I just realized that nobody posted on here since we ARRIVED IN SEATTLE ON AUGUST 13.

It was a beautiful day and even though google maps led us into some frustrating corners, we eventually made it from Arlington to Golden Gardens, where several members of Lily's family met us to celebrate, and we joyously dipped our wheels in the water.

Look at those light, unloaded bikes!!

Probably one of the reasons none of us blogged about it is because it is an unfathomable task to sum up the trip. How can any of us put into words the emotions that accompany this moment? We met over 100 people on the road who touched our lives, and received so many gifts in the form of meals, hugs, stories, sights and sounds. We've already said several times on this blog that we plan to "pay it forward" and to even get close to squaring up we better start right now!

Meanwhile, I did attempt to write a song about it (with the ukulele that followed me around all summer):


AND I finally uploaded all the pages of my sketchbook! (I know, I've been so productive since moving to Seattle... OH. By the way, I moved to Seattle)

Where we are now:

Bekah made her way back to beautiful Vermont via a train to LA and then a flight stopping in Texas to visit family, and is back in her beloved Green Mountains!

Joey has basically settled into Seattle-- anyone want to hang out?

Lily has been bouncing around visiting with family on the west coast, and eventually plans to move to Newhalem, WA (which we passed through, on the way!) spending some time at the awesome North Cascades Institute.

One million thanks and blessings to everyone who was a part of our journey. It's not the end!



Washington Pass

I promised during my last post that I would offer you a specific story rather than a philosophical shpeel. I keep to that promise:

Yesterday was a big day. The route which we're biking, The Northern Tier, has its riders brave five mountain passes in the Cascade Range of beautiful Washington state. The mountain passes are:
Tiger Pass (1200 feet of climbing)
Sherman Pass (5,575 ft)
Wauconda Pass (4,310 ft)
Loup Loup Pass (4,020 ft)
Washington and Rainy Pass (5,477 ft and 4,855 ft)

As we had been advised by a seasoned bike tourer early on in our trip, "There are five mountains. Climb one a day." And so we did. Each one was beautiful, challenging, and greatly rewarding in and of itself. But I would like to tell you about our last and final day of the passes...Washington/Rainy Pass.

(Side note, I lump the two passes together because Rainy Pass is just a little hump of a thing that one must climb consecutively with WA pass).

We began our day with our typical biker meal of oatmeal, granola, some protein powder, raisins, and maybe even a dollop of peanut butter (if we haven't become entirely disgusted by it at this point...which I have not. I believe we're at 23 lbs total consumed?). Heading away from our lovely hosts' home at about 7:45am in the sweet town of Mazama, we made one more stop at the local (and MUST SEE) general store for some snacks and morning treats.
The Mazam"ans"(?), from what I could surmise in our short time there, are kind, open, and friendly people. During that morning we had a wide range of folks come up to us and warn us about the mud slides that had apparently occurred on the road of the pass that we were intending to climb. The night had harbored one of the most intense thunder and lightening storms that this neck of the woods had ever seen...
"Hey, did you hear about the road closure?"
"So, you biking the pass? Hear about the mud slides? Eh, you should be fine, say they'll open the road again around 2pm."
"Hmm, I don't know, there are mud slides up there, good luck."
And on and on. And while these warnings were much appreciated...this was our last climb and I had the feeling that there wasn't much that would deter us from getting up and over it in some way or another. 
 Newly laden with bananas, water, and Gatorade, we pushed away from Mazama at around 8:45. The morning, despite the night's storm, was gorgeous and the temperature had cooled down significantly (yes!!). Other cyclists we had spoken with who had toured in the past compared their love of the magnificent Glacier National Park to their experience in the Cascades. I see why. The grandeur and majesty of the land around here is something to be witnessed rather than written about.

The climb up the pass was absolutely breathtaking. Sharp peaks stood, quiet and lofty in the hazy distance, and many of the rocky faces held snow in their craggy pockets. Slowly and methodically I cycled my way, switchback over switchback, stopping every now and then to grab a handful of nuts and take a photo. It's impressive that, in this zig-zagging carving fashion, one can make their way through, what look like, impenetrable peaks. The sun was shining, the wind was cool, and the views were crisp.

Along the way we would see cars winding their way along the road, yet with the knowledge that the road had closed, I found it a bit unusual that there would be any traffic at all. A few cars, coming in our opposite direction paused long enough to tell us that there were mud slides up ahead. While I'm grateful for their warnings, there was no way we were turning around now. Our logic was:
1. Bike up Washington Pass....we can't not! 2. Hope that we're allowed through to the other side.
3. If mud slides block our descent, we'll enjoy the ride back down to Mazama and hitchhike over once the road is clear.
But we were certainly not NOT biking over this famous last pass on our route.

From the top, looking back I could see our climb; its snake-like shape gently carving its way through the mountain.
It was a relief and a joy to see the elevation sign, not so much because the climb was overly difficult, I believe many people could bike their way here (especially seeing the pregnant woman arrive on bike not too long after us!), but because it symbolized a proud moment for the Inventure team. We had made it. We were here. After over two months of our journey, we had completed the last mountain pass.
All of us lingered up at the top ('us' includes the Inventure riders and our great friend and cycling team addition Max who's been with us for some time now) eating snacks and talking to other cyclists who had taken advantage of the road closure. While there we had the opportunity to chat with a friendly Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) worker who had been working on clearing the mud slides from the night. Apparently there were 6 slides total and some cars stuck in between a few of them. Luckily, no one was hurt that night, and he was hopeful that if we were patient, the road would be open for us bikers in a few hours. Lucky are those who travel on two wheels...sometimes.

We decided to make our way over the little hump of a guy, Rainy Pass, up ahead and linger around the road closure until further notice. Once up there, we were able to truly see the power of Mother Nature and the impressive amount of rock and earth that had been moved over the road. With the help of digger trucks and our D.O.T friend, we were fortunately able to skirt around the slides, lifting our hefty steeds over the guard rail, through thick mud, and running streams of water.

Although it didn't seem like we had lingered too long on the mountain waiting to get down, I guess Mother Nature thought otherwise. A backpacker we had met while waiting had predicted correctly: yet another storm was brewing. We looked back and noticed it rolling in fast and dark. Perhaps naively we thought we could out-bike it. But there's no playing with the forces of nature and out here, everything seems a bit bigger and more dramatic.

I'm convinced there has been an angel watching out over us on this journey. Laugh if you want, we have been so fortunate so often. In this case, the angel must have helped us run into more kind D.O.T workers, Gary and Jim, who let us throw our bikes into their pick up truck (yes, we basically threw them) and hurry out of the hailing-raining-wind that was howling upon us. Taking time out of their work day, they drove us kooky cyclists down into the nearest town of Diablo where, amazingly, Lily had a connection with one of the main things this small town is known for: the North Cascades Institute (a beautiful and well respected environmental education center located on the aquamarine-colored Ross Lake).

Thanking the two workers profusely, we sopping cyclists were relieved to arrive to this busy, warm, and friendly institute, getting in out of the storm and being greeted by open and kind folks. Although we did intend to bike further and make it to our pre-planned hosts' home, we thought it  best to accept the offer of the Institute and stay the night here. HOW LUCKY ARE WE!??!?! Not only did they happily arrange a room of four beds for us, but they called the cook immediately and alerted him to four more guests for dinner and breakfast.
Paying it forward? I think so.
As if that wasn't enough to be grateful for, our original host for that night decided to drive to US with a beautifully and lovingly prepared packed dinner: polenta and pasta with goat cheese, fresh salad with homemade dressing, multigrain chips and homemade hummus, and a bottle of champagne.

Lying in bed that night, warm and full, I lulled myself to bed once again with the words, 'thank you, thank you, thank you.'

With light, gratitude, and love, I send YOU so many thanks as well for supporting us on this journey. We are nearly finished and it is bittersweet for me. I have awed, struggled, been pushed and challenged, and met by infinite blessings in these past 2 months and have loved this Inventure. But for now, no conclusions, no endings...just movement. Just an undulating pattern of adventure, of sharing these gifts we've received and passing it on, of keeping my eyes open, of creating a lifestyle which strives never to forget this time...

More soon.


The Rockies!

A few photos from the Rockies and the first sights of Glacier Park-- more to come!


What we're doing

I could reflect on any number of events I've experienced this past week since the car accident.

We have been on the road almost 7 weeks and THINGS HAVE CHANGED since day 1 and things have changed since day 31. I am constantly aware that there are 3 of us on this team, together every day and every turn, but also dozens of us biking cross-country on these same roads, thousands of us driving through towns, billions of us breathing the same air and making it through the same day.

One realization that struck me within the first week or two is that "what we're doing" (on one level) is immediately obvious when we're on the road. When we roll up to a gas station in our bike clothes, bikes fully loaded, snacking like fiends, people stop and ask, "where are you going?" and they know it's far. Their responses when we tell them "we're going coast to coast" range from "WHAT" to "holy crap" to (my personal favorite) "well I won't keep you then". They have offered countless blessings of safety, admiration, encouragement, concern, sometimes a place to stay and sometimes even money.

The full realization I had was that occasionally we are not in our bike clothes and we are not carrying our bikes, and at those times no one can tell "what we're doing." When I turned that around I saw that every day we see and meet people and we don't know what they're doing.  We (read: people) don't wear signs that say "I'm doing something awesome" or "I'm going through something hard" or "I need help" or "I would join the revolution if I saw it happening".

I know that we are learning and growing every day because I can see it happening but I can only specifically speak for myself. This is the hardest thing I've ever done. You may be able to see and guess that what I'm doing is hard, physically. I am really working every day, not just pumping my legs and lungs; I'm fighting with my own brain, I'm rationing what energy I have left from pedaling into killing self-doubt, into attempting to let my life speak even on this trip that sometimes feels separate from "normal life", I'm trying to soothe my poor confused body, I'm trying to be healthy when the odds are against me, I'm living in this broken world, remembering the beautiful creatures who live on it, even as I travel across it on my bicycle.

That's a lot, by the way. I didn't think about all the ways in which this would be hard when I committed to going on this trip, much like people who find out what we're doing and immediately say "I could never do that". I think they are mostly imagining the physical part. Guess what, you can do it if you want to. You might not want to (that's fair). But don't sell yourself short of doing something hard, chances are you're already doing something hard. Also remember, please, that we're not wearing signs. Our fellow humans are every one of them on journeys no matter what they're not physically carrying.

Of all the lessons I've learned so far on this trip, I plan on working hard after it's over to remember this one everyday.



well, HECK!

Hello family, (F)friends, and all loved ones!

I am writing here, with the support of the other two, just briefly to say that this week was rather eventful for us. On Thursday, July 18th we got hit by a van on our way out of Wisconsin. While climbing up a long gradual hill (so going slowly and one stacked behind the other) Bekah was hit first in the back of the head by the mirror of the van. Either she or the van hit Joey and both of them when down rather hard. Hearing all the noise, I immediately pulled off the road and ran over - called 911, spoke with the drive (we are grateful he stopped and stayed during the entire thing), and tended to my family, all with only some phantom-impact on the shoulder (no memory of how this happened). We were WELL taken care of. We got checked at the hospital and once Bekah was discharged, our hosts from the night prior came to pick us up and we stayed with them during our immediate process of physical, emotional, and psychological recovery. We were more than comfortable during this time and we "thanked" this family into oblivion as they provided us with wonderful food, comforting hugs and dialogues, and healing laughter. Our circle continues to grow.

There will be more reflection and writing from us in relation to this, I'm sure! Yet, for now we would love for you all to know that we are grateful for all the support you have provided us that makes us feel compelled to continue on. Inventure is a process and a journey and I am going to do my best not make a large distinction between "before" and "after".

The flooding of anger, fear, and love has made me think: what really matters in this world? What is clutter? How can my perspective change from this incident? How will I be stronger and what changes will I make?

For me, there is not really a distinction between good and bad in this case. Anything else could have happened. We have talked about how life threatening and shaking situations can happen commuting at home by bike in Vermont or Pennsylvania, driving to Quaker meeting, or even walking downtown.

Just like every other day on this trip, we will safely, consciously, and TOGETHER, approach our daily bike ride thankful for life, thankful for family, and thankful for the opportunities that lie ahead.

With love to you all,
Lily, Bekah, and Joey



It's always a bit intimidating to get back on the ol' computer after a week or so of biking and try to find a way to express and summarize what we, I, experience on this Inventure. My fellow cyclists have been encouraging me to, rather than go off into philosophical tangents and metaphorical imagery, perhaps write in bullet points, list form, or be short and sweet in order to help dissipate some of this overwhelming feeling I get when I approach the screen.

But dear reader, no matter how hard I tried, and despite all the best intentions to be succinct and "to the point"in this post, again I will not tell you a specific story (though I have many). Rather, I want to share with you a broad, sweeping, overarching statement I have that rings true to our Inventure every single day..."People Are Incredible".

Very often we are asked the question, "So where do you sleep at night? Do you camp? Do you stay in hotels?"
In all honesty, there's no need to hide the news, we have camped only once since our departure from the east coast on June 9, over a month ago. Now whether that's an accomplishment or simply is the nature of this journey, it doesn't really matter. What does matter is how open, caring, giving, and genuinely inspirational each and every host and friendly passerby has been and how much COLOR is added to our story by the people we meet.

As you can gather from above, we've entered many, many homes and each one is unique in design, decor and architecture: some streamlined and new age with surround sound speakers and heated flooring, some full of wonderful nick knacks and family photos. There are those homes that choose to eat local and organic foods, having grown and preserved their own vegetables and fruits, and there are others who keep kitchens stocked with power drinks, energy bars, and sweet cereals and candies that bring back warm memories of my childhood.

And yet, despite all of this variety, no matter which way I slice it, each unique home is successful in creating a similar feeling of security and comfort for me. I could have never, in my life, predicted the amount of times we have cooked together with our hosts, standing in their kitchen preparing an evening meal while laughing, chatting, and getting acquainted with where they store their utensils and glasses (and peanut butter :), or the number of gatherings we've been invited to around a dinner table laden with foods such as salad, pasta, bread, drinks, and fruit.

We have had the privilege to be taken in like family continually and often are found in the midst of familiar family dialogues at dinner with folks who were, only an hour ago, strangers (it's always nice to yell, "Thanks Mom!" or "See ya Dad!" as we bike out of the driveway in the morning). I take great comfort each time I find that we're simply "chilling" together afterward in the living room, gently entering into people's calming evening routines while we journal and joke, just talking, relaxing and being goofy together.
It may seem like an easy thing, to give us a towel or two, offer a shower, invite three more mouths to the table, or provide a bit of floor space, but for us it means a gratitude beyond words.

Now though it may sound strange, in addition to having already offered us a safe place to sleep, it's challenging for me to, on top of that, accept further blessings from a host such as a box of cereal, bag of nuts, Gatorade, or a homemade pie to take for the road without having something to offer back in return. And while I may always struggle with this, I begin to realize more and more that it's not the physical act of giving back that matters. What I mean is, it's not necessary to leave behind a replacement roll of toilet paper or to re-fill the half jar of salsa we devoured (though that would be lovely).

 Rather, what seems to matter most is the sentiment and the spirit with which we receive these gifts. What seems to most matter is the fact that I can live a life that can embody and appreciate and HOLD ON to the gratitude I feel.
 If energy is neither created nor destroyed, then I take faith that the $15 dollars given to us by a stranger at the post office will become a home-baked loaf of bread that I will have the privilege to gift to a hungry passerby someday or that perhaps the carton of freshly-picked strawberries gifted to us by a sweet woman at a gas station will become a cool glass of water I can give to a tired traveler. I take faith that we riders will have the privilege to open our hearts to other bedraggled wanderers and offer a meal and warm place for them to sleep on a rainy or buggy night, making their evening a bit brighter. I take great faith in knowing that we will be able to have our chances and times to "give back."

The biking is magnificent, challenging, and inspiring. It teaches me about myself and what my body, mind, and, spirit are capable of. It is a path that I must follow. And the sights and sounds we are privy to each day are memorable and magnificent. Yet most often, I find that it is in the moments before we get on the saddle in the morning and once we get off in the evening that make me quickly scramble to get my journal out to try to capture the experiences of the PEOPLE Inventure brings our way.

Pancake breakfasts, lasagna dinners, jumps in backyard pools, and warm nights in soft beds...we are more fortunate than I often can believe.  And that is why I tend to find myself, upon hitting the pillow at night and waking up in the morning, just saying "thank you, thank you, thank you" over and over again.

..and I know there are many more people to meet.
(Thanks for following along...perhaps next time I'll have just ONE real winner of a story for you ;)
With light,


Almost Century


p.s. We are in Wisconsin.