Archive for the ‘Friends made on the road’ Category

July 27

The alarm is going off, and yet I’m still fast asleep, rising from the depths of a dream to cancel the sound. It’s not like it was on tour where I would wake just prior to the clock going off. Now there is no need to hurry. I lie awake now blinking at the Florida sunlight filtering in through the window. Slowly my thoughts turn toward a final summary of the journey…

America, I have seen and touched your face. You are an enchanting country where beauty and resources abound. Through this bicycle quest I have come to know the land, the people, and most of all myself in a way I never could had I not taken the first important steps that ultimately led to our pushing off for the journey of a lifetime.

The land…

I was privileged to see this country from a unique perspective. I studied the land in an intimate way. Not through the bug splattered windows of a passing car, visiting roadside stops designed for gasoline and giant soda fountains with their yawning tubs awaiting a fill of ice and beverage. Not from 30,000 feet gazing down at irrigation circles dotting the landscape as so many scattered poker chips, or stopping at airports and conference centers with all the hasty meetings and empty handshakes.

I came to know the land, not from a cushioned hydraulic shock reinforced suspension, but from feeling my way across the face of this country, learning its punishing hills and thrilling valleys, living in the humid heat and numbing cold of its weather. I know of the wind and its fickle ways to frustrate and reward. I have been stung by the hard rains, refreshed by the soft, and worried by the destructive weather of the year. I refreshed myself in the lakes and was schooled on the rivers. The flooding of the lands was mine to behold, not only seeing the deluge, but smelling the resultant rot from the mix of mud and debris, the ruined crops. I witnessed the awesome power of tornadoes as described by the destruction of the innocent structures, towns, farmlands, and the broken hopes of man.

I’ve been warmed daily by the sun, cooled in the evening by its passing, and startled at night by the jeweled skies above. My tent has been both home and shelter, containing all that I need. I have chosen our sleeping places carefully and was educated by the unyielding ground upon which I lay.

The people…

Without hesitation I was invited to fish fries where people celebrated the bounty of their catch and openly discussed their secret places to go on their rivers. I spoke with proud farmers calmly explaining their sophisticated equipment and their spacious lands. I touched the lives of those wounded by life’s tragedies and losses when we met in the various corners of the country, and they told me of their aching hearts.

I caught the eyes of strangers with our bicycles and gear, striking up lively conversations and watched their jaws drop when I told them of our plans. As brother and sister undertaking such a journey, we saw the wistful eyes of those who knew their own family members were not close enough for such a venture. I came to know the tender hearts of those affected by our quest. I sent notes to everyone who donated to our ambitious goal thanking them for their generosity and admiring their loyalty to, and interest in our quest.

The responses we received from the people supporting us on this ride were surprisingly vibrant, generous, and loyal. The web site was constantly referred to by readers as something they looked forward to everyday. E-mails were pouring in. Donations were mounting. In many ways, all of us were on this ride and then some. The journal took on a life of its own, and the followers were legion.


Over the course of this journey, at times I pushed myself beyond limits I did not know I had. Limits measured more than in the miles of the road. I pushed beyond boundaries of health sustaining rest, hydration, food, and shelter. My emotions rose to a thin and fragile surface. I exceeded limits in patience in both myself and others that I will forever regret.

I used the time riding to explore the history of my life, sorting out priorities, and reviewing my achievements, my valued relationships, my restless wanderings, and I examined my many failures.

My life is a set of journeys, laced together by common threads and themes written in a script that I now know is not my own. To think otherwise is the foolishness of youth. There is a chapter that continues writ bold in the death of my daughter Carlie. The long road I have been on since that time has been at once, one of trial, pain, suffering, learning, and redemption. I have survived thus far. In this crucible, I have learned much.

This journey across the country is not unlike revisiting the days of my grief at its fullest. To exhaust myself in an effort, gain little rest, and then continue the next day when the will is weak, and the spirit dimmed, and be rewarded by the effort in some unforeseen way…this has been mirrored in my journey. 

I first envisioned this epic ride across our country associated with my retirement from law enforcement. I did not know what my next steps would be, and I wanted to use the time to contemplate the rest of my life. As life often does, opportunities presented themselves in an alternative I did not expect, and I found myself in a second career working for MADD.

Despite the change in circumstance, the dream of a cross-country ride never died. Ultimately, I was graced with a leave to perform this journey and it is done, the trip is complete…it is more than that; it is achieved. It was both my privilege and honor to see it through. It will remain so always as a sacred moment in my heart.  As I move forward now, I do so always knowing there is value in seeing the distance we have come.

Thank you for following

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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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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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Baker City, OR to Prairie City, OR

Friendly horn taps: 3

Rude horn honks: 2

Miles: 70

Total miles so far: 4, 262

Shadow play: Out of the Saddle!

Last year on the 10th of July, Sallie and I got a 4:15am start on Colorado’s Triple Bypass, a 120 mile, one day ride, covering three mountain passes.  Today we did three mountain passes here in Oregon.  The differences were notable in that we had much more oxygen in the air to breathe, and we didn’t go 120 miles to accomplish the ride.

Nonetheless, we put in a full day covering Sumpter Pass, Tipton Pass, and Dixie Pass on our way into Prairie City.  We spent nearly the entire day in the forest, which always provides green relief from some of the prairie, and when the trees would clear, the vistas of the ever present surrounding mountains were beautiful, particularly when we cleared Dixie Pass and dropped into the john Day River Valley.  The view we had of the Strawberry Range was breathtaking.

The Strawberry Range as seen from across the John Day River Valley from near Dixie Pass

We are getting an early start on the night’s sleep, as we are rising at 5:00am while the weather remains fairly warm, and to be quite honest, we are a little tired from the day’s labors.

Sallie says next July 10th, she’s not going to be climbing any more mountain passes.  I say talk is cheap.

Lovely mountains on all sides

This gentleman was a bomber pilot in WWII. He remains in contact with the faster life today

As seen this morning in Baker City. I think there's a trademark story here somewhere...


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Kay Cee Herring

Kay Herring

Kay Herring was a native of Buford, Georgia.  On December 1, 1999 Kay was killed in a rear end, high speed collision with a drunk driver while traveling between St. Augustine and Jacksonville, Florida.


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White Bird, ID to New Meadows, ID

Friendly horn taps: 1

Miles: 60

Miles so far: 4,025

The Salmon River

We followed the Salmon River going upstream this morning in the startlingly beautiful Salmon River Valley.  We took a fork and did the same with the little Salmon River.  The route in Idaho seems to be a river’s route as  a theme.  It needs to be, as the countryside on either side of these valleys cut by the rivers is deep and steep.

At lunch we stopped in a little restaurant in Riggins, Idaho.  It was called the Cattleman’s.  One of the owners, a little gal in her mid-sixties used to be a fly fishing guide.  She made a good living from an exclusive list of clients, but gave up the work and bought a restaurant so she could be more of a help to her mother.  She says she hasn’t been fishing in two years and misses it terribly.  then she laughed and said, “During the two years, I bought three fly rods though!”

Just upstream from Riggins on the Little Salmon River, we came to a spot where there was no parking available on the highway, and fishermen were everywhere on the water.  I saw fishermen working the swift water, literally shoulder to shoulder.

During an afternoon break at a little country store on the Little Salmon River we got a brief lesson on the habits of salmon by the owner there.  He explained they are running right now, trying to make it back to the places where they were first hatched.  According to this man, salmon are driven to spawn and come back to the exact place where they started life, after two years time.  He explained that what we witnessed below, what he referred to as, “combat fishing” is generated by the fish trying to get to the hatchery, on the banks of the Little Salmon.    The hatchery happens to be at the place where we saw all the people fishing.  These are hatchery released fish.  He says the creeks are full of “natural” salmon doing the same thing, but the natural salmon are protected and if caught must be released, unless caught by a member of the Nez Perce Indian tribe.

Something new I learned today, is that salmon always have their noses pointed upstream, even when they are migrating (do fish migrate?) out to sea.  Essentially, they are swimming backwards.  It is said that is how they never lose track of where they came from.

The day was full of meeting nice people and riding through some gorgeous country.  I don’t know the first thing about salmon, so I was particularly interested in the explanations about their behavior. I’m not so sure about the swimming backwards thing though.  I may have to look that one up.

Another span of "bridge art" by the Idaho DOT

One of the creeks running into the Little Salmon River

The Little Salmon River


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Raelene Pearce

Raelene Pearce

Raelene Pearce, age 22 from Couer d’Alene, Idaho was killed on April 20, 1998.  She was a passenger in a car operated by a drunk driver.  The car went into the Couer d”Alene River, and Raelene drowned as a result.


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