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Peddlin instead of Paddlin

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Life’s a Journey; A sister cycles home

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While I’ve been playing my sister’ Janis has been in the desert of Afghanistan the past 6 years supporting our servicemen – Bagram.

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The experience of our soldiers along with those in support of the effort, the hostile territory where they ate, slept, and mingled – created bonds of comradeship that the lucky ones will carry with them forever.  As with the warriors of all generations scars remain; souls have been genuinely touched, lives have been changed; memories linger.

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My sister is but another returning with realigned dreams

Simply put, my sister has been living in a shipping container in Afghanistan for more than 6 years. Janis is scheduled to return to the US in the first weeks of August.  In communication with her, she wants to take a few days off in California to ‘get her feet on the ground,’ to re acclimate – before returning to the east coast via bike, into the life that she departed.

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Within my career at the Asheville Fire Department we learned of such things called ‘debriefings.’ A debriefing is intended to help one cope with ‘out-of-the-ordinary’ events.  As a firefighter I experienced a few of those events, and debriefings.  Janis’s idea of that same process is somewhere within the effort of peddling from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Within this effort, she desires to honor all of our warriors along with those she has encountered through her years in Afghanistan.

The more I thought about it, the more I liked her idea – it made sense.

Janis has mentioned that the experience has been a ‘life changer’ – adding further that her ride will reflect appreciation for those agencies that continue the support as many soldiers rehabilitate back onto society.  Folks along the way will be reminded of the Fisher Foundation as well as the Wounded Warrior Project in reestablishing the lives affected.

Janis’s personal challenge; her ‘debriefing’ and ‘calibration’ of sorts; will be a prompt to us all to remember those sacrifices.

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The Pacific Ocean in California, to the Atlantic in North Carolina; 3100 miles, in real time – peddling her bike.

Early on I readily mentioned that I would support her effort (I love the ride) with my truck and trailer –  my next months are a minor sacrifice in comparison to her efforts/resilience, and experience.  My personal belief is that along the way, we will all be reminded too of how great our country really is.

For the ride I’m thinking that she will have three important benchmarks,

  1. first; the first thirteen days ((making a habit) completed 8/26/2015)
  2. second; crossing the mountains of Colorado (completed 9/6/2015)
  3. third; the Appalachians (completed)

The likelihood of many other challenges along the way are high.

Janis has been able to keep her legs and mind in shape – our initial concern is more with her saddle (maybe a pillow will help). In the beginning we are thinking a minimum of 50 mpd, but I’m really not sure what it takes to find peace with six years of another country fresh in your mind – we’ll keep you posted.

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Shortly I will load her bikes and equipment then blast west across the US.  In reality I really look forward to the adventure, the scenery – and being part of hopefully more than one persons re acquaintance with this great country we call home.

Janis welcomes others to join her ride anywhere along the way.

As this ride materializes in the upcoming weeks I will add some links intended for contributions for those inclined – hopefully with a side-note recognizing Janis’s effort.  She seeks no personal acclaim and is using her personal funds for the trek.  A facebook page for daily updates (link here), and a blog page for more long-term information will come into play shortly.

Please join us, but most importantly think of all those families and warriors who continue to live those sacrifices for us…..

Help our soldiers at;  http://www.teamfisherhouse.org/site/TR/AllEvents/3rdPartyFundraisers?px=1038808&pg=personal&fr_id=1290

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“Miles of smiles” she says – yet I understand the underlying emotions involved……….

Facebook link 

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TRIP COMPLETED, THE PACIFIC TO THE ATLANTIC OCEANS IN 49 DAYS!!

Link to some of the journey pictures

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Colorado, to Pagosa Springs

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Is it just me? or is there always something ‘congested’ about the way folks drive on Friday’s, I’m about to find out if the Colorado version is any different – I’m still on eastern time so maybe the early start will help – then maybe Friday traffic doesn’t even exist here.

Made it up early and with the sun at my back began the Colorado trek, final leg to Pagosa Springs where I will spend a week with family before moving further west into Arizona and then to California.

I like to keep a clean windshield and with the sun behind me this morning the signs ahead stood out clearly.  I’m still running the same ‘trace’ as the historic movement of folks along the Santa Fe Trail.  The thought of that migration was ever present as I continued to scan the yards, homes, farms and general ‘lay of the land’ that runs along side.

A little further into the morning the homes became much further apart until it was rare to see a home at all – the rolling fields turned into Colorado range and towns became few to seldom.  Getting onto Hwy 10 the next town was 63 miles away, in-between was all open-range with an occasional and well aged wooden railroad boxcar laying in the field, for storage I suppose.

The cattle which were compacted through Kansas were also spread far and wide in the mass range on both sides.  From time to time small groups of mule deer were also seen sharing the same land, of course this made me wonder about predators and how the cattle were managed – surely someone would have to ride the range from time to time and evaluate their health.

Out in the middle of nothing an old business stood in a perfect place to stop (little to no shoulders on the road), so I stopped to take a picture of the old structure, just because I could.

As I took a couple of pictures a couple of wranglers came from around the building, their appearance answered the same questions that had passed my mind earlier, and just as I imagined – I had wondered about checking the fields on 4-wheelers, but when it comes to ‘cutting’ and maneuvering the cattle nothing could possibly beat a smart horse, a good cow dog, and a solid wrangler.

The brush conditions are tough, much like this shot but with fewer holding pens around.

He stopped introduced himself and we talked a few minutes, it’s easy to appreciate ones character that works the fields and herds as hard and long as these folks do.  ‘Randy’ was prepared and knew his job, I could tell that he put alot of value in his horse because they worked as a team – and it appeared as though he was sharing this knowledge with his son or a younger wrangler (above picture).  He said that he had a group of cattle to move to another field and when we parted ways I envied him for what he does and respected him for the person that he was – Randy didn’t seem to mind one bit my casual ‘city boy’ appearance, somewhere inside we were the same – but at the moment simply on different sides of the fence.

The long stretches of highway continued as the little truck struggled with the 7900 ft. (and climbing) elevation, the head-wind rolling across the rolling plains was becoming more noticeable with the day wile the mountains were becoming more distinct too along the horizon.

When the little town finally did come though I couldn’t help but to notice the individuality of the folks too, there were many unique outcomes and examples of this along the way.

The lack of water is apparent everywhere, I did notice water in a small State Park (Lathrop) and pulled in just to look it over.  With the kayak apparent on the roof I found myself going through a ‘boat inspection’ – to prevent small organisms (evasive species) from transferring lake to lake.  This didn’t take but a minute, plus after the range ride it was kinda nice to stop and talk to another ‘life-form.’

I had a half of a turkey sub in the cooler and thought why not?, so I pulled ‘traveller’ down and paddled to the far end of one of their lakes, drifting as I ate lunch.  Not sure if it was the elevation playing tricks on me but the water just seem ‘thin, and slow,’ really can’t explain it except that it felt ‘different,’ again, must be the elevation. The man-made lake was pretty mundane, but a good quick break from the drive.

A simple hour was enough, stretched, had my lunch with a couple old crows, JD completed my final boat inspection and I returned to the highway and passing geology.

More miles of open highway with few towns but changing terrain and elevation.

A Colorado ‘junk’ store but I didn’t stop.

As a town did pop-up it wasn’t too hard to figure what some folks did for a living – a wrangler and his work dogs.

As the hours passed the terrain continued to transition into (for lack of a better word from an easterner) ‘Grandeur’ scenery, many of the distant mountains really stand their ground.  The elevation too was really showing up in the little truck’s performance – but when I checked the Garmin it showed 9962 ft in elevation I understood why.

Not that it’s alot different than Western North Carolina, just a a much larger and at times distinct scale.

From Dodge City and ‘Gunsmoke’ yesterday to the Ponderosa and ‘Bonanza’ today.

As for the answer to the Friday traffic thoughts, I did not encounter any ‘congestion,’ if there would have been another lane on the road I may not have seen anyone else for hours.  The folks that I did notice seemed to be travelers much like I, and the residents seemed to approach life as if they were on vacation- kindred spirits to speak – so a rare non-traffic Friday, nice.

on a side note; made it to my daughters place in Pagosa Springs, the kids were eager to unload the Chuck-wagon,’

– will settle here a week before moving on through to Arizona and California, will post more then.


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