Archive for July, 2011

Vida, OR to Corvallis, OR

Friendly horn taps: 4

Miles: 74

Total miles so far: 4,577

Ride Update:  We have moved the schedule up and we anticipate we will finish in Astoria, Oregon on Monday afternoon, July 18.  Please consider a donation to help us reach our goal.  Thank you.

Morning on the McKenzie River

As part of my association with MADD, I do some public speaking.  I’ve had the honor to be invited for some keynote speeches and I’ve addressed various groups for a number of years.  When I speak, I have to talk a little about myself, as that is usually directly tied in with why I would be at the podium in the first place.  However, those who know me well know that I would prefer not to use the terms “I” or “You” at all.  I prefer using “We”.   So whenever I get to the real point of what I want to say, I am using the inclusive term “we”.  As an example, I naturally bristle at a pastor addressing his congregation and talking about our behaviors and shortcomings and overusing the term “you”.  If “we” are going to talk shortcomings of the human condition, “we” better expresses those who fall short of grace than “you”.  The bottom line:  When it comes to taking action, the term “we” is more effective than lecturing to “you”.

All this is to say, that in this blog, I have had to consciously force myself into a first-person context.  When speaking of my grief and my reactions to the death of my daughter, I would prefer to talk in a more general sense, but I know that’s not fair to everyone, as not everyone reacts the same way.  My decision to do this ride and my reactions to the feelings and events that take place are my own personal observations, and for that purpose, I have been writing in first-person.

I have been speaking a lot of my moving forward as a theme for this journal.  Not everyone can move forward in the same way, because we are all different people, our losses are different, and our reactions to those losses vary.  This is as it should be.  Not everyone can get on a bicycle and do what we have done (although I highly recommend it).

However there is that collective “we” out there.  The “we” I refer to include those who read this blog, they include those who have contributed to the fundraising efforts, and they include those who one day will do either or both.  So yes, I have been keeping a first-person journal, but I am ever conscious of the vast and growing audience, the supporters, and those whose lives and losses we are trying to honor with our efforts in this ride.  We want to thank all of you,  for your generous contributions, your thoughtful comments, your supportive e-mails, and your hearty endorsement because it is about all of us.  It is not about me.

With three days left to ride, there is so little time remaining to say thanks.  We know we are greatly blessed by all the support, prayers, well-wishes, and the generosity of our donors.  Thank you.

-Sallie and Carl

Speaking of support, this was discovered along the road today...

And then a surprise greeting from MADD Oregon (from left, Anne Pratt, Carl, Lois Harvick, Nate Wheeler, Sallie, and Barbara Stoeffler in front)

A news crew from an NBC affiliate in Eugene shooting background for an interview with us today


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Judith Ann Jones

Judith Ann Jones

Judith Ann Jones, of Powell, OH was killed in a collision with a drunk driver who crossed the center line on August 7, 2008.  Judy was the mother of four, she was an ordained minister, an accomplished gardener, painter and seamstress.  She was 54 years old.

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Cascading west

Sisters, OR to Vida, OR

Friendly horn taps: 1

Miles: 67

Total miles so far: 4,503

The Cascade Range as we leave Sisters, OR

We completed our final mountain pass today, clearing McKenzie Pass and dropping into the pacific side of the Cascade Mountains.  The pass was closed to all motorized traffic, so we literally had the road to ourselves.  This was quite fortunate, as they intend to open it to traffic tomorrow and in the words of one of the road crew, “It will be a zoo.”  The road is quite narrow and there are no shoulders.  I am grateful for the opportunity to do this without traffic.

We were rewarded for our labors going up the pass by terrific vistas at the top, and a complete change in vegetation going down the 4,000 foot descent.  The western slope receives about 100 inches a year in precipitation where the area we were leaving gets 10 inches a year.  The Pacific silver fir, western hemlock, and the western red cedar trees are a magnificent change, and their enormous trunks dominated my eye.  Ferns were growing on the forest floor and the green colors were sparkling in the sunlight.

We still have hills to deal with, but the monstrous mountains we’ve contended with are all behind us now.   We spilled out below the Cascade Range onto the banks of the famous McKenzie River, and we will follow the same river all the way to the area of Eugene tomorrow.  It’s downstream that way, so we are still descending (we like that!).  By the way, I am finally below 1,000 feet elevation and that’s just fine with me.  Summer can resume anytime.

Road closed...bicycles are permitted

Mount Washington as seen across the lava fields from near the summit of McKenzie Pass

At the summit of McKenzie Pass...pretty much freezing cold at that point too

Descending through the enormous trees

A covered bridge over the McKenzie River

The upper McKenzie River. We went by Greg Tatman's boat shop today too. If you are looking for a white water boat project to build, look up Tatman's boats.


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Richard Dean Boes

Richard Boes

Richard Dean Boes of Stayton, Oregon was killed in a crash involving a drunk driver on June 13, 2003.  Richard was 26 years old.



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Ochoco Lake, OR to Sisters, OR

Friendly horn taps: 1

Miles: 50

Total miles so far: 4,436

Early morning, leaving Lake Ochoco

When I was very young, maybe in the third or fourth grade, I was exposed to a multiple choice question regarding a boy that was scared of lightning.  The question pertained to how to best help the boy overcome his fear of lightning.  The correct answer was to give the boy a camera and have him take pictures of lightning.  I never agreed with, or understood, that answer, so much so, that I remember it even today.

In my life I’ve dealt with a lot of tragedy.  State troopers do that.   I’ve certainly had my own personal losses too.  There are those who say that trauma is cumulative and one can get to the point of overload.  I cannot argue with that.  I’ve certainly seen that happen enough times.

My function at MADD is complicated, but mainly summed up as one of liaison to law enforcement.  However, there isn’t anyone at the National Office that doesn’t occasionally encounter a victim support issue or experience.  I certainly encounter my share.

In my association with MADD, I’ve always monitored myself closely when it comes to other people and their traumas — I’ve asked myself to be careful.  Could it be that my ability to cope effectively with their trauma is diminished by my own?  Am I capable in the role of victim advocacy when called upon?  Read the dedication below and understand what it is like for me to write that out and not be overwhelmed by the traumas experienced by the woman who requested a dedication for her husband.  After experiencing so much of my own trauma, am I afraid of the lightning?

A while ago, I volunteered to help take calls on the Victim/Survivor Helpline (877-MADD-HELP or 877-623-3435).  To qualify for this, I had taken the appropriate Victim/Survivor Advocate training, but I was very tentative about my capacity for this.  What about that lightning thing?

I think I’ve been taking calls two nights a week for about a year and a half now.  I’ve lived with people’s trauma at all hours.  I reflect now that there may be something to that multiple choice question I didn’t agree with when I was so young.  The lightning is still there, it’s still frightening, but Victim Advocates play a role in diminishing other people’s fear and trauma, and maybe, just maybe, that helps me in my fears too.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving serves a victim or survivor of drunk driving every ten minutes.  Please support MADD in their lifesaving work.  Donate now in support of this cross-country journey.  Thank you.

The street scene at Sister, Oregon. A very popular place to visit.

Speaking of visitors, we had a visit from our new friends from Gainesville, Florida, Chuck and Judy Broward - see my post, "Gaining Gainesville" in April.


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Roy McConnell as submitted by his wife, AmyVolker:

Roy McConnell

This is Roy McConnell of Orlando, Florida.  He was killed August 1, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida by an underage drunk driver, at the age of 51.  Amy’s 19 yr old son and two stepsons – 24 & 28- were also killed.  Amy says, “We had a family weekend vacation and my guys had gone to a movie for fun.  They were killed on the way back from the movie.  My husband started triathlons a few years ago.  Here he is on his pink bike – his training friends called him the Pink Rocket.”

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Dayville, OR to Ochoco Lake, OR

Friendly horn taps: 1

Miles: 78

Total miles so far: 4,386

Ride update:  One week remains until we are expecting to arrive in Astoria, Oregon.  Please consider our fundraising and help us achieve our goals!

Picture Gorge in Grant County, Oregon

I’m a dog person.  I have nothing against cats, though for some reason I am allergic to some, not all cats.  One fall, I was without a dog and I was thinking about getting one to fill that empty dog bed in my home.  I found myself pulling into a truck stop in Rock Springs near where I lived, and this young black lab approached me as I was fueling my Jeep Scrambler.  I had seen the dog begging hot dogs and other treats at the door of the truck stop, and I figured her for a stray.

The dog came over and sat.  She was looking first at me, then at the back of my truck with these golden brown eyes, and I said, “Do you want in the truck?”  In a blink, she did a flat-footed jump over the side of my vehicle and was in the back of my truck.  She didn’t have a collar, so I thought I’d take her for a ride to the lumber yard and bring her back.  She seemed right at home, and like most dogs, enjoyed the ride.  During my return, some lumber had shifted and I had to stop and readjust things.  I got out of the cab and as I was walking to the back of the truck when my hat blew off in the Wyoming wind.  Like a flash, the dog jumped out of the truck, bounded through the sagebrush, and caught my hat before it hit the ground.  She turned, and ran back to the truck, jumped into the back, and handed me my hat.  That was the first day of a relationship that was to last for some twelve years.

I had no idea that the dog I named Sadie would later become such a critical member of my family in the role of being the ever constant companion for Carlie.  They were glued to each other at all times.  Although Carlie had “an invisible sister” imaginary friend, it was Sadie that grounded her in every way.  Carlie never stood for a photograph without insisting Sadie be in the shot, most of the time, you could tell that wasn’t Sadie’s idea of a good time, but she always went along with things.  Here’s a good example:

No picture will be taken without Sadie

Sadie’s job changed dramatically after Carlie’s death.  She became my overwatch as I struggled.  I spent what I call “my five years in my cave”, Sadie was with me for four of those, until her life ran its course.

I was thinking of that dear dog today.  Perhaps she knew I was going to make it, and knew she could leave and I would be OK.  I’ve never been sure, but I can’t underestimate a dog that won our hearts so well.

Riding through Picture Gorge - so named because of the Native American pictographs on the canyon walls

A shoe tree in the middle of nowhere, on Route 26 in Wheeler County, Oregon

An east bound rider called this section of the ride "desolate". We found it rugged, but beautiful.

Home for the night at Ochoco Lake. $5 each for a campsite and great showers. You can't beat that!



Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Brandon Faust

Brandon Faust

Brandon Faust was killed in a drunk driving collision on February 19, 2009.  He was 22 years old.  His friends and family published a memorial piece in the paper that mentioned how he was, “…so suddenly taken from us.”  They wrote also, “There are no words that can express how deeply you are missed.”

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Prairie City, OR to Dayville, OR

Miles: 46

Total miles so far: 4, 308

The John Day River

One of the distinguishing features of our journey and its effect on us physically is that we now have a considerable ability to recover quickly from additional stressors placed on us.  Yesterday we had a tough ride of 70 miles with three passes to go over, yet this morning we were good to go and do it all again.  Our ability to recover quickly is not unlimited, but I can tell a vast improvement has taken place.  The human body is an amazing thing.

The general store at Dayville. Petunias grow particularly well here.

I suppose one of the issues we will face is what happens to us when we stop this daily regimen of pretty intense and extended physical demand.  For a  long time we’ve been discussing our eating habits while on this ride, and what we will need to do when we stop the caloric expenditure we are currently engaged in.  Right now our furnaces are stoked and running on high. We can eat anything and still remain in a constant state of caloric deficit.  We’ve both lost weight, and believe me, we hold nothing back at the dining table.

Other than shutting down the calorie machines, I will be curious to know what other effects there will be.  Right now for instance, I’m a little jumpy and unsettled because we had such a mild day of riding, and we did 46 miles.  What’s going to happen when we stop cycling altogether?

Afoot bridge across the John Day River. There's a "No Trespassing" sign there -- for good reason I suppose.

What will I learn from this experience about recovery?  Certainly, out here every day is a new one.  Each day has its own signature, makes its own impression, and is governed by conditions way beyond my control.  Things like terrain, wind, sun, all variable, and all beyond my reach.  I believe this helps in recovery.  Every day becomes a new day.

So what happens when routine once again becomes the rule?  Can I take some of this with me and move forward with that freshness of every day presenting something new?

A vintage, absolutely immaculate 1977 VW bus

This is Ellen and Pete. Pete runs a website as a reference for full time motorhome travelers at http://www.bigrigbible.com

This is Pete and Ellen's home. We received a personal tour.


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Jonathan David Irizarry

Image not available*

Jonathan Irizzary was killed on June 25, 2008.  He was riding his bicycle home from work on a summer evening when he was run down by a drunk driver in Flint Texas.

*I received a dedication request from Jonathan’s twin sister Ann Marie Irizarry some time before the journey started, however the image she sent cannot be used, and attempts to contact her have not been successful.  I offer my apologies and regrets for not getting this straightened out, but I did not want to miss the dedication.

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