Walking: 2,000 miles
It is February 2016 and I am staying with my Great Aunt and Uncle in Baltimore. We are watching A Walk In The Woods. A few days later, I bought a backpack. On March 8th, I rode a train to DC then endured a Megabus for twenty hours to Georgia where I started walking North. Fourteen states is a lot to walk through. One thing I missed most while out walking? My bicycle. I've always wanted to hike the AT, but it was not on my radar until watching the movie. I was anxious about another trip I had planned: El Salvador to Patagonia on my Surly ECR. I was not ready to leave the country. The Appalachian Trail was exactly what I needed. It is a social trail with a strong community; a great changeup after many months of solo travel.
Canada to El Salvador
Cycling: 7,000 miles
Fully addicted to adventure travel, I had an ambitious plan to cycle a large portion of North America. I boarded a train with my bike boxed up. A mistake left me stranded in Montana. I was left behind by the train. Rough start, but it turned into a great adventure. I began riding in Portland, Oregon from the house of people who rescued my gear from the train. I still wanted to experience Seattle and I needed vaccinations that were cheaper in Canada so, I rode North to Seattle, Washington then Island hopped through the San Juan archipelago to Sidney, BC Canada. From there I went south riding route 1 all the way to La Paz, Mexico where I rode a ferry to Mazatlan. After a week in a resort (thanks Mom!), I went north and pedaled through Copper Canyon camping and staying with families of the Tarahumara. South for a long ways though Mexico City, D.F., and into Guatemala. The border crossing was sketchy. I was taken by a narco trafficker and kept for four days. Guatemala was everything I desired in a vacation from my undertaking. I posted up in the lawn of a local for three weeks while swimming, climbing volcanoes, and exploring on the bike. I got sick. Really sick. Immobile for a week; diarrhea for two months. I lost my phone (maps). My bike started breaking. So, I flew home from El Salvador instead of Panama as I planned. Six months through Mexico, ten total.
Piitsburgh, Pa to Washington, DC
Brothers On Tour
Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath
My brother joined me for his first adventure a month before I was to depart for Canada-El Salvador. Used to showering daily and sleeping indoors, the first few days were rough. He contracted a stomach bug the first night. Then, it rained. We were soaked and covered in mud and the situation just could not get worse. Something changed in him. At this new low, he "embraced the suck." He smiled and laughed for there was nothing else he could do. Pain is temporary. We completed the route in five days then spent two nights in a hostel in DC. My brother went home on the train with our bikes and I jumped in the car with two German sisters and their Australian friend for a road trip to Shenandoah National Park.
Cycling ~800 Miles
Explore a bomb factory? Heck yes! I learned about the decommissioned military facility from a man that let me crash on his couch for the weekend. He found me coming out of REI shortly after entering the city. We rode bicycles, drank moonshine from his still, and told tall tales of adventure late into the night. He's a hitchhiker and has been back and forth across the Americas multiple times. Inspirational. At the time, I was planning to explore Europe and Asia on the bicycle. He convinced me to ride the route I later rode. When it was time for me to leave, I was handed a little bag. "Eat these when you get there," he said.
Pittsburgh, Pa to Bar Harbor, Me to Bridgeport, Ct
Mission Maine Lobster: Pittsburgh, Pa to Bar Harbor, Me
I returned home an addict. I needed another trip. The next two months were spent training my replacement. I bought a frame better suited to bike touring and built it with parts stollen from my road bike and my mountain bike. When it was time to leave, I was more than ready though nervous as hell. I'm sure you can imagine. I endlessly debated gear until I no longer could. It was 8pm when I finally rode away. I had never been away from home before. In a month+ I reached Bar Harbor, Maine and I ate my lobster that my dad bought me.
The One That Began Them All:
Great Allegheny Passage
While working as a tree climber in 2012, I seized an opportunity for adventure. Pittsburgh is the beginning of the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP), a 150 mile rail-trail to Cumberland, Md. While out riding one morning, off work because the owners truck broke down, I met people on loaded bikes. Yikes! "I've always wanted to do that," I thought. And so I did. I rode to my local bike store and purchased a trailer. I loaded it with camping gear and set off up the trail for a week-long yo-yo of the GAP. I felt free. I met the most wonderful people who opened my eyes to the dirtbag lifestyle. Two young women riding to Detroit from Baltimore with no money taught me how to dumpster dive. Another man was biking across the country. He told campfire tales of his feet falling apart near the Mississippi while he was running across the country. I returned home different. I was inspired. So, I quit my job and then cycled some more.