Archive for the ‘Thoughts on moving forward’ Category

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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Halfway, OR to Baker City, OR

Friendly horn taps: 1

Miles: 57

Total miles so far: 4,192

The view behind us as we move west near Flagstaff Hill, Oregon

I was once asked by a MADD volunteer preparing a “shoes” display (a shoes display is the assembling of a specific number of shoes to represent the number of people killed in drunk driving crashes) if I would like to place a pair of Carlie’s shoes in the display as it was going to be at the state capitol.  I declined.

I have her shoes.  I have the very shoes she was wearing the night of the crash. They are in my closet.  I see them everyday, but I won’t lend them out for fear of losing them.  I received them in a horribly awkward moment when Carlie’s clothes were unceremoniously handed to me in a paper evidence bag, months after the crash.  That’s another story for another time.  What matters is I have her shoes…I have so precious little.

One of the things people in my position face is what to do with the personal possessions of a loved one.  In a moment of bravery, I once gathered all her clothes from her room and called a friend who worked at a church charity to see if I could come by privately, after hours, and bring them in for some needy children.  It was way too early, but I didn’t know that.  Things were going well, it was sad, but we went through the donation and sorted everything.  I thought we were done, because I had asked to be able to come in, drop them off, and leave.

My friend pulled out a receipt book and with pen poised to write, asked what monetary value they had.  I was overcome by the question, lost all control, and began sobbing in that shocking way that I was familiar with, but very few people were witness to.   I said something about priceless, and left as quickly as I could.  I learned very painfully it was way too early for me to be doing something like that.

For some people, for some items, there never will be a time when something like that can or should be done.  That’s OK.  A comment came into this journal and the writer moved and reconstructed her child’s bedroom in the new house. There are a lot of examples.  What was I  to do with the little hearts Carlie drew on a book shelf in the dust of my lax housekeeping?  I wouldn’t close the front blind to my house because that was the window through which I last saw her leave.  My porch light stayed on for two years until I moved.  I could go on…

I have her shoes, and I won’t lend them out.

The Powder River during a quiet stretch

The view ahead as we approach Baker City, Oregon


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Jason Moffitt

Jason Moffitt image not available

Twelve years ago, Jason Moffitt, age 22  was killed on 7/10/99.  Jason was a rear-seat passenger in a collision involving a drunk driver.

Jason’s mother contacted me and asked if I could make a dedication to him as she approached this anniversary, but was unable to forward a picture.

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New Meadows, ID to Cambridge, ID

Friendly horn taps: 1

Miles: 52

Total so far:  4,077

Beauty break...wildflowers in sagebrush

It happened again today.  I’ve seen this repeated in one form or another a couple of dozen times.  It’s usually a man, never a woman, and the exchange goes something like this:

He: “Where are you headed to?”

Me: “Astoria, Oregon.”

He: “Wow.  Well, when you leave here, “I’d take the 107 to 84, head up to 176, and across Hoodang County that way.  That will probably save you a ton of miles.  Heck, it’s a straight shot from here if you know what I mean.”

Me: “Thanks for that, but we have these maps and they route us all over the place to avoid heavy traffic and commercial vehicles.  They take us the most scenic routes, with good road shoulders to ride on when possible.”

He: (Not very happy about having his route advice ignored) “Son, I figure you are an intelligent person, you look like one anyway, trust me, I know these roads like the back of my own hand.”

Me: “Yea, well I think I got that…107 to 84 and head up to 176, right?”

And then I follow the map when I get out of sight of the advice giver.  He’s only trying to be helpful, but this is like some strange male ritual where the stranger in the county must yield to the insistence of the resident native.  Especially if the stranger in the county is wearing spandex.

it's usually not signed, but we may cross the 45th Parallel three times. I'm not counting.

For those who have been following us, and those who have maybe made the mistake of taking out a map to track our route with pins or other devices and made guesses as to what roads we took, you will notice we are just now finishing a big giant southern dash after a long northern trek up to Missoula, Montana.  yes we’ve gone 300 miles south, after going 300 miles north.  We’ll next go west to the coast, and back north again.  The zig-zags are intentional.

Missoula is where the headquarters for Adventure Cycling Association is located (Those are the people who furnish our maps and routes.  Sallie refers to the ACA headquarters as the mother ship).  Touring cyclists that stop in get a free ice cream cone and their picture taken.  We did not stop, because we rode through there on the Sunday of the Fourth of July weekend.

ANYWAY, the purpose of that northern swing is not exclusively for picture taking and ice cream eating, but this is a tour.    The routes have been carefully researched and provide a genuine showcase of roads for cyclists wanting to see this nation.  The maps are like a complicated formula in algebra.  If you skip some steps, you’ll get a different answer. It is not a way to get up to Hoodang County by saving a ton of miles.  We heard of another group who wanted to avoid the mountains of Colorado and chose to go from Kansas to Fort Collins, and then up to Laramie, Wyoming.  That’s great…but they missed Breckenridge, Frisco, and the other attractions of the ski areas in summer (and they had to ride bicycles north on Highway 287).  I’m told the same group intended not to make the northern swing into Missoula, but take a short-cut across Idaho.  If they do that, they miss the great rivers we just traced.

Yes, this is a lot of work, but bicycles are like that.  They don’t pedal themselves.  You may have noticed we’ve just passed the 4,000 mile mark (Yea!!).  Our current estimates are that we’ll finish with something closer to 4,760 miles.  Anyone can cross the country, even from Florida to Oregon, in less miles than that…but this is not about saving miles, but making our ride a tour of the nation.

Life is like that…there are more direct paths to take, but we’d miss out on the tour.  I’m so very grateful that I’ve chosen the latter.

Frontier Motel in Cambridge, ID: Cyclists get a camping spot out back, showers, laundry and a pool for $10. This is what it looked like right before I jumped in (I've always wanted to do that to a quiet pool).


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Paul Justin Clark

Paul Justin Clark

Paul Clark, a resident of Mesa , Arizona was killed by a drunk driver on March 17, 2007.  Paul was but 25 years old.

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Lowell, ID to White Bird, ID

Rude horn honks: 2

Miles: 71

Total so far: 3,965

Looking almost one mile down into the Salmon River Valley from on top of White Bird Hill

I stopped and took this picture on July 2nd in Montana, and I’ve been contemplating what it means to me for some time:

A fork in the road?

The purpose of the sign is not quite clear, but this was seen at a fork in a road, the right side went off in the direction of one of those nice decorative ranch entryways.  The left side of the fork went towards an uninviting fenced gate that was plastered with no trespassing, no hunting, no fishing, go away signs.  Someone clearly has a sense of humor about the subject, and I admire that.  I suspect the “no trespassing” individual may not be as mean as he/she seems and this could be proof.

Signs are free to interpret as we may however and I’ve spent a lot of time on this one.  Am I to believe that life is a choice between Camelot (where the rains come only after sundown) and certain death?  I think not.  But there are risks, aren’t there?

This ride is risky.  I make fun of the rude horn honking and the “brush-back passing” that goes on, but there is real danger in riding these canyons and roads with no shoulder, trusting in my fellow motorists not to make me a hood ornament.

Risky.  Yes.

This ride has rewards.  If I’ve communicated anything at all in this journal, I hope I’ve communicated the sense that I am in the process of sorting out my thoughts, my emotions, and perhaps coming to some conclusions regarding what to do with my passions, my heartaches, the memories, and all that accumulated baggage that’s been kept up in the attic for too long.

Most of all, I hope that I’ve been able to touch the hearts of those who know the losses.  That’s not easy to do, so I’ve used this journey to speak to you.

Rewards.  Yes.

There is a comment submitted by a man who suggests that his heart aches for me to the point that he has considered it may be better not to have a child than to experience what I have in the loss of Carlie.  Let me pause on that one.  Perhaps like me, he grew up doing drills where we hid under our desks at school in the event of a nuclear attack.  Think about how that might affect one’s desire to bring a child into the world.  I cannot say I was immune to thoughts of this.

Bringing a child into this world is risky.  No question.  Among the blessings I’ve had, all things compared, all things are shaded grey in comparison to the technicolor thrill of helping a life into this world, leading a child into the experience we know in ours.  Prior to Carlie’s birth I thought I knew something of love.  No… I found love in the perfection of her little hand.  I found love in my heart that was but waiting.  This is truly life’s greatest blessing.  The gentleman who commented knows this.  He has a four year old.  That’s why his heart aches for me.  I understand that, but know that I will go to the end of this life eternally grateful for what I had, what I learned, and even though our time was short, it was the best of my life.

Rewards.  Yes.

I experienced Camelot.  That lives in my heart forever.  I took the risk and I am eternally blessed because of her.

As we emerge from the miles of the Clearwater National Forest, the countryside opens up some

For awhile today, we turned south and traced to South Fork of the Clearwater River

We took a breathtaking descent into the Salmon River Valley on the White Bird switchbacks

At the bottom of the canyon, this span for US 95 rises above


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Gary Stella

Gary Stella

Gary Stella, from Kenosha, Wisconsin was in a collsion with a drunk driver on Speptember 21, 1979, at the age of sixteen.  Gary survived the collision with severe spinal injuries.

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