need one. Not that I'm
squeeky clean; after all I've been camping every night. But with if being so cold I never really break a sweat much during the day while
riding. Sweat mixed with dirt and the accompanying stink is when I feel a shower is necessary.
So I came to the unanimous decision, me, myself, and I that a shower in these cold conditions was unwarranted. Case closed.
I can't believe how much traffic has increased, especially since Ft St John. No more I believe are those lonely stretches of highway like
there were back up in the Yukon, when I felt compelled at times to spark up a conversation with a bear or moose. Gonna miss those days I
think as I head further south in to civilization.
Not too far out of Ft St John, going the opposite direction, I passed what is only the 2nd biker of the trip so far; Yakov from Germany (as
best I could tell from his heavy accent and the wind blowing 30 mph across our ears). He looked to be about my age and had started from
Vancouver about the same time I left Skagway two weeks ago. He was traveling about the same distance per day as I, 100 km, or 60
miles, and clutching his bear spray in hand the whole time, even while riding . He looked to be of some type of Asian decent and at first I
thought he was going to tell me he was Japanese. German....ok. Anyways, he seemed better equipped for bike traveling through this
harsh country than the first fellow I had met back in week one, Chris the 'Death Valley-Mt McKinley- Death Valley with only the essentials
minimalist' (I'm still trying to fathom that one). But he asked me something that has been going through my head ever since our brief 5
minute wind chilled conversation; "Do you have a tent?" he asked with an inquiring tone to his voice. What!  Do I have a tent?  What the
hell do you think was my first impulse to say. Yes, I have a very warm, dry state of the art REI 3 season tent that for gods sake I could not
imagine being without in these brutally cold, windy, and sometimes wet conditions up here near the 60th parallel (2/3 the distance to the
North Pole). But like Jack who asked me how I wanted my eggs fucked up, I replied in my usual terse non condescending tone, "Yes". I
think I do this because I've asked so many stupid questions in my lifetime and hate being laughed at or looked at as stupid. He shook his
head and with his thick Bavarian accent said "Is good. Tent is good". But since then I've been thinking that this poor guy has been trying to
travel through N British Columbia in late April and early may without a tent. OMG. I hope he hasn't camped much because those sure must
have been miserable nights if he did. Of course this may all be pure conjecture on my part and he may have had a brand new state of the
art Marmot 4 season 10 lb Denali Expedition tent hidden inside his bike bags. But I have my doubts.
So, another useless tidbit of information I just have to share; the McDonalds I had lunch in today had a double Big Mac. A what? Yes, a
'Double' Big Mac. I've eaten out I don't know how many McDonalds over the years on my bike travels, and never have I seen a 'Double' Big
Mac. Of course I had to order it, and I must admit it was really good. 4 all beef patties, special sauce....on a sesame seed bun. I wonder if
that's only up here in the wild North West where  you can still order a 'Truckers Breakfast' or a 'Lumberman's Burger'.  Folks, these are
huge, mouth watering portions (did I forget to add the adjectives fat filled  and cholesterol laden?) that only a lonesome, dirty, hungry biker
(and perhaps a trucker or lumberjack) can truly savor and appreciate.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnoyfBce0AE













Day 25  5/10//12
SP: N56'03.572 W120'37.947
EP: N55'43.318 W121'12.664
DM: 48
TM: 1,065


Notes
9am. Somehow I lost another hour this morning. My cell phone picked it up and I'm not sure I crossed over another time zone or it's daylight
savings time. At least there is a warm sun shining through the trees and warming my tired bones and aching joints. Again it got really cold
last night, enough to freeze the water in my bottles solid. I'm warm in my sleeping bag but that makes it difficult to get out of it, kind of like a
warm bathroom after a hot shower when the rest of the house is chilly. The wind is again howling from the west, blowing the tops of the
trees like mad and making their tall trunks creak, delivering to me in a not so subtle way the message that today is going to be another
anxious, harrowing day on the road.
11pm. Just turned off the Alaskan highway for the first time in two weeks and on to Braden Rd which should save me close to 20 miles
rather than going all the way in to Dawson. The bad part is I turn directly in to this relentless cold wind coming at me at 20-30mph and
gusting over well over that. The forests have turned to wheat fields and there is no where to hide. There is no shoulder on this road and,
like the Alaskan Highway, a lot of truck traffic. I've already been blown off the road unintentionally twice when they pass by me. Nothing to
do at this point but ride it out in my lower gears and hope for some relief at some point today. I'm forced to get off the bike and walk up
even moderate hills. Average speed; 4.5 mph; I can jog faster than this. This really sucks, I'm never going to make it out of BC in
conditions like these.
1pm. I've been forced to take a another route because of roadwork to Braden Rd. It is a gravel road through farm country and I have come
across the a herd of cattle, the first of many for this trip  I'm sure. Gone for good I'm afraid are the bison and bear and caribou and
mountain goats. From now on fences and private property.
9pm. Camp tonight is about 150' from a railroad and above the Pine River. From where I'm camped I can't see the river though it looked
very green when I passed over it earlier. I took a very needed shower tonight and it felt good seeing all the dirty soapy water come off my
body. My hair, what hair I have left, feels soft again. But there was still a gust or two left from the days wind to make my shower a cold one,
even though I made the water really hot. But all's good now and I'm relaxing next to the fire, pecking away on the days highlights and
enjoying the solitude. Speaking of wind, I don't know where to start, or rather continue. I don't think I've ever ridden a windier day in all the
years I've been biking (25+) with stronger and more consistency than what I rode through today, and yesterday for that matter. I just hope
tomorrow it starts to go back to normal, whatever that is. I can handle the 10-15 mph head/cross wind even though I'm not happy. But when
it does like today, and for all day, I'm ready to blow my brains out. On multiple occasions I had to stop pedaling and just hold on to the
handlebars to try and stabilize the bike. To do this the wind gusts must have been 40+. The fact that I managed to grind out 48 miles is a
testament to my resolve (hardheadedness) and not because of any break given by the wind gods. British Columbia is a rough and tough
place, beautiful but unforgiving.
Anyways, not much to write about other than the blasted wind today. Although I still have the feeling I'm in remote country, the differences
from even a week ago are remarkable. I've now descended to the 55th degree latitude and as I came upon Pine River earlier for the first
time since I began 50@50 I saw deciduous trees sprouting leaves for the spring. And this is almost mid May. It's a beautiful green and one
I'm most fond of seeing after so many days of cold, icy , gray conditions. It's like the trees are telling me you're going to make it and before
long won't have to be cold anymore. In fact as I sit here now pecking out these few superfluous words on my phone, I look up at the dusk
sky and the trees above me are sprouting their 2012 leaves.  
10:45pm. Ahhhhh. I'm in my sleeping bag and it's before 11, a first I believe. Dinner was my usual salad and pasta. Afterwards I was still a
little hungry so I had some Wheat Thins and cream cheese I had bought at Safeway before leaving Ft St Paul. There is something different
about the wheat thins and cream cheese here vs the US. Not as tasty in my opinion, and I'm a wheat thins/cream cheese connoisseur.
Well it's been a long grueling day on the 50@50. Think I'll get 50 z's before doing it all over again tomorrow.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48mzj-Vdls8





















Day 26  5/11//12
SP: N55'43.318 W121'12.664
EP: N55'38.164 W121'45.276
DM: 29
TM: 1,094


Notes
7am. It's probably the warmest morning yet. The sun is shining, even though it doesn't feel very warm, but the air temp is around 45 and it
didn't freeze last night, a first since kayaking along the Lynne Canal. I'm still huddled around my stove making coffee. The wind seems to
have died down substantially. How sweet that would be. Slept well as usual; think I only woke once when the wind wrestled one of the tent
flaps and then fell back to sleep. The small green fresh new leaves on the white trunked deciduous trees are really sprouting out now
around here, must be the river being close by. These trees look like the Aspens we have back home in the higher elevations. They grow in
groves like Aspens so I'm thinking they might be from the same family. No need for a fire this morning, the second morning in a row.
Things are a changin for 50@50.
1pm. I'm lying down on the side of the road in a grassy ravine with my legs perched on top of my trailer because my stomach has been
bothering me really bad all day and sometimes it helps when I lie down and lift my legs. I'm only 5-10 miles from the next town, Chetwind,
but with this ferocious wind blowing me backwards I might as well be 50 miles away. At least in this little ditch I'm pretty much sheltered
from the cold gusts that come on every minute or so. I figured I would peck out a few words to get my mind off my stomach, and hopefully I'll
be feeling  better in a few. I've gotten these stomach aches/cramps since I was a kid and to this day I'm still not certain what brings them
on. It probably is my diet and no doubt the coffee I've been drinking in the morning doesn't help. Sometimes if I lie flat or on one side they
go away and other times not. All I know is they are really painful and I can't ride. I've been here in full sight of traffic going by both ways at
least a half hour and not one person has stopped to see if I'm alright, or even alive for that matter. How can you miss someone on the side
of the road with his legs on top of a bicycle trailer.
7:30pm. Camp tonight is in what looks to be dumping site for wood and dirt as well as top soil yard. Not sure if it's owned by the state or
the railroad which is only a stones throw away. I love trains and don't mind camping next to them as long as they are not too busy and loud.
The trains around here I've seen very little of, only one to be exact and he honked his horn at me. One time in Ohio I camped in a switching
yard and in the middle of the night was told I needed to leave by the security patrolling the area (see my blog for the baseball trip). I ended
up having to pack myself and my stuff up at 1am and moving on down the road till I found a soybean field to finish the night out (lucky
though I was as it started to rain just as I set my tent up again and poured the rest of the night). But   trains are romantic to me. I love to hear
their deafening horns and smell the creosote soaked timbers across their rocky bed. Maybe I love them because at heart I'm really just a
hobo running the lines. I love setting up the train every year around the Christmas tree and have the fondest memories being in Europe as
a kid and riding the trains down to Sicily with my mother and father and brother. I remember sticking my head out the window and every
once in a while feeling some drops hit my soot covered face. It felt cool and I loved it until my brother Mario told me that the wet sensation
was from somebody flushing the toilet in between cars and the urine mixed with water flying all around.
So the big story again today was the never ending headwinds out of the SW, my direction of travel, the third day in a row. I won't complain
anymore because complaining does no good and nobody wants to hear it. But I had my worst day today, both in terms of mileage and
riding conditions, since day 1 when I left Skagway and had to climb 3000' plus White Pass with a headwind and then camp on the freezing
plateau to its east, without a fire as there was no wood around (see day 10 I think).
But at least I'm making some type of progress. That's what I keep telling myself when I feel like packing it in and forgetting about this whole
thing. Progress; no matter if it's 100 miles or 1 mile. At least I'm closer to my goal of reaching all 50 state capitals using only human power;
without the aid of motors or wind (especially wind on a day like this). Sometimes I ask myself when a car or truck whizzes by me at
astronomical speeds (a John Deere tractor passing me seems to be incredibly fast these days), do they even know from what direction
the wind is blowing today?  Do they have any idea how cold the wind feels out here? Do they know how loud the wind is blowing in your
face (so loud that it is useless trying to listen to my Ipod)? Are they even aware that they just passed an old guy trying to pedal to 48 US
states this year? But the real question is; Do they really care?  I'm afraid the question to all these is an obvious no.
Anyways the town of Chedwynd is one I would, and probably will, forget fast. Nothing that I could see had the potential for lasting
memories. It was one of those towns where the people I met were all, if not unfriendly, at least not helpful. Maybe it's because it's one of
those crossroad towns (the Cassiar road [my originally planned route] intersects here with 97) where the yearlong residents are use to
folks passing through and not really interested in hearing your story, no matter how unusual. I did laundry and ate at KFC (I'm still feeling the
effects) right next door. Then I did my shopping for supplies to last me till Prince George (the next manor town) and lastly searched and
eventually found an open wifi to send out the last couple days blog. But by the time I headed out of town it was almost 5 and so that's why
I'm camped not even 10 miles south. 29 miles for the entire day...pretty bad. But at least it's 29 miles closer to my goal.
Oh, one more tid bit of useless info before I'm done blogging here today and have to make dinner (Tbone steak with salad). I learned in the
laundromat today what 'Loonie' &  'Toonie' are. A Loonie is a $1 coin and a Toonie is a $2 coin. I love it. Went around for the rest of the
day asking clerks how many loonies or toonies everything cost. And one more thing before I forget; the steak tonight picked up the flavors
of whatever the wood  was I was burning and was mouth watering delicious. I know I'll be thinking about it all day tomorrow.





















Day 27  5/12//12
SP: N55'38.164 W121'45.276
EP: N55'14.061 W122'41.715
DM: 72
TM: 1,166


Notes
7am. It's funny how calm it is in the morning when in a couple hours, I'm certain, the wind will be howling again in my face. But for now all's
quiet on the western front (that was a great book). Little overcast this morning, maybe that's a good sign as when it's sunny and clear the
wind is going to blow. Slept pretty well though the train that went by at what time I don't know certainly startled me awake. I can't begin to
explain what it's like being woke out of a deep sleep with the sound of oncoming train. At first there is a sense of panic and you're half
awake asking the questions; What is that? Where is it coming from? How do I get out of its way? And then reality slowly comes on and you
start to relax and think; oh yea, I'm in a tent and the train is not going to run over me. Must be one of our primitive fears to be run over by an
unexpected train.
8:30. Well today is day 4 with headwinds, but they appear so far to have quieted down a bit (10-15 vs 25-30). At least I can listen to my
iPod and hear it somewhat and get out of my smallest granny gear, hopefully they will calm down more as the day progresses.
10:30am. Pedaling through this Peace River canyon and it's very serene and beautiful. The river has remnants of large prior spring runoffs
that have left gigantic piles of driftwood in the middle of the current. Obviously there was little this year as it wouldn't be here. Must have
been a dry winter here in these parts.
9pm. Camp tonight is along a power line road with streams of snow run off on either side of me. Couldn't be better as I love the sound of
cascading water. The sound of water running over rocks, like waves on a beach, are the most beautiful sounds in the world. They calm me
and help to make for a deep sleep. Of course a train is going by right now which is on the opposite side of the road, about 150 yards
away, but I like its sound as well, just not when I'm awoke by it in the middle of the night.
Anyways, I really have no idea how to explain in narrative detail where I am camped tonight, and to anyone reading this...big deal. That's
why I mark every nights camp with GPS coordinates. I'm somewhere about 80 miles from Chetwind and 120 miles from Prince George
along hwy 97...in British Columbia of course.
One thing I learned on this trip is that Canadian wheat thins suck, but there whiskey is not bad.
10pm. Earlier today I passed by a ski resort called Powder Mountain, or something like that. There was still a lot of snow on all the
groomed slopes but it was closed. I thought that if Snow Bowl (our local ski resort in Flagstaff) had that much snow they would still be open.
Poor Snow Bowl, somebody forgot to tell them Arizona was just not meant for skiing.
The highlight of the day was the 2 grizzly bears I saw crossing the road just after I had passed, about 10 miles north of where camp is
tonight.  For some reason I looked behind me and there they were (it looked like a sow and her teenage cub) about 100 yards from where
I had just pedaled by. I turned around and caught a little video but the camera being what it is (an iPhone) all that can be seen are probably
little dots. I was thinking about going back a ways to get some closer shots but a car and a truck came flying by and scared them off.
Those are the first grizzly bears I've ever seen in the wild and there was no mistaken they were grizzlies as the hump on the bigger one
was very prominent as well as they were brown. A little while later I saw a big black bear crossing the road and I caught a little video of him.
He was the biggest black bear I believe I've ever saw except for one a few years back that had wondered in to our camp along the John
Muir Trail and was hanging around Jim's tent.
That really made my day seeing those brown bears. I just wish they had crossed the road a half minute earlier so I could have seen them
closer up and got some better video. But a safe distance from a brown bear and her offspring is probably a good thing. Good thing I did
not ditch the bear spray like I was thinking of doing back in Chetwind

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9zyYJsrBME

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgvYr9_ouh0





















Day 28   5/13//12
SP: N55'14.061 W122'41.715
EP: N54'11.360 W122'36.701
DM: 88
TM: 1,254


Notes
7am. Another chilly, damp morning. The sun is trying to rise over the mountain to the east but is having a tough go of it. Frost all over my
tent and water bottles frozen. Made a fire and coffee and now all's ok. Today is the final day of week four.
One thing I've noticed about being up here is elevation has little to do with temps or precipitation. I think the northern pacific ocean not far
to the west and the tectonically (is that even a word) formed mountains factor in to weather patterns far more than elevation. Of course
mountainous areas are generally higher elevation, but the last range I went through yesterday (the Le Moray's) there was only a few
hundred feet more elevation than Chetwind and but it was much colder and a lot more snow. Towards end of day yesterday I stopped at
the roadside park Bijoux Falls and snapped a pic of the beautiful cascading ice water. It was cool next to the water and nobody was
around. I wanted to camp there as there were several park benches but also a big sign saying 'No Camping'. I never knew Bijoux in french
means 'jewel'. Well this spot was aptly named.
I was noticing in myself yesterday that I must be getting use to being alone as the few people I did encounter I was not thrilled to see or talk
to, my answers to their questions were curt but unemotional; I couldn't wait for them or myself to leave. I think this is probably natural and
my social skills will return once I get around others again, I hope. But I'm wondering if I'm already like this now after only a few weeks and
occasionally speaking with people, what it will be like after being over 3 months alone at sea on a tiny rowboat next year. Guess I'll find out.
12pm. McLeod Lake; Ive. Been waiting two days to arrive here and all there is is a little 'general'/PO/liquor store, all of which is closed and
suppose to open at noon because it's Sunday (we'll see if it does). I'm very disappointed. There are two days left till Prince George and I
am almost out of food.
2:30  The store did open and the lady/clerk was nice. I bought a loaf of bread and she recommended some bologna. Now I'm stopped
some 25 miles down the road and have already eaten a bologna sandwich, 2 PB&J's, some bread topped with Nutella and a half bag of
potato chips. Yes, I'm hungry. I've managed to get in my 50 by 1 today (that is 50 miles by 1:00). That was my goal on the baseball trip and
if I did I was assured a good day riding. Two days ago I had my worst day when I was rolled up in to a groaning ball on the side of highway
97with 30 mph cold winds swallowing me up. Today is the best day so far with my headed for a 90 miler if the wind stays calm and the
terrain flat. There still is a little western wind but virtually nothing compared to the last few days. The road has been mostly flat as it
meanders it's way around all these lakes (Ft McLeod, Bear lake and Summit lake). It's a beautiful stretch through here, one that reminds
me somewhat of our N AZ favorite; Lake Mary Rd.  As has been the case through nearly all of BC the road has a nice wide shoulder with
about a foot rumble strip between it and the main road thus making for the added safety feature of a sound warning if a vehicle coming
from behind drifts on to the shoulder. Not sure if that was the purpose the strip was intended for (I believe they are made to alert dosing
drivers as the vehicle shakes and let's out a pretty loud growl when it goes over them), but it works as such.
4:00 rolling in to Bear Lake where there is wood milling operation. There are more cut trees in one place than I have ever seen, must be a
square mile of stacked timbers and milled wood. If there were ever a fire here they would see it from the space station. Bear Lake had a
small store and I stopped there for an ice tea. That was the only store, with the exception of McLeod Lake with any type of services. Found
a public wifi and as usual hopped on to send out prior days blog and check email. The public access internet up here has been great and
quite a surprise to me as well as I thought before the trip that I would be totally without communications while here in BC.
8pm. Tonight's camp is over a whole degree farther south than last night. Now someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but it's my belief
that for every degree change in latitude it is equal to 60 nautical miles (longitudinal distance at the equator is 60 nautical miles per
meridian [1 nautical mile is 1.15 statute miles]).  So if my latitude tonight is 1 full degree plus 4 seconds further south, I rode 64x1.15 miles
or almost 74 miles further south.  That's a pretty long distance to travel in just one day. And it is considerably warmer this evening than
yesterday at about the same altitude. But there are no mountains around me tonight (I'm in another clear cut area near power lines again).
One thing I know is tonight I'm only about 25 miles north of Prince George, a major waypoint on my journey back to the states and the first
major city on this journey. I hope to get in early, get the needed supplies for the next push, and get out ASAP.
This evening is a beauty. The skies are completely clear and the wind is soft and gentle out of the west. The temp is maybe 60 but it feels
a little cooler because of the wind and it is dry. I feel like I'm in some type of dream now, that none of this is real and any moment I'm going
to wake up to find I'm back home in Arizona in my everyday run of the mill life. I've been nearly 3 weeks now without any real social contact
(John and I split up in Skagway 3 weeks from this Wednesday) and since then my repetitive lifestyle (biking, camping, pecking out words
on this useful little device) has been the only thing on my mind. Today I saw another black bear but he skeddadled off before I could get a
picture. Did I really see him?  I know I did and he was really cute...from a distance (after seeing the two grizzlies yesterday, today I
practiced a time or two retrieving the bear spray from my it's position behind my saddle in the possibility, however unlikely, of a sudden
aggressive bear appearance; think of Quick Draw McGraw reaching for his six shooter).
There is something about traveling through BC alone on a bike that is truly a unique experience. I love hearing the sound of wild geese in
flight, a sound quite common here. There are many other sounds from birds and little critters up here that if I'm far enough away from the
highway I love to hear. I haven't been taking enough pictures, I'm not a good photographer.  A good photographer would have been
catching a lot of shots the remarkable beauty of this area. I keep telling myself each day I need to take more pics but I always seem to
forget (forgetting these days is high on my list of regrettable happenings).
For the first time in days the wind was not a major factor in my progress and I took full advantage of it. Even though I had no help from the
wind, it was blowing mildly from the west and I was heading south, it still felt like total bliss and I felt I could have ridden much longer even
though I rode an hour longer than usual (7+ hours in the saddle today). So today I felt like getting back at whoever (I tell you; heavy, constant
headwinds while on a bike can mess with ones head) was responsible for so much of my wind generated anguish over the last several
days. One thing I found out today is all the wind I've had up to now has toughened me up and I doubt I will complain anymore on this trip
about wind after what I've been through the last 2+ weeks. I'm also in better physical shape because of it. What's the adage; 'that which
doesn't kill me only makes me stronger' or 'no pain; no gain'. Both are true, at least when it comes to wind.
Sometimes when the wind is blowing mercilessly I feel like it is the parent and I just a child, thus making today's ride a defiant act of child
rebellion. If for an instant Mama takes its attention off little Ro (the wind stops or changes direction) and I take advantage of it by shifting to
a bigger gear to pick up speed (ie: sneaking in to the cookie jar to have my favorite cookie; chocolate chip) and Mama comes back early
only to catch me, hand and face in cookie jar, she is mighty upset I didn't listen to her about it being dinner time and not snack time. She
puts me right back in to my place (usually with a big 40 mph gust right in my face place stopping me dead in my tracks and searching for
those granny gears again. "I'm sorry mama, I didn't mean to do it. I'll put the cookie right back and never do it again". "You better and don't
you not listen any more. I'm the boss around here and don't you forget it." is mama's stern reply to my humiliated apology. Well today
Mama was gone shopping all day and I cleaned out the whole cookie jar. I just hope when she comes back home she forgets how many
cookies were in the jar before she left. And on occasion, for some mysterious reason, Mama is in a good mood and feeling generous (get
where I'm going here??? the wind is at my back) and I am awarded with a big moist piece of chocolate cake with rich, creamy sprinkle
topped chocolate frosting. I sure hope Mama is in a good mood tomorrow as I'm pretty hungry for that cake. I told you violent, constant
headwinds day after day can mess with your head.
When I was setting up my tent tonight I could feel an intense vibration to them and all I can think is they are picking up some
electromagnetic waste from the power lines all around me. I hope I don't feel my old time silver teeth fillings through my gums later tonight
while I'm sleeping.
Had a visitor to camp about an hour ago; Steve the owner of this little spot I call home for the night. He was driving by the highway which is
only a few hundred yards away and like most property owners looked over his land and saw the smoke from my little fire. Anyways, Steve
who's about my age came over to see who I was and we had a nice conversation for the better part of an hour. Nice fellow who reminds
me a lot of my neighbor and friend Darrel. He is a hunting and fishing guide and has a deep love for the outdoors. I spent the longest time
talking with him than anybody else I've met over the last 2 and half weeks since John and I split ways. It was nice, but I'm back to being
alone again and it's not too bad either




















Day 29
  5/14//12
SP: N54'11.360 W122'36.701
EP: N53'20.845 W122'33.224
DM: 68
TM: 1,322


Notes
12pm.Today I decided that rather than my attempting to explain what the areas of the country are like through which I travel I will try to
document them, through short video clips, what the residents of these vastly differing parts of this gigantic nation think of their home (what
they like and don't like or how they would change it if they could). I plan on doing an interview every few days or in every new region or state
I roll in to and, very importantly, have no political agenda to advance with this format. I just want to interview folks from all walks of life and
political persuasion; through the entire spectrum of those characteristics that make us unique including race, gender, age, religion, and
creed. Another goal of these interviews will be to spice up this blog a little instead of my always rambling  on about the weather or
something less than exciting to the reader (if there's even anyone out there reading this other than my wife). And lastly, my plan is to do
another movie/documentary after 50@50 and I would like to include some of the more interesting clips of the interviews. So on with
interviewee # 1, Lutz from Prince George, BC, Canada who I saw riding his bike along the opposite side of the highway picking up cans.
He told me that for every soda can he picked up he picked up another 3 beer cans; And then there was plain talking Victor Olsen from
Cinema, BC who upon hearing of my plans to row to Hawaii next year shared with me his story as a young man aboard an Escort
Destroyer in 1963 on its way to Hawaii, only to get half way there before being called to Cuba during the Cuban missile crisis. He wished
me better luck on getting to Hawaii than he had. Victor, like so many residents of BC had a common complaint about living here;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiEDpcyUS60

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CWiUYcVocg

8pm: Today there was little time to do any journaling until now. I rode promptly in to Prince George this morning and hit the first McDonalds
I found to use their wifi, but they limit the amount of data that can flow through their network so I found a Starbucks to fetch my emails, send
out blog, and call back home via FaceTime. It's getting to be a regular ritual for me just like everything I do everyday. Get up in the morning
around 5:30 (Juneau time; I plan on staying on Alaska time till I'm done), make a fire to get warm and then make coffee and hot cereal
while writing in the journal. After that I pack up and am on the road by 7:30 or 8:00. I am averaging just over 60 miles a day up to now but I
hope to get that up to 70 and even closer to 80 in the following weeks and perhaps months. When I made the schedule the goal in mind
was to be home well before thanksgiving and believe I still will be even though I'm about 9-10 days behind right now. Most of that is
because of miscalculating the time spent kayaking to Skagway and the difficulty of these first few  weeks in terms of challenging winds and
mountains and the lack of physical conditioning. But also I've taken different routes than those I used to schedule. Not taking the Cassiar
route and staying on the Alaskan Hwy added nearly 100 miles. During the day I generally stop every hour or two to at least stretch and
snack on something, with about an hour long lunch break.  And starting around 5:00 I go on camp watch which up here doesn't take me
very long to find somewhere (back east will be another story). Once I've decided on the right place to bed down for the evening I set up my
tent, gather wood for a fire, heat my water for a shower if I need one ( I'm only doing one every other day now which is sufficient until it
starts getting warmer), and have a drink and blog the days events. Around 8pm I start dinner (tonight is a NY cut steak with the usual
accompaniment of tossed salad) and by 10 I'm cleaned up, teeth brushed, and ready to hit the pad (the Thermarest pad that is). Usually
before I fall asleep I try to listen one more time to the fascinating sounds of nature outside my tent. It only takes seconds at that point for my
eyelids to grow heavy and deep sleep to overcome the residual foggy consciousness. I rarely wake up (at least that I can remember or
unless a  train comes barreling by a few feet away [see the journal entry of day 27]) through out the nights rejuvenating slumber.  So that's
it; my life these days in less than a teen romance book page. Few people understand this lifestyle I've chosen to take on for the following
months across and over and up and down the entire United States and W Canada. Jim Bostwick, my good friend and bike traveling
Gumpa for the last 9 years does (Jim, are you reading this?). It's something that is so simple but yet for most a lifestyle unimaginable.
Since 1989 I've been long distance self contained bike traveling and I guess the 'art' of cyclo-touring I have developed in to a unique
personal scientific method through so much repetition. Hundreds of days and nights have been spent doing the same routine of which I just
described, and like anything done over and over it becomes ritual. I love this lifestyle. 18 holes of golf...I would be bored by the 4th green.
Fishing on a 18' Bayliner with a chest full of beer...after the 2nd round it would be nap time in the bilge. A. cruise through the
Caribbean...after a couple days spent pigging out on the all you can eat 24 hour restaurants I want to throw up. Working in the restaurant
on an average evening alongside my loving wife, partner and soulmate, making eggplant parmigiana and authentic Neapolitan style pizza
for fabulous old time appreciative customers all the while sipping from my glass of Dago Red and playing 'send the message' games with
my little girl while she does cart wheels with her roller skates on...now that may even be better than my life out here.
The big story today was the warm up in weather. I actually had to take off my wicker turtleneck which I have had on everyday since leaving
Skagway 3 weeks ago. Tonight it is wonderful, much warmer than any other night and I am thoroughly enjoying it.  I actually only had to heat
one pot of water for my shower a little earlier, usually it's two or three. Really the only reason I have a fire is to barbecue my steak. I even
broke a sweat today while climbing some hills late in the day. Oh, this is nice, real nice. The bad part is the warmer temps are bring out the
skeeters. I know there will come a time on this trip when I will do a lot of complaining about the heat, humidity, bugs, rain, and a whole host
of other uncontrollable miscreants. But for now I am content, even if there are a few extra bugs around.
So tonight's camp is in an old favorite; a pine tree farm. I haven't camped in one of these since down South during the baseball trip where
they are all over, especially Georgia. It's kind of strange at first, like being in a Jack in the Beanstalk cornfield (they all look like cloned
mutants). But after a few times camping around and under these little wannabes it's just like camping anywhere else. A little while ago I
heard a dog bark. Dogs always know you're around no matter how far away. I'm not sure if they smell or hear me, but they always know I'm
here. I also heard a train go by while I was devouring my steak (ripping it apart and eating with my hands, like chicken, the way I believe
steak should be eaten. It tastes better that way for some reason). The sound of a train, it's whistle included, is one of the most soothing
manmade sounds there is.
I bought a box of Oreos today when shopping back at Prince George and before I had arrived at camp this afternoon I had eaten half the
carton. Never did Oreos taste so good, at least not since I was a kid. Not sure if I'm just very hungry these days or if the Canadians know
how to make a better cookie. Their Wheat Thins may suck and cream cheese leave a little to be desired but the Oreos are the best. And
on that note I call it a day and retire to my nylon shell for a good nights rest. Buona Notte.
1:30am. Those dogs that I thought were barking at me earlier went crazy barking at something about 15 minutes ago and awoke me out of
a dead sleep. It could be a bear. If it is a bear hopefully they chased it away, and not towards me. I'm not taking any chances and went out
to hang my food bags from a tree. There not hung very well (there are no tall trees around here) and a well intentioned bear could get to
them, but at least they're away from me and the campsite. If it is a bear I'm keeping the spray very close and ready to use in case it should
wander to close to my tent. I'm also keeping my cell phone on which has 2 bars of service in case I need to make an emergency call. Think
I'm going to have a hard time going back to sleep.




















Day 30
  5/15//12
SP: N53'20.845 W122'33.224
EP: N52'27.916 W122'24.577
DM: 74
TM: 1,396


Notes
9am. Well no bear last night, thank goodness. I don't know what it was those dogs were going wild over, maybe a skunk or raccoon, but
my innards tells me it may quite well have been a bear.
12pm. It is seeming more and more that motorists road etiquette is heading south with my direction. Could it be I'm getting closer to the
US?  
12:30. Picked up a hitchhiker a little ways back. His name is Ben and he's not too heavy and it will be nice having some company tonight
around the campfire. His facial features often manifest my feelings and I think there is a striking resemblance between he and I these days.
I finished off the Oreos while attaching Ben aboard the bike.
6pm. Stopped for just a moments at the 'blink and you miss' town of Ft Alexandria. Back in the 1800's this was the northern terminus of the
pacific trail through which goods, originating all the way from the Columbia river in Oregon, were brought in to the posts of New Caledonia
(N. BC back in the 1800's). There is a stone pyramid here as the monument and I'm trying to imagine how hard life must have been here in
those days, this far away from anything and with such long, harsh winters. Don't think I'll do anymore complaining about the weather or lack
of supplies.
8:30pm. I feel so relaxed right now. Had a warm shower and feel clean (first time whole trip I've showered back to back nights; it's nice
living the decadent lifestyle). I have a warm little fire upon which I plan on cooking my steak (I had bought 2 yesterday because that's how
they were packaged) and the evening is pleasant and serene. The highway has been following the Fraser River for a while and much of
the land on either side is used for agriculture. I believe tonight I am about 7-8 miles north of the community of Mcleese Lake though I can
see no lake from my vantage point 50' above the highway. There is a crows nest near under which I have set up my tent. They are
squacking quite a bit and fortunately I noticed it early enough to not pitch my tent directly under their nest...for obvious reasons.
Earlier I passed through the city of Quesnel (pronounced kwaynell...no S; I found out the hard way) and it was pretty neat. The little
downtown area had a lot of character and the people colorful. There were a lot of young modern day hippy types (not sure if the right term
is hippies today) and they were hanging out all over. With my beard and dirty/grungy clothes and appearance, I fit in to the scene really well
without even intending to. Lots of coffee shops and little squares where people of all sorts hung out drinking coffee and chatting. I found
one such coffee place to try to hop on the wifi so I could send out yesterday's blog and talk with Patrice and Angelina on FaceTime, but the
service was not very good so I moved on and of all places found a good wifi spot at a big tire/hardware store called Canada Tire. I walked
all over the store talking to the phone as people were looking at me and trying to figure out if I was loony or not. I also picked up my first
replacement bike chain which will be needed every 1500 miles or so if I want to keep the gears from getting overused and damaged.
Eventually I managed to escape from Quesnel and top the day off with 40 more relatively easy miles. And here I sit on my comfy little
Coleman stool in my charming roadside camp beneath a tall pine tree with crows nesting on top, them being my only companions for the
evening. Hence my prior statement of feeling so relaxed. I decided to ditch Ben a little while ago. He was starting to give me the creeps.
So I perched him atop a log for someone else to adopt if they feel so inclined. Or maybe someone reading this can search him out, a
geocache of sorts, if they have the courage to find him (I'll leave him beneath a power pole with 2 yellow guy lines on the hill above and
about 200 yards north of my campsite). I yearn for some company from time to time, but he just wasn't doing it. So long Ben.
10:30pm. I don't like to brag, really bragging is not my thing. But I just cooked the most magnificent dinner, regardless of where I'm at, that
I've had for sometime. A thick juicy New York Loin strip steak done just how I like it (medium rare) with the distinct flavors of all the local
woods from which I used to cook it. My usual tossed salad with crunchy romaine lettuce, a plump ripened tomato from the vine, just a few
thin slivers of onion, baby carrots, mixed peas and carrots that I had leftover from the freeze dried food I had brought from home (the freeze
dried stuff really isn't that bad), and mixed with extra virgin olive oil and a small splash of red wine vinegar (I jacked a few packets from the
KFC when I ate their back on that horrible day I rolled in to Chetwind). The salad was actually the first course, or Piatto in Italian, and the
steak the last course. In between I had some penne pasta (a canadian brand and its not that bad) with a little homemade marinara I threw
together with a lot of fresh onions, garlic (and of course more olive oil) at the last minute with some almost over ripened roma tomatoes I
had and lots of fresh garlic and olive oil. Of course plenty of grated Parmesan/romano on top of the pasta. It's difficult for me to eat pasta
without cheese. For dessert some dark chocolate with roasted almonds I had bought in the bulk section (buying out of those bulk bins is
kind of neat and fun) of the store back in Prince George and a juicy gala apple to finish everything off. I'm stuffed and content. Ok. That's
the last time I brag about cooking. But I feel I've earned my right when it comes to food, after all I've been cooking since before I learned to
walk...according to my mother. There has to be at least one thing in life we can say that we are proud of doing, no matter how socially
trivial or stupid it may sound.
You know with all the delicious food I had with which to gorge myself, I didn't even offer a bite to Ben, still on the log where I put him earlier,
sitting there with that disgusting teeth bared snarl of his. I should have just left him on the side of the road where I saw him this morning.
It is a beautiful evening. For the first time I can hear the sound of crickets. Everything is so much different now than just a week ago. I love
it, especially the warm, dry air.




















Day 31  5/16/12
SP: N52'27.916 W122'24.577
EP:  N51'48.005 W121'25.984
DM: 78
TM: 1,475
Week 3  WM:435  TM:1,296      AVG. PER DAY:62 miles


Notes
7:30pm. No time for journaling all day till now. I'm camped in a nice place far enough off the road that the traffic doesn't sound like its going
to come barreling right through my tent at night while I'm sleeping, but perhaps a half mile from the highway which has gotten much busier
in the last couple days. It is almost nonstop traffic now on this little two lane hwy 97. No more are the days when I can comment on having a
car every few minutes pass by me. Maybe when I reach Montana or some lonely Midwest roads lined with corn and soybeans I will get to
brag again. It has been very nice though having at minimum a 4' shoulder on which to ride. I can only think of one short (perhaps 20 miles)
stretch where there was no shoulder in 1300 miles and that was back up north when traffic was almost nonexistent. Great job Canadian
ministry of transportation (a government agency here is called a ministry because, well, I think they have a parliamentary form of
government....sounds good anyways.
I'm only about 3 miles from the town of Lac La Hache (I have no idea what that means but I think it's French and the Lac means lake
because there was a long lake to the north of the town and lago in Italian means lake). The countryside is starting to become more
developed and the highway fenced in for long stretches so I'm having to spend more time and effort finding places to camp at night. This of
course will get to be an increasing challenge as I steadily make my way south and in to more urbanized areas. But having crisscrossed
this nation on several occasions already I believe primitive camping (I've heard it called a lot of names over the years including 'wild',
'stealth', 'bush' and my favorite 'bivouac'. I never leave behind any trace of my presence with the exception of some ashes from the fire, and
when I can leave an area cleaner than when I arrived.) will continue to be an option. As of yet I have not had a room, nor a formal
campground for that matter, since leaving Juneau a month ago. John and I had a tent trailer for a couple nights in Skagway and then there
was the Eldred Rock accommodations (read day 5) and that one classic night in the abandoned cabin (see day 19). Other than that every
night has been in the nylon shell...my tent.
Tonight I would really love to have some company. Anybody, or even thing (except a bear of course), would be nice. Actually even some
TV doesn't sound bad right now and I haven't watched it for over a year. The basketball playoffs are on right now and how awesome it
would be to watch some of it, even though my beloved Suns are not in it. All this psycho/self reflection has got me to thinking what a
challenge this Hawaiian row is going to be. I hope I'm up to it and can succeed. I guess once I'm out in the middle of the pacific ocean
there's not a whole lot I can do, or whine, about it, except keep rowing toward Hawaii, or make some other land fall.
Been thinking about my mother all day. She's 89 in August and her health is, typically for a 90 year old, not so good. I don't get around to
seeing her much anymore (she lives in Sacramento with my brother Rico) and I'm not sure how I will react when it comes her time to go. I
wish I could talk to her again in a meaningful conversation (she has pretty severe dementia), it has been a while. For all her setbacks and
faults (who doesn't have a bunch?) she was a kind, thoughtful, and obsessively honest. She once drove a 20 year old Dodge Dart (at night
often sleeping in the back seat in rest areas because she couldn't afford to get a room, thus making it pretty clear from whom I picked up
my infatuation with the hobo lifestyle) clear across country to Georgia (I can just picture her driving Interstate 10 through hot, muggy Texas
with the windows rolled down and having the time of her life while singing to Dean Martin and Jo Stafford on the 8-track stereo my brother
had installed). Her primary purpose for such an epic trip alone and in such style; to settle up a $40/40 year old unpaid dentist bill she had
made when living there briefly in her early 20's. The dentist was long gone dead so she made his son (I can't imagine what must he must
have been thinking) take the $40 his place (Honest AB, initials of her maiden name Audrey Bolton, was her nickname as a kid). She was
simply an amazing lady in general. Tough as barb wire yet with a hidden softness that, sad to say, only a child of hers knows intimately.
Born from a stout German ancestry (my father was Italian) she went through so much in her life, like so many of her generation; the
depression, WW II, a relatively early passing of her only real parent (and friend/confidant for that matter); her mother (Her father had
abandoned her and her mother before she was born).  After the passing of her mother she went Hollywood looking to break in to show
business as a singer (she had a wonderful voice and how many fond memories I have listening to her sing along to all the 45's on the old
Magnavox). She gave birth to and raised almost single handedly five big energetic strong headed boys instilling in them the values she felt
(and I today as well) important. She endured for many years in a disfunctionate and sometimes abusive marriage (mainly for the children
and financial reasons) to a husband who indulged in many of life's vices and came from a different culture. Unfortunately she was born with
genetic abnormalities that would not manifest their symptoms until later in life, and eventually force her to the psychiatric ward of the State
hospital (I was only six at the time and remember vividly visiting her there). How hard it must have been for her at that time knowing she
had five school age children needing her yet unable to be there for them and, worse yet, knowing that there was nobody to look out after
them (Pop was miles away running the business and going through difficult times himself. Had something similar happened today I'm sure
we all [my brothers and I] would have been taken away and put in foster care). She lived through so much (I talk like she's already gone but
anybody with a parent living with Alzheimer's or severe dementia knows what I mean).  I remember her responding to me when I was a
young smart mouth punk of the infamous teenage years and knew everything there was to know about life, "Wait till you walk a mile in my
shoes son and then tell me you have the answer". Mom, after all I've seen and experienced in life I don't think I've walked a few feet
compared to what you have gone through. I also remember once a long time ago when I was in college (we were living in a small one
bedroom apartment in the Bay Area at the time) and taking her backpacking to Pt Reyes St Park north of San Francisco. We hiked
several miles in toward the cold foggy, but gorgeous, coastline and had a cold dinner (there were no fires allowed in the park) eating
something out of a bag . I pitched the $10 drugstore tent I had at the time and we lied awake for hours as she recounted the things she had
done and seen in her lifetime. The next day we hiked down to the coast and looked at the sea lions, and spent another cold damp night out
in my cheap little tent, before heading  back out the next day and on home. She had such a good time on that short outing and it meant so
much to her. She talked about it for years wanting, I know now, to do it again. I never thought at that time (I was still young and self
conscious about myself and what others might think about my going backpacking with my mother alone "What's wrong Can't find anyone
else to go with but your mother") that that little excursion would now mean so much to me as well and only wish I could do it once more. I
guess a lot of things that happen in life (and people we meet or know for that matter) are like that. It's sometimes difficult to grasp the
meaning or significance of an event, or person, till much later on in life, and often when it's too late. But I'm thankful for the times I did have
with her, having had known people who lost or never having had a mother around growing up with whom to spend such meaningful
experiences. I'm a believer that no one in life will know you better than your parents (assuming they were around to raise you), not even
your spouse or partner of many years, as they remember you when you were naked, not just in the literal sense, but without all our masks
and defenses we throw up around ourselves as we go bumping and bouncing our way through life. Mom once told me I had a lot of
perseverance, and I hope she was right as I believe a lot of resolve is what's going to be needed to finish this thing I've set out to do. Mom,
be well and I can't wait to see you when I get to Sacramento, my last land based capital.
Oh I could go on and on but it's starting to get a little late and I've  got another wonderful meal planned out in my head (not much else to do
during those long hours spent in the bike saddle other than think about food).
10:30pm. To bed early tonight. Dinner was delicious; salad, pasta (this time with barbecued sausage added) and some skewered pre
marinated chicken I had bought at the  store earlier and cooked it on the grill next to the sausage. Think I'll sleep good tonight.














Day 32  5/17/12
SP: N51'48.005 W121'25.984
EP: N50'59.276 W121'30.872
DM: 68
TM: 1,543


Notes
8:15. Another day where there was just no time to journal until now. Part of the reason is that I have prepped dinner, which should be
another good one. But also the riding has been up and down a lot. It seems I'm either climbing or descending, nothing major though.
Tonight I'm camped in what looks to be another roadside aggregate yard. Since leaving community of Clinton about 8 miles north of here,
Hwy 97 has been on a steady, continuous descent. I decided to camp when I did because tonight is shower night (I know, I'm sounding like
an old man who must stick to his routine...Nico you better not say I am)) and I have a big dinner planned (I'm not going to tell you because I
promised in another days blog that I would not brag anymore about what I prepare for dinner). Not much really exciting happened today,
just another day of riding the shoulder with a lot more traffic than up north. I passed through the town of 100 Mile House (several of the
towns along this route are named as such owing to their location when this was a busy passage for gold seekers during the Caribou gold
rush of the 1860's (Cache Creek, one rest spot that I will roll in to early tomorrow, supposedly got it's name from lost gold still cached
(hidden) in a nearby creek, and yet to be found). Rest houses were between 10-12 miles apart so mule or horse powered wagons along
with their drivers, and whoever else was aboard, could rest and resupply) and did a little shopping and sent off yesterday's blog. To me
this place I'm camped is great. It's flat and there is wood and I'm not too far from the highway but far enough that the traffic is not too
obnoxious. It's still beautiful even if it is just an aggregate yard. There are tall stately looking pine trees all around and the golden yellow
native grasses at their base contrast nicely with the deep greens.
Well, yesterday I started something that I kind of stumbled in to; writing about my mother and her life (for some reason I kept thinking about
her). So this evening I may as well continue the beat and try, in what limited time there is before chow-time, to give the synopsis of my
father's story. I believe to tell the story of Vincent Scaturro one would need a thousand page narrative. He really was one of those larger
than life people we come across in life from time to time, those who have a profound impact on the people and places and things they
encounter. And speaking on behalf of my brothers and myself, we were no exception. But I will try to encapsulate as best I can his story for
now and perhaps if there is time later go in to it further. Many who met him for the first time believed he was the last immigrant off the boat
due to his thick, broken English. But he was actually born in the US, Los Angeles, in 1923 the only son of Epifanio and Maria Scaturro. He
had an older sister, Anna, who was 12 years older but stayed back in Italy. Grandfather Epifanio had come to America in 1910 and like
most immigrants of the era (before and after as well) found whatever work he could. Usually for the new comers lacking the language,
culture, or contacts this meant manual labor and Epifanio was no different.  He worked as a laborer on the street cars in Los Angeles (how
he got to LA in the first place is a mystery). After living and working here in the US for 10 years he finally decided it was time to send for his
wife and daughter (whom he had not seen since leaving the old country shortly after his daughter had been born). In other words, father and
daughter nor husband and wife had seen nor spoke to each other in 10 years. Amazing in and of itself, but the story gets better. In 1920 he
went back to Italy to bring his Maria and Anna to America as that was to be their new home, not just a place to make money, and if lucky
get rich. So, on a journey that would take 6 months, grandmother Maria and Aunt Anna set out alone from a small Italian village in central
Sicily (where they had lived their entire lives, as had all their ancestors for generations prior) for a land not just a long ways away, but an
ocean away. I can't even imagine what was going through their mind the evening before they were set to depart. Now this is 1920, before
air travel, heck even before the automobile in most parts of the world. They only had one mule and Anna rode it while Maria walked along
side about 15 miles to the nearest town Corleone (yes, the town made famous from the blockbuster American saga) where there was train
service.  Once there they took the train to Palermo, a several hour ride through the mountainous interior of Sicily on a  coal powered
steamer. In Palermo they had to take another train to Genoa in N Italy, a not too comfortable passage itself that took several days (I can
attest to the uncomfortable conditions on board Italian trains in the 1970's much yet back in the 1920's). Once in Genoa they had to wait
two weeks for the ship that would take them a world away
Anyways, it's getting late and like I said this story is going to take a long time to tell  but for now dinner beckons me.  To be continued.




















Day 33 5/18/12
SP: N50'59.276 W121'30.872
EP: N50'14.916 W121'28.857
DM: 64
TM: 1,608


Notes
6:30pm. I decided to call it an early day, about one hour, as I found an ideal spot to camp and was tired of fighting another headwind all
day, though not as bad as those gale force winds I encountered last week. Again I am in a highway gravel yard and there is a pile of wood
20' high next to me providing the dual purpose of wind block and lazy mans firewood (meaning I don't have to wonder around to find any).  
The highway is less than 200 yards away but I hardly here the traffic being upwind of it. I do hear the train rolling by down in the Thompson
River Canyon (this would be a great section of river to white water raft) which from vantage point about a 100 meters above am able to
look down on. There are snow covered mountains to the west that according to my map is 10,000' Skihist Mountain. The little town of
Lytton is just south of here and my hope for tomorrow is to make it past Hope, BC and in to Washington through the Sumas entry point on
Sunday. Tomorrow I will also drop below the 50' latitude line. I can't believe that after nearly four weeks of biking through Canada I am
finally nearing the US and state #2. It's been a long difficult 'clip' as they say here in NW Canada.  
This afternoon I passed by a roadside monument to someone who had died (I've been stopping and checking them out lately and if
something piques my interest about it I take a picture) and this one I had to spend a moment with (there was a sign explaining who had
died and the circumstances). A couple years a 60 year old experienced trucker, Ervin Doerksen hauling nearly 75 tons on ethanol, was
killed when his truck was struck by a large boulder that had come loose and fallen on his truck. No one was around to witness the accident
and the truck fortunately came to a safe landing 100 meters away, but one can only imagine the fireball that much fuel would have made
had it ignited. They also installed steel fencing along the steep rocky side of the highway as a result of the accident. Too bad it took Ervin's
life to necessitate it. Of most importance though is the sudden randomness of such a freak accident happening. How devastated the
family must have been when they heard the news what had happened and how. It is all now just a reminder to rest of us. My best to the
family and Ervin, wherever he may be.
Two things I've noticed about Canada, one I believe good and the other probably not. The first is the condition of the tribal lands and
communities. They are in far better condition than those we are use to seeing in Arizona and many other areas of the US. I'm not sure if it
is the state here involving itself more on their behalf and well being or if there are cultural differences between the native Americans living
here and those of their southern brethren and kin. Or some combination there of. The other observation/annoyance for me, is the lack of
public drinking water facilities. No where are there drinking fountains; not parks or buildings (public and private), nor anywhere. Again I'm
not sure if it's some type of cultural difference between the US and Canada (maybe Canadians believe water should only come from a
bottle like Europeans. (Though mostly like America and Americans, Canada to me has an element/flavor unmistakingly european), or the
more imposing state structure here imposing restrictions on how and where water can be appropriated for public use. Not sure myself, but
it sure makes it difficult when you're riding and need water often.
I met three different groups of bikers earlier today. The first was several Aussies who were planning to bike travel through Canada for 4
months. I stopped to chat with one of them who was in the rear he didn't have too much to say (maybe because he was always behind the
others and felt pressured to keep up). Then I met two couples about 10 miles apart, both Canadian though one couple was from the
French speaking part of Quebec and the other much younger couple from Vancouver. Both couples were planning to ride across Canada
to St John New Brunswick (it must be a popular ride). Both couples (I only spoke to the man of the French couple) were very nice and I
enjoyed spending a few moments talking with someone again after so many weeks of near isolation and talking to nobody but myself. The
older Quebec couple were newly retired and, while still in good health, going to live their dream of biking across their country. They were
trying to average a little more than half what my goal is on this trip, 40 miles a day vs 71.4 (that's what I need to get 500 miles per week).
The younger newlywed Vancouver couple looked to be at the most in their late 20's and were very pleasant and respectful to speak with.
They had spent 6 months off traveling around the world including Africa, S America, and now biking across Canada. They were new to
bike touring, and biking overall, and had questions from the old, grizziled, dirty, silver beard bike sage sitting on the side of the road eating
his Nutella on French bread lunch. I gave them as much advice as I figured they could process for the time being and told the charming
attractive couple how pleased I was to hear about their travels and the life they had chosen.
This canyon I pedaled through today along the Thompson river has much the look and feel as home in the Arizona/Four corners region. It is
somewhat desert like and the sagebrush, rocky faced mountains, sparse dry pine forests, tan colored sandy topsoil and dry air remind me
of back home. A couple old guys (even older than me) who were sitting on the side of the road taking a break from mending a fence told
me that this area is an extension of the SW Sonoran/Mohave desert region. Wow, home away from home I thought.  
So without much more to write about today's travels I plan to continue from where I left off yesterday writing the 'short' synopsis of my father;
the late but always venerable Vincent Scaturro. I left off yesterday describing the first stage of the journey to the 'New World' of
Grandmother Maria and Aunt Anna, that getting from a small Sicilian town in the highlands of central Sicily to Genoa, the port of
debarkation to America, a epic trip of proportions in and of itself. But the 'fun' part had only begun, I'm sure. (a train is going by and tooting
his whistle, at and for what I do not know but I love it nonetheless). So, once on the boat (I've seen pictures of the coal powered steamer on
the website Ancestry. Com) they spent nearly two weeks crossing the Atlantic ocean, sea sick I'm sure much of the time as Italians are
very prone to it. Listening to the stories of that voyage years later from my Aunt brings a chill to me. It was the defining moment of her life
and one I'm sure she told a million times to her own kids. This is the part to me that is so remarkable; how many, millions perhaps, made
the the same voyage (many prior to that in conditions even far worse) in search of a better life, even a better way of life, than that in to
which they had been born, one with very little chance of upward mobility. Here was a chance, and a 'chance' was all it was, to make a
better life for yourself and your children and perhaps your children's children. Traveling through this country right now here in BC along the
19th century gold routes, I wonder about the same thing. The hardships those people endured for nothing more than a 'chance' to live a
better life, one they knew existed and that the 'New World' might provide. So many of us today take so much for granted what we have in
life and complain when things aren't 'the way they're suppose to be'. Too many taxes, not enough free education, too many laws, not
enough social programs, too many polluters, the list of gripes (I'm sure you all have heard them) goes on and on until I personally can't
stand to hear them anymore. We are fortunate in these times we live, to have almost everything we need to live a comfortable life, if we so
choose. I don't mean to discount that there are needy persons out there who need further assistance, just to highlight the fact that we live in
times when hunger is only a thing we hear or see about during a late night tele-evangelist commercial. When the human race is living
longer now, by far, than ever in recorded history.  When we have more time for recreation now than we've had since coming down from
Acatia trees in eastern Africa. When, for the most part, we are living healthier and more active non survival  lifestyles than ever before. You
may not have all you want, or be exactly where you would like to be, but of you look back at history you'll see you are a whole lot better off
than those who came before us.
So, how did I get sidetracked here? Sorry about that. After arriving in to New York, via Ellis Island, the next stage of the journey was
probably as taxing, if not more, than the precious ocean bound journey. 10 days, ar least, aboard a train from one end of the country to the
other. Neither one knew any English and now they were in a new land where no one spoke even a word of Italian. This is when I believe it
may have, regrettably,  sunk in to both Maria and preteen Anna what the implications of being such a long ways away from the only place
you had ever lived and known actually meant. The journey to this point probably included the company of other compatriots, perhaps even
a few from Sicily and the town a town or two away from my town. But now they were alone, two young ladies (Maria was only in her late
30's) bouncing and bumping along an early 20th century train with no one to talk to, ask a question, or even look at for fear of being an
outsider. They must have felt like two lonesome and outcast strangers aboard that train ride to Los Angeles.
I have to admit that I think the steak here in Canada, at least in BC, is better than the steak back home. Again, their Wheat Thins are
terrible, but most everything else is the same or even better.




















Day 34  5/19/12
SP: N50'14.916 W121'28.857
EP: N49'32.341 W121'26.125
DM: 62
TM: 1,670


Notes
6am. I've been starting to wake up earlier as I believe to be finally over the utter exhaustion I felt of the last several months in preparations
for this trip. I knew it would take myself not just days but weeks to rest my mind and it has. It has taken nearly four weeks and over 1500
miles of biking everyday in this incredibly beautiful and remote country to work its magic on me. At no time in the last year have I felt more
energised yet inwardly calm than I am now. For most normal people this probably seems counter intuitive; how do you relax and rejuvenate
yourself while biking 6-7 hours a day up long hills and mountains against punishing headwinds with 100 tons of 18 wheel steel barreling by
you at 60mph only feet away, sleeping night after night on the ground in a small nylon tent and cooking your meals over a fire or on a tiny
gas stove (most the time without running water around and in out of way roadside spots), and showering outside while standing on pine
needles, tree leaves or plain old dirt with 3 liters of water trickling out of a bag hung from a tree where anyone, if they so happen to pass
by, could see you stark naked and the slightest breeze sends goosebumps up and down your whole body? Well quite honestly I do not
know how. But for some mysterious reason it does, and as of yet, is the only way I've found in life to achieve this state of mind and inward
peace.  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VcYo_c-RSQ     

Some people might, in all honesty, ask how I can live like that? People view you as a hobo or bum (very true as once in Florida a fella
biking with all the state of the art equipment, and attitude to boot, asked me why I kept 2 plastic bottles on top of my trailer bungeed down.
When I told him they were for water at the evenings camp he asked me if I was not bothered that they made me look like a transient).
Aren't you bothered by that? You can afford to live better than that, so why don't you? My answer to them is twofold, no actually threefold.
First thanks for your honest questions. Second, isn't it great that there are no two people in this life exactly, heck even remotely similar in
how they think and what they do. And third, I'm at the point in my life where I simply do not care anymore how people view or what they think
of me. I remember my mother telling me, and in her often crude vernacular, when I was kid and always bothered by what others thought of
me, "Oh who cares what they think. They 'sit down on the toilet and do their business' (edited) just like everyone else" (well I don't exactly
sit on the toilet much these days, but her message still resonates with me). All I know is what brings me the greatest bang for my buck
during these few fleeting moments here on this planet. One of those things is helping others. I enjoy doing it because I feel good afterwards
and it gives me purpose in life. Two is never insulting or hurting others, at least intentionally, by saying or doing something inappropriate.
It's just as easy to say something kind, or nothing at all for that matter, than it is the opposite. And lastly I enjoy simple things that are low
impact on myself, others and the world in general. I use to have a poster that showed earth from space, (they were popular a few years
back) as it is, this relatively small dark blue and wispy white perfectly round fragile ball drifting through space. Looking at that picture kind
of puts all day to day garbage in to perspective. Thats all there is, ever was and will be.  So why be concerned with the petty crap.
Wow, a few moments ago I glanced down at my bike and noticed my rear tire is flat; the first one so far. I've biked over 1500 miles so far
through some unforgiving terrain and less than properly maintained roads and this is my first flat. Well two things; first I'm thankful that so
far I've been very lucky having no flats and no mechanical issues whatsoever, and second this could spell lots of trouble as anyone who
has biked knows that flats often come in giant galactic clusters. Once they start it seems there is no end. Time to go to work. I'm going to
keep my fingers crossed that this is a fluke flat (hey I like that term, 'fluke flat').
8am. Ok, so much for an early start, but flats need immediate attention. Just a steel thread flat. Hopefully that will be the end of that. It's to
be expected anywhere you're riding next to a lot of trucks as when their retreaded tires are thrown off those steel threads get everywhere
and are a bikers nightmare. Two years ago in Florida I got hundreds of these flats. It's frustrating as you can spend more time fixing flats
than riding. But that's just part of the fun I guess.
10am. I think I'm losing it, or the rest of the world is. I'm sitting in front of a store just south of Lytton and observing and listening to the
people coming in for gas or snacks or use the bathroom. One guy is trying to start his newer truck but cranking the motor over and over, as
if for some mysterious reason it will decide to kick over. Now he has opened the hood and is looking around to see if he can find what the
trouble is. Somebody needs to tell him that today's cars and trucks all have electronic ignition and if they don't start right away you better
have it looked at before you kill the battery. Long gone are the days of flooded carburetors and worn points when you could open the hood,
take off the air filter to let the carburetor breath and distributor cap to file down the points. Today vehicles need to be taken to the
expensive licensed mechanic who hooks them up to his diagnostics machine, plugs in his codes, and then hands you a $200 bill to
replace a faulty cooler temp sensor which takes perhaps 5 minutes of manual labor. What is the cooler temp sensor and for what purpose
does it serve? I believe it communicates with the CPU to tell the motor when its hot or cold, and thus make the appropriate adjustments to
gas and air flow so the engine will go when you step on the pedal. But do we really need it? What was wrong with the old way of doings
when the CPU was our brain. Back then we knew when the car was cold, usually in the morning as it chugged for a few minutes when we
started it and, using our brain, gave the car time to 'warm up' (remember that expression?). We also knew when the motor was running hot
as steam would be coming from under the hood so we used our brain again and slowed down and/or stopped to let the motor cool down
(and we always kept an extra gallon of water somewhere in the trunk, folks from Arizona knew this well).  Oh but for the good old days
when it was still possible to do things for yourself without a license or code.
Then there are the five 20 somethings who pulled up in their new black X-Terra to get gas, all wearing the latest fashion clothing and
looking like they just walked out of College GQ, talking about this friend and that friend and life as they know it (they must know it if they're
college prof told them so). And now some lady pulls up a few feet in front of me in her old flat black and rust colored Jeep Cherokee (there
are tons of those piles of junk up here. The other day I had seen one on the side of the road, front grill smashed in and engine fluid all
around it, after hitting and killing a deer on the road a half mile back [they hadn't even stopped to remove the deer from the middle of the
road]). She drove up so close to me while I was snacking on my lunch that I wanted to tell her if she could pull just a little closer I could
spread her exhaust (of which there was no shortage) on my Nutella and peanut butter sandwich. I think I've been away from people for too
long....or not long enough.
A large, long caravan of motorcycles just rode by me in the opposite direction. There must have been 200 riders easy, all wearing their
black leather chaps and funny looking nazi style helmets. I thought to myself that that is one lifestyle of social Americana, a sort of
subculture of subculture, I really have a hard time understanding (not the motorcycle part, but the  'you're one of us' rebel look). While riding
in file they remind  me of parochial school children all dressed the same in their school uniforms and lined up for the orderly walk to the
cafeteria or, when standing around in front of a bar as they often do on weekend rides, a group of rebellious teenagers hanging out in the
school commons, hiding from school officials their cigarettes and playing hacky sack. We all know that teenagers, in their attempt to
define who they are, try desperately to be different from their parents and elders. They don't understand that in their futile attempt to be
different (clothes, jewelry/body piercings, tattos, hairstyles and mannerisms) they all end up looking and acting the same (not to mention
pretty darn ridiculous). The funny part about so many modern weekend bikers is that they are adults (many with teenagers of their own and
professions they go back to on Monday) and we would like to think over the teenage social mindset of 'Lets all be the same so we can be
different'. The same can be said of so many bicyclists but that needs to be for another time (I'll only preface it now by saying Guys: please
put some regular pants over your Lycra/spandex shorts. Ok, call me double standard or still stuck in a teenage mindset (I use to hang out
in the commons), but girls look fine in spandex shorts. Guys though who are just recreational riders, like 90% of us, don't need to be
wearing those exposed. Maybe its the fact that I am a conformist of nonconformity, or I can't get over the definition of a biker from my early
indoctrination of Easy Rider and Peter....help me out Mario (my brother Mario is a film buff and sports junkie, amongst many other things,
of whom I know no other equal in this life. I forgot his last name....Fonda, thanks. Peter Fonda who was son of Henry (1940's and 50's film
great) and brother of the controversial and odiously nicknamed 'Hanoi Jane'. Jane Fonda was so infamous to some for her actions and
statements during the Vietnam War that they still today use her as a poster child for all that is wrong with the country. Many of these self
proclaimed experts on what is good and not good for the country don't know, or care to know, that she publicly apologized on several
occasions for what she said and did during those tumultuous years. But some it seems won't leave the crucifixion until the last breath has
been taken and final drop of blood shed.
But who could forget Jack Nicholson and Dennis Hopper for their brilliant roles in that movie classic. When I get home the first evening I
have free I plan on watching that again.
1pm. A gorgeous sunny warm day with a light wind from the south but nothing to impede very much my mileage. This area along the
Fraser river is hilly but very green and beautiful.
8pm. Camp is tonight but another highway aggregate yard with a few piles of roadside tree clippings scattered about. I've probably
camped at a dozen of these over the last month. They're not romantic but functional. They have everything
I need to camp comfortably and are close to the highway which is a big plus these days when I'm pretty tired at the end of the day. I'm
about 15 miles north of Hope BC and with a good day tomorrow will be back stateside. Yippee. It has taken 3 and a half weeks to pedal
through Canada, and I am surprised how big and remote this part of the world really is. This being my last night probably in Canada calls
for some type of celebration. What, I don't know. But it seems appropriate. I guess I could dance alone around the fire or sing out loud to
the passing cars below or splurge with something fancy to eat or drink (I have nothing though). But none of that sounds really fun right now.
Think I'll just make dinner and hit the pad.
A friend of mine emailed me the other day and said I should be taking more video so today I made a conscious effort to do just that. They
are in my opinion pretty silly, though not intended to be that way. One is me riding my bike through a tunnel, of which I went through at least
a dozen today, and another of my camp life. If you get a chance let me know what you think and if I should do anymore or get out of the
movie making business all together (don't worry about insulting me as I have weather toughened skin and protective facial hair these days).
One last note of the days happenings; earlier I passed south of 50' latitude. From here on, and for quite some time, its the fabulous 40's
with it's warmer temps and hopefully sunny skies

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIb32pmJ9Ec






















Day 35  5/20/12
SP: N49'32.341 W121'26.125
EP: N48'57.185 W122'19.031
DM: 75
TM: 1,745


Notes
6am. Again I was up at 5.  Not wantingly though. At my age when you wake up at that hour and have to relieve yourself, you figure you
might as well stay up as the chance of falling back to sleep are slim.  So I'm up. Natures own way of assuring I get an early start and don't
sleep away any more precious moments of life than are necessary. It's overcast this morning, but a coastal type that looks to burn off as
the day goes on and warms up. So far, like most mornings, the wind is a non factor. I really need to do laundry today. All my clothes have
been used over at least once and my clothes bag, that also doubles as my pillow, is starting to smell like the boys locker room. The last
time I did clothes was in that terrible town (at least I didn't have a good experience there as that was the day the wind was blowing
relentlessly and my stomach felt like it had an alien trying to break out of it) of Chetwynd, at least a week ago. One thing about living out
here on the road is it forces you sometimes to get over some of the obsessive/compulsive behaviors we unknowingly live with throughout
our daily lives; constantly washing clothes and body being just a couple of such examples. 'Dirt', in it's generic sense, is often a good thing.
My mother, who never finished school had a better understanding of biology than many so called experts in the field. She use to tell me
there was 'clean dirt' and 'dirty dirt'. I never understood what she meant until years later and had a better understanding of the natural world
and how we, our bodies, interrelate with all the biological microorganisms. By always cleaning and sanitizing our bodies we separate
ourselves from the natural micro world with all it's germs and agents, some good and some not so good. Our immune systems thus
become compromised as our bodies no longer know how to, or worse yet are incapable of, making the good fight internally against those
micro adversaries that invade our bodies from time to time (viruses and infections). One ubiquitous cleaning agent Trylosan (or something
like that) that is common in hand soap has been so overused that certain harmful bacteria have developed a resistance to it, and not
enough can be said about the overuse and misuse of antibiotics. We can not separate from the natural world without endangering
ourselves and everyone else around us. I'm far from an expert in this (heck I'm far from an expert in just about everything except cooking
Italian and living like a bike hobo) and do believe in keeping myself clean and practicing good hygiene, just not obsessively. And I do
believe Mom had it right when she told me not to take too many showers as it will make me weak and sick.
8:30am. Another observation I've had of BC, and this is neither good or bad I guess on how you look at it, but it is sad. At least 2/3 of the
lodges, resorts, hotels, restaurants, stores, gas stations, and other traveler facilities have been shut down for good, many of which are for
sale. Another one I can't figure out for sure, although there are a lot of possible answers as to why.
10pm. Long, wet day today. Started to rain around noon when I was in Chilliwack (yes a strange name that beckons to be called ChiliMac)
and is still drizzling a little as I sit on my stool in an old abandoned garage that I've decided will have to do for tonight's camp. The windows
and doors are all pretty much broken out and half the roof leaks but at least from where I am sitting it is dry, and that's about all I'm looking
for right now. I've done this many times before; sought old abandoned structures to get out of the rain. I have a small tent which is
waterproof but it's not very comfortable inside cooking or spending much time other than sleeping. So covered structures like these are
very useful when they're available. I guess I could have got a room for the night back at Sumas, the border town a few miles north, but it
was still early then and I wanted to get some more miles in before the day was over. I'm suppose to be in Olympia by Wednesday and
that's over 150 miles away. I'm already 9 days behind the unrealistic itinerary I made before the trip (of which only about 3 of those days
are because of insufficient mileage on my part. The rest was just miscalculations).
Anyways, one long soggy day. This is actually the first day of this trip that I've encountered this type of weather (I've been very lucky). Good
thing about today is that I arrived back in the US after 3 1/2 weeks biking through Alaska, Yukon, and BC. The bad news is all that
beautiful, remote, wild country is behind me now. I'm going to miss all those long lonesome stretches of highway without any cares except
the next town or service center to resupply, of which there were very few. The NW part of this continent is incredible and I highly
recommend it to anyone seeking a real adventure/vacation away from the ordinary. I, of course, did it on bike which only added to the
grandeur of it all. But traveling through that untamed country in a vehicle or motorcycle would also be an incredible experience. Though
there were some awfully difficult moments over the last several weeks, I wouldn't have changed a thing as it is precisely the source of those
hardships that is responsible for the unforgettable experience I now write about.  
Anyways, dinner tonight is pretty cruddy; Campbell's bean soup with some pasta cooked in it. I can't make a fire and I knew ahead of time
this was going to be a 'wing it' night what with all the rain. Good part though, as always, is I had enough fixins to make a salad and that
always taste and makes me feel good. And Oreos for dessert which I bought back in Sumas. But they're not as good as their Canadian
counterparts.
I have a few things I want to journal about tonight but it's getting late and I'm all giddy about being back on my cell phone network and being
available to communicate once again freely without having to find a wifi hotspot. So I'll get to those in tomorrow's journal and for now call
home and friends.






















Day 36  5/21/12
SP: N48'57.185 W122'19.031
EP: N48'08.256 W122'08.247
DM: 70
TM: 1,815


Notes
6pm. Another rainy day and there was no let up from morning to the present.  Being from Arizona this is very hard for me to tolerate. I can
see rain for a day, ok, maybe two. But when it continues to come down without intermission for more than a couple days I begin to get
frustrated.
Highlight of day; running over the thousands of slugs that are crawling across the road. In Kansas a couple years ago it was grasshoppers
that were the target of my frustration; they made a fun sounding crackle sound. Slugs make no sound when the front wheel goes over them,
just a small thump is felt through the handlebars. Slugs also like to venture in tents and bags and just about anything that is not shut tight.
Slimy little things that are totally harmless yet leave a stained sticky substance when crushed. Better stayed away from.
Right now I'm taking cover in the cab of a very old abandoned rust covered truck. We (my friend and fellow baseball stadium tour comrade)
are camped only a few miles south of Arlington WA on the east side of the centennial trail. My goal is to make Olympia by Wednesday and
then head on to Salem Oregon before any further behind schedule (I'm already 9 days behind).
So the highlight of today was meeting and riding with Darren O'Donnell. Darren did the all baseball park bike tour last year like I had the
year before in '2010, and we've been in contact since before he left on the tour last April via email and telephone but had never met
personally. Yesterday we finally did meet in the town of Sedro-Woolley where he plans to ride with me at least until Boise ID.  We had a
bite to eat at a downtown cafe while I did clothes and then hit the road. After nearly four weeks I had company.
We pedaled the entire day with constant showers coming down, sometimes strong and around 4 pm rolled in to Arlington where we got
supplies for camp. Here at camp we still tolerate the rainfall and are waiting for a break to set up tents by taking cover in old abandoned
vehicle (40's vintage International flat bed truck).
Yesterday I passed a gas station and was shocked to see the price of gas at almost $4.50 a gallon. In Canada it was around $6 a gallon
but there it is priced in liters at around $1.30 a liter, so it didn't really register how expensive it is. Now seeing the price in gallons really is
shocking. It must be well over $100 to fill up most of these big SUV's and full size trucks I still see in abundance on the road. Ouch!  
I also passed by another roadside monument, though this time it was in the form of a sign big enough for motorists to read as they sped by
and a stark reminder of paying attention while driving. My prayers and condolences go out to the family of young Jordan Malone.






















Day 37 5/22/12
SP: N48'08.256 W122'08.247
EP: N47'15.403 W122'17.487
DM: 82
TM: 1,897


Notes
12pm. Stopped for a bite to eat and once again it is a rainy day.  I'm starting to think all it does up here is rain. I am getting use to it though.
It's not a real downpour type rain but drizzle and then sporadic showers. One thing that would be nice is to get my tent dried out somehow
before camping tonight as nothing is more awful than getting in to a wet tent while it's raining and your soaked. The good thing about all
this weather and humid climate is my skin feels great and all the dry cuts and sores from the BC journey are healing. I can see how one
could get use to this climate though I doubt I would ever want to live here.
7pm. How things have changed since  those long, lonely, cold, dry days and nights in BC. Now the days are, though still long, wet, social,
and not nearly as cold. It rained off and on today.  It seems I spent the whole day drafting off of Darren (drafting is when you ride about a
wheels width distance behind another rider, thus making it easier to ride by avoiding the wind) while he was riding and basically guiding us
through this maze of roads and urban development around here, the Seattle area.  When it rained it really came down. My feet have been
wet now for 3 days straight and are getting really wrinkled and pale looking. Right now we are camped in the community of Edgewood
about 10 miles east of Tacoma and 40 miles NE of Olympia, US capital #2 on the schedule, where I hope to roll in tomorrow morning.The
only place we could find to camp is in back of what I believe to be a power substation off along side one of the many interurban bike trails
we were on today. We kind of stumbled on to this spot as there are homes and development everywhere around here (I'm a long ways
away now from the remote areas of Alaska and BC). The bike and walking paths around this Seattle/Tacoma area have been wonderful.
We managed to avoid much of urban traffic mess by riding on them. We did go through some of inner Seattle neighborhoods which
looked and felt distinctive and flavorful. Seattle appears to be a great city to live if one liked city living and all the rain (both difficult for a
small town Arizona boy).
I haven't been doing much in the journal the last couple days but that's because I've been so tired and the days so long with all the riding
and rain. I hope to get back on track with this once things dry out. Having Darren's company has been really nice but I've been neglecting
my best friend and companion of the last several weeks: this diary. But these kind of things happen with every travel journal. During the
Lewis and Clark expedition there was a gap of several months with no journal entries from Cap. Lewis. Historians are unsure if the notes
were lost or if Cap. Lewis fell off the daily log ritual (he was prone to episodes of long withdrawal or depression) or conditions just became
too intense and unpredictable. But whatever, this may just be my time (perhaps one of many) when I fall a bit behind. My apologies.
10pm. A delicious dinner tonight consisting of my usual salad with juicy red tomatoes I had bought at a friendly little roadside little store
with heaps of charm (I think the name of it was 'Everybodys Store') a couple days ago before arriving to Sedro-Woolley and a bag of
lettuce mixture I had bought at the Safeway in Arlington. I'm not sure what it is that makes these salads so delicious. It might be simply
because I am so hungry, but tend to think that is not solely it. If you have fresh ingredients (especially the tomatoes) and lots of extra virgin
olive oil than the salad will be a hit. I also made some pasta con vongole (clams) with lots of fresh garlic and onions. The only thing I didn't
have which I'm use to having is a juicy apple for dessert. Guess I'll have to wait till tomorrow.
For all the grumbling I do about the cool damp and rainy weather lately, one thing I can't get over is how good my skin feels, especially my
hands and feet. I had had one of those annoying painful little cuts you get on the tips of your fingers, usually in dry chilly weather like ours in
central Arizona, for at least 2 months and it would always break open and bleed. It has all but completely healed and gone away in the last
couple days. So parts of me really like it up here though you won't hear me saying that in the middle of the day while  riding through it or
trying to set up camp. One thing I really miss is fires I made on a nightly basis in Alaska and BC. I would love to have one tonight but its not
possible in this area, and besides there is no dry wood

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvYDS_Z_Ak8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybVERHQfQJs






















Day 38 5/23/12
SP:N47'15.403 W122'17.487
EP: N46'38.307 W123'01.106
DM: 77
TM: 1,974
Week 4  WM:502  TM:1,798    AVG. PER DAY:64-71 miles


Notes
6am. I awoke to find 3 slugs slithering around in my tent this morning, one of which was trying to get in to my sleeping bag with me. How
they got in I have no clue unless I left a zipper partially open. They are everywhere here. One is trying to crawl into my pot of oatmeal right at
this moment. In Alaska and N. BC my fear was encountering a violent aggressive bear; here it is waking up to slugs crawling all over me.
8pm. I have had such a memorable day. The highlight was reaching capital #2 of the 50@50 tour; Olympia WA. Like on the bike trip 2
years ago when I arrived to Arlington TX after riding for 4 days from Houston TX, I was completely elated to finally arrive in Olympia after 5
long weeks and nearly 2000 grueling miles kayaking and pedaling through Alaska and BC. I'm still in the infancy of this challenge to travel
to all 50 US state capitals self powered but reaching Olympia today was a huge confidence booster. Of course it rained again today and
all my stuff is still wet and/or damp, but my spirit is higher now than since I left the capital building in Juneau 5 weeks ago today. Tonight we
are camped under a converted rails to trails train trestle. Darren had camped here last year on his baseball trip and recommended it as a
place to camp whereby we could take shelter from the rain for a night. It is classic and I like it a lot. There is a river a few hundred feet
down a steep embankment and the smell of the creosote emanating from the bridge timbers is like perfume for me. We are a little south of
Centralia WA and just west of Chehalis. The continuing rainfall, relentless though it may be, does not come down in torrents like it did a
few days ago. It comes down intermittently and only for brief periods. I know I've said this before but I'll repeat myself once more; I can see
now what so many love about this type of climate. My skin has not felt this good in years, if ever. I feel like a baby again (not that after 50
years I would remember that). Naturally riding a bike and camping in all this inclement weather leaves one somewhat frustrated but if you
lived here like a resident of the area I can now very much see the attraction. Green? That to me is overrated. But feeling like a baby at
50...well that is priceless.
So, as I was saying earlier, the highlight of the day was arriving in to the capital of Washington; Olympia. FRAANK volunteer Brian Supalla
had arranged a meeting with the South Pugent Sound representative of Governor Gregoire's office Veronica Marohn.  What a pleasant,
attractive, and very affable person she is. I felt completely at ease with her.  The meeting was, like with Gov. Parnell in Juneau, in a large
grand and formal room with a long, finely polished hard wood table around which must have been no less than 50 unbelieveably
comfortable and stately wooden legged chairs. My first thought when I entered the room was to ask Ms Mahron if I could take a short
nap...but I thought that might be a bit too presumptuous, even from a guy who hasn't shaved in 5 weeks and has more tumbleweed sized
ear hairs growing out than his 19 year old son has under his chin (sorry Giuls). Anyways, we had a very pleasant 20 minutes conversing
and I made, as best I could without trying to seem  pushy or salesman like, my pitch to Ms Marohn regarding our FRAANK causes.  
Afterwards we took a couple pics in the entry way of the governors office, said our goodbyes and that was it. Darren and I walked outside
the beautiful legislative building of the great state of Washington and said simultaneously, "On to Salem", but not before taking a few pics
of the grand center of government here in Washington. Oh I wish I could go in to details now but it is getting late and I still need to do
dinner. But I have to say what a difference between the Washington capital and that in Juneau which was like a regular, though bit older,
downtown building in Juneau. The buildings here in Washington where not only quite large but constructed in a stately manner with marble
floors and large granite steps and pillared columns everywhere. The grounds were detailed with large areas of freshly manicured and
maintained grass and flowering plants all over reaching out and over the sidewalks. There were school children on field trips all over. I
haven't had a chance yet to study the history of the capital here in Washington nor its architectural style and layout (I can do that on the
Internet from my comfy computer chair) but I plan on as at first appearance it seemed to be laid out similar to that of the ancient Roman
Forum.
So, an exhilarating arrival in to Olympia this morning as we hopped on to the interstate freeway for the final 10 miles. Darren noticed that
bikes were permitted so we took full advantage and ended up arriving around 11am. For anyone who thinks I'm crazy, well the short video I
took while on the freeway should rightly confirm your opinion. One thing about Washington I've noticed is how respectful and courteous the
drivers are, much like N BC. If only the rest of the country, indeed the world, were as conscientious while driving as the motorists are here.
Thanks Washington for allowing me to pass through your wonderful state in relative peace and security.
In my tent now and geez is it cold. It's probably only about 50 outside but with the humidity so high it seems much colder. I'll try to continue
on with my short biography of my father tomorrow evening if there's time

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlPLW32QyYU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6AipxNtowU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1HSvmb2bpo
























Day 39 5/24/12
SP:N46'38.307 W123'01.106
EP: N45'28.000 W122'39.145
DM: 93
TM: 2,067


Notes
8am. I woke up again to the sound of rain on my tent this morning. This marks the 5th day in a row of rain. In fact, except for a few very brief
appearances yesterday, I have not seen the sun for over a week. I hear the temps are in the 100's in Arizona and there are wildfires out of
control, but that might as well be on another planet as I sit here now beneath this RR trestle, huddled around my stove to keep warm and
trying to avoid the drops of rain that inevitably make it through the gaps in the wood. I'm trying to remember when, if ever, I've lived through
so much rain for so long a period of time. Spirits are as damp as everything else around here.
10am. First stop of day is in Napavine, about 6 miles from last nights camp. A great little donut shop here that I stopped at two years ago
during last leg of baseball trip to Seattle. Owners are Asian. Why is it that donut shops are run by Asians? Do they like making donuts? It
seems like a difficult line of business as it requires bakers hours and I doubt there is much profit in a donut, but maybe I'm wrong.  
1pm. Again we've been riding Hwy 5. It's loud and not very relaxing but it is fast. We are making excellent time, mainly because all the
traffic makes riding like being in a wind tunnel. For the first time in weeks I have a tailwind. Stopped for lunch in Kelso and ate at Mexican
place called Taco Time and have had gas ever since. Terrible food.
11pm. After more than 5 weeks sleeping in my tent, tonight I finally am indoors. Darren has a brother that lives a little south of Portland and
we are thoroughly enjoying being indoors, especially myself. I took a long hot, I repeat hot, shower shortly after arriving because I was
chilled. The sun finally made an extended appearance today around noon and stayed out for the most part until just before we got here. It
feels so nice to just be laying on a couch warm and dry. Today was a big mileage day mainly because of riding
Interstate 5. Most mileage day as of yet, but I'm feeling it tonight and sure tomorrow morning will be difficult. I made dinner in the kitchen
and it was so strange using a cooking range and having a sink with running water to clean up afterwards. Oh the things we take for granted
in life.
Biking through Portland this afternoon was an experience like I've never had. The city is the most bicycle friendly and conscious that I've
ever been in. There were bike paths and lanes and signals and warning signs everywhere. There were also hundreds of other bikers of all
sorts, from the serious racer types to the homeless guy who lives on his bike and carries his belongings in back on a trailer (kind of like
me these days). There were hundreds of others out walking and jogging along the many paths and scenic walkways. We biked along the
Williamette river and were rewarded with breathtaking views of the city and historical buildings and bridges.
Tomorrow it's on to Salem, capital #3 on the 50@50 tour. I'm starting to feel somewhat worn down from all the weeks of nonstop riding and
difficult living conditions. I really need to take a day, or even half, day off to allow myself a little recovery. But being already 9 days in the in
the hole am afraid I can't lest I fall behind even more and not be able to finish until well in to November when the cold will be a worse
adversary than the exhaustion I'm going through now. But my body should will be the factor deciding a rest day or not, as without it I am not
going anywhere

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8PZEAo27pM




















Day 40  5/25/12
SP:N45'28.000 W122'39.145
EP: N44'47.281 W122'38.168
DM: 74
TM: 2,142


Notes
8:30. I'm hanging out in my tent waiting for the rain to stop or at least slow down so I can continue with my dinner, of which I was right in the
middle of preparing. This is the 6th day in a row it has rained up here in the NW part of the US. I didn't really have one day of rain while in
Alaska and BC. Now I've been exposed to the wet stuff for nearly a week. All day it was nice but I should have known it wouldn't last. I'm
thinking that it constantly rains up here.
So at camp which is about 30 miles south east of the capital of Oregon, Salem. I arrived in to Salem a little after 2pm and rode directly to
the capital building which, though not as grandly built and laid out like its brother to the north (Washington), had a welcoming feel to it.
Coming in from the north the first thing one is greeted to is the beautifully landscaped mall. The resemblance to Washington DC is
unmistakable. The first thing I noticed was the gold plated statue of a figure standing atop the capital building. I rested my bike against a
granite wall with the inscription "Westward the star of empire takes its way", a summation of the mindset that gave birth to the state of
Oregon, I suppose. I only wish they had not used the word 'empire' with all it's negative connotations and responsibilities.
Though it had only been two days since Olympia I still felt excitement pedaling up to the center of government of the great state of Oregon.
Unfortunately the thrill was gone when I found out that it was 'furlough day' for the state employees and all their staff. My hope was to just
pop in and sequester somebody on the governors staff, or even the governor himself, for a brief meeting to explain what I was attempting
to do and the causes behind it. But nobody anywhere. Just a very nice elderly volunteer lady at the welcome center and a receptionist who
had to be there to keep the capital building open for tourists (she was promised her furlough day on Tuesday so she still had a 4 day
memorial weekend). So I left a brochure and a short note to the governor and walked around the building for about 30 minutes looking at
all the beautiful historical frescos with their explanations of the history of Oregon on the lower walls around the veranda. Directly under the
majestic cuppella topping the building in the middle of the floor was a large bronze state emblem with the inscription of the date of
statehood of Oregon (1859) and in the middle a scene depicting its earliest settlers on their journey to the Oregon territory. The senate
and lower house were at opposite ends of the veranda on the second floor up a wide set of fine polished marble steps. For a moment I
pictured myself sitting at one of the ornate solid hard wood desks that were throughout the legislative rooms. Would I have what it takes to
be public leader? How would I vote? Would it really matter? Do all these women and men who represent their districts vote how they
believe their constituents believe or do they follow their own consciousness? Do the state legislators read all the beautiful and eternally
truthful engravings on the granite walls at the entrance of the building each day they come to work? I have no clue why all these questions
were going through my mind but being alone in those grand, stately rooms of power, and thus responsibility, forced me to think about it.
This morning while biking along the Williamette River south of Portland I passed by some of the old and now abandoned paper mills and
lumber plants that once use to be the main source of industry and jobs in this region. A little sad seeing these old relics of prosperity
decaying and turning to rust. I'm not sure from where the means of production and jobs that follow come from now in this area, or for most
the country. I also crossed the 45th parallel today. It seemed only like yesterday I was crossing the 60th up in the Yukon Territory, but that
was over a month ago. 15' is one of the thick lines running across a globe and there are only 6 between the equator and the north pole.
Before 50@50 is over I will cross one more, the 30th, but that won't be until somewhere on my row boat in the Pacific Ocean next year..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwajZgp8bMo




















Day 41  5/26/12
SP: N44'47.281 W122'38.168
EP: N44'25.336 W121'51.323
DM: 67
TM: 2,209


Notes
9:30. Stopped for brealfast in Mill City, about 40 miles SE of Salem. It rained throughout the night and the day is overcast and cool. I'm
drying my tent in the dryer in the laundromat next door. Have you ever been so hungry that you feel like non stop eating? That's how I feel
now. I've devoured a bacon/egg scramble with hashbrowns and toast, a gigantic warm cinnamon roll with lots of creamy melted butter, and
2 short stacks of frisbee sized fluffy pancakes.  And I could eat more. It all tastes so good.
We'll be biking Hwy 22 to hwy 20 today and should pedal in to Bend tomorrow around noon. It feels really nice to be out of the
Seattle/Portland I-5 corridor with all the traffic and people.
6:30. Finally at camp at a decent hour. For the last week since I crossed back in to US from Canada camp has been at a late hour and this
taking away from my journal time which to me is so important. Camp tonight is another classic, even by my standards. I'm no stranger to
making in camp in roadside gravel or maintenance yards, but I can't ever remember camping in a covered road cinder barn, that is until
tonight. I'm at the very top of Santiam Pass on the south side of hwy 20 about 100 yards. From where I'm sitting on my stool I can look out
the cinder barn here and see cars going by the highway. The barn is a large A-frame  building about a football field long and with an
aluminum sheathed roof. The inside is chalk full of reddish brown lava cinders, the kind I'm familiar with being from N Arizona. There is a
large state department of transportation John Deere bucket loader a few feet from where I'm sitting and plan to set up my tent right next to
it. Nobody is around here nor do I expect anyone this being Saturday night and memorial day weekend. So, I'm out of the elements (wind
and rain) and set for another good nights sleep once my head hits that pillow tonight.
8pm. The sun teases you here in the pacific northwest. It peeks through the cloud cover once in a while and says, "Hello, do you like how I
feel on your cold body? Oh, you do. Well too bad, cause I'm not giving you what you want. Freeze a while longer!". I wish it would never
even come out. Just stay away you Tease.
I'm starting to believe that the secret to life is not being greedy, but rather taking advantage of life's opportunities when they present
themselves. Opportunities in life are plentiful but most of us fail to notice them and if we do often neglect their good fortune, mostly out of
fear of the unknown.
So today I rode along the Santiam River with a tailwind. How nice after weeks of riding in to a cold ruthless headwind to have the natural
blessing (or curse depending on it's direction) at my back. I made good mileage and time, and I didn't have to walk my bike once up the
long steep hills.  I'm at around 4500' tonight and anticipate a long decent in the morning.
My youngest son graduated from high school yesterday. Unfortunately I was unable to attend the ceremony. Domenic has done many bike
trips with me in the past and is a great boy who I know will be successful in whatever he sets out to do and be in life. Congratulations Nico.
I miss you and love you (you should join me on this trip for a while).
























Day 42  5/27/12
SP: N44'25.336 W121'51.323
EP: N43'51.471 W120'45.537
DM: 79
TM: 2,288


Notes
7:30. Arrived to camp about an hour ago and now have a sagebrush fire going and tent set up. For the first time in a week things are dry.
Once we left Bend and started heading east the sky, air and terrain dried out. For tonight we (Darren and myself) are about 35 miles east
of Bend on the north side of the highway on a small flat, sagebrush studded bluff. I bought a steak back in Bend and am looking forward to
cooking it over the coals (sagebrush makes for a wonderful tasting steak). Way off to the west on top of the highest mountain is an
astronomical observatory, the only human structure in sight. The panorama is exquisite; in every direction I can see for miles, something I
haven't been able to do since leaving Arizona last month. There is not a single light distracting from this peaceful setting except the
occasional headlights of a car driving by and highlighting the surrounding hills . And for the first time since leaving home...I feel home. I
know most people would probably wonder why anyone would like a dry boring desert landscapes versus the lush green tree filled
environment of the Oregon/Washington area. I'm not sure exactly why but would venture to guess its because one feels more comfortable
in an environment where he or she grew up. For me if was in S CA and Arizona, so that's naturally where I feel most comfortable.
10pm. After a week without fires I have one again. Oh how I've missed their warm, spirit and mind transcending company. I cooked steak
over the sagebrush embers and it tasted delicious. Tilting my head upwards, the sky is filled with stars from horizon to horizon, something I
also haven't seen since leaving Arizona. To the SW is the waxing crescent moon which in about 8-9 days should be full. It was 2 moons
ago I remember sitting on the side of the restaurant at work with my wife and little girl trying to contemplate and digest the fact of this
journey that was to shortly begin. Now I am in the middle of it. The evening is the warmest yet. It's still somewhat cool, but compared to
what I've been through over the last six weeks it feels great. We are only a few hundred feet from the highway but there is almost dead
silence. I feel very content at this moment.
My first stop this morning was in the community of Sisters about 20 miles from camp in the cinder barn atop Santiam Pass and another 20
from Bend. The view to the south was dominated by the 3 Sisters mountains, Faith, Hope, and Charity.  Its unknown who actually named
them in such kind terms, but references go back to the 1800's when early explorers first traversed these the trails with their Indian guides.
Whatever the origin of their calling, their majestic presence is one that calls your attention, especially if coming from the east where the
land is relatively flat and barren.

www.ktvz.com/news/31119547/detail.html

http://batchgeo.com/map/691595d22b7d2ca79fe029ae823ed91b
















Day 43  5/28/12
SP: N43'51.471 W120'45.537
EP: N43'31.901 W119'22.984
DM: 77
TM: 2,365


Notes
I accidentally deleted 2 hours of journal writing by using the copy/paste selection and am too upset to start over so no notes today other
than the mileage log. Arrrrgh!!!!
7:30 pm May 29. This is the following day and I've decided to go back and somewhat replicate what I had written yesterday before losing it
(it was good stuff too). Apple needs to figure out a simple fix to the problem (like a 'back' button) so users of its product don't lose hours of
time and, more important, precious thought. This happened to me on the baseball trip a couple times and I was like this time very upset.
This is the new IPhone 4 and one would have thought the problem corrected. Not to be though. Anyways, the highlight of yesterday was the
introduction Jim Bostwick to the 50@50 self-powered tour. Jim, college math teacher, two time state champion high school cross country
coach, 2:32 marathon runner, avid bicycle tourist and rider, and an overall great guy. Jim and I have been cyclo touring together now for 10
years every summer and known each other and been good friends for nearly 25. Our continued friendship over so much time and many
adverse conditions demonstrates it's strength.  I've often said that the test of a real friend is one you feel confident will be there for you
even when times are dark. Jim I feel meets that criteria and, I believe, I to him. Another test of a close friend is their honesty, no matter how
blunt and unapologetic at times, and Jim's was aptly displayed today. Upon first sight of me after several months the first words out of his
mouth was "Geez, you look like crap".  Jim plans on riding with me for a couple months on 50@50 until he has to return to work in August.
Anyways, the reunion of sorts took place in Riley, a crossroads intersection of hwy's 20&395. He was backtracking from Boise where, if I
had been on schedule, we would have begun biking together 9 days ago (the time period I am behind). We got supplies for camp and
found a great spot about 7 miles east of Riley on a sagebrush filled and cedar treed bluff overlooking the beautiful valley to the west. The
best thing, looking back a day later, was the dry, I repeat dry, climate and surroundings. After weeks of cold, icy, rainy, humid, and plain old
miserable conditions for an Arizonan desert rat like me, the warm dry air felt magnificent.
Not much of excitement during the days ride. We did make a brief stop in the once thriving community of Brothers, now nothing more than
a state maintained rest stop for weary motorists (and the occasional cyclist). My assumption is that Brothers must owe its unusual name to
its beautiful female sibling counterpart 50 or so miles to the west. There are none of captivating snow capped mountains nearby nor any
thriving tourist based economy like Sisters (thus its obvious demise). According to the rest stop historical signs Brothers was first
inhabited by white 'dry' farmers and their families around the late nineteenth century. They quickly found out that a host of problems
awaited their futile efforts to make their living, not the least of which was the pesky jackrabbit (which being from central Arizona I'm well
acquainted with) who would consume all their hard earned labors before there was time to harvest. The farmers ( and probably plain old
fun seekers) would organize rabbit hunts of which 1000's of the huge kite size ears rodents would be slaughtered and many of which would
end up in pots of stew for the hungry men and their families. But no matter how much effort was spent trying to free the flat dry barren
landscape of the pesky vermin their efforts were in vain. The jackrabbits, along with a persistently dry climate, may have lost a battle or two
against the farmers but they eventually won the war when the broke and often destitute early pioneers picked up their belongings and
moved elsewhere. One such early inhabitant of the area was the flamboyant Klondike Kate who at 38 gave up the rowdy dance halls and
theaters to the far north and homesteaded a piece of the valley not far from Brothers. I can only imagine the stark awakening she must
have had coming to this less than eventful area to develop her 320 acres (having myself just ventured down from the cold, wet Yukon
Territory though I can understand how much she probably longed for a warmer, drier climate). She only lasted 3 years though before taking
up residence in Bend not far to the west. She never lost her fondness of the high desert though asking shortly before her death in 1957 to
have her ashes scattered over her Brothers homestead site.


















Day 44  5/29/12
SP: N43'31.901 W119'22.984
EP:N43'46.522 W118'02.904
DM: 86
TM: 2,451


Notes
Today Mama had a big piece of moist, creamy chocolate cake waiting for me when I got home from school (see day 28). The wind was
out of the west and our direction was east. We averaged between 16&17mph and were done the day by 3pm. We could have, and we're
considering, going on further to take advantage of such a generous offer from the wind gods but decided against it for two reasons; one
Jim is still finding his biking legs and fell a ways behind and two, Darren had learned of some hot springs a few miles south of Juntera from
a guy back in Bend so the thought of soaking in the warm water later this evening after it cools down sounds very enticing to all of us and
our sore, tired bodies. So camp tonight is a just a few miles east of Juntera, OR (an ideallic one cafe town in the middle of a serene green
river fed valley) and about 3/4 mile north of the highway along a lazy little brown colored creek. Today was the day I've been waiting for
since leaving home 6 weeks ago, not just because of the fabulous wind at my back, but the sun was out all day and the temps were finally
warm enough to take off my shirt and sweat (I know I'm weird but I like to sweat). The country around here is N. Arizona high desert like
with a lot of golden clump grass, sagebrush, sporadic clustering of low lying cedar and piñon trees and red cinder hills in every direction.
To me, simple beauty.
We made only two short stops during the warm day, not wanting to miss the beneficial winds. The first was in Burns to get a few supplies
for dinner since that was the only grocery store town we would pass for the day, and a short stop in Juntera to eat a snack and a buy a few
cold 'pops' to take the edge off a long warm day in the saddle once we arrive at camp.  
So camp is wonderful and best of all is the hot spring about 100 yards away on a little island in the middle of the brown watered creek next
to us. I cant wait to sit down in the warm water a little later after it cools off.
Jim finally arrived about a half hour ago after a long 7 1/2 hour day riding. Now we're all together having dinner and as usual, like fishermen
sharing their often exaggerated stories of giant wild catches, recounting our stories of thigh burning climbs, merciless winds, and oblivious
motorists.
This area we are pedaling through was known as the 'Snake Country' in the 1800's but I'm not sure if that's because early travelers
encountered abundant snakes or the river that runs through here winds its way through the surrounding hills much like a snake does
through grass (I'm assuming the former based on the number of snakes that are slithering across or squashed from cars on the road).The
earliest of of those explorers to the region was Peter Skene Ogden (the first recorded explorer to reach 'The Great Salt Lake' in 1824 and
to whose namesake we owe the Utah city) led a party of Hudson Bay trappers through here in October of 1828 on a year long expedition
to trap beaver (the party's final tally was over 2000 pelts). Sitting here now in late may in this warm pool I can't help but wonder if the party
knew of these rejuvenating mineral waters and took advantage of them during those chilly fall evenings and mornings (I would assume the
only way they would have known would have been if their Indian guides had informed them or not).






















Day 45  5/30/12
SP: N43'46.522 W118'02.904
EP: N43'57.200 W117'03.166
DM: 68
TM: 2,519
Week 5  WM:553  TM:2,351     AVG. PER DAY:67-79 miles


Notes
7:30am. The sun still has not broken the horizon and it is a little chilly so I've decided to have another soak in this delightful hot spring on
the small island just opposite our camp about 100 yards. The warm thermal water is helping my legs to feel much better after 5 weeks of
non stop biking. I finished up with week 5 yesterday and averaged 79 miles per day last week thus boosting my overall average since
leaving Skagway to just over 67 miles per day, of course with out any rest days. My goal is 500 miles a week till I finish the 14,000 mile
bike portion of 50@50 for a daily average of 71.4 miles per day. I put myself in a pretty big hole the first few weeks in N BC due to the
unforgiving headwinds and hills.
111pm. We have a very beautiful 'big sky country' camp this evening. In every direction the sky seems to go on and on. We are on top of a
high wide grass and sage covered bluff just west of Hwy 20 and the Snake River that separates Idaho and Oregon. All around us is
farming and ranch land irrigated by the river. We had to do a bit of google map searching and then climbing to find this spot but the view is
spectacular and we are secluded even though there are homes not too far away in every direction. As usual the dogs know we're here but
people have no clue. The sound of the wind wrestling the short dry grasses and the assortment of pretty singing birds are the only sounds.
The sky, besides seeming huge, is clear and deep blue.
Today it actually was hot and not just warm, the first of many soon to come. The cold rainy days and nights of Alaska, BC, and the NW are
soon to be a distant memory that I fear will not be remembered as difficult as they were when the temps reach the 100's and humidity
rockets up to 80% range and the mosquitoes are so thick a deep breath brings along several with it down through my esophagus.
The day's ride was mainly pedaling through the beautiful Malhuer river canyon which eventually opened up about 10 miles before Vale in to
the 300,000 flood irrigated acres of agricultural Malhuer Valley. The crops in this dry area are totally dependent on irrigation as average
precipitation is under 10".  
Every area in the country likes to be thought of as possessing something of value no place else has, and the Malhuer Valley's claim to
fame is the fact it believes itself to be the onion capital of the US. Judging from the amount of onions I find on the side of the road,
apparently dropped from onion trucks delivering their product, it may be true.
Passing by the short 6" baby corn stalks I couldn't help but wonder that, throughout the 50@50 journey this summer, one  way I may be
able to judge the time is the growth of these little guys in to tall 6' plus mini trees and how many times I will use the fields they are grown in
to camp.
This area also lies along the once busy Oregon Trail where more than 50,000 pioneers passed between 1840-60 on their westward
emigration to the Oregon territory, most in search of gold.
So I had a delicious dinner tonight of pasta, salad and juicy T-Bone that I picked up from the local grocery store in Vale. It's late and I better
get some shut eye as I have to be in Boise, Capital #4 of 50@50, by the afternoon tomorrow to meet with a representative of the governor,
and it is still well over 50 miles away.
Last night was the first night spent without the rainfly on my tent and tonight will be the first night just sleeping under the stars and moon
without any tent. It feels so good to be finally warming up.






















Day 46  5/31/12
SP: N43'57.200 W117'03.166
EP: N43'42.526 W116'19.985
DM: 74
TM: 2,593


Notes
4:30pm. I'm doing clothes in Boise ID on a warm afternoon. About 2 hours ago I visited capital #4 of the 50@50 tour. It was a beautiful
building well done with shiny marble and granite everywhere and with meticulous, well maintained landscape surrounding the not
excessively  large structure and grounds. Like Washington and Oregon, Idaho left out no expense in the construction of their state building.
I was suppose to have had a meeting with one of Gov. Otter's aids but I was late (google had taken me on some dead end routes) and she
was already in another meeting. So an aid to the aid of the governor, whose name escapes me now (another senior moment) ended up
arranging a meeting with the LT. Governor Brad Little, a tall, thin though muscular middle age fellow who was dressed nice and
professional but not too stylish or polished. The one thing I remember was his cowboy boots which looked to be very expensive. Lt Gov
Little was a pleasant down to earth fella with little pretension at all in his demeanor. We talked for at least 30 minutes about this and that
and he seemed genuinely interested in what I was doing and the FRAANK causes. I couldn't help but notice a folded and encased
American flag behind his chair in his office and I wanted to ask him whose it was but I didn't want to make my presence too time
consuming for the elected official of Idaho. His secretary was about as congenial as one would expect and I was inundated with questions
about the trip. After the meeting I went down to the interpretative center on the bottom floor and read all about this great state of Idaho,
from it's earliest history to the current problems now facing it. I also picked up a little state flag to hang on the back of my bike.
Now, as soon as my clothes are dry, I'm pedaling off to home of Darren's parents who live only a few miles from the capital and am
anticipating a delicious home meal prepared by his mother. I better get going.
9pm. And a delicious meal it was; hearty meat loaf, creamy mashed potatoes, and salad. Darren's parents, Gale and Jim, were wonderful
hosts made me feel right at home. They have 4 boys but are what is referred to today as 'empty nesters' as all their kids are grown up and
on their own. Now they have several unused bedrooms upstairs allowing Jim and I to have our own rooms for the night. For me it was the
first real bed I had slept in since the room in Juneau back in mid April. I slept well, but no better than I usually do in my tent on my thin pad. I
doubt there will be another bed for quite some time as we head north to Helena and then south again to Salt Lake and then east to
Denver. It was strange being in a home observing life going on as usual for the couple. Jim was doing yard work when I rolled in and Gayle
was preparing dinner. If I were back home I would probably have been doing the same thing, yard work or some other job around the
house, while Patrice was preparing dinner for me and the kids. Lying here now I can't help but miss home and everyone there. I've been on
the road now going on my 7th week and still have a long ways to go. Perhaps it's best I don't stay anymore with people as this lonely empty
feeling always overtakes me when I do. For some reason going to the movies makes me feel this way too. I don't know how people who
are sent to prison or have jobs away from home for long periods can manage. I don't experience this when out in nature camping and
away from having to observe people going through their daily life's rituals. I do miss my family at this moment.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwRLJeVbeIc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISgJjQf9NI0
June 2012.   
SP=Start Point  -  EP=End Point -  DM=Days mileage - TM=Total Mileage





Day 47  6/01/12
SP: Boise, Idaho
EP: Mountain Hm., Idaho
DM: 74
TM: 2,659


Notes
10am. Woke up this morning at 4:30 when it was still dark and after a few minutes realizing there was no way I was going back to sleep,
decided to get an early start on the day. Now it's after 10, still in the outskirts of Boise, sitting in a McDonalds and don't even have 20 miles
ridden. I do this a lot after trying to get going early; whittling the day away. I feel weak and not in a very good mood today. Maybe it's just
that there has been too much city for too long; like 24 hours. Once out of Boise and in to the beautiful surrounding countryside I hope to feel
better. Something about city and people seem to make me lonelier. It's quiet and nature that fill my spirit and seem to be the source from
which I gain strength.
5pm. Decided for an early camp because it is hot and dry in this country we are pedaling through and there is a small creek, which is
ominously named Rattlesnake Creek, and will provide us with ample water for our needs this evening. Just a half mile to south was the
Oregon Trail stop of Rattlesnake Station where thousands of early settlers came through a century and a half ago on their quest to make it
to the lands that promised much more than they had at the time on their small Midwestern farms. No doubt that many felt as relieved as we
do now to hear and feel the cool waters of this aptly named creek in such a dry barren landscape.
We are only 10 miles north of Mountain Home on Hwy 20 on the right side where the road goes over the creek. From Boise this morning
the ride was fast and easy with a nice tailwind and the vacuum from the passing cars and trucks pushing the bikes even faster. Made it to
Mountain Home before 1pm and had over 50 miles. But from there the going got tough with the wind becoming a side burden and the road
on a gradual climb. Adding to the unpleasantness were a bike tire's worst enemy; the Goathead. I already fixed 3 flats this afternoon from
the thumb tack like buggers and tomorrow morning will have more to do as all 3 tires (front, back, and trailer) are covered with the desert
floor heathen (they make a product called 'Slime' which is a goopy sealing liquid one puts in the tube to seal Goathead flats but I don't like
using it as often it does not work and usually makes a mess of everything. It also seals the valve stem). Throw in the 90' temps and it made
for a miserable time leaving Mountain Home. So here we are, a nice camp but not very many miles for the day. I'm hoping to pick up a few
extra tomorrow to help keep us on pace.
Now that I'm out of the big city hustle of Boise I'm already feeling better. At the moment I'm sitting on my camp stool under the canopy of the
Rattlesnake Creek green flora, out of the sun and with my feet in the cool water. The sound of the rushing waters are natural therapy for my
mind and spirit (not to mention hot feet), something very much needed after yesterday's topsy turvy day. With my countenance in check I
can once again go back to doing what I like to do on bike trips; observing and trying to understand the people and places I encounter. A
few weeks ago I started to document through video the people I come across to get a better understanding of the area and it's inhabitants
and how they reflect their home rather than I who am just passing through. A little earlier as I was getting supplies in Mountain Hope for this
barren stretch of highway we're now on I met briefly Kathy, a resident of the area here in S. Idaho and she had this to say about her home

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHF80nS2L_c

From what I've seen so far of Idaho on this trip and other past ventures (via bicycle and vehicle) through this great state is that she summed
it up pretty well. But the fact that there is such limited access to so much magnificent lands is the very thing that keeps it so special. Coming
from the last of the frontier lands left in N America (Alaska & BC) just a few weeks ago it's nice to know that there are still islands of the
Wild West Outback here in the lower 48. Most of the precious lands in this great country have been sold off already. Practically everywhere
you go there are fences and gates and 'no trespassing' signs. I suppose it is inevitable that America will eventually progress to being more
like Europe; an old country with no lands left unexplored or open, worse yet, lands left with the scars of past generations, private property
everywhere and only a superficial sense (if everyone pays, and they do, their large share of taxes) of what it feels like to be in unexplored
nature. Only if there were more lands available in the world to explore and chart. But unfortunately there are few. There are no more 'New
Worlds'.
As population grows here it seems the likely course of expansion will be that which has been taking place since the continent was discovered;
encroachment in to previously untouched lands. Thomas Jefferson said that the Louisiana Purchase would provide enough land for the young nation
to continue expanding for 30 generations. I believe it took about 1/10 that time span. Suburban Sprawl, the mode of development now for over 50
years. The dream of many middle age Americans is still a 4 bedroom 2 story home out of the city center with the latest decor and appliances and the
unimaginable toys that go along with it.  If the banks and politicians make it possible than practically everyone will as we just saw a few years back.
Unfortunately, or thankfully depending on how one looks at it, that pyramid scam came crashing down along with all the paper riches it generated.
Expectations, that's all it is. A family in Africa or India or most of Asia have expectations as well albeit quite a bit downsized. What should the average
family expect to attain in a world rapidly approaching 7 billion people?  
10pm. I feel so much better tonight than I did last night. I believe it's because I'm back out surrounded by nature with all it's energy; crickets chirping,
occasional small harmless flying insects landing on my legs, a bubbling creek, wind wrestling the small riparian zone around which we are camped, the
moon filled sky with soft clouds dampening its reflection, and best of all the soft warm breeze bringing with it all the fresh smells of spring. I'm not sure
why we humans prefer to distance ourselves from all these delightful sounds, aromas, and physical sensations. Build walls and hide within them. Seek
security from the very things that promote insecurity. Purposely forget from where we came in the vain hope of reaching a better place. Live life
according to how Manhattan and Hollywood interpret it for us. How many of us can truly say we are happy in our lives and not just satisfied or content
for the time being? Which begs the question how many of us really know what pure happiness really is? If it came up to us and slapped us in the face
would we even recognize it? Kind of like Cher in Moonstruck when she slaps and shouts in the face of Nicholas Cage "Hey, wake up!" (I love that
movie). Ok, enough philosophy for one evening. Time to shut up and go to sleep. Good night.





















Day 48   6/02/12
SP: Mountain Hm, Idaho
EP: Carey, Idaho
DM: 95
TM: 2,754

Notes
7pm. Today was one of those biking days that don't come around too often and when they do the wise rider takes advantage of them.
Winds were as strong as they were when I was in Alaska and BC except today they were at my back pushing me to the biggest mileage
yet for 50@50; 95. Things didn't start out so good at first though as I spent a good part of the morning fixing the flat tires from all the
Goatheads at last nights camp next to rattlesnake creek. When I finally did get on the road the wind was from the front and  to make things
worse there was a big climb for several miles. My thoughts at that point were this was going to be one of those difficult days when the
mileage just doesn't add up to the effort put in; in other words, a 40 mile day at best. But once I summited the highest point of the climb,
around 5500', the road changed directions and the terrain flattened out and from then on it was fast, easy cruising all day. At one point I
believe my speed was up to around 26 mph for several miles and I was barely working to achieve that speed. It was pure bliss. That
luscious piece of moist, creamy chocolate cake that Mama has waiting for you when you get home from school. For the last week I've know
that Mama was in a pretty good mood as the winds since leaving Bend have been mostly favorable. But today she was in her best mood of
all, the kind of mood that you know you can get whatever you ask for

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20zUFG2nMtY

.We are camped just north of the small town of Carey Idaho next to a tall white water tank (upon which we hung our shower bags earlier for
the daily ritual) on another sagebrush and grassy bluff overlooking the town and surrounding countryside and hills. The view is beautiful but
we are not very secluded so I can't build a fire to cook the steak I bought earlier in Fairfield, even though I did attempt twice but was forced
to put it out when quad riders came clamoring by. The last thing I want is to be reported for having an illegal fire in city limits and handed a
huge fine. And another thing is little lost possessions we take for granted when at home become great items of inconvenience if lost or
misplaced out on the road here where there are no possibilities to replace those items. Yesterday morning I accidentally left my spoon
back at camp and didn't realize it until time to prepare dinner. Fortunately Jim had his I could use but that forced us to eat in shifts last night
and this morning. Nothing major and it was actually humorous. Today I'll have to get another one, or perhaps two for when I lose the first
again which I know will happen. It's strange how one lost little stupid spoon can throw off your whole routine.
The farmers in this area are clearing much of the land and planting fields of what looks to be hay or possibly alfalfa. They use those giant
moving sprinklers that pivot from one end while they rotate in a partial circle. Where the water comes from I have. I clue, probably surface  
water coming off the surrounding mountains to the north






















Day 49 6/03/12
SP: Carey, Idaho  
EP: Dubois, Idaho
DM: 102  
TM: 2,856  


Notes
9am. Today is the end of the 7th week out here on the 50@50 trail. I don't know where 7 weeks have gone but when I think back at all I've
seen and been through, the miles kayaked and pedaled it comes in to perspective.
This morning I've entered Craters of the Moon Nat. Monument. For as far as can be seen are volcanic outcroppings with the the natural
desert landscape intermingled atop the dark craggy rock.
3:30. Decided to take a short break in Howe Idaho, a tiny spot on the map with the goofiest little store and cafe I've ever seen. There is one
kid here and all thats on the menu is a grilled ham & cheese with chips and pickle. The store is in a side room with a several white wooden
columns of empty shelves save one with candy bars and chips laid out in an orderly fashion. There are two old household refrigerators with
some cans of pop and a half dozen ice cream bars in the freezer part. I bought an ice cream sandwich and went outside to sit down
underneath the covered porch with wood decking next door to the store ( the two structures were linked together). A few moments later a
middle age guy wearing no shirt came out the door next to where I was seated and asked me to sit somewhere else, that I was on his
bench in front of his home (I thought it was part of the store/cafe). And just now he came out again (apparently feeling guilty about his
original greeting) and asked if I wanted a sandwich or any cold water. I politely refused. I've passed through many of these surreal kind of
towns before. They all could be the basis for an interesting novel left to ones imagination.
The day is another warm in with temps near 90 and lots of sunshine and generous winds at my back making for another easy day of
pedaling with lots of miles.
8pm. They say necessity is the mother of all invention, and if so, then this evening I have proven the proverb just. Jim and I are separated by
at least 10 miles (he behind me and for reasons I'm not sure) and he had picked up some plastic spoons for me in Arco earlier as that was
the only town we had passed through and I had forgot to pick up a spoon (I lost mine a couple days ago along rattlesnake creek). So
without Jim I have no spoon with which to prepare or eat dinner tonight. Last night and this morning I used his spoon as we ate in shifts.  
Tonight though I don't have the luxury of borrowing his spoon so I been forced to fashion my own spoon out of the only substance available
to make such an accoutrement; an empty aluminum beer can. And it has worked. I am able to stir my pasta while it is cooking and eat it as
well. We'll see how it works tomorrow morning when I prepare my hot cereal and coffee. By the way tonight dinner is linguini with clams and
salad. Nothing for dessert though.
Too bad steak and hamburger are so good or I might become a vegetarian. Cows are really funny. There is a herd of them on the opposite
side of the fence from me and being the curious animals they are, they're coming over to pay me a visit and check out who the newcomer
is to the hood. First they all looked at me from a safe distance but now feeling secure in knowing that I was no threat are only feet away
eating with their heads down all the dry tender grasses that flourish around here. I have a little sagebrush fire but they seemed not
concerned with it in the slightest way. They just look at me with curious eyes, twitching their ears and snapping their tails about. Surprising
how much amusing company a cow can be.
Anyways I'm camped about a half mile north of the little used Hwy 22 here in S Idaho and 20 miles SW of Dubois which is where 22
intersects with interstate 15. Idaho looked at on a map is a strange shaped state. The southern part where most the people live is like a
box and as you go further north, even past Couer D'Alene it narrows down to almost a point where it borders Canada. Tonight I am in the
upper right corner of the lower box and very close to Montana. It is a magnificent evening with a full moon aglow and pleasantly warm but
not hot temps and, the best part after spending more than a week being rained on in Washington and Oregon, dry. In fact very dry. My
shower towel is completely dry after only a few minutes off of my body. Southern Idaho has been just what the doctor ordered for me;
relatively flat (at least the southern part where I was biking through), dry, remote (again I feel like I'm back up in BC where I saw and had
little contact with people), and best of ( yes I will repeat myself again) dry, dry, and still more dry.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tUS9vNPqyo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oI08duJ-uI


Earlier today as I was cruising at bicycle warp speed propelled by the 25 mph tailwind across the sagebrush plains, a couple horses saw
me coming and galloped from at least half a mile away to catch me at the fence line and run alongside for a few minutes. I've had this
happen before and it always makes for an entertaining time. I suppose they see the bike with trailer attached and think I'm their mother or
something.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOa1yURF-1w

Ok, so the cuts on the heels of my feet and hands are bothering me again. Big deal. It just feels great to rejoice in the sunshine and not be
wet and cold after so many weeks.
In BC my big fear was encountering a grizzly bear. In Washington my big fear was waking up to find hundreds of slugs in my sleeping bag
crawling all over me. Here it is an encounter with one of the many rattlesnakes that slither about. This morning biking out of camp, no more
than 50 yards from I had pitched my tent last night, was a small rattler no more than a foot and half long but startling to me nonetheless. I
thought to myself how good it was I had decided to pitch my tent rather than sleeping outside on the ground like I was originally intending to
do. Then about 10 miles in to the ride I came across another one, much bigger than the first, making his way on to the highway. I stopped to
take a picture (the first had slithered away too fast to get a pic of him) and as I did he froze in place for a while for me to get a great shot of
him. 3-5' in length he was a beauty with a gray back and about as thick as a banana. I'm not sure what kind of rattler he was as he was not
the species we have in Arizona; the diamondback. Perhaps he was a timber rattler. Tonight I have made it a point to set up my tent even
though I won't need the rainfly.






















Day 50 6/04/12
SP: Dubois, Idaho  
EP: Dillon, MT
DM: 122
TM: 2,978  


Notes
7am. It was a beautiful night and I fell asleep listening to the harmonic sounds of coyotes howling and cattle mooing. It was almost
symphonic. Clouds came over in the middle of the night and I could see and hear distant lightning and thunder. I got up to put the rainfly on
and the moon was so bright I did not even need my headlamp. Once back in the tent a few drops came down but that was about it. I fell
back asleep listening the coyotes singing again. Now in the morning the skies are crystal clear and the sun is already well above the
horizon promising another warm day. My skin is already as nearly dark as a native African (well I guess Sicily is right next to Africa. It feels
so good after the last few cold weeks.
10am. First town, and perhaps only town of the day is Dubois, an interstate 15 stop about 30 miles south of the Montana border. On the 18
mile ride here this morning on hwy 22 I saw numerous caribou grazing out on the plains. They immediately stop eating when they see me
and check out if I post any danger or not. Beautiful animals they are who have adapted well to their environment, being able to see any
direction and capable of outrunning any predator in a chase.
7pm. Long hot day in the bike saddle, but it was worth it. I rode more miles, thanks to a strong southerly wind, than I have in many years. I
decided at 6 to call it a day and find camp though part of me did not want to stop and give up this generous wind. It was incredible. I can't
recall a tailwind as strong, true, and continuous as that which I've had over the last several days, especially today. My only supposition is
that this is payback for those horrible headwind days up in BC a few weeks ago when I was riding in to winds like those I have at my back
now. Back then I was averaging 40-50 a day. Now my mileage is almost triple with less work.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wf5xHLrvF-M

The only reason I am as tired as I am right now is because of the heat. I was nearly 7 1/2 hours in the saddle and the temps sometimes
seemed to be in the 90's though I know they weren't, it just felt that way. I usually don't drink that much but today I did, at least 2 gallons. And
I probably should have drunk more. My body is covered with salt right now (I can't wait to shower, which will be in the rail car of an
abandoned line of cars, 100 Yds west from where I am camped which is within the stem wall of a long ago built, lived in, and abandoned
home on a hillside facing west and the beautiful peak shaped Rocky mountains and agricultural fields leading up to them, mile 75 on the
freeway).  The highway, 15, is no more than a couple hundred yards to my western front and I'm afraid once the wind dies down that I will
hear every truck and car passing by tonight, even though there aren't many. Oh well, I better go shower in that rail car before the sun goes
down and start preparing dinner which is chili mac ( yes, you heard me correctly) and some chicken legs I bought back in Lima which I plan
to barbecue, as soon as the wind calms down, with a sprinkle of salt, garlic, oregano, and olive oil toward the end.
7:30. Aww, just what the doctor ordered: a cool shower. The rail car worked out great as I was sheltered from the wind and it was clean
inside. When I first arrived here I was thinking about camping in one of the 30 or so cars which look like they've been sitting here for some
time. But after showering in one of them I'm glad I'm not as there are all kind of creaky, spooky sounds coming from within that would drive
me crazy and keep waking me up, the light sleeper I am.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21jc1mpBV6c


So I crossed in to the 5th state today, excluding the Yukon Territory and BC, since I set off from Juneau 7 plus weeks ago. I love Montana.
There is something about its largesse and openness that always leaves me with a good feeling after traveling through this gigantic and
unpredictable state. The people are friendly and it doesn't have any of pretension of Wyoming or Idaho. The eastern part of the state is flat,
barren and Midwest like while the western half is mountainous. My plan is to stay on the 15 up to Helena, capital #5 for the journey, then
return heading the opposite direction, south, to Salt Lake City. I'm hoping the wind dies down a bit before then. Jim is camped at least 50
miles back but I'm not sure where. He was complaining about a sore knee this morning when we saw each other briefly in Dubois and from
the way he was walking looked in a lot of pain. I doubt he will catch back up to me before Helena, which is really no big deal as all my plan
is is to turn back around and head south to Salt Lake City on the same highway. So we will be back together soon anyways.
Chicken came really good even though a couple pieces were a little gritty from falling off the grill in to the ashes. But it really hit spot as did
the ChiliMac even though I will probably be regretting eating that tomorrow. Anyways, better get ready for bed as I'm sure the morning will
be here before no time. No tent tonight as it is a beautiful evening.

























Day 51  6/05/12
SP: Dillon, MT  
EP: Butte,MT
DM: 62
TM: 3,040  


Notes
7pm. No time for journal today (my only stop was in a bike shop to pick up bike chain #3 for the 50@50 journey, the owner of which is a
great guy and wanted to pose for a pic together before I left). I spent nearly 7 hours in the saddle even though the mileage did not add up.
Yes, the headwinds came back today after nearly a week of being at my back. And what a rude awakening it was for me. Mama was not in
a good mood. I tried to avoid her but feeling her uncomfortable mood was inevitable (go back a few a few days to understand the
relationship between Mama and wind). So tonight, the end of six weeks riding everyday from Juneau Alaska, I have arrived to within a short
days ride to the 5th capital along the 50@50 self powered journey to US capitals. I am camped in a classic, even by my standards,
campsite; inside a locomotive sized culvert underneath a freeway (I-15) only a few miles north of Butte, Montana and almost directly under
the Rio inspired monolithic white statue of Jesus that overlooks the city and mines from which it owes it's economic prosperity. I decided to
camp here because the forecast was threatening showers for this afternoon and evening and I wanted to find someplace that I could avoid
them all the while be able to make a fire and cook dinner and best of all not have to pitch my tent. This little spot has it all. There is even a
little creek a couple hundred feet away for ample water supply. Basically I am under the freeway. But I can hardly hear the sound of over
passing vehicles and what sound I do hear is rather comforting, like the soft sound of distant rolling thunder. I found this spot as I was on the
long climb north out of Butte (which is a neat old character filled historical town which I've been through several times but regret never
having spent more time here). Following the Weather Channel app all day the forecast was for 60% chance of showers this afternoon so I
heeded their advice and found cover for the evening and hence find myself here. Basically this culvert I believe was built to carry vehicular
traffic from the mine on the west side to the opposite of the freeway. It was not built for drainage as there is a drainage culvert only about
100' to the south. There is a gate next to where I decided to camp put up by the mine (Butte is an old time mining town) to keep quads and
what like from venturing on to the mine properties.  Really, for what I was looking for tonight I could not have found anything better even
though anybody reading this ( if there is anybody) will probably wonder why I would be so content to be spending the night beneath a
freeway in basically a steel tunnel. I am dry, relatively warm, secluded, clean (I took a shower a bit ago), and ready to make a fabulous meal
of salad, pasta carbonara, and Top Sirloin steak, of which I need to get started on right now.
9pm. Oh dinner was good. I'm not usually a big fan of Top Sirloin but the one I had tonight was excellent. Must have been because I got it at
the Safeway in Butte (Safeway has good meats). Grilled to perfection, lightly seasoned (salt and and granulated garlic), cooked to medium
over the coals of native woods and then allowed to rest for at least 10 minutes in a pot or foil to allow the internal flavors  to make their
presence and the juices to settle. Simply delicious. I also had some bread I had bought at the bakery at Safeway which also lended a little
more substance to the delicious meal. Now it's an apple and off to beddy by. I have a great fire tonight which without this would be a
dreadful evening. The temps have dropped to the 40's at present and the forecast earlier was for the possibility of snow. Wow! Who would
have imagined after the last hot few several days. Still not nearly as cold as Alaska or BC and knowing that there are coming several more
hot months through the Midwest and east coast I am rejoicing a bit with these cooler temps.
Yesterday I spoke with Daniel Nash, the father of Dakota (see the beneficiary page of fraank.org) who has just recently went through a
bone marrow transplant in Phoenix and to which we have made the co-beneficiary of all monies that come through our fundraising efforts
during the 50@50 journey. Dakota has more fortitude for a young man of his age than anyone I've ever known and his countenance through
this most trying of ordeals has been of extraordinary abilities for anyone at any age.  He is doing much better now after a few early post
transplant setbacks and is set to be released from Phoenix Children's hospital soon, perhaps today. That is such good news! Talking to
Daniel yesterday left me in one of my better frames of mind for quite some time. Dakota still must stay in Phoenix for several months as he
requires daily treatments dealing with the post transplantation therapy but at least he doesn't have to be confined to the hospital anymore
(anyone who has had a lengthy stay in a hospital knows what I am talking about). They are looking for somewhere to stay. somewhat near
the hospital so if anyone who may read this knows of a clean, private, comfortable, and inexpensive place of extended stay for them to take
up residence for a couple months please get in touch with me. Awesome job Dakota and Pops. You are my inspiration, not just for this
journey, but for life in general. You both are teachers in the most meaningful sense of the word and hero's in my life as well as, I'm sure,
many others. Thanks and blessings for a full and speedy recovery.
Oh and by the way, in case you were wondering, earlier it did rain very hard and is still sprinkling. I just hope it doesn't snow and tomorrow
morning is clear so I can get an early, dry start to Helena. For now I am dry, warm next to the fire, belly full, and as content as a man my age
could ever reasonably expect to be, even for one taking shelter inside a culvert under a freeway.






















Day 52  6/06/12
SP: Dillon, MT  
EP: Helena, MT
DM: 80
TM: 3,120
Week 6  WM: 589  TM: 2,940     AVG. PER DAY: 70-84.1


Notes
7pm. What an eventful day for an old, tired biker like me. I woke up about 5:30 and peeked out from the warm comfort of my sleeping bag
to see snow, yes snow in June. There was only an inch or two of the freshly fallen stuff, but I was still in amazement. Two days ago in S
Idaho I was sweating my cugliones off and today I would be searching my clothes bag for every possible article of clothing to keep warm.
Incredible! Upon first sight I snuggled deep within my warm down sleeping bag and tried to go back to sleep, vainly hoping that what I had
just saw was a dream and if only I could go back to sleep would wake up later finding none of it true (have you ever had a dream you were
dreaming?). But to no avail. Around 6 I woke again, popped up my head, and was met with the realization that not only was there snow on
the ground but it was still coming down in quarter sized flakes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6p2jXMtsYA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pv9fsVknac8

Ok, what next. I don't have a lot of clothes having sent most of them back home after leaving western Oregon and then again another
shipment from Boise. There was no chance of making a fire as I had used all the firewood that I had gathered last night and to go get more
was out of the question because it was completely wet by now. Well one thing left to do: use my cook stove as a source of heat and start
my morning ritual of coffee and hot cereal while huddling over the little burner. This is a method I've been using often when there is no fire
but need to get going. It's a substitute is all it is. Anyways, I finally got out of my sleeping bag and got the day going and was fortunate that
shortly after the snow stopped coming down. I went out to peek at the highway to see if they were snow covered or severely wet and it
wasn't. Awesome, all signs are a go to peddle in to Helena and try to arrange a meeting with somebody in the governors office to make my
sales pitch regarding the FRAANK causes. Hopefully if the winds were generous they would be at my back and I could get in to and out of
Helena ASAP; and they were. The northerly winds of yesterday had brought the low pressure system in to the area and now they were
pushing it out as they went back to their prevailing status and with vengeance. I was briskly blown in to Helena (60 miles away) in just under
3 1/2 hours averaging better than 18 mph, the highest average speed yet for the journey. I called the governors office (while riding) to give
them a heads up of my anticipated arrival and then once in Helena grabbed a bite to eat at a Safeway only 3 blocks from the capital. I
caught some video as I rode up the hill to the capital (they are always on a hill) and the first thing that becomes visible besides the
gorgeous but not overdone structure is a giant granite memorial to the Civil War general Thomas Frances Meagher (pronounced 'Mar'),
brandishing his sword atop a beautiful horse and depicting the courageous leader he was to his famous Irish Brigade which won numerous
laurels for their bravery at nearly every major battle in the war between the states. It was a brilliant introduction to the state capital and in line
completely with the US Grant statue in front of the US Congress building in Washington DC.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GI2_Ir2Sgg

I had to stop and read all the script and of course get a pic of me and my bike alongside the imposing statue of the Montana native and war
hero. Once in to the governors office I was introduced and escorted around to Jayson O'Neil, the communications director for the governor.
Jayson was a very courteous and helpful man with a relaxed demeanor of perhaps mid 30's and politely led me through out the busy floor
with stately rooms and decor fitting for the chief executive of the great state of Montana.  Finally we landed a room where I could explain to
him what it is was doing and for whom. He listened well and gave me a few contacts I may be able to use later on down the line of state
capitals. Afterwards he took a few shots of me including one with Lt Gov  John Bohlinger who I spoke with for about 15 minutes concerning,
again, the purposes of the 50@50 journey and it's causes. Lt Gov Bohlinger was a very pleasant man of about 60 who gave me his full
attention. Have you ever spoke with someone you knew was completely listening to you and every word you said (good listening habits are
so important in communication, yet so few people actually have them)?  Well that was what Mr Bohlinger did for me and I left the office
feeling that finally someone had listened (Jayson as well) to me and the causes that 50@50 was trying to advance


http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150938846348150&set=a.455411908149.247283.304130558149&type=1

So, here I am at camp, a beautiful one with pine trees all about and a carpet of pine needles upon which to lay my tired body down for a
good sleep once that moment arrives (soon I suspect).
Just finished my shower and as usual it felt great. I love standing on a clean carpet of freshly fallen pine needles with the warm water
running down my body. I have a fire going so when it's still cool like tonight I will wet my body off and then step next to the fire to soap my
body and shampoo, and then go back under the shower bag to rinse off under the warm water. After rinsing off I towel dry myself again next
to the fire. I perfected this system up in Alaska and the Yukon and N. BC when it was really cold and the slightest wind sent shivers
throughout your innards; tonight is warm by those standards.
Anyways camp tonight is magnificent. I'm about 15 miles SE of Helena and half a mile east of hwy 287 below a cell phone tower in the
Spokane Hills. Nestled amongst the sweet smelling Ponderosa pine trees of all shapes and sizes and the relaxing sounds of a dozen
different birds (several are nested directly above me) these natural surroundings are working their magic to help sooth my nerves after a
busy day in Helena. And of course the occasional train whistle and accompanying rumble of the tracks as the railcars pass by is almost
meditative.
I really like Montana. The people are about as friendly and helpful and real as just about anywhere I've ever been. If  there was any place I
could move to here in the US it would be Montana. Of course, with the winters being what they are, it might take a real hard sales pitch to
sell moving here to my wife. And in all though the truth is I'm an Arizona desert rat by breed and cannot handle harsh winters.
After visiting the capital building today I stopped by a pop store to buy something to drink and something really numerous happened. I
started to talk with a fellow out in front of the store and he congratulated me on what I was doing and then reached in his pocket and
handed me some change. At first I didn't know what to do or say but instinctively just thanked him and put it in my pocket. I hadn't told him
about the fundraising aspect of 50@50 so I wasn't sure why he gave me a few coins. Did I appear physically that destitute or was that his
way of just saying 'good job'?  Anyways I thought afterwards do I include it in the fund count (it was less the a dollar) or just by a candy bar.
Anybody want to chime in on this ethical 'dilemma'? Why I'm even thinking about this is crazy ordeal is a conundrum (I love that Alan
Greenspan term) in itself, but funny nevertheless.













Okay everyone this is Patrice writing I just wanted to let all you fans of Romano and who read his blog on a daily basis or there again not,
that there is a new page for you to explore and enjoy, just click on the Where's Romano tab on the navigation bar and you can see where
he's been camping from the beginning of his journey and I will continue updating as he continues his 16,000 mile self powered solo journey
to all 50 U.S. State Capitals at the ripe old age of 50.















Day 53  6/07/12
SP: Helena, MT  
EP: Belgrade, MT
DM: 70
TM: 3,190


Notes
6pm. Arrived to camp about an hour ago and am now relaxing in the warm sunshine and enjoying a frosty mug of root beer. Today it
warmed up...oh yea!!  When I woke up this morning at 5am the temp had to be close to freezing. First necessity of the day was making a
fire and getting warm, then making coffee. I was on the road at 8 and my old nemesis, the headwind, was out and at play. My direction was
south towards Three Rivers to meet up with Jim after several days of separation. This happens quite often when we are biking together
and the reason we both carry all our essential items like stove, fuel, etc) as we can be separated for days. Like I said this is not unusual
and actually beneficial in the long run as it allows us a bit of seclusion or alone time. My hero's, Cap's. Lewis & Clark, were separated on
several occasions during their renowned historical journey and I believe not always by accident. Anyways, we have hooked up once again
and probably will be together for the most part till the end of summer, or he has to depart back to Arizona and regular life.
So the headwind returned as my direction shifted to the south after reaching Helena yesterday, but it wasn't that bad. The 5-10 steady with
occasional gusts of 15 were child's play compared with those I encountered in Alaska, Yukon, and N BC. I managed to hold an average of
10+ mph today and that's not bad for a headwind day. At Three Rivers I picked up hwy 90 and met Jim in Manhatten to get the evenings
supplies. Our camp tonight is alongside the Gallantin River, one of the three rivers that make up Three Rivers. When Cap's. Lewis and
Clark reached roughly this point where we are camped they were befuddled at the fact that the Missouri did not continue on as one
constant flow to the mountains and thus the pathway to the Pacific. There were three possible branches of which to follow it to its source.
They decided to name them the Jefferson, Madison, and Gallantin after the sitting president, secretary of state, and secretary of the
treasure. My ride this morning south on hwy 287 was along the Missouri River and the point at which the great explorers were informed,
and thus much relieved to know, that the confluence was nearby after their young Shoshone interpreter, Sakagawea, with her new born
(little Charboneau) on her shoulder, informed the exhausted duo and others in the party that after seeing the white colored earth along the
riverbanks that the legendary Three Forks, the source of the Missouri, was nearby. Thus Three Forks Montana earned its name and we are
camped next to the river named after the Secretary of Treasure in 1805.
Most of the land now around here is all developed, mostly farms, but it is still possible once in a while, while riding through this beautiful
country to lookout over the green grassy plains and rolling hills and white capped mountains in the distant and gain a feel or at least partial
understanding of what the intrepid travelers must have been thinking as they passed through this virtually untouched and unknown (at least
to white men) land which was so vastly different to anything they had witnessed before.  On top of their awe for the uniqueness of everything
must have been the fear of knowing that they were out there a long ways away from anything. To go back was not even an option but to
continue on was fraught with danger and full of uncertainty. But what an experience it must have been for them and their crew to be the first
to explore, chart, and report back to none other than the president himself, Thomas Jefferson, of what comprised the newly purchased
lands of the young nation and to finally discover the nonexistence of, what up until that time was thought to exist, the fabled Northwest
passage.
Anyways, dinner tonight consists of a already cooked scrawny little chicken I bought back at the store in Manhatten and some container
potato salad and a few packaged sweet rolls. Nothing to get very excited about but after nearly two months of cooking every night I'm
starting to look for easier options at night and thus save myself a few moments in the evening hours. Tonight I'm going to try to go to sleep a
little earlier as I don't think I've been getting enough sleep for all the biking (6-7 hours a night) I've been doing.





















Day 54  6/08/12
SP: Belgrade, MT
EP: Big Timber, MT
DM: 89
TM: 3,279


Notes
6pm. I'm afraid to say this lest I jinx myself in to making it go away but Mama has again been in a good mood and been busy baking my
favorite desserts. Yes, the tailwind returned today after a short hiatus yesterday and my mileage, though not spectacular, was far better
than it would have been had Mama not been so generous. From last nights camp we pedaled through Belgrade and straight to Bozeman
where I did clothes and coincidentally had an interview with a local TV station in our efforts to sell the story. Of course all of this is futile
unless donations start to come in and they did just that at the laundromat when the congenial owner of the facility (Dud's & Sud's), Jim
Bogen, overhearing the questions from the reporter, Chet Layman, donated $20 to FRAANK and two other fellas, Patrick & Ed (both from
Arizona) also kicked in $20 each for a total of $60 at one clothes stop (thank you fellas). So a positive development today on the donation
front. I was so upbeat and positive for the rest of day after that. The donation drive had been flat for a while and nothing gives me more
energy and resolve than knowing that donations are coming in and that the real purpose for this is being met. I know $60 is not much when
you're goal is $50,000, but it's figurative meaning was important to me. To know I have a purpose is all that matters anymore; and that
purpose is centered around the amelioration of the isolation, hurt, and pain of others, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant the
act. So again thanks fellas for helping out, not only the FRAANK causes but me as well.
Anyways, tonight is another 'barn lodge'. Haven't had one of these since my first day back in the US from Canada in Washington just south
of the Canadian border entry point in Sumas (see day 35). The good part about camping here is I'm a stones throw away from the beautiful
Yellowstone River flowing eastward and the land around is basically like it was in 1806 when Cap. Clark floated by here on his way back
home after spending that horribly cold &wet winter at Ft Clatsop next to the Columbia River in modern day NW Oregon. At this point during
the hearty travelers journey they had split up for the time.  Cap. Lewis took the same river they had ascended, the Missouri (and landing
himself in to a bit of trouble resulting in the only hostile encounter with the Native Americans during the entire 2 1/2 year expedition). Cap.
Clark along with ten others of the crew including Sacajawea, who led the party over Bozeman Pass (named after it's namesake city just to
the east) following an old buffalo trail, took the Yellowstone river to the south and a faster though less direct route back home. The two
explorers plan was to reunite at the mouth of the Yellowstone river or confluence with the Missouri river a few hundred miles to the east.
The river through here flows fast and without many bends or oxbows. In  2004 (the 200th anniversary of the Lewis & Clark expedition, Jim,
my son Domenic, and myself biked through this location on our quest to ride on bicycle what Lewis & Clark did by boat, horse, and foot.
What took us 8 weeks took the original explorers, and the rest of the crew comprising the Voyage of Discovery, 2 1/2 years to complete.
So, what's the bad part. Well this barn is, well, a barn. It was meant for cattle. Not even horses would be fit for staying within these
conditions. But there is a roof over my head and in the case that it rains (40% tonight) I will be dry. I have nothing to complain about. To me I
feel cleaner than I do in most rundown motels, and some not so rundown.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jGUbE94JTI

Horse and cattle poop doesn't really bother me; it's not like human nor any carnivore eating waste. I think it's kind of like what Mama told
me when I was little; there's clean dirt and dirty dirt. Well I guess cattle poop is like clean dirt. Some folks may think, and rightly so, that I got
a screw loose sleeping in these type of conditions. But the nice thing at my age is I really don't care what others think anymore of me. I
believe being in this barn is reality with no illusory conditions of cleanliness or security that modern life has built around us. Most of us today
live our lives unknowingly trapped knee deep in poop, one tragic accident or unfortunate happening from being reminded how smelly and
dirty life really can be. At least I know tomorrow morning I will pack my stuff on to my little buggy attached to the back of my bike and head
on out of here.
The best part about being here though is I get to listen to the train only a few hundreds away and passing by every hour with it's mighty
rumble, squeaky and clanky wheels passing over the tracks, and deafening horns. Music to my ears. When the train is well past and the
Doppler effect moves the sound waves to lower frequencies, the sound of the beautiful river and occasional singing bird warms my spirit.
The highway is only a half mile at most south and with the wind blowing from the south carries the sound of passing cars and trucks a bit
too much, but oh well you can't have everything.
9pm. Had a marvelous warm shower a few minutes ago and now am looking forward to cooking this one lb. Ribeye steak I bought back at
the IGA in Big Timber earlier when I was passing through. At the moment it is raining hard after some violent winds so forceful that the post
and beam supported barn under which I have decided to camp for the night began teetering and swaying in every which direction. For a
moment I was planning my evacuation of this old, flimsy built lean-to in the event the whole structure decided to give. What an ignoble burial
and end to a fruitless existence that would be; buried underneath two tons of old rotted wood and embalmed in cow pies.
But alas the barn has held and as far as I can see maintained its integrity. So far, so good; no leaks. I'm waiting for my fire to build enough
hot embers to cook my steak on and then scatter the cow poop to the fringes and roll out my sleeping bag for a great nights sleep listening
to the raindrops on the....hopefully waterproof roof. Dream on Hilton; you're not even in this class.
























Day 55  6/09/12
SP :Big Timber, MT
EP: Billings, MT
DM: 88
TM: 3,367


Notes
7pm. Camp tonight is in a beautiful Ponderosa pine, mixed with a few sage and cedar trees for some delicate contrast, forest. This is most
likely private property though I did not see any signs when I lifted the slack in a loose barb wire fence and led myself and bike underneath
and hidden amongst the trees. This is pretty standard practice when one is trying to travel a given amount of miles each day and self
contained. There is a lot of public lands in the west here but most are hidden and not easily accessible, so lightly camping on someone's
land (meaning no fires and being quiet and hidden) is the only answer. And one must always obey the golden rule of stealth camping (any
camping for that measure); try to leave no trace of your presence save foot or tire tracks.
Not much to report on today's travels except that it did consist of an afternoon shower with accompanying winds, something I might as well
get accustomed to heading back east where it rains all the time. Summer rains don't really bother me much because their only temporary
and the temps are generally warm. It's not like the day after day wet and cold stuff I was hit with up in Washington and Oregon. The weather
there really begins to wear you down after a few days and is no substitute for a warm, sunny climate no matter how good your skin feels
and coffee tastes.
Right now I am pecking away on my little Apple instrument while it is recharging itself via a simple solar charger I carry along with me. Wow,
it's amazing the advances that have been made with solar technology over the last few years. This little note pad sized recharger keeps my
phone / Internet device / GPS / journal / compass / watch / music generator (both iPod & Internet) / maps / camera (both video & still) /
email dispatcher / texting device / etc, etc fully charged as long as there is sun out. For days or periods of days when the sun remains
hidden (like the week plus when I was traveling through Washington & Oregon) an auxiliary power pack helps keep this instrument charged
between the charging stops from standard 120 volts wall outlets from wherever you can find them (restaurants, stores, etc). I'm not sure, or
just can't remember, how I did all this before the invention of this little thing. All I know, and I still don't know everything it can do to help me,
is it marvelous. Oh, did I forget to say that if I'm really lonely I can even talk to it and some helpful sounding lady with a provocative voice will
reply back to me.  The iPhone, an amazing little device.
Some friendly fellow from Wisconsin at a highway rest stop  where I had stopped to eat my lunch today of 4, yes I said 4, peanut butter &
Jelly sandwiches insisted I accept one of his soda pops called Bozone Amber, and at the moment I am indulging in it. It is delicious and I
don't think it's because I've been drinking too much PBR lately. If you can find it somewhere I highly recommend it.
So other than the tedious biking miles today, the only real thing that comes to mind is a lady I met in a place none other than the Laurel
McDonalds. I didn't get her name but I did leave the ubiquitous fast food restaurant with a piece of wisdom that, though I've heard before
and understand, is nice to be reminded of from time to time. This lady who's job it appeared was to be out front wiping down tables and
entertaining customers did her job not only good but with the enthusiasm that could only come from someone truly interested in what she
was doing and being with people. Whoever the manager is of that store, don't let her go. If you do I will pay her double if she comes down
to Cornville to work at Vince's and entertain my customers. When I first rode up all I wanted was a cheap $1 soda after riding 60 miles with
virtually nowhere to stop except one highway rest area with the drinking fountains shut off (I have no reason why; probably some state
ordered thing like I came across all through out BC). Anyways, this 69 year old (she told me her age) lady with a terribly toxic-red colored
short hairdo, feather painted eyebrows with neon orange road stripped eye liner just below and bending over in a 2 o'clock position from
an apparent misaligned spinal column thanked me for returning (I had come earlier but it was too busy so I went and did my shopping for
tonights supplies and then came back). I was at first surprised that, of the probable hundreds of patrons that come through the McD's doors
everyday, she remembered me. Without really thinking I instinctively responded that it was because of her persona of welcomeness. I
guess she liked my comment as she began to tell me her reasons for working still at her age (inadequacy of social security to meet her
needs) and that she loved meeting and interacting with new people (duh). She said that she felt a little self conscious about working at
McD's but that was about the only place she could find steady part time work at her age and that she didn't mind the low stress of the job
after owning and operating two businesses in her younger years. She asked me what I was doing and I told her and she marveled at the
fact that I had a plan and was carrying through with it, that life was much to brief to just always dream about what it is you would like to be or
do; at some point you  need to take action in making those dreams happen. And then she said what I have heard before but was thankful to
be reminded of, "You have to have goals in this life".
I finished my Dr. Pepper (Be like Gump) and thanked her for her warm hospitality and told her that if I lived in this area I would come
everyday here, if for nothing else than to have a cold Dr P. and listen to her kindly delivered words of wisdom. If you ever find yourself in
Laurel, Montana be sure to stop in the McDonalds on the west end of town. Don't be in a hurry and be sure to ask for the hunched over lady
with the mind of a sage and inspirational countenance of a motivational speaker. I didn't catch her name but be assured you won't miss her
if she's working















Day 56  6/10/12
SP :Billings, MT
EP: Miles City, MT
DM: 149
TM: 3,516


Notes
I biked more miles today than I ever have on a bike tour. I've ridden a few double centuries back in my triathlete days but that was on a
19-20 lb. bike. My previous record was set on my first tour back in 1989 shortly after the death of my beloved father from lung cancer at the
still early age of 67. On a windy day somewhere in S Illinois I finished with 139 miles riding past flat corn and soybean fields. Of course
back 23 years ago I was nearly half the age I am now and I was carrying less gear. What's more is that today there were plenty of hills here
in S Montana whereas in 1989 at the cocky young age of 26 I had only flat agricultural fields to pedal through. So, what is my point? I guess
what I'm trying to say is, like in the Toby Keith song, 'I'm not as good as I once was; but I'm as good once as I ever was'. The truth is that
since leaving Billings, 150 miles ago, there have been no highway services and virtually no towns except for Forsyth which  would have
required me to leave the highway, something I did not want to do today.
Hey, I'm feeling pretty good right now as I sit huddled over the stove with my tent to my back as a wind block and am attempting to make as
normal an afternoon/evening out of these awful  inclement conditions as is possible. What's so nasty about my current status? Well to start
with there's a reason why I rode so many miles today; the wind was at my back all day pushing me on my bike to unattainable speeds had it
not been there or at a lower clip (my new term I picked up in Canada and can't let it go). The ferocious winds were averaging 20-30 mph
today from the west and I was heading ENE meaning that they were at my back for the most part. Well the flip side of such generous winds
(Mama cooking my favorite meal of hearty meatloaf, fluffy mashed potatoes with rich brown gravy, sweet corn on the cob with lots of butter
and salt sprinkled on top, and moist, creamy chocolate on chocolate cake for dessert) was that a low pressure was coming in with it's
accompanying rain and cooler temps. It had been flirting with me all afternoon but didn't quite come on with aggression until I rolled in to
Miles City around 4pm. I stopped briefly at a McDonalds to get an ice cream and then did my shopping for the night which consisted of
tonight's meal of Albertson's 'chicken meal deal' and of course a donut for tomorrow morning and a cold frosty root beer. Just out of Miles
City the drops that had been coming down intermittently through out the day began to fall with a consistent beat and I knew that camp had
to be found soon if the evening was to be at least somewhat comfortable. About 10 miles E from Miles City, once again, I was helped out
and now I sit pecking out these words, though still cold, at least dry and mostly protected from the terrible elements that are happening right
now (cold winds and constant rain). So where am I and what fabulous camp do I have tonight? Well for the 2nd time in less than a week I
find myself camped underneath a freeway (Interstate 94) in a culvert built for reasons I am still contemplating. This freeway culvert is not
nearly as nice as the last one a few miles north of Butte (see day 51), but like I said it is keeping me out of the cold and even dangerous
elements. There is no wood around to build a fire and this culvert is used primarily it appears to corral and shelter cattle as it is chalk full of
cattle poop. But I am dry and feeling much better than if there were no protection. Right now my feet are cold and the small amount of heat
coming from my gas stove is inefficient to keep me warm, but at least I haven't as of yet had to escape for protection in to my tent (which is
being used as a wind block from the cold thermals flowing through this steel barrier). Tonight's dinner consists of a precooked chicken
dinner I decided to buy back at the grocery store having a prescient moment that tonight was not going to be good night for much dinner
preparation what with all the wind, rain, and miles I had ridden for the day (8 plus hours in the saddle). The one nightly ritual there will none
of tonight is a shower, no matter how much I would love to have a hot one, as with this cold air blowing through the tunnel I would be a frozen
man afterwards.
During today's ride I figured there are 4 ways one can tell the velocity of a tailwind while riding a bike; 1) observe the flag (if you have one)
on the back of the bike. If it is dead (not moving at all) then the wind is approximately the speed you're going at the time. 2) if the air around
you feels like Louisiana (still and warm) then the wind is approximately the speed you're going at the time. 3) if you spit a sunflower seed
shell out of your mouth and it falls straight to the ground then the wind is approximately the speed you're going at the time. And 4) if you are
forced (or not forced but just have the desire to do so, like me) to pass gas (ie: fart) and the smell just won't blow away then the wind is
approximately the speed you're going at the time. Forrest said that sometimes there are just not enough rocks; I think sometimes while
riding there are just not enough things to think about.
So the big news of the day is the permanent separation of Jim and myself for the remainder of this biking journey. He had spent the night at
a campground back in Billings last night unable to reach the spot at which I had camped. He texted me around noon today informing me of
his plans to follow his own plan for the remainder of his trip this summer (I'm not sure what that plan is but I believe it entails biking back to
Arizona via some southbound route). His knee has been bothering him severely since we were reunited back in Oregon and everyday he
has fallen further behind, unable to keep up with this persistent grueling pace. I have to keep with this riding schedule though in order to
complete this 50@50 challenge (which is proving to be every bit as difficult, and then some, as I was anticipating) before winter comes on
with the Rocky & Sierra Nevada mountain ranges to go over and across. I would be wonderful to take a half day or two off from riding or
better yet a whole day to allow my body some well needed rest, but it's a luxury that just can't be afforded. Everyday that I can get ahead at
this point in the journey (like during today's ride) is one less day spent biking in the cold inclement weather later this fall. This was really an
unfortunate happening as this is the 9th summer in a row that we've done a bike trip together and the only time it has not worked out. Next
year I will be dedicated to finishing out 50@50 with the row to Hawaii and after that he's thinking about working more hours during the
summer to prepare for retirement, so this may be the last trip we'll have together for some time. I wish things could have worked out
different but it is what it is and he has to make the call that's best for himself and I must keep pedaling on. Jim, good luck and be safe in
whatever course you take, whether it be back to Arizona or something else. I'll see you in November when I return home.






















Day 57  6/11/12
SP : Miles City, MT
EP: Glendive, MT
DM: 70
TM: 3,586


Notes
6pm.  Today marks the beginning of the ninth week of 50@50 and for some reason I've felt tired and alone all day. I can't believe I've been
at this now for 8 weeks already but when I think how much further I have to go the natural inclination is to slip back in to my shell (hide under
the cover is another appropriate metaphor) and try to pretend that nothing is happening outside. I am roughly 1/4 complete with the first
stage of this challenge (excluding the row to Hawaii next year) and it feels as if I have been on the go forever. Sometimes the only thought
that comes to mind while riding long, boring, tedious stretches of road like the one today (Miles City to Glendive)  is 'What where you
thinking when you concocted this hair brain idea? What is the purpose? How much longer do you think you can handle this daily
punishment to your mind and body before one or both give out?' And the ultimate of existential questions; 'Why am I doing this?'.  Just a
long day with my mind and spirit reacting to the forces at play here; wind, hills, boredom, near physical exhaustion, isolation, and
loneliness. I know tomorrow morning I will hobble out of my tent, make some strong coffee, eat my morning porridge, and finish the prior
days journal. Then after that I'll pack all my gear in to the trailer bag and set off on my bike to continue on east and the next capital
(Bismarck). How I will feel tomorrow about everything is anybody's guess.
8::30pm. I feel much better now that I've had a great shower after two days and over 200 miles biking. Tonights camp is about a mile east
of Glendive, MT along a brown silty little spit of water named  after its name-saked town Glendive I have a pleasant warm little fire going for
the dual purpose of cooking the nicely marbled Ribeye steak I bought earlier in Glendive. I made some marinara a little earlier with some
ripe Roma's I found at the same store I got the steak and a fresh salad that is just waiting on the sidelines, soaking in all the wonderful olive
oil and veggie juices. Really looking forward to a nice dinner after last nights store prepared chicken dinner, though not bad still left me
craving something else. It could be that mass produced food like at fast food chains or cafeterias is not satisfying to most people because
the energy of those who prepared it is, if not negative, absent.  We can simplify the difference by saying that the ingredients are not as
good or fresh and the holding times make for a less than pleasant taste, but I think it's more than that. A similar experience is shopping.
Ever been to a Walmart where all you wanted to do was get what you need as fast as you can and get out. We shop there and eat fast food
because its cheap and convenient. But compare shopping at a walmart to shopping at a small independently owned store, or for that
matter on-line in front of the computer) where perhaps you end up spending a $ or two more but you usually end up getting the product you
wanted and the service you desire. It's the people (or lack there of if shopping on line) that make the difference. Personally if I worked at a
Walmart or grocery store cafeteria I would be miserable too and my feelings probably would be apparent to others in the product and
service delivered. I think it's important for people to be dynamic and have an interest in what they do so they're performance does suffer.
Having said that I've known many people over the years who are perfectly content in doing the same thing in the same way for years, in fact
through their entire working lifetime. So what do I know.
So most the day was spent pedaling on Hwy 94 up and down the many crimson red colored bluffs that border the natural brown colored
Yellowstone River of southern Montana and, as usual, fending off the relentless winds which turned to the north today after yesterday's
strong westerly. The Yellowstone River is the longest undammed river in the lower 48 states. It originates just south of Yellowstone Nat Park
and terminates at its confluence with the Missouri River just a little north of where I am camped tonight, not far from the N Dakota border.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bMrhlmRJZY

Most western rivers were dammed or dried up after westward expansion took hold over the last century but this river was the one
exception; it remains wet, wild, and dam free throughout it's 650 mile run through southern Montana and drains a watershed bigger in area
than all the New England states combined.  In the 1970's Montanans debated whether or not to dam this river first run by an American,
Cap. William Clark, in 1806 and used for fishing and transportation by native Americans centuries before that.  They decided not to and
thus we and the animals and other game life have this beautiful wild river to marvel at it's beauty and enjoy in its natural state. Way to go
Montana for keeping it that way. If only other US and western policy makers had been as wise, prescient and unwilling to heed the advice
(and accept the campaign donations) as you were.





















Day 58  6/12/12
SP : Glendive, MT
EP: Medora, N.Dakota
DM: 67
TM: 3,653


Notes
Today was one of those 'If I could only clone you' days. Sunny and warm but not hot. A cool breeze from the south (not helping me as my
heading is east) kept the temps down. I stopped for breakfast this morning at a cafe on the east side of Glendive and about a mile from
where I camped last night along that dirty little creek that borrows the same name as the town along which it meanders in, out and around.
The breakfast consisted of 2 large pan fried eggs over easy, a mountain serving of hash browns, 4 thick perfectly cooked slices of tasty
bacon, 3 hot buttermilk pancakes with loads of rich creamy butter and sweet syrup, and topped off with monster sized cinnamon roll with
cream cheese frosting and heated up just enough to  melt more butter on top. Sound decadent?  Well it was, and greatly appreciated by a
hungry, tired biker after 3600 miles and 8 plus weeks of nonstop kayaking and biking. Do I feel guilty about eating so many calories of
cholesterol filled, artery clogging, fat drenched food? Well, a little. But only afterwards when I leaned back in my booth seat, looked over all
the plates without a scrap of leftovers and in a moment of regret mixed with self flagellation, asked myself why I had just consumed all that
delicious food. But that was it. I paid my bill, left the waitress a decent tip (she had to make a lot of trips back to my table with all the food),
and got back on my bike for yet another day of 6 hours and 70 miles of biking. Guilt gone.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8CDoRSgfcg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icaPm9s4i-4

Tonight's camp is about a mile or two east of the little tourist community of Medora and I believe within the Teddy Roosevelt Nat Monument.
Grasslands is nearby and I know Badlands is to the south. TR loved this area around here and had spent quite a bit of time hunting and
exploring alone these magnificent multicolored hills and lush rolling grassy plains. Back then this area was teaming with wildlife, much to
the sportman's delight. Fortunately he had the foresight to designate this, as well as Yellowstone, national treasures to be forever saved
from privatization and development for the future generations of Americans, like us and our kids and grand kids. Too bad TR never ran for
a 3rd term whether as a republican or 3rd party candidate. I rank him in the top 3 of American presidents and people in American history
with whom I would love to have at a dinner party.  Wow, the stories he could tell.
I had the option to camp tonight in a campground a couple miles back and just west of Medora in the designated town campground, but I
really did not want to. You see I don't like camping in campgrounds; to me they are dirty, loud, busy and if camping meant only spending
evenings in one of them, well, I would never camp. I much prefer to be where nobody is around and the sounds, smells, and sights are
natural and not made to look natural to the unknowing. This spot I have for tonight's camp is as perfect as it gets for what my needs are.
There is privacy, beautiful scenery, a clean grassy carpet of long, thick grass for my bed, a little nook made from a fallen tree and sheltered
from the wind for my shower (coming soon now), the sounds of birds and little critters skirmishing about the trees and and other natural
vegetation and the most important thing of all, solitude. I've camped every night on this journey and with the exception of the two nights with
Darren (one in Portland at his brothers apartment and another at his parents home in Boise (both nights I slept poorly) every night has been
out here in the 'Bush'. I guess I'm just not meant to be indoors, at least not in the summer nor around a lot of people.
Oh do I feel good now after a hot shower and taking in the last of the days sunshine. There is something about warm water running over the
body to invigorate the cold, hapless spirit. The feeling of washing off all the days intruders (those both external and those from within) from
your skin is without comparison. No wonder baptisms take place in water.
Today I was pedaling along the route (Beach, Montana & Medora , N Dakota) that Gen. George Armstrong Custer led the 7th cavalry in
1876 in their quest to quiet the still hostile and pugnacious Sioux Indian tribe of the region. The long haired charismatic,flambouyant, and
courageous civil war hero (and overly self confident, overrated military tactician I might add as well and which would become apparent out
on the hilltops overlooking a modest sized river) was surprised and attacked and subsequently killed and scalped (imagine the accolades
and laurels that mop of hair brought to the warrior with the sharp knife) atop the hills that surrounded the Little Big Horn River on June 25,
1876. In 2004 while retracing the route of the great American explorers Capt's Merriwether Lewis and William Clark I, along with my
youngest son Domenic and bike traveling buddy Jim, I rode down south off Hwy 94 to the sight of the great annihilation. I was surprised at
what I saw as the battlefield was not just the little grassy hilltop where Custer met his maker, but rather extended for quite a ways along the
surrounding hills and canyons. I remember leaving the battlefield thinking that after all Custer had been through, to meet his fate and much
of the revered 7th Calvary in such an ignoble fashion and inglorious location, had to be one of the most ill fated  and improbable episodes
in US military history. The first rule when preparing for battle; know your enemy better than your friends.
I believe one of the most unique, relaxing, reassuring sounds of nature is the call of mourning dove. Whenever I hear it I feel comforted.
Tonight's dinner was my usual salad and pasta with what was leftover from last nights marinara sauce. In with the pasta I mixed a can of all
natural (pole & troll caught and low in mercury [whatever all that means] according to the label on the can) albacore tuna fish. It was tasty
and different but if I had to do it again I would have left it out (I'm not a big canned tuna fish fan no matter how natural it is). The lady who
gave it to me yesterday had stopped along the highway to find out a little about my trip (usual questions like from where, to where and why)
and I assume as a token of appreciation the can of tuna and a box of rice drink. When she handed them to me my first inclination was to
give them right back (in fact I told her I don't like tunafish nor milk [she told me it was rice drink and not milk]) but then I thought that would be
an unappreciative response toward an apparent act of benevolence. So I kept them. Later on I tried the milk 'rice drink' and it didn't have
much taste, but at least was cool and wet. And the tunafish, well you know the story of that. I'm still befuddled why she even stopped at all.
Part of me wants to believe it was only motivated by a willingness to be kind and generous and perhaps capped with a touch of curiosity.
The other part is not so sure and which will go without comment. Whatever the reason, stuff like this happens a lot when out here on the
adventure cycling path.
























Day 59  6/13/12
SP : Medora, ND
EP: Glen Ullin, ND
DM: 89
TM: 3,742
Week 7  WM:613 TM: 3,553    AVG. PER DAY: 72.5-87.6


Notes
No time today for my diary. Will recount in tomorrows journal what happened today, but only preface it to say that I sure am glad I'm not
allergic to bees.
















Day 60  6/14/12
SP : Glen Ullin, ND
EP: Moffit, ND
DM: 81
TM: 3,823



Notes
6pm (central time). I have now lost 3 hours since leaving Juneau back in mid April.
I have so much to write about I don't know where to start. I planned an early camp tonight so I could write more than usual but at this moment
I'm finding it hard to get going. To write, at least well, I believe you need to be in the right frame of mind, otherwise it's like trying to paddle
upstream, or a more fitting analogy might be riding a bike against the wind. So I guess I'll start with camp which is underneath a stand of tall
Ash trees and resting on a literal blanket of tall thick green native grasses, of which the entire state must have been covered before
settlement and just the buffalo roamed these gentle plains and round top hills. The Moffit road is only a few hundred away but virtually empty
with a car passing by at the most every 30 minutes.
The last couple days have been long, lonely, and boring; however, the weather has been marvelous (mid 70's and light humidity). N Dakota
was never my favorite state (I've been through here twice on bike tours) and upon entering for a third time kind of had a hunch that it would
be no different this time; well it hasn't. I don't know what it is about this state that just doesn't wet my whistle, float my boat, or light my fire.
Perhaps it's the long empty plains and fields of agriculture that one encounters heading east after leaving colorful Montana. N Dakota is a
Midwestern state so perhaps the feeling for a westerner like me becomes a bit more alien. But my hunch is its the people. Patrice told me
on the phone this morning that those she had made contacts with in the media were not very pleasant, especially when compared to those
in Montana (Helena must have been one of the friendliest places, not just capitals, I have ever been to). Perhaps it had to do with the
heritage of those who settled this area we now call N Dakota. I don't like to stereotype but that is a big factor. Or maybe the fact that winters
are so long and cold that the residents spend too much time indoors away from the sun and nature and exercise and other energy building
factors (I don't think there is another state with so many white, pale skinned and overweight people in the nation...[oh, I'm taking off the
gloves now]). I get the feeling here like I do when I am in Sicily; people just stare at me like I'm from a different planet. Ok, so I don't look like
the rest of you  ghosts here; do you have to gawk and treat me like an unwelcome stranger because my skin is dark (I've been riding a bike
for 2 months in all of Gods elements) and have some facial hair? Today I paid a visit to the states governors office just like the previous
states. The objective is simple; attempt to raise attention to serious problems facing our children today (for 50@50 it is childhood obesity
of which 1 in 3 kids suffer from and hunger which afflicts  1 in 6). I was suppose to have a meeting already arranged but when I arrived at
the scheduled time the governor was already in another meeting (apparently discussing an oil pipeline; does the phrase 'Halls of Power'
ring a bell here?). Now I'm not stupid; I know that oil trumps the trivial by comparison causes that I may be trying to promote. But all I asked
for, starting months ago, was a brief minute or two to register my concerns and serious risks posed by them to our children, society and the
economy and pause for a quick snapshot for the fundraising campaign. I was preparing to leave the office in discouragement tinged with
anger when at the last second the Lt Gov came out (a well dressed and properly manicured and postured gentleman of 30 something
features) and offered to pose for the picture I had been asking for months in front of the US and state flags standing in the corner of the
office like monuments of marble. He asked where in Arizona I was from but I'm not sure it registered when I said 'near Sedona', so I stated
my back up explanation 'in the middle of the state'. Thinking back now I should have replied what John Alvey's father use to say when asked
where Cornville is, "Between Centerville and McGuireville". He also commented on my dark skin and how it wasn't good to be in the sun
too much (I'm not sure how to evade the sun while riding a bike in June through Midwestern plains, I guess I could carry an umbrella and
hold it above myself while riding (of course that would mean only one hand would be on the handlebars and eliminate my ability to read
texts while riding) And then we posed for a snapshot in front of those omni present flags. I gave him the FRAANK t-shirt I had carried over
3000 miles to give the governor and he loved that and asked we take another picture holding that up the flag (that was cool). I never met the
governor nor had a chance to explain properly what it is I was attempting and most importantly for whom. I guess you can say 'Big
Letdown'. But not really. Everybody was friendly in the office and I appreciate the Lt Gov taking his time to help us out.  Anyways I noticed
that the governors secretary, who was a very nice lady and we talked for quite some time, had color to her features, you know a tanned
face. She was the first person I had seen since arriving here to have some type of color other than pale white (most likely from a tanning
booth, but hey what the heck, for the first time I could look at someone face to face and not have to put on my sunglasses). She informed
me that she was originally from Florida.
I don't mean to diss on the people or state of ND here: they seem for the most part respectful, hardworking, and proud people. They're just
not overly friendly or out going. They are who they are. I think most of what I'm feeling now is exhaustion from nearly 9 weeks and over 3800
miles of self powered travel without a single break. I miss my family and home and friends immensely and am trying to find meaning for
what I'm doing. Todays episode at the Gov.'s office nor brief stay in Bismarck did not validate that need. But yesterday Patrice did send out
the first of the checks going to the beneficiaries and that was a spirit booster for me. Hopefully more, much more, will be to coming to those
good people of misfortunate happenings.
One last thing about the capital is that of the six so far I've visited it had the least stately appearance of all (with a possible exception of
Alaska). When I rode up to it (it was on top of a hill like all the rest) I would not even had known it was a capital building had I not asked
someone where the capital was and what looked to be 10 acres of freshly cut lawn grass and the national and state flags flapping in the
ceaseless winds out in front. When I first saw it I thought I was at the general hospital as it looked like the pictures of the hospital I was born
at in Hollywood; a tall, multi storied center building with two bunker like wings on each side. There was no reminder upon first sight to the
casual observer of what we would expect the center of state government to symbolize much yet it's origin to Greek, Roman, and Common
law which is usually manifested in the architecture. Perhaps S Dakotans designed it that way on purpose.
So, enough of N Dakotans, the governors office, and my feelings at the moment. Yesterday I did not have time to blog at all as I ended up
riding over 8 hours and nearly 90 miles with a S-SE wind when my direction was straight due east (in other words a long hard day in the
saddle). The only stop I made was in the freeway fast food/Walmart village of Dickinson where I grabbed a bite to eat and did a little
shopping for dinner. I had been looking at the forecast all day and it called for changing wind direction from the south to the west which
would have meant a tailwind. Well it never materialized and I ended up slowly advancing against the unfavorable hot, dry windy conditions
all day without enough water or food. Now the ND highways are not like most states; there is a lot of empty open space between services
or anything for that matter with the exception of an occasional farm house, not unlike BC and Montana and towards the end of the day I ran
out of water and continued on for at least 2 hours without a drop. Around 7pm, 2 hours later than usual, I knew I had to find somewhere to
camp and soon. I finally spotted a large square shaped metal building on the north side of the freeway that could potentially have water and
offer a place to camp blocked away from the wind.  I rode up to the front and glancing around noticed a water spigot coming out of the
ground with the type of pull up/push down brass handle that is common out in the Midwest. I set my bike against a metal pole next to the
spigot and turned it on hoping that the precious wet stuff would come flooding out, and it did. Hallelujah! I filled a water bottle and
immediately chugged it down while simultaneously  slapping the top of my head at something trying to get through my hair. It was big
whatever it was as I tried to dig through and pull it out. But it wouldn't come. Then I felt another, and a third and then fourth. I looked up and
around and spotted a beekeepers stack of perhaps 100 boxes about 100 yards away to the side of the metal building. I started getting a
little concerned noticing that there were bees flying all around, many of which toward my direction from the their home in the boxes. Before I
knew it dozens were all over my head and starting to land on my bare skinned arms and legs. Oh my god, I'm being attacked by bees! Now
I've been around bee boxes before, often much closer than that, and never had even one come after me. So someone or something had
aroused these guys and they were aimed at taking out their anger on me. I tried to fill my bottles as quick as I could and leave but at that
point it was too late as they were now all over me, probably hundreds but I have no way of knowing for sure. All I know is I started to hit the
panic point, you know that frame of mind when rational thought heeds to the irrational. I have heard stories from people who have been
attacked by angry bees and how terrifying, not too mention painful,  it can be. Well let me tell you now from personal experience that what
they say is 100% correct. I usually pride myself on the ability to stay calm and continue thinking even in dangerous or precarious but this
time I just freaked.My fight or flight instinct was triggered and I chose the latter.
Like a mad man I started running away, like I could out run them. Of course they just followed me and continued stinging me repeatedly all
over my body. I ran to the door of the building and banged as hard as I could yelling out for help, but to no avail. I then ran back to the faucet
that was still open and with water flowing out and instinctively put my head under the water. That helped for a moment, but they were
instantly back when I pulled my head away. So finally it dawned on me that I was going to have to extricate myself from this terrible
predicament as fast as possible and without help. I managed to fill one of my water bottles and strap it half way on the the bike trailer and
push off with the bike. But struggling as I was to swat the stinging bees all over my arms, legs and especially head the bike became
unstable and fell over, me with it. All my stuff I had strapped on top the trailer now came falling off and I had to gather it all and try to restrap
it back on. I was starting to lose it, yelling and screaming both in desperation, anger and need for help. Finally I managed to get everything
back on half tied down and started running with my bike when it finally dawned on me again; what the hell are you doing? You're not going
to outrun bees, get on your bike and ride. So I did, and after a few hundred yards most had given up their pursuit and all I was left with was
a throbbing head, stinging arms and legs, and badly wounded spirit. I rode back to the freeway and in my frustration coupled with
exhaustion and deep running anger screamed out as loud as I could the most vulgar words of the English language (fortunately there was
no one around to hear me or they probably would have called for the state hospital crew to come pick me up in a straight jacket). Ocean
rower, author, inspirational speaker, and friend Roz Savage writes in her first book about her experience rowing the S Atlantic ocean about
the phenomenon of 'scream therapy'. She describes how when she was so emotionally depleted and physically exhausted from being days
out alone in the unforgiving Atlantic ocean on her first transoceanic row that on several occasions she would crawl out on to the tip of the
bow of her small rowing vessel and scream at nothing but water, wind and waves for a few moments and afterwards feel a sense of calm
and relief to evacuate from her mind the built up anger and frustration. I think I found out what she meant yesterday out on those empty,
windy and desolate plains of N Dakota.
A short distance after escaping the bees I got off the freeway again and found a suitable place to camp behind a field of large aluminum
grain silos. I managed to set up my tent and shower and finally prepare dinner as if on a normal days camp, but my mind and body were
both in shock. I poured myself an extra drink and headed in to the tent just as the rain started to come down in loud crashing drops on my
tent (it had been threatening all afternoon with loud thunder and lightening in every direction). Lying my swollen and bruised head and body
down on my sleeping pad I instantly fell asleep, but was awoken every time the wind and thunder would start up again (which it did all night)
or the rain would come crashing down on the thin vinyl roof of my tent making large indentations on the surface. Each time I was awoke the
thought of those bees all over me was all that would enter my mind. Eventually morning came and with it clear skies and a favorable wind
out of the west that would end up helping to push me in to Bismarck still 50 miles to the east. I had my usual strong coffee and morning
porridge and packed up like I've been doing now for going on nine weeks straight everyday. Just another day.























Day 61  6/15/12
SP : Moffit, ND
EP: Herreid, SD
DM: 70
TM: 3,893



Notes
6:30pm. Camp tonight is a midwestern classic; in the prep area for a long ago used concession stand of a rodeo arena. I'm in the covered
but open area so if it rains, like it is looking it might, I will be dry. Additionally I don't have to set up my tent as my plan is to sleep right on top
of the prep table which I cleaned off earlier of all the bird and mouse droppings. Ahhhh, I couldn't ask for anything more or better, seriously.
For me this is better than the Sheraton. I have a nice view of the open prairie to the west with the setting sun, cover in case it rains, privacy
(this place looks like it hasn't been used or even visited for years), and the sounds and sights of my self energizing nature (birds galore and
cattle bellowing out from a holding yard in the auction lot next door). The town of Herreid is less than a mile south and I stopped for supplies
for dinner at the gas/food store just next door about an hour ago. This, folks, is what adventure cycling is all about. Not prearranged tours
with set itineraries and a sag wagon full of snacks, drinks, and spare tubes. Nor is it a researched bike route with corresponding maps
explaining every 50' climb and roadside eatery.
Its you, your bike, some meager supplies, and most importantly your wits and taste for the unknown. It's basically like being an early 19th
century explorer with the exception of there being no need to hunt for your food nor worry about hostile natives or animals. You still are
exploring and living off the land and using your wits to survive, but just with more security in knowing you're not going to starve, get eaten by
a bear, or scalped liked Custer if ammunition runs low.  I really believe I was born 200 years too late.
"Around noon today I rode by a small herd of buffalo, the last to reside on the great grassy plains of the Midwest. Of course they were
fenced in and commercially raised, but I was still struck by seeing them in their once bountiful homelands where 150 years ago there were
hundreds of thousands of the majestic looking beasts roaming freely. And what a spectacular sight it must have been to witness the great
brown tanned herds contrasting against the tall golden grasses of that time and spread out over areas larger than a modern mid-sized city.
So big news today is, I guess, my entrance in to state #7 of the 50@50 journey; South Dakota. When I ride during these warm windy days I
still am trying to digest mentally how big this is what I've taken on. I feel as if I've been forever on the road and am still not even 1/4
complete. The advantage that Lewis & Clark had over me is that they were not sure how long it would take to arrive to the pacific ocean.
They had planned for a year but it ended up taking 2 1/2. I know how much further I have to go and the thought sometimes is daunting.
So after foul mouthing N Dakota in yesterday's blog, today I feel some remorse and need to apologize. The few people I met today were
very friendly and practically every vehicle that went by me in the opposite direction waved, kind of like N BC. So it got me to thinking that
either the people of Bismarck are just a little strange or it's just denizens of cities in general. I believe now it is the latter. I have come to the
belief that people ought not live in areas of mass habitation, like major cities or even their surrounding suburbs. I don't think that humans,
being evolved from hundreds of thousands of years of existing in small clan communities and succeeding agrarian lifestyles, have adapted
to mass social integration. Our natures, need for intimate connection, is not met by living in areas of heavy population. Why did we leave
the farms and country lifestyle that for generations was the way of life, not just for Americans but all people's, some of which, though a small
minority, still practice? Industrialization; the amalgamation of a centuries old way of life in to centers of cohabitation for the mass production
of a seemingly infinite amount of material objects to satisfy every need, whether you desire it or not. Did we ask for it?  Well some of us did,
especially the ones who could profit the most. Are we better off?  Well arguably yes, and no. If you ask most people would they go back to a
rural farm lifestyle most would say no. But I bet if you ask those same people are you as happy, content, and healthy living your routine 8-5
job, commuting in traffic to work everyday, shopping at the same grocery store, and yearning for the much anticipated 2 weeks of allotted
vacation time every year, I bet they would say no. In other words I don't believe people are better off today when less than 10% of the
population live in rural communities or farms than when 90% did 200 years ago. Yes we live longer and in general healthier. But that's not
because of living in suburbia, but rather advances in medicine and technology and knowledge in general. So I guess now I'm just not fit to
be around centers of mass population (ie; cities or their surrounding suburbs). That's why I live in a small community named Cornville (half
way between Centerville and McGuireville) and every time I enter an area or building (malls) or anywhere with a lot of strangers I get
uncomfortable and spiritually sapped of energy. And perhaps that is the reason why every time on this journey I arrive to a capital it is a bad
day for me. Wow, if that's the case then I have a lot of bad days coming ahead as I just today arrived in to state #7 out of 50 with the
congested over populated east coast on deck. That is not a promising omen for the days to come. Sorry N Dakota.
So earlier today I met a young attractive lady about my sons age at the first stop of the day in Hazelton, N Dakota. I was devouring the ham
sandwich I had bought back in Bismarck yesterday out in front of the highway gas/store that exists in every small Midwestern town (it
seems the roads came after the towns and the folks of these small communities don't want the commuter traffic coming through their towns
so the gas station is out on the highway). Anyways, I got to talking with this girl and in conversation she mentioned that she had grown up in
her early years in the closely vicinity but thankfully had escaped and was now living in SE Arizona, Sierra Vista to be exact (I lived in Sierra
Vista when I was a teenager) and that she was back to visit her ailing father who was terminally dying from brain cancer. It didn't take a very
introspective soul to discern that this girl was in a tremendous amount of grief and guilt. I shared with her my experience of my fathers
passing from lung cancer at the still young age of 67 and how traumatic an event it had been for me and the fact that it was life's way of
developing us as understanding and compassionate people fit to help others while simultaneously develop as individuals. Before we
departed I gave her my business card and told her to stop by sometime if she was in the 'hood'. She thanked me for the words of
inspiration and encouragement though I could tell, from having had been there myself, that they didn't quite register completely. Afterwards
while pedaling through these continuous fields of rolling grains and grass, I thought to myself how lucky I am. Her father was only 51, less
than 2 years older than I am and placed in a home for the terminally ill. And here I am.
So, some interesting facts about S Dakota; it achieved statehood along with its brethren to the north in 1889 and it's 77,000 square miles
in land ranks it 15th among states. It's lowest point, Big Stone is just under 1000' elevation and highest point, Harney Peak,  is over 7,200'
and the highest point east of the Colorado Rockies. It is home to Mt Rushmore, 'The Shrine of Democracy' (not sure who coined that one)
and the Black Hills are considered the Alps of America (whoever came up with that obviously had never visited the European Alps).
Understandably it ranks in the top ten in production of wheat, corn, oats, barley, rye, and cattle production. It's state motto; 'Under God the
people rule'. Ok. If you're wondering how I learned all of this today while I was riding my bike, well there was a big bronze informative plaque
on the side of the road as I entered the Great State of S Dakota a little earlier this afternoon. And in all honesty, thank you S Dakota for
offering me such a gracious welcome to your beautiful state. I love traveling through the Midwestern portion of this wonderful country we call
home.
The only other tidbit of news I feel compelled to tell about the days journey was passing by the very town that Lawrence Welk was born in,
Strasberg N Dakota. I know what you're thinking; so what? Well to me it was a big deal as a flood of memories came back as I pictured my
mother and father every Sunday night at 7 pm turning on the Magnavox black and white, full volume no less, and literally forcing us young
hellions to watch Pat Boone, and others I'm too tired to recall, sing and dance with big band songs and, much to our comfort, intermittent
pauses of commercials of Breck Girl shampoo and Marlboro cigarettes. Oh, if only I could call them both at this moment and tell them of the
place I passed by today. They would be so happy and proud.

























Day 62  6/16/12
SP : Herreid, SD
EP: Oneida, SD
DM: 84
TM: 3,977



Notes
7pm. Tonight's camp is a first for me on this trip but one Jim and I are accustomed to having traveled through the Midwest on multiple
summer biking trips. The Midwest, which comprises that section of the country basically east of the Rocky mountains and west of the
Appalachian mountains is really the only section of the country anymore where you are welcome to camp in the town park and the residents
even treat you with the respect reserved for a celebrity. I'm in the town park of Oneida S Dakota, at the most 40 miles NE of the capital
Pierre, #7 on the list of 50. Again it's one of those towns that was here well before the highway was built which is about a half mile to the
west.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXXs4kKtkws

Most of these small agricultural towns are situated as such, I'm presuming, because they were originally constructed along the railway line
and felt no need to relocate simply because the mode of transport needed to take their labors of production (cattle, hogs, corn, soybeans,
alfalfa) changed from the steel rail to the asphalt roadway. So there is a gas station out on the highway but the structures, integrity and
nature of all these small towns is still kept in tact a mere half mile away from the main artery of commerce. No Walmarts here. No fast food
joints or 7elevens. No strip malls, Home Depots or Kohls. No Safeways or Albertsons (just the local grocery store where the friendly owner
gave me directions to this park). No gated communities or fenced yards (no fences anywhere for that matter). I think there is a local
constable but I have yet to see him. There is a white limestone cut county courthouse in the middle of town with a large US flag in front
flapping in the wind. Someone told me about a local restaurant that is open on Saturday evenings and has good, reasonably priced
dinners, but I'll just make my usual pasta and salad as I'm not much in the mood for going out. There is a high school a stones throw west of
the park here with a football field, track and those aluminum bleachers that I remember were so much fun to hide under as a kid. A few kids
are swimming in the community pool here at the park and a little while ago an elderly gentleman (well he was about my age [ok, middle
age]) was out on a walk with what looked to be his grandkids learning to ride their bikes. A little while ago I showered in the dressing room
of the pool, free of charge of course (there was even a bottle of body wash in the shower in case you had forgot your soap. I think that is
pretty neat). The staff at the pool (young HS age ladies with apparently their first summer jobs) were all friendly and interested in hearing
about my journey commenting how cool it was to be doing that at my 'age'. My gosh, I think I've stumbled across Norman Rockwell
America. Why did we ever leave a relaxed, idyllic life like this to live and work in estranged, congested cities where no one communicates
or trusts each other?  Was it out of necessity for jobs so we could afford  most the useless crap we collect through out our lives of what we
mistakenly believe we need to be content or safe in life. Or was it because we bought in to a misinformation campaign, delivered by those
most likely to profit from the change of lifestyle, via sources of mass communication (TV, radio, and now Internet). I haven't watched a
single minute of TV for at least 6 months and with the exception of an occasional sporting event (primarily Suns basketball) nothing for over
5 years and I don't miss it at all. If there's anybody out there reading this here is my humble advice; blow up your TV, unsubscribe from the
daily newspaper, if you listen to radio just keep it on the music stations, and when on line avoid the 24/7 deluge of hyperbolic and
sensationalized news and commentaries. Here's a novel idea; this is an election year and as usual we will be besieged with million dollar,
mostly negative, political campaigns from every direction trying to persuade us not so much to vote for them, but rather to hate, (not just
disagree but outright abhore) their opponent. 24/7 cable news outlets (Fox, CNN, MSNBC), inflammatory and seditious talk radio hosts,
and the abundance of partisan and outright bogus Internet sites are their main conduits and tools of brainwashing, if we allow them, to our
minds and feelings. Right or left wing, blue or red, Republican or Democrat, atheist or religious fanatic, bleeding liberal or closed minded
conservative. There tactics are simple and time proven effective; spread fear then divide and conquer in order to gain them over to their
camp and garner more votes, and hopefully with enough money you will be victorious at the polls. Politics is all about money and power, it
always has been since our first president left the office. Let's boycott these elections (and I've never missed an election since I turned 18)
until politicians, and the media that profit from it all, realize we don't want to see or hear of it anymore. Lets send a loud message to all
these agents of anger and divisiveness that we won't stand for this craziness anymore, that we are still one nation, under god, indivisible
and with liberty and justice for all. Lets read books again and write letters or begin that project you've had in mind for years but never found
time to start. In other words, pull the plug out, disconnect. Understand that life is not that difficult nor complicated like these stressful, hyper
informational times program us in to believing it is. If we just simplify and base our lives on trusting one another again and, when called
upon, helping our neighbors then fulfillment in life is much more easily attained. Freedom of mind and peace of soul cannot be realized as
long as we continue to build walls. erect fences, and sepa
rate ourselves from one another, both literally and in the figurative sense.
Great news on the home front today from Daniel Nash, father of 50@50 beneficiary Dakota. They have found a nice place in Scottsdale to
reside for the next couple months or until Dakota's daily therapy treatments are no longer required and the new transplant marrow is taking
seat in his blood and not being rejected by his own, previously cancer laced blood. All of this is wonderful to hear and has really brightened
my day. I will write more later on regarding the home they've found and it's generous understanding owner.























Day 63 6/17/12
SP : Oneida, SD
EP:  Blunt, SD
DM: 57
TM: 4,034



Notes
2:30pm. I'm sitting in the town laundromat here in the S Dakota capital of Pierre, trying to be as  unseen as possible in my grey skin tight
Lycra tights and blue wind breaker jacket that I'm forced to wear as I am washing all my other clothes because they are so dirty. I need to
buy a pair of shorts just for these moments so I don't feel so embarrassed in laundry rooms like this. A little while ago there was a stout lady
at least 300 lbs eyeing me a bit to closely and so now I'm sitting in the back corner where no one can see me. My clothes are in the dryer
now so as soon as they're dry I'm putting on my shorts again and getting the heck out of here.
I left my trailer back at the junction of hwys 83 and 14 behind a truck stop stashed in some cypress bushes this morning before pedaling the
final 20 miles in to Pierre. The plan is to pick it up this afternoon when I head back on my way towards capital #8, St Paul. This is the first
time on this trek I've had to backtrack over the same ground/road, but this is only 15 miles.
7pm. I'm back at the truck stop where I left my trailer and I've decided to camp here in what appears to be a wind breaker line of adolescent
sized coniferous and locust trees just a few hundred yards from the actual truck stop itself and the junction of hwys 14 and 83. Taking care
of business (clothes, shopping, bike mechanicals [the bearings on my pedal shaft were starting to grind]) took me a bit longer than usual in
Pierre (pronounced Peer like 'fishing pier' [I learned this the first time I came through here in 2004 with my 10 year old son, at the time,
Domenic on the 200th anniversary of the Lewis & Clark expedition]). On my approach in to the capital, in fact directly in front of the small
yet uniquely designed building, I rode by a young lady out on a Sunday walk with her dog (Alaskan Malamute in obvious discomfort from the
unusually warm 90+ temps of the day). "Excuse me, but is this the capital building?" I asked as I rode by half concentrating while talking on
my phone and through my headphones to my son calling to wish me a happy fathers day. "Yes it is" was her immediate response. I
stopped so I could do my now routine short video clip and picture to validate the fact that I had really transported this tired 50 year old body
of mine to the 7th capital on the list of 50 states. The lady whom I had inquired of my location just seconds prior approached me straddling
my bike and asked if I was the fellow trying to travel to all 50 US capitals. How did she know who I was?  We had had no media coverage
in the area and my only means of advertisement is the thin 'Gump' shirt I wear with small lettering that no one cares to read, even if they can
from the small font. Well, turns out that this personable lady, Kelsey, was the governor's scheduling director who had been contacted by
FRAANK volunteer, exquisite sign maker, kayaker extraordinaire, and personal friend John Alvey last week to give notice of my impending
arrival and had overheard my conversation with my son as I was riding by and figured I was the old, grey bearded geezer John had warned
her about. Wow, what are the odds of this happen stance meeting occurring on a Sunday right in front of the capital?  We talked for a few
moments as I petted her panting dog and I asked her if she would take a few pics of me in front of the building itself just in case I don't
make it back. We also briefly went over the possibility of a meeting tomorrow with the governor if I was still in Pierre and his schedule
allowed it. Then we parted ways and I thought to myself this is how this trip had been since the beginning; pieces of the pie just seem to fall
in to place, sometimes at just the right moment and perfect rhythm. My motto has always been to not take a trip ('life' can be substituted for
'trip') but rather allow the trip to take you where it wants to go. It seems when I try to force, control or mold things to fit my expectations or
desires that they generally don't work out, or worse yet end up in disaster. I try to make the best heartfelt plan I can and then let go and allow
the forces at will work out the rest.
I know sometimes I can get a bit wordy and emotional (anger included [see yesterday's blog entry]) in this blog but this is also my diary.
And in any diary it becomes your best friend to whom you confide with and tell secrets that you wouldn't ordinarily express, especially on the
world wide web. I don't believe in dishonesty and am a terrible liar (just ask my wife). The only way I can relate with others is in honesty. Life
is too short to play manipulative games or live in drama, hoping through our actions to gain the reactions of others. So if something is said
that offends someone please accept my apologies ahead of time and I'll try not to stay long on my soapbox.
The owner of the local bike shop here in town had left a set of pedals behind his shop for me to pick up since the shop was closed, it being
a Sunday. I offered to pay him in advance with credit card but he insisted that wasn't necessary and just to leave the cash under the bucket
where he had left the pedals. Now that's small town trustworthiness you don't just find anywhere.
Big news of the day is of course the arrival in to Pierre S Dakota, capital # 7 of the 50@50 self powered tour and the fact that the temps
hovered around 100' for most the day. I didn't mind so much though, in fact it felt good after those chilly weeks in Alaska, BC, and the
Northwest.

























Day 64 6/18/12
SP : Blunt, SD
EP:  Highmore, SD
DM: 77
TM: 4,111



Notes
6:30pm. Tonights camp is in the middle of a small, neglected of what appear to be walnut trees. There is hip high grass all over and I can
see no reason why this football field size grove of trees was ever planted as there is no fruit bearing and it looks as if no one has tended to
it in years. Anyways I'm a few miles east of the Highmore SD and at the most a quarter mile south of Hwy 14. After two consecutive days of
heat I believe summer has finally come to 50@50. People ask me if it's hot enough for me and I tartly reply 'No, it feels great!' I can finally
put those cold days and nights back up in Alaska, Yukon, BC, the NW, and Montana behind me and start to to enter summer traveling. I
think from now until I reach Texas sometime in late September that heat, not cold, will be the important weather element with which to
contend. Time to get rid of whatever winter clothing is left.
So a little earlier I was seriously contemplating shaving the long, grey facial hair, but I I couldn't pull the trigger, or more appropriately,
squeeze the scissors. Looking at my over-sunned, tired looking face with grey hair all over I asked myself why. I had told John when in
Alaska that I would not shave the beard until we meet out fundraising goal of $50,000 no matter how many people give me strange looks
nor uncomfortable it becomes. The beard is part of 50@50 and to shed it would mean giving up, no matter how seemingly unrelated,
before the goal has been met. I am bound and determined to reach Hawaii next year and any incentive it takes to get me to that finish line,
even ugly and uncomfortable facial hair, will be accepted and used.
So this morning I was packing my bike like I've done everyday for going on 9 consecutive weeks when I get a text from Kelsey the
scheduler for SD governor Daugaard (Governor, if you are reading this, she is wonderful at her job and as a person as well) informing me
that a brief meeting at 10am has been scheduled and wondering if I could make it. Being camped nearly 20 miles away from the capital at
the highway junction truck stop my first impulse was to say 'thanks, but no thanks'. I had written the wordy text message out when, as is
typical of my behavior ever since I was a kid, I had a change of mind. 'Yes, that would be great. Expect me then' was my text reply. What?
That would entail an 18 mile ride back in to the capital city and then 18 miles straight back.  You don't need 40 extra miles on your tired old
legs just to get a dumb little picture of yourself alongside the governor of a state nobody even pays attention to anyway. I can't explain why I
made the decision I did. Part of it I think is to acknowledge the efforts of my good friend John who spent a considerable amount of his time
trying to arrange the meeting. But I think mostly the reason I decided to bike back in to Pierre was for the FRAANK 50@50 causes
themselves as without the meeting and photo-op to put up on the website the 'act' loses its importance and thus the cause suffer. And if the
cause must be bigger than the act to be successful, every opportunity that may advance the act must be taken advantage of. It is what I
found out on the baseball trip two years ago and am reminded almost daily now that I am well engaged in 50@50. (A beautiful young deer
just came hopping through the tall green grass not more than 25' away from where I'm seated on my camp stool pecking out these words.
He looked at me and I at him as I slowly tried to catch a pic of him. Of course a picture never grasps the real feel of the moment). Anyways,
to make a long story short I ended up biking back in to Pierre and met the governor this morning and afterwards biked back to the
camp/truck stop/highway junction and after eating a bite hopped back on my two wheeler (check that, 3 wheeler including the trailer wheel)
and proceeded onward toward capital #8, St Paul MN along highway 14 with its narrow 2' shoulder of width.
The day was warm but not as hot as yesterday and I managed to pedal in to Highmore around 4pm. I stopped to get an ice cream at the
roadside store and the clerk lady told me about a comfortable park about a mile away within the town area itself. I rode over there but it
was not what I was looking for being completely surrounded by apartments and homes. I did fill up my water bottles from the spigot and
continued on down the highway until I found this little oasis here in the middle of America with singing birds (including my favorite the
mourning dove) and frolicking deer.
10pm. Tonight for the first time this journey I have been accompanied by lightning bugs. That is a real sign that summer is here and that I
have left the west behind. I also have received some disheartening news for the second time in as many days: yesterday I read on FB that
Sarah Outen, the girl who was the original owner of the boat (and had constructed to have it built) I plan to row to Hawaii next year was
rescued on the N Pacific ocean by the Japanese coast guard only a few hundred miles off shore and days after her launch to be the first
woman to row across the N Pacific ocean in her challenge to circumnavigate the globe using only self powered means of transportation. It
appears her new boat Gulliver, which was built by the same boat maker of her first boat (now mine), developed some type of hole in its
structure after being beaten around in a freak, late season typhoon. I haven't heard much about it yet but I do know she is safe and on dry
land again. If you want to find out more visit her website at www.sarahouten.com
The other piece of news was even more unpleasant to find out; my cousin (more an uncle than cousin), the second born son of my fathers
only sister (Anna, 12 years older than Pop), passed away yesterday at the age of 81. Epifanio, named after my paternal grandfather, was a
typical appearing sicilain man of short stature, stout waistline, and a shiny bald head. He lived his entire life in the small town of Bisacquino
Sicily, where my father grew up, and was more a little brother to my Pop than a nephew, he being only 10 years younger. I met Fano for the
first time in 1978 when Pop took Mom, my brother Mario, and myself back to Sicily for the summer. At the time I was only 15 and he in his
mid 40's just a few years younger than I am today. Back then he and his older brother Salvatore ran a little bakery on the bottom floor of
their centuries old 4 story rock, brick, and mortar built home where all the roads are narrow (big enough for a horse and small carriage to
pass through) and paved with rocks and bricks. I remember the two of them along with their wives getting up real early each morning, hours
before the sun would rise, and making the dough and baking their unbelievable fresh bread in the wood fired brick oven. Being family
working together and in close hot quarters, sometimes I would be awoke early in the morning to the sound of lively conversations mixed
with loud outbursts of anger most of which I could not make out, it being in thick Sicilian dialect, but the understanding was clear
nonetheless. In the warm afternoons after the midday repose following the big 1:30 meal of the day (complete with pasta, bread, meat, and
of course wine) Fano would take me out to  'la campagna 'the country' (a few times on his mule which I loved to ride on) to tend to the
mature grape vines, lanky fig trees with dark blue bulbs hanging from it's branches, sweet figo d'indi (prickly pear cactus) stands, and water
and care for all the beautiful growing vegetables and skittish chickens and cantankerous goats. He taught me how to irrigate the fields and
prune the trees, trim the vegetables so what was growing would mature and ripen best and work the hand tools and prime the water pump
so the few feet of water in the shallow hand dug well could brought to the surface. He showed me how to turn the old country soil over so it
could 'breath' and when it was hot how to relax under the shade of a 200 hundred year old olive tree and have a sip of wine so as to relax
and not get overheated in the warm Mediterranean afternoons. I think I learned as much about life during those times as I had in all my
years of college combined. Fano was always friendly and patient with me as I spoke only very limited Italian at the time and he no English.
He would teach me the word for this or that and though it took longer for him to explain how to do something to me than it would have had
he just done it himself, he never took the job over for me; but rather, would smile and calmly explain, without the slightest touch of
condescension, as best he could given the language barrier so I would understand the correct way of doing it. I'll never forget that gentle
and respectful way he had, even though I often lack that quality in myself. The last time I saw Fano was just a couple years ago when I was
back in Sicily to visit yet another ailing cousin (and who had subsequently died shortly after my visit). At that time he still looked good and
though hardly robust, was able to get around with a cane and make his daily outings to the campagna. We had a glorious couple days
together eating and drinking in typical Sicilian fashion and I couldn't help but be touched and a little saddened when he would begin to cry,
as he did often during my short visit, when reminiscing back to old times. My condolences go out to his surviving wife of 50 years, Nina,
and his 3 kids; Calogero, Giuseppe, and Anna Maria.
Epifanio AlFano; 1930-2012; Rest in peace good cousin.























Day 65  6/19/12
SP : Highmore, SD
EP:  Miller, SD
DM: 35
TM: 4,146



Notes
6:30pm. Today is the worst day, mileage wise, since that horrible wind whipped stomach ache day in BC 5 or 6 weeks ago (see day 26).
The wind was out of the NE, exactly my direction of travel. I only pedaled for a little over 4 hours as I couldn't see the sense in doing any
more with these windy conditions. So I caught up on my writing, sent some emails out I had been thinking of for quite some time and
chatted with people during stops along the way. All in all, not a bad day; a quasi rest day even with the undesirable winds.
Tonight's camp, like last night is in a straight line grove of trees, laid out in a compound like square formation, with tall waist high grass and
several burned to the ground former wood structures with only the foundation stem walls remaining as evidence of their existence. It
appears that at one time this was a working farm but with the exception of these wind break trees and some old abandoned work truck with
a large black vegetable container on its chassis, no other evidence to the fact remains.
I've learned to accept windy days like these and not try to fight the forces that be. As I mentioned in a earlier journal entry, it's important in
life, I believe, to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves all the while not being overly indulgent or especially greedy
with its blessings. Greed or gluttony is a vice and one that does not earn the makers praise. But to not accept the gift when delivered is
almost equally shameful and even repugnant. Today's ride with the adverse wind, though not a bikers dream condition, was to be expected
after the many days and weeks I've had since leaving W Oregon (Salem) when I racked up many easy miles. I took full advantage of those
tailwind days remaining in the saddle for hours longer than usual. I'm not sure if I am making my analogy clear or not to any (if there are any)
readers of this or not. Life it seems is like the wind; sometimes at our back pushing us to where we want to go and be at incredible speeds
never attained without its assistance. And other times it feels like an insurmountable obstacle that can't be beat no matter how much effort
we put in to it. During those times of resistance it may be better to reevaluate what your goals are and plan for a contingent course of
action, no matter how much disappointment the outcome. Hence I'm camped out in a not too picturesque camp area looking at a beat up
old truck and swatting biting flies and picking off ticks that thrive in thick tall grass (like that I am surrounded by) from my arms and legs,
rather than beating my mind and body to a pulp against these unforgiving headwinds of the last couple of days. So how do you know if the
winds are going to be in your face or at your back, especially without a daily forecaster (who most the time are wrong anyways)? You turn
off the noise of everyday life and listen and feel and trust in your own judgement and intuitive senses telling you the forecast. To do this
though you have to have a clear mind and be in touch with nature and yourself, and then even then the forecast may be wrong. But at least
you were somewhat attuned to the conditions and are ripening the senses so that next time a more accurate prediction can be made.
9pm. About an hour ago I noticed that the wind had picked up intensity and that the clouds to the north were looking a bit darker than they
had all day and I could feel the pressure drop in my bones so I've decided to take cover in a tiny little wooden shed, the last of the structures
in this unoccupied tree walled compound still standing.  I'm not sure what this thing was originally meant to house but whatever it was it
couldn't have been much since it is only 12' by 10' and is leaning at an angle as if it is sliding down a hill. But it is shelter in the case it
decides to rains. There are holes in the roof and walls so I set up my tent with rainfly. If it does rain at least I will have cover to cook tonight
and be able to escape the tight confines of the tent in the morning to have coffee and cereal. So I christen this place Sheraton 45 seeing as
how I'm only a stones throw away from Hwy 45, a 2 lane rural road in the middle of S Dakota and accommodations, at least for me, are as
commodious as a Sheraton hotel (minus the big screen TV).

























Day 66  6/20/12
SP : Miller, SD
EP:  Watertown, SD
DM: 101
TM: 4,247
Week 8   WM: 493  TM: 4,046    AVG. PER DAY: 70.4-72.25 miles



Notes
6:30pm. Tonight's camp is the first of what I anticipate to be many along the 50@50 route; a cornfield. Actually last year this was a cornfield
as is evident from the remnant cornstalks and corncobs blanketing the dark rich soiled earth here. Obviously crop rotation is the method
employed as a new crop has been sewed for now; soybeans. They are 3-4" tall young sprouts with broad leafs all lined up in perfect
formation as they were seeded by the farm tractor. The rows are so perfect they look like the lanes on a high school track.
10:30pm. I'm in my tent and ready for a good nights sleep. It is actually a bit cold outside, especially when the wind blows which is almost a
constant here in S Dakota. I can't believe that tomorrow is the longest day of the year, the summer solstice, and I am still cold. I thought last
week, heck just a few days ago, that this was over and that from now on it was cold showers and sleepingbagless nights. I reckon I should
enjoy the cool temps though while they last because once the hot humid climate takes hold it will be ruthless and these cool days and nights
will seem like something of a fond dream.
Not much to report on today, just a favorable wind out of the NW for most the day allowing me to make up the lost mileage from yesterday. I
stopped in Redfield for lunch at Subway (geez their sandwiches are terrible) and when I was rolling my tent up on the side of the store after
lunch (I had laid it out when I first arrived on a picnic table on the side of the store to dry after last nights rain [which leaked through the old
roof of Sheraton 45]) a lady, with her husband waiting in their van, approached me asking me details about my adventure. I briefly
explained and she insisted on buying me lunch and when I told her I had already had lunch she insisted once again that I take $10 for a
future lunch. I politely accepted her offerings of generosity and told her I would put it towards our fund raising efforts and gave her a
brochure. That doesn't happen very often and helped to brighten my mood a bit after thousands of stares throughout the days and weeks of
travel from people with obvious interest in me and my unorthodox means of travel but without the nerve or willingness to ask much yet
donate. Sometimes I feel like I'm a circus clown or center stage in a rolling freak show. People look, comment amongst themselves, and
occasionally laugh but rarely do they interact with the performers.
There are hordes of biting flies here and they seem to love dining on my legs. However, and thankfully so, there are no mosquitoes yet (and
'yet' is the key word). Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes and oceans of the miserable little blood suckers, is on deck and where I will
pedal in to tomorrow morning






















Day 67  6/21/12
SP : Watertown, SD
EP:  Hutchinson, MN
DM: 118
TM: 4,365




Notes
6pm. Another big mileage day thanks in no small part to the steady 10-15 NW wind helping me to maintain an avg speed of over 16mph
for over 7 hours saddle time eastward across these flat midwestern agricultural fields. Big news of the day is I entered US state #8 of
50@50; Minnesota. I feel I'm at this point of the journey where it's still possible to buckle under the realization of how long and daunting a
challenge this really is. I know I've said this before but I must say it again; I feel like I've been on the road forever, and I'm only roughly 1/4
complete. Everyday the question runs through my mind, multiple times, how I am going to find the fortitude to continue on. It's not so much
the physical wear and tear of pedaling a heavy bike with a trailer attached everyday on average 70+ miles a day,  as is the mental part of
this day after day. My mind is my best friend and worst enemy. Trying to keep it quiet and in balance is the secret. When times are good it's
easy to get excited and euphoric over things; but the real challenge is when things decide to go south and turn against you. That's when it
gets really difficult and your only desire is for this to be over and go home. I must admit that up until now I have not been hit with many really
downer moments when all you want to do is crawl in to a ball, throw the blanket over your head and cry yourself to sleep (god forbid I should
I hit that point during the day as my bed and blanket are all packed away in my trailer bag and would take forever to get out and assemble).
I think my age and experience at this may have something to do with it. The older we get the more natural it becomes to shluff off the minor
crap and the understanding that 'this too shall pass' takes on greater importance. And the fact I've done so much of this bike traveling
(nearly 25 years) that I know what to expect and how to make things as comfortable as possible on myself. But that doesn't mean I've found
some secret for completely avoiding those pitfalls of life on the road and that I don't get tired of all this and yearn for nothing more than to be
finished and back home. This is one hell of a long trip and to date have not taken one day off since departing Phoenix back on April 16. I
have been riding 58 straight days averaging around 75 miles a day everyday. My body is fine and has learned to adapt to the daily
rigorous activities but my mind, like I said before, is still playing its games. There are all types of tools at my disposal to turn it off.
Sometimes I put my headphones in and listen to music. Other times I stop and write in my journal or pop a few sunflower seeds in my
pocket to munch on while riding. And then there is always my phone and connections to home, family and friends. Lately I've been finding
the inner fortitude, or what I like to call stamina, to just shut out the negative voices and refocus on more positive thoughts such as the the
logistics of the trip or the fundraising efforts or even the physical surroundings of this flat breadbasket of the north American continent.
There are tools, and people, at our disposal to help us through difficult times. Some believe in prayer or release to powers of an almighty to
help ease the difficult times and provide guidance. I'm not sure what I believe in; how can my little mind understand or even begin to grasp
the existential wonders of life? I do believe though that if the heart is full and soul content than the course of action, no matter what the
outcome, is the right one.
Ok, I've had my philosophical moment for the day so now it's on to more practical matters. Tonight's camp is at the junction of Hwy's 7 & 71
in W Minnesota and behind a truckstop/restaurant/small store in a well maintained grassy field with a lot of old discarded restaurant
equipment scattered about. There are lots of tall trees providing me with adequate shade from the afternoons warm sun and there is a
small field of corn just to the east. All this would not be complete though without the smoke house barbecue trailer with a painted profile
picture of a Viking on the side panel and just waiting to be taken to a tailgate party (I know I'm in Minnesota now). I rode up to the store
about an hour ago hoping to find some cold beer after the warm marathon session on the bike saddle today but to no avail (this must be a
dry county as the last little town had no beer either but a sign as you enter on the roadway proclaiming it a city 'blessed by the lord'). Then I
asked the clerk, who asked the owners wife sitting in a booth who turned to ask the owner himself just coming out of the kitchen, if it was
alright I camped in the back on the grassy shady area I scoped out as I rode up. "Sure, no problem" was the immediate response from
middle age owner to his wife and back to Jim the clerk and finally to me.  This was good news and I was relieved as there was no where I
could find to camp in this country of complete usage (every square foot it seems is under cultivation with the exception of small forested
islands randomly scattered about these endless flat fields of corn where these Minnesota farmers build their homes, barns, ventilated hog
pens, and store their farming vehicles and accoutrements). I walked my bike behind the junction store/gas/cafe building and since have
been relaxing under the shade of these tall beautiful elm trees and pecking out these few meaningless words. A few moments ago Jim, the
clerk, brought me two cold cans of beer, in apparent reference to my inquiry earlier about whether they had beer or not. I was so shocked
and uplifted by such a kind act of thoughtfulness I hardly knew what to say. He had not only not forgotten my inquiry but had actually brought
me the refreshing object of intense desire itself. How good people can be if we only we give them a chance.
I showered tonight with the main objective of trying to not be seen since there are two highways with in sight and a store not more than 150'
away. So I decided on the stone filled dump truck just feet from my intended camping area. The truck is not very high and if anybody driving
by happen to be looking in my direction I'm sure they would get a cheap surprise. As usual it felt great  and after over a hundred miles
biking in warm weather was the best thing I could hope for.
For a good part of the day I had the opportunity to ride on a freshly laid concrete road with no cars or people anywhere in sight. It was
fabulous and an experience only fully appreciated by one who has battled vehicles on roadways for over two months. I wasn't quite sure why
such a new beautiful road was being built out here with such little traffic, unless it was part of the economic stimulus funds appropriated a
few years back, but it is nice anyways.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGYV76-1KV0

Oh, one other tidbit of creepy news. This morning I was surprised and a little startled to find a small slimy  lizard like creature crawling under
my tent. I saw and felt the lump under my sleeping bag and at first figured it was just a corn cob. Turned out to be a 'whatever' it is seeking a
dark, warm place to hide for the cool night. He actually was kind of cute, and not just in a way only his mom could see.  Once I got over my
surprise to see him I started to play with him for a little while until he got scared and slowly crawled away. Let's see now Orca whales in the
Lynne Canal, wolves in the Yukon, grizzly bears in BC, slugs in Washington, snakes in Idaho, and now slimy lizards in the Midwest. What's
next?  I probably shouldn't ask that question.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgXFNTAbJlU























Day 68  6/22/12
SP : Hutchinson, MN
EP:  Waconia, MN
DM: 68
TM: 4,433




Notes
I arrived in to Waconia lake, my destination for the day, around 3:30pm and stayed with Bill and Anne Meyerhoff and their two kids
Elizabeth and Will for the evening. We talked and drank and ate most the afternoon and evening and this is it for journal entries for the day.















Day 69  6/23/12
SP : Waconia, MN
EP:  South St. Paul, MN
DM: 64
TM: 4,497




Notes
Camp tonight is probably the worst yet of the 50@50 journey, at least up to now. I'm basically in the southern suburbs of the Twin Cities and
the burbs, being what they are, offer little in the way of aesthetically nice camping. This is to be accepted and I knew that as I ventured
further east the camping would devolve more in to hiding than cohabiting with nature. The east half of this country is much more filled in than
the western half; it is the old country of the new world. And as profound the differences between 'old Europe' and us, as is are the
differences between the east and west half's of this great continent. Technically speaking I'm still in the Midwest here in Minnesota, even
though I crossed over the Mississippi river today. But the feel has changed substantially. The air, humidity, hills, layout of the cities and
suburban areas, and most of all the people all are starting to resemble the east.
So camp tonight is about 100' east of Concord Blvd practically in the middle of some Twin City suburban area (I think its Inver Heights) and
perhaps 20 miles total south of St Paul. My goal this morning when I started off was to get to the capital as soon as possible and then out of
the city and suburbia and back in to farm country where I could once again be relaxed with the calming surroundings and people. But I
bogged down pedaling through the Twin cities and with the myriad of traffic lights, congestion, and inevitably getting lost several times,
ended up not getting to capital until around 3pm.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7nXLIz9X1E

It is Saturday and of course nobody was around except for a few volunteers. There was only one other capital where I made no contacts at
all prior to this and that was Salem Oregon on a Friday before memorial day weekend and it happen to be furlough day for the state
workers and thus elected officials. Anyways, what a chaotic day trying to get through the Twin Cities. Even using my gps with google maps I
managed to get lost 3 or 4 times. One time I went the opposite direction almost 4 miles before realizing something was not right. Part of
the problem is that it was overcast all day and without the sun I lose my sense of bearing. Another reason has to be the absurd way some
of the roads are laid out, curving around parks, lakes, and housing subdivisions. But the major problem I had today, looking back now, is
that I think I'm just getting tired. My whole consciousness seems to be on cruise control right now, and that's not a good sign especially
when trying to bike through a busy urban center like what I pedaled through today. Part of my problem was I slept bad last night (like I did
the other times I slept indoors on this trip) and my focus just wasn't there. I also did not have a cup of coffee this morning which may have
contributed to my lethargy. But I'm betting the major contributing factor is the accumulation of physical, but especially psychological, fatigue
after nearly 10 weeks on the road going every moment until the end of the day, like now, when I can relax, write and try to refill that pot of
spent energy. This frame of mind is difficult to personally understand much yet put down in to words for someone else to comprehend. In
one sense, probably the majority, I'm feeling totally used up and feel I could break at any moment and long for nothing more than to be
home with my wife, kids, dog, cat, and business. But another part is totally alive in the psyche moment (my body has already gone in to a
coma, and long ago) and wondering if I can continue this pace which is necessary if I want to complete this first stage of 49 states before
winter. I didn't hit this point in the 6 month baseball trip two years ago until I was about 2/3 done. I'm not even 1/3 done with this. I know I
keep writing about this and I'm trying not to focus on the negative energy that keeps wanting to take over my mind, but it's difficult to deal
with and I have no one around to talk to except the occasional store clerk or stranger I encounter in the roadway. Plus I know people just
don't want to hear it; I chose to do this and realistically could end it anytime. But that would mean failure and an option I'm not even willing to
let become a possible alternative. Again, I believe part of the problem is getting through crowded major metropolitan areas. Cities suck
(my apologies to all you city dwellers)! Theres no way else to put it.
Anyways I'm starting to get lazy when it comes to dinner. Tonight all I'm having is some roasted chicken from the grocery store and potato
salad. At least I still have the desire to make a fresh salad. Part of the reason for this lack of enthusiasm for meal preparation is the fact I
can't make fires anymore due to the close vicinity of people and homes (remind you this is stealth camping now as opposed to wild
camping up in BC). It's also getting hotter and the bugs more ferocious thus bringing the comfort level of being outdoors down several
hundred decibels. Plus I'm a little burned out on cooking (and that's coming from a guy who it as a profession).
Anyways yesterday was my first 'social' day in weeks. Bill and Ann Meyerhoff are wonderful friends and people from the 'hood' back in
Cornville. They moved to Minnesota a couple years ago when the economy tanked in Arizona (and the rest of the nation as well) and things
are going well for them here. Their two beautiful kids, Elizabeth 13 & Will 14, love their new home and both Bill and Anne have good jobs
and a comfortable home in a nice neighborhood. The area around where they live is very pleasant with green trees and grass everywhere
and enough lakes around to keep even the most avid fisherman from complaining about lack of water to practice his hobby. Bill works in a
water filtration machine plant in nearby St Bonificious (pronounced St Boni to the locals) and, after introducing me to his friendly coworkers,
took me for a tour of the plant. I was shocked at the level of technology and sophistication that went in to building these trailer sized iron and
electrical machines that have the capability of making pure water out of not just sea water but the most polluted liquids imaginable. The
company's main clients are Chinese and how refreshing it was to see that here was a product being produced in America by Americans
for usage in China by Chinese (maybe there is hope we can regain at least some of the manufacturing greatness we once had).
Afterwards we went back to their home but not before a short stop on beautiful lake Waconia to have a swim and cold pop and marvel at
some of the sleek colorful boats out on the water. After a typical Minnesota dinner consisting of locally made Brats, corn on the cob, cole
slaw and ice cream for dessert (oh, how could I forget about the mouth watering cheese curds for an appetizer?), we browsed through
boxes of old 60 & 70 lp's that Bill had saved through out the years until I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore and had to retire downstairs
in to the basement and on a bed for the first time in over a month. I awoke early as usual before anyone was up and made my quiet exit,
back on to the bike for yet another day of 50@50. As of yet the streak of consecutive days riding without a day off and averaging nearly 75
miles a day is still unbroken.


























Day 70  6/24/12
SP : South ST. Paul, MN
EP:  Pine Island, MN
DM: 55
TM: 4,552




Notes
6pm. Today was one of those days I just could not get going and the mileage for the day confirms that. I'm not sure why I have days like this
though I think there are a number of factors including wind direction (out of the east and I was heading south), heat and humidity (both high),
hills (a few but nothing major), tempting obstructions (stores or sights to see but there weren't many of these), and plain old fatigue (I think
this was the major reason; here I go playing my harp again). When I departed this morning from last nights hidden urban jungle suburbia
camp no more than a half hour drive south of St Paul, I felt fine and stopped for my usual two donut stop (one chocolate with cream filling
and the other a plain Jane glazed) at the local grocery store a mere half mile from my jungle camp. For some reason my mind was in a
hazy state (I even had my morning dose of coffee) and I just could not figure out from my google map which road to take, even though there
was only one road leading in the direction I had to go. Once on that road (hwy 52) I could not get my legs going, even with the slightly off
direct tailwind at play. I kept stopping to make sure one of my tires was not going flat (eventually one did and I had to repair it under the hot
sun on the side of the freeway with cars passing by at mere 70 mph). Then I started to focus on which direction the wind was coming from;
east, a crosswind (what are you complaining about you wimp). I made my usual stops to fill water bottles and try to keep myself hydrated
but nothing by way of extravagant time wasting. Finally I just came to the conclusion that today was not meant to be a big mileage day and I
would acquiesce to the factors at play and accept whatever distance I pedaled at the end of the day as it.
So, tonight's camp is a nice one for the Midwest and especially when compared to last nights jungle stealth camp. I am on a snowmobile
track which parallels a paved bicycle/walking path. There is a large treed and vine separation barrier between the two and no one on the
bike path can see me, nor I them, and on the opposite side there is nothing but farming agricultural fields, mainly corn. The highway which I
rode most the day is at least a couple miles off and only the faint sound of passing vehicles can be heard from it. The sounds of birds,
harmless insects, wind rustling the leaves of the tall aspen-like trees, and an occasional jogger or biker on the bike path below can be
heard. How peaceful this setting is for me especially coming on the heels of yesterdays hectic ride through the Twin Cities and the lousy
camp. Today was the first day of many to come, I'm sure, of 'Ahhhh, that feels good' days (ATFG). An ATFG day is one of those days that is
so hot and humid when you're riding that when you finally get off your bike and walk in to an air conditioned setting you automatically rejoice
at the pleasant cool sensation that envelopes you by announcing 'Ahhh, that feels good', which for me are always the first words that come
out of my mouth.  I remember these days very well on the baseball trip a couple years ago. Once in Missouri on an especially warm, muggy
day I remember walking in to a bedroom sized beer cooler in a store and sitting down on a keg of beer for 15 minutes just to cool my
internal temp down a degree or two (Jim got a good chuckle for a few days after that and some customers who came in and saw me
seated asked if I were alright and needed any assistance). If you've never been in the Midwest in late June or July you have no idea what
I'm talking about. The temps here can get very high and when coupled with 70-90% humidity, well I need explain no more. The so called
'misery index' sky rockets. But I don't really care, in fact it feels good to me right now after all those miserably cold, wet months I had to
endure in Alaska, BC, and the NW (Washington and Oregon) when all I could think about was how nice these ATFG days would be.
Perhaps it's because I'm an Arizona desert rat or that my Sicilian blood acclimates much easier to this kind of climate. But I'll take this any
day over what I went through at the beginning of 50@50. So the next time you walk indoors from the searing heat in to an air conditioned
environment and instinctively announce to anyone close enough to hear, or even just yourself, 'Ahhh, that feels good', don't forget who
coined that term.
Today is June 24. Ok, so what's your point? Well 52 years ago, in San Jose, CA, was born the most magnificent person that has ever
come in to my life; my wife of 22 years (and significant other for 6 years prior to marriage), mother of my four treasured and beautiful
children, business partner for over 20 years, lover, confidant, and best friend Patrice. The little lady with Sicilian blood and a hot resolute
temperament came in to my life nearly 30 years ago and not without inauspicious beginnings (she spilled her drink [a Long Island Ice Tea]
in my lap at a swank nightclub on our first night out and I forgot my wallet on our first dinner date). But since then she has been the
grounding source of my existence. Coming from a disfunctionate family and upbringing as I was, to find her was nothing short of a miracle
and the principal reason I am who I am today. After all these years she has allowed and supported me to grow, develop, and venture in to
the person I am today.  She came from a family life and upbringing totally opposite to what I grew up in; a stable household with two parents
working together (now married over 50 years) in a suburban middle class neighborhood where she had lived her entire life prior to moving
to Arizona with me in 1989. From her parents model she learned perseverance in interpersonal relationships built on tolerance and
acceptance, both personality traits totally alien to me before we met (the first disagreement or sign of conflict and I was gonzo). "No, you're
not going anywhere. Let's talk" was her modus operandi when we had an argument and I went for the door.
I never fell in love with Patrice; I grew in love with her (the Hollywood image of love at first sight is, well, only Hollywood I believe. Real true
love, I'm sorry to say to any younger readers out there with fanciful dreams of meeting that one person who will 'knock your socks off' and
living happily ever after from that point on is, most likely, only wishful thinking. Love between two people comes after being together for an
extended period of time and while experiencing all of life's essential moments, both good and bad. If two people are lucky enough to meet,
compatible, and dedicate themselves to each other no matter what life's obstacles they face, then the relationship stands a good chance of
enduring. But even then there are no certainties in life).
Upon first meeting Patrice, like her parents, does not have that overly warm greeting about her and when angry its best not to step in her
way. In fact, when I first met her there was basically only one thing I was after. But once a friend to my feisty wife always a friend, thankfully
for myself. She has to be the most loyal person I have ever known, but also with that Italian penchant for uncontrollable temper and inducing
guilt upon others second to none (fortunately I've learned to deal with both over the years). Hard working, caring, compassionate, devoted,
thoughtful, focused, tolerant, and understanding. These are just a few of the qualities that describe this  beautiful woman and soul mate I
love and have dedicated my life to being with. Happy birthday Mama and, though I know I don't tell you nearly enough, you are the best thing
to ever happen in my life.


























Day 71  6/25/12
SP : Pine Island, MN
EP:  Rushford, MN
DM: 59
TM: 4,611




Notes
6pm. Tonight's camp is very nice and yet another first on 50@50; a church. I am set up in the NW corner of the grounds of a Lutheran
church with large gothic cut windows and bleached white siding out here in the middle of farm land. There are corn and soybean fields on
one side and a stately line of mature pine trees on the other making me unseen. The view across the fields with the gleaning refection of
the setting sun's rays off the sea of corn is marvelous.
I generally only camp on church grounds when there is no place else and it is getting late, like this evening. Though it was still early when I
found this spot, 5:15, I decided that this would probably be the best bet for tonight since there is nothing but crop fields in every direction
broken up only periodically with the usual island of trees surrounding the usual farm house, grain silo, and barns. Looking out over these
plains of corn, soybeans, alfalfa, and hay is almost like the pictures taken from the Hubble Space telescope of a deep intergalactic cluster
where the only features really visible are islands of swirling light. Here, rather than fascinating and colorful images of distant space matter,
there are the endless fields of green broken up by the occasional farm.
My mileage today was again below average but that's because I was riding in to a headwind from the east for most the day. I also was
forced to ride along mostly rural country roads (several gravel and rock which were so little used that my tires made lasting imprints behind
me in the roadway) because it is forbidden by law to ride the interstate freeways, thus making the miles go by slow and difficult in the hilly
countryside. Though it made riding difficult there was a good aspect coming from the easterly winds; it was much cooler than yesterday. My
guess is that when the wind blows from the east around here it is bringing with it the cool temps of the Great Lakes across the state of
Wisconsin. The Great Lakes, which are more like small inland seas with no salinity content, are big enough to generate their own regional
climatic conditions, whether in winter or summer. So while not exactly good enough to warrant a headwind all day, the cooler temps where
much appreciated.
So around these parts, and I remember this from the baseball trip, there are these tiny flying beetle looking bugs with antennae and four red
markings on their back that love to land on open skin (especially on the bald spot on the back of my head) and then explore their
surroundings. They are pretty harmless except for the fact that it tickles when they crawl around on you. They don't bite, unless agitated nor
insert an unwelcome prick through your skin to suck out blood like the dreaded mosquito, but it is a test of ones tolerance to see how long
you can stand before flicking them off your body. Right now I'm trying to see if I am able to become accustomed to allowing them crawl all
over me so I don't drive myself mad with their presence. There are at least 50 of them all covering my body from head to toe and the urge to
jump up and smack them all off is almost overwhelming. Why is it that our first reaction to a bug landing on us is to smack it off? Ahhhh, this
is driving me crazy but I must resist the urge. They land in to my cup of spirits and drown in the alcohol forcing me to spoon out their floating
corpses before drinking (it actually tastes a little better). What the name of these insects are I have no clue but I know they do not reside in
Arizona.
Dinner tonight is a classic, but a delicious classic. And when combined with the breathtaking midwest sunset and delightful sound of
caroling birds, an evening on the road doesn't get much better than this. This morning I stopped at a grocery store on the north side of
Rochester MN called Hy Vee (or something like that). This was the best grocery I've ever been to. I found some ripe red roma tomatoes on
sale for only $1.50 lb from which I made a small pot of fresh marinara tonight. I also bought a half lb of fresh cut turkey breast which I had for
lunch. I had to have my daily ration of two donuts (one cinnamon twist and the other with chocolate topping and raspberry filling) and were
they ever delicious. But the best thing I got from there was the loaf of freshly baked French bread. Seriously folks, this bread is better than
any I've ever had anywhere, including Europe and, I have to admit, even better than my own bread (wow, I can't believe I just wrote that). So
with all the fresh food ingredients and the extraordinary setting I believe this evening has been one of the nicest in a while, even with the
annoying little flying bugs.
So why is it that churches are not my favorite for camping? Well first I think it's because even though they are a church doesn't mean they
are not private property and the owners may not want someone basically trespassing on their property like a vagabond. Second, I hate to
take advantage of someone or an institution just because they are thought to be generous or benign. I like to take care of myself as much
as possible and really don't want favors from others because I need them, although I know this church and probably many others don't mind
helping me out by allowing me to camp on their grounds. Perhaps that is a serious fault of mine but I can't change who I am. Churches are
places of worship for a local community and not campgrounds for passerby's. But on occasion, like out here in the galactic farmlands of the
interstellar Midwest, a church can function nicely as a space station.
Today I rode by the funniest thing I've seen in a while; a lawn mower for bike riding nuts like me. It was an old 10 speed that someone had
modified by removing the front wheel and in its place had attached an old time push grass mower. I had to stop and check it out and though
the urge was there to get on and pedal around to see if it worked, I decided it was best to keep off in case it belonged to someone who
wouldn't appreciate me riding there homemade concoction.

























Day 72  6/26/12
SP : Rushford, MN
EP:  Cashton, WI
DM: 69
TM: 4,680




Notes
5pm. This evenings camp is another different one though not the first time on 50@50; at the residence/farm of two friendly bikers I met
earlier today . We started chatting while riding just before crossing in to state #9 of 50@50, Wisconsin. Ellen & Larry Hanson, out on a
weekend silver wedding anniversary bike tour of the surrounding area, invited me to come and spend the evening with them on their farm
just a few miles off my intended route to Madison (capital #9). The couple own, live, and work (they both have other jobs as well like most
farming families in these parts) an 80 acre farm in SW Wisconsin about 25 miles east of the Mississippi River and town of Lacrosse which
is of Norwegian Ancestry. They have numerous hobbies other than biking and produce much of what they consume right here on their farm.
Their beautiful land is situated on top of a high bluff (a mile climb at the end of the day with the warm afternoon sun beating down on us) and
is surrounded by rolling fields of deep green grass with nothing but foraging horses and cattle, a peaceful pastoral setting I can't say
enough about. The ridge lines and hills surrounding the farm house and grassy fields are sculpted by forests of tall thick trees and there are
happy looking farm animals all over the place (including an ornery brown puppy). Their home is mainly of a log construction like the toy kind
I use to play with as a kid. There are several outbuildings and an old, at one time red colored (now it's weather faded brown) A-frame barn
with sloping corrugated metal roof which is so common in these parts of the Midwest. My plan is to camp outside tonight on their wood
planked deck which is where I sit now under the shade of a tall Elm tree. They have two dogs, one older golden male Lab that reminds me
of my dog Lucy (and they said has Lyme disease and won't live much longer) and an ornery little brown lab puppy that has trouble
emanating from the bottom of his big paws to the tips of his long droopy ears, and a cute little kitty that my daughter Angelina would fall in
love with. I'm loving it of course as I feel as if I am back home again with my animals, both the two and four legged kind. Of course tonight's
sleep may be interrupted a time or two with the little brown guy all over the place and in to everything.
I won't get a chance to blog much tonight as this is a social evening for me, a much needed aid station in the middle of a grueling
marathon. I will try to pick up in later days blog what I have left out on this one.






















Day 73  6/27/12
SP : Cashton, WI
EP:  Richland Center, WI
DM: 58
TM: 4,738
Week 9:    WM:534  TM:4,580     Avg Per Day: 72-76 miles





Notes
6pm. Tonight's camp might just be a first. I can't ever recall spending the night in an abandoned one room school house, so if my memory
is not failing me at this moment this will be a memorable classic. I'm not positive that this was a school house but by the looks of it from
both it's outside appearance (white with a high pitched roof and a bell house at the peak front center of the entry way) and the inside design
this was a school house, at least at one time, but a long time ago. I am only a few miles SW of the long spread out town of Richland Center
here in SE Wisconsin. An hour and a half ago and half mile back I got a flat (late afternoon flats are never a good thing) and so my plans to
ride another 10 miles closer to Madison in the hope of reaching capital #9 early tomorrow morning have since been defeated. As I sit here
right now in this hot little stuffy former classroom with wood floors and 70's trailer paneling for interior walls my only thoughts are; whatever
time I get there...I get there. So right after fixing the flat in hot (98') temps with 70% humidity on the side of a relatively busy highway (relative
meaning by Wisconsin standards), dehydrated and tired after battling 15 mph hot headwinds and ceaseless Wisconsin hills, I knew camp
had to come right away. The only problem is I didn't have water for camp so the first house I rolled up to I stopped and knocked on their
door to ask if it was ok I use their spigot to fill my water bottles. In typical Wisconsin hospitable fashion the lady who answered the door
would have nothing to do with my just accepting water from an old rusty irrigation faucet. No, I had to come inside her ATFG home and fill
my bottles with kitchen sink and cold fridge water. We talked for a few moments in her kitchen while the bottles were filling and I explained
what it was I was doing and while doing so I noticed that she was laying out on cookie sheets no less than 5lbs of bacon. "BLT's for dinner
Ma'am?" I asked with a yearning tone.  "Oh yes. My family just loves them" was her 'I would to offer but can't' reply. I love BLT's and the
thought at that moment of biting down in to one of those fresh, tasty, and juicy morsels of american lunchtime diet was almost
overwhelming. My bottles filled, I thanked the kind lady for inviting me in her ATFG home and strapped my now full water bottles on to my
BOB trailer bag, all the while knowing that camp was virtually next door.
I spotted this place not more than a mile down highway 14 from where I had the flat. If this were one of those afternoons with lightning and
thunder and low barometric pressure, then I would have found a gold mine because this place is watertight unlike Sheraton 45 a week or
so ago (day 65). So, like Sheraton 45, I christen this place 'Schoolhouse 14'.
Anyways, big news of the day was the heat and accompanying humidity along with a scattering of hills to awaken the legs after a long
Midwest dormancy of nothing but flat cornfields. All good though and I can't complain after coming through those dreadfully cold and wet
months in Alaska, BC, and the pacific NW. In fact there is a part of me that is simply rejoicing in this warm weather...bring it on baby
(ooops, I better not get cocky).
So big news other than the weather?I was debating in my mind a little while ago whether or not to admit this piece of trivial information to
some but headline stuff to others; I stopped by a friendly small town, Westby, and got a haircut and beard 'trim'.  Yes, I finally succumbed to
the urge. The final straw was this heat and humidity of the last few days. I highlight trim because the beard is still there, though in a much
reduced form. Why is this so important? Well for those who have not been following this blog (if there is even anybody out there reading it
at all) I vowed months ago, while still in Alaska, to not shave the beard until we reach our fundraising goal of $50,000 (50@50 to raise $50).
But I just could not stand the long, grey hot hairy blob growing from my chin and cheeks. It was terrible, especially, like I said, in this hot,
humid midwestern summer climate. But it's not gone totally; it's just abated a bit.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4dS2xJpBVM

My goal of reaching the capital steps in Honolulu and raising $50,000 for the FRAANK causes is as unwavering now as ever, with the
added incentive of my face and head being as appreciative as kids in a water park in July.
I've been pedaling these last few days in S Minnesota and Wisconsin in Amish country, and how I love seeing them in their 19th century
dress.  I don't think there has ever been a time when I pedaled by an Amish carriage or farm or family shopping when I didn't wonder how
much I kind of envy their simple unorthodox lifestyle. Now I'm sure there are lots of things that would probably rub me wrong if were to
attempt at this point in my life to emulate their lifestyle.  But how can one living today not, at least for a brief moment, consider the simple
country  lifestyle they lead if not just romantic, at least admirable. The only farms out here in the Midwest you see clothes hanging from a
clothes line are ones occupied and/or owned by Amish. I know exactly when I pass by an Amish farm as there are hand written signs
advertising their trade (usually cabinet making or delicious homemade baked goods). There are no vehicles or power lines leading to the
residence or workshops. Invariably there are kids outside playing or helping their elders to tend to daily work chores. They always wave
and seem to get excited to see some stranger passing by without the assistance of a carbon based fuel-powered machine. Ok, so the
women fully dressed in long dresses and hood bonnets is a little, well, 19th century naive. And the lower jowl beards on the men are a bit to
Lincolnesque. And the straw hats just a little corny (I found one today along the side of the road and was contemplating whether or not to
keep it).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTaW6gm2xlc

But the simplicity of their lives, the fact that they said enough is enough is much deserving of respect to me. My father use to tell me when I
would sound off on all my teenage/20'ish knowledge about what I thought the world should be or what I would accomplish in life, "My son,
where  da'u go in dis'a life.  No where butta backa to the ground". And now I understand what he meant. The Amish, I believe, understand
that better than anybody else. So they stopped somewhere back in the 19th century and said 'enough is enough'. Are we happier and more
content today than we were 150 years ago? Are we healthier, do we live more intrinsically fulfilled lives?  I'm not 100% sure we are. In fact a
good argument can be made to the contrary, that our independent, busy and hectic filled lives leave us feeling more often than not alone
and stressed out leading to all kinds of physical and mental health concerns. So my hats off (new straw hat that is) to the Amish and their
rebuff of modern life styles.
So I pedaled by a very small town today called Boaz, WI. The only way I can pronounce this name is 'Boze' like Bozeman Montana. Well the
actual pronunciation is 'bones' as in the celebrated Star Trek character in charge of medical affairs aboard the Enterprise. It turns out that
Bones was named as such because in the late 19th century (here I go again, back 100 years or so) two kids exploring a nearby tributary of
Mill creek, along which hwy 14 meanders, discovered bones sticking out of an eroded embankment which turned out to be remnant
skeletal fragments of the long extinct Mastodon (the big hairy elephant with long tusks that flourished on the N American continent after the
last ice age, a mere 15,000 years ago, and were so privileged as to have none other than Ray Romano (the guy with a great name)
impersonate them in the movie my daughter has seen no less than a hundred times; Ice Age.  I had to stop and imagine myself thousands
of years ago in a landscape much different than this with roaming hairy elephants and, though they didn't mention this in the bronze
'historical marker', saber tooth tigers. Ok, so I wouldn't mind going back 150 years; 15,000 though is a totally different matter. A quartzite
spear found later on the area indicates humans were not far behind the long ago hairy elephants and perhaps hunted those 9' tall, 8 ton
beasts (I can't even imagine what went through the hunter's mind who was trying to take one of those things down with only a handmade
spear). My only wonder at this point is where did the quartzite come from as that is a SW rock found mainly around Arizona. So it must
follow that an early hunter from the Arizona region came here to hunt. Humm; an Arizonan in Wisconsin?  Was and still is a common
venture.
Just finished my evening shower and was enlightened to the understanding that only marginally less incredible than a hot shower when you
are cold is a cold shower when you are hot. This is the first evening of 50@50 I did not even heat my shower water at all, and thank
goodness. I murmured ATFG for the duration of the three minute, three liter bag shower more times than you can think, and 'Ahhhh, did
That Feel Good'.
So good news this afternoon from Bruce, my friend from Monterey, CA from whom I purchased the row boat upon which my plans call for
me to row to Hawaii next year. Sarah Outen, the original boat owner who was on her second major ocean row (this time across the N
Pacific ocean as part of her London2London transglobal expedition to become the first woman to ever had done so) was safe at home in
the UK and was beginning to post on her website the terrible ordeal she went through out alone in the N Pacific. Sarah was rescued by the
Japanese coast guard last week after a late season tsunami struck her not even two weeks in to her epic voyage across the humbling N
Pacific and she was forced to call for assistance after structural damage to her boat after more than 20 mid ocean capsizes. Folks, I don't
know how to even begin to explain how 'epic' this challenge was she was  attempting to undertake (and hopefully still will). If successful (and
I believe she still may be) this will be perhaps one of the most incredibly daunting physical, mental, and logistical  accomplishments in the
history of adventure endeavors to go beyond what no other has ever done. This remarkable young lady (I believe she is 25) has already
rowed across the Indian ocean (in the boat I hope to row to Hawaii next year) and had her mind set on traversing across the N hemisphere
in continuous motion which meant two adverse ocean crossings, the N Pacific and Atlantic, not to mention thousands of miles biking
across forbidden ground in Siberia and western China....solo. Yes....solo. If you have a chance I highly recommend you get her book she
wrote just last year and continue to follow her as I believe this is just a interruption in her goal. Sarah, if you're out there somewhere,
continue on girl and don't give up until you've accomplished that which you're intrepid spirit compels you to do. You are an inspiration to me,
your gender, and mankind as well.  'Be like Gao'. www.sarahouten.com.























Day 74  6/28/12
SP : Richland Center, WI
EP:  Belleville, WI
DM: 72
TM: 4,810




Notes
6pm. I am tired. And hot. Add dirty and burned out to that list of downbeat feelings. In general I feel like decaying dog poop. It was so hot
today I felt as if I were in Phoenix on a typical July day, except with 80% humidity added for 'comfort'. I can't recall riding in such miserable
conditions as today in quite a long time. This area here of S Wisconsin is in the grips of a powerful drought and days like this are only
adding to the severity of things. Tonight I am camped alongside a soybean field where the plants are about 8-10" high. But according to the
farmers around here they should be twice that size. The ground is so dry and crusty that it reminds me of the silty limestone soil where I live
in Arizona (but it is suppose to be like that there). If they don't get some relief around here and soon, farmers are worried the entire crop
growing season will be at risk resulting in losses of billions of dollars. And with temperatures like today the precarious matter is only
enhanced. I complain about having to bike temporarily through these uncomfortable conditions, but the farmers have to live with it and their
livelihood is dependent on these crops producing. Most of the crops today have been genetically modified to resist bugs and drought. But
there is a limit to how much is too much.
Anyways, camp. As stated earlier I am on the edge of a dry soybean field in S Wisconsin about 20 miles south of its capital Madison. I was
following a bike path, which is only feet away from me, for about 15 of those miles after leaving the capital around 3:30 today. I am well
concealed, one of my aims when deciding where to camp, and in the open where bugs are less bothersome. There is a large line of trees
to the west protecting my parched dark body from anymore sun and I am lubed up with bug juice, but only because of the knats and flies
and not the king of annoying flying insects; mosquitos. One good thing about the dry conditions is the absence of the dreaded little blood
suckers. Between the deet, dirt, sweat and dried body salt from sweating I feel about as disgusting as I've felt in a long time. It would be so
nice to jump in a cool mountain lake or stream to wash off all this despicable grime on me right now. I'm trying to take the edge off this long
hot seemingly worthless day by pigging out on a bag of nacho cheese Doritos and cold can of pop, but I just can't seem to reach a
breakthrough. Today is Thursday and I was hoping to reach Capital #9 and be greeted with at least a somewhat warm arrival (I'm not
looking for a red carpet but a simple 'Hello.  We've been expecting you. Come on back so you can talk to the governor'. But not even close.
Madison has been the Capital with the most security I've come across thus yet, and I believe it's due to the fact that the governor just
survived a recall election by the thinnest of margins. Remember that Wisconsin is the state that has had all the national coverage over the
last year as the governor battles it out with unions over, what else, money. These times are turbulent in this, the Badger State, and I'm sure
the governor has been threatened on more than one occasion. So a complete stranger arriving to the capital grounds on a bicycle and
looking somewhat less than professional (that's put very mildly) is going to attract the attention of security personal. I came across
hundreds of signs on my way to Madison over the last couple days. Some displayed their allegiance with the governor 'We stand with Gov  
Walker' or desire of a different leader 'Recall Walker'. Personally I don't really care if Gov Walker had been recalled or maintained his
stature as chief executive of the great state of Wisconsin. I just wanted a picture with him and perhaps a moment or two to explain who I
was, what I was doing, and for whom. But nothing ever materialized so I walked up and down the 'Halls of Power' trying to find someone
(mainly state legislators) who would listen to me for a moment and perhaps help out our cause with a simple snapshot. But to no avail. This
one was out of the office for the day or that one was in a meeting. Finally after nearly an hour I gave up and headed for the door (a struggle
almost as big as handling the heat of the day as there were four different exits depending on the direction you were headed). On my way
out I came across a security fellow who had checked out my bike outside leaning against the granite railing in front of the capital under the
shade of huge elm tree. As is my usual fashion, nothing on the bike was locked and the officer asked me if I was not concerned that
someone might take it being unlocked. My response was "Who in the world would be able to move that long heavy contraption". Anyways I
talked for a while with the capital officer and another gentleman and gave them both brochures of 50@50 and they were very both friendly
and congratulatory to me and 50@50. Too bad no else in the 'Halls of Power' were as interested.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFusXd6BhEQ

Biking through Madison was a relief after the day spent trying to navigate through the Twin Cities in Minnesota. It is basically an oversized
town with a lot of character. The capital is on a hill, as usual, and just above UWM (University of Wisconsin Madison). Everyone I met was
typically midwestern friendly and helpful. The only issue I had was trying to deal with the heat, especially in a relatively busy urban setting.
The day started off from the get go with ominous warnings of extreme heat. In fact last night I hardly slept as the high temp inside
'Schoolhouse 14' never relented it's grip. It was the first night of 50@50 that I never had the need to even take my sleeping bag out of its
bag and all night I laid on my pad with a wet sweaty sheen from head to toe. Anyways once on the road I felt immediately hot. The air was
thick and all I could think was this felt like I was trying to ride in hot chicken noodle soup, and I was the wet noodle (riding on a stationary
bike in a hot sauna room would be another close analogy). The SE headwinds from the previous few days had switched and now the wind
was out of the NW resulting in a tailwind. Normally that would have been a great thing but not today. If the windspeed is 10-15 mph from
behind, and my speed on the bike roughly the same, that means there is no wind at all flowing over my heated body to cool me down. Add
in to that mixture 80% humidity and my body temp started rising. The body cools itself by sweating and when air flows over it the sweat
evaporates and the body temps come down, just like an evaporative cooler (or what we refer to jokingly, though affectionately, in the
southwest as the 'swamp cooler'. With high humidity there is no evaporation so the sweat on your body is actually compounding the effects
of the external heat by acting as a wet blanket over the body and resulting in the internal temps to rise even more. The feeling and effects of
humidity are terrible and dehydration and heat exhaustion are serious consequences, which is what I encountered less than an hour in to
the ride. I stopped once at a ATFG Subway shop and filled my water bottles with ice water and went in the bathroom to rinse off my face
and head with cold water. But once back outside and on the bike I started to feel the effects of overheating return. A little ways down the
road I passed by a giant rolling sprinkler line that are ubiquitous here in farming country and I got off my bike and stood under it in the
middle of a cornfield for a few minutes. That helped a little but again not enough. Finally I reached the town of Cross Plains, about 15 miles
west of Madison and decided a lengthy break was in order to regroup physically as well as mentally as my thinking and sense of balance
was starting to become impaired, a potentially serious problem when trying to ride a bike, especially in a busy urban environment.  I
stopped at a convenience store in the middle of town and got my Gump favorite, a Dr Pepper. To my somewhat surprise as I was paying
for my drink a fellow I had met in a rest area back in Montana, Bruce, greeted me with a warm pat on the back and reassuring hug. Bruce,
who is from the nearby Madison area, and I had been in contact for a few days and were planning to meet somewhere for lunch when I
rolled in, but I wasn't expecting him to find me there. I was grateful that he had come out of his way to meet me and it felt really good to have
someone to talk to. My overheated body was resulting in a lack of concentration, but I managed to explain to him (he noticed anyways) that
I was not feeling that well and needed a few moments to regain some sense of coherency. As I came to, we went across the road from the
store to a local hamburger restaurant chain, Culvers, and had a bite to eat. The sandwich I ordered was good and went down even better
with a creamy chocolate milk shake. Bruce's warm company and interesting conversation, along with the delicious food and satisfying
drink was just what the doctor ordered and I immediately started feeling better. Bruce paid for lunch and I thanked him for that and most of
all for coming to meet up with me (acts of kindness and hospitality mean a lot to me, especially now). But once again, as we said our
goodbyes and I headed back out in to the heat to reach Madison, the same feelings of heat exhaustion began to return. I managed
somehow though to get through the day, mainly by taking a lot of breaks in as many ATFG places as I could. A long day? Yes indeed. Now
it's on to Des Moines Iowa, capital #10 and I doubt that I will be in for much relief as far as the weather goes.


























Day 75  6/29/12
SP : Belleville,WI
EP:  Shullsburg, WI
DM: 61
TM: 4,871




Notes
6pm. Tonight will be my last in Wisconsin. The Mississippi River and thus Iowa is only about 25 miles west of my camp tonight. Tomorrow
morning I should pedal in to Dubuque Iowa around 10am with a belly full of hunger and mind full of anticipating thoughts of large stacks of
pancakes, juicy bacon, and large runny eggs on top of an even larger pile of crispy hash browns (you probably are noticing that my mind is
often occupied with thoughts of food).
Anyways camp tonight is in a thick forested area surrounded by crop fields only a couple miles west of  Shullsburg along the south side of
state hwy 11. In case you ever wondered from where the term 'Badger' came when describing someone from Wisconsin, this southwestern
region of the state was at one time a big producer of lead and the hearty early miners of the 19th century earned the nickname 'Badger'
from the caves and hurriedly prepared dugouts in which they sheltered themselves during the cold winters. There isn't much lead mined
from these parts anymore but the abandoned shafts and tailings are still visible from all over, in fact I passed one only a few hundred yards
back from where I am camped this evening.
As usual I had a headwind for most the day and hence below average mileage, even though I rode nearly 6 hours, my quota for a days ride.
And as usual again, I am camped illegally, or should I say on private land without the owners (whoever that is) permission to do so.
Fortunately for me this land owner did not have fences up all around his land otherwise I wouldn't be here (there was a 'No Trespassing/No
Hunting' sign and I am observing the latter half). Now I believe in the rule of law and the right of private property and generally don't make a
habit out of trespassing on someone else's land. But this is camping east of the Rocky Mountains where there are little public lands.  'This
is my land so stay off!' is the impression gained when confronted with fences and signs and surveillance cameras and mean dogs, etc, etc.
California is probably the worst when it comes to physical barriers and security obsession. Having lived there for most my early years and
while in college, I can say from experience that the reputation it has for being 'laid back' and welcoming to outsiders is just hearsay. Nearly
everyone has either a fenced yard, locked gates, obnoxious worded signs, guard dogs, Sentry alarm systems in their home and those
annoying horn alarms that are always going off on their vehicles, surveillance cameras, guns, or some multi combination of all those
mentioned. The state has so many laws, and not sure but at one time it used to be that California had the highest concentration of lawyers
in the nation resulting in so many special interest laws it's hard to keep track of them all and if you accidentally or otherwise break one then
the omnipresent enforcers of those laws will definitely remind you with a hefty fine or imprisonment or both. I never leave that state anymore
with out letting out a big sigh of relief after crossing the border. It's diverse physical landscapes are some of the most spectacularly
beautiful in the world; stunning coastlines and beaches, magnificent mountains, breathtaking desert vistas and an agricultural industry fed
by the deep rich soils and moderate climate second to none. But within its beauty and success were bred the seeds of its own
contamination; too many people, private and public policies of liberal growth over the last 50 years and with a population of over 40 million,
the result was a state drowning in laws, debt, and people.  
Who owns this land? Native Americans believe that it is impossible to own land as the land along with all the elements of nature are you're
mother. How can you own your mother? The land was here long, long before you 'owned' it, and will be here long, long, and yet longer after
you and this entire destructive species of humans has passed on. If the dinosaurs, 10 times as massive and abundant as humans, could
not bring about total destruction of mother earth, then how could we little hairless monkeys with an above average brain size and opposing
thumb expect to do so? What a comforting thought.
All this I guess begs the question; why can't we be more open, sharing, welcoming, and trusting both individually and as a society in
general while we plod around during our short tenure here?
Right now I am under the shade of a large, old, and beautifully formed oak tree that if it could talk, I'm sure, would welcome me for the
evening and probably have a story or two to recount over its many years of existence here on this small panoramic bluff.  Of course the
bugs are out and active, attempting to drive me crazy but as of yet unable to succeed (key phrase 'as of yet'). I'm lubed up with deet but
those little black flying suckers with 4 red spots on their back (the same ones as were bothering me at the church a few days ago) are back
again and trying their darnedest to drive me crazy.
So big news of the day was the lower temps and thank goodness because I don't know I could have handled another day like yesterday, at
least so soon. Today there was good cloud cover and even a slight smattering of rain. Humidity was still high but who cares if it's cool. Of
course the headwind returned, the same one that has plagued me since leaving St Paul almost a week ago. But alas, I'm here, only miles
away from state #10. Much of today, like most every day lately, was spent trying to deal with the negative thoughts; 'Why are you doing this?
You're too old to be attempting this. You should be home taking care of your family, business and home. Can you keep this up for 5 more
months? What demons possessed you when you decided to take this on? If I fail what will everyone think? I could be home in a few hours
from the next regional airport.' And so on and so on.
I'm reaching the point in a marathon (usually around mile 20) when every mile, check that, every stride reverberates with negativity
throughout your entire physical and mental being. Except that I'm only at about mile 8 of this 50@50 marathon!  
So this morning I was pedaling along a peaceful bike path when two things out of the ordinary happened that I had to video as they were a
bit unusual to an Arizona desert rat. First of all, this being my last day in Wisconsin, I want to stress how much I have enjoyed my travels
through this marvelous state. Every time I've biked through here (and this is the third time) the people have been unbelievably friendly,
helpful, grounded, and hospitable. Thank you Wisconsin, I appreciate you so much. Now, the first thing I videoed was along a rails to trails
bike path (there are few if any of these in Arizona and the west in general) when the path went suddenly in to a tunnel that was at least a half
mile long and totally dark (I mean no sight of 'hand in front of face' kind of dark). I had to search immediately for my one accessible mini
lamp to see anything. It was actually a little spooky to be in such a dark place without any warning and not knowing how much further there
was to go to the other end. Weird little sounds came from every direction (probably moisture dripping from the walls or rocks settling as the
exterior temps warmed up). My senses were aroused and I was totally engaged in the moment (negative, pessimistic thoughts be gone). I
must admit in all my years biking that I've never pedaled through a pitch dark cave like that, and afterwards thought how much I enjoyed the
brief heart pumping adrenaline rush of the moment when all your senses are alive and focused (with the exception of eyes) on the
surroundings.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NBQLNdgRA8

10pm. I've finished dinner and am relaxing and enjoying the last glimmers of sunset. It is a beautiful evening with light showers and the air
filled with the smells of rain and sights and sounds of nature including a fascinating lightening bug show that was every bit as good as those
done artificially at Disneyland or those indoor light shows. Being under Grandma Oak here I am protected from most the rain falling though
a few select drops still manage to work their way through the canopy of broad leaves on to my shoulders and head.
Anyways, the second video I did this morning was shortly after the tunnel and though not as spooky, certainly as adrenaline pumping. For at
least 5 miles I was chased by a hoard of vicious biting flies determined to get me for no matter how long it took. For the folks out in Arizona
who may never have encountered a biting fly (Arizona has few of the persistent bugs, in fact few of any type of annoying flying insects) they
can be cruel and relentless. I'm not sure why but they seem to thrive in large groupings and  isolated pockets of land. When a few catch drift
of you they communicate to the others of your presence and the gangsters will follow you for hours if need be to forage on your exposed
skin. And it hurts when they bite. I had a hoard chase me once on the baseball trip a couple years ago for nearly an hour and today was
similar. I stopped once to turn around and go the opposite direction and scores of them were all over me having lunch on my exposed skin.
Now I'm no big fan of mosquitos but I'll take them any day over these little demons if forced to choose. Anyways I finally ditched them but
only after a long fast clip (there I go again using that awesome Canadian noun again) and leaving the crop fields where they flourish. Add to
the list of 50@50 challenges; out pedaling Wisconsin biting flies. Check.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g59v75crPmQ

























Day 76  6/30/12
SP : Shullsburg, WI
EP:  Monticello, IA
DM: 72
TM: 4,943




Notes
6:30pm. Tonight's camp must be the worst of all the camps since the start of 50@50. This is one of those 'I'm hot, tired, it's getting late,
anywhere will do' camps (haven't thought of a word yet for these camps like ATFG day). I'm in the apex of a right angle between two roads;
a short stones throw away on one side from a busy highway (St Route 151) and a county cross road on the other so close I could spit on it,
if were the spitting kind. There are some young stunted and untrimmed mulberry like trees and a few taller broad leaf trees planted on this
corner of the highway junction and behind which I am taking cover from this hot midwestern sun of which I have had way too much of today.
Rolling hills of 3' tall cornstalks blanket the terrain to the distant horizon in my front where the angle I'm in opens up. Its amazing how much of
the sweet yellow kernel grain is grown in these parts. Every square foot of ground is used to grow the vegetable from which ethanol is
produced.  
An hour ago when I arrived I was so overheated and exhausted from the days ride in this searing humid heat that all I could think about was
something cold to drink and shade, two things I now have. Hopefully later the traffic will die down (it's pretty busy and thus loud right now)
and I can get some well needed sleep. I do have earplugs that I always bring on these trips just in cases like these of close proximity to
highways or snoring roommates in tight motel room like quarters.
I wish I had enthralling stories of adventure to tell about the days travels, but nada (unless you call itching bug bites something interesting to
read about). Basically I can sum up the highlights in two words; hot and boring; temps in the 90's with 70+% humidity and riding along
roads of never ending hills and 'vista's' of corn. This having had been the fourth time pedaling through Iowa I can tell you that, in my opinion,
unless you were born here and/or have some intrinsic attraction to the state I can't see why any sane person would ever want to travel here
much yet come to live. It is dreadfully hot and humid in the summer and bone chilling cold in the winter. There are no mountains, deserts,
big natural lakes, coastline, national parks, open spaces (or even empty spaces for that matter), historical significance as it relates to the
nation or even evolution of the species and most importantly, especially for me, no decent roads with ample shoulder for bicyclists and
countless amounts of rolling hills to climb. What does it have? Well a lot of good friendly midwestern people and, if one finds this worthwhile
(like those in the ethanol industry), corn fields. But when compared with the denizens of other nearby Midwest states, not even the people
are that friendly or helpful. So if it weren't for the people this spot in the middle of America would be about the most god awful place in the
country, with the exception of Florida (I'll bash Florida another time). I really hate traveling through this state but it is #10 on the 50@50 list
of capitals and thus Des Moines is required to pass through. I have friends back home who are from Iowa and I will probably hear from
them later regarding my, in their opinion, less than satisfactory description of their home state. So in advance, sorry folks but this state just
does not do it for me.
So, on to a brighter note. There was one highlight of the day for me and that was the near hour of telephone conversation I had with Daniel
Nash, father of Dakota, one of two principal beneficiaries of the FRAANK 50@50 fundraising. Dan had cc'd me in an email earlier which
he had sent to a local Phoenix news reporter regarding a story of possible interest relating to Dakota and the efforts of concerned people
and institutions, including FRAANK. Talking with Dan is always enjoyable, even though the news he had was not the greatest. Dakota has
unfortunately landed himself back in Phoenix Children's due to a blood infection that was resulting in some serious skin rashes and severe
body aches. Part of this is actually good news because it tells doctors that the infection is preventing a potentially an even more serious
complication of blood marrow transplants, Host Graft Syndrome. Dan is at the hospital now with Dakota as he has been throughout all of
Dakota's stay, now approaching three months. Dan is an intelligent and articulate person who communicates openly and honestly his
thoughts and feelings. He has laid out publicly his families past difficulties, not for sympathy or some other gain, but rather so others can
learn from their experiences and how they have managed to deal with them.  I believe we are born in to this world as learners and life's
lessons, regardless of age, along with our ability and willingness to express those lessons determine whether or not we become teachers.
In other words, for no apparent reason, life can be brutally mean and often is. It can kick you in the groin where it hurts most and when
you're keeled over in pain comes with a follow up blow to the back of the head with a rock hard club. The old one-two sucker punch.  "Pow!
Take that! Want some more?" It's what being human is all about and hopefully teaches us to be understanding, caring, compassionate
individuals so we can communicate and help others who live through similar experiences.  Dan, Dakota, and the rest of their family are
teachers and in their endless resolve and strength to succeed and get on with life are an inspiration to me and others who know them and I
consider myself fortunate and honored to learn from them and be a part of their lives and furthermore, to now even consider myself a friend
of theirs. If you want to learn more about Dakota and the trials he has endured Dan has chronicled them in an online blog together with a
host of interesting photos at

http://www.carepages.com/carepages/dakotagoat

Click on the link above to read about Dakota's progress, when the Carepage Website comes up just sign in under the e-mail zingita60
July 2012    
SP=Start Point  -  EP=End Point -  DM=Days mileage - TM=Total Mileage





Day 77  7/01/12
SP : Monticello, IA
EP:  Tama/Toledo, IA
DM: 59
TM: 5,002


Notes
6:30pm. Another scorcher today; high 90's with 90% humidity. Right now I would do just about anything to be in an enclosed air
conditioned setting. I am so hot and the bugs are driving me crazy. It's too early and still too hot to get in my tent so there's nothing to do
but bear it and hope that as the evening progresses it cools down enough to drive off these annoying flying insects and make it
comfortable enough to sleep. Bug spray doesn't seem to repel these guys, except maybe the flies. The little black ones with the four red
markings are, and have been, especially bad and numerous.
Lately I haven't been sleeping well, especially last night, because of the heat and humidity. I'm actually considering for the first time of
getting a room if these horrible conditions don't back off somewhat. Part of me would hate that more than anything else. The voice in my
mind repeats over and over, "What? You can't handle it? So there are some warm temps, thick air and annoying bugs. What did your
hero's Capt's Lewis & Clark do when they encountered conditions far worse than these; cry and ask for an air conditioned room to spend
the night? Come on suck it up and quit your sniveling. There are a lot worse conditions you could be in than this."  And so the dialogue
goes on in my mind while the negative questions (see a couple days ago) continue their bombardment on my spirit. This is not fun out
here and has to be the worst predicament I've ever put myself in to knowing I still have over 4 months and nearly 10,000 miles to go.
Which leads me to the point that yesterday I reached 4900 miles on the bike since leaving Skagway back on April 25.  Add to that the 40
miles from Juneau to Echo Cove on the rental bike and the 60 or so miles on kayak to Skagway and I have reached the 5000 mile
threshold of 50@50. If this first part of traveling to all 49 states turns out to be 14-15,000 miles which were my original calculations, then I
am roughly a third complete. And still there awaits the 2500-3000 miles of rowing to Hawaii next year. Sobering news for a fellow feeling
the way I am now.
So, camp. I am in a typical midwestern pull-through barn built, I conjecture, to unload and store cattle grain. Having never been a farmer
I'm not sure for what purpose so many of these structures are built. This one under which I plan to spend the night has about a 10'
concrete drive thru with ramps on both ends and holding pens built of plywood on either side of the structure. There are  3' by 1' openings
every 6' feet which as I commented before I believe are for storing grain . Whatever the purpose of this place, I call it camp for tonight. I
have cover on the slight chance of rain (30%) and it is flat and, with the exception of loads of bird droppings, clean. When I first rode in my
intention was simply to get some water for camp which was coming shortly. When I rolled in to the driveway and saw that little traffic had
used it in recent times and the screen door of the house hung open, I knew that nobody was around. But, being a respectful and law
abiding, I decided to knock on the door anyway (just in case there was someone around looking at me without my knowledge). After the
perfunctory door knock I set out to find if there was any clean running water all the while keeping an attentive eye out for a possible
campsite. If there was no water around here there was no use in looking for an out of the way 'invisible' place to set up camp for the night.
The first outdoor water spigot I tried came up dry (should have known because there were cob webs on the handle). I strolled around to
the other side of the home, all the while running through my mind the reason I would give to someone if they suddenly popped up (the road
was only feet away and I totally visible) and there I spotted another water spigot, this one without cobwebs and flowers growing
underneath and all around. I tried that one and after a second or two cold, fresh clean water came gurgling out the 1" orifice. "Oh yes!" I
thought and subsequently murmured to myself while sticking my overheated head underneath the cool refreshing necessity of life.  I filled
up my three 2 liter plastic bottles that I carry around specifically for camp (2 for shower and the other for cooking, clean-up and coffee in
the morning), strapped them on my bike and set out to search for a place somewhere on this  unlived farm with white painted barns  and
storage sheds throughout the maintained grounds. It took me seconds to find this place and though my original belief was that I was
alone, I have since found out that I was wrong when a half dozen cattle came out of the barn opposite this structure telling me that there
must be someone around here to tend to the animals as well as cut the grass. Oh well, I've been going through my head what to say in the
event someone does arrive and surprised to find a dark, very dark Italian man with a bicycle camped in their stock shed.
Tonight's dinner is looking less than appetizing to me; a 'weight watchers' frozen pasta dinner and an iceburg bag lettuce salad. I've been
getting a bit lazy as this trips wears on, and me down. The thought of cooking at the end of the day when it's been so hot, and still is hot, is
just not appealing. Long gone are the dinners of juicy steaks and pasta cooked with fresh marinara. Though I still will make my fresh
romaine lettuce salads with ripe juicy tomatoes and rich olive oil. It's just that this afternoon I couldn't find anywhere to shop for produce
and ended up getting dinner stuff at a drug store back in Cedar Falls.
So for now it is starting to get a little darker and the orange glowing tennis ball sized sun is setting behind the thinly clouded western
horizon making for a gorgeous sunset. For me that means it is shower time which I plan to do inside one of these cattle pens surrounded
by bird droppings and rich in odor. Ahhhh, the beauty of it all.
Yesterday I came down pretty hard on the old Hawkeye state, and perhaps a bit unfairly due to the fact I was pretty haggard after
yesterday's infernal arrival here. But most roads here do leave something to be desired for the average biker, and motorist for that matter.
Iowa I believe, from having biked here in the past several times, has the most bicycle unfriendly roads in the country. This is especially
odd when considering it stages the most popular cross state ride in the nation: RAGBRAI. So many of its roads are without paved
shoulders (they use large rocks and gravel) and torn up with cracks and potholes that at times I think I'm riding in Mexico.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYRKkq0AMIg

Good thing the people are friendly and understanding and not in a big hurry because if these roads were in New Jersy or California or
heck even Arizona, this would be a total nightmare trying to ride. I hope the roads get a little better as I move on to the central part of the
state, but of they do I doubt it will be substantial. But that remains to be seen so for now its to sleep, if I can.























Day 78  7/02/12
SP : Tama/Toledo, IA
EP:  Kellogg, IA
DM: 58
TM: 5,060


Notes
I won't harp on this much, as it is getting to sound like a broken record, except to say that the day can be summed up in four words; hot,
humid, windy, and hilly. Oh wait, there are two other descriptive terms that come to mind; shoulderless roads and monotonous vistas.
Gee, this place is just a cyclists paradise....Paradiso Ciclismo!
I am so hot right now that about all I can think about is walking in to a 35 degree beer cooler, found at most stores around here, and sitting
down for a spell on a case of beer, perhaps long enough to take a nap (I've done that in the past and get the feeling that store
management believes I'm in there drinking it up when all I'm really doing is just trying to cool down). I just can't get my core temp down
right now mainly because of the humidity which traps heat inside. I hate humidity. Having been born and grown up out west in the dry air
my body, and more significantly my mind, just finds it difficult to adapt. I'm camped in, what else, a soybean field a hundred yards south of
state route 6 and 200 yards or so west of Skunk Creek (so aptly named as it is about as skunky a body of low flowing water as I've seen
in a while). At the moment I am seated on my small Coleman camp stool, butt stuck to the fabric because it is so humid, and trying to take
my mind off these unpleasant conditions by pecking out these few words. Fortunately I'm enjoying a cool soda pop which I managed to
keep cold by filling up my small foam insulated cooler with ice back at the Casey's General Store (these convenience stores are
everywhere here and are kind of like a 7 Eleven except with a few more thrills) at the last stop of the day about an hour ago. But my
thoughts keep going back to that 20 minute respite in the beer cooler I so yearn for. Anyways, when I first rolled up here and decided that
this was to camp for the 78th time of 50@50, I decided to venture down to Skunk Creek to fill up my water bottles for the evenings camp,
and if it was possible, soak for a moment or two in the cool appearing waters flowing down the shallow waterway beneath the road
overpass.  After tip toeing through 200 feet of shoulder high grass and leg scratching weeds I finally made it to the clear 'Skunk' waters
and in anticipation dropped my unfilled bottles, unvelcroed my BikeNashbar sandals (same ones, and only ones, I've had since departing
Phoenix back in mid April) and slid off my gym shorts and bike liner (I don't wear a shirt most the time) and stepped in to what my mind
was leading me to believe was going to be a cool, refreshing dip after such a long hot miserable day. Oh pity the fool. Rather than the
refreshing dip I so much anticipated stepping in to the 'Skunk' felt more like getting in to a warm knee high bathtub, with the added feature
of dark muddy dirt, 2" minnows darting between my toes, and a skanky smell reminiscent of the Sedona city sewer plant I ride by on
occasion. Totally disgusting! So I filled my camp bottles (I know, you plan to use that stuff as camp water?) and got out of there and
searched for and found this decent spot to camp (best since being in Iowa) beneath a towering leafy elm tree and with plenty of clear area
as it appears that construction of a road is coming through here to connect route 6 with the Interstate 80 only a half mile south.
One of the ways I try to keep my mind off these terrible conditions and whittle the 6 hour self made quota of riding a bike during the day is
to look out over the cornfields and try to figure out how and why they are sewn and laid out the way they are, often at different angles and
strange patterns. Obviously only someone with experience with cultivating these endless acres of earth would know exactly why they are
what they are. But my belief is that it has to do with the nature of the land, it's topography, and limitations of the farming machinery. When
it decides to rain here, it rains. I've been in a midwestern downpour before and it feels like heaven itself has opened up (check out the
FRAANK baseball movie, 6 Months, 10,000 miles, 30 Ballparks of two years ago to see what happens when camped in the wrong spot
in a midwestern downpour). So built in to all these endless rolling fields of grain and bean are drainages and which for the novice eye
appear to be cool roads (or for the Sci-fi minded landing strips for alien vessels) but are nothing more than cut grassy areas to allow the
flooding waters to escape and not damage the crops. The other reason why the fields are curving and often at right angles is because the
machinery that does all this tedious work needs room to turn around in the most efficient manner possible. I know, interesting stuff for a
midwestern farm buff. Well at least you get a chance of knowing what goes on in my mind during these long hot dog days of midwestern
summer (remember that movie with Al Pacino back in the 70's when he robs a bank?).
You know for once I would love to sip from my drink without a drowned bug in it.
Highlight of day?  When I stopped at a home along hwy 63 heading south, around the warmest part of the day, extremely overheated and
worn out, to ask for some cold water. I was approached by several people upon my arrival amongst whom there was a friendly elder man
(well somewhat older than I), with a wide brim straw hat and slight hunch to his gait, and his younger daughter and much younger grand
daughter. They greeted me with typical warm midwestern hospitality, inviting me to sit for a spell under the shade of their garage and
bringing me a cold glass of ice tea and afterwards ice cold water to replenish my empty water bottles. We talked for a while about the
weather and the fires ravaging Colorado and much of the west at the present (I've been so removed from current news that I had no idea
Colorado was going through such severe fires). It was so nice to just spend a few moments talking with others about stuff that during this
trip there just never seems to be enough to do. The Midwest is physically and spiritually the heart of America (remember that GM
commercial 'The Heartbeat of America'. Well I think they were focusing on the Midwest). Anyways, I did not want to overstay my welcome
and there were still a few hot miles of hilly pedaling in front me so I thanked them for generosity and headed on, at the moment south,
towards capital #10, Des Moines with a belly full of ice tea and water and a renewed spirit.
It's 7:30 and shower time but the problem I am faced with is how to cool down warm water so I can take a refreshing shower and cool
myself down. It was pretty straight forward, though lengthy in process, in BC when I was cold to warm up by heating my shower water,
finding a suitable place out of the wind to shower, toweling off afterwards as quick as possible, putting on all my layered clothing (while in
the tent of course), sitting next to the fire and then when it got dark going in to my tent and snuggling beneath two down sleeping bags.
Ahhh, I slept like a baby back then. Even though it's just human nature to complain when things get uncomfortable, I am still finding it hard
to admit that for all the complaining I did then about the cold it wasn't really that bad as I sit here now drowning in this thick hot air. In that
sense I reckon Iowa is a teacher for me, informing that things can always be worse.
Earlier I opened my email inbox and found a Paypal receipt from a donation given by neighbor and friend Rob and his girlfriend Chisuko.
For the baseball trip two years ago they had given a valuable donation as well.
About 6 years ago or so Rob and Chisuko moved in to the 'hood' where we've been living for nearly 30 years ago and they bought the old
run down fixer-upper home just down the one lane dusty driveway from our home. The two of them have worked tirelessly repairing the
place and it is now the envy of the rest of us living in close proximity.  It didn't take long for us to become friends and they come in for
dinner occasionally to the restaurant (specifically for our renowned eggplant Parmesan, [no modesty here needed; it is delicious]).  Rob
and Chisuko are, like most of us, honest hard working people and when they give it is probably because they believe in the cause and it
is coming from their heart. What a message that is to me. I believe giving comes from the heart, not out of the mind.  It should be
spontaneous, because through the language of spontaneity speaks the soul, and without an obligation for repayment in whatever form
(that is called an investment). No one in this physical world should be watching, nor should we expect, in the afterworld. It is done
genuously through the heart and with compassion (I can't ever remember writing a check to a charitable cause while thinking about it) but
at the same time not done blindly or without the knowledge of the worthiness of that cause (there is no shortage of hucksters and
harlequins out there preying on those most vulnerable: the needy and naive). Fear and scarcity are thoughts of the mind. Understanding,
compassion, and giving are emotions and actions from the heart.  If you are reading this, thanks guys for the valuable donation and have
a relaxing and 'cool' trip up in Montana.


















Day 79 7/03/12
SP:  Kellogg, IA
EP:  Prole, IA
DM: 59
TM: 5,119


Notes
7pm. I arrived to camp just before 6 but am late getting started on the days journal. My brother Mario from N California called and we
chatted for nearly an hour. Mario, like myself, owns and operates a small Italian restaurant in Redwood Valley along with his wife, Kris, of
30 years and three beautiful successful children (Nick, Tyler, and Emily) all ranging in age somewhere in their 20's. He and I learned the
restaurant business from our father growing up first in Hollywood and later on, after Pop had tired of California, in Arizona, where I still
operate along with my wife and kids his last establishment. Mario is a brother, and person, very close and dear to me. We grew up as
kids in conditions that could only be explained as often challenging, and from those early upbringings comes a bond that still today is
forged like steel and molded like fine cabinetry.  We also had many good times growing up and when together would play ball, hike, ride
bikes, run, build forts, play board games and with toy soldiers, watch 60's sitcoms, and laugh till our sides split for hours about
meaningless stuff only kids can find funny (back then, of course, there were no computers, internet, or video games so our play usually
involved physical activity, imagination, and social engagement). Even today we can talk and laugh hours away as we reminisce about old
times, unfortunately though its usually on the telephone. If you ever find yourself passing through N California (Mendocino County) you
must stop by his family run restaurant, Mario's Ristorante Italiano, and make sure you order the garlic bread. It is the best, most authentic
Italian dinner and setting you will have had in quite some time, guaranteed (make sure you told him you read about it in this blog so I don't
get cut out of my kickback).
So, to the days highlights. I bet you are just waiting to hear about how hot it was again and how terrible the riding conditions were. Well I'm
not gonna do it. I will not mention one word about the horribly hot humid weather with constant headwinds and hills, nerve wreaking roads
with no shoulders and boring landscapes filled with nothing but corn and soybean fields. No, for tonight I've decided to stay in a positive
frame of mind and attempt to write about my wonderful visit to the Iowa state capital, #10 along the 50@50 self powered journey. After a
big letdown in Wisconsin a few days ago, today I was greeted by the security personal, welcomed by the staff, and listened to by the chief
executive, and Lt chief executive, of this great state of Iowa like none of the prior 9 states. Yes Iowa, in typical Iowan fashion, was
gracious and helpful.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlR5RPG4DBo

As I approached the capital from the east I was immediately alerted to the building itself by its gold plated dome and coppola which can
be seen from a far distance off. Wow, there's no mistaking where the capital is. Being so hot and miserable (ooops, I promised not to
comment on the terrible weather, sorry) I could not find one person anywhere in the vicinity of the parking area to take a picture of me in
front of the complex, so I decided to take my luck after I finished my quest to find someone to announce my arrival (ie: the governor or
someone on his staff). Leaning my hobo style tired looking bike with all the junk attached to it next to the square cut tan colored granite
rock stately building surrounded by well manicured lawns and ornately trimmed landscaping was like bringing a six pack of Keystone
beer to a swank upper Manhatten dinner party and sitting it down on the drink table  cluttered with expensive bottles of wine and liquor;
the contrast is unmistakably visible. Oh well, I had found shade alongside the building and after paddling and pedaling over 5000 miles
without rest to get here, the last week in this doggedly hot as a sunday morning hotcake griddle weather conditions (darn, there I go
again), I wasn't much concerned about images. I shuffled my tired legs and hot sweaty body toward the front entrance and as soon as I
opened the door had another ATFG experience as I entered the air conditioned environment. For the first time at a capital building I was
greeted by a security screening station complete with a metal detector and aging retired fella who appeared to be a volunteer worker (if I
were a terrorist this would be a cake walk getting around this one). Anyways, this was the first security entrance I had encountered at a
capital stop along 50@50 and to be quite honest, with as uptight as the country still is after 9/11, surprises me that it took this long to see
one. Once around security I made a brief stop in the men's room to splash water on my face while letting out a few more ATFG's. I found
the governors office and was greeted by the friendly staff of mostly young people as if they knew my about my arrival ahead of time (if they
did I don't know how as very little effort had been put in to contacting Des Moines). Within a few minutes I was in a conference room
having an informal meeting with the Lt Gov Kim Reynolds, a well dressed pretty lady about my age and with a professional yet
comfortable persona and intense interest in my journey, especially the Alaskan Inner Passage episode (which at this point here and now
seems like an eternity ago to me). So we talked for about 10 minutes (I explained the FRAANK causes) and then we took a photo
together next to the state flag all the while my consciousness was busily preoccupied with the thought of how uncomfortable she must be
so close to this smelly dirty man with nothing on but a smiley face t-shirt, black gym shorts, and old dirty Jesus sandals. After the picture
she said that if I could wait a few more minutes that the governor would be done with an important phone call and that I could meet with
him, so I thanked her for her time and did just that.
Gov Terry Branstad is Iowa's longest serving governor in history. He governed the state from 1983- 1999 and was elected again to serve
in 2010 (he must be popular here in the Hawkeye state). He is 66 years old, of average height and with a distinguished looking mustache
and full head of thick brown hair with just tints of grey (he doesn't look 66). Again, like the Lt Gov, I was made to feel comfortable and we
talked at least 15 minutes about various subjects, one including both our love for history and the fact that he has a timeshare in Sedona (I
made sure he knew our restaurant was only 20 minutes south and better than anything he would find in our popular cousin town to the
north). After another photo shot, this with the governor, I was given the Iowa state flag promised by one of the staffers (thanks Joshua) with
the governor's signature to hang off my bike flagstaff. And then it was off to Lincoln, Nebraska. It took me several hours to negotiate the
streets and traffic signals getting out of Des Moines, a very uncomfortable experience with all these dreadful conditions which I've
promised not to mention.
So lastly, camp. I am set up alongside some dry struggling soybean field at the edge of a shadowy dense forest and upon a thick strand
of native waist high grasses.  On the ridge a quarter mile from here is a small well maintained cemetery with american flags blowing in the
wind all over. As usual I am basically out of sight and with the exception for the flies, ticks, and a few squawking birds, no living thing
knows of my presence here, although there are several homes very close by. Like last night I have plenty of ice I got at my last stop of the
day (LSD; a new one I just of and really like) and am using it to keep my head and neck cool. A long day and I am pooped, but feeling
good that the capital visit went well as it was a formal acknowledgement of my efforts. Thanks to all at the Iowa state capital and if anyone
is interested my visit should be posted soon on the governors Facebook page.























Day 80 7/04/12
SP:  Prole, IA
EP:  Fontanelle, IA
DM: 55
TM: 5,174
Week 10    WM:439  TM:5,019     Avg Per Day: 62-71 miles


Notes
5:30pm. Decided to do camp a little early today, the justification being simple; it is another windy day and it makes no sense killing myself
on these days. The wind is out of the SW at about 15mph and my direction is SW. I managed to maintain a 10mph average over the day
but it really took it out of me, especially factoring in to the unpleasant equation 100' temps, high humidity and the usual rolling hills. I felt
like the humidity backed off a few notches today, probably due to the increased wind speed and thus bringing a little relief to the misery.
Tonights camp is at a 'Public Area', a tiny island of state owned nature preserve land in a sea of privately owned corn and soybean fields.
These nature preserves have become more common as I bike in to and through central Iowa. Again only conjecture on my part, but my
belief is that these islands of nature were donated, or bequeathed, to the state by individuals as a somewhat eternal living gift to future
generations of Iowans and the wildlife that thrive within their forests and grasslands. Perhaps I am being a bit naive in this belief but it is
my hope that we can return a part of this once wild and beautiful landscape of America, as well as many other privately owned and
developed areas, back to the animals and it's original state of existence for thousands of years before Americans turned their vision
westward. Too much of the best part of the country was given away or sold in the name of manifest destiny. Even in the West where there
still are abundant public lands most of the most beautiful lands, especially if it's near water, were sold off and fenced off or inaccessible.  
Oh but to have had the chance to explore this great continent 200 years ago, and only if TR had come around 50 years earlier how
different things may have been today.
Anyways I have set up camp, again like last night, in a tall natural grassy area on the edge of a now defunct cornfield to my front facing
southwest and highway 92, and a thick forested area to my rear northeast giving me ample shade from the afternoons intense sun. I have
a beautiful vista of varying shades of green forest to the south and the refreshing, though still warm, southerly wind is rejuvenating my tired
countenance (as well as keeping the bugs away).
So the highlight of the day, ready for this, passing by the home where John Wayne was born; Winterset Iowa. Having traversed this
country already several times in the past on bicycle, I occasionally find myself pedaling through a town or section that I had come through
on a prior trip. Winterset is one of those towns. I have been wreaking my brain all day on what trip it was that I passed through there (the
birthplace of John Wayne is not easily forgotten) but as of yet can't fully recall. I think it was only two years ago on the baseball trip when I
and Jim were riding south from Minnesota after seeing the Twins and heading toward Kansas City. But it could have been the first
transcontinental ride I did back in '89 shortly after my father had passed away. Whatever, I had to cruise by and snap a shot of the modest
little white square home where the Duke had his early beginnings. Stories I have heard of the iconic Hollywood western film star tell a
story of a man who never lost nor forgot his humble midwestern roots. Polite, friendly, respectful, down to earth. These are a few of the
terms that describe the man who appeared and starred in over 200 films over a career spanning six decades (maybe seven which I'm
sure if it is I will be corrected soon by my brother Mario or good friend Dan).
Today I actually broke down and decided to do a load of clothes, well the few that I have (the washer was only about a quarter full). And I'm
proud to say I did them in Winterset (I couldn't help but feel the Duke's presence there in that little old stuffy and dirty laundromat). While
my few articles of clothing were being swished around in soapy water (and brown afterwards) I went to the store next door and got a $.79,
32 oz fountain drink (what a deal). The young clerk about my sons age was keenly interested in my story of 'exotic' (yea, right) adventure
and when I spoke to him could not but reflect on my own children close to his age. My 3 boys are now all out of school and on to 'bigger
and better' things in life. I know it is so cliche to say, but where did the time go?  'La Vita e' un Sogno' (Life is a dream) like Pop repeated
over and again shortly before passing. We're here one brief flash of moment and gone the next. There's hardly even time to make plans
much yet reflect on life's passings before the second hand ticks it's final go around. Anyways, in typical midwestern fashion and with a
touch of class not seen in many young adults today, the young clerk, mesmerized by my travels,  bought me my $.79 fountain drink with the
comment 'The drinks on me'. How classic can you get in a town called Winterset and a moment I probably will never forget. This stuff only
happens in the midwest and in the town John Wayne was born only makes it that more special. Thank you Mr Clerk if you are reading this
know that whatever direction you are going in life, I believe it is with the right heading.
Anyways, during these long hot days while riding, I've been playing a mind game, relating the distance traveled thus far ridden (and
paddled) with the degree of completion most of us are accustomed to doing, weather in their career or otherwise. At this point of 50@50 I
am about 30% complete and at that point there are some comparisons that can't help but merit at least a brief reflection. At 30%
complete if I were a home builder I would be about done with the foundation. If I were a baseball pitcher intent on pitching a full game I
would have 2 & 2/3 innings in the books. If i were running a marathon I would be at mile 8; the Ironman somewhere around the bike
turnaround in Havi.  If I were a manicurist I would be done with finger three. If I'm working an 8 hour shift at the local Sizzler restaurant I'm
about at my first break time (Walmart employees as well). If I'm a politician elected to a four year term I'm beginning the second year, and
hopefully getting that namesake piece of legislation with my name on it buttoned up. If I'm a third grader I'm getting ready for the first
recess, oh joy!  If I'm a doctor I'm about ready to call it a day and head out for a round of nine. If its winter and I'm a skier and ready to
head out and make a half day of it. If I'm in college, well, I still have a long time to go. If I'm Jesus I'm still tending to Mom's sheep and
learning the trade of carpentry. If I'm Lincoln I'm still splitting logs. If I'm a butterfly I'm still a caterpillar. And the analogy that hits home the
most potent for me: if I'm a cook at Vince's on a Saturday night it is only 6pm (which means the big rush, if there is one is yet to come in).
If any readers out there want to add to this list of '30% complete' list please email, text, or call me and let me know as I would love to keep
this going. Ciao a presto.
One thing about rural roads in Iowa, there are more dead raccoons in the roadway than anyplace I have ever seen.
So it's the fourth of July. Did you take this opportunity to crown thy good with brotherhood? I hope so. Not sure whether I did or not.
So how did I spend my observance of the 236th anniversary of this great country we call America, well just like July 03, 2012. I can't even
imagine a better way to be celebrating this day other than what I'm doing right now, especially in the heart of the country, Iowa (a few
degrees cooler with a little less wind would make it even more primo) . For anyone who may not be aware, the United States was the first
republican form of government based on democratic principals since early Greece, nearly 2500 years it's predecessor. Against all odds
13 small colonies managed to declare their independence 236 years ago today and fend off, with an army of ragtag volunteers
comprised  mainly of Yeoman farmers and abject city dwellers led by a less than acclaimed colonel of one of the Kings far off subject
lands, for 5 years the greatest empire since the fall of Rome, their prior ruler and current belligerent, England. Victory was narrowly won
not because of military tactical genius (though Washington's strategy of a prolonged war of attrition was brilliant and the ultimately the key
to winning the war) nor superior resources, but because of shear hearted tenacity, hard work and resourcefulness, qualities that still to this
day define us as Americans. We proudly, though no doubt skeptically, had the audacity to declare to Mother Europe that "we hold these
truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, amongst
these are these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". Wow, what a eloquent statement by a man prone to spending too much on
fine wine and books! You talk about a slap in the face to the one who has cared and protected you since birth (Sorry Mama, but I'm outta
of here). The father of our great country, along with the other founding fathers (Jefferson, Adams (both of them), Hamilton, Burr, Madison,
Payne, etc were, contrary to the title of Tom Brokaw's book (no insult intended, it's a great book) the greatest generation to come along at
the greatest moment of history. And all Americans, no matter what age, gender, race, creed, religion, color, or political affiliation should
be thankful that they came along when they did. This is a great country that I believe still offers opportunity to those willing to make the
sacrifice and heed the challenge. And for one still not totally sold on the intervention of divine ordinance (especially in the guidance of
geopolitical affairs) I believe America still to be a bright shining beacon to the rest of the world, especially those still struggling to achieve
the individual freedoms we have secured at great cost, yet unfortunately so often take for granted. Are we perfect? Could Washington
walk on water (well perhaps he could have, especially on the thick muddy Potomoc alongside the nations capital so named after him)?
But as Americans we realize our imperfections and struggle to right them as this lengthy trial of self government evolves and continues in
its quest for that perfect state of balance. This, the first and longest lasting voice of the people is still, 236 years later after birth, an
experiment in the making. 'America the Beautiful' indeed. Happy fourth of July everybody. I know I couldn't ask for a better one myself,
even with all the flies and ants crawling over my exposed body.























Day 81  7/05/12
SP:  Fontanelle, IA
EP: Emerson, IA
DM: 61
TM: 5,235


Notes
Tonight's camp is about a mile north of the small SE Iowan town of Emerson and a few hundred yards north of St Route 34.  The town
cemetery is just to my left and it is surrounded by cornfields and dotted with large oak, elm and ash trees. A well cared for lawn with evenly
spaced headstones laid out in long rolling rows and decorated with colorful plastic flowers and small flapping flags carpet the grounds.
None of that though is important about this cemetery except for the fact that soon to be buried here, I presume, will be a young man of 25,
Sgt James Skalberg, killed in Afghanistan a week ago Wednesday when the vehicle he and 1st Lt Steven Prasnicki of Lexington, Va
were in hit an IED (Improvised Explosive Device). Skalberg graduated from Nishna Valley High School, I passed by there earlier today, in
2005 and attended Peru State College in Peru, Neb. He joined the Army in 2007 and was married with a little boy, both of whom are
living in Red Oak 10 miles east and the LSD for me today. The news was all over the local papers today and as I sit here right now can't
help but feel somewhat melancholy, though honored as well. Afghanistan was, like N Korea, somewhat of the forgotten war when
resources and attention were refocused for nearly ten years on Iraq all the while there were still brave men and women manning the front
lines there, the real front of the War on Terror. And the war there is still not over, as the deaths of Sgt Skalberg and Lt Prasniki attest to,
no matter how much Americans have turned their attention away. Sgt Skalberg was a brave and honorable hero and I can only presume a
good husband, caring father, beloved and respected son, cherished family member, and friend to all who knew him and now to the
country that honors him. The sacrifice he has made is the greatest gift one can give for his nation, and for that we are all personally and
forever in deep gratitude to him and his family. And though I am not sure these will be the sacred grounds upon which will rest his final
remains when returned, I feel honored to have paused and rested here this evening nonetheless. Emerson Iowa will forever be etched in
to my memory now and my deepest sympathies go out to his wife, son, family and friends.
Also in the local news today was a front page story reporting the near choking of Iowa governor Branstad at a celebratory conference in
San Pedro CA for the docking and resting place of the USS Iowa as a permanent museum. The battleship was the lead ship of her class
when commissioned in 1943 and saw action in WWII. She will be best remembered for carrying President Roosevelt across the Atlantic
to Casablanca en route to a crucial 1943 meeting in Tehran with British Prime Minister Churchill and Soviet leader Stalin.
Back to the important story now. It appears that the governor was rushed to a hospital after choking, and consequently vomiting, when a
carrot become stuck in his esophagus. His spokesman said that the whole ordeal was blown out of proportion and that the governor was
fine, just a little embarrassed. Now that we know all is well, how ironic for me that just two days ago he was telling me, in obvious
anticipation, about his upcoming trip to California for the celebration (I wish I had warned him about those larynx sticking California
carrots). The governor is a fabulous person and I am so sorry this unfortunate incident had to happen. But when speaking with him I got
the impression that right now he is enjoying all this unasked for attention as much as the rest of us.
Other than those two headline stories, not much to write about today other than the usual; continuing heat, humidity, SW winds, and
nonstop hills.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1VMpRHW5xk

I did see something today that was quite out of the ordinary compared to past days; a several mile section of energy producing wind
turbines. Now nothing out of the ordinary about these white giant rotating three bladed behemoths of energy production (they are all over
the country where the wind blows at a good clip) except that these stood out for me because they were surrounded by fields of corn for as
far as the eye could see.  Two alternative forms of energy (bio and thermal) living side by side and providing the nation with a means to
free its dependence ('addiction' according to George W Bush) from carbon based fossil fuels. I thought it was a pretty interesting
combination, especially out here in 'King Ethanol' corn filled Iowa.
Tonight's dinner is the usual with a little flair, if you can call it that. I am having my usual romaine salad with ripe juicy local tomatoes, rich
extra virgin olive oil, and a few onions, garlic and pinch of oregano for zest. But for the pasta I am doing something not yet done on
50@50 that on the baseball trip two years ago I did quite frequently: penne with Campbell's bean and bacon soup. Ok, I told you in a
precious days blog that I'm getting burned out and the thought of spending much time next to this hot stove is not very appealing. Hey, it's
easy and not bad of you doctor it up with a few spices and some Parmesan cheese.
Looking at my total mileage up to today, 5,235, if a mile were a foot, then I would have traveled exactly one mile so far since leaving
Juneau back on April 18. That is one mile of a 3 1/2 mile trip set to end in Honolulu next year after a 2,500+ mile row. Not too bad a start I
guess, but still a long, long ways to go.


























Day 82  7/06/12
SP:  Emerson, IA
EP: Elmwood, NE
DM: 65
TM: 5,301


Notes
I got to camp about a half hour ago and am still so hot and sticky I feel like, well, a hot sticky bun (I know, corny comparison). Today was
the granddaddy of miserable days, and I hope that the great granddaddy is not around anymore. The last roadside temp sign I read said
it was 104' and I believe that wasn't the hottest part of the day.(
see picture 1 below) My guess is it had to have been hovering around the
110' zone around 2pm today. I can't count the number of times I stopped at stores, churches, schools, houses and anyplace that had a
water spigot just to wet down my head, shirt, and fill my water bottles, of which I probably drank at least 3-4 gallons today. The humidity is
still high, of course this is the Midwest, but not like last week in Wisconsin when it was in the 90% range. Of course there were the usual
endless amount of rolling hills and this nonstop wind from the SW that I've been battling for over a week as I head that direction bound first
for Des Moines and now Lincoln (actually the headwind for me started  back in Minnesota when it began to blow from the SE resulting in
a few cool days).
Anyways I am camped in one of those treed oasis's in a never ending desert of cornstalks I've described in past entries,(
see picture 2
below
) except this one has nobody around and the only structures are a few old dilapidated and crumbling wood barns. This 'oasis' is
completely surrounded by 6'-8' cornstalks of which I was forced to trample a few to the ground in order to get my bike and trailer within its
confines, and I feel like I'm imprisoned in a cornstalk walled compound. The road (I'm at the SW corner of the junction of state routes 1 &
34) is only a few hundred yards away and there is little traffic so I'm taking a bit of solace from this heat by listening to the many variety of
birds, especially robins, that have taken up residence in all the tall oak and elm trees, and it seems are intent on telling me their life story.
A few moments ago I was forced to move my bike, and thus resting place, a few feet away where I have more shade under an old though
still robust oak tree. It is amazing to me now thinking back only a couple months ago when still making my way through N BC and the NW
rainy states of Washington and Oregon, how much I missed the sun and would pray (and I'm not a praying man) for the sun to come out
from behind the perma-overcast skies and warm my cold body and thus spirit. Now, I look for any opportunity available to hide and find
myself at times cursing the hot ball of burning hydrogen and helium at the center of our solar system. I remember back in N. BC (and this
is pretty funny for me now looking back) when I was basically freezing my culo off, saying to myself, "So, what's the big deal about global
warming? What could be that bad about heating the climate up a few degrees?".  Now the only thing going through my mind is "Wow! We
better do something about this global warming thing before the whole planet is ruined and future bike travelers like me turn in to dried
dates (sweet but not that juicy and refreshing)".  Everyday I talk with the local folks of these parts and they all tell me how unusual this is
and that if these awful conditions don't let up soon that the entire crop season will be lost, resulting in losses in the billions of $. As I said in
an earlier entry, it's a good thing that these corn and soybean crops have been genetically engineered to resist this intense heat and
prolonged drought, as by now the entire crop would be lost if they had not.
Ok, enough grumbling about the weather and discomfort of having to ride and live all day and night in such uncomfortable conditions.
Today's highlight had to be when I passed through the quaint, friendly, and historical town of Plattsmouth, a short distance from the Iowa
border as I crossed the Missouri river in to SW Nebraska state #12(
see pictures 3 & 6 below) around 11 am (temps were already in the
100's). I stopped under the shade of a gas pump island at a local gas station (I never stop anymore unless it's in the shade) to get
directions from a pick up truck that had just finished fueling up. There was a lady inside the cab (her husband was inside paying the bill)
and I asked her if there was anywhere in this small town I might be able to pick up a visor cap since I had lost mine just this morning (I lose
things practically every day it seems), the one given to me by the older fella and his daughter and granddaughter, who had also given me
a cool glass of ice tea and much appreciated company, a few days back. She said something I couldn't make out from inside the air
conditioned cab, and seeing my inability to hear what she had said, got out of the cab and in to the outside oven like conditions, walked
around the long truck, and gave me detailed instructions of how I might find a replacement cue ball ornament for my balding forehead.
Then, and here is why I am writing about this, she asked me for what purpose I was undertaking this trek and when I handed her a
brochure she reached in to her pocketbook (I know this is a pretty old term but I love it because my mother use to say it and thus reminds
me of her when I say or write it) and handed me a $20 bill. Wow!  I wasn't asking you for a donation to FRAANK, just directions to a store
so I could buy a cue ball cover. Her spontaneous receptiveness and instantaneous trust made me forget about the heat for a few
moments. I asked the lady if I could have her name to put on the donor website page and she said, "No, that wouldn't be necessary".  So I
asked what the name of the town it was we were in (remind you my thinking these days is a little obscured from all the heat as sometimes
I even forget what state I'm in) and with a little chuckle at my confused, yet honest, question responded Plattsmouth. Tomorrow we get to
post another donation on to the FRAANK donor website for $20 from an 'anonymous donor' in Plattsmouth NE.
A few moments later as I was heading out of Plattsmouth (no luck finding a replacement visor [cue-ball ornament]) I pedaled by a car
wash 'manned' by no less than a dozen high school girls (descriptive adjectives unnecessary) all wearing shorts on the side road.(
see
pictures 4&5 below
) I stopped to ask if I could borrow their hose to wet down my head (wet-down stop #9 of at least 30 for the day) and
was inundated with questions regarding the trip from the young ladies and the apparent moms as well who looked pretty young to me as
well but older than the girls (I guess you know you're getting old when the parents of highschool children look young). One of them asked
we take a picture all together in case I garner some fame (I got a good chuckle from that) after all this is complete (if it ever is complete). I
willingly obliged and wedged myself between 8-10 young, attractive high school girls, any of which were probably younger than my
youngest son. I promised them all that a copy of the photo would be sent to my 18 & 20 year old boys (Giuliano and Domenico, both of
whom I pleaded to come with me on this journey) just so they could see what they were missing (Hey Guys, any second thoughts now
about joining me?). I gave one of the moms a brochure of 50@50 and as I clambered back on to my bike one of the girls handed me a
cupcake as a apparent token of their appreciation for my stopping by.
I can't begin to put in to words how much these two seemingly minor acts of care, attention, and generosity meant to me. Again I am
reminded that it is in our daily interactions with others, both those close to us as well as perfect strangers, that set our mood and define
our image of the world, no matter how hot and uncomfortable the weather is.
You know, I'm really tired of ticks of which no less than 50 have already been picked off my uncovered body so far this afternoon. Next to
mosquitos, ticks are the most irritating insect of the outdoors. Flies (except for the biting kind), spiders, ants, nats, bats; none of them
really bother me that much. But there is something about a foreign creature attaching itself on to my skin and sucking my blood that just
gives me the willies.  I hope I don't end up with Lyme disease after this trip.
Was thinking about something today around noontime I was trying to decide which of the half dozen or so options I would choose for
lunch. Would it be the sandwich, taco, burger, pizza, or chinese place all within a block.  In these times of cheap and readily available food
most of us don't ever have to think about 'if' we will eat, but rather how, when, and where will we eat. That's really remarkable if you think
about it as for the entire history of humankind the quest for survival has centered around acquiring and maintaining adequate supplies of
commodities to eat and thus sustain the species. It's really only been in the last 40-50 years, especially the last 10-20, that really cheap,
poorly processed available food is everywhere. No matter how poor you are in this country, just about anyone can hold a sign up asking
for a handout (I've given to fellas on the street asking for money to buy food several times already on this trip) or dig under the couch
cushions for a buc or two of change and go to a McDonalds and get a dollar sandwich. It's a good thing this ubiquitous availability of food,
but also not so good a thing. Hunger, and especially famine, is probably one of the worst things for a person or group of people to go
through and have to endure. But with all this cheap, poorly prepared, in nutritious, and fatty food around people are eating more and
becoming less healthy, especially when combined with the small amount of physical exercise the average American has on a daily basis.
Most people I know eat out of habit, boredom, or even fear and not because they're really hungry (I know because I do it all the time).
Eating three square meals a day with constant snacking in between is ingrained in to our social consciousness; 'God forbid if we should
skip a meal, or even snack, once in a while. We might get sick'. No need to explain here the effects on the body (and to some extent
mind) and society as a whole of all this out of control consumption of poorly prepared food combined with low levels of physical activity,
except to mention the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 kids in America is considered obese today as measured by their BMI (body mass
index) due primarily to poor and excessive diet and inadequate amounts of exercise. Would we as parents be willing to allow our kids to
hang around with the wrong crowd at school? Smoke or abuse drugs and alcohol? Watch unlimited amounts of tv or play unsupervised
video games? Skip school whenever they like? Go to bed without brushing their teeth? Well, we hope not. Then why do we allow them to
become grossly overweight with all the accompanying health problems; type II diabetes, heart and cardiovascular disease, raised
cholesterol levels, skeletal and muscular damage, emotional distress and even suicidal tendencies? Why not just allow our kids to play,
without supervision and unknowingly, with loaded guns? By allowing our kids to become grossly overweight we are basically summoning
that child to a lifetime of health problems and even premature death, not to mention the economic cost to society due to the increased
care needed to treat those health problems. And I know its getting a bit too repetitive these days, but we as a society, and specifically
parents, need to be role models for our kids. The other day I was resting for a spell in front of a convenience store when a lady with a
couple young kids, both over weight (the mom as well) drove up in their air conditioned car got out and went in to the store and after a few
minutes came out with hands and arms so full of junk food and soda drinks (high fructose corn syrup, in practically everything we eat and
drink today, is one of the biggest contributors of type II diabetes) they couldn't even open the door to the car. So many people out there
still just don't get the  message either because it's not being communicated to them properly or they don't want to heed the warning.
Nobody wants to be told what to do, especially when it comes to raising their kids, and few of us like telling others what to do or how to
live their lives, especially when it comes to handling in a delicate manner the sensitive subject of weight. But when you see an obvious
and potential danger to another, especially a child, and turn your attention away, to me at least, you have done a gross injustice to that
person who is harms way and have demonstrated a thoughtless, even selfish inaction on your part. I believe that is why I have chosen this
relatively modern epidemic of childhood obesity as the main child awareness campaign for 50@50.
Big tragedy for me tonight; I ran out of olive oil. For a dago to run out of olive oil is like an Asian to run out of rice, a Mexican out of beans,
a Parisian out of coffee, a Wisconsonian out of brats, a Californian out of the latest trend, an alcoholic out of booze, or a cop out of donut
shops. If you can think of any others please text or e-mail me

























Day 83  7/07/12
SP: Elmwood, NE
EP: Adams, NE
DM: 52
TM: 5,353


Notes
Today was one of those days that just seemed to fly by, in fact all these days lately just seem to fly by. My mileage was about the lowest
I've had in some time but that's because I got caught up in Lincoln, the City on the Platte, visiting the capital building and it seems
everywhere I went here in the Cornhusker state friendly, down to earth folks just wanted to chat, mostly about my adventure but also about
the weather and topics totally unrelated to biking and 50@50. Yes Nebraskan's are a great bunch and I kind of wish I had more time here
though tomorrow I will reach the Kansas border and leave the only state through which my visit did not endure more than two days. I
entered at the SE border from Iowa yesterday and tomorrow I will leave through the SE border in to Kansas.
Tonight I am camped next to a small thicket of trees on my NW side which I have no clue as to the type(and Nebraska being the 'Arbor
State' I'm sure there are many different species) and surrounded again by cornfields on every other side.(
see picture 1 below) The
cornstalks here in Nebraska are just beginning to sprout their little 4-5" inch ears of the yellow/golden grain that has so many uses today
from cattle feed to fuel additive to sweetener and in my case here, concealing my presence from highways and homes.  I am feeling
better now than I've felt in a few days as the temps today came down at least 5-10', primarily because the wind shifted from the SW to the
NW. Ahhhh, finally a bit of relief, especially after yesterdays punishing 110' temps. At the moment I am sitting on my flimsy Coleman stool,
pecking out these words on my electronic devise, and enjoying immeasurably the cool breeze coming off the hundreds of miles of
northern crop fields just to reach me here in SE Nebraska. After countless times cursing headwinds on this never ending odyssey, all I
have to say at this moment is, "Thank you wind". This is how I like it; warm, even hot compared to most, but not so hot that comparisons to
the surface of the sun (or Arizona) start being made.
One of the most incredible experiences that anyone with any interest in physical landscapes, geology or just having plain old fun can do is
rafting the Grand Canyon. Whether by raft, hiking to the bottom, or just marveling from one of the outlooks along the southern rim, a visit to
this immense, majestic canyon cut out over millions of years by a single river (the Colorado [red color river]) is as captivating an
experience as can be had in this short life, and one not to be missed by anyone with the opportunity to do so. The first time I went there
was when I was a young boy with my family and will never forget that awestruck sensation when I looked over the rim down more than a
mile to the river and across to the north rim more than a dozen miles away. My first thought was, of course being a kid of teenage years,
"Wow! Evil Kenevil jumped this on his motorcycle?"  But as the years progressed and the many opportunities came to hike and eventually
raft this enormous cut through a mile of ancient bedrock formed billions of years ago when the earth was still a hot melting pot of lifeless
volcanic activity, I began to appreciate more the incredible natural phenomena that lay virtually at my doorstep. I know, you're probably
asking yourself why am I writing about this now while I'm sitting on a Coleman stool under the shade of some unknown trees in the middle
of King Ethanol corn country in SE Nebraska. Well the first time I rafted the Grand was in 1997 and since then have done it two other
times. All three times have been in summer and early fall when the temps down at the bottom of the Canyon can reach as high, and even
higher, than what I've experienced the last several days here in the American Midwest. In heat like that the body of course sweats a lot
and when you're relaxed and lying down and the wind blows over your hot, sweaty, and preferably naked (or near naked) body, you feel a
natural cooling and refreshing sensation all over, as if the wind is enveloping you and taking over all your senses. I've heard it best termed
a 'silky breeze' and the feeling is as if a blanket of silk is being brushed over your body. Of course I have no idea whether or not it feels
like silk as I've never slept with silk sheets much yet had them brushed over me. But I do believe that the sensation of a warm wind over
the body is as great a feeling as can be had, whether at the bottom of the Grand Canyon or in a field of corn somewhere in the Midwest
like right here, right now.
I was thinking earlier today while pedaling across this never ending rolling sea of corn and soybean that eventually one day I would like to
write a book, not because I think myself a good writer (great writers are born and good writers made through discovery of their talent and
endless amounts of practice honing their tools of the trade. Have you ever seen or heard a good writer write or speaker speak? It's as if
the perfect words travel from their minds to their fingertips or mouth and out the pen or microphone with about as much conscious effort
as it takes me to resist a donut these days [speak of which I had a delicious one this morning, covered with chocolate frosting and with
raspberry filling]), nor to gain profit (if money were my motivation in life I wouldn't be out here pedaling about the country several times
over and besides, there are very few writers who can actually make a living doing what they do) nor for fame (I'm a Capricorn, an earth
sign, and way too down to earth to be compelled or driven towards fame), but rather so I can tell my story, of which I believe there is one to
tell. I believe most of us have a compelling story to tell but unfortunately so few do. In fact how many people even keep a daily diary
anymore? Probably very few and that is unfortunate because those stories will never be passed on, even if it's only to your children or
grandchildren someday. How much I would have loved to have read my grandparents story of when they came to the New World from the
Old Country back in Sicily. Or my maternal grandmothers story of what my mother was like when she was a teenager (ok, maybe I don't
want to hear the details of that story). You don't need to be a John Steinbeck or Mark Twain to write a good book, heck you don't even
have to be a so so writer to write as far as I can tell from all the trashy books I see published today. Writing does not come easy to me
(but put me in a kitchen and....well I won't go there) nor do I suspect it does to many of us.  But with just average writing skills and a desire
to tell your story almost anyone can write a book. And with the internet today it doesn't even have to be picked up by a major publisher. I
was talking with Dan the other day, the father of Dakota who is one of two beneficiaries of the 50@50 fundraising efforts, and with as
much as he has on his plate right now all he can think about is how he can use these challenging times he is going through now to help
others later on. He is doing it mainly by chronicling daily updates on Dakota's health and later on, I hope, will put it all together, using his
articulative ability to narrate, in to a book.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izgDAz64Tmc

Today I visited the 12th capital of the 50@50 self powered tour, Lincoln Nebraska. It is without a doubt the largest and tallest of the
capitals thus far visited.(
see pictures 2 & 3 below) The gold domed tower in the middle of the structure stood over 14 stories high and I
took the small 3-4 person max., 1950's style elevator that had that musty gear grease odor like it had been around for a while and been
overhauled a time or two, up all 14 stories. At the top there was a narrow walkway that led out to a caged in overlook facing westward,
and out over the town of Lincoln and  vista of endless green covered flat plains of corn dotted with periodic outcroppings of trees.(
see
picture 4 below
) Nothing spectacular but beautiful in its own right. Afterwards I went to look around the inside and was overtaken with the
feeling of being in a dark, somewhat scary dungeon as there were few windows anywhere and the hallways had stone arch entryways
leading down dark corridors and narrow spiraling staircases that lead to still more dark dank spaces above and below. The only thing
missing were the bronze armored suits in every corner.
Being a Saturday of course there was nobody around in an official capacity, whether on the governors office or elsewhere, so I asked the
security lady, Meghan, if she would pose with me for a photo to put on our FRAANK website and she obliged.(
see picture 5 below) We
talked for a little while and then I found my way out of the dark cave like state house and back outside in to the bright hot muggy day. #12
is in the books and now it's on to Topeka Kansas, lucky # 13.

























Day 84  7/08/12
SP: Adams, NE
EP: Seneca, KS
DM: 72
TM: 5,425


Notes
For the first time on 50@50 I have dropped below the 40' N. Lat. line. No wonder it's so darn hot. When I left the Lynne canal I was around
the high 50's and when I got up in to the Yukon I believe my most northern point was somewhere close to 61' N Lat.  So I am sitting right
now over 20' further south than a few months ago up in N BC when I was freezing my culo off. Of course that was late April and now were
in mid July almost, but to drop over 20' is really quite a bit when you think about because there is 90' separation between the equator and
the north pole so that's nearly a quarter of the distance.
Tonight I am camped beneath a scraggly old tree that from the shape of its leaves looks to be a Cottonwood but I know it probably isn't as
I think Cottonwoods only grow in Arizona but I have no way of telling.(
see picture 1 below) I wish I were better at identifying all these trees
but I'm not and other than spending lots of time and precious phone battery life investigating the types of trees, I have no way of finding
out. Maybe I should buy a book on the different species of trees here in the Midwest. But then I would have to carry it with me right now
and with all these hills I've had the last couple weeks, am looking to shed weight not take more on. Anyways, back to camp. I am only a
short distance south of St route 36 in NE Kansas and at the most a mile east of the town of Seneca. Two years ago on the baseball trip I
remember passing through here about this same time of year with Jim on the baseball trip. It was hot then and it is hot now. But today it
cooled down considerably as a pretty powerful storm blew through unleashing some big winds and intense rain which went on for most
the afternoon. The brunt of it hit me when I was stopped for lunch at a Subway shop (the only place to eat there) in Pawnee City NE. The
wet stuff came down in torrents for about an hour and I wisely decided to wait it out while munching on my pathetic sandwich (I really don't
like Subway sandwiches) and recharging my cell phone battery. Once back on the bike it rained off and on and though I was soaking wet
it actually felt pretty good after surviving the heat wave of the last week plus. All the talk I overheard amongst the farmers centered around
this glorious and much needed precipitation, but with the caveat that if more is not coming, and soon, than to no avail as this years crop
will be lost. It's hard for the average person not from these parts to understand how much these hard working, dedicated people here
depend on their annual harvest to sustain themselves and the local economies. If the harvest is good then they pay their bills, save and
invest for next years crop. If it's not good, or completely threatened by severe drought such as is happening now, then all may be lost. The
genetically modified seed has eliminated most of the threats that for all of history has plagued farming, drought and insects, and without
the need of heavy chemical usage. But even GM seed has its limitations. One thing I've noticed about the Midwest is that people don't live
on the high and mighty. They are simple people with basic needs who have chosen they're life here because of various reasons but
mainly because it is who they are and they appreciate the rural country life. Most farmers do not do it because it is a lucrative career, as it
is not. The boom in corn due mainly to ethanol is attractive, but not like so many like to believe. Most these farmers were here long before
ethanol and will be long after, just like their parents did and their grandparents before them.
One good thing about the drought here and really the entire western half of the country, except Alaska, is that there are very few
mosquitos compared to prior years. I can't recall putting on big juice even once because of them. The few times I did was because of
pesky flies or persistent crawling ticks.
This afternoon I crossed in to state #13, Kansas,(
see picture 2 below) and tomorrow I will arrive in to it's capital in Topeka. The following
day I should enter #14, Missouri, and a day later it's capital in Jefferson City. Wow, things are progressing right along, I guess. It's hard to
explain how tired I really am, not physically so much, though my left knee has been bothering me for a few days, but more so mentally and
emotionally. I am so tired of doing the same thing over and over everyday that all I can think about is finishing this seemingly endless
journey and going back to my normal life, but I know I've still so long to go. I miss my family and life back home very much. I have attached
a small flag of all the states I've been through on a narrow black fiberglass pole on the back of my trailer so people can see where I've
been and perhaps garner a few donations for the FRAANK fundraising effort.(
see picture 3 below) But equally important for me the flags
provide reassurance that I am making progress toward the finish of this endeavor. Enduring this long ordeal is turning out to be like the
stages of a bad or temporary relationship. At first all is new and exciting, then after a while you become use the routine and get
comfortable. Then things start to get a little boring so you look for alternative ways to bring back some excitement. And finally you just get
so tired that all desire is the end and to move on. I believe I'm about at that point where all I can see is the end of this relationship with
50@50.
Back in N Dakota I passed by the town where Lawrence Welk grew up, and last week through the town John Wayne was born, Winterset
IA. Today, I feel so privileged to have pedaled through the town Larry the cable guy had his beginnings, Pawnee City NE.(
see picture 4
below
) It was hilarious as I thought I saw Larry several times though it was just guys who looked like him. Not sure whether they just dress
like him or he's not acting and really is like that.























Day 85 7/09/12
SP: Seneca, KS
EP: Topeka, KS
DM: 85
TM: 5,510


Notes
6:30pm. What a day today.  There is so much to write about right now but I am so ticked off at the fact that I left the rainfly to my tent back
at a hamburger joint earlier today that I don't know how to even begin. When I got in to Topeka today I stopped at a Hardee's hamburger
place to a get a sandwich before proceeding to the capital where a meeting had been scheduled. Well last night it had rained and the
cover for my tent, the rainfly, was wet this morning so according to protocol, I didn't pack it in to trailer like most days and instead kept it
on the outside of my bike until later in the day when I would have a few moments to put it out to dry (once my trailer is packed I usually
don't open it till the end of the day. Snacks and the stuff I need throughout the day I keep in two bags on the rear of my bike). Well those
few moments were at the Hardee's hamburger place. After lunch I was running a little behind time for the scheduled meeting at the
governors office in the capital, just a couple miles away, and in hurry to get back on my bike and go and, you guessed it, forgot the rainfly
which I had hung on a wood dumpster fence behind the restaurant. I didn't realize I had left it until a few moments ago when I brought out
my tent and realized the rainfly was not there. I called the restaurant and the manager on duty was not very pleasant or understanding to
say the least. After pleading with her for sometime to see if it was possible for someone to go check if it was still there, all the while being
condescendingly reprimanded by her for leaving my items draped over their property, she finally told me that if there was time she would
have someone on her staff go check around for it and to call back in a half hour, "but no guarantees. It is not our responsibility for any lost
or stolen items!" "Oh, how kind and thoughtful of you madam Queen Hardee" I thought to myself. Well I did call back shortly ago and she
told me that a cook had gone out to look for it and found no sign of it. So now I'm camped with a tent with no rain cover and sunk, or more
appropriately 'soaked' if it rains. I'm not sure how to proceed from here. I could go back there tomorrow morning and look for myself or I
could go on to Kansas City and buy a new tent, though I know I won't find one nearly the level of quality that this one is being in the
midwest where there are no quality camping product stores like out west. The tent is starting to show its wear, and back in Wisconsin
when I had spent the night on the deck of some fellow biker friends I had met that day (see day 72) their cute but ornery chocolate brown
lab puppy had found his way to it while I wasn't looking and left a few bite marks through the mesh fabric, but nothing that a little duck tape
couldn't repair. It's inevitable losing things while traveling like this but it's one thing when you lose a pair of glasses or a spoon or visor cap
and quite another when you lose your shelter.




















Day 86 7/10/12
SP: Topeka, KS
EP: Kansas City, MO
DM: 75
TM: 5,585


Notes
I'm having a hard time getting going on this because I'm so burned out on doing this everyday and my enthusiasm for anything and
everything is AWOL. I feel like I need an injection of mood boosters right now, something to kick me in the tush and get me motivated. So
when I feel like this the only way to get started is to explain where I'm at and then possibly the mood will lighten and thoughts begin to
appear. Tonight's camp is, where else, another soybean field, just like last night and the night before that. It is what I refer to as an 'urban
camp' because basically I'm in  middle class suburbia and only 10-15 miles south of the spread out metropolitan area of Kansas City. I've
told people in the past when they ask where I camp that I could be camping in your backyard and you wouldn't even know I was there. Well
this is one of those camps as their homes are literally a short stones throw away. Two years ago on the baseball trip Jim and I rode in to
NW Kansas City to see the Royals (ballpark 22 of 30) and took local transit to the park which was SE of Kansas City. It took us nearly 2
hours on a bus to get there so my memories of Kansas City are of a very large spread out metropolitan area. That was on the back my
mind when I started figuring out how I was going to get from Topeka Kansas to Jefferson City Missouri. I knew I did not want to go through
another major cluster of city life, so my plan was to short circuit all the madness to the north by staying in the southern burbs. And that is
how I find myself here, squeezed between home subdivisions and under the takeoff of Johnson County Airport, next to a field of beans
with a landscape yard to my west and a middle class neighborhood less than a hundred yards to my east. Yes, urban camping is possible
if you have gps and are comfortable knowing that people are all around. This is what I like to refer as 'hiding' more than camping. But it
works. And tonight's camp is filled with a beautiful view of 6" soybean plants (they should be much bigger but the drought and heat has
been tough on them as well as me)(
see picture 1 below) and lots of native trees and occasionally overhead a small plane taking off from
the nearby airport. The sounds are varying birds, including a hawk in the tree above me, with a nearby dog yapping (dogs always know
when I'm camped nearby) and of course the constant midwest wind blowing the branches and leaves around from the treetops. Deer are
all over the bean fields and dart in and out of the surrounding tree lines.
Well yesterday I lost my rainfly to the tent, making my tent useless, and today it was my solar charger, the same one I have bragged about
to everyone for the last 3 months since leaving Juneau. Apparently it was not bungeed down tight enough on the back of my bike because
somewhere it wiggled out and off. No one to blame but myself though my ego is just dying to blame the awful roads here in Kansas which
have seen no improvement since leaving Iowa and Nebraska. I made a worthwhile attempt to see if I could locate it by biking (and walking
[yes, the hills are that steep]) about a couple miles back a gravelly washboard road that google map sent me out. Also this morning I
made another attempt to see if I could locate my tent cover by biking back about 6 miles to the Hardee restaurant where I had left it the
day before. My attempt though was in vain and I'm left trying to figure out what to do for another tent and why anyone would take a tent
rainfly hanging from a dumpster enclosure fence at a fast food joint, as it is of no practical use to anyone except the tent owner...me. Oh
well, it's gone now and I need to get a new tent before the rains come which are certain to be here, if not in the Midwest than the Ohio
River Valley or New England for sure. As I sit here now a multicolored hot air balloon just passed overhead heading south,(
see picture 2
below
) I assume towards the airport, with all it's huffing and puffing sounds those things make from the injections of helium to keep them
elevated. I can actually see the yellow blasts of flame blast out when the pilot hits the gas. Gee, I almost feel like I'm back home where
those things are always floating above our home on their southward journey from Sedona carrying a basket full of tourists.
Yesterday, though I didn't have a chance to journal it because I was so upset about leaving my tent cover behind, I had some company
from a couple of friendly kids who had seen me depart the bike path to set up camp a little south of Topeka. Cameron 9 and Dillion 8, two
outgoing, but ordinary, boys barefoot and dressed with nothing but shorts(
see picture 3 below) (the way all kids should be dressed in
these hot days of summer) and with pocketfuls of matches (I questioned them about how they had come by those as matches, dry
conditions, and boys are a bad mixture) came by a little after I had set up camp and as is typical of all normal kids that age with
curiosities bigger than imaginations (which are pretty big themselves), inundated me with a thousand questions about this or that. What
was I doing? What was in my trailer? Why was I doing it? What do you cook with? What do you sleep in? Etc, etc. I am so use to being
alone these days, especially at camp, that at first I wasn't too appreciative of this intrusion in to my most special part of the day. But after a
while I warmed up to their presence and tried to answer all their questions. When I realized that I had lost the tent rainfly, I believe their
company actually helped me get over the shock. They were so friendly (pretty unusual considering they were with some 'stranger-danger'
[I hate that term] man on his bicycle) and respectful and reminded me so much of my boys when they were that age. Part of me, and I think
I told them this, wanted to take them with me on this trip so I could teach them lessons of living on you're own out here as well as the
lessons of life, just like I had taught my own boys. Looking back now, the most memorable time of my life was on those many hikes and
bike rides with my boys, and would give anything to be able to have them little again and repeat all those things over again, while
eliminating some of the many mistakes I made, usually being too strict and taking out my moodiness on them. Oh well, life doesn't give us
2nd chances often and teaches us to be appreciative of those special moments when we have them. I can't wait to have a lot of grand
kids someday so I can do all those things again. Maybe I won't wait for that and adopt a disadvantaged child, or two, after this trip if I can
talk Patrice in to it. Anyways, after watching the boys burn termites for a while in and old timber rail using the matches they had somehow
come upon, eventually the father of one of them called them home and that was the last I saw of Cameron and Dillion. I wish I had their
address so I could send them a postcard and tell them how much I appreciated their company.
Anyways, yesterday I made it to state capital building #13 in Topeka Kansas and though I did not get a chance to meet the governor or Lt
governor,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLSyQ-T5-WY

did meet briefly with the state attorney general in his office across the street from the capital. The highlight was getting to sit in the
governors chair, Gov Brownback was in Europe trying to make a deal for the sale of aerospace equipment much of which is
manufactured here in Kansas, and with the thought,  just like a little kid, of spinning like a top in the swivel chair, pretend I was the
governor (no thanks but politics is not in my blood). Denise, the governors assistant was very friendly and helpful both to me and Patrice
who had arranged my visit ahead of time.(
see pictures 4, 5, 6, & 7 below) Now it's on to Jeff. City Mo.
One last comment on Kansas as I prepare to leave state 13 today; wind, hills & heat, oh my! Wind, hills & heat, oh my! Wind, hills & heat,
oh my!





























Day 87 7/11/12
SP: Kansas City, MO
EP: La Monte, MO
DM: 82
TM: 5,667
Week 11      WM: 466   TM: 5,485       AVG. Per Day: 66.3 - 71.2 miles         



Notes
7pm. I'm feeling a bit better today, probably because I didn't lose anything (at least which I don't know about yet) and I have left Kansas.
The roads have improved much since crossing the border this morning (there are even bike lanes again) and the hills have slightly leveled
off, or so they appear.(
see picture 1 below) Perhaps its just a byproduct of the better roads. Most of the morning I continued on that 143rd
St through the southern burbs of KC and then 150 to state route 50 which is what I am on now and plan to stay on till Jeff. City. It was still
hot today though nothing like last week in Iowa and Nebraska when I think it was possible to fry an egg on the road. Today I spent 7 hours
pedaling and as usual in to a moderate headwind, 5-10mph, but still a headwind. I'm starting to believe I have upset the wind gods,
probably about my negative speech towards Iowa, and have now decided to teach me a lesson or two about who's in charge out here.
These winds of course pale in to comparison to what I rode in up in BC...oh so long ago it seems. This trip for me is the ultimate test of
mental tolerance. I am, by nature, a person who when starts a project likes to complete it ASAP, and then rest the mind for a spell in
anticipation of project B. I'm not sure what you call someone like that; Type A?  Whatever it is I want to finish this thing, and now. But
unfortunately I am forced to being 'stuck to the grindstone' while each slow pedaled mile is achieved against these difficult riding
conditions. Perhaps that's the lesson I should be learning from all this; to be patient and allow the course of action of what is suppose to
happen...happen. I can't control everything, heck I can't even control a few things like keeping tabs of my gear. Just like the wind up in BC
taught me to be patient and take each day as it comes, so this incredibly long and arduous journey is telling me to relax, take it slow and
eventually you will reach your goal. As I said before, this is not how I'm hard wired to act, but there is no way to control this situation if I
want to succeed. This whole concept of giving up your belief and behavior patten to control the stuff in life that comes about and allowing
the forces at be, to be, was thrown at me after my son's accident 15 years ago. It's something I very rarely allow my mind to regress back
to much yet speak about it to others, because the hurt is so much that I dread the thought of waking back up again the painful memories. I
believe the best way to forget about a distasteful episode in life is to stuff it so far back in the memory banks that it can't get out, and if it
try's to wiggle it's way free again to beat it back. Without going in to detail, it was a time in my life when I felt most isolated, guilty,
traumatized, and without a fiber of my soul not in anguish. It was the only time in my life when I believed it would be better to be dead than
to have to endure another day. To give an analogue , I was kicked in the groin and while slumping forward in to a ball in intense pain, life
came with a second blow to the back of the head. Of course being the person I am, it was difficult to come to terms that the situation was
really out of my control and, with the exception of some relatively minor details, couldn't remedy it. What a realization it is in life to know
that you are not in control, that only powers way beyond what you are capable of thinking or doing are you're only means of hope. Like I've
said before in this diary, I'm not a very religious man. I don't pray on a regular basis nor do I firmly believe there is a heavenly father and
son watching over me and the other 6.5 billion people on this earthly plain. I'm not even sure if there is any order to this universe at all and
if there is whether I'm included in that plan or sequence. What I do believe is that I am not alone, that some source of knowledge or energy
is at play other than what my weak little body, mind, and spirit and that at times I can summons upon to act and lend guidance. Call it what
you will; for most it is God. It is there when I truly need it and if I silence my mind and inhibit my control it will help guide the way for me. I
never have understood this thing called 'the power of prayer'. To whom are we praying? Our heavenly father? Wouldn't it be better in
difficult times, in fact all times, to be quiet and listen rather than speak, especially if it's to our Father, who most likely knows already what
we are going through and need. Most of us talk too much anyhow. I have kids and I don't really like to hear them asking for this and that. I
know what they are going through most the time and I give assistance when I believe it is useful for them and do nothing when I think it is
best for them to work it out them self. The best way for me to listen for gods word is to shut up and go for a run, hike or bike ride, or
anyway or place that helps to shut up the pesky confusing voices in our mind telling us how to control the situation. I think body and mind
are two seperate components that work together for the betterment of the other, and one without the other becomes disfunctionate.
Everything in life seems to function in pairs. OMG, how did I get off on this. This is suppose to be a travel journal not a spilling out of my
guts. Sorry friends, if anybody is reading this. I think being alone all these days is starting to damage my mind.
Ok, camp. Camp tonight is, yet again, in another cornfield. I am actually between two fields at the edge where a 30' thick line of natural
vegetation  divides each. I am on the corn side as I said before and this corn is not doing so well. Most of it is dying if not already dead.
(
see picture 2 below) By all accounts from what I hear from the farmers in stores talking and read in the papers, this year is a total bust.
The stalks and hanging ears of corn should be twice as big as they are now. Some fields I pedal by are completely yellow and dead.
Others, like this one, stunted and in obvious heat related strain. The ground is so dry it feels like I'm back in Arizona. Today I rode through
a little scattered shower but nothing even close to what is needed to bring these crops back. I'm not sure exactly what lies ahead for these
prudent, hard working farmers and ultimately the consumer, you and I. Hopefully, and I'm sure they will, the federal government will step in
and help bridge the gap between this year and hopefully a productive harvest next year. For all you diehards who believe any government
intervention is a front against the values of this country and Adam Smiths beliefs of unfettered commercial enterprise, I suggest you come
out here now and see first hand the condition of things. By the way, chance of rain tonight, 0%. Which actually for a guy like me without a
rainfly for his tent is quite comforting to know.


























Day 88  7/12/12
SP: La Monte, MO
EP: Holts Summit, MO
DM: 78
TM: 5,745




Notes
7pm. Looking at the total mileage thus far and putting it in to practical terms, if I were riding with the aim of just crossing the country by
now I would have already rode the equivalent distance of going from LA to NY and back again. And If I am successful in my endeavor to
travel to all 50 US capitals then it will take, in terms of mileage, three round trip trips from LA to NY. So in other words I am about 1/3
complete 50@50 and about 40% done with this first 49@49 part. Looking at it one way I feel good and proud knowing I have reached, in
some respects, a milestone of this journey. But to think about how far I've come and knowing that it has to be done twice again, well, lets
just say I feel like I could start to cry. All those cold, windy days getting through BC and rainy miserable times in the NW. Then snow in
Montana and sleeping in road culverts surrounded by cattle droppings. And then there were the bees in N Dakota. Heat, wind, and hills in
Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas. Oh man how am I gonna be able to endure doing this two more times. A couple years ago I said the
baseball trip was the hardest thing I had ever done but as I feel now it pales in comparison to this. During that journey I had breaks to
reenergize and then continue on. I have allotted no breaks for 50@50 because there is no time for breaks if I expect to finish before
Thanksgiving. If I had to do it over again I would have made my departure date from Juneau earlier. But while planning this out a major
concern was getting caught in a late season storm, which up at that latitude one can only imagine how an Arizona desert rat would have
fared. If there's anybody out there foolish enough to be considering a 50 state self powered trek then please heed my advice; don't do it! If
you are of the obstinate minded type then I strongly urge you to get started earlier than I did so you can have some down time along the
way and, good luck.
So as is I will probably be cutting it very close crossing two mountain ranges (the Rockies in late October and the Sierra Nevada's in early
November). If winter comes early to either one of these formidable crossings then I'm sunk. Both had incredible snowfall two years ago,
but last year nothing. What's in store for this year is anybody's guess. So the luxury of taking a week or two off and flying back home to
reenergize the batteries is out. Geez, even a half day off now is out of the question. What would help though is a wind direction change
from the nearly constant headwinds I've had since leaving St Paul nearly two weeks ago. It seems no matter what direction I have been
traveling there is a headwind, today being no exception. East, west, south or north, it makes no difference. In two weeks I've had two half
days with tailwinds. The rest of the time it's blowing in my face. Today on the stretch between Sedalia and Jeff City I had had enough. Hot,
tired and dehydrated I lashed out with every pent up frustration I could muster, yelling at the top of my lungs and with every curse word I
had learned over 50 years of hearing a lot of them, "No, you are not going to win! I will defeat you no matter how much your aim is to take
me down. Come on, that's all you got? What a joke!", and so on and so on. Yes, I was screaming at my king adversary these days, the
wind (actually my chief adversary is my mind but I still need it). A sad state of affairs indeed. I don't know how quite to explain it except that
when I was done yelling at a totally inanimate force of nature, I actually felt better. And though I may have been imagining it,  the wind I
believe let up a little. I'm not usually one that resorts to using force, verbal or nonverbal, to get what I desire. But in this case it may have
worked.
Today was another miserable day for riding as temps neared the 100 mark and winds of course were out of the east, my direction of
travel. The hills since Wisconsin that have causing me such grief continue on even though I was riding a major highway (US route 50). As
I've said before the only part of the day I look forward to is now when I can relax and cool down. My appetite has declined, probably due to
the heat, and I think I'm losing some weight. Not sure yet whether that's a good or bad thing. I still have a lot of body mass to carry me a
long ways even if I were to stop eating completely for a while, so I'm not really concerned at this point. I hope no one thinks I'm trying to
overdramatize any of this because I'm not. I am just plain old pooped out and the only way to get out the frustration is by writing about it.
Tonight's dinner was great. My typical salad with crisp romaine lettuce and two juicy Roma tomatoes and the kicker; a ripe tasty avocado.
Delicious. I also finished the rest of an outstanding loaf of bread I had bought yesterday morning while it was still warm from the oven at a
grocery store named Cosentino's (no relation to the San Jose store, or so they told me). The main course was smoked ribs I picked up
from a store here in Holts Summit. Usually I don't care much for ribs mainly because of all the sweet sauce that they are smothered in, but
these didn't have that. Just the flavoring of the wood in which they were smoked. Delicious as well.
Tonight's camp is another urban camp, Holts Summit, and one where again I am almost literally in someone's back yard. There are
homes a short stones throw away but yet I am concealed by a thick row of vegetation making my presence unknown and invisible. It was
late my getting here so I didn't have time to get out far, hence my choice of an urban camp. I don't do these because I like to but rather out
of necessity.
Today's highlight was my arrival in to the Missouri state capital in Jefferson City.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDyR33NKHs8

As are most of capital buildings it was located on a hill, and this one overlooking the Missouri River to its north. There were fountains
around the structure and a stately dome that could be seen for miles in every direction. I headed to the governors office to register my
'official' arrival to capital # 14 of the 50@50 self powered tour (SPT) and met with the governors director of constituent affairs, Barb.(
see
pictures 1, 2, & 3 below
) We spoke for probably a half hour mostly about the trip but also regarding FRAANK, our fundraising goals and
how we hope to be successful at achieving those goals. Afterwards we went in to the governors office (he was gone from the office for the
day) and we posed for a couple pics, one under the wall mural of Mark Twain, Missouri's home boy. After leaving the building I spent a
few minutes by one of the fountains soaking my head and wetting my shirt to try to fend off for a while longer the intense impact of the still
lingering afternoon heat. And then I headed on my way again, crossing the Missouri river to the northern side and towards state capital
#15, Springfield Illinois where I hope to arrive in a couple more days.



























Day 89  7/13/12
SP: Holts Summit, MO
EP: Farber, MO
DM: 67
TM: 5,812




Notes
7pm. Let it rain! Around 4:30 this afternoon the wet stuff started coming down and up to now it hasn't let up. My bet it's rained close to 2"
so far. Of course it's probably too little too late for the crops, but it still feels good. It started raining when I pedaled in to the little town of
Farber, only 5 miles before my planned LSD (Last Stop of the Day) in Vandalia. I found cover under a 3' awning of a long ago closed for
business corner store and gas station. At first I thought it was going to be a short intense Arizona type monsoon (15-20 minutes and
gone). But after about an hour of huddling next to my bike with a tarp wrapped around me trying to avoid the cold splash coming off the
roof, chilly 30mph winds and sudden hair raising slaps of thunder following very close flashes of bright lightening from the protracted
tempest another course of action was needed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SJIEwg7d7Q

So I waited for a little letup in and I took off, only to get nailed again just a half mile away. I stopped under the porch of an unoccupied
home just off the side of the road and dug out the lite blue vinyl windbreaker I had picked up back in Billings Montana , my only defense
against such elements as these, and set out again towards my LSD goal. Again I waited for a let up and once it did I was back out but the
rain came bursting from above again accompanied by a heavy wind from the direction of my travel. Now I was not only soaked but forced
to pedal in to a very strong headwind. I spotted an old abandoned warehouse along the side of the road with a open loading dock door
the size of two truck trailers and decided to check it out. Once inside I knew this would have to do for the evening as I was unsure how
long this storm would continue on for and I, without a tent rainfly, am in need of adequate cover in case it decides to rain all night. So
tonight's camp is in this apparition  of a  metal, post & beam constructed warehouse the size of a major city airport terminal.(
see picture 1
below
) One can only imagine in it's heyday the teams of busy workers that once use to fill this now hollow shell, shouting to each other and
no doubt joking around as most blue collar working  men do when together whether at work or on a Sunday afternoon outing on the boat
ostensibly to catch fish.  Or the arrival of trains pulling up alongside the building to be unloaded of whatever it was that was stored here,
most likely grain or livestock or trucks idling on the loading platform waiting to be loaded to so they could begin their delivery.
The corrugated metal roof is leaking in several areas but where I've decided to locate for the night it is dry. In one particular corner of the
building, where in a gushing torrent the cool water is being funneled through a basketball size hole in the roof, I took tonights shower. It felt
refreshing and satisfying having for the first time in months a high volume 'shower head' rather than the spit and squirt that trickles from my
shower bag. From where I am sitting now my only view is out the 15' by 20' bay loading door that is like a movie screen at the drive-in
theater.(
see picture 2 below) All is dark inside the warehouse here and it's as if I'm watching a feature movie from my car seat, the tale of
which is an explosive red, orange and purple mixed sunset with periodic motions of flocks of blackbirds in flight across the screen and an
occasional car or truck whizzing by on the highway with it's headlamps breaking the darkness here in my large immobile vehicle. This is
the first movie I've watched in a long time and am enjoying it immensely. I'm also not alone here as a little while ago a family of possums
scampered their way across the building in single file only about a hundred feet away. And when I first got here the only sounds were
those from the large drops of rain crashing on the corrugated roof and the splashing of water on the concrete floor from the leaks in that
roof. But now as I write the rain has subsided and there are all kinds of different, funny little noises coming from every which direction.
Some are a little creepy like the long plastic flap coverings of the rear loading dock to my back slapping the big piles of aluminum piping
and other discarded debris, a sound similar to the strike of cowboy boots on a hard surface floor. The sound of birds, probably pigeons
or doves, strolling around on the metal roof with their long pointed nails scratching the surface. Creaks and groans from the old metal
structure itself emanating from every corner. My hope is that being so tired I sleep deeply and am not bothered all night by this strange
surrounding. At least though I am dry and if it does rain more don't have to worry. So, let it rain! And having the honor of being the first
biker probably ever to spend the night here I proudly proclaim the name of this roadside shelter 'Possum Warehouse'.

























Day 90  7/14/12
SP: Farber, MO
EP: Pittsfiled, IL
DM: 68
TM: 5,880




Notes
6pm. This morning during my morning donut stop, only 3 miles from Possum Warehouse camp, I decided to finish up with editing last
nights journal and get it sent off. Just before I touched the send key I noticed I had not entered the gps coordinates and fished for my
Garmin wrist unit to see what they were. I looked in the bags, the trailer, my clothes bag which doubles as my pillow, and with a fine tooth
comb checked every nook, pocket and crevice of my entire rig, but no sign. Great, it's gone. Within a week that will make three vitally
important pieces of equipment for the journey that I've lost; the rainfly for my $300 tent (making the tent useless), a $120 solar charger
which I depend on daily, and now a Garmin gps unit worth in the neighborhood of $250 and something I use everyday to mark my
position. Unbelievable. Like I had done with the tent fly and charger, I decided to go back to Possum's Warehouse in the hopes I had left it
there and would find it, unlike the previous two lost items. I detached the trailer from the bike and grudgingly rode the 3 1/2 miles back to
Possums Warehouse.  When I arrived to the loading dock entry, or theater screen (see yesterday's blog), there it was sitting right where I
had put it, on the edge of the building. "Oh, now I remember" I said while smacking myself silly. Possum's Warehouse had a metal roof
covering and gps units can't pick up satellite signals very well through them. So I put the unit next to the opening (drive-in screen) of the
docking ramp, a few feet away from my camp spot, so it could find the signal coming from space. And that's right, you guessed it, I forgot
to pick it back up. So, if I had not decided to send off the journal when I did, and fortunately not scanned over the 'endpoint' gps
coordinates, right now I would be crying uncontrollably with the realization that my gps is 60 miles behind me and with really no way to get
it but spending an extra two days riding to retrieve it. At that point I would have been asking myself, "Is two days ride worth $200?" But
all's well that ends well. And even though this latest episode of absent mindedness didn't cost me much but a few extra miles biking, I was
reminded once again of the fact that something else is going on of which I really need to heed the message. All this forgetting that's going
on tells me I am tired, not only physically and mentally, but spiritually as well. My well of energy on all levels is depleted, at the bottom and
dry, and something whether it be in my control or otherwise needs to happen to bring those levels up a bit. Otherwise I'm afraid of events
happening not quite so innocuous as forgetting a piece of equipment behind. Life's gravest decisions are usually not that grand or
momentous, in fact they're usually comprised of mundane everyday stuff. Everyday I'm out on these roads battling traffic and bad road
conditions and, though I hate to admit it or even think about it, a near tragedy is around practically every proverbial and actual corner. I
need to be focused and at or near 100% when I am out there riding. I've had and known of many a friend and acquaintance over the years
not return from a ride. I don't want to be amongst those close and dear friends, at least not yet. In fact I personally have had some near
tragic accidents while riding (one where I lost six front teeth and split my helmet in two [which would have been my skull without it]).
Forgetting and losing these items over the last few days is a message from that source I have trusted to guide me over the years and I
feel now it's message is of the utmost importance. Some will say, 'Oh that's called wisdom. You gain that through years of experience and
living". Well, perhaps. But wherever it comes from, the message is clear; I need to rejuice the batteries somehow, someway and right
away. So today, after I picked up the gps from the drive-in screen, I made it a point to try and stay more alert on the road. And fortunately
for me the roads have been improving since arriving to Missouri and leaving the Iowa/Nebraska/Kansas one-two-three punch. I am so
glad to be out of that Tri-Bike Mess of statehood (Iowa, Nebraska, & Kansas) and in to Illinois.(
see picture 1 below) Having arrived here
today the roads have improved even more. What's more the temps have come down considerably (to the 90's which feels cool compared
to a couple weeks ago) and the hills have flattened out to modest rollers. Also today I noticed myself looking with hunger at the roadside
billboards of Big Macs that are all around here and I thought to myself, "Now you don't usually take notice to that kind of message, no
matter how subliminal. Something must be going on". So I followed my impulse and when in Bowling Green stopped at the McDonalds
and had a tasty Big Mac sandwich and afterwards even ordered another burger. Almost immediately afterwards I started feeling different.
My legs had some strength and my level of consciousness began to rise. The last few days I've been feeling almost delirious and just out
of sync. And so it dawned on me that what I was missing was my bodybuilding amino acids, protein. In BC and throughout the NW states I
ate big, thick juicy steaks practically every night, not only because I love to eat them, but also because of the protein they provide to my
overworked body and mind. I haven't been eating enough protein rich food to reenergize my strength over this last month and am now
starting to feel the effects. The fat and carbs are good and need to be in any diet that includes an active lifestyle (all diets within reason)
but in proportion and without sacrificing the other component of nutrition. Protein is essential to keeping the body healthy and functioning
on all cylinders and I've been neglecting that source of nutrition for a while. The other factor in my control and which I've been neglecting a
bit is sleep. Most this trip I've been averaging about 6 1/2-7 hours a night and I think with all the heat and energy spent combatting that
energy drain, I am needing closer to eight hours a night. So the last couple nights I've been shooting for an earlier bedtime. Not sure
completely if all this will help me in the long run, only time will tell. At least this is what I can summate from all this.
Anyways, camp tonight is in another abandoned structure, this time a classroom size garage surrounded by, what else, bean and corn
fields.(
see pictures 2 & 3 below) There is a home here a couple hundred feet away but it too is unoccupied. Being without adequate
shelter from a potential rainstorm, I wanted to make sure I had cover for the night so this is it. In the corner of the building is an old Schlitz
lighted sign that looks like at one time was hung from a bar.(
see picture 4 below) There are at least a dozen tractor/trailer tires stacked
neatly, wood pallets and some metal siding.  By the looks of things no one has been in here for a long time except the birds, insects, and
a few mice I hear scampering around beneath the metal panels. My intention is to not poke around much in here for fear of finding
something alive not quite so harmless as those just mentioned, like a rattlesnake. There is a clean concrete pad upon which I plan to
unroll my sleeping pad for the evenings rest. At least I'm secure in knowing that if it does rain, I'm covered. Being the first biker/traveler I'm
sure to ever spend the night in this garage along Il St route 106 a few miles east of Pittsfield, I proudly proclaim the title of this unique
place the 'Schlitz Garage' in honor of my brother Rico who, back in the day, was an avid collector of all Schlitz memorabilia (I'm not sure
he ever liked the beer itself).
Today I entered the Prairie State and #14 of the 50@50 journey from Louisiana Mo, crossing the Mississippi on a narrow old busy bridge
leaving me time enough only to catch a hurried shot as I pedaled over the ever widening river itself.(
see pictures 5 & 6 below) This was
the second time I had crossed the Great River heading eastward, the first being in St Paul, and without a doubt it's girth had increased
substantially since that time being several hundred miles further along it's course to the Gulf of Mexico. In 1818 Illinois became the 21st to
enter this large collection of diversely beautiful and glorious states, and of course was home to our most popular and beloved 16th
president, Abraham Lincoln. My LSD for the day was in Pittsfield, the home of John Nicolay, author of the foremost multi volume
biography of Lincoln and where he met and befriended former secretary of state John Hay, proponent of the 'open door policy' with china
at the turn of the 20th century.
Our most revered president, other than the first, adopted Illinois as his home though he was born in and spent his early years in Kentucky,
much like my relation to California and Arizona. Lincoln was the most brilliant president we have ever had and in these days of TV and
mass media, probably will have. He was tall (especially by 19th century standards), gawkily, and not very handsome or telegenic. If he had
lived today it would be highly unlikely he would have made a career in politics much yet to attain the level of presidency. The foremost civil
war historian Shelby Foote, and another author of a multi volume set of books (this one on the war between the states "The Civil War")
said Lincoln was a true genius, and I believe it. The fact that there have been written literally hundreds of books directly about the man, not
to mention his era, is testament to his persona and legacy and I feel privileged now to be riding through this state he called home and in
which he is buried.
Dinner tonight is a lazy one; battered and fried greasy catfish with mashed potatoes I picked up at the local market back at Pittsfield.
These fast, easy, but less than satisfying meals are getting to be a common occurrence for me these days as I struggle along the path of
this long journey. Hopefully at some point I can regain the enthusiasm to prepare those delicious dinners I had during the earlier stages of
the trip. If not, I should still survive.




























Day 91 7/15/12
SP: Pittsfield, IL
EP: New Berlin, IL
DM: 72
TM: 5,952




Notes
7pm. Just finished a Skype call with everyone back home helping to work on the FRAANK fundraising effort and how sweet it was to hear
everybody's voice (for some reason the video on their end was not functioning). I so miss everyone and am so appreciative of their efforts
to help make the 50@50 fundraiser a success for our good beneficiaries. For busy people to give of their time to help others is the
utmost of goodness and respect and perhaps, whether in this life or another, will be rewarded. But that's not why we give of ourselves. We
do it because it makes us feel good to be helping others being the sharing compassionate individuals most of us are. So in that sense, I
guess, there still is a part of giving that we would consider selfish, or for self reward. But heck, I like to eat a Big Mac occasionally (often
lately) because it makes me feel good.  I think there is no sin in doing the things that make you feel good, as long as the indulgence
doesn't harm others or become an overly done obsession.
Tonight's camp is another 'urban camp' as I am just on the outskirts of Lincoln's home town, burial place, and 14th stop along the 50@50
journey, Springfield Illinois. The name of this not quite yet suburban town is New Berlin and I am sandwiched between two rows of
vegetation; a thick pine tree line planted to provide cover to a bank and of course the ubiquitous cornfield. There is about 6-10' of clearing
between each row and within which I plan to tent down for the evening. My whole reasoning for camping here was because I did not want
to enter Springfield late in the afternoon, especially on a Sunday when no one would have been at the capital (save a security guard or
two). Also knowing the volunteer meeting was  this afternoon I wanted to be in a location to hop on a wifi hotspot to Skype the meeting in
case my 4G service would not pick me up. So, here I am. Life on the fringes, or better yet, in the margins between trees and corn. I know
I'm not living in life's margins, that visible place pushed to the sidelines by some and ignored by everyone else; I have a beautiful family at
home that need and love me and I them. But what if I were just living out here with no home or family and subsiding on life's hand me
downs or if I'm lucky generous handouts. What a awful existence that would be. Many are homeless due to no reasonable action or
conscious stable decision on their part, being either mentally unfit or suffering from some drug or alcohol addiction. Some no doubt,
especially in today's economy, can't find suitable work. We, speaking of the majority of middle class Americans, like to forget that there
are people on the margins who are homeless and living basically from day to day, living in their cars or on a bicycle with whatever trashy
belongings they possess. I have seen many of those individuals, especially out west, and being mistaken occasionally as one while riding
my bicycle, do not forget they are out there. What a terrible feeling it must be to have no one or home to come to. I know in a free society
that we are free to choose that existence that best compliments our desires in life.  And there are those just plain lazy and perfectly
content living their transient lifestyle. But I'm not speaking of those. Who would choose to be homeless, especially with all the material
wealth existent in this bountiful land? Often out here on the bike trail I get what are most likely unconscious looks from people who see me
traveling in this unorthodox mode of travel and assume, naturally, that I am a vagrant. I know who they are through subtle though no less
demeaning ways. If I'm standing in front of a store next to my bike they push the 'car lock' button on their key chain and the car horn goes
'beep, beep' or sometimes if I'm waiting at a traffic signal I sense they are looking at me but when I turn to make eye contact they quickly
turn their attention away, most likely because the fear I will ask for a handout. Would they have pushed that key button if I had not been
around? I reckon not. But their instincts tell them to do it. Is that wisdom or some type of socially engineered yet exaggerated fear that so
many of us carry around today?  I don't know. What it does say to me though is that I don't trust you because you appear to be poor, and
those that are poor are of a greater risk to my being. Is that a reasonable assessment? Again I'm not so sure. I have traveled all through
out this country and I worry less often about my self security or belongings when in areas that would be considered at higher risk; poor,
non white and ethnically diverse neighborhoods. You would think that those in need would be more prone to theft and vandalism, and for
the most part that is correct if you carry the belongings and appearance of someone with a lot. But traveling the way I do, no matter where
I go, I feel, perhaps naively, fairly safe from harmful acts of theft or viciousness. Knock on wood, or perhaps not. Did Jesus who moved
about the region amongst the most vulnerable and needy travel in a gold clad carriage? Did he adorn himself with fanciful dress and
jewelry? Did he praise the act of idolatry through material belongings, wealth and status? What is it we need to brag about in life? Not
really too much. I like to ask myself if I have acquired already in life  enough belongings to make me feel secure and show others that I
have attained to a level of stature in society commensurate to that which my big ego feels comfortable? I believe I have. If I do become
wealthy someday (unlikely given my disposition and lifestyle [but I could always win the lottery, if I played]), along the way I hope to share
the bounty with others less fortunate in life, as it has to be much more rewarding to give while living and cognizant than after your dead.
But the question I always ask myself is why do we treat those who are down on their luck, the one's most vulnerable living in the margins,
those that even the son of God devoted himself to helping, with so little respect and dignity? Off I go again on my soap box again. Sorry.
Yesterday I had stopped at a Walmart to pick up an inner tube and when I started to leave the parking lot I had a flat. I saw a metal shed
with shade inside so I decided to fix the flat there.(
see picture below) The ground inside was covered with horse droppings and it dawned
on me that this shed was shelter for the Amish horses while there owners are inside shopping. Wow, how neat and thoughtful is that? Only
in the Midwest would you find that.

























Day 92 7/16/12
SP: New Berlin, IL
EP: Decatur, IL
DM: 70
TM: 6,022




Notes
7pm. Again late to camp and getting started on this. Today I got caught up in Springfield and fell behind. It could have been worse though
had I allowed myself the privilege of visiting so much more that there was to visit. I've never been to the home town of our beloved 16th
president and though I was in the usual crummy mood I've been in for weeks, even months, now, I couldn't help but feel so uplifted
somewhat to be riding through the same roads and 'hood' that the 'Great Liberator' once walked through. I did make it a point to visit the
final resting place of, what one reporter of the era described him as, the 'Grotesque Baboon' (most people don't know how hated Lincoln
was by most Americans, especially the first couple years of his presidency), and what a treat that was.  Lincoln's Tomb was the highlight
of the day(
see picture 1 below) and if I hadn't been rushed, like always these days, could have spent an hour there reading all the bronze
plaques and marveling at the detailed granite sculptures which depict the era and tell the story of the man most responsible for keeping
this great conglomeration of states and ideals together. The monument itself was impressive but not overly as I'm sure Lincoln himself, the
modest, down to earth country bumpkin he was, would approve of. There were national flags lining the freshly asphalted road to the tomb
and the   granite tower was tall, but not nearly like the Washington monument in DC. There was a large bronze head of Lincoln in front of
the monument that depicted him with an oversized nose(
see picture 2 below) and which I noticed everybody was rubbing before entering
the tomb, in apparent belief that it would bring them good luck. His nose had been rubbed so much that it was discolored to a gold finish
from the rest of his bronze colored head. Inside the air conditioned (ATFG) crypt (
see picture 3 below)we're the remains, of course in
vaults, of the president himself as well as his loony wife Mary Todd and 3 of his 4 kids (Robert, the oldest and only one to serve his nation
during the Civil War, was buried in Arlington, according to his wife's wishes). Behind the giant Arkansas marble monument that cover his
remains is the inscription 'Now he belongs to the ages' purportedly uttered by the secretary of war Edwin Stanton shortly after the doctor
announced his death across the street from Fords Theater in DC., and just before Mary Todd flew off her rocker. Why that off the cuff
statement by a 2nd generation cabinet member and not very personally close to the president has been enshrined here and even
remembered in history I have no clue. Of course he belongs to the ages, anyone ever born and will be born belongs to the ages. But now
my cynicism is getting away from me. Lincoln was the right person at the right moment in history to come along. I feel he believed himself
fortunate the assassins bullet  had not found him sooner in his presidency. In fact he was even having dreams and premonitions of his
death. After his log splitting days and before he entered the law profession and then politics, he was a humorous storyteller, back in those
days a viable profession. With his dry witty backwoods sense of humor he loved, and was good at, making people laugh. Why not put an
inscription of a line or two from one of his humorous stories next to his tomb, something Lincoln would have probably appreciated more
than Stanton's statement?
So I had a great time and life long experience pedaling through the home of Lincoln. I only wish I had had more time. Other than my visit to
the burial site not much more to report on, especially my capital visit nor the town of Springfield  itself. (
see picture 4 below)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlWlKZlz8b4

Nobody was at the governors office except the receptionist and she had no knowledge of my arrival. "Hello, I'm here to see the Governor"
was my introduction. "And who may I ask is calling?" "Romano Scaturro from the organization FRAANK". "Sorry but the Governor is out
meeting with his constituents." "How about the Lt Governor?". "Out as well." "The Secretary of State or Attorney General?" "You'll have to
go to their offices." Ok, is there anybody on the Governors staff I can meet with and perhaps get a photo with?" I think I got through to her
as she called for some fellow from the media room and after waiting about a half hour for him we had a brief though confusing meeting.
Marcus,(
see picture 5 below) at the most 30 years old, looked and sounded like he had no clue what to talk about even though I thought I
had explained satisfactorily to him the reason for my being there. Finally I came to the conclusion I was wasting my precious time here
and asked simply for a quick picture in front of the office door, thanked everybody for their wonderful hospitality and greeting and was out
of there. The only welcome reception I received, like I have at other capitals, was from the two security guards at the entrance.
Once back outside in to 100' temps and choking humidity, I pedaled out of Springfield after my visit to Lincoln's Tomb on Hwy 36, the
same highway I've been on for the last couple days as well as crossed the state of Kansas on two prior trips. I rolled in to Decatur IL
around 5 pm and had my LSD (Last Stop of the Day) and then headed immediately out of town to find camp asap as it was getting late in
the day. The highway was fine until it reached a bottleneck forcing all traffic in to two narrow lanes and the shoulder disappeared heading
over an old bridge spanning Lake Decatur. There was a sidewalk but by the time I realized how precarious the situation had become with
the poor road condition and increased level of traffic, it was too late to stop, dismount, and carry my bike over the high curb and up on to
it. I looked it to my mirror and saw nonstop traffic from behind, the worst being a giant tractor trailer truck without the slightest intention of
going around me or even slowing down. I remember saying to myself "Ok, hold on and stay focused Ro!" and  then I clenched the
handlebars with an iron clad grip and clung the wheels of my bike as close to the curb as I possibly could without striking it and making
the dangerous situation even worse. The giant truck wheels came rolling by so close to me I could feel the heat from his engine and
friction of his brakes and if there was more than a foot and half between me on my bike and his wheels I would be surprised. It's a good
thing that lunch had been several hours earlier because I felt my stomach in my throat glancing at the 20 ton rolling machine of death
passing within arms length. As soon as he passed and I realized that I had just survived unharmed the most potentially threatening and
scariest episode of this trip, and possibly any bike trip I have been on, at the first let up in traffic I humped myself followed by the bike over
the still sizable curb and on to the safety of the sidewalk. That was close and one I don't want to repeat again. It reminds me yet again that
I need to be more conscious of traffic and road conditions and react accordingly, no matter how tired I feel and cloudy my thinking.
Camp tonight is along another row of crop field border trees and I am sandwiched between them and another cornfield.(
see picture 6
below
) I have shade and it is quiet. And except for a cute  curious fawn(see picture 7 below) that hopped out of the line of trees behind
me, literally feet from where I am sitting on my stool, and apparently to say hello and welcome me to the hood, there is complete solitude
and privacy.
Hi everyone it's Patrice, Romano's wife writing I just wanted to add a little bit. This made my day as well I am sure it will make Romano's
and hopefully yours, a few days ago a Salt Lake City news station came to do a story on Dakota Nash one of FRAANKS beneficiaries
and it was very inspiring
this is why Romano is out there everyday on his human powered journey 50@50. Hope you enjoy, just click on
the link below

http://www.ksl.com/?sid=21285784&nid=148


























Day 93 7/17/12
SP: Decatur, IL
EP: Montezuma, IN
DM: 82
TM: 6,104





Notes
7pm. Tonight's camp is unusual yet civilized. I am under a recently built pavilion half the size a football field with a concrete floor and with a
scissor trussed metal sheathed roof.(
see picture 1 below) There are half a dozen picnic tables upon one of which I plan on making my
bed for the evenings rest. There are ballfields on either side of this covering and recently mowed though bone dry (everything is dry and
yellow around here), grass all around and of course the usual cornfield to the east side . I'm not sure if it's 'Ok' to be spending the night
here, but I've proclaimed it camp for day 93 of the 50@50 self powered tour.  If I get harassed later due to my transient unauthorized
presence, so be it, as I am tired and not wanting to go on further for the day and there is cover for the evening in case it decides to rain
again like it did a little earlier. Anyways, I say unusual because my camps are mostly hidden from the whereabouts of anybody and here I
am exposed (in fact I am looking at a girls softball team taking hitting practice on the field to my front), and civilized because I am in a
maintained human built structure that is clean and with no flies, spiders or other annoying insects attacking my legs and torso. However
there are no baby fawn deer to pay me a visit here, like yesterday's camp and I am forced to keep my shorts on as this is a public place
(usually when hidden at camp every article of clothing is off my hot body as I attempt to bring my internal temps down a bit and allow my
whole body to breath, even those parts not mentionable [one of the greatest parts of the day for me is when I get take those tight
uncomfortable biking shorts off]). So I am in the main town park of Montezuma Indiana, a little town on the east bank of  the Wabash River
in the western part of the state. Yes, I entered Indiana today, the 15th state thus far of the journey.(
see picture 2 below) I also lost another
hour today (I have now lost 4 hours since leaving Juneau Alaska back in April) This is the last of the midwestern states of this trip, and
hallelujah! From here I'm still undecided if I shall go southeast to Kentucky, W Virginia, and then Columbus Ohio before heading north to
Michigan or stay on the schedule and go first to Lansing and then have to come back south again to the Ohio River Valley states before
heading up to NY and the New England states. Oh so many decisions, and each one really so critical because there are many hills
coming up as I enter the Appalachian mountains and it's neighborhood of long steep hills. My gut feeling is to finish with these southern
states before heading north to Lansing and then across Canada to Albany NY and up to New England. I have decided to make the final
decision tomorrow when I am in Indianapolis, basing it off wind direction and as well as my gut level intuition tells me. Mileage wise I'm not
sure there is a huge difference no matter which way I take. But wind and hills are a factor and will be the major determinant.
Anyways, highlight of the day I guess was my arrival in to state #15 Indiana about 15 miles back. The road immediately deteriorated
though there remained ample shoulder unlike the tri-mess for biking states Iowa-Nebraska-Kansas stretch. This is the first town I have
come in to since leaving Illinois and entering the 'Crossroads' state. People here already seem different from Illinois; somewhat more
down to earth and I guess you could say 'southern' or 'midwestern' in their appearance and manner. Illinois is to the Midwest like Florida
is to the south; states living in a region that really don't fit very well. I'm not sure exactly why, but my hunch is it has to do with money. Illinois
has Chicago and thus a dependent source of wealth and Florida? Well no explanation required. But anyways there is definitely a different
feel I got in Illinois then than I do here in Indiana and really most the Midwest.
Anyways, a little earlier I took my shower behind a boarded up snack shack next to one of the ball fields. I slung my bungee cord from an
electrical line along the perimeter of the enclosure and trying to be as discreet as possible slipped out of my shorts to enjoy one of my
favorite moments of the day: a cool rinsing of all the days sweat and dirt from my over sunned and tired body.  It felt good like it usually
does but, for some reason, especially so this evening. I tried to dry off using my small rinse cloth size towel but with so much heat and
humidity still in the air felt it was an act of futility. As I lie here now, back stuck to the vinyl covering of my sleeping pad, I wonder if there will
ever come a time again when I feel totally dry. Tonight's dinner was a cheeseburger, fries and side salad from the local Tastee Freeze
just a couple blocks away and the only place to eat here in Montezuma other than the usual cardboard pizza they were selling in both the
convenience stores at opposite ends of town. The girls working there were excited to hear about my travels and asked to have a picture
together in front of the store(
see pictures 3 & 4 below) (I can't quite figure out why they wanted their picture with an old biker dude unless
this place is more boring than it even appears). I brought the food back here to my covered quiet abode and enjoyed a relaxing dinner
while watching the colorful midwestern sunset highlighted by the few remaining clouds in the low western horizon and my favorite part of
the evening, listening to the mourning doves announce their presence with soothing harmonic calls.
























Day 94  7/18/12
SP: Montezuma, IN
EP: Indianapolis, IN
DM: 68
TM: 6,172
Week 12      WM: 519   TM: 6.004      AVG. Per Day: 71.5-74.1 miles




Notes
I arrived in to N. Indianapolis around 5pm and stopped at a convenience store for the LSD. There was a park close by and my intentions
were to get a few things at the store and then head over to the park for the nights camp rather than pedal anymore at rush hour around an
unknown city. My goal for the day had been to reach the REI about 10 miles north of the Indianapolis to pick up my preordered tent and
few other pieces of equipment and clothing like the solar charger. The day went by slow as usual and I ended up getting in late so I figured
I would just finish the final remaining few miles in the morning and spend one more night in a tent risking exposure the to rain (I had lost my
rainfly back in Topeka Kansas last week). Just as I rolled up to the store a lady about my age driving a tan colored car pulled up beside
me who had seen me pedaling and wanted to find out about my trip. "Hello. A few years ago I did a cross country bike trip and loved it.
Where are you coming from and going to?" was her initial greeting. "Oh geez lady", I thought to myself. "Not now, please. I'm hot (it had
been another near 100' day with the usual choking humidity), tired, and in a hurry to find somewhere to tent down for the evening in this
urban jungle.  Of course I didn't put it that way and politely told her about my trip and patiently listened to her tell explain about her cross
country bike trip a few years ago.  I told her about my need to get to REI for my tent and out of the blue she offered to drive me there right
then if accepting a ride in a vehicle was within the rules of the game. Absolutely was my instantaneous reply as this was extra miles out of
the way I was riding to get there (REI is north of the capital here and my next capital is in Kentucky, a southerly direction). We made formal
introductions to each other (her name is Kim and as I sit here now writing still don't know her last name) and with great appreciation I
accepted her offer, loaded my bike and trailer in to the back of her van, sat down in the relative comfort of the passenger side seat (for
me after sitting on nothing but a hard bicycle saddle during the day and flimsy camp stool at night it was really comfortable) and relaxed
for the 15 minute car ride in rush hour traffic to the REI store. Along the way there we made a brief stop at the Apple store so I could see if
there was any help I could get for my malfunctioning iPhone (it had slipped in to my tiny box cooler a few evenings ago and in to contact
with some water and since has been not working the same). After picking my needed stuff up at REI we made a stop at a grocery store
and made ourselves salad bar salads and picked up a few other things to take back to Kim's condo where I was planning on camping
either in her back yard or to head back to the park I was originally planning on camping for the evening a short distance away. Once here
she told me I was welcome to do clothes and shower if I wanted and I enthusiastically accepted again her gracious offer support (bikers,
no matter if they're the motorized or nonmotorized versions generally know what their peers want and need). After my shower we had our
salads together and had a lengthy in depth conversation about our trips and other more personal issues, like the difficulty each of us had
in dealing with the passing of our fathers which for her was still relatively recent, two years. Around 10:30 we decided the day had been
long enough and it was time to turn in so I set my tent up in her backyard (and in doing so stepped in dog crap dragging it unknowingly in
to her condo. Sorry Kim if you are reading this) and tried to fall a sleep and eventually I did though it was difficult as the temps were still
real  high and there were noises coming from all over the condo complex.
















Day 95  7/19/12
SP: Indianapolis, IN
EP: Edinburg, IN
DM: 48
TM: 6,220



Notes
6:30pm.  Short day today both in mileage and time spent on bike. It was long tedious ride getting out of suburban Indianapolis which
seemed to go on forever.  Just south of the downtown area I stopped to eat at an old time Jewish type deli/sandwich joint that appeared
busy (a sign it might be good) and because I was tired of eating at fast food places and grocery stores. 'Shapiro's' looked like a place
one would find in New York or Chicago and that would be reviewed in a show Patrice loves to watch Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.  You
served yourself and ate in a large linoleum tiled cafeteria style 'dining room', if one can call it that, with little in the way of decor except for
a framed quote from apparently the owner/founder of this establishment; "If you cook good, serve them generously, and have reasonable
pricing then they will come back". Aristotle couldn't have said it better.
I ordered a hot pastrami sandwich which was cut and shaped to my request on fresh homemade rye bread and along with it a cup of
potato salad and tap water to drink. There were no prices listed for the sandwiches until you reached the cash register and there stood a
little standing plastic covered price list. $11.75 for my sandwich. Cup of potato salad an extra $2.75. Wow! Don't think I've ever paid $15
for a sandwich and side of potato salad, not even at all those grossly priced ballparks I went to last year. I sat down to eat at a corner
table next to the table whom I assume were seated the owner and manager going over the books with the accountant who kept badgering
them about some unaccounted for petty cash fund (I generally don't eaves drop on others conversations but they were quite obvious and
being in the restaurant business all these years could help but relate). I finished my sandwich, which was generous in it's serving and tasty
and worth the $15, and thanked the proprietors for their unique well run eatery. In today's world of ultra cheap, mass produced, chinese
built just about everything, it was refreshing to patronize an establishment that bucks the trend and maintains quality, even if it costs a few
extra bucks. I think there are a lot of people who still appreciate that.
Tonight I am camped next to a fairly large lake, at least for fishing, but not big enough really to boat on. There were signs around declaring
no camping so I ventured around to the isolated west end of the lake where there is nobody around. The good thing is I'm far enough
away to only hear a distant rumble from US route 31 which I followed south out of Indianapolis. After yesterday's frantic afternoon getting
into busy Indianapolis and then all the shopping followed by a  hot, virtually sleepless evening, it feels good again to be out with nature
with all the pretty sights(
see picture 1 below) (I have an open view of the lake in front of me with tall green trees filled in with a thick
undergrowth) and sounds of the peaceful caroling birds hitting high and low pitched notes and wind rustling the leafy treetops. Oh how
nature can bring me back from the precipice of madness. Getting out of Indianapolis was horrible. For 35 miles after departing the capital
I was forced to negotiate traffic and traffic signals in a seemingly never ending corridor of human development. It took me most the day
and my darnedest to cope with the situation (I'm not sure how many times I repeated my little self hypnotic mantra "stay focused Ro, you
can do it. There will eventually be an end to this suburban insanity and even an end to 50@50"). At some point today while dealing with all
the confusion I came to the realization that these people have chosen to spend their life in a box. Yes, a BOX. They leave their box built
home in the morning, drive to their work in a box building and sit for 8 hours in a box cubicle. After work they drive to their favorite box
strip mall, shop in a box store and go back to their home in a box spending the rest of their day in front of the TV or computer box. Life in
a box. No contact with nature which is anything but perpendicular right angles that comprise a box. Look at nature. Where do you see or
hear perfectly straight parallel lines of continuity. Stop, turn, go. On, now off. Just like a computer in this digital age we live in. It feels good
to most because it's so predictable, and just like anything that provides consistency so also is found comfort and security. There are no
rules or laws in nature except for those governing the physical world and properties of instincts. Absolutes in anything else exist only for
fools seeking answers, and comfort in those answers,that don't exist.
And the only answers that I need right now deal with the proper way to set up my new tent that I picked up yesterday and have yet to
assemble. So for now enough gibberish pecking out words about nature and modern society on this handheld electronic device and back
to reality before it starts to rain.
The highlight should be my arrival to the capital of Indiana but that left something to be desired.(
see pictures 2 & 3 below)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X45c3EqECbY

No meeting or photo op could be had with the governor as he was in meetings and the Lt Gov was in Chicago at a Lt. Governors
meeting. I attempted to explain to several people including receptionists, security personnel, and even a person on the governors staff but
nobody seemed much interested nor helpful. So I decided to bolt from what I believed to be one of the least impressive of all the capital
buildings.
Before arriving there I had passed by the Indianapolis motor speed way, the home of the granddaddy of car racing events, the Indy 500.
(
see picture 4 below) So I guess that would qualify as being my highlight of the less than eventful day


























Day 96  7/20/12
SP: Edinburg, IN
EP: Bedford, KY
DM: 72
TM: 6,292



Notes
5:30pm. A little while ago I pedaled in to my LSD in Bedford KY and after finding out that the local grocery store had been shut down
some time back decided to do another Family Dollar dinner buy like I had last night just before camping next to the little quiet lake in
Edinburg Indiana. After picking up a couple of Michelina's frozen dinners (I know, what's an Italian doing eating Italian frozen dinners?
Well I've gotten lazy as this SPT [self powered Tour] has continued on now for over 3 months), I ventured over to the local convenience
store for a couple of my standard  root beers at the end of the day. Just as I pulled up the clerk at the store appeared seemingly out of
nowhere for a short break and to have a cigarette. She saw my undeniably long and far traveled rig and asked the boiler plate questions
of where I was from and to where I was headed. After informing her we made formal introductions and Jenny recounted her experience a
couple years ago of a walking journey she and her boyfriend had done from Bedford to San Diego taking 7 months and how it had been a
defining moment in her life. After a few more moments conversing I decided to get on with business and asked her if they sold root beer
in the store and when she informed me that they did not because this was a dry county my thirst, taste buds, and heart sank to new lows
for the day. "What, a dry county? Well my mouth is dry right now. This is Kentucky, right? The land of straight Kentucky Bourbon? Well,
maybe that's why it's a dry county." were just some of the thoughts swirling around in my head while contemplating plan B. Just then her
boyfriend appeared out of nowhere just as she had and introduced himself. Derek was a young man of perhaps early 30's, my oldest
sons age, and with a marvelous outgoing, animated and friendly disposition that for some reason I immediately took to despite his
somewhat rebel appearance (he had a 12" goatee separated down the middle and an air about him that resembled one who didn't
always adhere to the straight and narrow), and I believe now it's because he reminded me, at least appearance wise, of my son Nathaniel
who is about the same age. Anyways, after a few moments exchanging stories about our adventures Derek offered me a couple root
beers from his personal stash as an act of 'payment to the future' as all of us refer to when helping out others on the travel road of
adventure and experience. I whole heartedly accepted his gracious offer and when I rolled down to the signal light in the middle of town
where he had told me to meet him in his white 90's something dodge van(
see picture 1 below) (I remember it well because my father
taught all us kids, me and my four brothers, how to drive in a similar van) he was there with a couple of stubbies (Australian for our 12oz
root beers). My original impression of him was correct as he offered me to spend the night in his mother's self service laundromat right
there in the old red brick building next to where we were speaking and in to which he had come out from with those thirst quenching root
beers.  At first, as is typical when others offer assistance to me, I was skeptical. But when he said there was air conditioning and the rain
which had been intermittent the last couple days was suppose to continue this evening, I had a sudden change of heart. He took me
inside to check it out and I told him it would work out perfectly for the evening.  And thus now I sit for the evening, for the first time that I can
remember, in an air conditioned environment not sweating nor swatting bugs and crawling insects off my body, alone and in a quiet room.
Pure bliss is all I can think of to say on how I feel in this strange setting. It's remarkable to think as I sit here now pecking out these few
words how much my level of appreciation for those things we so often take for granted in life (like air conditioning) has been brought back
to a primitive understanding. After weeks, indeed almost months now, of riding hours everyday in the sweltering heat and humidity only to
be followed by an evening of lying in my tent, back stuck to my sleeping pad like a magnet to an iron horseshoe, it feels so wonderful to
rejoice in an ambient without the twin bodily discomfort. In fact it feels so good that I was actually compelled a few moments ago to put on
my fleece pullover I've had since the beginning in Alaska and thought on multiple occasions of throwing away and even considering taking
my sleeping bag out of its stuff sack.
So, the highlight of the day for me was crossing in to state #16 of the 50@50 SPT, Kentucky.(
see picture 2 below) I entered the
Bluegrass State through Madison Indiana and across a rickety old steel bridge under construction(
see picture 3 below) and with barely
enough  room for two cars to pass by each other going opposite directions much accommodate a lone old biker pulling a buggy behind
his two wheeler. Somehow, someway though I managed to get through the horrifying half mile long crossing and once on the Kentucky
side of the Ohio river was welcomed with the longest climb of the journey since leaving Wisconsin I believe, if not Montana.
Derek came by a while after I got settled in to my 'coin-op accommodations' and we had a lengthy discussion about our travels and life in
general. For a man of only 34 years I discovered by listening to his stories of his service to the country and prior and subsequent troubles
in life, most of which involved the law, that he had some amazing insights in to this life much of which was based on his faith, but not all,
and an overall positive outlook. Derek I believe is one of those people in life you come across that seem almost bigger than life itself, no
matter their social standing and one that cannot be judged by his outward appearance. I sat completely silent and engrossed for over an
hour listening to his story, unsure if it was the source, content or manner of his delivery keeping my attention and realized afterwards it
was combination of all three. I asked if I could shoot a some video and here it is;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DS23sGN3v2Y

























Day 97  7/21/12
SP: Bedford, KY
EP: Versailles, KY
DM: 71
TM: 6,363



Notes
6:30pm. Tonight's camp is in another old, this one very old, long ago abandoned hay barn in between the cities of Versailles and
Lexington Kentucky.(
see picture 1 below) I'm about a mile south of the busy four lane US route 60 on Shannon Run Rd. As happens
frequently on this journey I could have pedaled on a while longer but knowing the large suburban neighborhoods of Lexington were
coming up I decided it was the prudent decision to stay further away in the country. I hear a vehicle pass by occasionally on the little
country road only a few meters from the barn itself but it's nothing compared to what I would have been forced to listen to had I camped
nearer the highway a mile away. For me, and my expectations at this time, this place is ideal. And if it were raining this barn would be a
10. As is still I am out of the sun, alone, and for the most part enjoying the peace, quiet, and (don't laugh), aesthetic beauty of this old
mega wood framed, minimum 100 year old barn which looks like it was made out of cornstalks and bean poles. There are only a few farm
accoutrements in here, one of which is a 20' trailer loaded 8' high with bales of flaked hay and upon which I have rolled out my sleeping
pad and intend to rest for the evening(
see picture 2 below) (I'll let you know how that goes in the morning when I edit this short narration).  
There was used so much wood used to build this monolithic structure that to replicate it today would take at least $200,000. Built of post
& beam design with multiple levels of rafters, cross stays, and 20' long plates of 1 by 12" exterior siding wrapped around the entire 5000
sq ft internal yard,(
see picture 3 below) it is a relic of a by gone era when wood was the cheap bountiful choice of building material.
Anyways on to a different topic, like the days happenings. This morning after I awoke and was packing my bike to head out for the day
from Bedford at, what I shall now proclaim as 'Camp Laundromat'), Derek came down from his upstairs apartment and asked me to join
him and his girlfriend Jenny(
see picture 4 below) for some eggs and bacon breakfast and again I wholeheartedly agreed. It was delicious
and helped me get through the long Kentucky hill country day. Afterwards Derek took me down the road opposite his apartment where he
showed me hidden in the vegetation and foliage(
see picture 5 below) a small square built slave/jail house(see picture 6 & 7 below) from
the pre Civil War times where runaway slave catchers would house their catches after retrieving them from the other side of the Ohio
River, only a dozen or so miles to the north. Except for a few teenage tagging's on the face of the interior walls, all was very much intact
and well preserved. Along the back wall of the 10' by 10' stone structure were the fresh concrete filled in spots where Derek told me the
shackles(
see picture 8 below) had been at one time (he remembered them being there as a kid and playing around in it). What a
poignant experience it was to be at this unknown but still well preserved and tangible piece of history that for most Americans, other than
African Americans, would like to or have already forgot about. Much has been written and publicized about the underground railroad and
it's importance to the struggle to end slavery 150 years ago, but little attention given to the topic of this unbelievable side of inhumanity;
the story of runaway slaves caught and returned to their 'owners' and their maltreatment along the way. Wow, what a find! Kentucky is
south of the old Mason-Dixon line and slavery was legal before Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation which went in to effect on
my birthday 100 years earlier (Jan 1, 1863). There was a star for Kentucky in the Confederate flag though the state's loyalties were mixed
it being a border state like Missouri, Maryland, and what is now W Virginia. In these states the war literally tore families apart pitting
brother against brother and father against son. For instance this plaque I saw along side the road, tells of five brothers from the Hanson
Family, two of the brothers died serving the USA while the other three brothers died serving the opposite side the CSA(yet one of the
many families who fought against each other during the war)(
see picture 9 below)
Anyways, a few miles after finally getting going this morning towards Frankfort, capital # 16 along the 50@50 SPT, I pedaled by what I
thought at first was a small roadside cafe but that I hadn't even noticed until a couple fella's leaving the place who had seen me pass by
yelled something inaudible. So I turned around to see what it was they had said. Well they had just seen my crazy looking bike with a
bunch of flags flapping in the wind from behind and wanted to chat for a while. When I told them about everything I was doing one of them
ran in to the cafe to tell the owner about this crazy guy  pedaling to all 50 states and who was right in front of his place. Shortly after he and
another fella came out to join in the conversation. They were all very friendly folks and seemed to thoroughly enjoy the few stories I gave of
my travels and life on the road, especially Alaska, and as I prepared to hit the road again asked if I needed anything. All I would like is a
quick pic of them all in front of the restaurant to put on my website.(
see picture 10 below) I took the shot, said my goodbyes and headed
on down the road. It wasn't until later when I was going through my shots of the day during lunch and examined the one of the good ol'
Kentucky boys in front of the cafe that I recognized the name of that store from the sign behind them; Kountry Korner Kafe. Yes that's
correct. It's abbreviated initials are KKK.
A few miles down the road after leaving the 'Kafe' I passed by a home with two flags hanging from a flagstaff in their front yard,(
see
picture 11 below
) one the US and the other the Confederate Stars and Bars (thankfully the US flag was on top). And not too long after that
I pedaled by a sign for a motorcycle/ATV shop that I couldn't help but not take notice as it represents all too often Southerner's  propensity
to say it like it is, no matter who is offended (nor what the consequences).(
see picture 12 below) I know now, for sure, that when I crossed
the Ohio river yesterday from Indiana in to Kentucky that, at least for a while now, I am in the South.
Anyways, a few miles down the road a lady, Vicky, driving a black SUV pulled off the road in front of me and stepped out to make
greetings and, like the 'Boys' back at KKK, wanted to hear about my travels.(
see picture 13 below) What has become boiler plate talk
now after over three months on the road, I explained to her my mission and purpose for this crazy endeavor and that never a day goes by
when I don't curse myself for taking on this never ending journey of continuous physical and mental stamina. I guessed I touched a button
with her as she decided to give a $20 donation to the cause for which, I hope now, I thanked her enough for doing. That one act of
generosity from a stranger while on the road made my whole grueling day worth while. I told her that cash donations I keep for spending
money and that the person in charge of logistics back home, my wife (I love you honey) will deposit the money in to the FRAANK account,
from our personal account, and later to be distributed 100% to the beneficiaries. I snapped a quick pic of this marvelous lady and hope
now that if she ever reads this blog post that she will know how much her act of kindness means to me and our FRAANK causes. Thanks
again Vicky.
And also, I almost forgot, today I arrived in to capital #16 of the 50@50 SPT in Frankfort Kentucky.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJ_r-Br9MW0

Nobody was around, it being a Saturday, and I having no need or desire to go inside to see if I could wrestle up a meeting with some two
bit politician or review the architecture after already visiting 15 of these buildings, I asked a lady nearby and taking her own pictures if she
would be kind enough to snap one of myself standing in front of the large, neo-classic impressively domed structure with large monolithic
columns surrounding it and perched on a hilltop like a feudal castle.(
see picture 14 & 15 below) Then I headed out to get a bite to eat
after pedaling over 50 hilly miles for the day and eating nothing since that wonderfully prepared breakfast by Jenny back in Bedford.
Ahhhh, quick and easy, just the way I like it. #16 here in Frankfort KY; you have been tagged and are now in the 50@50 SPT history book.
Ciao baby, now I'm off to W Virginy.





































Day 98  7/22/12
SP: Versailles, KY
EP: Morehead, KY
DM: 83
TM: 6,446



Notes
6:30pm. Not since western Montana have I had a nicer place to camp than tonight. I am located alongside a tiny clear flowing brook and
the town of Morehead in eastern Kentucky is only a few miles east of here. US route 60, which I have been on most the day (except for a
20 mile stretch when I jumped on I 64 because there was no sign forbidding cyclists on it) is about a quarter mile down water from me and
the sound of passing cars is practically unnoticeable. It is a picturesque setting here and as usual I am on private land (there are few
public lands east of the Rocky Mountains) as I can hear kids and animals playing from a field opposite the tree line separating me and my
brook side camp and them.  I want so bad to be very far away of any human presence, like I often was in BC) where all I heard were
eagles, elk, moose and even wolves one evening. But for now this will have to do. And do well it is as I am enjoying immensely the myriad
of sounds from the birds all around this little flowing stream only a few feet away from where I sit. The creek also contains hundreds of little
native fish darting every which direction when I approach it and along its length is lined with towering Elm and Ash trees and other native
vegetation enveloping the little oasis.(
see picture 1 below) Whether to my left or right all I can see is the calming color of green.  It is
places like this that have the capability of replenishing my dry well of energy and I am thankful to have found it. The plan for the night is to
just roll my sleeping pad out on the tan flat limestone slab here (that reminds me of so many places I have visited in the Grand Canyon
and which along the river we refer to as a 'ledges camp') and rejoice in the cooler temps down here at water level. I may even have to
bring my sleeping bag out of it's stuff sack.  
Not many highlights today except the usual extreme heat and humidity of this July 2012. I managed to get in a few extra miles mainly due
to the illegal freeway stretch I rode this afternoon. I can't understand why bicycles are not allowed on the interstate freeways here along
rural sections like where I came through today. The freeways are faster because of the more direct route, less intensity hills and vacuum
produced by the passing vehicles. What's more they are considerably safer than 90% of the roads here which are completely void of any
shoulders. I can understand in cities where there is a lot of traffic and exits making it dangerous for bikes. But along the rural stretches
where there are very few exits and it makes no sense at all to forbid cycling on the freeways. All that would be needed are a few signs
warning motorists of the presence of bicycles. In all the western states it is legal to ride interstate freeways in rural areas, but not so back
here. The only reason I can think why it is not is because of lack of political clout from the biking constituency and ignorance on the part of
transportation officials. Hopefully some day it will be legal to ride the interstate highway system in every state along rural stretches.
A few days ago after visiting the capital in Indianapolis I started to write about a strange but telling story about my experiences out here on
the 50@50 SPT, but set aside due to lack of time to finish describing my thoughts thoroughly on the situation. Here is what I had written;

--During the mornings hours of today's ride my mind was occupied of another matter totally unrelated to much else of anything that has
been going on in my direct life of travels to all 50 US capitals. During my FSTD (First Stop of The Day) for a donut, I received an email
from my new Indianan friend Kim who helped me out immensely, and without expectation for repayment, a couple days ago in
Indianapolis by taking me to the REI in N. Indianapolis for some gear I needed to pick up and subsequently allowing me to spend the
evening at her condo (see blog from two days ago). When I read it I was quite unsettled because nothing in my script for which she was
replying was intended to do harm or hurt (post of day 94). Here is part of the email sent to me from Kim;
"Oh, that's awful! It sounds like you accepted my offers of help so I'd
shut up. I'm so sorry to have made your trip worse. I should've said, okay. Happy Trails! and left, but I thought, He probably doesn't realize
Apple and REI are twelve miles away from here. That'll cost him almost an extra day tomorrow."
My first thought after reading this was my usual, ignore it and pedal on. But then I decided to confront this apparent misunderstanding and
read the blog post over to see what I had said that perhaps I shouldn't have. And well and behold she was right. My post for a couple days
ago, though briefly mentioning a couple references to "great appreciation" and "generous offer" was totally void of any real words of
appreciation for all she had done for me. So I replied back to her;
"Kim. I didn't mean to make it sound as you took it. I did very much appreciate your offers and assistance. I was very tired and in a hurry
writing yesterday morning at your table and left out a lot of details including my appreciation of all you did for me. What I wrote about my
first thoughts were true but only because I was so tired"
Later she replied with a forgiving tone letting me know all was fine.
All this told me a couple of things. One is that in today's world of instantaneous communications, a click of a mouse or key sends off your
messages sometimes unrefined and unedited. Anybody who emails, IM's or text's, which is just about everybody these days, has done it
at one time or other; sent off a message that the recipient takes with the wrong meaning. It is the nature of one way communication when
the receiver, or listener, can neither see the facial or body language nor hear the tone of  voice. Back in the days when we hand wrote our
letters there was always time to proof what you read and contemplate each word written. Not so anymore in the digital age. The other
thing that this small, dramatic, seemingly irrelevant episode of interpersonal communications tells me is that, like I have said many times
now, I am tired. It is nearing 100 days being on the road now without any rest and my body, and especially mind, are slowing down and
sputtering along. The morning I wrote that blog piece I was even more tired than usual from a sleepless night and in a hurry to get it done
and not impose a burden on my host by overstaying my welcome. It is the main reason why I rarely accept offers of assistance while on
the 50@50 SPT.--

Ok, that was what I had written a couple days ago.  Now to further elaborate. I am tired, naturally, but I knew beforehand that I would reach
this point and what I wanted to find out was how I was going to react when I finally did get to this point of mental exhaustion. Would I say
enough is enough and cash in my chips by stopping at an airport to catch a flight back home, like I have on previous challenges. Or would
I see it through to the end like I did two years ago during the baseball trip. I usually get edgy and moody when I'm tired and on the road
(just ask Jim) and that's why quiet relaxing evenings like this are so important to rejuvenating my spirit. Adventures that push the limits of
physical endurance eventually evolve to challenges of the mind. Have you ever run a marathon or done a long distance triathlon? How
about a multi-day climb of a high mountain or done a double century bike event? Indeed most of us are challenged mentally and
emotionally in life without having to push ourselves physically. To be successful the body has to be healthy and trained. But that is just a
part of it, and perhaps depending on the challenge, only a minor one. Your mind is what usually takes you to the finish line or top of the
mountain or last mile or seeing yourself through a difficult time in life. Ocean rowers I've spoke with and read about repeat over and again
that it is not really about your physical conditioning but rather your mental stamina, as well as a good dose of luck, that will determine
success or not. And so it is with my experience up to now on 50@50. I am tired, very tired. But not so much physically. My body has
adapted well to the daily 70 + miles despite all this debilitating heat and humidity which, I was thinking today, is about the equivalent of
doing the bike segment of the Hawaiian Ironman everyday now for nearly 90 straight days  (the Ironman bike segment is 112 miles but if
you factor in to what I'm doing the increased burden of pulling a 50 lb. burdensome bike trailer and bicycle twice as heavy as the
lightweight racing equipped whippets they ride in that race then the distances are about equal).
My mind has been the real impediment, and I am trying to figure out how to keep it in check. Every morning I awake I find it hard to get up
and get going knowing how many more mornings await me before I reach the last. I believe that to be successful in an endurance
endeavor of this magnitude you must enter a place in your mind where nothing else matters but the finish and all else in life is
marginalized. Countless times throughout the day I visualize myself pedaling those last few miles in to Phoenix, the 49th and last capital of
this 2nd part of 50@50, or taking that last stroke of the oar as I approach my landing on to the island of Oahu (wherever that landing might
be). I'm in the metaphorical  'Zone', that isolated confinement within the deep recesses of ones mind where nothing else in life matters,
and prefer to stay there until I do take that last pedal and oar stroke. It's why right now I don't like socializing much or accepting invitations
to stay with others (which involves socializing) because I am plucked out of my virtual cocoon of the mind and brought back to a pseudo
reality. It's also why I don't like going to movies when on bike travels as my mind is taken to realms other than the journey to finish what it is
I've set out to do. And I'm certain it's why I like the quiet solitude of nature as it helps to refill my depleted well of energy while still allowing
me to remain in my altered state of consciousness. I've heard of prison inmates serving long sentences who give up their visitor privileges
because it is just too hard on them. Better off staying in their little world of barred cells, chow lines, and barb wire fenced in yards and
forgetting about the outside world, including your loved ones. To be reminded of people and places in life that you can't see or go to is
spirit depleting. I can relate to that.
I've written on this before but decided to reiterate again seeing as how explanations need to be given for my lack appreciation or refusal
to others who go out of their way or offer to help me.
This morning while pedaling through the empty Sunday morning streets of downtown Lexington, I came upon and had my first, of what will
no doubt be many, breakfasts at Waffle House. The South is home to the intimate old style counter top seated breakfast joint along with
'Shoney' restaurants and the swinishly named grocery store outlet 'Piggly-Wiggly'. Just another reminder of my whereabouts for the time
being.






















Day 99  7/23/12
SP: Morehead, KY
EP: Huntington, WV
DM: 69
TM: 6,515



Notes
7pm. I pedaled over a tributary of the Ohio river and in to W. Virginia(
see picture 1 below) today in the afternoon hours, pretty much at the
point where Kentucky, W Virginia and Ohio converge. On the Kentucky west side is the small town of Catlettsburg, South Point on the
northern end across the the Ohio river and Kenova on the southeast side in W Virginia. Unless there are two South Point's, I believe this
was US Grants headquarters before he set off on his campaign to take control of the Mississippi River from the Confederacy and thus
split the South in to two and depriving the eastern armies of much needed food and supplies from the western states. It took until July 4,
1863, the day after Gen. Picketts noble though futile charge at Gettysburg and the high tide for the ill fated Confederacy, for him to wrest
full control of Vicksburg after a months long siege of the last bastion of resistance along the mighty river.
Today was another hot and humid one. Temps I'm sure hovered in the high 90's and the humidity had to be close to that as well. There
was a little wind out of the west today as I followed mainly US route 60, and it pushed me ever so slightly from behind.  But for the first time
ever I wish it hadn't. There are nothing but hills in E Kentucky and at times while climbing them it felt literally like I was sitting in a hot steam
room. Sweat was pouring off every square inch of my body and I could feel my internal temps rising with the unforgiving sun beating down
on my exposed body. On one particular steep climb I recall my head throbbing so hard I could feel the reverberations throughout my whole
body. Once in a while the shade from an overhanging tree would provide temporary relief from the burning rays of the unforgiving sun, but
never quite long enough.  Fortunately the hills are not too long around here and when I reached the top would temporarily rejoice on the
way down the backside with the wind blowing against my sweat soaked body. And again, like I have done repeatedly over the past
month, I stopped every so often at roadside homes and asked the people living there to use their outdoor spigot to wet my head and shirt.
It works for a short while to cool me down but like everything else not long enough.
Anyways, tonight's camp is in a flat, recently graded field above where I believe there was at one time a baseball diamond. From my spot
somewhere near where home plate use to be and seated upon my old creaking Coleman camp stool (which I've already been forced to
mend once already) I can see the outfield fence with yellow foul pole lines at opposite ends and the practice batting cages along the left
field line completely inundated with overgrown vegetation.  A 'field of dreams'(
see picture 2 below) I suppose this was at one time, but
surely no more. A quarter mile away and up on the tree hidden bluff is a private technical college which I'm betting used to be the campus
for some local college. As I look out towards the outfield fence with native vines and trees creeping through and over it's 20' stature, I can't
help but be reminded of how temporary and fleeting all this is, not just the ball field and thriving social college life that probably once to
exist here, but life for all things living and inanimate. There were a series of shows done by the History Channel a couple years ago based
on the scenario of human existence ending suddenly and the temporal stages afterwards to all things left living (everything except people)
as well as those inanimate (human made structures). It was a great series and one of the few times within the last several years I
remember enjoying TV. They showed that after only a relatively brief period of time that most of the structural changes and buildings
made by humans were degraded and taken over by the environmental ecosystem in which they were cut out from and generally
demolished. It was reassuring to see that so much of the destruction to the planet and nature that humans are responsible for is reversible
and in but a relatively brief period of time.
Once I pedaled in to W Virginia today I began to notice a change in things. The people looked poorer and less healthy. Homeless and
down trodden men and women lined several streets I pedaled down and no less than 8 out of ten people in the Walmart I stopped at for
my LSD were not just overweight but obese and many I saw smoking before entering and after the mega store. Many of the buildings and
roads I pedaled by and over were old and run down, some neighborhoods reminding me of Mexico.  Most major metropolitan cities in the
America have areas that are less well off and economically stagnant, but this is not a major city I was pedaling through. Huntington, WV is
just an ordinary mid size middle class town. I'm not sure but I believe W Virginia has one of the lowest per capita incomes in the country
and if so it is readily apparent.  W Virginia was given statehood during the Civil War when it seceded from it's big sister to the east. This
area of the Old Dominion was always a thorn in the side, a stepchild for the landed Hampton gentry and large plantation owners of the
state so when the war came on and the people here did not want to contribute to the confederate cause, seeing no benefit to them, they
were let go without much remorse (most these Appalachian areas of the South whether here, Western N Carolina or E. Tennessee or
even Northern Georgia were not enthusiastic about fighting a war for a cause that meant little to them if anything). And of course this use
to be heavy mining country and like in any region where industry profits off a poor uneducated workforce, the people who remain are often
left holding the bag, so to speak, with little to show for their efforts when the employer up and leaves or the industry dries up. Sorry if you're
from here and I've insulted your home state, but this is what I've noticed so far. Perhaps, and hopefully, it will improve.























Day 100  7/24/12
SP: Huntington, WV
EP: Scott Depot, WV
DM: 70
TM: 6,585



Notes
7pm. Ok, I think I've pedaled in to a different temperate zone. Yesterday it was high 90's with 90% humidity and today it was 100%
humidity with much cooler temps. In other words it rained on and off all day. I have no clue what the max temp was, but whatever it was it
wasn't much. All this cooler, rainy weather is nice unless you are biking through it. Then it's just a nuisance in place of an annoyance. All
my gear is either soaked or damp. Fortunately I found an abandoned home to spend the night which affords me the luxury of drying out
and having cover in case it rains further on in to the evening. Yes, an abandoned home. Nothing wrong with that?  From the looks of things
this was a clean, comfortable home at one time for some family. But no one has lived here for years now and unless someone buys it with
a lot of money to fix it up, it's destiny lie in the path of a bulldozer as it is beyond remodeling. But for me, this evening, it is 'camp'. I am in
the town limits of Scott Depot W Virginia. Earlier today, with help from the westerly wind, I made the 45 miles in to South Charleston by
early afternoon, grabbed a bite to eat and then headed the last few miles to the capital when the skies decided to open up and rain came
down in torrents. I took cover under a shop awning until it let up a bit and then pushed on to the capital building arriving around 2:30.(
see
picture 1 below
) Charleston sits along the Elk River and 200 years ago was on the frontier edge of the new American nation. It's original
name was Fort Lee and was founded for the protection of the western settlers and their settlements from Native Americans in the Ohio
River Valley. Navigable waterways back then, when travel by horse was still the fastest means of transportation, were highways and roads
leading in to the farthest reaches of the new unknown American lands. The city's original name was after Light Horse Harry Lee,
Washington's trusted lieutenant, Virginian governor and father of Robert E. Lee.  When I finally arrived to it's capital building for a
scheduled brief meeting and photo op with the Gov Tomblin, I was soaked from head to toe.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXnlYlYr6_Q

It was a little embarrassing for me to be talking and posing for a photo alongside the polished good looking chief executive of the state
appearing as ragged as I am, and today especially looking like a drowned rat.(
see pictures 2, 3, & 4 below) But that is, I guess, the most
honest image to represent. After all, it did rain all day and I have been engaged in 50@50 now for 100 consecutive days today without
any rest. I am tired and irritable, farting whenever and wherever, and prone to sudden outbursts and in no mood to apologize for that
appearance and demeanor.
Ok, before I go on any further about 'ME' and this darn 50@50 stuff anymore, I want to acknowledge that today, July 24, is my brother
Mario's 57th birthday. On this day back in 1955 (what a year for Chevy, Elvis, and McDonald's) my brother Mario was brought in to world,
the third and subsequently middle child, of Vincent & Audrey Scaturro. Mario and I have always been close. As kids we had many
unforgettable times and when together today rejoice in those memories (what else is life about?). In his younger years he was as
handsome a man as Hollywood good looking can be; a cross between James Dean, Clint Eastwood, and a youthful Humphrey Bogart,
he really was the complete package of tall good looks, charm, and personality.(
see picture 5 below) Through out his years he, like most of
us, has had his trying moments in life and come out the warm, friendly, caring individual that he always has been. He is a sensitive person
always thinking of others and how to make them feel good and I believe would streak naked through Time Square at 11:59pm on Dec 31
if he knew it would help someone in need.  I feel very fortunate to have him as a brother and hope we can spend many prosperous years
together in the future reminiscing about all the old crazy times, of which there have been many. Today, like he has for over 25 years, he
owns and operates a small Italian family dinner restaurant in N California along with his wife of 30 years, Kristen, and three friendly
beautiful kids Nick, Tyler, and Emily. Happy birthday brother. I look forward to getting together when I pedal through California in
November.
So West Virginia has improved quite a bit since my arrival in to Huntington yesterday. The roads are actually more bicycle friendly and
generally in better shape than any of the Midwestern states I went through and even nicer than Kentucky. It is still very hilly and there is
nothing but green vegetation growth everywhere reminding me of the frequency of rain in this area.
Earlier today I picked up another homeless hitchhiker on the road. Like the others I've picked up along the way he's not too heavy fits
comfortably on the back of my trailer looking at the passing traffic.(
see picture 6 below) He must have been though some hard times as
he is pretty dirty and run down looking (kind of like me these days). His eyes seem to droop as if he wants to take a siesta all the time and
his ears are big enough that I'm certain if he could flap them he could fly like a bird. I'm not sure how long he'll hang around for the ride;
he's free to go when he so chooses. But for now I am enjoying his company and if does decide to stick around may bring him home with
me in November. I haven't decided on a name for him yet so if anybody can think of one fitting for him please let me know.
























Day 101  7/25/12
SP: Scott Depot, WV
EP: Jackson, OH
DM: 76
TM: 6,661
Week 13      WM: 481  TM: 6.485     AVG. Per Day: 68.7-71.3 miles



Notes
From last nights camp at the abandoned home in Scott Depot north to Point Pleasant, which rests at the confluence of the Ohio River(
see
picture 1 below
) (named by the Iroquois Indians O-Y-O meaning beautiful river), and the Kanawha River is about 35 miles along US route
35.(
see picture 2 below) For the first and last third of that distance US 35 is a wide beautiful four lane divided highway on a freshly laid
concrete surface and with an 8 foot shoulder. But the middle 10-15 miles must be the forgotten step child as it was probably the worst
stretch of road, when factoring in the abundance of traffic on it, that I have ridden to this point for 50@50 and perhaps ever. It had the
amount of traffic the average rural interstate freeway carries except it was on a two lane road with huge wide gapping cracks and
potholes the size of beach balls, a nonexistent shoulder and barely wide enough for two trucks passing in opposite directions to not
collide head on at 70 mph. There were tree branches hanging over it at times and the tops of the truck trailers would tear off the limbs
resulting in flying tree debris all over.  In my opinion 35 wasn't even fit enough to allow Amish horse buggies or John Deere farm
machinery over it's dilapidated surface much yet large commercial semi trucks and vehicles traveling at 60+ mph and I was forced to
focus all my attention and rely on years of experience pedaling in those conditions to avoid becoming another highway statistic. Often
curious bikers, weekend warriors, ask me why I prefer to bike travel on a mountain bike rather than a faster, lighter and thinner wheeled
road bike. Well, highway 35 is about as good an explanation as I could ever find.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8ROvLI9rcI

Thank goodness today I had the bike I did with a beefy steel frame and 26" bomb proof built wheels surrounded by wide mountain bike
tires as I was forced no less than two dozen times to bail out in order to avoid being mowed down to the width of a French crepe.  I kept a
constant watch on traffic coming towards me on the opposite side of the road and more importantly that from behind with my sun glasses
mounted mirror. When the situation warranted, like trucks coming fore and aft at the same time, I just rolled off the 8" cracked pavement
on to the rocks,  gravel, and overgrown weeds alongside the poorly maintained road. It was a long frightening ordeal but I managed
eventually to get through it, counting my blessings afterwards that I didn't end up like the ubiquitous road kill I see daily out here.  If I lived
around here I would design and market bumper stickers for all vehicles that pass through that section of road proclaiming "If you are
reading this then you survived highway 35!". Tonight's camp is I believe another first; an abandoned greenhouse in a long ago closed
nursery.  I can't ever remember camping the night in a greenhouse, but I guess there is a first for everything. The frame is still in tact but
most the outer plastic covering has been ripped off and lies strewn about, though the end section I am under is still in place and should
keep me dry if it rains, which it may from all the lightening in the distance I see. Native vegetation is now playing it's part in taking the
place back over.
My location is just north of the town of Jackson, Ohio, the 17th state of 50@50.(
see picture 3 below) Already I can sense the difference
between here and the two southern states I just visited, Kentucky and W Virginia. People are a little more 'formal' in their manner and
appearance and the roads are much better, though in a relative way. It is so strange traveling this country and coming across little
differences such as those just mentioned. Yes we are all American and this is the United States but there still are many differences, some
quite noticeable, between sections of this great vast continent. I believe that these differences are more pronounced than even those of
many foreign countries. And I'm not just talking about English speaking countries like Canada and Australia but, except for the language
and currency and price of gas, Germany, Switzerland and Austria as well.
I like the South. Even though I dis on it much, there is something about it's character that makes me comfortable and I think it has to do
with the no pretentious feel I get when there. People generally are who they are and feel no need to mask it. They speak from the heart
and if someone doesn't like than so be it. If they are poor or rich, black or white, educated or not. It is bothersome to me to see people or
institutions trying to be someone or thing they're not. It's plastic and meant for Tinseltown (Hollywood), not the real world. It's why I said my
goodbyes to California, where you get a lot of that, long ago and never will go back to live again (though the area where my brother
resides in Mendocino county is nice). I believe that part of my persona comes from my mother who always tried to instill a sense of
genuineness in everything I did and was. "There's no difference in you from anyone else in this world. We all sit on the pot every morning"
was her often crude, blunt way of putting things in a nutshell.  So, though I leave the South temporarily, I look forward to revisiting it again in
late August and early September, hopefully when it's much cooler.
Well the heat returned yet again today and along with it the stifling humidity. Yesterday, though dank and soggy, was a welcome relief.
Today the high had to be close to the 100 mark and the sweat just poured off my body as I rode. It's hard to get used to the discomfort of
living in this day after day, even though thats what I'm doing. The best you can hope for is high level of tolerance and patience.
So tonight's dinner is not that bad and I figure I'll try as best I can to detail it's courses. I always have some type of appetizer like cashews
or potato chips or my favorite wheat thins and cream cheese (none of these fatty foods are really appetizers but I pretend that they are out
here on the bike trail). Then I have my usual mixed salad of crispy romaine hearts and sweet juicy tomatoes and onions with a bits of fresh
garlic to bring that pizzaz to it. Tonight I added a packet of blue cheese salad dressing I bought at the store along with the extra virgin
olive oil that is a necessity for a little change. Now on to the main course. I boiled a third pound of Barilla penne pasta and while it was still
very al dente added a small cup of Wendy's chili and cooked it for little while longer adding some olive oil (Gods nectar in my opinion)
and a pinch of salt. Delicious. Wendy's chili is not that bad; I know because I worked at a Wendy's in Santa Clara back in college for a
few weeks and saw how they made it (slow cooked using fresh ingredients, at least that's how they did it 30 years ago). For dessert I
have some cherries and a peach which I haven't got to yet but am sure will settle things just perfect.  My first job, other than working for my
father, which I didn't really regard as work (it was just life growing up), was  when I was 16 and at the now popular food chain Taco Bell.
Back then Taco Bell was nothing like it is today. The buildings were small slump block structures with outside seating and a fireplace in
front. They had perhaps 6 or 7 items on the menu with written pronunciations such as 'Buh-Ri-To' and 'Taw-Ko'. Hilarious when you think
about it. Everything, I mean nearly everything, was made there on the premises and from basically scratch. We would cook the beans in
giant crock pots and fry the meat in big pans, draining all the excess fat out in the process. The lettuce was shredded, tomatoes chopped
and cheese grated right there and when needed. The taco and tostada shells were all fried in the deep fryer and sauces mixed and
stored in big plastic containers. Ok it wasn't the best even back then but still a lot better than what they serve now. I still eat there once in a
while but only as a last resort and try to keep simple what I order, like a few tacos.
I'm already starting to notice the days are getting shorter and anticipate this as another obstacle to overcome, there being less daylight
hours, especially as 50@50 progresses in to the fall.  I'm certain at some point I will be forced to get a handlebar lamp and red taillight as
a portion of my riding will no doubt be in the dark in the early morning and late afternoon hours. It's something I don't like doing, riding in
the dark hours, but will have no other choice if I want to complete this.






















Day 102  7/26/12
SP: Jackson, OH
EP: Circleville, OH
DM: 55
TM: 6,716




Notes
6pm. Tonight I am camped under a covered patio picnic area behind a baptist church on the north end of Circleville, OH.(
see picture 1
below
) I noticed it heading out of town where I had done clothes and had my LSD. Looking clean and dry I figured it was the ticket for the
evening. The day was another scorcher (heat index over 105) but around 4:00 a storm blew in and it started to rain good and continuing
for over an hour. I took refuge in a library where I had to get some things done on the computer so I made good use of the downtime. The
rain let up long enough for me to find this place and is now starting to come down again. Worked out perfect. I asked a fellow doing some
work in the church if it was ok I pass the evening here and he didn't see any reason why not and that he would contact the police and
pastor to let them know in case either came by later tonight and wondered why someone was camping on the church grounds. So all is
good and I am dry. Life these days seems to be a constant struggle dealing with either the stifling heat or annoying rain (yes I know it is
nice and needed and I love it when home. But it's still bothersome when bike traveling and camping).
This evening it is nice and cool from all the rain but last night was dreadfully warm and miserable. I laid in my tent most the evening unable
to sleep and ceaselessly tossing and turning in anticipation of morning, but aware that it would not come soon enough. There were too
many bugs to sleep outside, though I did try in vain for a while, so I decided the lesser of two evils would be inside the mesh fabric tent
where the temperature was at least 10' warmer than outside where it still hovered in the mid 80's range. The stagnant air inside my nylon
shelter was dead still and doubt I slept more than a couple hours total as the feeling as though being in a warm bathtub, this of course in
salty sweat rather than clean soapy water, was all on which my mind could focus. I closed my eyes and tried to visualize some type of air
blowing over my hot, sweat drenched body, and for a while I think it worked as I dozed off for a brief time or two. I would suddenly awaken
though as beads of perspiration trickled down my rib cage and under my backside creating the irritating tickle much the same as tiny
insects crawling over me. I instinctively swatted at the sensation only to sadly realize that the little critter squirming over me was my own
bodily fluids. Darn it, no revenge! My sleeping pad was soaked and the feeling of discomfort lying there, helpless to do anything about it
was, I believe, a moment of displeasure to carry with myself for sometime. The only remedy for all this that comes to mind is an air
conditioned room at a hotel. But that would only be a temporary fix, and in so doing would allow the temptation of giving in to these
uncomfortable forces of nature the upper hand, thus knocking me for a loop and losing the initiative in my battle to overcome the mental
challenge of not being defeated by these elements of adversity whose aim, I'm certain, is to break my will. I know this may all sound like
crazy speak coming from a worn out lonesome traveler, but everyday now is a test of my spirit to overcome this challenge of not
succumbing to the provocation of my mind. There's no chance to succeed at reaching my goal of Hawaii if I can't muster the fortitude to
carry on through this current relatively benign atmosphere. I'm not even 50% complete with 50@50 (a lot of 50's there) but want so bad to
be done with this and come home to my family and business and home. But that to do so I know would let others down, and more
importantly myself.
Yesterday I passed through and spent the night in Jackson OH, home to John Wesley Powell during his formative years of the 1830's. To
those of you from Arizona there is probably little need to explain who Powell was nor the contribution he made to the west, especially the
Grand Canyon. But for all others Major Powell was a scientist, one armed geologist (he lost his right arm from grapeshot in the hornets
nest at the battle of Shiloh in 1862 [the first massive casualty battle of the war west of the Appalachians]) and explorer who in 1869 lead a
nine man expedition, the first to do so, down the entire length of the Colorado River and detailed the first scientific exploration of the
Grand Canyon.  Many of the rapids, side canyons that make those rapids, and tributaries are now named after his descriptions of them. In
later years he helped found the United States Geological Survey and was its director for many years afterwards before passing on in
1902.
The sunset this evening is marvelous due to the afternoon showers and residual clouds in the western horizon.(
see picture 2 below) The
hues of bright tangerine and deep purple (no resemblance to the band) illuminating the wisps of soft pink cotton candy clouds afford me a
chance to wind down from another hectic day in the saddle. My thoughts, being foggy from lack of sleep during last nights long ordeal with
the heat, are giving way to the need for rest. My plan is to unfurl my sleeping pad on one of the dozen or so benches here and call it a day
while taking in the last of nature's colorful light show.
























Day 103  7/27/12
SP: Circleville, OH
EP: Marion, OH
DM: 76
TM: 6,792




Notes
Pedaling the 20 miles from the last nights camp at the Baptist church in Circleville to the Ohio capital building in downtown Columbus was
the fastest, easiest and least stressful entry thus far in to a capital along the 50@50 journey (with the exception being Juneau where I flew
in to and then rented a car). But the 20 or so miles north of there along US route 23 toward the suburban city of Delaware was the   
busiest, most congested, and nerve wrecking stretch of road I have traveled since getting in to and out of St Paul Minnesota over a month
ago. I believe more traffic passed me in a span of 3-4 minutes along that stretch than the 3-4 weeks it took me to bike down through all of
BC from Alaska to Washington.  It was midday so the commuter traffic bit doesn't hold much more than a hill of beans. There must have
been no less than 50 traffic signals, one practically every block, and it seemed as if I caught every one of them with a yellow light.
Generally I stop when the traffic signal turns yellow and don't proceed until it is green, just like we do in a vehicle. But after an hour of this
repeated stopping and starting again, with a loaded 100 lb. bicycle and trailer in tow I became tired and frustrated and, if no traffic was in
the offing, would skirt the red light by hopping on the side walk for a while.
Eventually I reached the southern outskirts of Delaware where I was to meet a young lady who is the niece of Dave and Loretta Grondin,
long time friends from the 'Hood' in Cornville. Sarah Fisher, 32 and the mother of two preschool children, is a fabulous warm, friendly
person and drove out to meet me at a McDonald's just south of her hometown of Delaware. She bought me a sandwich and we talked for
about a half hour and then parted ways, she back to her home, husband, kids, and I'm sure, precious sweet home. And me, well, back out
on the road to I guess 'self discovery', if that's what you can call it. Again my mental 'isolation zone' was disrupted for a brief period, but
this time I tried not to let the usual feelings of loneliness and isolation take over but rather headed out with a positive frame of mind
knowing that there will be an end to all this. Part of the difference is probably because of the donation Sarah gave to our cause (thank you
again Sarah) as well as the envelope given to me containing a distinctly marvelous worded card with a $40 credit cash line inside given
to me by my friends and fellow FRAANK volunteers (thank you so much everybody). This thoughtful gesture of kindness means a lot to me
and all afternoon I was thinking about what I could do with the extra $$....new tires for the bike? But also I believe I am getting accustomed
to these brief encounters and learning to not allow my emotions to enter the change of venue (awakening), or at least not drag me down.
Anyways, today was probably the best day I've had in quite a while, primarily due to the relaxed temps (I doubt it got above the low 90's)
and improving roads on which to bike through. After my lunch engagement with Sarah I pedaled NW along the numerous quiet country
roads to where I am now. There was little traffic and often shade from the trees alongside the roadway. It felt great to be alone riding
without cars and trucks passing by and feeling the cool wind blow over my body. I guess you could say for once that I had a good day.
So my 17th capital of 50@50 was reached today and of all the capital buildings up to now I believe this one was the smallest,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N78GsuGx5No

with a possible exception of Juneau, though distinctly beautiful as all of them have been.(see picture 1 below)  It was basically
sandwiched between other newer downtown buildings and I had to ask someone as I was approaching within a block or two where it was.
Around the western outside wall was an 'Occupy Wall Street'(
see picture 2 below) tent though I don't think anybody was inside
(unbelievable that they are still around). There we're numerous monuments of past Ohioans who contributed to country's past such as the
millennium president assassinated early in to his 2nd term William Mckinley (the third acting president at the time to assassinated in
office) and subsequently replaced by VP Theodore Roosevelt. The capital is so small that the current governor, John Kasich, has located
his offices to across the street from the state office purportedly because there is not enough room in the old governors office. It took me
over an hour to find his new office which is on the 30th floor of a high rise structure directly across the street. Security was tight and for the
first time the attending officer asked to see my ID and did a background check. Wow!  Quite a difference from Juneau and Pierre where I
basically walked right in to their office off the street and shook hands with the chief state executive. Anyways, the security fellow I
encountered in the governors entry way was pleasant and outgoing and we chatted for a while about my journey, the Grand Canyon,
Arizona and his travels to my home state a number of years back to visit his father in law who lives in Marana down by Tucson. He gave
me a form to fill out that asked for all my personal info. and the nature of my visit. That was given to some attractive female staff member
wearing a low cut dress and no older than my son. She 'screened' me with a few boilerplate questions and while responding to this young
lady's interactive questioning noticed she was more interested in flirting with another security member coming on duty and not even the
slight bit interested in me nor my answers. Nothing irritates me more than someone not giving me their full attention while I'm speaking to
them, especially when that someone is young enough to be my child. I simply asked her if the governor was in and when she said no I
thanked her and the security officials for their time, did a 180, and headed out the door. What a waste of time! Why couldn't someone had
told me before that the neither the governor nor anyone in a reputable staff position was present? It would have saved me over an hour of
my precious time these days. My departing words for the young flirtatious and disrespectful staff member, "You have never, nor probably
ever will, have a guest here to see your boss doing what I am. So please give this brochure to him (I handed her a copy of the 50@50
brochure) and my best regards to Governor Kasich.". I'm outta here. For crying out loud, who's this guy think he is, the Lord of Buckeye
Land? Move your office out of a beautiful, convenient, and historical neoclassical building to your skyscraper estate? A security detail that
would suffice to protect the King of Bahrain?  And staffing your office with personal no more fit to work in the clothing section at a  JC
Penny store much yet be representative of state government? My suggestion is to come down to earth and get more involved Governor
sir. This is Ohio, not your fiefdom and you are an elected official not the King. But success in the political world today is not much more
than a pretty and expensive sales job and politicians are, like Sting has described them so well, just like game show hosts.
So on to other much more pleasant details of the day. With the cooler temps, comfortable roads, and respectful drivers, I might add a
great camp as well for the evening. I am in a wetlands preserve about 5 miles SW of Marion Ohio along state route 203 and 10 miles
north of Prospect, my LSD for the day. It is quiet, secluded, peaceful, clean, and teaming with wildlife where I have decided to set up
camp for the evening. My tent is set up on a thick mattress of grass and I'm certain I will have my best nights sleep in weeks if not months.
There is a small lake with water fowl and birds all along it's banks and an old cemetery nearby that I would have liked to explore further if
time had permitted, but as usual on this journey it was not to be. A hundred yards to the north is a small creek laden and chocked off with
dead fallen trees and other natural vegetation (perfect for fish and wildlife) and an old uncrossable wood planked bridge spanning it's
width. As you may guess by now I am in heaven here. The birds are singing and the insects communicating to their brethren (a few are
bothering me but that's why I've brought the Deet along all these miles) and in the distance I can hear the faint sound of a passing train
whistle. Deer hop about the tall grassy field in which I have situated myself toward one corner and what little sound of traffic there is, is so
far away as to be barely audible. I love nature, and I love this place. It brings me serenity of mind and rejuvenation of spirit.  
My intention for the evening was to celebrate my fathers 91st birthday today by writing about him, but somehow as usual I got side
tracked. He died on April 20, 1989 and to this day I still wish I could pick up the phone and call him. He meant more to me than I knew
while still living. After he passed on I realized that I had lost not only my father but my business partner and, most important, best friend. It
wasn't always so though because I barely knew the man having had seen him little in my early years. He was like an enigma to me when
growing up.
It's getting late now and I tired so I need to call it a night. I'll call this part 1 of my tribute to my father and if time permits tomorrow will
continue on where I left off tonight. Thanks to any and all of you who take the time to read about my experiences (both personal and
outward) here on the bike trail and feel free to comment with an email, call or text whenever.

























Day 104  7/28/12
SP: Marion, OH
EP: Bluffton, OH
DM: 63
TM: 6,855




Notes
Wind means everything to a cyclist. And wind it seems, and in fact does, blow most the time in a direction of travel that adversely effects a
cyclist's progress. After thinking about this for some time, even for years, here are the two reasons I come up with; first is that while
pedaling in to a wind you naturally go slower and it takes more time to cover a certain distance than if the wind were with your direction of
travel. So in a temporal sense you are biking longer with an unfavorable wind and thus expending more energy (both physical and mental)
to overcome it's resistance. That's  pretty straight forward and 'Duh?'. But the other reason the wind is disadvantageous for a biker is not
so apparent. Wind only aids your effort if it is between 120 & 240 degrees, or between 4 & 8 on the face clock if your direction is toward
the top (12:00 or 360') and your butt is facing the bottom (6:00 or 180'). That is approximately 120' out of 360', or 4 out of 12 hours, for a
ratio of 1 out of 3. So 1/3 the time while riding a bicycle when the wind is blowing (which is about 99% of the time) the wind is aiding your
progress. It doesn't take a genius to figure out the flip side of this simple equation, that 2/3 the time when we ride a bicycle we are
adversely effected by wind either by hindering our performance slightly if coming from the side (biking in a crosswind takes energy as
well) or making life downright miserable if it is coming directly in front of you. However you may say that there are obstacles that interrupt
that wind (natural ones like trees and hills and human made ones such as buildings) and so the 3-1 ratio of bad wind to good doesn't
hold. And yes that is true and which is why I hate biking in the Midwest and areas like here in N Ohio where it is farm country mostly void
of trees and buildings. Since leaving Kentucky, W Virginia and the Ohio River Valley the hills have given way to flatter terrain and along
with that naturally comes farm land. Where crops grow most the trees have been cut down and with no hills or trees to interrupt its flow,
comes the unabated wind and today it was out of the north, my direction of travel, coming off the Great Lakes. The temps today were
much cooler than they've been in weeks, it was even overcast and a little cool, and thats a good thing.  But on the flip side the winds were
back hindering my progress and making life, if ever so slightly, more miserable. So it seems for every Yin there is a Yang. The challenge
now it appears for the next few days is not the hard climbing and energy sapping heat, but rather the fickle and frustrating winds. Yes, I
know. all I ever do is complain.
But the other gripe I have to get off my chest is a genuine one. This afternoon I made my LSD in the town of Bluffton at the Circle K next to
Interstate 75. I got dinner stuff, pop, and a road atlas to start detailing the exact route I take throughout the rest of the journey, a $15 book.
The total came out to nearly $30 and as I opened my wallet to pay I was shocked to see that my debit card was missing. Well how would
you, or anyone feel if you notice your credit cards missing? Probably the same as I did. Suddenly all kinds of things were going through
my mind like did it get stolen?  Or did I leave it behind at some store or restaurant, the most likely scenario? In short my mind was
preoccupied and I told the cashier about my sudden predicament who seemed to be not very concerned and appearing visibly
impatiently for me to pay with some form or other of payment. Well I handed the young, attractive, though not very personable, lady my
credit card and she promptly swiped it and handed it back to me with the receipt and a pen to sign. There were about ten items on the
receipt so I put on my reading glasses on and looked to see if everything was accounted for, all the while in the back of my mind trying to
figure out what had happened to my debit card and what the next action would be if I couldn't find it (most likely call my wife and explain to
her what kind of mess I had gotten myself in to this time). There was no one waiting in line behind me to check out so I didn't feel a need
to hurry myself looking over the receipt, so when the teen (or perhaps early 20 something) clerk blurted out in a condescending tone "All
you need to do is sign it at the bottom". I was thrown back for a moment from thinking about my lost credit card to the what I just heard.
Did she really just say that to me? "Yes, I know. I've been signing credit card receipts for many years" I replied wanting to add 'since
before you were born young lady' but quickly decided to hold my tongue. I signed the little see through receipt and handed it back to her
and while doing so asked her if it was ok if I fill my bike water bottle with some water from the soda fountain machine which I've done
everyday multiple times and all throughout the country now for over 100 days straight. Not expecting any other response but the standard
"Sure, help yourself", I was totally shocked when she said "Yes, but it's an extra thirty cents". What!  Was I imagining this? Did she just tell
me it would cost me $.30 more to get some water after I just spent $30 in merchandise? Now in all truth I have had this happen on
occasion when I go in to a place without my bottles and they think I need a cup to get water, which I understand costs them money. So I
repeated again to her "I have my own bottle. All I want is to fill it from the dispenser machine with water". "It still costs thirty cents, it's
company policy" was her snotty reply as she walked away to stock some shelf. That was it, I had had enough of this arrogant young shit.
"Do you mean you are going to charge me $.30 for some water after I just spent $30 here?".  "Yes, it's thirty cents if you want water" was
her same reply for the third time.  "Well, in that case I want a refund for everything I just bought" I said without much thought. By this time
the other few customers were all focusing on our verbal exchange, a few I'm sure in disbelief.  She ignored me and continued with her
shelf stocking. "Miss, if you don't refund my purchase now I will be forced to call the police and Circle K corporate headquarters if need be
and report this incident. We'll let them decide how to proceed". By now I was steaming with anger and if she had been my daughter would
have given her an earful she never would have forgotten and no matter who was listening. I guess she decided her job was more
important than testing my patience anymore as she came back to the register and started my refund, but not before letting me know that
the 'Pop' couldn't be returned. "Fine, I'll keep that but I want a full refund for everything else". Still not content with being the impolite and
disrespectful person she was she had to interject that it was not corporate policy to give refunds for any merchandise purchased but she
would do it anyways (an obvious reference to just wanting to get me out of there). I replied where that no refund policy was posted for
consumers to see?  She didn't quite have an immediate smart mouth response this time and said "Well, it used to be posted". She gave
me my money back and I went next door to a McDonald's and got a salad and sandwich to take with me for dinner at a fraction of the cost
of what I had spent at the store. All of this drama begs the question why are some people, regardless of age, so heartless and
inconsiderate, and in this case just so downright ignorant (they lost a $30 sale over some water). For me it was the point of the matter
completely. Nobody or institution should deny, or charge money, for a free commodity that is essential to life, like water, especially in the
grips of an overly hot summer.  In my opinion it is not just ethically wrong and inhuman, but bad business policy. If she is right and it is
company policy then someone in corporate headquarters needs to have their head examined and go back to business school. If it isn't
corporate policy and the franchisee is responsible then he or she needs to be reported to the company and perhaps lose his franchise
license. If it  was just the clerk making up the decision to charge for tap water, along with the refund bit, then the owner of that franchise
needs to be made known about his employees poor service and attitude. Whatever the policy or lack thereof, some attention needs to be
given to personnel training as this young lady I had to deal with so apparently demonstrates. And if, as I suspect, she was judging me by
my appearance and the fact that I rode up on a bicycle, then she needs to not just learn how to relate and respect others, but also how not
to judge people by their appearance. If there are any young readers out there please heed the age old adage; never judge a book by its
cover and if you can, try never to judge people at all except by the content of that individual's character. Keep an open mind and treat
everyone in this world the same and with indifference to race, creed, gender, religion, social standing, and economic level. Respect
others in life and demand the same for yourself.
Anyways, tonight's camp is behind a garage in a grassy yard and surrounded by soybean fields(
see picture 1 below) along a  quiet
county line road.  The closest home is about a half mile away and I can't figure out why this garage is here with no other structures even
close by. Perhaps at one time there was a home here but it burned down or something and all that remains is this garage. Whatever the
case I am hidden from the road and it is quiet with a pretty view to the east of the surrounding mature farm fields.
One of the things I remember from the baseball trip and was reminded of today are all the church signs I pass with quotes and one
sentence scripture written on them. Some are inspirational and others just original and even humorous. One I saw today I liked and had to
take a picture of.(
see picture 2 below) The South has these all over and practically every day I get a good chuckle from one or two from





























Day 105  7/29/12
SP: Bluffton, OH
EP: Clayton, MI
DM: 82
TM: 6,937




Notes
I awoke this morning just as the tangerine ball of sun lifted above the eastern horizon highlighting the droplets of dew hanging over the
crop fields. The colorful scene was magnificent and though I took a picture there is no way to fully describe or show the serenity of the
moment.(
see picture 1 below) I got an early start around 7:30 because my phone battery was near dead so my morning journal edit had
to wait until I could find somewhere to plug in to a wall outlet and juice up. The backup solar charger I bought back at REI in Indianapolis
doesn't work as well as the one I lost a couple weeks ago so I've had to go back to the way I did things on the baseball which entailed
charging my phone at every stop with a wall outlet. I really miss my old sun charger because I could charge my phone while riding and not
lose precious time.
I rolled in to Napoleon OH around noon and had lunch at a chinese buffet place. There was so much food to choose from that it was
almost overwhelming. I tried a few different things and most of it was pretty good, including the desserts. The place was packed with folks
coming from church and dressed in their Sunday clothes and as usual I felt somewhat awkward dressed the way I am which is pretty biker
casual. But I reached the point long ago where the looks and comments you feel, but can't quite here, bother me. Sometimes I feel like a
long time aging actor on stage who through his script and performance is just being himself. It all becomes like second nature, life as you
are accustom to being. Anyways, I was astonished when the bill came and it was only $5. That's right $5, for a pretty good all you can eat
buffet. How they make a profit I have no clue. Maybe it's off their drinks, but which for me was only water.
Anyways, after lunch I began my afternoon ride, usually the most difficult time of day for me because my body is telling me it's time to rest
and take a nap. I kept pedaling through and around 2pm rolled in to Wauseon OH near the Buckeye state's northern border with
Michigan, of course still groggy and tired. There was no need to stop for anything so I pedaled right through and when I was at the
northern end of town glanced down at the passing road beneath my bicycle and there on the grassy shoulder spotted what I believed was
a $20 bill, or else I had actually fallen asleep and dreamt I saw one, and stopped immediately thinking this was going to be my lucky day
finding $20 on the side of the road. I jackknifed the bike and trailer, which is how you park a bike with a BOB trailer attached, and went to
retrieve my Andrew Jackson road booty for the day, when out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of anther $20 bill. Wow, lighting
hardly ever strikes twice but here it has. So I bent over to pick up both green legal tender of fiat currency when I spotted another bill of the
same amount. And then another, and another after that. "What the heck!" I thought to myself and probably whispered but I don't even
realize anymore when I am talking to myself having been out here for so long alone. I looked up and not more than a foot from the roadway
was a billfold so I went over to pick that up and shoved in to my now bulging pocket of money without taking time to look inside it (with all
the traffic going by only feet away the words 'You never count your money while sitting at the table' from Kenny Rodgers song 'The
Gambler' was going through my mind).  I turned back around towards the grassy shoulder where I had seen the first bills and hidden in the
grass were a couple more bills of the same amount. After picking those up I started walking down the highway and in a span of 100 yards
I had found close to a dozen more. It was like an adult Easter egg hunt. I made two other passes and each time another $20 bill would be
lying face up in the grass. Just then Patrice called to tell me that the washing machine broke down and we needed a new one. "Honey, I'll
call you right back. I'm in the middle of something important". "But I checked around for a new one and the cheapest is $400 and we don't
have it right now". "Don't worry about it, I think I just stumbled across our new washing machine." was my incredulous reply.  After I felt sure
there were no more floating Jackson's around I went across the road to sit beneath the shade of big tree and count the booty; 16 $20 bills
and over a hundred still in the wallet. Wow, that's over $400. Someone must be pretty upset about now. Well I started thinking and figured
nobody carries that much money around with them today so two things came to mind; 1) the person who lost this either was going to or
just had negotiated a drug deal or 2) they had just cashed their check and had a sizable bill to pay like rent or mortgage. This actually
posed quite a temporary dilemma for me because if it was drug money I would like to put it towards the FRAANK causes, or a new
washing machine, both of which are far more worthy than for someone who has made it for selling an illegal drug or payment for a
temporary high . But if this was money needed to pay for bills, or any other necessity of life it had to be returned to it's owner. Well I
decided to search the wallet and there wasn't much but a drivers license, bank teller card, and a prom picture of the young unfortunate
victim with his date (he was only two years older than my son Giuliano who is 20). The license of course had his name, address and
birthdate (Dec 26, the day after Christmas), but no telephone contact. However the address had him from Morenci MI, only a few miles
north of there and along the very route I had been intending to take on my northward journey to Lansing, capital # 18.  So there was no
way of me knowing of this was drug money or not so the only course of action my conscious would allow was to pedal to the town where
his license had him listed and give his money and billfold back to him, which is what I set out to do. The Google directions to his address
though where off (hint: never fully rely on Google to find you a place you're looking for) so I ended up riding around town for a while asking
people I saw if they knew of Kent Schroeder, the name of the young fellow who had lost his wallet. My search went on for nearly an hour
when I stopped in a gas/convenience mart to get some pop and last minute stuff, Morenci being my LSD for the day. I asked two workers
there if they knew of him and one said she had heard of the name and thought she knew where he lived. Great, I had a lead. Just then a
tall, young panic stricken looking fellow with his friend came in the store and as I took one look at him knew he was Kent Schroeder from
the picture on his license. I haven't seen someone so relieved of pressure as when I handed him the wallet with all the money in it. He told
me that the money was for his home insurance and at that point I thought to myself "Score! You did the right thing". His relief was so great
though that I thought for a moment he was going to give me a big hug and kiss right there in the middle of the store with everyone
watching. Thank goodness he didn't but he tried to give me $40 as a reward and I pushed his hand back telling him there was no need for
that, that he, and most people, would have done the same thing I did. He replied yes he would have and related a little story about a past
incident when he was on my end of this and how he trusted in karma. I explained that I wasn't sure about karma but that I had lost my
wallet in the past and though never receiving it back with the cash I had in it, just being relieved to have it back with all my credit cards and
ID, and most important understanding how frustrating it is to lose something that holds your valuables. Anyways, he insisted I take
something so I told him that if he could, to make a donation in whatever amount to the FRAANK causes, and he did with 2 of the $20 bills I
had picked up earlier. So tomorrow the FRAANK fundraising effort is $40 closer to it's goal. Thank you Kent. So now everyone came out
ahead; Kent got his money (minus a small portion for his donation) and wallet back, FRAANK received a nice donation, and I get to feel
good having helped someone out, thus giving this journey a badly needed injection of purpose that as of late has been lacking. And that's
the end of story, except for two side notes; First I told Kent that it was obvious that he had put his wallet on top of his car and taken off with
it there, sliding off as he had turned out of the Burger King parking lot in front of which I had found it, but when did it happen? When he
said last night I was shocked as that meant all day traffic had been going by just feet from hundreds of dollars blowing around and nobody
noticed. Wow! And second, Jim and I have been doing summer bike trips for years and at camp we often joke about someday finding a
bag of money along the side of the road and what we would do with it or how we would split it up if we kept it. Though not exactly as I had
envisioned it happening, that day came today and those questions were answered.
So tonight's camp is another good one. I am located just north of the small, no service town of Clayton Michigan. Yes, I have arrived to
state #18!(
see picture 2 below)  I am next to a small football sized lake with lots of water fowl and birds. It is a magnificent spot to camp
after a rewarding day. Just minutes ago though more seams from my camp stool have given way so rather than being able to write more,
which I would like to do, I have to mend this invaluable piece of equipment before I end up having to sit on the wet ground. So I bid farewell
for the day and I'm proud to say it's on to Lansing Michigan, Capital #18 of 50 tomorrow. Buona notte everyone.























Day 106 7/30/12
SP: Clayton, MI
EP: Webberville, MI
DM: 93
TM: 7,030




Notes
A few worthy milestones to mention now for tomorrows ride; first, I will pass the 7000 mile or half way point of the bike stage of 50@50
and it will be the end of the 14th week biking every day continuously without any breaks at an average of over 70 mpd . I reached the
7000 mile point today but that's because there was 40 miles biking from the capital steps in Juneau to Echo Cove where started our five
day, 60+ mile kayak to Skagway, which  is where I began the bike stage. So I always deduct that first 100 from the anticipated 14,000
mile stage II bike ride. For me this is a huge psychological waypoint because it's as if I have reached the turnaround, mile 13.1 of a
marathon, and now am on my way back home to the finish. Some days all I can think about is taking that last pedal stroke on to the capital
grounds in Phoenix, and after tomorrow I can begin the countdown. In some ways I want to celebrate and others cry. The thought of doing
it all over again, in terms of mileage and time, what I just did is somewhat daunting and even depressing. It is amazing how slow time
passes by out here on this never ending journey and every day now is a challenge to get through. I know I've said all this before so I won't
repeat again. The day after tomorrow I will enter my fifth month on the 50@50 SPT. I began in April and it's almost August. When I began I
was camped next to 10' snow drifts and freezing my butt off.  Now I am camped alongside 10' cornstalks and struggling to stay out of the
hot sun. We are in a waxing gibbous lunar stage meaning that I have been out here on the road now for four lunar cycles, but am only half
done. Tomorrow is my first full day biking to Albany, New York which I predict will take 7-8 days depending on the wind and will require
another crossing in to Canada, this time only for a few days, and will reenter the US in Niagara Falls (I've pedaled through the city by the
great falls on three prior transcontinental bike trips; 1989, 2008, and 2010. The US side is not too badly congested but the Canadian
northern half is like a crowded amusement park and I hate going through there).  Then another week at least getting through New England
and at least a week tagging the congested Mid Atlantic states before reaching the Chesapeake Bay and DC. From there the journey will
head to the southern states where I'm predicting it will take a month zig-zagging around before reaching Austin Texas and then
Oklahoma, where I can finally head west and be homeward bound. Of course I will still have two mountain ranges to cross before reaching
Sacramento and turning SE towards Arizona and the final stretch, which is all I dream about. Now perhaps you can understand why my
mind is saying I should be celebrating this half way point but all I really want to do is sulk.
Anyways today I made it to capital #19 in Lansing Michigan (all day I was mistakenly telling people it was #18).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrQaBr9DxF8

The governor and practically everybody in the state house was gone and all the doors locked up. It seems when the legislature is not in
session and there is not other business to care about nobody is around. Fine by me as it was a quick stop. As rolled up to the capital
building I asked a one- legged fellow taking pictures of his wife if he would take my picture in front of the capital dome(
see picture 1
below
) and it came out really good with me sitting cross legged in front of my bike. I went inside the capital but only to use the bathroom
and buy a state flag as the governors office never returned the flag I had sent requesting the governors signature. The gift shop didn't have
any flags so I picked one up at a nearby souvenir shop a block away. And then hit the road for Albany New York, a mere 590 miles away.
Today I was calculating that I have made it to five capitals (Indianapolis, Frankfurt, Charleston, Columbus, and Lansing) in 11 days biking.
That's almost one every two days, and quite a difference from when I departed capital #1, Juneau, on April 18 and didn't arrive to capital
#2 in Olympia until May 23, over 5 weeks later.
Tonight's camp is in another abandoned big red barn(
see picture 2 below) a short distance from hwy 43 and just west of the town of
Webberville, MI. I didn't really want to stay here for the night, preferring to be outside under the stars, but the skies were looking a little
threatening from the south and west so the thought of cover was appealing. There is the usual cattle droppings spread about but where I
have set up is clear pretty clean. A 6' by 8' section of the outside wall had collapsed and was lying outside in the grass so I brought it in
and plan to use it as a sort of box spring to keep me off the ground. No need to set up the tent since there is adequate cover if it does
rain, that is unless the bugs start annoying me. I'm not really much in the mood for writing tonight so I'll probably make a few phone calls to
friends or family hoping it will help to lift me out of this funk I feel has overtaken me tonight.






















Day 107  7/31/12
SP: Webberville, MI
EP: New Baltimore, MI
DM: 84
TM: 7,114




Notes
A long day today spent mostly battling city traffic, the urban jungle, as I passed through the suburbs of north of Detroit; Pontiac (now I know
from where the GM car line got its name), Auburn Hills, Bloomfield Hills,Troy, Sterling Heights, Utica. It was never ending and totally
unavoidable unless I biked miles north to make the crossing of the St Clair river in to Canada at Port Huron. My plan as of now is to make
my crossing in to Canada tomorrow morning at Marine City where I believe there is a ferry, but I'm not sure yet. I am skeptically counting
on the Google directions which take me through there.
Tonight's camp is in a vacant field full of tall green vegetation and trees.(
see picture 1 below) 30 miles to the north of me is Lake Huron
and just a few miles to the south Lake St Claire. Lake Erie is further still to the south and fed from the Detroit River (Riviere Du Detroit, the
name given by the French and meaning 'River of the Strait'). Lake Michigan is several hundred miles to the west, the direction from which
I just came, and across the state named in its honor. Lake Superior is even further away to the northwest. The last of the Great Lakes,
Ontario, is directly east of me across Canada a couple hundred miles and in my line of travel though I won't reach it before I veer off in to
upper state New York. So with all these lakes and waterways encircling me there is for the first time all summer somewhat of a bug
problem. It took almost till August but I've finally encountered the little pests, not that I was wanting to have them around. Of course most
the country is in drought, except here in the Great Lakes region, and where there is no water there are few mosquitos. It is another urban
camp because it was getting late and I was very tired. My preference would have been to bike on a while longer and in to a more country
setting but as the adage goes, 'Discretion is the better part of honor'. And these days, with my mind a little hazy and my spirit somewhat
low, I hate to push things. Because I know it's when you push something more than its intended purpose that the  results are often
regretful. Anyways there are human made structures in every which direction surrounding me and sounds from those inundating my
senses. Interstate 95, the Edsel Ford Freeway. It was named after the benevolent son of Henry and former CEO of the massive
automobile company for several years before his premature death from stomach cancer (supposedly from drinking unpasteurized milk)
during WWII at the young age of 49 (my age today). It is no more than a quarter mile west of here so level of noise is quite high. There are
also apartment buildings and who knows what else surrounding this two acre natural jungle in the middle of this two hundred square mile
man made jungle. I can hear children playing to the north and I like that sound though traffic passing by on Hwy 23 just a 100 yards to the
south drowns out the singing birds. But worst of all is noise whenever one of those teenage driven cars with the loud 'boom, boom' heavy
bass 'music' goes by and my head throbs and silver teeth fillings tingle. If you have been reading this blog for a while you know this is not
my ideal spot for camp, but what else can I do in the middle of this mess. It was unbelievable how many vehicles passed me on the road
today. I saw perhaps a half dozen bikers all day and what's ironic about that is in the thick of traffic I was going faster than all the cars.
Most the time the road had a decent shoulder for me to bike on but for about 15 miles I had to resort to my fight or flight riding technique
learned from years of experience riding in those conditions when the roadway is absent any sort of bike lane. Often in those conditions I
will ride the sidewalks or 1' concrete drain curbs. My mind is completely in the moment because my life depends on it. Thousands, if not
tens of thousands of cars and trucks passed me today and I don't recall one angry horn, middle finger, curse word, or even one motorist
put out of their way more than a few seconds because of my presence on the roadway. I feel good about and take a certain pride in the
fact that I can do it with relative skill and safety. I often say there are many things in life I'm acquainted with and know a little about, though
there are few things I believe do well; two of which are making pizza and biking (funny combination). But I am also aware that all it takes is
one distracted driver and that moment could be 'the' moment. I've had several good friends and acquaintances not return from rides over
the years and don't want to become just another statistic, another cross on the side of the road, another devastating loss to family and
friends. It's my own decision to be out here and the  responsibility if anything happens rests totally with myself, but understand it would not
be fair at all to my family and friends. So I try to avoid precarious situations like today as much as possible and if unavoidable employ all
my faculties to make it as safe as possible.
Anyways, think I'll make it an early evening and shower and then slip in to my nylon/mesh abode where the bugs are 'Not Permitted!'.
Tomorrow morning it's back in to Canada except this time will be nothing like a couple months ago in BC except that I will be out of cell
phone service for a couple of days  where I saw very few people and little traffic, but a lot of animals. This southern part of Ontario is
congested with cars, buildings, and animals of the two legged variety. So my goal is to stay far away from cities and make the trek as fast
as possible. We'll see how that works out. For now I sign off on this last day in Michigan, #19 of the 50@50 SPT  and now with 7,000
miles pedaled and put behind me I am halfway there.(
see picture 2 below) Now its on to Albany NY, #20. Buona notte.
HI EVERYONE IT'S ME PATRICE, WELL IT LOOKS LIKE THERE IS NO MORE ROOM ON THIS PAGE SO I WILL BE MAKING A NEW
PAGE. TO FOLLOW ROMANO ON HIS WILD AND CRAZY JOURNEY 50@50 CLICK ON BLOG ll ON THE NAVIGATION BAR AT THE
TOP LEFT CORNER AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS PAGE















































                                                
                                        
July 2012    
SP=Start Point  -  EP=End Point -  DM=Days mileage - TM=Total Mileage





Day 77  7/01/12
SP : Monticello, IA
EP:  Tama/Toledo, IA
DM: 59
TM: 5,002


Notes
6:30pm. Another scorcher today; high 90's with 90% humidity. Right now I would do just about anything to be in an enclosed air
conditioned setting. I am so hot and the bugs are driving me crazy. It's too early and still too hot to get in my tent so there's nothing to do
but bear it and hope that as the evening progresses it cools down enough to drive off these annoying flying insects and make it
comfortable enough to sleep. Bug spray doesn't seem to repel these guys, except maybe the flies. The little black ones with the four red
markings are, and have been, especially bad and numerous.
Lately I haven't been sleeping well, especially last night, because of the heat and humidity. I'm actually considering for the first time of
getting a room if these horrible conditions don't back off somewhat. Part of me would hate that more than anything else. The voice in my
mind repeats over and over, "What? You can't handle it? So there are some warm temps, thick air and annoying bugs. What did your
hero's Capt's Lewis & Clark do when they encountered conditions far worse than these; cry and ask for an air conditioned room to spend
the night? Come on suck it up and quit your sniveling. There are a lot worse conditions you could be in than this."  And so the dialogue
goes on in my mind while the negative questions (see a couple days ago) continue their bombardment on my spirit. This is not fun out
here and has to be the worst predicament I've ever put myself in to knowing I still have over 4 months and nearly 10,000 miles to go.
Which leads me to the point that yesterday I reached 4900 miles(
see picture 1 below) on the bike since leaving Skagway back on April
25.  Add to that the 40 miles from Juneau to Echo Cove on the rental bike and the 60 or so miles on kayak to Skagway and I have
reached the 5000 mile threshold of 50@50. If this first part of traveling to all 49 states turns out to be 14-15,000 miles which were my
original calculations, then I am roughly a third complete. And still there awaits the 2500-3000 miles of rowing to Hawaii next year.
Sobering news for a fellow feeling the way I am now.
So, camp. I am in a typical midwestern pull-through barn built, I conjecture, to unload and store cattle grain.(
see picture 2 below) Having
never been a farmer I'm not sure for what purpose so many of these structures are built. This one under which I plan to spend the night has
about a 10' concrete drive thru with ramps on both ends and holding pens built of plywood on either side of the structure. There are  3' by
1' openings every 6' feet which as I commented before I believe are for storing grain . Whatever the purpose of this place, I call it camp for
tonight. I have cover on the slight chance of rain (30%) and it is flat and, with the exception of loads of bird droppings, clean. When I first
rode in my intention was simply to get some water for camp which was coming shortly. When I rolled in to the driveway and saw that little
traffic had used it in recent times and the screen door of the house hung open, I knew that nobody was around. But, being a respectful and
law abiding, I decided to knock on the door anyway (just in case there was someone around looking at me without my knowledge). After
the perfunctory door knock I set out to find if there was any clean running water all the while keeping an attentive eye out for a possible
campsite. If there was no water around here there was no use in looking for an out of the way 'invisible' place to set up camp for the night.
The first outdoor water spigot I tried came up dry (should have known because there were cob webs on the handle). I strolled around to
the other side of the home, all the while running through my mind the reason I would give to someone if they suddenly popped up (the road
was only feet away and I totally visible) and there I spotted another water spigot, this one without cobwebs and flowers growing
underneath and all around. I tried that one and after a second or two cold, fresh clean water came gurgling out the 1" orifice. "Oh yes!" I
thought and subsequently murmured to myself while sticking my overheated head underneath the cool refreshing necessity of life.  I filled
up my three 2 liter plastic bottles that I carry around specifically for camp (2 for shower and the other for cooking, clean-up and coffee in
the morning), strapped them on my bike and set out to search for a place somewhere on this  unlived farm with white painted barns(
see
picture 3 below
)  and storage sheds throughout the maintained grounds. It took me seconds to find this place and though my original
belief was that I was alone, I have since found out that I was wrong when a half dozen cattle came out of the barn opposite this structure
telling me that there must be someone around here to tend to the animals as well as cut the grass. Oh well, I've been going through my
head what to say in the event someone does arrive and surprised to find a dark, very dark Italian man with a bicycle camped in their stock
shed.
Tonight's dinner is looking less than appetizing to me; a 'weight watchers' frozen pasta dinner and an iceburg bag lettuce salad. I've been
getting a bit lazy as this trips wears on, and me down. The thought of cooking at the end of the day when it's been so hot, and still is hot, is
just not appealing. Long gone are the dinners of juicy steaks and pasta cooked with fresh marinara. Though I still will make my fresh
romaine lettuce salads with ripe juicy tomatoes and rich olive oil. It's just that this afternoon I couldn't find anywhere to shop for produce
and ended up getting dinner stuff at a drug store back in Cedar Falls.
So for now it is starting to get a little darker and the orange glowing tennis ball sized sun is setting behind the thinly clouded western
horizon making for a gorgeous sunset.(
see picture 4 below) For me that means it is shower time which I plan to do inside one of these
cattle pens surrounded by bird droppings and rich in odor. Ahhhh, the beauty of it all.
Yesterday I came down pretty hard on the old Hawkeye state, and perhaps a bit unfairly due to the fact I was pretty haggard after
yesterday's infernal arrival here. But most roads here do leave something to be desired for the average biker, and motorist for that matter.
Iowa I believe, from having biked here in the past several times, has the most bicycle unfriendly roads in the country. This is especially
odd when considering it stages the most popular cross state ride in the nation: RAGBRAI. So many of its roads are without paved
shoulders (they use large rocks and gravel) and torn up with cracks and potholes that at times I think I'm riding in Mexico.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYRKkq0AMIg

Good thing the people are friendly and understanding and not in a big hurry because if these roads were in New Jersy or California or
heck even Arizona, this would be a total nightmare trying to ride. I hope the roads get a little better as I move on to the central part of the
state, but of they do I doubt it will be substantial. But that remains to be seen so for now its to sleep, if I can.























Day 78  7/02/12
SP : Tama/Toledo, IA
EP:  Kellogg, IA
DM: 58
TM: 5,060


Notes
I won't harp on this much, as it is getting to sound like a broken record, except to say that the day can be summed up in four words; hot,
humid, windy, and hilly. Oh wait, there are two other descriptive terms that come to mind; shoulderless roads and monotonous vistas.
Gee, this place is just a cyclists paradise....Paradiso Ciclismo!
I am so hot right now that about all I can think about is walking in to a 35 degree beer cooler, found at most stores around here, and sitting
down for a spell on a case of beer, perhaps long enough to take a nap (I've done that in the past and get the feeling that store
management believes I'm in there drinking it up when all I'm really doing is just trying to cool down). I just can't get my core temp down
right now mainly because of the humidity which traps heat inside. I hate humidity. Having been born and grown up out west in the dry air
my body, and more significantly my mind, just finds it difficult to adapt. I'm camped in, what else, a soybean field a hundred yards south of
state route 6 and 200 yards or so west of Skunk Creek (so aptly named as it is about as skunky a body of low flowing water as I've seen
in a while). At the moment I am seated on my small Coleman camp stool, butt stuck to the fabric because it is so humid, and trying to take
my mind off these unpleasant conditions by pecking out these few words. Fortunately I'm enjoying a cool soda pop which I managed to
keep cold by filling up my small foam insulated cooler with ice back at the Casey's General Store (these convenience stores are
everywhere here and are kind of like a 7 Eleven except with a few more thrills) at the last stop of the day about an hour ago. But my
thoughts keep going back to that 20 minute respite in the beer cooler I so yearn for. Anyways, when I first rolled up here and decided that
this was to camp for the 78th time of 50@50, I decided to venture down to Skunk Creek to fill up my water bottles for the evenings camp,
and if it was possible, soak for a moment or two in the cool appearing waters flowing down the shallow waterway beneath the road
overpass.  After tip toeing through 200 feet of shoulder high grass and leg scratching weeds I finally made it to the clear 'Skunk' waters
and in anticipation dropped my unfilled bottles, unvelcroed my BikeNashbar sandals (same ones, and only ones, I've had since departing
Phoenix back in mid April) and slid off my gym shorts and bike liner (I don't wear a shirt most the time) and stepped in to what my mind
was leading me to believe was going to be a cool, refreshing dip after such a long hot miserable day. Oh pity the fool. Rather than the
refreshing dip I so much anticipated stepping in to the 'Skunk' felt more like getting in to a warm knee high bathtub, with the added feature
of dark muddy dirt, 2" minnows darting between my toes, and a skanky smell reminiscent of the Sedona city sewer plant I ride by on
occasion. Totally disgusting! So I filled my camp bottles (I know, you plan to use that stuff as camp water?) and got out of there and
searched for and found this decent spot to camp (best since being in Iowa) beneath a towering leafy elm tree and with plenty of clear area
as it appears that construction of a road is coming through here to connect route 6 with the Interstate 80 only a half mile south.
One of the ways I try to keep my mind off these terrible conditions and whittle the 6 hour self made quota of riding a bike during the day is
to look out over the cornfields and try to figure out how and why they are sewn and laid out the way they are, often at different angles and
strange patterns. Obviously only someone with experience with cultivating these endless acres of earth would know exactly why they are
what they are. But my belief is that it has to do with the nature of the land, it's topography, and limitations of the farming machinery. When
it decides to rain here, it rains. I've been in a midwestern downpour before and it feels like heaven itself has opened up (check out the
FRAANK baseball movie, 6 Months, 10,000 miles, 30 Ballparks of two years ago to see what happens when camped in the wrong spot
in a midwestern downpour). So built in to all these endless rolling fields of grain and bean are drainages and which for the novice eye
appear to be cool roads (or for the Sci-fi minded landing strips for alien vessels) but are nothing more than cut grassy areas to allow the
flooding waters to escape and not damage the crops. The other reason why the fields are curving and often at right angles is because the
machinery that does all this tedious work needs room to turn around in the most efficient manner possible. I know, interesting stuff for a
midwestern farm buff. Well at least you get a chance of knowing what goes on in my mind during these long hot dog days of midwestern
summer (remember that movie with Al Pacino back in the 70's when he robs a bank?).
You know for once I would love to sip from my drink without a drowned bug in it.
Highlight of day?  When I stopped at a home along hwy 63 heading south, around the warmest part of the day, extremely overheated and
worn out, to ask for some cold water. I was approached by several people upon my arrival amongst whom there was a friendly elder man
(well somewhat older than I), with a wide brim straw hat and slight hunch to his gait, and his younger daughter and much younger grand
daughter. They greeted me with typical warm midwestern hospitality, inviting me to sit for a spell under the shade of their garage and
bringing me a cold glass of ice tea and afterwards ice cold water to replenish my empty water bottles. We talked for a while about the
weather and the fires ravaging Colorado and much of the west at the present (I've been so removed from current news that I had no idea
Colorado was going through such severe fires). It was so nice to just spend a few moments talking with others about stuff that during this
trip there just never seems to be enough to do. The Midwest is physically and spiritually the heart of America (remember that GM
commercial 'The Heartbeat of America'. Well I think they were focusing on the Midwest). Anyways, I did not want to overstay my welcome
and there were still a few hot miles of hilly pedaling in front me so I thanked them for generosity and headed on, at the moment south,
towards capital #10, Des Moines with a belly full of ice tea and water and a renewed spirit.
It's 7:30 and shower time but the problem I am faced with is how to cool down warm water so I can take a refreshing shower and cool
myself down. It was pretty straight forward, though lengthy in process, in BC when I was cold to warm up by heating my shower water,
finding a suitable place out of the wind to shower, toweling off afterwards as quick as possible, putting on all my layered clothing (while in
the tent of course), sitting next to the fire and then when it got dark going in to my tent and snuggling beneath two down sleeping bags.
Ahhh, I slept like a baby back then. Even though it's just human nature to complain when things get uncomfortable, I am still finding it hard
to admit that for all the complaining I did then about the cold it wasn't really that bad as I sit here now drowning in this thick hot air. In that
sense I reckon Iowa is a teacher for me, informing that things can always be worse.
Earlier I opened my email inbox and found a Paypal receipt from a donation given by neighbor and friend Rob and his girlfriend Chisuko.
For the baseball trip two years ago they had given a valuable donation as well.
About 6 years ago or so Rob and Chisuko moved in to the 'hood' where we've been living for nearly 30 years ago and they bought the old
run down fixer-upper home just down the one lane dusty driveway from our home. The two of them have worked tirelessly repairing the
place and it is now the envy of the rest of us living in close proximity.  It didn't take long for us to become friends and they come in for
dinner occasionally to the restaurant (specifically for our renowned eggplant Parmesan, [no modesty here needed; it is delicious]).  Rob
and Chisuko are, like most of us, honest hard working people and when they give it is probably because they believe in the cause and it
is coming from their heart. What a message that is to me. I believe giving comes from the heart, not out of the mind.  It should be
spontaneous, because through the language of spontaneity speaks the soul, and without an obligation for repayment in whatever form
(that is called an investment). No one in this physical world should be watching, nor should we expect, in the afterworld. It is done
genuously through the heart and with compassion (I can't ever remember writing a check to a charitable cause while thinking about it) but
at the same time not done blindly or without the knowledge of the worthiness of that cause (there is no shortage of hucksters and
harlequins out there preying on those most vulnerable: the needy and naive). Fear and scarcity are thoughts of the mind. Understanding,
compassion, and giving are emotions and actions from the heart.  If you are reading this, thanks guys for the valuable donation and have
a relaxing and 'cool' trip up in Montana.


















Day 79 7/03/12
SP:  Kellogg, IA
EP:  Prole, IA
DM: 59
TM: 5,119


Notes
7pm. I arrived to camp just before 6 but am late getting started on the days journal. My brother Mario from N California called and we
chatted for nearly an hour. Mario, like myself, owns and operates a small Italian restaurant in Redwood Valley along with his wife, Kris, of
30 years and three beautiful successful children (Nick, Tyler, and Emily) all ranging in age somewhere in their 20's. He and I learned the
restaurant business from our father growing up first in Hollywood and later on, after Pop had tired of California, in Arizona, where I still
operate along with my wife and kids his last establishment. Mario is a brother, and person, very close and dear to me. We grew up as
kids in conditions that could only be explained as often challenging, and from those early upbringings comes a bond that still today is
forged like steel and molded like fine cabinetry.  We also had many good times growing up and when together would play ball, hike, ride
bikes, run, build forts, play board games and with toy soldiers, watch 60's sitcoms, and laugh till our sides split for hours about
meaningless stuff only kids can find funny (back then, of course, there were no computers, internet, or video games so our play usually
involved physical activity, imagination, and social engagement). Even today we can talk and laugh hours away as we reminisce about old
times, unfortunately though its usually on the telephone. If you ever find yourself passing through N California (Mendocino County) you
must stop by his family run restaurant, Mario's Ristorante Italiano, and make sure you order the garlic bread. It is the best, most authentic
Italian dinner and setting you will have had in quite some time, guaranteed (make sure you told him you read about it in this blog so I don't
get cut out of my kickback).
So, to the days highlights. I bet you are just waiting to hear about how hot it was again and how terrible the riding conditions were. Well I'm
not gonna do it. I will not mention one word about the horribly hot humid weather with constant headwinds and hills, nerve wreaking roads
with no shoulders and boring landscapes filled with nothing but corn and soybean fields. No, for tonight I've decided to stay in a positive
frame of mind and attempt to write about my wonderful visit to the Iowa state capital, #10 along the 50@50 self powered journey. After a
big letdown in Wisconsin a few days ago, today I was greeted by the security personal, welcomed by the staff, and listened to by the chief
executive, and Lt chief executive, of this great state of Iowa like none of the prior 9 states. Yes Iowa, in typical Iowan fashion, was
gracious and helpful.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlR5RPG4DBo

As I approached the capital from the east I was immediately alerted to the building itself by its gold plated dome and coppola which can
be seen from a far distance off. Wow, there's no mistaking where the capital is. Being so hot and miserable (ooops, I promised not to
comment on the terrible weather, sorry) I could not find one person anywhere in the vicinity of the parking area to take a picture of me in
front of the complex, so I decided to take my luck after I finished my quest to find someone to announce my arrival (ie: the governor or
someone on his staff). Leaning my hobo style tired looking bike with all the junk attached to it next to the square cut tan colored granite
rock stately building surrounded by well manicured lawns and ornately trimmed landscaping was like bringing a six pack of Keystone
beer to a swank upper Manhatten dinner party and sitting it down on the drink table  cluttered with expensive bottles of wine and liquor;
the contrast is unmistakably visible. Oh well, I had found shade alongside the building and after paddling and pedaling over 5000 miles
without rest to get here, the last week in this doggedly hot as a sunday morning hotcake griddle weather conditions (darn, there I go
again), I wasn't much concerned about images. I shuffled my tired legs and hot sweaty body toward the front entrance and as soon as I
opened the door had another ATFG experience as I entered the air conditioned environment. For the first time at a capital building I was
greeted by a security screening station complete with a metal detector and aging retired fella who appeared to be a volunteer worker (if I
were a terrorist this would be a cake walk getting around this one). Anyways, this was the first security entrance I had encountered at a
capital stop along 50@50 and to be quite honest, with as uptight as the country still is after 9/11, surprises me that it took this long to see
one. Once around security I made a brief stop in the men's room to splash water on my face while letting out a few more ATFG's. I found
the governors office and was greeted by the friendly staff of mostly young people as if they knew my about my arrival ahead of time (if they
did I don't know how as very little effort had been put in to contacting Des Moines). Within a few minutes I was in a conference room
having an informal meeting with the Lt Gov Kim Reynolds, a well dressed pretty lady about my age and with a professional yet
comfortable persona and intense interest in my journey, especially the Alaskan Inner Passage episode (which at this point here and now
seems like an eternity ago to me). So we talked for about 10 minutes (I explained the FRAANK causes) and then we took a photo
together next to the state flag all the while my consciousness was busily preoccupied with the thought of how uncomfortable she must be
so close to this smelly dirty man with nothing on but a smiley face t-shirt, black gym shorts, and old dirty Jesus sandals. After the picture
she said that if I could wait a few more minutes that the governor would be done with an important phone call and that I could meet with
him, so I thanked her for her time and did just that.
Gov Terry Branstad is Iowa's longest serving governor in history. He governed the state from 1983- 1999 and was elected again to serve
in 2010 (he must be popular here in the Hawkeye state). He is 66 years old, of average height and with a distinguished looking mustache
and full head of thick brown hair with just tints of grey (he doesn't look 66). Again, like the Lt Gov, I was made to feel comfortable and we
talked at least 15 minutes about various subjects, one including both our love for history and the fact that he has a timeshare in Sedona (I
made sure he knew our restaurant was only 20 minutes south and better than anything he would find in our popular cousin town to the
north). After another photo shot, this with the governor, I was given the Iowa state flag promised by one of the staffers (thanks Joshua) with
the governor's signature to hang off my bike flagstaff. And then it was off to Lincoln, Nebraska. It took me several hours to negotiate the
streets and traffic signals getting out of Des Moines, a very uncomfortable experience with all these dreadful conditions which I've
promised not to mention.
So lastly, camp. I am set up alongside some dry struggling soybean field at the edge of a shadowy dense forest and upon a thick strand
of native waist high grasses.  On the ridge a quarter mile from here is a small well maintained cemetery with american flags blowing in the
wind all over. As usual I am basically out of sight and with the exception for the flies, ticks, and a few squawking birds, no living thing
knows of my presence here, although there are several homes very close by. Like last night I have plenty of ice I got at my last stop of the
day (LSD; a new one I just of and really like) and am using it to keep my head and neck cool. A long day and I am pooped, but feeling
good that the capital visit went well as it was a formal acknowledgement of my efforts. Thanks to all at the Iowa state capital and if anyone
is interested my visit should be posted soon on the governors Facebook page.























Day 80 7/04/12
SP:  Prole, IA
EP:  Fontanelle, IA
DM: 55
TM: 5,174
Week 10    WM:439  TM:5,019     Avg Per Day: 62-71 miles


Notes
5:30pm. Decided to do camp a little early today, the justification being simple; it is another windy day and it makes no sense killing myself
on these days. The wind is out of the SW at about 15mph and my direction is SW. I managed to maintain a 10mph average over the day
but it really took it out of me, especially factoring in to the unpleasant equation 100' temps, high humidity and the usual rolling hills. I felt
like the humidity backed off a few notches today, probably due to the increased wind speed and thus bringing a little relief to the misery.
Tonights camp is at a 'Public Area', a tiny island of state owned nature preserve land in a sea of privately owned corn and soybean fields.
These nature preserves have become more common as I bike in to and through central Iowa. Again only conjecture on my part, but my
belief is that these islands of nature were donated, or bequeathed, to the state by individuals as a somewhat eternal living gift to future
generations of Iowans and the wildlife that thrive within their forests and grasslands. Perhaps I am being a bit naive in this belief but it is
my hope that we can return a part of this once wild and beautiful landscape of America, as well as many other privately owned and
developed areas, back to the animals and it's original state of existence for thousands of years before Americans turned their vision
westward. Too much of the best part of the country was given away or sold in the name of manifest destiny. Even in the West where there
still are abundant public lands most of the most beautiful lands, especially if it's near water, were sold off and fenced off or inaccessible.  
Oh but to have had the chance to explore this great continent 200 years ago, and only if TR had come around 50 years earlier how
different things may have been today.
Anyways I have set up camp, again like last night, in a tall natural grassy area on the edge of a now defunct cornfield to my front facing
southwest and highway 92, and a thick forested area to my rear northeast giving me ample shade from the afternoons intense sun. I have
a beautiful vista of varying shades of green forest to the south and the refreshing, though still warm, southerly wind is rejuvenating my tired
countenance (as well as keeping the bugs away).
So the highlight of the day, ready for this, passing by the home where John Wayne was born; Winterset Iowa. Having traversed this
country already several times in the past on bicycle, I occasionally find myself pedaling through a town or section that I had come through
on a prior trip. Winterset is one of those towns. I have been wreaking my brain all day on what trip it was that I passed through there (the
birthplace of John Wayne is not easily forgotten) but as of yet can't fully recall. I think it was only two years ago on the baseball trip when I
and Jim were riding south from Minnesota after seeing the Twins and heading toward Kansas City. But it could have been the first
transcontinental ride I did back in '89 shortly after my father had passed away. Whatever, I had to cruise by and snap a shot of the modest
little white square home where the Duke had his early beginnings. Stories I have heard of the iconic Hollywood western film star tell a
story of a man who never lost nor forgot his humble midwestern roots. Polite, friendly, respectful, down to earth. These are a few of the
terms that describe the man who appeared and starred in over 200 films over a career spanning six decades (maybe seven which I'm
sure if it is I will be corrected soon by my brother Mario or good friend Dan).
Today I actually broke down and decided to do a load of clothes, well the few that I have (the washer was only about a quarter full). And I'm
proud to say I did them in Winterset (I couldn't help but feel the Duke's presence there in that little old stuffy and dirty laundromat). While
my few articles of clothing were being swished around in soapy water (and brown afterwards) I went to the store next door and got a $.79,
32 oz fountain drink (what a deal). The young clerk about my sons age was keenly interested in my story of 'exotic' (yea, right) adventure
and when I spoke to him could not but reflect on my own children close to his age. My 3 boys are now all out of school and on to 'bigger
and better' things in life. I know it is so cliche to say, but where did the time go?  'La Vita e' un Sogno' (Life is a dream) like Pop repeated
over and again shortly before passing. We're here one brief flash of moment and gone the next. There's hardly even time to make plans
much yet reflect on life's passings before the second hand ticks it's final go around. Anyways, in typical midwestern fashion and with a
touch of class not seen in many young adults today, the young clerk, mesmerized by my travels,  bought me my $.79 fountain drink with the
comment 'The drinks on me'. How classic can you get in a town called Winterset and a moment I probably will never forget. This stuff only
happens in the midwest and in the town John Wayne was born only makes it that more special. Thank you Mr Clerk if you are reading this
know that whatever direction you are going in life, I believe it is with the right heading.
Anyways, during these long hot days while riding, I've been playing a mind game, relating the distance traveled thus far ridden (and
paddled) with the degree of completion most of us are accustomed to doing, weather in their career or otherwise. At this point of 50@50 I
am about 30% complete and at that point there are some comparisons that can't help but merit at least a brief reflection. At 30%
complete if I were a home builder I would be about done with the foundation. If I were a baseball pitcher intent on pitching a full game I
would have 2 & 2/3 innings in the books. If i were running a marathon I would be at mile 8; the Ironman somewhere around the bike
turnaround in Havi.  If I were a manicurist I would be done with finger three. If I'm working an 8 hour shift at the local Sizzler restaurant I'm
about at my first break time (Walmart employees as well). If I'm a politician elected to a four year term I'm beginning the second year, and
hopefully getting that namesake piece of legislation with my name on it buttoned up. If I'm a third grader I'm getting ready for the first
recess, oh joy!  If I'm a doctor I'm about ready to call it a day and head out for a round of nine. If its winter and I'm a skier and ready to
head out and make a half day of it. If I'm in college, well, I still have a long time to go. If I'm Jesus I'm still tending to Mom's sheep and
learning the trade of carpentry. If I'm Lincoln I'm still splitting logs. If I'm a butterfly I'm still a caterpillar. And the analogy that hits home the
most potent for me: if I'm a cook at Vince's on a Saturday night it is only 6pm (which means the big rush, if there is one is yet to come in).
If any readers out there want to add to this list of '30% complete' list please email, text, or call me and let me know as I would love to keep
this going. Ciao a presto.
One thing about rural roads in Iowa, there are more dead raccoons in the roadway than anyplace I have ever seen.
So it's the fourth of July. Did you take this opportunity to crown thy good with brotherhood? I hope so. Not sure whether I did or not.
So how did I spend my observance of the 236th anniversary of this great country we call America, well just like July 03, 2012. I can't even
imagine a better way to be celebrating this day other than what I'm doing right now, especially in the heart of the country, Iowa (a few
degrees cooler with a little less wind would make it even more primo) . For anyone who may not be aware, the United States was the first
republican form of government based on democratic principals since early Greece, nearly 2500 years it's predecessor. Against all odds
13 small colonies managed to declare their independence 236 years ago today and fend off, with an army of ragtag volunteers
comprised  mainly of Yeoman farmers and abject city dwellers led by a less than acclaimed colonel of one of the Kings far off subject
lands, for 5 years the greatest empire since the fall of Rome, their prior ruler and current belligerent, England. Victory was narrowly won
not because of military tactical genius (though Washington's strategy of a prolonged war of attrition was brilliant and the ultimately the key
to winning the war) nor superior resources, but because of shear hearted tenacity, hard work and resourcefulness, qualities that still to this
day define us as Americans. We proudly, though no doubt skeptically, had the audacity to declare to Mother Europe that "we hold these
truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, amongst
these are these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". Wow, what a eloquent statement by a man prone to spending too much on
fine wine and books! You talk about a slap in the face to the one who has cared and protected you since birth (Sorry Mama, but I'm outta
of here). The father of our great country, along with the other founding fathers (Jefferson, Adams (both of them), Hamilton, Burr, Madison,
Payne, etc were, contrary to the title of Tom Brokaw's book (no insult intended, it's a great book) the greatest generation to come along at
the greatest moment of history. And all Americans, no matter what age, gender, race, creed, religion, color, or political affiliation should
be thankful that they came along when they did. This is a great country that I believe still offers opportunity to those willing to make the
sacrifice and heed the challenge. And for one still not totally sold on the intervention of divine ordinance (especially in the guidance of
geopolitical affairs) I believe America still to be a bright shining beacon to the rest of the world, especially those still struggling to achieve
the individual freedoms we have secured at great cost, yet unfortunately so often take for granted. Are we perfect? Could Washington
walk on water (well perhaps he could have, especially on the thick muddy Potomoc alongside the nations capital so named after him)?
But as Americans we realize our imperfections and struggle to right them as this lengthy trial of self government evolves and continues in
its quest for that perfect state of balance. This, the first and longest lasting voice of the people is still, 236 years later after birth, an
experiment in the making. 'America the Beautiful' indeed. Happy fourth of July everybody. I know I couldn't ask for a better one myself,
even with all the flies and ants crawling over my exposed body.























Day 81  7/05/12
SP:  Fontanelle, IA
EP: Emerson, IA
DM: 61
TM: 5,235


Notes
Tonight's camp is about a mile north of the small SE Iowan town of Emerson and a few hundred yards north of St Route 34.  The town
cemetery is just to my left and it is surrounded by cornfields and dotted with large oak, elm and ash trees. A well cared for lawn with evenly
spaced headstones laid out in long rolling rows and decorated with colorful plastic flowers and small flapping flags carpet the grounds.
None of that though is important about this cemetery except for the fact that soon to be buried here, I presume, will be a young man of 25,
Sgt James Skalberg, killed in Afghanistan a week ago Wednesday when the vehicle he and 1st Lt Steven Prasnicki of Lexington, Va
were in hit an IED (Improvised Explosive Device). Skalberg graduated from Nishna Valley High School, I passed by there earlier today, in
2005 and attended Peru State College in Peru, Neb. He joined the Army in 2007 and was married with a little boy, both of whom are
living in Red Oak 10 miles east and the LSD for me today. The news was all over the local papers today and as I sit here right now can't
help but feel somewhat melancholy, though honored as well. Afghanistan was, like N Korea, somewhat of the forgotten war when
resources and attention were refocused for nearly ten years on Iraq all the while there were still brave men and women manning the front
lines there, the real front of the War on Terror. And the war there is still not over, as the deaths of Sgt Skalberg and Lt Prasniki attest to,
no matter how much Americans have turned their attention away. Sgt Skalberg was a brave and honorable hero and I can only presume a
good husband, caring father, beloved and respected son, cherished family member, and friend to all who knew him and now to the
country that honors him. The sacrifice he has made is the greatest gift one can give for his nation, and for that we are all personally and
forever in deep gratitude to him and his family. And though I am not sure these will be the sacred grounds upon which will rest his final
remains when returned, I feel honored to have paused and rested here this evening nonetheless. Emerson Iowa will forever be etched in
to my memory now and my deepest sympathies go out to his wife, son, family and friends.
Also in the local news today was a front page story reporting the near choking of Iowa governor Branstad at a celebratory conference in
San Pedro CA for the docking and resting place of the USS Iowa as a permanent museum. The battleship was the lead ship of her class
when commissioned in 1943 and saw action in WWII. She will be best remembered for carrying President Roosevelt across the Atlantic
to Casablanca en route to a crucial 1943 meeting in Tehran with British Prime Minister Churchill and Soviet leader Stalin.
Back to the important story now. It appears that the governor was rushed to a hospital after choking, and consequently vomiting, when a
carrot become stuck in his esophagus. His spokesman said that the whole ordeal was blown out of proportion and that the governor was
fine, just a little embarrassed. Now that we know all is well, how ironic for me that just two days ago he was telling me, in obvious
anticipation, about his upcoming trip to California for the celebration (I wish I had warned him about those larynx sticking California
carrots). The governor is a fabulous person and I am so sorry this unfortunate incident had to happen. But when speaking with him I got
the impression that right now he is enjoying all this unasked for attention as much as the rest of us.
Other than those two headline stories, not much to write about today other than the usual; continuing heat, humidity, SW winds, and
nonstop hills.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1VMpRHW5xk

I did see something today that was quite out of the ordinary compared to past days; a several mile section of energy producing wind
turbines. Now nothing out of the ordinary about these white giant rotating three bladed behemoths of energy production (they are all over
the country where the wind blows at a good clip) except that these stood out for me because they were surrounded by fields of corn for as
far as the eye could see.  Two alternative forms of energy (bio and thermal) living side by side and providing the nation with a means to
free its dependence ('addiction' according to George W Bush) from carbon based fossil fuels. I thought it was a pretty interesting
combination, especially out here in 'King Ethanol' corn filled Iowa.
Tonight's dinner is the usual with a little flair, if you can call it that. I am having my usual romaine salad with ripe juicy local tomatoes, rich
extra virgin olive oil, and a few onions, garlic and pinch of oregano for zest. But for the pasta I am doing something not yet done on
50@50 that on the baseball trip two years ago I did quite frequently: penne with Campbell's bean and bacon soup. Ok, I told you in a
precious days blog that I'm getting burned out and the thought of spending much time next to this hot stove is not very appealing. Hey, it's
easy and not bad of you doctor it up with a few spices and some Parmesan cheese.
Looking at my total mileage up to today, 5,235, if a mile were a foot, then I would have traveled exactly one mile so far since leaving
Juneau back on April 18. That is one mile of a 3 1/2 mile trip set to end in Honolulu next year after a 2,500+ mile row. Not too bad a start I
guess, but still a long, long ways to go.


























Day 82  7/06/12
SP:  Emerson, IA
EP: Elmwood, NE
DM: 65
TM: 5,301


Notes
I got to camp about a half hour ago and am still so hot and sticky I feel like, well, a hot sticky bun (I know, corny comparison). Today was
the granddaddy of miserable days, and I hope that the great granddaddy is not around anymore. The last roadside temp sign I read said
it was 104' and I believe that wasn't the hottest part of the day.(
see picture 1 below) My guess is it had to have been hovering around the
110' zone around 2pm today. I can't count the number of times I stopped at stores, churches, schools, houses and anyplace that had a
water spigot just to wet down my head, shirt, and fill my water bottles, of which I probably drank at least 3-4 gallons today. The humidity is
still high, of course this is the Midwest, but not like last week in Wisconsin when it was in the 90% range. Of course there were the usual
endless amount of rolling hills and this nonstop wind from the SW that I've been battling for over a week as I head that direction bound first
for Des Moines and now Lincoln (actually the headwind for me started  back in Minnesota when it began to blow from the SE resulting in
a few cool days).
Anyways I am camped in one of those treed oasis's in a never ending desert of cornstalks I've described in past entries,(
see picture 2
below
) except this one has nobody around and the only structures are a few old dilapidated and crumbling wood barns. This 'oasis' is
completely surrounded by 6'-8' cornstalks of which I was forced to trample a few to the ground in order to get my bike and trailer within its
confines, and I feel like I'm imprisoned in a cornstalk walled compound. The road (I'm at the SW corner of the junction of state routes 1 &
34) is only a few hundred yards away and there is little traffic so I'm taking a bit of solace from this heat by listening to the many variety of
birds, especially robins, that have taken up residence in all the tall oak and elm trees, and it seems are intent on telling me their life story.
A few moments ago I was forced to move my bike, and thus resting place, a few feet away where I have more shade under an old though
still robust oak tree. It is amazing to me now thinking back only a couple months ago when still making my way through N BC and the NW
rainy states of Washington and Oregon, how much I missed the sun and would pray (and I'm not a praying man) for the sun to come out
from behind the perma-overcast skies and warm my cold body and thus spirit. Now, I look for any opportunity available to hide and find
myself at times cursing the hot ball of burning hydrogen and helium at the center of our solar system. I remember back in N. BC (and this
is pretty funny for me now looking back) when I was basically freezing my culo off, saying to myself, "So, what's the big deal about global
warming? What could be that bad about heating the climate up a few degrees?".  Now the only thing going through my mind is "Wow! We
better do something about this global warming thing before the whole planet is ruined and future bike travelers like me turn in to dried
dates (sweet but not that juicy and refreshing)".  Everyday I talk with the local folks of these parts and they all tell me how unusual this is
and that if these awful conditions don't let up soon that the entire crop season will be lost, resulting in losses in the billions of $. As I said in
an earlier entry, it's a good thing that these corn and soybean crops have been genetically engineered to resist this intense heat and
prolonged drought, as by now the entire crop would be lost if they had not.
Ok, enough grumbling about the weather and discomfort of having to ride and live all day and night in such uncomfortable conditions.
Today's highlight had to be when I passed through the quaint, friendly, and historical town of Plattsmouth, a short distance from the Iowa
border as I crossed the Missouri river in to SW Nebraska state #12(
see pictures 3 & 6 below) around 11 am (temps were already in the
100's). I stopped under the shade of a gas pump island at a local gas station (I never stop anymore unless it's in the shade) to get
directions from a pick up truck that had just finished fueling up. There was a lady inside the cab (her husband was inside paying the bill)
and I asked her if there was anywhere in this small town I might be able to pick up a visor cap since I had lost mine just this morning (I lose
things practically every day it seems), the one given to me by the older fella and his daughter and granddaughter, who had also given me
a cool glass of ice tea and much appreciated company, a few days back. She said something I couldn't make out from inside the air
conditioned cab, and seeing my inability to hear what she had said, got out of the cab and in to the outside oven like conditions, walked
around the long truck, and gave me detailed instructions of how I might find a replacement cue ball ornament for my balding forehead.
Then, and here is why I am writing about this, she asked me for what purpose I was undertaking this trek and when I handed her a
brochure she reached in to her pocketbook (I know this is a pretty old term but I love it because my mother use to say it and thus reminds
me of her when I say or write it) and handed me a $20 bill. Wow!  I wasn't asking you for a donation to FRAANK, just directions to a store
so I could buy a cue ball cover. Her spontaneous receptiveness and instantaneous trust made me forget about the heat for a few
moments. I asked the lady if I could have her name to put on the donor website page and she said, "No, that wouldn't be necessary".  So I
asked what the name of the town it was we were in (remind you my thinking these days is a little obscured from all the heat as sometimes
I even forget what state I'm in) and with a little chuckle at my confused, yet honest, question responded Plattsmouth. Tomorrow we get to
post another donation on to the FRAANK donor website for $20 from an 'anonymous donor' in Plattsmouth NE.
A few moments later as I was heading out of Plattsmouth (no luck finding a replacement visor [cue-ball ornament]) I pedaled by a car
wash 'manned' by no less than a dozen high school girls (descriptive adjectives unnecessary) all wearing shorts on the side road.(
see
pictures 4&5 below
) I stopped to ask if I could borrow their hose to wet down my head (wet-down stop #9 of at least 30 for the day) and
was inundated with questions regarding the trip from the young ladies and the apparent moms as well who looked pretty young to me as
well but older than the girls (I guess you know you're getting old when the parents of highschool children look young). One of them asked
we take a picture all together in case I garner some fame (I got a good chuckle from that) after all this is complete (if it ever is complete). I
willingly obliged and wedged myself between 8-10 young, attractive high school girls, any of which were probably younger than my
youngest son. I promised them all that a copy of the photo would be sent to my 18 & 20 year old boys (Giuliano and Domenico, both of
whom I pleaded to come with me on this journey) just so they could see what they were missing (Hey Guys, any second thoughts now
about joining me?). I gave one of the moms a brochure of 50@50 and as I clambered back on to my bike one of the girls handed me a
cupcake as a apparent token of their appreciation for my stopping by.
I can't begin to put in to words how much these two seemingly minor acts of care, attention, and generosity meant to me. Again I am
reminded that it is in our daily interactions with others, both those close to us as well as perfect strangers, that set our mood and define
our image of the world, no matter how hot and uncomfortable the weather is.
You know, I'm really tired of ticks of which no less than 50 have already been picked off my uncovered body so far this afternoon. Next to
mosquitos, ticks are the most irritating insect of the outdoors. Flies (except for the biting kind), spiders, ants, nats, bats; none of them
really bother me that much. But there is something about a foreign creature attaching itself on to my skin and sucking my blood that just
gives me the willies.  I hope I don't end up with Lyme disease after this trip.
Was thinking about something today around noontime I was trying to decide which of the half dozen or so options I would choose for
lunch. Would it be the sandwich, taco, burger, pizza, or chinese place all within a block.  In these times of cheap and readily available food
most of us don't ever have to think about 'if' we will eat, but rather how, when, and where will we eat. That's really remarkable if you think
about it as for the entire history of humankind the quest for survival has centered around acquiring and maintaining adequate supplies of
commodities to eat and thus sustain the species. It's really only been in the last 40-50 years, especially the last 10-20, that really cheap,
poorly processed available food is everywhere. No matter how poor you are in this country, just about anyone can hold a sign up asking
for a handout (I've given to fellas on the street asking for money to buy food several times already on this trip) or dig under the couch
cushions for a buc or two of change and go to a McDonalds and get a dollar sandwich. It's a good thing this ubiquitous availability of food,
but also not so good a thing. Hunger, and especially famine, is probably one of the worst things for a person or group of people to go
through and have to endure. But with all this cheap, poorly prepared, in nutritious, and fatty food around people are eating more and
becoming less healthy, especially when combined with the small amount of physical exercise the average American has on a daily basis.
Most people I know eat out of habit, boredom, or even fear and not because they're really hungry (I know because I do it all the time).
Eating three square meals a day with constant snacking in between is ingrained in to our social consciousness; 'God forbid if we should
skip a meal, or even snack, once in a while. We might get sick'. No need to explain here the effects on the body (and to some extent
mind) and society as a whole of all this out of control consumption of poorly prepared food combined with low levels of physical activity,
except to mention the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 kids in America is considered obese today as measured by their BMI (body mass
index) due primarily to poor and excessive diet and inadequate amounts of exercise. Would we as parents be willing to allow our kids to
hang around with the wrong crowd at school? Smoke or abuse drugs and alcohol? Watch unlimited amounts of tv or play unsupervised
video games? Skip school whenever they like? Go to bed without brushing their teeth? Well, we hope not. Then why do we allow them to
become grossly overweight with all the accompanying health problems; type II diabetes, heart and cardiovascular disease, raised
cholesterol levels, skeletal and muscular damage, emotional distress and even suicidal tendencies? Why not just allow our kids to play,
without supervision and unknowingly, with loaded guns? By allowing our kids to become grossly overweight we are basically summoning
that child to a lifetime of health problems and even premature death, not to mention the economic cost to society due to the increased
care needed to treat those health problems. And I know its getting a bit too repetitive these days, but we as a society, and specifically
parents, need to be role models for our kids. The other day I was resting for a spell in front of a convenience store when a lady with a
couple young kids, both over weight (the mom as well) drove up in their air conditioned car got out and went in to the store and after a few
minutes came out with hands and arms so full of junk food and soda drinks (high fructose corn syrup, in practically everything we eat and
drink today, is one of the biggest contributors of type II diabetes) they couldn't even open the door to the car. So many people out there
still just don't get the  message either because it's not being communicated to them properly or they don't want to heed the warning.
Nobody wants to be told what to do, especially when it comes to raising their kids, and few of us like telling others what to do or how to
live their lives, especially when it comes to handling in a delicate manner the sensitive subject of weight. But when you see an obvious
and potential danger to another, especially a child, and turn your attention away, to me at least, you have done a gross injustice to that
person who is harms way and have demonstrated a thoughtless, even selfish inaction on your part. I believe that is why I have chosen this
relatively modern epidemic of childhood obesity as the main child awareness campaign for 50@50.
Big tragedy for me tonight; I ran out of olive oil. For a dago to run out of olive oil is like an Asian to run out of rice, a Mexican out of beans,
a Parisian out of coffee, a Wisconsonian out of brats, a Californian out of the latest trend, an alcoholic out of booze, or a cop out of donut
shops. If you can think of any others please text or e-mail me

























Day 83  7/07/12
SP: Elmwood, NE
EP: Adams, NE
DM: 52
TM: 5,353


Notes
Today was one of those days that just seemed to fly by, in fact all these days lately just seem to fly by. My mileage was about the lowest
I've had in some time but that's because I got caught up in Lincoln, the City on the Platte, visiting the capital building and it seems
everywhere I went here in the Cornhusker state friendly, down to earth folks just wanted to chat, mostly about my adventure but also about
the weather and topics totally unrelated to biking and 50@50. Yes Nebraskan's are a great bunch and I kind of wish I had more time here
though tomorrow I will reach the Kansas border and leave the only state through which my visit did not endure more than two days. I
entered at the SE border from Iowa yesterday and tomorrow I will leave through the SE border in to Kansas.
Tonight I am camped next to a small thicket of trees on my NW side which I have no clue as to the type(and Nebraska being the 'Arbor
State' I'm sure there are many different species) and surrounded again by cornfields on every other side.(
see picture 1 below) The
cornstalks here in Nebraska are just beginning to sprout their little 4-5" inch ears of the yellow/golden grain that has so many uses today
from cattle feed to fuel additive to sweetener and in my case here, concealing my presence from highways and homes.  I am feeling
better now than I've felt in a few days as the temps today came down at least 5-10', primarily because the wind shifted from the SW to the
NW. Ahhhh, finally a bit of relief, especially after yesterdays punishing 110' temps. At the moment I am sitting on my flimsy Coleman stool,
pecking out these words on my electronic devise, and enjoying immeasurably the cool breeze coming off the hundreds of miles of
northern crop fields just to reach me here in SE Nebraska. After countless times cursing headwinds on this never ending odyssey, all I
have to say at this moment is, "Thank you wind". This is how I like it; warm, even hot compared to most, but not so hot that comparisons to
the surface of the sun (or Arizona) start being made.
One of the most incredible experiences that anyone with any interest in physical landscapes, geology or just having plain old fun can do is
rafting the Grand Canyon. Whether by raft, hiking to the bottom, or just marveling from one of the outlooks along the southern rim, a visit to
this immense, majestic canyon cut out over millions of years by a single river (the Colorado [red color river]) is as captivating an
experience as can be had in this short life, and one not to be missed by anyone with the opportunity to do so. The first time I went there
was when I was a young boy with my family and will never forget that awestruck sensation when I looked over the rim down more than a
mile to the river and across to the north rim more than a dozen miles away. My first thought was, of course being a kid of teenage years,
"Wow! Evil Kenevil jumped this on his motorcycle?"  But as the years progressed and the many opportunities came to hike and eventually
raft this enormous cut through a mile of ancient bedrock formed billions of years ago when the earth was still a hot melting pot of lifeless
volcanic activity, I began to appreciate more the incredible natural phenomena that lay virtually at my doorstep. I know, you're probably
asking yourself why am I writing about this now while I'm sitting on a Coleman stool under the shade of some unknown trees in the middle
of King Ethanol corn country in SE Nebraska. Well the first time I rafted the Grand was in 1997 and since then have done it two other
times. All three times have been in summer and early fall when the temps down at the bottom of the Canyon can reach as high, and even
higher, than what I've experienced the last several days here in the American Midwest. In heat like that the body of course sweats a lot
and when you're relaxed and lying down and the wind blows over your hot, sweaty, and preferably naked (or near naked) body, you feel a
natural cooling and refreshing sensation all over, as if the wind is enveloping you and taking over all your senses. I've heard it best termed
a 'silky breeze' and the feeling is as if a blanket of silk is being brushed over your body. Of course I have no idea whether or not it feels
like silk as I've never slept with silk sheets much yet had them brushed over me. But I do believe that the sensation of a warm wind over
the body is as great a feeling as can be had, whether at the bottom of the Grand Canyon or in a field of corn somewhere in the Midwest
like right here, right now.
I was thinking earlier today while pedaling across this never ending rolling sea of corn and soybean that eventually one day I would like to
write a book, not because I think myself a good writer (great writers are born and good writers made through discovery of their talent and
endless amounts of practice honing their tools of the trade. Have you ever seen or heard a good writer write or speaker speak? It's as if
the perfect words travel from their minds to their fingertips or mouth and out the pen or microphone with about as much conscious effort
as it takes me to resist a donut these days [speak of which I had a delicious one this morning, covered with chocolate frosting and with
raspberry filling]), nor to gain profit (if money were my motivation in life I wouldn't be out here pedaling about the country several times
over and besides, there are very few writers who can actually make a living doing what they do) nor for fame (I'm a Capricorn, an earth
sign, and way too down to earth to be compelled or driven towards fame), but rather so I can tell my story, of which I believe there is one to
tell. I believe most of us have a compelling story to tell but unfortunately so few do. In fact how many people even keep a daily diary
anymore? Probably very few and that is unfortunate because those stories will never be passed on, even if it's only to your children or
grandchildren someday. How much I would have loved to have read my grandparents story of when they came to the New World from the
Old Country back in Sicily. Or my maternal grandmothers story of what my mother was like when she was a teenager (ok, maybe I don't
want to hear the details of that story). You don't need to be a John Steinbeck or Mark Twain to write a good book, heck you don't even
have to be a so so writer to write as far as I can tell from all the trashy books I see published today. Writing does not come easy to me
(but put me in a kitchen and....well I won't go there) nor do I suspect it does to many of us.  But with just average writing skills and a desire
to tell your story almost anyone can write a book. And with the internet today it doesn't even have to be picked up by a major publisher. I
was talking with Dan the other day, the father of Dakota who is one of two beneficiaries of the 50@50 fundraising efforts, and with as
much as he has on his plate right now all he can think about is how he can use these challenging times he is going through now to help
others later on. He is doing it mainly by chronicling daily updates on Dakota's health and later on, I hope, will put it all together, using his
articulative ability to narrate, in to a book.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izgDAz64Tmc

Today I visited the 12th capital of the 50@50 self powered tour, Lincoln Nebraska. It is without a doubt the largest and tallest of the
capitals thus far visited.(
see pictures 2 & 3 below) The gold domed tower in the middle of the structure stood over 14 stories high and I
took the small 3-4 person max., 1950's style elevator that had that musty gear grease odor like it had been around for a while and been
overhauled a time or two, up all 14 stories. At the top there was a narrow walkway that led out to a caged in overlook facing westward,
and out over the town of Lincoln and  vista of endless green covered flat plains of corn dotted with periodic outcroppings of trees.(
see
picture 4 below
) Nothing spectacular but beautiful in its own right. Afterwards I went to look around the inside and was overtaken with the
feeling of being in a dark, somewhat scary dungeon as there were few windows anywhere and the hallways had stone arch entryways
leading down dark corridors and narrow spiraling staircases that lead to still more dark dank spaces above and below. The only thing
missing were the bronze armored suits in every corner.
Being a Saturday of course there was nobody around in an official capacity, whether on the governors office or elsewhere, so I asked the
security lady, Meghan, if she would pose with me for a photo to put on our FRAANK website and she obliged.(
see picture 5 below) We
talked for a little while and then I found my way out of the dark cave like state house and back outside in to the bright hot muggy day. #12
is in the books and now it's on to Topeka Kansas, lucky # 13.

























Day 84  7/08/12
SP: Adams, NE
EP: Seneca, KS
DM: 72
TM: 5,425


Notes
For the first time on 50@50 I have dropped below the 40' N. Lat. line. No wonder it's so darn hot. When I left the Lynne canal I was around
the high 50's and when I got up in to the Yukon I believe my most northern point was somewhere close to 61' N Lat.  So I am sitting right
now over 20' further south than a few months ago up in N BC when I was freezing my culo off. Of course that was late April and now were
in mid July almost, but to drop over 20' is really quite a bit when you think about because there is 90' separation between the equator and
the north pole so that's nearly a quarter of the distance.
Tonight I am camped beneath a scraggly old tree that from the shape of its leaves looks to be a Cottonwood but I know it probably isn't as
I think Cottonwoods only grow in Arizona but I have no way of telling.(
see picture 1 below) I wish I were better at identifying all these trees
but I'm not and other than spending lots of time and precious phone battery life investigating the types of trees, I have no way of finding
out. Maybe I should buy a book on the different species of trees here in the Midwest. But then I would have to carry it with me right now
and with all these hills I've had the last couple weeks, am looking to shed weight not take more on. Anyways, back to camp. I am only a
short distance south of St route 36 in NE Kansas and at the most a mile east of the town of Seneca. Two years ago on the baseball trip I
remember passing through here about this same time of year with Jim on the baseball trip. It was hot then and it is hot now. But today it
cooled down considerably as a pretty powerful storm blew through unleashing some big winds and intense rain which went on for most
the afternoon. The brunt of it hit me when I was stopped for lunch at a Subway shop (the only place to eat there) in Pawnee City NE. The
wet stuff came down in torrents for about an hour and I wisely decided to wait it out while munching on my pathetic sandwich (I really don't
like Subway sandwiches) and recharging my cell phone battery. Once back on the bike it rained off and on and though I was soaking wet
it actually felt pretty good after surviving the heat wave of the last week plus. All the talk I overheard amongst the farmers centered around
this glorious and much needed precipitation, but with the caveat that if more is not coming, and soon, than to no avail as this years crop
will be lost. It's hard for the average person not from these parts to understand how much these hard working, dedicated people here
depend on their annual harvest to sustain themselves and the local economies. If the harvest is good then they pay their bills, save and
invest for next years crop. If it's not good, or completely threatened by severe drought such as is happening now, then all may be lost. The
genetically modified seed has eliminated most of the threats that for all of history has plagued farming, drought and insects, and without
the need of heavy chemical usage. But even GM seed has its limitations. One thing I've noticed about the Midwest is that people don't live
on the high and mighty. They are simple people with basic needs who have chosen they're life here because of various reasons but
mainly because it is who they are and they appreciate the rural country life. Most farmers do not do it because it is a lucrative career, as it
is not. The boom in corn due mainly to ethanol is attractive, but not like so many like to believe. Most these farmers were here long before
ethanol and will be long after, just like their parents did and their grandparents before them.
One good thing about the drought here and really the entire western half of the country, except Alaska, is that there are very few
mosquitos compared to prior years. I can't recall putting on big juice even once because of them. The few times I did was because of
pesky flies or persistent crawling ticks.
This afternoon I crossed in to state #13, Kansas,(
see picture 2 below) and tomorrow I will arrive in to it's capital in Topeka. The following
day I should enter #14, Missouri, and a day later it's capital in Jefferson City. Wow, things are progressing right along, I guess. It's hard to
explain how tired I really am, not physically so much, though my left knee has been bothering me for a few days, but more so mentally and
emotionally. I am so tired of doing the same thing over and over everyday that all I can think about is finishing this seemingly endless
journey and going back to my normal life, but I know I've still so long to go. I miss my family and life back home very much. I have attached
a small flag of all the states I've been through on a narrow black fiberglass pole on the back of my trailer so people can see where I've
been and perhaps garner a few donations for the FRAANK fundraising effort.(
see picture 3 below) But equally important for me the flags
provide reassurance that I am making progress toward the finish of this endeavor. Enduring this long ordeal is turning out to be like the
stages of a bad or temporary relationship. At first all is new and exciting, then after a while you become use the routine and get
comfortable. Then things start to get a little boring so you look for alternative ways to bring back some excitement. And finally you just get
so tired that all desire is the end and to move on. I believe I'm about at that point where all I can see is the end of this relationship with
50@50.
Back in N Dakota I passed by the town where Lawrence Welk grew up, and last week through the town John Wayne was born, Winterset
IA. Today, I feel so privileged to have pedaled through the town Larry the cable guy had his beginnings, Pawnee City NE.(
see picture 4
below
) It was hilarious as I thought I saw Larry several times though it was just guys who looked like him. Not sure whether they just dress
like him or he's not acting and really is like that.























Day 85 7/09/12
SP: Seneca, KS
EP: Topeka, KS
DM: 85
TM: 5,510


Notes
6:30pm. What a day today.  There is so much to write about right now but I am so ticked off at the fact that I left the rainfly to my tent back
at a hamburger joint earlier today that I don't know how to even begin. When I got in to Topeka today I stopped at a Hardee's hamburger
place to a get a sandwich before proceeding to the capital where a meeting had been scheduled. Well last night it had rained and the
cover for my tent, the rainfly, was wet this morning so according to protocol, I didn't pack it in to trailer like most days and instead kept it
on the outside of my bike until later in the day when I would have a few moments to put it out to dry (once my trailer is packed I usually
don't open it till the end of the day. Snacks and the stuff I need throughout the day I keep in two bags on the rear of my bike). Well those
few moments were at the Hardee's hamburger place. After lunch I was running a little behind time for the scheduled meeting at the
governors office in the capital, just a couple miles away, and in hurry to get back on my bike and go and, you guessed it, forgot the rainfly
which I had hung on a wood dumpster fence behind the restaurant. I didn't realize I had left it until a few moments ago when I brought out
my tent and realized the rainfly was not there. I called the restaurant and the manager on duty was not very pleasant or understanding to
say the least. After pleading with her for sometime to see if it was possible for someone to go check if it was still there, all the while being
condescendingly reprimanded by her for leaving my items draped over their property, she finally told me that if there was time she would
have someone on her staff go check around for it and to call back in a half hour, "but no guarantees. It is not our responsibility for any lost
or stolen items!" "Oh, how kind and thoughtful of you madam Queen Hardee" I thought to myself. Well I did call back shortly ago and she
told me that a cook had gone out to look for it and found no sign of it. So now I'm camped with a tent with no rain cover and sunk, or more
appropriately 'soaked' if it rains. I'm not sure how to proceed from here. I could go back there tomorrow morning and look for myself or I
could go on to Kansas City and buy a new tent, though I know I won't find one nearly the level of quality that this one is being in the
midwest where there are no quality camping product stores like out west. The tent is starting to show its wear, and back in Wisconsin
when I had spent the night on the deck of some fellow biker friends I had met that day (see day 72) their cute but ornery chocolate brown
lab puppy had found his way to it while I wasn't looking and left a few bite marks through the mesh fabric, but nothing that a little duck tape
couldn't repair. It's inevitable losing things while traveling like this but it's one thing when you lose a pair of glasses or a spoon or visor cap
and quite another when you lose your shelter.




















Day 86 7/10/12
SP: Topeka, KS
EP: Kansas City, MO
DM: 75
TM: 5,585


Notes
I'm having a hard time getting going on this because I'm so burned out on doing this everyday and my enthusiasm for anything and
everything is AWOL. I feel like I need an injection of mood boosters right now, something to kick me in the tush and get me motivated. So
when I feel like this the only way to get started is to explain where I'm at and then possibly the mood will lighten and thoughts begin to
appear. Tonight's camp is, where else, another soybean field, just like last night and the night before that. It is what I refer to as an 'urban
camp' because basically I'm in  middle class suburbia and only 10-15 miles south of the spread out metropolitan area of Kansas City. I've
told people in the past when they ask where I camp that I could be camping in your backyard and you wouldn't even know I was there. Well
this is one of those camps as their homes are literally a short stones throw away. Two years ago on the baseball trip Jim and I rode in to
NW Kansas City to see the Royals (ballpark 22 of 30) and took local transit to the park which was SE of Kansas City. It took us nearly 2
hours on a bus to get there so my memories of Kansas City are of a very large spread out metropolitan area. That was on the back my
mind when I started figuring out how I was going to get from Topeka Kansas to Jefferson City Missouri. I knew I did not want to go through
another major cluster of city life, so my plan was to short circuit all the madness to the north by staying in the southern burbs. And that is
how I find myself here, squeezed between home subdivisions and under the takeoff of Johnson County Airport, next to a field of beans
with a landscape yard to my west and a middle class neighborhood less than a hundred yards to my east. Yes, urban camping is possible
if you have gps and are comfortable knowing that people are all around. This is what I like to refer as 'hiding' more than camping. But it
works. And tonight's camp is filled with a beautiful view of 6" soybean plants (they should be much bigger but the drought and heat has
been tough on them as well as me)(
see picture 1 below) and lots of native trees and occasionally overhead a small plane taking off from
the nearby airport. The sounds are varying birds, including a hawk in the tree above me, with a nearby dog yapping (dogs always know
when I'm camped nearby) and of course the constant midwest wind blowing the branches and leaves around from the treetops. Deer are
all over the bean fields and dart in and out of the surrounding tree lines.
Well yesterday I lost my rainfly to the tent, making my tent useless, and today it was my solar charger, the same one I have bragged about
to everyone for the last 3 months since leaving Juneau. Apparently it was not bungeed down tight enough on the back of my bike because
somewhere it wiggled out and off. No one to blame but myself though my ego is just dying to blame the awful roads here in Kansas which
have seen no improvement since leaving Iowa and Nebraska. I made a worthwhile attempt to see if I could locate it by biking (and walking
[yes, the hills are that steep]) about a couple miles back a gravelly washboard road that google map sent me out. Also this morning I
made another attempt to see if I could locate my tent cover by biking back about 6 miles to the Hardee restaurant where I had left it the
day before. My attempt though was in vain and I'm left trying to figure out what to do for another tent and why anyone would take a tent
rainfly hanging from a dumpster enclosure fence at a fast food joint, as it is of no practical use to anyone except the tent owner...me. Oh
well, it's gone now and I need to get a new tent before the rains come which are certain to be here, if not in the Midwest than the Ohio
River Valley or New England for sure. As I sit here now a multicolored hot air balloon just passed overhead heading south,(
see picture 2
below
) I assume towards the airport, with all it's huffing and puffing sounds those things make from the injections of helium to keep them
elevated. I can actually see the yellow blasts of flame blast out when the pilot hits the gas. Gee, I almost feel like I'm back home where
those things are always floating above our home on their southward journey from Sedona carrying a basket full of tourists.
Yesterday, though I didn't have a chance to journal it because I was so upset about leaving my tent cover behind, I had some company
from a couple of friendly kids who had seen me depart the bike path to set up camp a little south of Topeka. Cameron 9 and Dillion 8, two
outgoing, but ordinary, boys barefoot and dressed with nothing but shorts(
see picture 3 below) (the way all kids should be dressed in
these hot days of summer) and with pocketfuls of matches (I questioned them about how they had come by those as matches, dry
conditions, and boys are a bad mixture) came by a little after I had set up camp and as is typical of all normal kids that age with
curiosities bigger than imaginations (which are pretty big themselves), inundated me with a thousand questions about this or that. What
was I doing? What was in my trailer? Why was I doing it? What do you cook with? What do you sleep in? Etc, etc. I am so use to being
alone these days, especially at camp, that at first I wasn't too appreciative of this intrusion in to my most special part of the day. But after a
while I warmed up to their presence and tried to answer all their questions. When I realized that I had lost the tent rainfly, I believe their
company actually helped me get over the shock. They were so friendly (pretty unusual considering they were with some 'stranger-danger'
[I hate that term] man on his bicycle) and respectful and reminded me so much of my boys when they were that age. Part of me, and I think
I told them this, wanted to take them with me on this trip so I could teach them lessons of living on you're own out here as well as the
lessons of life, just like I had taught my own boys. Looking back now, the most memorable time of my life was on those many hikes and
bike rides with my boys, and would give anything to be able to have them little again and repeat all those things over again, while
eliminating some of the many mistakes I made, usually being too strict and taking out my moodiness on them. Oh well, life doesn't give us
2nd chances often and teaches us to be appreciative of those special moments when we have them. I can't wait to have a lot of grand
kids someday so I can do all those things again. Maybe I won't wait for that and adopt a disadvantaged child, or two, after this trip if I can
talk Patrice in to it. Anyways, after watching the boys burn termites for a while in and old timber rail using the matches they had somehow
come upon, eventually the father of one of them called them home and that was the last I saw of Cameron and Dillion. I wish I had their
address so I could send them a postcard and tell them how much I appreciated their company.
Anyways, yesterday I made it to state capital building #13 in Topeka Kansas and though I did not get a chance to meet the governor or Lt
governor,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLSyQ-T5-WY

did meet briefly with the state attorney general in his office across the street from the capital. The highlight was getting to sit in the
governors chair, Gov Brownback was in Europe trying to make a deal for the sale of aerospace equipment much of which is
manufactured here in Kansas, and with the thought,  just like a little kid, of spinning like a top in the swivel chair, pretend I was the
governor (no thanks but politics is not in my blood). Denise, the governors assistant was very friendly and helpful both to me and Patrice
who had arranged my visit ahead of time.(
see pictures 4, 5, 6, & 7 below) Now it's on to Jeff. City Mo.
One last comment on Kansas as I prepare to leave state 13 today; wind, hills & heat, oh my! Wind, hills & heat, oh my! Wind, hills & heat,
oh my!





























Day 87 7/11/12
SP: Kansas City, MO
EP: La Monte, MO
DM: 82
TM: 5,667
Week 11      WM: 466   TM: 5,485       AVG. Per Day: 66.3 - 71.2 miles         



Notes
7pm. I'm feeling a bit better today, probably because I didn't lose anything (at least which I don't know about yet) and I have left Kansas.
The roads have improved much since crossing the border this morning (there are even bike lanes again) and the hills have slightly leveled
off, or so they appear.(
see picture 1 below) Perhaps its just a byproduct of the better roads. Most of the morning I continued on that 143rd
St through the southern burbs of KC and then 150 to state route 50 which is what I am on now and plan to stay on till Jeff. City. It was still
hot today though nothing like last week in Iowa and Nebraska when I think it was possible to fry an egg on the road. Today I spent 7 hours
pedaling and as usual in to a moderate headwind, 5-10mph, but still a headwind. I'm starting to believe I have upset the wind gods,
probably about my negative speech towards Iowa, and have now decided to teach me a lesson or two about who's in charge out here.
These winds of course pale in to comparison to what I rode in up in BC...oh so long ago it seems. This trip for me is the ultimate test of
mental tolerance. I am, by nature, a person who when starts a project likes to complete it ASAP, and then rest the mind for a spell in
anticipation of project B. I'm not sure what you call someone like that; Type A?  Whatever it is I want to finish this thing, and now. But
unfortunately I am forced to being 'stuck to the grindstone' while each slow pedaled mile is achieved against these difficult riding
conditions. Perhaps that's the lesson I should be learning from all this; to be patient and allow the course of action of what is suppose to
happen...happen. I can't control everything, heck I can't even control a few things like keeping tabs of my gear. Just like the wind up in BC
taught me to be patient and take each day as it comes, so this incredibly long and arduous journey is telling me to relax, take it slow and
eventually you will reach your goal. As I said before, this is not how I'm hard wired to act, but there is no way to control this situation if I
want to succeed. This whole concept of giving up your belief and behavior patten to control the stuff in life that comes about and allowing
the forces at be, to be, was thrown at me after my son's accident 15 years ago. It's something I very rarely allow my mind to regress back
to much yet speak about it to others, because the hurt is so much that I dread the thought of waking back up again the painful memories. I
believe the best way to forget about a distasteful episode in life is to stuff it so far back in the memory banks that it can't get out, and if it
try's to wiggle it's way free again to beat it back. Without going in to detail, it was a time in my life when I felt most isolated, guilty,
traumatized, and without a fiber of my soul not in anguish. It was the only time in my life when I believed it would be better to be dead than
to have to endure another day. To give an analogue , I was kicked in the groin and while slumping forward in to a ball in intense pain, life
came with a second blow to the back of the head. Of course being the person I am, it was difficult to come to terms that the situation was
really out of my control and, with the exception of some relatively minor details, couldn't remedy it. What a realization it is in life to know
that you are not in control, that only powers way beyond what you are capable of thinking or doing are you're only means of hope. Like I've
said before in this diary, I'm not a very religious man. I don't pray on a regular basis nor do I firmly believe there is a heavenly father and
son watching over me and the other 6.5 billion people on this earthly plain. I'm not even sure if there is any order to this universe at all and
if there is whether I'm included in that plan or sequence. What I do believe is that I am not alone, that some source of knowledge or energy
is at play other than what my weak little body, mind, and spirit and that at times I can summons upon to act and lend guidance. Call it what
you will; for most it is God. It is there when I truly need it and if I silence my mind and inhibit my control it will help guide the way for me. I
never have understood this thing called 'the power of prayer'. To whom are we praying? Our heavenly father? Wouldn't it be better in
difficult times, in fact all times, to be quiet and listen rather than speak, especially if it's to our Father, who most likely knows already what
we are going through and need. Most of us talk too much anyhow. I have kids and I don't really like to hear them asking for this and that. I
know what they are going through most the time and I give assistance when I believe it is useful for them and do nothing when I think it is
best for them to work it out them self. The best way for me to listen for gods word is to shut up and go for a run, hike or bike ride, or
anyway or place that helps to shut up the pesky confusing voices in our mind telling us how to control the situation. I think body and mind
are two seperate components that work together for the betterment of the other, and one without the other becomes disfunctionate.
Everything in life seems to function in pairs. OMG, how did I get off on this. This is suppose to be a travel journal not a spilling out of my
guts. Sorry friends, if anybody is reading this. I think being alone all these days is starting to damage my mind.
Ok, camp. Camp tonight is, yet again, in another cornfield. I am actually between two fields at the edge where a 30' thick line of natural
vegetation  divides each. I am on the corn side as I said before and this corn is not doing so well. Most of it is dying if not already dead.
(
see picture 2 below) By all accounts from what I hear from the farmers in stores talking and read in the papers, this year is a total bust.
The stalks and hanging ears of corn should be twice as big as they are now. Some fields I pedal by are completely yellow and dead.
Others, like this one, stunted and in obvious heat related strain. The ground is so dry it feels like I'm back in Arizona. Today I rode through
a little scattered shower but nothing even close to what is needed to bring these crops back. I'm not sure exactly what lies ahead for these
prudent, hard working farmers and ultimately the consumer, you and I. Hopefully, and I'm sure they will, the federal government will step in
and help bridge the gap between this year and hopefully a productive harvest next year. For all you diehards who believe any government
intervention is a front against the values of this country and Adam Smiths beliefs of unfettered commercial enterprise, I suggest you come
out here now and see first hand the condition of things. By the way, chance of rain tonight, 0%. Which actually for a guy like me without a
rainfly for his tent is quite comforting to know.


























Day 88  7/12/12
SP: La Monte, MO
EP: Holts Summit, MO
DM: 78
TM: 5,745




Notes
7pm. Looking at the total mileage thus far and putting it in to practical terms, if I were riding with the aim of just crossing the country by
now I would have already rode the equivalent distance of going from LA to NY and back again. And If I am successful in my endeavor to
travel to all 50 US capitals then it will take, in terms of mileage, three round trip trips from LA to NY. So in other words I am about 1/3
complete 50@50 and about 40% done with this first 49@49 part. Looking at it one way I feel good and proud knowing I have reached, in
some respects, a milestone of this journey. But to think about how far I've come and knowing that it has to be done twice again, well, lets
just say I feel like I could start to cry. All those cold, windy days getting through BC and rainy miserable times in the NW. Then snow in
Montana and sleeping in road culverts surrounded by cattle droppings. And then there were the bees in N Dakota. Heat, wind, and hills in
Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas. Oh man how am I gonna be able to endure doing this two more times. A couple years ago I said the
baseball trip was the hardest thing I had ever done but as I feel now it pales in comparison to this. During that journey I had breaks to
reenergize and then continue on. I have allotted no breaks for 50@50 because there is no time for breaks if I expect to finish before
Thanksgiving. If I had to do it over again I would have made my departure date from Juneau earlier. But while planning this out a major
concern was getting caught in a late season storm, which up at that latitude one can only imagine how an Arizona desert rat would have
fared. If there's anybody out there foolish enough to be considering a 50 state self powered trek then please heed my advice; don't do it! If
you are of the obstinate minded type then I strongly urge you to get started earlier than I did so you can have some down time along the
way and, good luck.
So as is I will probably be cutting it very close crossing two mountain ranges (the Rockies in late October and the Sierra Nevada's in early
November). If winter comes early to either one of these formidable crossings then I'm sunk. Both had incredible snowfall two years ago,
but last year nothing. What's in store for this year is anybody's guess. So the luxury of taking a week or two off and flying back home to
reenergize the batteries is out. Geez, even a half day off now is out of the question. What would help though is a wind direction change
from the nearly constant headwinds I've had since leaving St Paul nearly two weeks ago. It seems no matter what direction I have been
traveling there is a headwind, today being no exception. East, west, south or north, it makes no difference. In two weeks I've had two half
days with tailwinds. The rest of the time it's blowing in my face. Today on the stretch between Sedalia and Jeff City I had had enough. Hot,
tired and dehydrated I lashed out with every pent up frustration I could muster, yelling at the top of my lungs and with every curse word I
had learned over 50 years of hearing a lot of them, "No, you are not going to win! I will defeat you no matter how much your aim is to take
me down. Come on, that's all you got? What a joke!", and so on and so on. Yes, I was screaming at my king adversary these days, the
wind (actually my chief adversary is my mind but I still need it). A sad state of affairs indeed. I don't know how quite to explain it except that
when I was done yelling at a totally inanimate force of nature, I actually felt better. And though I may have been imagining it,  the wind I
believe let up a little. I'm not usually one that resorts to using force, verbal or nonverbal, to get what I desire. But in this case it may have
worked.
Today was another miserable day for riding as temps neared the 100 mark and winds of course were out of the east, my direction of
travel. The hills since Wisconsin that have causing me such grief continue on even though I was riding a major highway (US route 50). As
I've said before the only part of the day I look forward to is now when I can relax and cool down. My appetite has declined, probably due to
the heat, and I think I'm losing some weight. Not sure yet whether that's a good or bad thing. I still have a lot of body mass to carry me a
long ways even if I were to stop eating completely for a while, so I'm not really concerned at this point. I hope no one thinks I'm trying to
overdramatize any of this because I'm not. I am just plain old pooped out and the only way to get out the frustration is by writing about it.
Tonight's dinner was great. My typical salad with crisp romaine lettuce and two juicy Roma tomatoes and the kicker; a ripe tasty avocado.
Delicious. I also finished the rest of an outstanding loaf of bread I had bought yesterday morning while it was still warm from the oven at a
grocery store named Cosentino's (no relation to the San Jose store, or so they told me). The main course was smoked ribs I picked up
from a store here in Holts Summit. Usually I don't care much for ribs mainly because of all the sweet sauce that they are smothered in, but
these didn't have that. Just the flavoring of the wood in which they were smoked. Delicious as well.
Tonight's camp is another urban camp, Holts Summit, and one where again I am almost literally in someone's back yard. There are
homes a short stones throw away but yet I am concealed by a thick row of vegetation making my presence unknown and invisible. It was
late my getting here so I didn't have time to get out far, hence my choice of an urban camp. I don't do these because I like to but rather out
of necessity.
Today's highlight was my arrival in to the Missouri state capital in Jefferson City.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDyR33NKHs8

As are most of capital buildings it was located on a hill, and this one overlooking the Missouri River to its north. There were fountains
around the structure and a stately dome that could be seen for miles in every direction. I headed to the governors office to register my
'official' arrival to capital # 14 of the 50@50 self powered tour (SPT) and met with the governors director of constituent affairs, Barb.(
see
pictures 1, 2, & 3 below
) We spoke for probably a half hour mostly about the trip but also regarding FRAANK, our fundraising goals and
how we hope to be successful at achieving those goals. Afterwards we went in to the governors office (he was gone from the office for the
day) and we posed for a couple pics, one under the wall mural of Mark Twain, Missouri's home boy. After leaving the building I spent a
few minutes by one of the fountains soaking my head and wetting my shirt to try to fend off for a while longer the intense impact of the still
lingering afternoon heat. And then I headed on my way again, crossing the Missouri river to the northern side and towards state capital
#15, Springfield Illinois where I hope to arrive in a couple more days.



























Day 89  7/13/12
SP: Holts Summit, MO
EP: Farber, MO
DM: 67
TM: 5,812




Notes
7pm. Let it rain! Around 4:30 this afternoon the wet stuff started coming down and up to now it hasn't let up. My bet it's rained close to 2"
so far. Of course it's probably too little too late for the crops, but it still feels good. It started raining when I pedaled in to the little town of
Farber, only 5 miles before my planned LSD (Last Stop of the Day) in Vandalia. I found cover under a 3' awning of a long ago closed for
business corner store and gas station. At first I thought it was going to be a short intense Arizona type monsoon (15-20 minutes and
gone). But after about an hour of huddling next to my bike with a tarp wrapped around me trying to avoid the cold splash coming off the
roof, chilly 30mph winds and sudden hair raising slaps of thunder following very close flashes of bright lightening from the protracted
tempest another course of action was needed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SJIEwg7d7Q

So I waited for a little letup in and I took off, only to get nailed again just a half mile away. I stopped under the porch of an unoccupied
home just off the side of the road and dug out the lite blue vinyl windbreaker I had picked up back in Billings Montana , my only defense
against such elements as these, and set out again towards my LSD goal. Again I waited for a let up and once it did I was back out but the
rain came bursting from above again accompanied by a heavy wind from the direction of my travel. Now I was not only soaked but forced
to pedal in to a very strong headwind. I spotted an old abandoned warehouse along the side of the road with a open loading dock door
the size of two truck trailers and decided to check it out. Once inside I knew this would have to do for the evening as I was unsure how
long this storm would continue on for and I, without a tent rainfly, am in need of adequate cover in case it decides to rain all night. So
tonight's camp is in this apparition  of a  metal, post & beam constructed warehouse the size of a major city airport terminal.(
see picture 1
below
) One can only imagine in it's heyday the teams of busy workers that once use to fill this now hollow shell, shouting to each other and
no doubt joking around as most blue collar working  men do when together whether at work or on a Sunday afternoon outing on the boat
ostensibly to catch fish.  Or the arrival of trains pulling up alongside the building to be unloaded of whatever it was that was stored here,
most likely grain or livestock or trucks idling on the loading platform waiting to be loaded to so they could begin their delivery.
The corrugated metal roof is leaking in several areas but where I've decided to locate for the night it is dry. In one particular corner of the
building, where in a gushing torrent the cool water is being funneled through a basketball size hole in the roof, I took tonights shower. It felt
refreshing and satisfying having for the first time in months a high volume 'shower head' rather than the spit and squirt that trickles from my
shower bag. From where I am sitting now my only view is out the 15' by 20' bay loading door that is like a movie screen at the drive-in
theater.(
see picture 2 below) All is dark inside the warehouse here and it's as if I'm watching a feature movie from my car seat, the tale of
which is an explosive red, orange and purple mixed sunset with periodic motions of flocks of blackbirds in flight across the screen and an
occasional car or truck whizzing by on the highway with it's headlamps breaking the darkness here in my large immobile vehicle. This is
the first movie I've watched in a long time and am enjoying it immensely. I'm also not alone here as a little while ago a family of possums
scampered their way across the building in single file only about a hundred feet away. And when I first got here the only sounds were
those from the large drops of rain crashing on the corrugated roof and the splashing of water on the concrete floor from the leaks in that
roof. But now as I write the rain has subsided and there are all kinds of different, funny little noises coming from every which direction.
Some are a little creepy like the long plastic flap coverings of the rear loading dock to my back slapping the big piles of aluminum piping
and other discarded debris, a sound similar to the strike of cowboy boots on a hard surface floor. The sound of birds, probably pigeons
or doves, strolling around on the metal roof with their long pointed nails scratching the surface. Creaks and groans from the old metal
structure itself emanating from every corner. My hope is that being so tired I sleep deeply and am not bothered all night by this strange
surrounding. At least though I am dry and if it does rain more don't have to worry. So, let it rain! And having the honor of being the first
biker probably ever to spend the night here I proudly proclaim the name of this roadside shelter 'Possum Warehouse'.

























Day 90  7/14/12
SP: Farber, MO
EP: Pittsfiled, IL
DM: 68
TM: 5,880




Notes
6pm. This morning during my morning donut stop, only 3 miles from Possum Warehouse camp, I decided to finish up with editing last
nights journal and get it sent off. Just before I touched the send key I noticed I had not entered the gps coordinates and fished for my
Garmin wrist unit to see what they were. I looked in the bags, the trailer, my clothes bag which doubles as my pillow, and with a fine tooth
comb checked every nook, pocket and crevice of my entire rig, but no sign. Great, it's gone. Within a week that will make three vitally
important pieces of equipment for the journey that I've lost; the rainfly for my $300 tent (making the tent useless), a $120 solar charger
which I depend on daily, and now a Garmin gps unit worth in the neighborhood of $250 and something I use everyday to mark my
position. Unbelievable. Like I had done with the tent fly and charger, I decided to go back to Possum's Warehouse in the hopes I had left it
there and would find it, unlike the previous two lost items. I detached the trailer from the bike and grudgingly rode the 3 1/2 miles back to
Possums Warehouse.  When I arrived to the loading dock entry, or theater screen (see yesterday's blog), there it was sitting right where I
had put it, on the edge of the building. "Oh, now I remember" I said while smacking myself silly. Possum's Warehouse had a metal roof
covering and gps units can't pick up satellite signals very well through them. So I put the unit next to the opening (drive-in screen) of the
docking ramp, a few feet away from my camp spot, so it could find the signal coming from space. And that's right, you guessed it, I forgot
to pick it back up. So, if I had not decided to send off the journal when I did, and fortunately not scanned over the 'endpoint' gps
coordinates, right now I would be crying uncontrollably with the realization that my gps is 60 miles behind me and with really no way to get
it but spending an extra two days riding to retrieve it. At that point I would have been asking myself, "Is two days ride worth $200?" But
all's well that ends well. And even though this latest episode of absent mindedness didn't cost me much but a few extra miles biking, I was
reminded once again of the fact that something else is going on of which I really need to heed the message. All this forgetting that's going
on tells me I am tired, not only physically and mentally, but spiritually as well. My well of energy on all levels is depleted, at the bottom and
dry, and something whether it be in my control or otherwise needs to happen to bring those levels up a bit. Otherwise I'm afraid of events
happening not quite so innocuous as forgetting a piece of equipment behind. Life's gravest decisions are usually not that grand or
momentous, in fact they're usually comprised of mundane everyday stuff. Everyday I'm out on these roads battling traffic and bad road
conditions and, though I hate to admit it or even think about it, a near tragedy is around practically every proverbial and actual corner. I
need to be focused and at or near 100% when I am out there riding. I've had and known of many a friend and acquaintance over the years
not return from a ride. I don't want to be amongst those close and dear friends, at least not yet. In fact I personally have had some near
tragic accidents while riding (one where I lost six front teeth and split my helmet in two [which would have been my skull without it]).
Forgetting and losing these items over the last few days is a message from that source I have trusted to guide me over the years and I
feel now it's message is of the utmost importance. Some will say, 'Oh that's called wisdom. You gain that through years of experience and
living". Well, perhaps. But wherever it comes from, the message is clear; I need to rejuice the batteries somehow, someway and right
away. So today, after I picked up the gps from the drive-in screen, I made it a point to try and stay more alert on the road. And fortunately
for me the roads have been improving since arriving to Missouri and leaving the Iowa/Nebraska/Kansas one-two-three punch. I am so
glad to be out of that Tri-Bike Mess of statehood (Iowa, Nebraska, & Kansas) and in to Illinois.(
see picture 1 below) Having arrived here
today the roads have improved even more. What's more the temps have come down considerably (to the 90's which feels cool compared
to a couple weeks ago) and the hills have flattened out to modest rollers. Also today I noticed myself looking with hunger at the roadside
billboards of Big Macs that are all around here and I thought to myself, "Now you don't usually take notice to that kind of message, no
matter how subliminal. Something must be going on". So I followed my impulse and when in Bowling Green stopped at the McDonalds
and had a tasty Big Mac sandwich and afterwards even ordered another burger. Almost immediately afterwards I started feeling different.
My legs had some strength and my level of consciousness began to rise. The last few days I've been feeling almost delirious and just out
of sync. And so it dawned on me that what I was missing was my bodybuilding amino acids, protein. In BC and throughout the NW states I
ate big, thick juicy steaks practically every night, not only because I love to eat them, but also because of the protein they provide to my
overworked body and mind. I haven't been eating enough protein rich food to reenergize my strength over this last month and am now
starting to feel the effects. The fat and carbs are good and need to be in any diet that includes an active lifestyle (all diets within reason)
but in proportion and without sacrificing the other component of nutrition. Protein is essential to keeping the body healthy and functioning
on all cylinders and I've been neglecting that source of nutrition for a while. The other factor in my control and which I've been neglecting a
bit is sleep. Most this trip I've been averaging about 6 1/2-7 hours a night and I think with all the heat and energy spent combatting that
energy drain, I am needing closer to eight hours a night. So the last couple nights I've been shooting for an earlier bedtime. Not sure
completely if all this will help me in the long run, only time will tell. At least this is what I can summate from all this.
Anyways, camp tonight is in another abandoned structure, this time a classroom size garage surrounded by, what else, bean and corn
fields.(
see pictures 2 & 3 below) There is a home here a couple hundred feet away but it too is unoccupied. Being without adequate
shelter from a potential rainstorm, I wanted to make sure I had cover for the night so this is it. In the corner of the building is an old Schlitz
lighted sign that looks like at one time was hung from a bar.(
see picture 4 below) There are at least a dozen tractor/trailer tires stacked
neatly, wood pallets and some metal siding.  By the looks of things no one has been in here for a long time except the birds, insects, and
a few mice I hear scampering around beneath the metal panels. My intention is to not poke around much in here for fear of finding
something alive not quite so harmless as those just mentioned, like a rattlesnake. There is a clean concrete pad upon which I plan to
unroll my sleeping pad for the evenings rest. At least I'm secure in knowing that if it does rain, I'm covered. Being the first biker/traveler I'm
sure to ever spend the night in this garage along Il St route 106 a few miles east of Pittsfield, I proudly proclaim the title of this unique
place the 'Schlitz Garage' in honor of my brother Rico who, back in the day, was an avid collector of all Schlitz memorabilia (I'm not sure
he ever liked the beer itself).
Today I entered the Prairie State and #14 of the 50@50 journey from Louisiana Mo, crossing the Mississippi on a narrow old busy bridge
leaving me time enough only to catch a hurried shot as I pedaled over the ever widening river itself.(
see pictures 5 & 6 below) This was
the second time I had crossed the Great River heading eastward, the first being in St Paul, and without a doubt it's girth had increased
substantially since that time being several hundred miles further along it's course to the Gulf of Mexico. In 1818 Illinois became the 21st to
enter this large collection of diversely beautiful and glorious states, and of course was home to our most popular and beloved 16th
president, Abraham Lincoln. My LSD for the day was in Pittsfield, the home of John Nicolay, author of the foremost multi volume
biography of Lincoln and where he met and befriended former secretary of state John Hay, proponent of the 'open door policy' with china
at the turn of the 20th century.
Our most revered president, other than the first, adopted Illinois as his home though he was born in and spent his early years in Kentucky,
much like my relation to California and Arizona. Lincoln was the most brilliant president we have ever had and in these days of TV and
mass media, probably will have. He was tall (especially by 19th century standards), gawkily, and not very handsome or telegenic. If he had
lived today it would be highly unlikely he would have made a career in politics much yet to attain the level of presidency. The foremost civil
war historian Shelby Foote, and another author of a multi volume set of books (this one on the war between the states "The Civil War")
said Lincoln was a true genius, and I believe it. The fact that there have been written literally hundreds of books directly about the man, not
to mention his era, is testament to his persona and legacy and I feel privileged now to be riding through this state he called home and in
which he is buried.
Dinner tonight is a lazy one; battered and fried greasy catfish with mashed potatoes I picked up at the local market back at Pittsfield.
These fast, easy, but less than satisfying meals are getting to be a common occurrence for me these days as I struggle along the path of
this long journey. Hopefully at some point I can regain the enthusiasm to prepare those delicious dinners I had during the earlier stages of
the trip. If not, I should still survive.




























Day 91 7/15/12
SP: Pittsfield, IL
EP: New Berlin, IL
DM: 72
TM: 5,952




Notes
7pm. Just finished a Skype call with everyone back home helping to work on the FRAANK fundraising effort and how sweet it was to hear
everybody's voice (for some reason the video on their end was not functioning). I so miss everyone and am so appreciative of their efforts
to help make the 50@50 fundraiser a success for our good beneficiaries. For busy people to give of their time to help others is the
utmost of goodness and respect and perhaps, whether in this life or another, will be rewarded. But that's not why we give of ourselves. We
do it because it makes us feel good to be helping others being the sharing compassionate individuals most of us are. So in that sense, I
guess, there still is a part of giving that we would consider selfish, or for self reward. But heck, I like to eat a Big Mac occasionally (often
lately) because it makes me feel good.  I think there is no sin in doing the things that make you feel good, as long as the indulgence
doesn't harm others or become an overly done obsession.
Tonight's camp is another 'urban camp' as I am just on the outskirts of Lincoln's home town, burial place, and 14th stop along the 50@50
journey, Springfield Illinois. The name of this not quite yet suburban town is New Berlin and I am sandwiched between two rows of
vegetation; a thick pine tree line planted to provide cover to a bank and of course the ubiquitous cornfield. There is about 6-10' of clearing
between each row and within which I plan to tent down for the evening. My whole reasoning for camping here was because I did not want
to enter Springfield late in the afternoon, especially on a Sunday when no one would have been at the capital (save a security guard or
two). Also knowing the volunteer meeting was  this afternoon I wanted to be in a location to hop on a wifi hotspot to Skype the meeting in
case my 4G service would not pick me up. So, here I am. Life on the fringes, or better yet, in the margins between trees and corn. I know
I'm not living in life's margins, that visible place pushed to the sidelines by some and ignored by everyone else; I have a beautiful family at
home that need and love me and I them. But what if I were just living out here with no home or family and subsiding on life's hand me
downs or if I'm lucky generous handouts. What a awful existence that would be. Many are homeless due to no reasonable action or
conscious stable decision on their part, being either mentally unfit or suffering from some drug or alcohol addiction. Some no doubt,
especially in today's economy, can't find suitable work. We, speaking of the majority of middle class Americans, like to forget that there
are people on the margins who are homeless and living basically from day to day, living in their cars or on a bicycle with whatever trashy
belongings they possess. I have seen many of those individuals, especially out west, and being mistaken occasionally as one while riding
my bicycle, do not forget they are out there. What a terrible feeling it must be to have no one or home to come to. I know in a free society
that we are free to choose that existence that best compliments our desires in life.  And there are those just plain lazy and perfectly
content living their transient lifestyle. But I'm not speaking of those. Who would choose to be homeless, especially with all the material
wealth existent in this bountiful land? Often out here on the bike trail I get what are most likely unconscious looks from people who see me
traveling in this unorthodox mode of travel and assume, naturally, that I am a vagrant. I know who they are through subtle though no less
demeaning ways. If I'm standing in front of a store next to my bike they push the 'car lock' button on their key chain and the car horn goes
'beep, beep' or sometimes if I'm waiting at a traffic signal I sense they are looking at me but when I turn to make eye contact they quickly
turn their attention away, most likely because the fear I will ask for a handout. Would they have pushed that key button if I had not been
around? I reckon not. But their instincts tell them to do it. Is that wisdom or some type of socially engineered yet exaggerated fear that so
many of us carry around today?  I don't know. What it does say to me though is that I don't trust you because you appear to be poor, and
those that are poor are of a greater risk to my being. Is that a reasonable assessment? Again I'm not so sure. I have traveled all through
out this country and I worry less often about my self security or belongings when in areas that would be considered at higher risk; poor,
non white and ethnically diverse neighborhoods. You would think that those in need would be more prone to theft and vandalism, and for
the most part that is correct if you carry the belongings and appearance of someone with a lot. But traveling the way I do, no matter where
I go, I feel, perhaps naively, fairly safe from harmful acts of theft or viciousness. Knock on wood, or perhaps not. Did Jesus who moved
about the region amongst the most vulnerable and needy travel in a gold clad carriage? Did he adorn himself with fanciful dress and
jewelry? Did he praise the act of idolatry through material belongings, wealth and status? What is it we need to brag about in life? Not
really too much. I like to ask myself if I have acquired already in life  enough belongings to make me feel secure and show others that I
have attained to a level of stature in society commensurate to that which my big ego feels comfortable? I believe I have. If I do become
wealthy someday (unlikely given my disposition and lifestyle [but I could always win the lottery, if I played]), along the way I hope to share
the bounty with others less fortunate in life, as it has to be much more rewarding to give while living and cognizant than after your dead.
But the question I always ask myself is why do we treat those who are down on their luck, the one's most vulnerable living in the margins,
those that even the son of God devoted himself to helping, with so little respect and dignity? Off I go again on my soap box again. Sorry.
Yesterday I had stopped at a Walmart to pick up an inner tube and when I started to leave the parking lot I had a flat. I saw a metal shed
with shade inside so I decided to fix the flat there.(
see picture below) The ground inside was covered with horse droppings and it dawned
on me that this shed was shelter for the Amish horses while there owners are inside shopping. Wow, how neat and thoughtful is that? Only
in the Midwest would you find that.

























Day 92 7/16/12
SP: New Berlin, IL
EP: Decatur, IL
DM: 70
TM: 6,022




Notes
7pm. Again late to camp and getting started on this. Today I got caught up in Springfield and fell behind. It could have been worse though
had I allowed myself the privilege of visiting so much more that there was to visit. I've never been to the home town of our beloved 16th
president and though I was in the usual crummy mood I've been in for weeks, even months, now, I couldn't help but feel so uplifted
somewhat to be riding through the same roads and 'hood' that the 'Great Liberator' once walked through. I did make it a point to visit the
final resting place of, what one reporter of the era described him as, the 'Grotesque Baboon' (most people don't know how hated Lincoln
was by most Americans, especially the first couple years of his presidency), and what a treat that was.  Lincoln's Tomb was the highlight
of the day(
see picture 1 below) and if I hadn't been rushed, like always these days, could have spent an hour there reading all the bronze
plaques and marveling at the detailed granite sculptures which depict the era and tell the story of the man most responsible for keeping
this great conglomeration of states and ideals together. The monument itself was impressive but not overly as I'm sure Lincoln himself, the
modest, down to earth country bumpkin he was, would approve of. There were national flags lining the freshly asphalted road to the tomb
and the   granite tower was tall, but not nearly like the Washington monument in DC. There was a large bronze head of Lincoln in front of
the monument that depicted him with an oversized nose(
see picture 2 below) and which I noticed everybody was rubbing before entering
the tomb, in apparent belief that it would bring them good luck. His nose had been rubbed so much that it was discolored to a gold finish
from the rest of his bronze colored head. Inside the air conditioned (ATFG) crypt (
see picture 3 below)we're the remains, of course in
vaults, of the president himself as well as his loony wife Mary Todd and 3 of his 4 kids (Robert, the oldest and only one to serve his nation
during the Civil War, was buried in Arlington, according to his wife's wishes). Behind the giant Arkansas marble monument that cover his
remains is the inscription 'Now he belongs to the ages' purportedly uttered by the secretary of war Edwin Stanton shortly after the doctor
announced his death across the street from Fords Theater in DC., and just before Mary Todd flew off her rocker. Why that off the cuff
statement by a 2nd generation cabinet member and not very personally close to the president has been enshrined here and even
remembered in history I have no clue. Of course he belongs to the ages, anyone ever born and will be born belongs to the ages. But now
my cynicism is getting away from me. Lincoln was the right person at the right moment in history to come along. I feel he believed himself
fortunate the assassins bullet  had not found him sooner in his presidency. In fact he was even having dreams and premonitions of his
death. After his log splitting days and before he entered the law profession and then politics, he was a humorous storyteller, back in those
days a viable profession. With his dry witty backwoods sense of humor he loved, and was good at, making people laugh. Why not put an
inscription of a line or two from one of his humorous stories next to his tomb, something Lincoln would have probably appreciated more
than Stanton's statement?
So I had a great time and life long experience pedaling through the home of Lincoln. I only wish I had had more time. Other than my visit to
the burial site not much more to report on, especially my capital visit nor the town of Springfield  itself. (
see picture 4 below)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlWlKZlz8b4

Nobody was at the governors office except the receptionist and she had no knowledge of my arrival. "Hello, I'm here to see the Governor"
was my introduction. "And who may I ask is calling?" "Romano Scaturro from the organization FRAANK". "Sorry but the Governor is out
meeting with his constituents." "How about the Lt Governor?". "Out as well." "The Secretary of State or Attorney General?" "You'll have to
go to their offices." Ok, is there anybody on the Governors staff I can meet with and perhaps get a photo with?" I think I got through to her
as she called for some fellow from the media room and after waiting about a half hour for him we had a brief though confusing meeting.
Marcus,(
see picture 5 below) at the most 30 years old, looked and sounded like he had no clue what to talk about even though I thought I
had explained satisfactorily to him the reason for my being there. Finally I came to the conclusion I was wasting my precious time here
and asked simply for a quick picture in front of the office door, thanked everybody for their wonderful hospitality and greeting and was out
of there. The only welcome reception I received, like I have at other capitals, was from the two security guards at the entrance.
Once back outside in to 100' temps and choking humidity, I pedaled out of Springfield after my visit to Lincoln's Tomb on Hwy 36, the
same highway I've been on for the last couple days as well as crossed the state of Kansas on two prior trips. I rolled in to Decatur IL
around 5 pm and had my LSD (Last Stop of the Day) and then headed immediately out of town to find camp asap as it was getting late in
the day. The highway was fine until it reached a bottleneck forcing all traffic in to two narrow lanes and the shoulder disappeared heading
over an old bridge spanning Lake Decatur. There was a sidewalk but by the time I realized how precarious the situation had become with
the poor road condition and increased level of traffic, it was too late to stop, dismount, and carry my bike over the high curb and up on to
it. I looked it to my mirror and saw nonstop traffic from behind, the worst being a giant tractor trailer truck without the slightest intention of
going around me or even slowing down. I remember saying to myself "Ok, hold on and stay focused Ro!" and  then I clenched the
handlebars with an iron clad grip and clung the wheels of my bike as close to the curb as I possibly could without striking it and making
the dangerous situation even worse. The giant truck wheels came rolling by so close to me I could feel the heat from his engine and
friction of his brakes and if there was more than a foot and half between me on my bike and his wheels I would be surprised. It's a good
thing that lunch had been several hours earlier because I felt my stomach in my throat glancing at the 20 ton rolling machine of death
passing within arms length. As soon as he passed and I realized that I had just survived unharmed the most potentially threatening and
scariest episode of this trip, and possibly any bike trip I have been on, at the first let up in traffic I humped myself followed by the bike over
the still sizable curb and on to the safety of the sidewalk. That was close and one I don't want to repeat again. It reminds me yet again that
I need to be more conscious of traffic and road conditions and react accordingly, no matter how tired I feel and cloudy my thinking.
Camp tonight is along another row of crop field border trees and I am sandwiched between them and another cornfield.(
see picture 6
below
) I have shade and it is quiet. And except for a cute  curious fawn(see picture 7 below) that hopped out of the line of trees behind
me, literally feet from where I am sitting on my stool, and apparently to say hello and welcome me to the hood, there is complete solitude
and privacy.
Hi everyone it's Patrice, Romano's wife writing I just wanted to add a little bit. This made my day as well I am sure it will make Romano's
and hopefully yours, a few days ago a Salt Lake City news station came to do a story on Dakota Nash one of FRAANKS beneficiaries
and it was very inspiring
this is why Romano is out there everyday on his human powered journey 50@50. Hope you enjoy, just click on
the link below

http://www.ksl.com/?sid=21285784&nid=148


























Day 93 7/17/12
SP: Decatur, IL
EP: Montezuma, IN
DM: 82
TM: 6,104





Notes
7pm. Tonight's camp is unusual yet civilized. I am under a recently built pavilion half the size a football field with a concrete floor and with a
scissor trussed metal sheathed roof.(
see picture 1 below) There are half a dozen picnic tables upon one of which I plan on making my
bed for the evenings rest. There are ballfields on either side of this covering and recently mowed though bone dry (everything is dry and
yellow around here), grass all around and of course the usual cornfield to the east side . I'm not sure if it's 'Ok' to be spending the night
here, but I've proclaimed it camp for day 93 of the 50@50 self powered tour.  If I get harassed later due to my transient unauthorized
presence, so be it, as I am tired and not wanting to go on further for the day and there is cover for the evening in case it decides to rain
again like it did a little earlier. Anyways, I say unusual because my camps are mostly hidden from the whereabouts of anybody and here I
am exposed (in fact I am looking at a girls softball team taking hitting practice on the field to my front), and civilized because I am in a
maintained human built structure that is clean and with no flies, spiders or other annoying insects attacking my legs and torso. However
there are no baby fawn deer to pay me a visit here, like yesterday's camp and I am forced to keep my shorts on as this is a public place
(usually when hidden at camp every article of clothing is off my hot body as I attempt to bring my internal temps down a bit and allow my
whole body to breath, even those parts not mentionable [one of the greatest parts of the day for me is when I get take those tight
uncomfortable biking shorts off]). So I am in the main town park of Montezuma Indiana, a little town on the east bank of  the Wabash River
in the western part of the state. Yes, I entered Indiana today, the 15th state thus far of the journey.(
see picture 2 below) I also lost another
hour today (I have now lost 4 hours since leaving Juneau Alaska back in April) This is the last of the midwestern states of this trip, and
hallelujah! From here I'm still undecided if I shall go southeast to Kentucky, W Virginia, and then Columbus Ohio before heading north to
Michigan or stay on the schedule and go first to Lansing and then have to come back south again to the Ohio River Valley states before
heading up to NY and the New England states. Oh so many decisions, and each one really so critical because there are many hills
coming up as I enter the Appalachian mountains and it's neighborhood of long steep hills. My gut feeling is to finish with these southern
states before heading north to Lansing and then across Canada to Albany NY and up to New England. I have decided to make the final
decision tomorrow when I am in Indianapolis, basing it off wind direction and as well as my gut level intuition tells me. Mileage wise I'm not
sure there is a huge difference no matter which way I take. But wind and hills are a factor and will be the major determinant.
Anyways, highlight of the day I guess was my arrival in to state #15 Indiana about 15 miles back. The road immediately deteriorated
though there remained ample shoulder unlike the tri-mess for biking states Iowa-Nebraska-Kansas stretch. This is the first town I have
come in to since leaving Illinois and entering the 'Crossroads' state. People here already seem different from Illinois; somewhat more
down to earth and I guess you could say 'southern' or 'midwestern' in their appearance and manner. Illinois is to the Midwest like Florida
is to the south; states living in a region that really don't fit very well. I'm not sure exactly why, but my hunch is it has to do with money. Illinois
has Chicago and thus a dependent source of wealth and Florida? Well no explanation required. But anyways there is definitely a different
feel I got in Illinois then than I do here in Indiana and really most the Midwest.
Anyways, a little earlier I took my shower behind a boarded up snack shack next to one of the ball fields. I slung my bungee cord from an
electrical line along the perimeter of the enclosure and trying to be as discreet as possible slipped out of my shorts to enjoy one of my
favorite moments of the day: a cool rinsing of all the days sweat and dirt from my over sunned and tired body.  It felt good like it usually
does but, for some reason, especially so this evening. I tried to dry off using my small rinse cloth size towel but with so much heat and
humidity still in the air felt it was an act of futility. As I lie here now, back stuck to the vinyl covering of my sleeping pad, I wonder if there will
ever come a time again when I feel totally dry. Tonight's dinner was a cheeseburger, fries and side salad from the local Tastee Freeze
just a couple blocks away and the only place to eat here in Montezuma other than the usual cardboard pizza they were selling in both the
convenience stores at opposite ends of town. The girls working there were excited to hear about my travels and asked to have a picture
together in front of the store(
see pictures 3 & 4 below) (I can't quite figure out why they wanted their picture with an old biker dude unless
this place is more boring than it even appears). I brought the food back here to my covered quiet abode and enjoyed a relaxing dinner
while watching the colorful midwestern sunset highlighted by the few remaining clouds in the low western horizon and my favorite part of
the evening, listening to the mourning doves announce their presence with soothing harmonic calls.
























Day 94  7/18/12
SP: Montezuma, IN
EP: Indianapolis, IN
DM: 68
TM: 6,172
Week 12      WM: 519   TM: 6.004      AVG. Per Day: 71.5-74.1 miles




Notes
I arrived in to N. Indianapolis around 5pm and stopped at a convenience store for the LSD. There was a park close by and my intentions
were to get a few things at the store and then head over to the park for the nights camp rather than pedal anymore at rush hour around an
unknown city. My goal for the day had been to reach the REI about 10 miles north of the Indianapolis to pick up my preordered tent and
few other pieces of equipment and clothing like the solar charger. The day went by slow as usual and I ended up getting in late so I figured
I would just finish the final remaining few miles in the morning and spend one more night in a tent risking exposure the to rain (I had lost my
rainfly back in Topeka Kansas last week). Just as I rolled up to the store a lady about my age driving a tan colored car pulled up beside
me who had seen me pedaling and wanted to find out about my trip. "Hello. A few years ago I did a cross country bike trip and loved it.
Where are you coming from and going to?" was her initial greeting. "Oh geez lady", I thought to myself. "Not now, please. I'm hot (it had
been another near 100' day with the usual choking humidity), tired, and in a hurry to find somewhere to tent down for the evening in this
urban jungle.  Of course I didn't put it that way and politely told her about my trip and patiently listened to her tell explain about her cross
country bike trip a few years ago.  I told her about my need to get to REI for my tent and out of the blue she offered to drive me there right
then if accepting a ride in a vehicle was within the rules of the game. Absolutely was my instantaneous reply as this was extra miles out of
the way I was riding to get there (REI is north of the capital here and my next capital is in Kentucky, a southerly direction). We made formal
introductions to each other (her name is Kim and as I sit here now writing still don't know her last name) and with great appreciation I
accepted her offer, loaded my bike and trailer in to the back of her van, sat down in the relative comfort of the passenger side seat (for
me after sitting on nothing but a hard bicycle saddle during the day and flimsy camp stool at night it was really comfortable) and relaxed
for the 15 minute car ride in rush hour traffic to the REI store. Along the way there we made a brief stop at the Apple store so I could see if
there was any help I could get for my malfunctioning iPhone (it had slipped in to my tiny box cooler a few evenings ago and in to contact
with some water and since has been not working the same). After picking my needed stuff up at REI we made a stop at a grocery store
and made ourselves salad bar salads and picked up a few other things to take back to Kim's condo where I was planning on camping
either in her back yard or to head back to the park I was originally planning on camping for the evening a short distance away. Once here
she told me I was welcome to do clothes and shower if I wanted and I enthusiastically accepted again her gracious offer support (bikers,
no matter if they're the motorized or nonmotorized versions generally know what their peers want and need). After my shower we had our
salads together and had a lengthy in depth conversation about our trips and other more personal issues, like the difficulty each of us had
in dealing with the passing of our fathers which for her was still relatively recent, two years. Around 10:30 we decided the day had been
long enough and it was time to turn in so I set my tent up in her backyard (and in doing so stepped in dog crap dragging it unknowingly in
to her condo. Sorry Kim if you are reading this) and tried to fall a sleep and eventually I did though it was difficult as the temps were still
real  high and there were noises coming from all over the condo complex.
















Day 95  7/19/12
SP: Indianapolis, IN
EP: Edinburg, IN
DM: 48
TM: 6,220



Notes
6:30pm.  Short day today both in mileage and time spent on bike. It was long tedious ride getting out of suburban Indianapolis which
seemed to go on forever.  Just south of the downtown area I stopped to eat at an old time Jewish type deli/sandwich joint that appeared
busy (a sign it might be good) and because I was tired of eating at fast food places and grocery stores. 'Shapiro's' looked like a place
one would find in New York or Chicago and that would be reviewed in a show Patrice loves to watch Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.  You
served yourself and ate in a large linoleum tiled cafeteria style 'dining room', if one can call it that, with little in the way of decor except for
a framed quote from apparently the owner/founder of this establishment; "If you cook good, serve them generously, and have reasonable
pricing then they will come back". Aristotle couldn't have said it better.
I ordered a hot pastrami sandwich which was cut and shaped to my request on fresh homemade rye bread and along with it a cup of
potato salad and tap water to drink. There were no prices listed for the sandwiches until you reached the cash register and there stood a
little standing plastic covered price list. $11.75 for my sandwich. Cup of potato salad an extra $2.75. Wow! Don't think I've ever paid $15
for a sandwich and side of potato salad, not even at all those grossly priced ballparks I went to last year. I sat down to eat at a corner
table next to the table whom I assume were seated the owner and manager going over the books with the accountant who kept badgering
them about some unaccounted for petty cash fund (I generally don't eaves drop on others conversations but they were quite obvious and
being in the restaurant business all these years could help but relate). I finished my sandwich, which was generous in it's serving and tasty
and worth the $15, and thanked the proprietors for their unique well run eatery. In today's world of ultra cheap, mass produced, chinese
built just about everything, it was refreshing to patronize an establishment that bucks the trend and maintains quality, even if it costs a few
extra bucks. I think there are a lot of people who still appreciate that.
Tonight I am camped next to a fairly large lake, at least for fishing, but not big enough really to boat on. There were signs around declaring
no camping so I ventured around to the isolated west end of the lake where there is nobody around. The good thing is I'm far enough
away to only hear a distant rumble from US route 31 which I followed south out of Indianapolis. After yesterday's frantic afternoon getting
into busy Indianapolis and then all the shopping followed by a  hot, virtually sleepless evening, it feels good again to be out with nature
with all the pretty sights(
see picture 1 below) (I have an open view of the lake in front of me with tall green trees filled in with a thick
undergrowth) and sounds of the peaceful caroling birds hitting high and low pitched notes and wind rustling the leafy treetops. Oh how
nature can bring me back from the precipice of madness. Getting out of Indianapolis was horrible. For 35 miles after departing the capital
I was forced to negotiate traffic and traffic signals in a seemingly never ending corridor of human development. It took me most the day
and my darnedest to cope with the situation (I'm not sure how many times I repeated my little self hypnotic mantra "stay focused Ro, you
can do it. There will eventually be an end to this suburban insanity and even an end to 50@50"). At some point today while dealing with all
the confusion I came to the realization that these people have chosen to spend their life in a box. Yes, a BOX. They leave their box built
home in the morning, drive to their work in a box building and sit for 8 hours in a box cubicle. After work they drive to their favorite box
strip mall, shop in a box store and go back to their home in a box spending the rest of their day in front of the TV or computer box. Life in
a box. No contact with nature which is anything but perpendicular right angles that comprise a box. Look at nature. Where do you see or
hear perfectly straight parallel lines of continuity. Stop, turn, go. On, now off. Just like a computer in this digital age we live in. It feels good
to most because it's so predictable, and just like anything that provides consistency so also is found comfort and security. There are no
rules or laws in nature except for those governing the physical world and properties of instincts. Absolutes in anything else exist only for
fools seeking answers, and comfort in those answers,that don't exist.
And the only answers that I need right now deal with the proper way to set up my new tent that I picked up yesterday and have yet to
assemble. So for now enough gibberish pecking out words about nature and modern society on this handheld electronic device and back
to reality before it starts to rain.
The highlight should be my arrival to the capital of Indiana but that left something to be desired.(
see pictures 2 & 3 below)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X45c3EqECbY

No meeting or photo op could be had with the governor as he was in meetings and the Lt Gov was in Chicago at a Lt. Governors
meeting. I attempted to explain to several people including receptionists, security personnel, and even a person on the governors staff but
nobody seemed much interested nor helpful. So I decided to bolt from what I believed to be one of the least impressive of all the capital
buildings.
Before arriving there I had passed by the Indianapolis motor speed way, the home of the granddaddy of car racing events, the Indy 500.
(
see picture 4 below) So I guess that would qualify as being my highlight of the less than eventful day


























Day 96  7/20/12
SP: Edinburg, IN
EP: Bedford, KY
DM: 72
TM: 6,292



Notes
5:30pm. A little while ago I pedaled in to my LSD in Bedford KY and after finding out that the local grocery store had been shut down
some time back decided to do another Family Dollar dinner buy like I had last night just before camping next to the little quiet lake in
Edinburg Indiana. After picking up a couple of Michelina's frozen dinners (I know, what's an Italian doing eating Italian frozen dinners?
Well I've gotten lazy as this SPT [self powered Tour] has continued on now for over 3 months), I ventured over to the local convenience
store for a couple of my standard  root beers at the end of the day. Just as I pulled up the clerk at the store appeared seemingly out of
nowhere for a short break and to have a cigarette. She saw my undeniably long and far traveled rig and asked the boiler plate questions
of where I was from and to where I was headed. After informing her we made formal introductions and Jenny recounted her experience a
couple years ago of a walking journey she and her boyfriend had done from Bedford to San Diego taking 7 months and how it had been a
defining moment in her life. After a few more moments conversing I decided to get on with business and asked her if they sold root beer
in the store and when she informed me that they did not because this was a dry county my thirst, taste buds, and heart sank to new lows
for the day. "What, a dry county? Well my mouth is dry right now. This is Kentucky, right? The land of straight Kentucky Bourbon? Well,
maybe that's why it's a dry county." were just some of the thoughts swirling around in my head while contemplating plan B. Just then her
boyfriend appeared out of nowhere just as she had and introduced himself. Derek was a young man of perhaps early 30's, my oldest
sons age, and with a marvelous outgoing, animated and friendly disposition that for some reason I immediately took to despite his
somewhat rebel appearance (he had a 12" goatee separated down the middle and an air about him that resembled one who didn't
always adhere to the straight and narrow), and I believe now it's because he reminded me, at least appearance wise, of my son Nathaniel
who is about the same age. Anyways, after a few moments exchanging stories about our adventures Derek offered me a couple root
beers from his personal stash as an act of 'payment to the future' as all of us refer to when helping out others on the travel road of
adventure and experience. I whole heartedly accepted his gracious offer and when I rolled down to the signal light in the middle of town
where he had told me to meet him in his white 90's something dodge van(
see picture 1 below) (I remember it well because my father
taught all us kids, me and my four brothers, how to drive in a similar van) he was there with a couple of stubbies (Australian for our 12oz
root beers). My original impression of him was correct as he offered me to spend the night in his mother's self service laundromat right
there in the old red brick building next to where we were speaking and in to which he had come out from with those thirst quenching root
beers.  At first, as is typical when others offer assistance to me, I was skeptical. But when he said there was air conditioning and the rain
which had been intermittent the last couple days was suppose to continue this evening, I had a sudden change of heart. He took me
inside to check it out and I told him it would work out perfectly for the evening.  And thus now I sit for the evening, for the first time that I can
remember, in an air conditioned environment not sweating nor swatting bugs and crawling insects off my body, alone and in a quiet room.
Pure bliss is all I can think of to say on how I feel in this strange setting. It's remarkable to think as I sit here now pecking out these few
words how much my level of appreciation for those things we so often take for granted in life (like air conditioning) has been brought back
to a primitive understanding. After weeks, indeed almost months now, of riding hours everyday in the sweltering heat and humidity only to
be followed by an evening of lying in my tent, back stuck to my sleeping pad like a magnet to an iron horseshoe, it feels so wonderful to
rejoice in an ambient without the twin bodily discomfort. In fact it feels so good that I was actually compelled a few moments ago to put on
my fleece pullover I've had since the beginning in Alaska and thought on multiple occasions of throwing away and even considering taking
my sleeping bag out of its stuff sack.
So, the highlight of the day for me was crossing in to state #16 of the 50@50 SPT, Kentucky.(
see picture 2 below) I entered the
Bluegrass State through Madison Indiana and across a rickety old steel bridge under construction(
see picture 3 below) and with barely
enough  room for two cars to pass by each other going opposite directions much accommodate a lone old biker pulling a buggy behind
his two wheeler. Somehow, someway though I managed to get through the horrifying half mile long crossing and once on the Kentucky
side of the Ohio river was welcomed with the longest climb of the journey since leaving Wisconsin I believe, if not Montana.
Derek came by a while after I got settled in to my 'coin-op accommodations' and we had a lengthy discussion about our travels and life in
general. For a man of only 34 years I discovered by listening to his stories of his service to the country and prior and subsequent troubles
in life, most of which involved the law, that he had some amazing insights in to this life much of which was based on his faith, but not all,
and an overall positive outlook. Derek I believe is one of those people in life you come across that seem almost bigger than life itself, no
matter their social standing and one that cannot be judged by his outward appearance. I sat completely silent and engrossed for over an
hour listening to his story, unsure if it was the source, content or manner of his delivery keeping my attention and realized afterwards it
was combination of all three. I asked if I could shoot a some video and here it is;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DS23sGN3v2Y

























Day 97  7/21/12
SP: Bedford, KY
EP: Versailles, KY
DM: 71
TM: 6,363



Notes
6:30pm. Tonight's camp is in another old, this one very old, long ago abandoned hay barn in between the cities of Versailles and
Lexington Kentucky.(
see picture 1 below) I'm about a mile south of the busy four lane US route 60 on Shannon Run Rd. As happens
frequently on this journey I could have pedaled on a while longer but knowing the large suburban neighborhoods of Lexington were
coming up I decided it was the prudent decision to stay further away in the country. I hear a vehicle pass by occasionally on the little
country road only a few meters from the barn itself but it's nothing compared to what I would have been forced to listen to had I camped
nearer the highway a mile away. For me, and my expectations at this time, this place is ideal. And if it were raining this barn would be a
10. As is still I am out of the sun, alone, and for the most part enjoying the peace, quiet, and (don't laugh), aesthetic beauty of this old
mega wood framed, minimum 100 year old barn which looks like it was made out of cornstalks and bean poles. There are only a few farm
accoutrements in here, one of which is a 20' trailer loaded 8' high with bales of flaked hay and upon which I have rolled out my sleeping
pad and intend to rest for the evening(
see picture 2 below) (I'll let you know how that goes in the morning when I edit this short narration).  
There was used so much wood used to build this monolithic structure that to replicate it today would take at least $200,000. Built of post
& beam design with multiple levels of rafters, cross stays, and 20' long plates of 1 by 12" exterior siding wrapped around the entire 5000
sq ft internal yard,(
see picture 3 below) it is a relic of a by gone era when wood was the cheap bountiful choice of building material.
Anyways on to a different top