Many Thanks

Writing this has been on my mind for a while. I have been feeling the sentiment, but have not gotten around to writing it until now. I guess now is a very appropriate time, Thanksgiving eve.

I have a pretty big collection of people to thank that I’ve met during my travels, and also the preceding months that led up to the start of this trip. I’m going to try to remember them all in order, but I’ll probably forget a few.

First of all, thanks to my family and friends for not trying to discourage me from my hair brained schemes, and even offering encouragement when it seems prudent.

Thanks to that crusty old Norwegian carpenter, Charles Pedersen, for providing a week or so of very well paying work just prior to my departure. I’d be nearly out of money if it weren’t for that opportunity. It was up high, and I don’t like being up high, but we both managed to come through it unscathed and it felt good to do that kind of work again. Charles pointed out that while we’re doing that work we’re changing the world. It’s built and maintained in tiny little pieces of individual effort. There is certainly something about it that feels good, and provides a sense of self esteem, and accomplishment. At the end of a job, being able to see what you’ve done in such clear physical manifestation is undeniable.

Thanks to Freewheel Bike, and the many fantastic people that work there. It was people I met while working there that that sparked the idea for this trip. It also allowed me to get properly equipped for this epic journey. Freewheel is the best shop in Minneapolis, and Minneapolis has pretty damn high standards for bike shops. I’ve experience Freewheel from the outside as a customer, and from the inside as an employee. There is no doubt that it rivals any shop in the country.

Thanks to the Police chief in Springfield, Minnesota, for providing warm and dry shelter in a storm. I’m not sure what his motives were. Might have just been to keep a drifter off the streets. Regardless, thanks are due.

Thanks to the farmer (Tony? I still can’t remember his name) in southern Minnesota who invited me to his house for a meal including the best damn pork chop I’ve ever had, cooked over a fire in the baddest fireplace I’ve ever seen. And for the shortcut south, through his farm over an isthmus, to the road I needed to be on.

Thanks to the guy who I asked for directions near Gull Point State Park in Iowa. When asked for directions, he simply said, “Follow me, I live just down the road from it.” He drove slow enough for me to do that. At his driveway, he asked where I was going.

When I said “Mexico” he chuckled like I was joking, then got a real concerned look on his face and inquired, “Seriously?”

“Yeah.”

The next morning him and his wife stopped by my campsite with a hot cup of coffee and a ziplock bag full of sweet treats.

Thanks to Drew at Okoboji Expedtion Company, for use of the bike shop to overhaul my hubs, and also for the hospitality and conversation.

Thanks to the woman (never got her name) who was working in the cafe adjacent to the bike shop for providing damn good coffee, damn good quiche, and one of the best smoothies I’ve ever had, for nearly no cost.

Thanks to Farmer Mike in Modale, Iowa for providing a warm place to stay, laundry, and shower, and company riding through Omaha. Also for his extensive Iowa bicycle touring knowledge as I made my way to Modale.

Thanks to the guy at the state park just south of Lincoln, Nebraska who had pulled in to take a nap. When he woke up he pulled up to my site and asked, “You going cross country or something?”

“Yeah.”

I told him where I came from and where I was going. He had passed me on the highway, and the park was quite a few miles off the highway. He said he thought I was following him.

I had just pulled into the park, 15 miles or so from Lincoln, where I had gotten groceries. I had strapped a sweater and a loaf of bread to the top of the rear paniers, and had just discovered both were gone. They had rattled loose somewhere after Lincoln. I really wanted that loaf of bread, but losing the sweater was especially upsetting. I have two warm shirts. One I wear while the other is drying from getting sweaty the previous day. I could not afford to lose it. I mentioned to this guy that I’d just lost them. For all I knew they could be anywhere between the park and Lincoln. He said he’d look for them on the way out. Fifteen minutes later he came driving back with my loaf of bread held out the window! Sweet! Said he didn’t see the sweater and headed out. Half an hour later he came back with my sweater! Ha! No shit! Incredible luck I had in mentioning it to him, and what an awesome person to go out of his way for me like that. Made my day.

Thanks to the owner (can’t remember his name) of Liffert Trucking in Green, Kansas who offered me a place to camp, water and electricity. Also to his mechanic, who was real nice to talk to and steered me towards the best roads on my way south.

Thanks to all the people in Kansas who stopped to ask if I was ok as I took a water or food break on the side of the road. Kansas is the only state that has happened in, and it happened a lot, more times than I can count.

Thanks to Bill and Debbie in Seiling, Oklahma. I got into Seiling and went into the first building I saw to ask about camping in town. Bill was in the check out line and a conversation was started. His wife was nearby, and they both started telling me where I might be able to set up. After a minute or so they said, “You know, our church has a house that missionaries sometimes stay in, but I think it’s empty, you’re welcome to stay there if you want.”

I had a whole house to myself, I was able to get showered and do laundry, and also be warm and sleep in a bed. Very nice.

Thanks to Wayne in Wheeler, Texas. I didn’t have many options in Wheeler, but Wayne shared the heat from his wood stove in the shack he lived in, and provided a place to set up the tent. He gave me a 60 mile ride the next day which allowed me to get to Caprock Canyons State Park in one day instead of two.

While he was driving me south we passed a bunch of cattle. He said in his rural Texas drawl, “You know, everybody is raising these black angus cows these days because that’s what sells. But I just hate it. I just hate looking out the window and seeing all these black cows.”

“Really? Why is that?”

“Because it reminds me of Obama.”

I am not making this shit up. I could not make this up. He was serious. Damn.

Thanks to all the people who were, or tried to be helpful with my route finding, even if they did say something like, “What you wanna do is just jump on the interstate there and take that right through Amarillo, that’ll take you all the way to Tucson,” while I stood there straddling my bike just nodding and saying, “Uh huh, ok, sounds good, thanks!” Happened quite a bit.

Thanks to Roger at the bike shop in Portales, New Mexico for letting me hang out all day and shoot the shit about bikes. That’s him in the photo, along with one of his bike shop cats.

I’m sure I forgot some. But I remember them all eventually, and though I might not have mentioned it here, when I remember I have a spirit of gratitude that vibrates out into the world beyond anyplace my words can reach.

Meeting all these people makes traveling like this a rich experience.

And thanks to all those I have yet to meet, see you a little further on down the grit road.

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    • Pete
    • November 25th, 2010

    Happy Thanksgiving Jim ; )

      • Todd
      • November 26th, 2010

      good job jim

    • Amelia
    • November 26th, 2010

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Mark
    • November 26th, 2010

    Happy Thanksgiving, John. It’s great to read your news on the road.

    • jen
    • November 28th, 2010

    Got your sleeping bag, sounds like you could use it now! ~ jen

    • Uhtred
    • November 30th, 2010

    Just heard John call in to Mischke’s show. Made a clip for y’all.

    [audio src="http://www.fileden.com/files/2008/2/8/1746743//Mischke_-_John_Calling_from_Tuscson.mp3" /]

      • Richard
      • June 26th, 2011

      I came back here to re-read John’s blog and came across this link. THANK YOU!

    • Andy
    • December 2nd, 2010

    So… What pocket do you keep your Danzig in? I found your blog today and read the whole thing instead of working. I’m glad to read that its been an edventure. Take care man.

      • jbemel
      • December 6th, 2010

      I’m assuming you found my blog randomly, so I’m not sure where the Damzig reference comes from. Out of chance, I’m listening to Danzig right now. I keep it in my front pocket, letting it ride out front clearing the way for me.

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