From New Orleans to Sunnyvale, aka Skipping Texas

Yeah, it’s been a long time. I’ve been busy. But today I’m going to catch up on sleep and do laundry, so maybe I can also include a little writing and reflection.

First of all, let’s flash back to when I got onto a train in New Orleans. The date on the ticket reminds me that it was November 11, 2015. My bicycle was stuffed into a bike box. I was happily congratulating myself on my excellent planning skills by not overbuying food the last time I restocked my panniers, so they were a little lighter and smaller than usual. That made it easier to stash them into the luggage racks! But after a few hours of sitting on the train, I started to feel a little hungry, and then realized that of course I would be sitting on this train for two days. With a dining car that charged $8 for a microwaved hot dog.

Oops.

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Mr. Lion feels a little queasy… it’s been a while since we’ve seen the world go by this fast!

Oh well, that was okay. Being in the dining car gave me lots of opportunities to mingle with the other travelers! And I have to say, these weirdos choosing to travel across the country by train instead of by plane are definitely worth talking to. Their stories and reasons for traveling by train range from the inspirational to the downright bizarre and mildly horrifying. Yes, I acknowledge that they may be saying the same thing about me. One girl I met found me such an oddity that she pulled out a camera and videoed our conversation as she subjected me to a formal interview.

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From Natchez to New Orleans, aka Get on the Sidewalk

So, it was early November, I was in Natchez, Mississippi, and it was time to start thinking about how I was getting home. Flying was not an option. I had made that promise to myself before I left, and I was standing by it. At this point, the thought of riding all the way back home to California seemed not too crazy. Clearly, I would want to stay south, given that we were rapidly marching our way to winter, but that would also mean that Texas stood in my way.


Desert gas station

A forgotten desert gas station like this haunted my imagination.

Many people I met told me stories about some famed, fearless, formidable cyclist who finally met his or her match in Texas. Snow in the Pyrenees, armed guards in Korea, obstinate passport stampers in Brazil – none of these things could stop the steady pedaling of a touring cyclist the way the vast boredom of the dry Texas desert could. Broken, exhausted, driven to lunacy by the solitude, the touring cyclist in Texas puts in that phone call. I was obsessed with imagining the receiving end of that phone call. The phone rings brightly, perhaps playing a cheerful ringtone selected for the spunky traveler. Maybe Queen’s Bicycle Race. “Oh fun! I wonder how the adventure’s going!”

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From Atlanta to Natchez, aka Now what?

Now what? It’s a question that keeps coming up. The transcontinental bike ride has been completed for a while. It seems a little wrong to keep up a blog that was designed for one purpose that has now been realized, but it also seems really sad to just let it die. Besides, who knows, maybe it can still play a role in recruiting bone marrow donors. Let’s see what happens.

So there I was, sitting in Atlanta. I had a few things I wanted to get done. First of all, relax and spend time with my sister Cindy and her family. Goof around with the niece and nephew. Enjoy not being in the rain. Take advantage of having a kitchen and easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables and running water. Write a whole lot of thank you notes. Snuggle with the cat. Eat pie.

But one can only sit around enjoying the easy life for so long. Though I did find some fun YouTube channels. What’s next? Get a job? Like, a real job? I was hoping for an epiphany while being on the road.

Epiphanies achieved: 0 Continue reading

From Cookeville to Atlanta, aka Already?

The ride is officially completed! The coast-to-coast portion concluded in Charleston, South Carolina, where I dipped my wheels into the Atlantic Ocean at Folly Beach, appropriately known as the Edge of America. That wasn’t the end of my journey, though, since I still wanted to ride to Atlanta and conclude at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.

Oh no! Swallowed by the ocean!

Flashback to April and the unruly waves of the Pacific.

As you can see in the above video, I received an extremely warm welcome at Emory! My sister Cindy had done a lot to spread the word of my arrival. I was humbled to be greeted by the very people I admire, the doctors, nurses, and researchers who work tirelessly at providing the best care for patients in need. As they crowded around me and thanked me for helping raise awareness for bone marrow donation, it was only too obvious to me that they are the ones truly deserving of thanks. I am honored to be able to take part and make a contribution, however small it may be, to their life saving work.

The waves on the Atlantic side were much more cooperative.

The waves on the Atlantic side were much more cooperative.

Somehow, they allowed me to take Lutz up to the bone marrow transplant unit in the hospital! I was introduced to patients and their families, and it was another humbling experience to be included in their battles to regain their health. While I am glad to have had this opportunity to raise awareness for Be the Match and the need for bone marrow donors, I am also constantly thinking about how I could have done things differently, how I could have done just a little bit more to help the cause… well, I guess that just means I’m not done yet! My bike ride may be completed, but the mission, of course, is not. Possibly, given what I’ve learned from the first attempt, I should plan another ride… what do you think?

Oops, should I have provided a spoiler alert at the beginning? Sorry. But yes, in case you haven’t guessed already, the ride is completed safely! However, not everything went to plan. Much of the route was altered along the way. I guess I’ll flashback to how I came to be in Cookeville, Tennesse, which was where I left off the last entry, and retrace my steps back to Atlanta.

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From Denver to Cookeville, aka The Soggy Edge

Post WOD at CrossFit Elizabethtown.

Post WOD at CrossFit Elizabethtown, Kentucky.

Many apologies for not writing more frequently, but such is life on the Soggy Edge.

This post will have to be a bit different from the others. I’m not going to take the time to write about everything that’s happened, so I’ll have to just pull a few select tales. Besides, the chronological travel log style is not really the kind of writing I had hoped for myself, so this will be a break from that.

Also, the heat and humidity and general rugged lifestyle is destroying my electronics. This computer is driving me nuts. I never know where my cursor is and it unexpectedly jumps to random places. And the struggle for decent wifi continues. There will be no uploading of photos, because it drives me to tears. (Update – I’ve now come back and added photos.)

But enough griping. Let’s see what I can do.

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From Cedar City to Denver, aka Up

Isaiah recovers from his bone marrow transplant, thanks to a donor in Germany.

Isaiah recovers from his bone marrow transplant at Colorado Children’s Hospital, many thanks to a donor in Germany!

This section of my trip started with lots of climbing, and that was pretty much the theme for the next two weeks or so.

Wednesday June 10th found me in Cedar City, visiting my Cousin Kathy and her two sons. I got going pretty late as I took the opportunity to clean out and reorganize my panniers in an attempt to get a fresh start. I also really enjoyed chatting with my cousins and continuously helping myself to just one more slice of coffee cake.

Eventually I left and started my adventure on the Western Express Route. This route has a rather foreboding description on the Adventure Cycling website:

The Western Express Bicycle Route… challenges the rider with extreme weather and riding conditions, as well as logistical obstacles. One’s efforts are rewarded, however, by experiencing some of the least visited and most magnificent areas of the American West…

East of Cedar City, Utah, the route passes through some of the nation’s most isolated communities and several of its most spectacular scenic wonders. Take some time to explore Cedar Breaks, Escalante, and Natural Bridges National Monuments; Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks; and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. To even the most experienced of travelers, these natural sculptures, spires, buttes, and canyons are no less than humbling. The Utah portion of the route could be a worthy destination in itself.

I’d already taken my tours through Zion and Bryce Canyon, so I wasn’t expecting to encounter anything that could really compare. Oh, I was so unprepared. Continue reading

From Salt Lake City to Cedar City, aka Seven!

I got the photo I wanted! Does that mean I can go home now?

I got the photo I wanted! Does that mean I can go home now?

For those of you who don’t know, choosing my route across the country was an arduous task. In fact, it continues to be an arduous task. There are so many things to see, and only so much time.

Previous versions of my route included continuing up to Seattle, going through Yellowstone, sweeping down to the Grand Canyon, poking around New Orleans… pretty much I wanted to do it all. Some things just had to be saved for later trips.

But there were two things that I refused to give up: Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. And so I continued heading south from Salt Lake City. I know, I know, a cross country trip from west to east doesn’t get accomplished by wiggling north and south. Whatever, I wanted to see southwestern Utah.

Kevin's aunt and uncle, Pat and Ray, in Spanish Fork.

Kevin’s aunt and uncle, Pat and Ray, in Spanish Fork.

So on Saturday May 30, after leaving my wonderful hosts in Salt Lake City, Lou and Julie, I headed to Spanish Fork to visit Kevin’s aunt and uncle, Ray and Pat. They treated me to a fantastic evening of ice cream and 8×10 photographs of Kevin and Sunyoung’s wedding in Korea. They had also spent some time in Thailand, so I got to flip through their photo albums as we shared our different experiences there. The ride to Spanish Fork was incredibly hot, though, and left me drained of energy. Of the three of us, I went to bed first. Honestly, night owl me? That’s impressive. Continue reading