2014 Introduction

Back in 1993, you could often find me reading natural history books while sitting on the green and grassy banks of the White River in Muncie, Indiana. The books took me far away from the banks of those placid and polluted waters which ran through a burnt-out factory town.

My 16-year-old mind was creaking open and just beginning to embrace famous authors from the environmental movement and Western American literature. Read more

2014 Home – Going ‘home’

28 times. Or is it 30? I guess you sorta lose count after the 15th time. It’s the curse of the ex-pat – flying back and forth between your birth country and your adopted country. And so it goes that this is either my 28th or 30th trip over the Pacific Ocean. I’ve done this trip so many times now that I no longer get excited or nervous – it just feels like a really long commute between ‘home’ and ‘past home’. Read more

2014 Home – The final visit

Bicycle touring in the Midwest and Plains states of America takes you through many small towns and cities that have struggled to survive the transition from an agriculture or manufacturing economy to a service-based economy with cheap petrol and people willing to travel to nearby towns for work and consumer goods. I call these dying towns ‘places people are from’. When you meet people on the road, they don’t say “I live in XXXX” or “I’m moving to XXXX”. Those dead little towns are places from which people escape. Read more

2014 Illinois – Kickapoo State Park: The trip begins

My parents were not raised to be outdoorsy people. Yet in their pursuit of free, healthy and educational activities to engage their kids, they began taking my brother and me to state parks on weekends when we were very young. Nearly every Sunday, nine months of every year, they would pack up us kids and a picnic and drive up to three hours to explore a new or favourite state park. When nearly all of our neighbours were sitting in church pews, our family would be traipsing up and down creeks Read more

2014 Illinois – Day 1 – Kickapoo State Park to Pontiac: The requisites

Monday May 19, 2014, 101 miles (163 km) – Total so far: 101 miles (163 km)

There comes a time on every tour when every piece of gear and clothing has its place in a pannier, when each pannier finds its spot in your tent at night, and you can find things simply by feel. You can dress and pack in complete darkness. It is the rhythm of the road and your pack/unpack/sleep routines hum just like your tires on an empty, silent road.
But that time is not the first night. Read more

2014 Illinois – Day 2 – Pontiac to Henry: In the spirit of Huck Finn

Tuesday May 20, 2014, 52 miles (84 km) – Total so far: 154 miles (247 km)

Today is the day I tear up my ass. The rip in my seat covering is now so huge there is a large ridge between the edge of the seat covering and the foam underneath. The long lump lines up perfectly with the padding edge on my bike shorts. Eventually, this creates a 3-inch long blister where my leg meets my butt. Read more

2014 Illinois – Day 3 – Henry to Kewanee: Like a salmon swimming home

Wednesday May 21, 2014, 40 miles (65 km) – Total so far: 194 miles (312 km)

The morning air is thick with humidity. The fuzzy haze filters the sunlight as I pack up my gear. Thicker grey stratus clouds frame the western horizon. You can see the air this morning – the sunlight reflects off droplets of vapor floating in the sky. The moisture is everywhere, in the sky and the soil, in the wide, full-banked rivers and the lush green tree leaves. It is almost extravagant. It’s as if nature is showing off just what it can do with adequate rainfall and transpiration that doesn’t immediately evaporate. Read more