8/28/13

HERE WE ARE!

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!

Love,
joey

8/12/13

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.
~Bekah

8/3/13

The Rockies!

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









7/25/13

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.

Love,
joey

7/21/13

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

7/15/13

People


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,
Bekah

7/14/13

Almost Century

YESTERDAY WE RODE 95 MILES.

p.s. We are in Wisconsin.

7/9/13

Exploring in Clare, Michigan

Today we rode 60 miles on the Pere Marquette rail trail. We were excited to be on a nice wide, traffic-free, and paved trail but it ended up feeling like FOREVER! It was quiet and fairly meditative. We didn't even play any games- we just let ourselves daydream today. 

I always find it hard to articulate my time on the bike. There's a lot of thinking that happens and hilarious incidents but theres just so much muchness!
Mind meets bike.

Anyway! The real story is our short detour into Clare city. Our lovely host from the night before told us to stop at the "cops & doughnuts" shop. Its a very popular place. And, it's exactly what you're thinking... 


A doughnut shop run by cops!

They bake all there stuff right there, sell merchandise, and do corky things like invite you to take a mugshot. The pictures speak for themselves:




Good stuff, EH?!

Taking the ferry into Michigan soon! We're very excite. Yip-yip!

7/5/13

Pictures from Canada

Here are a few photos from crossing the border into Canada (over the Queenston-Lewiston bridge), along the coast of Lake Erie, and finally across the St. Clair River into Michigan (yesterday).

6/28/13

Onward, outward..upward?

We are leaving Rochester this rainy morning after 3.5 rest days in one of my favorite cities. I went to school here and every time I come back feel more attached.

An incredible session at Full Moon Vista Bike Shop sends us off with new energy and knowledge about technique. Thank you so much to Scott and everyone else!

I felt very lucky to connect with some of my favorite people while staying in a familiar place and having the pleasure of showing my teammates around.

There are a whirlwind of feelings as we end our third week (!) and head out from what may be the last "familiar place" in the east. We notice the changes in each town we pass as far as terrain, culture, (weather)... but WHOA. Things are really gonna change as we move.

My favorite rule I've created for myself on this trip is No Expectations Allowed.

Here we go!!

P.s. Check back for a 4th of July update probably in Canada...

-- joey

6/26/13

Two Stories and A Poem

We have time. This is something that all three of us remind ourselves as we pass through a wonderful city, need a rest, or see a detour. It is not a race nor a rush to the Pacific.

A few day ago, Joey, Lily, and I found ourselves biking in queue as usual, pointing out the gravel, potholes, and glass on the side of the road, shouting various observations back and forth to one another. It was a particularly hot and humid day and as we pedaled along, we found ourselves crossing a major highway and thus, passing by a potentially shorter route to our next destination. The highway was not a part of our Northern Tier maps, but it appeared that it would bring us to our next stop while cutting off a significant amount of miles (certainly more direct, but much less scenic and rewarding). We all skidded to a stop at the sign:
"Should we do it?"
"It would mean flatter and less miles"
"Would we even have  place to stay if we got there tonight?"
"We could figure it out..."
And as we stood there contemplating for a moment between our longer route ahead or the highway turn..Lily yelled:
"Guys, we have time."
A simple statement you might imagine, yet one which helped me do a little shake in the noggin and come up clear again. This is not a race. The biking IS the journey. And with that reminder and a push from the pavement, we continued on our path. I was glad we were given that little "kick" from the heavens.

Well reader, I am now going to share with you a few different stories that stand out in my mind as we have entered week 3 of Inventure:

Something In The Mind
Not too long ago, we pulled off to a gas station to eat our daily power bar snack:
"What do you guys want today?" Joey inquired as she opened her rear pannier. "We've got Peanut Butter Crunch or our favorite White Chocolate Macadamia."
(side note...Probars are probably the most AMAZING bar we've had thus far)
"Let's go with White Chocolate...why not"
As we sat there enjoying each Cliff  bar bite and finishing up the last of the freshly-picked strawberries one of our hosts had kindly donated to our trip, an older couple from North Carolina began telling us of their biking escapades around the country. Despite being impressed by their traveling experiences (and the fact that they had driven to NY from NC to bike!!) what struck me most was a comment made by the gentleman:
Gentleman: "Long distance biking does something to your brain doesn't it?"
Bekah: "What do you mean by that?"
Gentleman: "Well, you start to begin to think only about the necessities and real basics like food, shelter, and water. All that extra stuff no longer becomes important."

And he's right. Along with this change regarding what one focuses on in a given day, there comes a shift regarding what one values and cherishes as well. The seemingly simplest of gestures, comments, or occurrances, become significant. i.e.:

  • A wave from a passing car
  • A smile from someone sitting out on their porch
  • A cooling forest breeze (would I even have felt it if I weren't sweaty and hot?)
  • Momentary feelings of the warm, drying sun or the cooling rain
  • The simple pleasure of a steep hill climb only to recognize the feeling of leveling out again with gravity and the solid understanding that there is always a downhill

(and while I bet many people would understand all of those examples, these two may be specific to me:

  • Biking past any body of water and the immediate sense of peace and awe I feel
  • Seeing family and friends gathered together while pedaling by 


Now here I have no good segway other than "this is where my brain is flowing to next":

A short poem I wrote about "opposites"

Opposite

"Inventure is about opposites. Life is about opposites. 
Yin and Yang. Black and White.
If you just wait a bit
If you just trust a bit
What you hope for will come...the Opposite. 
If it is hot, trust that the evening will bring cooler breezes...it usually does.
If you are hungry, trust that soon you will be full. 
If the hill is long, trust the sweet fun provided for you in the downhill on the other side.
If you are in pain or discomfort (cough* bike seat *cough) know that you will be comfortable again soon.
So no need to rush. 
The opposite will always come. 
It always does. "

The Incident of The Three Riders and The Motorized VehicleRaise your hand if you recently saw a photo of us in a car and felt confused, perhaps even outraged. Okay, put your hand down, you look silly. Sit back, I'll explain.

Inventure has been full of blessings. Yes, I know, there is quite a ways to go yet on our journey and we have had and will continue to have our fair share of struggle. But those struggles are far outweighed by the things for which we are grateful.
I imagine that there is a spectrum. One end is called "receiving" and one end is called "giving", or perhaps, "paying it forward."Currently, this ride has placed us often on the "receiving" end of the line and has already taught me more than I could have known about hospitality, open-heartedness, and care. It has illustrated to me, for example, what it feels like to really REALLY feel welcomed to a home, helping  me develop into exactly the kind of "pay it forward" person that I hope to be throughout my life. Okay right, the car story.

After a particularly long and hot day last week, Inventure found themselves in a very small NY town looking to settle in for the evening. Upon arrival, the three bikers pedaled around slowing down to begin the search for "home". Passing over what they learned was the Salmon River Reservoir, the sun was on its way down and the bikers were calmed by the sight of what looked like a wedding ceremony about to take place.
 "Now there's a promising place to ask about potential hosts," they thought in their heads as the cycled by. Not long after passing some lovely fishing piers, a Cottage and Cabins Inn, a man walking his dog, and a small post office, they stopped. Sleepily pondering their predicament and potential evening options, they noticed a friendly woman sitting out on her veranda...A RESOURCE!
Pulling over onto her lawn, the bikers noticed that her home was buzzing with more hummingbirds than they had even seen. But, despite the hummingbirds and though she was quite friendly, her advice proved to be not quite what they were looking for/could afford. And so, the three turned 'round and cycled back the way they came...hoping a good idea would blossom. Waving hello a second time to the man and his dog, they paused at the nearest eatery. Despite their best efforts, it was a no good either. Too expensive and not too friendly.
As if hoping something new would have changed since the last two times they biked up and down the street, they decided to cycle a third time past the wedding, the fishing piers, and the man with his dog (who was, by now I'm convinced, thoroughly confused...truly a Groundhog Day scenario).

 But though you may be chuckling to yourself at this back and forth display of the worn out bikers, something WAS different this third time around. Courage surged through the young travelers and they turned into the Cabin and Cottages Inn. There, outside the beautifully manicured lawn and well-kept buildings, stood Tanya and Mitch."You guys looking for a place to camp?"  Tanya asked.
The angels were watching.
"We get bikers coming through here often. Mitch, do you mind if they camp under the cherry tree? The cottages are full, but you're welcome to pitch your tents back here. I'd stay away from pitching camp by the water, the geese make a mess. You can swim in the Reservoir if you'd like, we do all the time. And if you want I'll show you where the showers are in case..."
And with that, like it had been for the three bikers in the two weeks leading up to this moment, the offer became exponentially more amazing.

(Side Note: There seems to be a trend that hosts and guests (us) on this bike trip follow:
1.  Host meets  bikers.
2. Bikers meet host.
3. Energetic exchange happens.
4. If exchange is negative, bikers an host part ways.
5. If exchange is positive, both linger and engage in a quick chat.
6.  Initially hesitant host becomes increasingly open. Both guests and host grow fonder  of one another.
7. Bikers are welcomed in and soon, both host and bikers have found new lifelong friends.)

So, after setting up their tents under the cherry tree and going for their first swim since the journey's beginning, the bikers were overjoyed. As if all of that weren't enough, Tanya nearly gave the bikers conniptions when she told them that she would lend them her car to go into town for dinner. The next thing they knew, the dirty, tired, and semi-delirious travelers were refreshed, clean, and sitting in A CAR (now you know) on their way to dinner.
Hang on here, it gets even better. After driving back to the Inn under a nearly full moon and moving faster than they had in days, the bikers began to walk to their tents underneath the cherry tree to turn in for the night. Encountering Tanya and her daughter en route to bed, another gift was bestowed:
"You know, I feel badly making you camp out. I've got two free bedrooms upstairs with the best beds you'll ever sleep in if you would like."
......
and so now you know. You know how it is that we found ourselves in a car one day and how it is that we find ourselves feeling so incredibly fortunate and grateful on this journey of endless surprises. Let it be known that we have encountered so many people like Tanya and Mitch. Kind, warm, open, and caring souls.

There is so much more to describe, reflect upon, and share with you, but I shall save it for another day. For now, I will close out by sending blessings and light to all of our loved ones...you are with us every step of this journey. And to those of you whom we have met while Inventuring (whether in conversation, in your home, or passing by) ,our most recent lifelong friends, thank you.




6/23/13

And I would bike 500 miles!

Hello followers - friends and family! 

I'm sitting in a lovely home drinking a cup of peppermint tea. SO MUCH GRATITUDE. I won't begin on this now because we feel gratitude all day, ever day and will likely talk about it in every other post. So... we're only about 20 miles from Rochester where we will take our next set of rest days (whatever we feel they need to be). Today's weather was the most weather, weather of all time. I guess what I mean by that is I couldn't stop thinking about it! It was about 100% humidity and up there around 90 degrees while we were on the road in the middle of the day. Some call it "lake effect" (from Ontario), I call it swimming. Bekah and I were both brushing salt granules off our shoulders and arms all day. HYDRATION was important. Thank you, Sandy, for the Gatorade. 

 OH... [[We're hittin' some big ones here: today has officially been two weeks on the road and yesterday (Saturday) we hit 500 miles! New York has taken us longer than those other three states (Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont)]]

So, please read these series of bullet in any order or fashion you like. They're not necessarily related but more just a series of things I wanted to share and express (or things I just find myself thinking about on the bike). There are little segments and themes - there are little moments and big challenges. They are not necessarily whole or complete thoughts (and definitely not all of them are practical). They are: bits of learning, fun moments, and slightly hilarious or unfortunate realities.
  • It seems as thought my diagnosed spirit animal (a monkey) might be becoming an accurate portrayal. I started out with a longer arm span than body height. I've got a case of the gangles. But now... things are getting more severe. As you know, a razor is A LOT of extra weight to carry. Therefore, I'm becoming harrier and harrier by the day. I'm also building more muscle (one would hope) sporting the large Morgan forehead and lastly, getting better with tools.
  • On a more serious but maybe less personal note, I'm in the process of learning an important lesson. To tell the quick story - on the third day of the trip I started to develop some knee pain, located on the outside of my leg and likely related to tight muscles and an improper bike fit (meaning seat height, cleat placement, etc). The pain has progressed and I'm doing all I can now. I'm stretching, icing, massaging and rolling, taking Ibuprofen (or Vitamin - I, as a friend called it).  Last Tuesday and Wednesday were bad days. I even had to walk up some of the hills because of the pain. As you can imagine, all of that has been a pretty discouraging experience - full of frustration, pain, disappointment, and even fear. The "what-ifs" that I suppressed in my mind moved from there to real conversation. But there is a deeper experience that this all brings to light....
    • First, this journey. Bekah, Joey, and I all wanted to internal struggles, challenges, and sufferings to be a part of this trip. We talked about how it is not about the destination as much as it is the journey that gets us there. Therefore, this knee situation has allowed us to have conversations that bring the journey to life. The three of us will get to Seattle together - that is Inventure. We will adapt as necessary - making the trip richer by welcoming the change that may need to come. Isn't this good practice for getting by in our society? Practicing change and adaptation -  The "how" in our lives? These questions and problems are great teachers. We will strive to be open and dig deeper into ourselves when making choices. Sufferings seems to have opportunity to provide newness and enlightened understandings. Success is also only a matter of perspective.
    • There is also a more personal learning experience that comes from this and for me this injury is really about self-love. My family gave me some good advice. Treat yourself how you would treat a good friend. So, if it was Bekah or Joey, what advice would I give? I would say: be patient and gentle with yourself. It is so hard to think long term but reaching Seattle is most likely to come if we take the precautionary measure (another lesson for our great country). I'm learning to become my own true friend. And to hold those big dreams dearly but appreciate the nature of paths -- that they change. I appreciate my body and love it for what it allows me to do in my life. I should take care of myself... I know. All that being said, I'm working on figuring out how to be better. The past three days were great until the last 10 miles of today when it got bad again. The plan is to see a doctor in Rochester. I think it is the wisest decision. This has been a really hard (but important) lesson for me, well, for all three of us.
  • Before we left Middlebury over a week ago, Lisa let us weight our bikes. SO... it turns out they all weight in the range of70-80 lbs before  our necessary re-stocking of food. That's a lot of weight!
  • I had a realization the other day while biking along the beautiful lakes in New York. I was thinking of home and friends and family. It is amazing how time and space are largely under our own control. They can (as they are on this trip) be inverse of one another. What I mean is that as we geographically move from east to west, we move further away from being home. Yet at the very same moment, in time, we get closer and closer to being home. It shows how things are cyclical, not linear. In a linear world, it becomes two paths moving away from each other (maybe that my divide between my mind - thinking of home, and the body - moving west). But it makes more sense as a circle. Here, wherever we are and whatever time we're in, we're on a path that is the same journey. Although moving in different directions, we have the same line and end at the same place. **I illustrated this in my journal -- sorry you won't get to see** But, what does this mean about perspective? Or about place and time? About existing in a multi-dimentional world? It might not be about exactly WHERE our spirits, bodies, and minds are, but more, what are the paths we choose to take and HOW do we move along these paths. Maybe this is some of the difference between traveling lost and traveling grounded. 
  • A lot of people mow their lawns. A lot of people do not keep their dogs on leashes. A lot of people give you plenty of space on the road (though not all). A lot of dragonflies die in the shoulder. A lot of Red Winged Black Birds like to talk. A lot of trees try to grow around electrical wires. A lot of bugs take advantage of our moving vehicles and catch a ride. A lot of people say, "you mean... Washington STATE?". A lot of people think Bekah and I are still in school. A lot of people are really nice. A lot of bike grease ALL THE TIME.  A lot of soggy-ness.
  • Us three are SO. DIFFERENT. IT'S. AMAZING.
  • If you see a diner or bar that says, "BIKERS WELCOME", that doesn't mean you Oforo, Pegasus, or Maia.
  • By the end of this trip, our left sides will be much tanner than our right.
Well, that's all for now - it's 10:30 and past our bed time.

My love goes out to you all! 

6/18/13

Hello New York!

It seems like we flew through New Hampshire and Vermont but we'll be getting to know New York for the next week and a half or so..

Our friend Cyril joined us going UP UP UP the Middlebury Gap, after which we had a wonderful two rest days in Burlington with some familiar faces.

Lily and I got to go to Meeting in Burlington on Sunday which was so nice, plus we met a new friend named James who biked with us the next day from Middlebury! We took a ferry to Ticonderoga, NY.

While trying to find a campground near Paradox Lake (it's real) we stopped by a gorgeous old house/B&B to ask, and ended up going in to get a tour of the amazing building which was bursting with history, and met some incredible people with whom we ended up having some crazy connections. Just ask any of us about Paradox House sometime. WOW. So many thanks to Analise and Merritt.

We've heard from a couple others who've done similar trips that New England was the hardest section-- AND I BELIEVE IT. Talk about hills. My body is definitely still figuring out what's going on.

-- joey

6/16/13

Gifts: From Maine to Vermont


I once learned that in our human brains, the center for language is quite distinct from the center which processes our emotions. In other words, it's hard to SAY how we FEEL. But, on one cold and damp night mid-week, we (me, Joey, and Lily) found ourselves feeling full. Full in our hearts and full in our stomachs sitting warm and dry surrounded by the nighttime hills of Bethel, Vermont. And there, scattered amongst our hanging wet biking clothes by the wood stove of our new friends, I wrote this:

"When I leave what I know, I can no longer expect anything.
So then when I find myself so happy and comfortable- standing, warm and dry, with a full belly, surrounded by the love of friends who used to be strangers and the beautiful land, what do I do? How do I express gratitude? How do I thank?

I suppose...give back is my best answer. Be the same person to others as others are to me.
We have had nothing but blessings since Day One. Our families nurtured us as we prepared our bags, bikes, and bodies to set forth. The bright sun lit our path as we pedaled away from what we knew, leaving the Atlantic Ocean from Wells, Maine. The rain cooled us as we relentlessly pedaled our way through the White Mountains up the Kancamagus Highway of New Hampshire. Out of the past 8 days of travel, we've slept in our tents only once (and that was in the backyard of a friend) due to the kindness of those who have offered shelter in the form of a trailer, a pottery studio, a cabin, house, or home. We have made friends with a ranger, a nurse, two potters, a steel drum tuner, bike repairmen, musicians, an ice cream shop scooper, an artist, international camp counselors, parents, students, dogs (lots of dogs), and car windows with waving hands.

Those who were once strangers, now begin to look after us. They have feed us warm bowls of chili at night, given us towels with which to clean our sweaty selves, offered us beer, coffee, tea, steaming bowls of oats in the morning, and dry beds. Those who were once strangers begin to show concern for us, "Are you warm enough? Do you have food? Have you felt safe enough around the cars?" Those who were once strangers and are now friends have done so much for us that I feel flustered with gratitude and with the constant question, "How, How will you, Bekah, give back?"

And while that is perhaps a life-long question, one that is best embodied rather than quantified and qualified, I do know this:
each time I face a steep hill up ahead, each time I experience the cold and the wet, each time I feel lost or tired, all I have to do is think of these blessings and know that all is well. Each pedal to the Pacific is dedicated to these faces. Faces new as well as old...for equally as powerful are the words, messages, and phone calls from family and friends that have been lighting my fire and inspiring me each day.
So then, thanks because we just ate a home-cooked meal (goat chili, coconut milk rice, sauteed vegetables, nuts, toasted corn, breads, and cheese), thanks because I'm looking out onto the Green Mountains, thanks because we received free bike tune ups at Green Mountain Bike Shop in Rochester, thanks because our friend met up with us to bike over the Middlebury Gap, thanks, thanks, thanks......

Slowly and surely, we ride.

 The Atlantic
 My Best Friends...sending me off
Killgore!!! (biker name)
Together on the Ocean

 Tamworth, New Hampshire
Taco Tuesday

 Sharon Trading Post, VT
Surprise Friends in South Royalton, VT

 Up the Middlebury Gap in VT with a Familiar Face
 Made it! Middlebury, VT
Rest Days
Yep...he's the best
I leave you with the reply of one of our recent Vermont hosts. After asking him how to best express the kind of immense thanks I felt for all that he and his wife had done for us, he responded: "Well, I just strive to be the kind of person I'd want to meet on the road. And, you know, life can be hard sometimes. So, why not make it great?"



6/13/13

Some photos

No time for captions.. Here are a few photos from the first couple days in New England :)

6/6/13

Thank you

I was trying to figure out the most appropriate blog post to write before our trip begins this Sunday the 9th (!) but was having trouble coming up with something that I really wanted to say.

I'm sure it can be understood the swarming of moods - coming and going. I'm not sure what ready means. I'm not sure what life will be on bike. I'm not sure how we will move, meet, and greet. BUT - my excitement and energy beats on strong, sort of like how my heart was beating only yesterday morning in West Virginia as I was running 3 miles up a mountain road.

In all this change, wild preparation, and constant rumbling of tummy nerves, I have figured out what must be said.

THANK YOU.

This trip, even in thought and mind, is something special and I have my family -- the close and the extended, the blood and the non-blood -- to thank for their support, love, and push.
Is it complicated or is it simple?

Relax. Breathe.
Open your eyes. Close your eyes.
Take it in. Release. 

Things will come and go
and so

LET US GO! 

Here are a few pictures of the people and places that... actually, no words needed.
I love them.

Reigate - devotion and stewardship

Home - backbone and courage

Dad - teacher and hero. A speaker and listener

Mom - teacher and hero. A listener and speaker

Becky, Alex, and Tim - love, trust, and admiration


5/28/13

River


Here I am, at the Burlington waterfront overlooking Lake Champlain with Pegasus (my bike) propped up beside me. And you know something? I feel SO READY to Inventure…

Peg and I just left Skirack, a local outdoor store that has been absolutely wonderful in supporting me as I prepare to ride in less than 2 weeks. Similar to Joey’s experience with Cycle Funattic, Skirack is a locally owned store with incredible people inside. Having become a frequent customer, going in to purchase, peruse, and daydream about nearly any bike-related SOMETHING you can imagine, when I step inside it feels like I’m visiting with old friends: “Hey Bekah! Back again?” or “How’s the trip planning going?”
Now perhaps they’re thinking, “Not you again?!”  But I would never know it. The smiles, curiosity, and help I get every single time I enter never fails to impress me.

Peg spent the weekend with the Skirack family, becoming outfitted with his front rack, rear rack, fenders, handlebar mirror, water bottle holder, and panniers. Needless to say, he’s put on a few extra pounds. A few hours ago, I eagerly went to the store to pick him up. I swear there was a moment when at least half of the Skirack staff was huddled around Pegasus helping adjust and tinker with the parts until he was just right. What a blessing this community is.

And I can’t not mention the amazing light I feel every time a friend, friend of a friend, or friend of a friend’s friend energetically offers to host us as we cycle through their home turf. Thank you!
As our date of departure comes closer, I become increasingly excited to make my home on this bike. It’s a comforting feeling knowing that all the possessions I’ll need for the next few months will be right with me on this small metal frame.
 I sit here, looking out at the beloved Adirondack ridgeline, watching the gulls flies over the blue water (god what I would give to be a gull for just one day), and my mind wanders…
Says Bekah to herself:
“I’m at peace here by the water, here in the city that I call home, but I’m ready to travel and see. I’m ready to leave behind what is comfortable so that I can come back and appreciate it all even deeper and love ever more.” (I’m sorry I mention ‘love’ so much, it just happens).
Now, I’ve worked ropes courses and climbing walls for a while, typically making it my goal to (safely mind you) guide people out of their comfort zone. Why? I suppose so that they can come back into the world they know having become stronger and more awake. Which is perhaps why we are seeking to ride...so that we can, as Joey says, wake up!
And here on the brink of this journey, I can feel the gift that this trip is handing to me. The gift presents itself in the form of a question:
          Can you be present in the moment?..and embrace the change that is happening, to open up to the new people entering your life, and to stop in order to listen to the river flowing around you, around us all.
A few years ago, a university class of mine had each student adopt a nickname. River was the name that stuck for me. And I challenge myself now to live up to that name (oof, don’t forget Bekah, there are lots of folks who just heard that challenge to yourself). 

One of the mantras I like to keep as I cycle reminds me that no matter how massive the hill up ahead may be, the only enjoyable way to get to the top is to embrace (with a smile if you want) each and every pedal along the way. It’s the ONLY method to get you to your destination…and there are always more miles to come.
With gratitude to you all,
River (Bekah)

5/20/13

Joey's Bike

When I started looking for my bike I knew I wanted to get it from a local bike shop. I wanted to be able to ask lots of questions, and have somewhere to go when I can't figure something out, and talk to a real person who really knows bikes. I also was trying to hard to find a good touring bike for under $1000 (this is hard to do).

I checked out most of the bike shops in Bethlehem and a couple in Easton but didn't get "the feeling" about any bikes I saw or the shops themselves. They were OK. I was thinking about getting a Raleigh Port Townsend, but the (good) review I read was from a man. So I looked up "best touring bikes for women." The name Bianchi started popping up so I checked it out. On the Bianchi website, I kept coming back to the Campione. Something seemed right about it. AND it's under $1000. So I looked up Bianchi dealers near my zip code.

On May 1, I walked into Cycle Funattic in Phillipsburg, NJ-- just across the bridge from Easton. When asked if I needed help with anything I said, "I'm riding across the country this summer and I need a touring bike." Russ said, "I have just the bike for you."

He showed me a Bianchi Campione.

FURTHERMORE. Here's why Cycle Funattic is the best:

1. Even if you don't need a touring bike, there is a great selection.
2. The owner is really there and he is so caring and passionate about bikes and cyclists.
3. He treats you like a human instead of just a customer.
4. It's small and local.
5. IT'S JUST THE BEST.

I seriously can't describe all the ways Russ went above and beyond for me during this process. I am so grateful and I feel SO lucky. Thank you thank you thank you Cycle Funattic!!

About the bike:

That signature Bianchi teal-like color is called celeste. I had to have it for my handlebars.

She wasn't a fan of the gravelly part of the trail on the way home from the bike shop, but otherwise rides like a dream. (and I DO know how to change a flat now-- Thanks again, Russ!)

Her name is Maia: daughter of Atlas, the primordial Titan who held up the celestial sphere; first of the Pleiades, the seven sisters; mother of Hermes; a mountain nymph; embodies the concept of growth. ...Plus I found her on May 1st. Plus, she was made in Italy.

So far I couldn't be happier with this bike. I'll update on her performance during my trip down to Philadelphia in my next post. :)





5/8/13

5/7/13

Ubuntu

I returned from a morning walk.
And I ask:
"How can I possible begin to embody and thank life for all that I see outside? How can I express it all?
The contrasting white- no purity!- flowers against the crisp, sharp, morning blue.
The deep dark well-like maroon color on rose-like buds with lime green leaves, new and soft.
The bell-shaped blossoms and champagne smells.
The way the wind bubbles through the new Quaking aspen leaves, tender, waving towards the sky!"

I feel a change. It seems like, along with the Inventure team, many people in our lives are embarking on new journeys, new chapters of life. And while I feel a sadness during this time, a longing to hold onto each moment never letting time pass, I am ready and I am humbled by all that is to come. To venture forth!!

This morning a dear friend of mine introduced me to another blog on which I discovered an African philosophy known as: Ubuntu. Ubuntu believes that no one of us exists in isolation. That we are all intertwined and interrelated and that when one of us suffers, we all do, and conversely when one of us succeeds, we all succeed. I believe Ubuntu.
And as summer approaches and we each blow to the wind, I take you all with me...I take Ubuntu with me.

~Bekah