My time in Palestine ended with a ride from the Golan Heights in occupied Syria at the headwaters to the Jordan river down to the Red Sea at Eilat--400 km away. I cycled from the mountains to the Dead Sea and continued south through the Negev desert.
After Eilat, I crossed the border into Aqaba. I hopped a bus to Wadi Rum and traded some time for free lodging & food at a Bedouin camp. After 2 weeks, I hopped back on the saddle and rode up to Petra. I spent 2 days wandering Petra's remains before continuing North. I felt that my legs were finally strong enough, so I decided to stick to the King's highway in the mountains for the rest of my ride to Amman.
Where to begin? Should I start in the Sequoias--my time wandering through the largest trees in the world? Or stumbling into what felt like an unofficial rainbow gathering in Mendocino? Or Yellowstone, where I spent a week amongst the bears and elk--getting snowed-on and walking though basins where the earth's crumbling crust gave way to pools of scalding-hot water?
I spent a week amongst the bears and elk -- getting snowed-on and walking though basins where the earth’s crumbling crust gave way to pools of scalding-hot water
Alas, I'll start with the present. At the time of writing, I find myself in Madison, Wisconsin. My preoccupation as of late is no longer my next backpacking trip through some US national park.
In less than a month, I'll be boarding a plane one-way to the Middle East, and I don't plan to come back to the US for over a year (closer to two).
Indeed, my current preoccupation is selling my car, getting back to NY, and finding some clever way to fit my folding bicycle into a checked bag that'll go under the bike-fee radar for the German airline on my flight to Israel.
My last major stop was Yellowstone, and my what an adventure that was! For the record, if you visit Yellowstone in September, all the backpacking permit fees are waved. And there's at least 3 campsites that are entirely accessible by bicycle. But, even if you just visit Yellowstone by car, it's quite an experience. There's fewer awe-inspiring vistas than other national parks, but looking across a low-lying basin with huge plumes of water vapor rising from patches of pools stretching out to the horizon offers a unique sort of inspiration in it's own wright.
In the past few months, I cycled ~1,500 km through FL & GA, built a couple 3d printers in Missouri, summited the highest mountain in New Mexico, backpacked through Zion, saw the Grand Canyon for the first time, and became a humble guest of East Jesus in Slab City.
In the past few months, I cycled ~1,500 km through Florida, built a couple 3d printers in Missouri, summited the highest mountain in New Mexico, backpacked through Zion, saw the Grand Canyon for the first time, and became a humble guest of East Jesus in Slab City.
It's been a while since I last wrote, but I finally have some downtime as I try to survive the 46 degree heat of Slab City in late June. When I crowdsourced info on the Slabs before I came, everyone's response was pretty terse: "don't go" they said, "you'll be miserable"
It's not often that I'm in the SW, and visiting Slab City has long been a dream of mine (coupled with the fact that the police have been harassing me in the past few weeks--I was quite ready for anarchy).
As for the desert's summer heat: I've cycled through the entire width of Nevada in July, so I'm familiar with my body's limits on heat. I figured I would be OK so long as I had sufficient water & shade.
Before I left Prescott Valley, AZ en-route to California, I spent a few hours dumpster diving for water containers. I was quick to find a bunch of ~1L plastic soda bottles, but I wanted something bigger. Behind an ihop & a taco bell I found what I was looking for: used 20L vegetable oil carboys. I got two of them anticipating a ~1 week stay in the Slabs. I washed them out very well with soap & water, and I filled them (and a dozen or so other 0.5-4L bottles) to the brim with clean, potable water.
As for shade: I didn't have much in the way of providing decent shade. I could have bought a tarp, but I decided to go the interdependent route; there's plenty of full-time Slabbers who have plenty semi-permanent structures for shade. I learned that there was an Internet Cafe in the Slabs, and figured--if nothing else--I could probably bring gifts to the Slabbers in exchange for their shade and internet. But what would a Slabber value?
I drove to Taos. Unfortunately, I was unable to find anyone to let me ram their tires full of earth without me paying them...so I ended up leaving town--climbing to the top of the highest mountain peak in New Mexico on my way out.
I came across the East Jesus website (a nonprofit artist community that actually owns their land in the Slabs). The website literally had a section listing their needs. After some consideration, I went to the hardware store to buy peat moss and duct tape. And then I took a trip to the liquor store to buy their cheapest 1.75 L bottle of whiskey ($14!).
When I arrived to East Jesus the next day, my peat moss, duct tape, and whiskey were very well received. As I chatted with the resident summer artist over (cold!) water & whiskey, I got a ton of useful information about life in Slab City. And--as the sun was setting while I was looking for a space in the Slabs to call my own, my friend at East Jesus intercepted me and offered to let me set up in Kaos camp at East Jesus 😀
I'm full of gratitude as I sit on this old couch under shade by big box fan, sipping my refrigerated water surrounded by a dense display of artwork, much of which is heavily accented by empty bullet casings and nitros canisters.
But how did I get here?
After completing my bicycle ride to Atlanta, I spent about a month visiting family and improving the livability of my Prius.
After a 20-odd hour greyhound down to Key West, FL, I unfolded my Brompton, strapped on my gear (a 50L backpack & big ortlieb front pannier), and began my next cycling journey: a mildly-circuitous, ~1,500 km from Key West, FL to Atlanta, GA.
last month I was squinting to see the road through the flurries of snow as I drove my salt-covered Prius down the east coast...Now I'm dipping my toes in the warm ocean in Key West
Just last month I was squinting to see the road through the flurries of snow as I drove my salt-covered Prius down the east coast of the US. I planned to take my time, but I was eager to get out of the snow.
Now I found myself basked in sunshine--dipping my toes in the warm, gorgeous salt waters of Smathers Beach.
My one-night host in Florida worked at a sea kayak joint, and they graciously gifted me time on a kayak to wander the calm, shallow waters of Key West. After a few hours of getting lost in the mangroves on my way out of town, I hit the road and took my time over the next few days cycling from Key to Key until I finally crossed the last bridge into mainland Florida.
I've spent the past couple weeks with family in South Florida, but tomorrow I'll be back on the saddle. Tomorrow I'll be cycling through Parkland and along State Road 827 (locally known as Browns Farm Road) through the Everglades up to Lake Okeechobee. Google Street View doesn't cover 20km of the road (it ends abruptly at a barrier in the Loxahatchee Road Boat Ramp parking lot), but it does appear to be intact and available to non-motorized vehicles. Here's to hoping all the bridges visible in the grainy satellite imagery are still intact!
We awoke to the sound of a marmot under our mini-van shelter atop Hatcher Pass. It was my last weekend in Alaska, and S wanted to take me outside the Anchorage bowl--where I've been living the past month. We ate breakfast as we gazed upon the snow-capped mountains in the distance, then grabbed our packs and climbed up to the ridgeline, stopping to appreciate the fine view of Mount Denali--the highest peak in North America.
I hosted S as a couchsurfer in my temporary "apartment" in Anchorage, but we initially met in an online form; we were both searching for a travel companion to split the cost on a ship from Anchorage, AK to Vancouver, BC.
3 months ago, S left her office job in Zürich, flew to Vancouver, and bought a mini-van named Bourbon. Living in Bourbon, she drove through BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, the Yukon, and west into Alaska. I hosted her a few times when she passed south through Anchorage down to Homer, then again West to Valdez. Our last weekend in Alaska, we took one last trip outside Anchorage before she sold Bourbon
After climbing down from the ridgeline above Hatcher's Pass, we drove through the valley down a long gravel road to the Reed Lakes trailhead. 4 miles and much climbing later, we arrived at the most pristine, glacier-fed lake I've ever seen. A local told us it's the best lake in Alaska, and that the glacier that fed this lake (just over the ridgleine) was called "bomber glacier", as a crashlanded (world war 2?) bomber plane could be found atop the glacier. If we had more time, gear, and food, it would make a glorious multi-day weekend hike to Bomber Glacier--perhaps for my next visit to Alaska.
I just spent 2 weeks living in an intentional community in the forest ~20 miles outside Eugene, OR. This is my first time in Oregon. My-oh-my, is it beautiful! Just a bit cold & wet for my tastes (welcome to the Pacific Northwest!). I give massive cred to the crusties living on the streets here. How do they ever dry their clothes?
I spent a wonderful week with a new friend in Sacramento. I was surprised how much I enjoyed Sacramento. The weather was great, the dumpsters were full of gifts (two unopened 4-packs of Pilsner Urquell?!?), and the streets were easy to navigate by bicycle. Coworking offices were pretty ridiculous ($192/day are you mad?!?), but fortunately I was able to work from home.
I was just finishing dinner, planning to see a friend play a folk punk show in Sac when my friend in Eugene asked what time I'd arrive tomorrow. Looks like my calendar was off-by-one day; my train leaves in a few hours. Whoops! I made a call to a friend, packed my stuff, rode-off to amtrak, and quickly boxed my bicycle. When I awoke on the train the next morning, I was crossing a gorgeous lake via causeway with snow-capped mountains in the distance. Everything was green, and--as we climbed in elevation through the cascades--there was snow on the ground.
I've been living with my friend in the SF Bay Area for the past month. I'm writing this from a cozy, finished room in the corner of a large, leaky warehouse hosting a datacenter and massive library of books in Richmond, CA. The building is owned by a nonprofit library that digitizes books and makes them available online, and my friend has become something of its caretaker while in school.
Last weekend, on my friend's Spring Break, I went on my first bicycle tour in over a year. From the Bay Area, we took a train down to San Luis Obispo, and started riding ~300 miles along highway 1, through Big Sur, back to San Francisco. It was a trying journey--both physically & emotionally, but also really really really beautiful. And I needed the Vitamin D. But I could have been spared the Poison Oak and sunburn...
The SF Bay Area is always a great place to be. It was great to spend time with Friends & Family I hadn't seen since I moved from Berkeley to travel the world over a year ago. I'd like to stay longer, but there's still so much of the world to see. The weather is getting warmer, and Canada is calling!
Saturday morning I plan to wake up at the crack of dawn, load up my bicycle, and ride ~80 miles to Sacramento before Sunday evening. I'll spend a week staying with a new friend in Sacramento, then I'll be going up to Eugene, where I'll be staying with a friend at the Lost Valley Eco Village.
I'm on a train pulling into New Orleans on Mardi Gras, and the conductor informs us that the streets will be so grid-lock with traffic from the Endymion parade that we won't be able to leave the Amtrak station.
3 hours later, I manage to traverse the 10 miles down-river to the lower 9th ward, where I'm pitching my tent for $15 a day, less than a football field away from the levy that broke in 2005. When I unlatch the front gate and enter, I find a maze of a few dozen tents and a mix of mostly dirty, white travelers in their late 20s. In the middle is an unfinished, 3-story structure. Many long-timers here are doing a work-exchange building it. Much of the wood was dumpstered, needing nails removed.
After settling into my new tent city, I roll my fully-loaded bicycle into the grocery store and start hunting for nuts & bread. I fill my water bottle & go to checkout. The cashier is wearing a white fetish in the shape of a penis around her neck; I suppose it's a whistle.
a hand pops up from the ground...and apparently there's 2 bodies in there. I notice a roll of colorful condoms on the road a few feet from their discrete sex hole, and we leave them to their business.
Around 9, I roll out of my tent to the community around the wood fire. Someone asked about my bike, and I claim ownership, but inform him (S) that I came in via Amtrak. He tells me of his journey bikepacking through SE Asia & China, and---after preparing some food and a visit to the compost toilet, we bike together towards the French Quarter.
The route we took was different than how I came the night before, and probably safer too. After crossing the draw-bridge over the industrial canal, we dash down a grassy hill. A man sleeping by the tracks at the bottom of the hill asks if we have a lighter; we don't.
We meet the street at its dead end, and my new friend from Montreal goes to investigate a bicycle unattended by the road. Alarmingly, a hand pops up from the ground, and I can see the matted hair of someone hiding in shallow drainage ditch. It's broad-daylight, and apparently there's 2 bodies in there. I notice a roll of colorful condoms on the road a few feet from their discrete sex hole, and we leave them to their business.
When we get to Canal St, I part ways with my riding partners. I want to go checkout my cowork office at Lafayette Square; they want to sneak onto a cruise ship.
Mardi Gras itself was crazy. Indeed, I'd never been to carnival before. I had come ill-prepared without a costume, but there was so much waste cluttering the streets that I was able to decorate myself sufficiently before the sun set.
After I graduated college, I sold or gave away most of my possessions. As a young US American following the footsteps of many before me, I headed west to California.
ho·bo / ˈhō-(ˌ)bō / (n.) a migratory worker
With just a few duffel bags of cargo, my 21-st century move from Florida to California lasted only a few hours on an airplane. My destination: San Francisco -- where, in a few weeks, I'd begin a new job as a software engineer.
During my time living in California, I visited Yosemite National Park and went on my first-ever overnight trekking trip. This experience taught me much about self-sufficiency and packing light--something that I later refined to an art.
I was in San Francisco for just over a year, but I never spread my roots too deep. Before my second year, my feet were itching for something new, and I found myself on a plane again -- this time destined for New York. With Guthy's voice singing through my earphones, I flew from the Redwood forests to the New York islands.
After some time, I was off again, heading down the US east coast back to Florida, and I hopped a plane to the furthest city in America that had an international airport -- Santiago de Chile.