Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Leaving for Mexico in 2.5 days!!

On Monday I leave for Mexico to work on a project with my good friend Bridge. We're doing a photodocumentary on Street Art in Chiapas and then going to Guatemala to work with and document Maya Pedal, an NGO that makes bicimaquinas. For more details, you should check out our fundraising video on

Follow our Squartzine Blog for updates and flickr page for photos while we're gone. I promise that they will be updated more than this blog (because Bridge is better at it than I am!)

I'm really exited to go though I'm a little bit nervous. This will be my first time traveling to Mexico. We have been practicing our Spanish but I still end up speaking in Italian half of the time. There have also been a lot of reports in the news about escalated violence, there were the recent mudslides, and a good friend informed me of some craziness going on around Maya Pedal. I figure that there is danger in everything and in a way, I would rather be around at a time of political upheaval where I can see firsthand what is going on. I can't wait to experience everything!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Day Two of Bike Tour

Yesterday Staysee and Seven came to Tillamook and picked me up. We drove to Sand Lake and camped out all 3 of us in one little tent. It was so cold though, I was glad. They drove me to Pacific City where we took a photo of us in front of the sea stacks then they headed out and I really was on my lonesome for the next couple of weeks. I rode around 75 miles to Cape Perpetua. The campsite that I stumbled upon didn't have a hiker biker site but the Camp Host said I could stay for free at a site that was under maintenance if I left before 7 am.

A mother-daughter riding team came by and ended up staying at the site with me. They were very inspiring. They weren't your typical cyclists, they were a little larger and riding was more difficult for them. Still, they had already been on the road 45 days from Vancouver when I met them and were riding the whole Pacific Coast to Mexico. The daughter was homeschooled and was able to take this awesome opportunity with her mom. They were a little strange, but it made me realize that if they could do this trip so could I.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

First day out of Portland

Today I left Portland. The ominous weather reflected my mood and my anxiety portended some sort of epic failure and cosmic sign that I should not be embarking on my journey. I took the max blue line to the last stop. It happened to be the day of an air show so the max was full and I had to suffer the most xenophobic and obnoxious loud conversation until I finally got off and the next leg of my bike tour began.

I began riding down the 8 to get to highway 6. The shoulders were sometimes narrow and the first 25 miles of the ride slowly ascend. I thought that I had just gotten out of shape after 8 days in Portland until I realized that I was just steadily going up hill. I made it about 40 miles outside of Portland before realizing that I had forgotten my phone charger and my warm hat (given to me by the wonderful Staysee). Now I was not only paranoid about biking 900 miles on my own, but with no way of communicating with anyone. I texted Staysee but prepared myself to have to deal without or drop some money at a mall.

As I drove through the countryside, I heard gunshots in the woods as hunters chased unsuspecting animals. Sirens raced by me to some unseen accident. Then, a hummer drove by and things were whizzing past my head and crashing! It turned out that the trailer-hitch had broken off and the bike rack and two bikes went flying in the air: one in front of me, one behind me, and the rack just bounced and clacked down the road as traffic came to a halt. In that moment I nearly gave up, it seemed like I had made a terrible mistake thinking I could do it alone.

Then, Staysee called and said that she was going to drive out to meet me with my phone charger and camp out with me for the night! All of the sudden I remembered the awesome people that I had (have) supporting me. It also happened to coincide with a really long descent into Tillamook. At Tillamook I posted up at a restaurant until Staysee and Seven showed up and I was so happy to see them!

Friday, July 30, 2010

First Train Ride

My horoscope before leaving Milwaukee said:
"An unexpected opportunity to take a short trip could present itself today. Hop on that boat or train and see where it goes. If you have no reason to travel, make one up. You don't need one anyway. The point is that its time to get away from your current surroundings and explore other ways of living..."

It felt like a pretty appropriate horoscope considering that I was about to get on my first train for a short trip to Minneapolis. It was amazing. We cooked a good dinner beforehand and went to the hop out spot in the back of our friends truck. I sat in the back listening to Elizabeth Cotten and attempting to play what she was singing on Joe's guitar. When we got there, the jungle was so full of mosquitoes. I've never been more bitten in my life. When the train came, we split up and got on two 53 porches and I rode with Joe.

It was amazing! The first time we sided we were inundated with mosquitoes again and since it was night I couldn't see all that much but it was an incredibly liberating feeling. I loved the secretness and the solitude of a train at night. It was really cold and Joe didn't have a sleeping bag with him so there ended up being a fun game of twister trying to stay warm but when the sun started coming up it never felt better. We crossed the Mississippi and hid going under the trestle and then turned around to check it out, I've never been over the Mississippi not flying before.

We hopped off in St. Paul. Joe was giving me all the techniques to get off a moving train so we didn't have to go into the yard and then we just ended up stopping anyway. We emerged on a highway and started hitching. I thought with 4 people (and 2 of them being boys) and 2 dogs that we would never get a ride or we would at least have to split up but a nice graf kid came along and took us to Seward Cafe in Minneapolis.

I was so out of it from not sleeping much and a little disoriented but the Seward seemed like a magical place. It had a backyard and a garden and its collectively run. We ordered delicious food but I wasn't able to eat very much of it, I just wanted coffee. We stayed there for a long time just sort of collecting ourselves. Stories told revealed mutual friends and everyone told stories about past adventures but it all felt very dreamlike.

We walked from Seward's to Joe's friend Natalie's house. I know now that the walk wasn't that far but it seemed to take forever and when we finally got there I flopped down on the couch in the cool basement and didn't move again for a long time. I'll have some pictures to post eventually.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Leaving Milwaukee

Today I'm finally leaving Milwaukee. I've done a lot of cool things in the interim since I last updated but its going to take me a while to go back and do some postdated entries from my paper journal. Milwaukee has been great but its a black hole in a lot of ways. I can't seem to leave being the biggest but also there aren't many places with internet and its really slow so its been hard to upload my photos. Also my cell phone reception has been sporadic at best. If I was trying to fall of the radar, its working pretty well so far. I also deleted my facebook account so no one thinks I'm giving them the shaft. It was just too much of a bother.

Tonight I'll be leaving for Minneapolis with Julia and two other friends. I don't really know anyone there but I'm excited to get out of Milwaukee. I did borrow a bike though today and ride around and I wish I'd had a bike the whole time. The city is really spread out to walk everywhere.

Last night was a cut pop punk show and of course one of the bands ended up being from Pittsburgh. never get away haha. I'll write more and add photos when I get the chance!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Greyhound to Philly

As it turns out, a plane ticket just didn't make any sense so I took the dirty dog, something I promised myself I would never do again. The ride wasn't too bad though and I ended up with two seats to myself. I ended up in Philly without incident and was picked up by a good friend in Chinatown. When I walked out of the bus station there was a fight right in the doorway, oh Philly, welcome home.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day before take-off

I leave tomorrow and I've been running around like a crazy person getting the last minute details. I went to REI and got a new tent, an REI Half Dome 2 Tent and was told by an old head that instead of water tablets or an expensive filter I can just put some Chlorox Bleach in a visine bottle and add 1 drop for every quart of water. My pouch broke also so I'm at my mom's and am using some old scraps from my bag making days to make a new one. It looks like my mom wants to buy me a plane ticket to Philly since its not much more expensive than the Amtrak or Greyhound and is definitely a lot quicker.

Its a funny way to start this trip, from airplanes to the city to biking and camping. I guess its good to ease into the sense of being away from home for a long time. I've been preparing to leave for so long but now that its time to go, I don't feel prepared at all. I know that as soon as I'm on the road I'll be excited but for now I just have this mental to-do list that seems to never end. Next time I write I will probably be in Philadelphia!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Lists: Stuff to Bring

I've been trying to make sure I don't forget anything which means looking at books and websites and talking to friends and going over this list again and again. If you see anything I forgot, let me know!


Bike Stuff
  • touring bike
  • racks
  • panniers
  • extra tire
  • extra spokes
  • spoke wrench
  • multi-tool
  • patch kit
  • tire levers
  • 3 extra tubes
  • 15 wrench
  • hand-pump (Roadmorph)
  • cables/housing
  • lube/grease
  • chainbreaker
  • extra chain
  • mini-repair manual
  • water bottles
  • rear light
  • head light
  • pedal wrench
  • zip ties
  • spare bolts
  • clipless shoes
  • map holder
  • helmet
Camping Stuff
  • sleeping bag
  • tent
  • tarp
  • therma-rest
  • campseat
  • leatherman
  • water filter
  • camp stove
  • utensils
  • spices
  • headlamp
  • 3 shammys
  • rain jacket
  • rain pants
  • 7 pairs of underwear
  • 7 pairs of socks
  • 2 bras
  • flip flops
  • jeans
  • arm warmers
  • tights
  • shorts
  • 3 short sleeve jerseys
  • 1 long sleeve jersey
  • 2 t-shirts
  • hoodie
  • cycling cap
  • sunscreen
  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • toilet paper
  • baby wipes
  • soap
  • lotion
  • shammy butter
  • comb
  • hair ties
  • bobby pins
  • safety pins
  • needle and thread (floss)
- same as above minus cycling specific gear

Saturday, July 3, 2010

My Bike

This is my touring bike! Its a 46 Surly Long Haul trucker. 46 scared me at first because my Bareknuckle is a 50 and my Cannondale is a 53 but Bryan at Bicycle Revolutions measured me, and like usual, he was right. It had to voyage on my car back to Pittsburgh but its been really fun to ride around.

Friday, July 2, 2010


Big Map and Key

Table 1

Table continued

British Columbia Map

Washington Map

Washington Inland Route Map

Washington Peninsula Route Map

Oregon Map

California Map

Planning to Go...

I skip town in about 12 days for an adventure I've been concretely planning for the last 7 months and talking about for years prior. It seemed so far away but now that its here, I don't feel totally ready. I debated about the openness of this blog but I want to share my adventures. This will be mainly for semantics, maps, impressions, and photos. Most of the personal and gory details will be spared to you, the general audience, unless relevant and will be kept in my personal paper journal. At the end of the trip if I feel like going back through and adding insight with the clarity of hindsight, I will.

My adventure starts slowly with a week in Philly visiting some of my best friends. Since I moved away in late summer of '08, my visits have been sporadic and hectic. It will be nice to just hangout and see all the people I want to see in a relaxed manner.

From Philly I'm going to meet my traveling partner Julia in Chicago and from there the adventure begins and we take trains through to the West Coast. My final destination by train is Vancouver, BC where I will meet my biking partner Sarah and we will travel down the coast together as far as San Francisco following the Pacific Coast Trail. San Francisco will be a great break in the middle to see good friends and relax. I'm looking forward to Ryan and the other bay Crucifixed to show me around and also to eat delicious treats with other great friends. Hopefully another friend will be hopping on the voyage around this point as Sarah leaves me. I'll ride the rest of the way from San Francisco to Mexico, though the final destination has become a little hazy due to unrest at the border.

This is where the trip gets a little fuzzier. Ideally Julia and some other friends will have a house in Mexico that I can stay in and brush up on my Spanish. From there I might hopefully getting my job back and getting transfer to the San Francisco office. If that doesn't work out I'll probably go to beet harvest in Minnesota. If I have enough money from there, I will go to Thailand and Southeast Asia with Julia and Amelia, two of the best ladies in the world. The latter part of the trip depends a lot on funds so we'll see. I might actually add a donation link to this blog if anyone reads a post that inspires them or makes them feel bad for me haha. I've been saving for a long time, but you never know what's going to come up.

You might wonder why I'm taking such an epic voyage. Its basically that I reached ground zero as one friend put it. I graduated college with my B.A. in English after 7 years of back and forth, I broke up with my long-term partner, my job wasn't a career and basically, I had been stuck. Things have become a little bit more complicated and further removed from ground zero since I made this decision, but I want to stick with it. Its an exercise in letting go of the world and letting go of control. Its also an opportunity for me to be in my own head and my own body, completely alone and free of the pressures of the day to day. I also just want to see and do and experience and I don't know when I'll have another opportunity to just take off like this again. Its definitely a growing trip and just a flat out fun trip, not that it will always be easy. I've got nothing to prove, but I want to prove to myself that I can do it. Epic adventures, here I come....

I'll be posting maps and lists in the next few days. Wish me luck!