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 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 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

From Portland to Boise, aka Follow that Cyclist

Kevin and Sunyoung and me doing one of the things we do best!

Kevin and Sunyoung and me doing one of the things we do best!

You’ll have to forgive me, I think this post is going to seem a little vague. The last week of cycling went by in a blur, and honestly I rarely knew exactly where I was. For what is probably a more accurate account of what happened, visit Kevin’s Basses Bikes and Boise!

Anyway, I spent a glorious couple of days relaxing in Portland with wonderful hosts. Despite all the help I got from Sue and Be the Match, Portland CrossFitters did not respond to my requests to hold donor drives at their boxes. Which was a little disappointing, but also kind of nice, since that meant more domestic time under a roof for me. I baked cookies for the family, went on grocery shopping trips, got a little massage, did my laundry, and all those little things were very soothing. Friday May 8th rolled around very quickly, though, and it was time to meet Kevin and Sunyoung at the train station.

Linda calls up the different Be the Match reps in the northwest district and introduces me as a

Linda calls up the different Be the Match reps in the northwest district and introduces me as a “celebrity.” Ha!

I cheated and got a ride into downtown Portland so that I could have time to poke around a bit before the train came in. I dropped in at a CrossFit box to make sure they knew what they were missing out on by not hosting me (just kidding, I’m sure they’re doing their own wonderful things!) and then swung by the Be the Match office unannounced. Linda Alexander, manager of the northwest district, was engaged in an absolute flurry of activity, but once she realized who I was, she squealed and enveloped me in her tornado of energy. Almost immediately she plunked me into a conference call with the other Be the Match contacts in the northwest district. It was great to hear Frances’ voice again and to get to talk to John, whose email I had recently blown up with plans for Boise. Continue reading

From Sunnyvale to Eureka

It is surreal to think that I am currently fulfilling one of my childhood dreams while tragedy has struck Nepal. Events like this make me realize just how small we are and how brief our time here is. So grab your opportunities when they come! If anyone hasn’t made their donation yet to help, I am a big fan of Foundation Beyond Belief.

So today I am at Cal Courts in Eureka to meet the CrossFitters there and hopefully inspire them to join the Be the Match registry! I’ve been talking to people on the road about Be the Match and everyone has been incredibly supportive, but this is my first arranged meeting! Frances sent swab kits up, and I’m super excited to get them distributed to new potential marrow donors. Wish me luck!

But I suppose I should do a summary of the first week on the road. It has been such an incredible week.

Erik, Lori, and Sue accompanied me for the start of my journey.

Erik, Lori, and Sue accompanied me for the start of my journey.

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Hammock Test in Big Basin

My friends Kat and Hai-Yue are the cutest. They have been wanting to go camping for a while, and after several weeks of conflicting schedules, we finally made it! Unfortunately, it had to be a short trip, but still totally fun!

I was originally planning on cycling to the campsite, but lack of time made that impractical. Instead, my focus was to just have a good time and to try out the camping hammock that Ed and Lauren had given me for my birthday.

Lauren told me that she had gotten in contact with this guy who helped start the non-profit Bike the US for MS. She asked him what was one piece of equipment that he found invaluable, and he told her his hammock. So she and Ed got me a hammock! The idea is that with this hammock, I could leave the tent at home.

Well, I’m a bit a skeptical. I’ve dealt with hammocks a lot in the past. And I have to say that falling out of hammocks is a thing. Continue reading