Author Archives: samuelmclaughlin

From the land of dinasaurs to where the revolution began: A photographic tour

In a world too delicious to the eye to describe in words, i thought it time for a photo tour.

our journey in the sand, each rock representing a state, not to scale ūüôā
a broken view

all we needed now was the little mermaid

fern gulley lives...

The Redwoods: It’s almost impossible to¬†¬†feel alone in the company of giants. These trees have seen empires burn like campfires, only getting wiser with each halo tattooed on to their stomachs. Predating Christ, the old-growth Redwoods can live up to 3000 years and are designed to survive natural disasters. When their trunks are cut, burned, or destroyed, these tenacious trees release a pheromone to trigger a series of new-growth around the ring of the dead tree, giving it an almost immortal life. These trees have outlived dinasaurs, ice ages, and great fires, and have lived for hundreds of thousands of years with almost no enemies, until about now. Due to the intense logging of our recent past, we only enjoy about 4% of the mystical Redwood Forest. The only natural predator of Redwoods: man.¬† But thanks to the Save The Redwoods League, we have managed to hold on to and conserve¬†several state and national redwood parks on the west coast.

one of our favorite signs

our slimey companion in the forest

just hangin out in the driftwood

haircut numero dos

our favorite game, ‘hit rock with stick’

the oral tradition survives around the greatest of stages, campfire.

yeah... that big

walkin' under the heavens

"the coldest winter I've ever spent was a summer in San Francisco" - Mark Twain

Rick and company breakin' bread

the fam in san fran

the zen skater in Golden Gate Park

"cement slide" of san francisco - no adults without the supervision of a child

a flower in Aine's communal garden

a king's game in the People's Park

The company we kept: The perfect supplement to any adventure are the companions met along the way, and we have been living in the company of kings.

There was no one else I’d rather share the Redwoods with then my older sister and her¬†husband, Matt and Melinda Armeni. Squeezed comfortably in their truck named ‘Hombre’ they drove over a thousand miles just to rendezvous with us here in the woods, and they made sure to bring the bacon. For three days we explored the forest like our backyard, and the coast, our sandbox. We love you guys, and we can’t wait to see you in San Diego.

Now¬†to San Francisco, where Henry and I were hosted by a most lovely Bay Area family, Heidi and Martin Awesome (since I can’t remember your last name, i dubbed you with a temporary one). They caught us up on recent events (the fires and floods of the east) and cooked us up some delightful culinary treats (macaroons and steak!). Also in the city, we were lucky enough to catch up with one of my camp friends, Rick Raymond. Rick was actaully my counselour once upon a time at Camp Dudley and¬†i haven’t seen him since¬†i was 14, but like all great friendships, time meant nothing, and we jumped right back into the groove.¬†We caught Rick at a crossroad in his life; he’s actually about to leave his work at Greenpeace to move to South Africa¬†for some non-profit work, and of course, to look for an adventure. That being the case, we were able to follow Rick as he finished his San Franciscan bucket list before his grand exit. We jumped in the frigid bay to the¬†wild gasps of onlookers, we schooled some randoms in pickup soccer at Fort¬†Mason, and even rocked out to an 80’s cover band in North Beach. Good times were had. Good luck Rick.

Let’s finish with a little trip to a town called Berkeley. The truest representation of the “Left Coast,” Berkeley is said to be where people from around the globe come to practice democracy. Growing revolution since the 1950s, Berkeley has been at the forefront of almost every civil right’s movement in America. Berkeley has bled for freedom of speech throughout it’s existence, and will continue to fight for as long as there is something worth standing up for. And of course, as we’ve talked about before, Henry and¬†I not only see these new places through our own experience, but through the eyes of those we meet. Our time in Berkeley was spent with a lovely lady name Aine, a family friend of friends, and we wouldn’t have had it any other way. We cooked, told stories, and learned a great deal from each other. Aine left Ireland at 18 and has been chasing adventure ever since. We thank Aine for her warmth.

And now on to¬†San Mateo, for¬†our first interview of the West Coast,¬†the Daily Journal.¬†We’ll talk¬†soon! Love you guys

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The 101

oh the fog...

For the past 11 days or so we’ve been biking ocean-sprayed cliffs, exploring rocky beaches, gawking at enormous conifer sentinels, finding our way in dense fog banks, and grimacing through guardrail-hugging-hairpins. ¬†It’s safe to say, the 101 has become our home, and we’re definitely not complaining.

That being said, the weather seems to have gone whacky again! ¬†It hasn’t been raining or storming, or anything, but it has been cold. ¬†Possibly the coldest it has been on our trip so far, with the exception of Glacier National Park! ¬†Dang, definitely didn’t expect that–plus, it seems that ever since we set rubber to the coast we’ve been shrouded ¬†by fog. ¬†The fog isn’t too bad though, because it makes the scenery much more mysterious and enchanting than it may normally be. ¬†The drawback to the knee-high cloud, however, is that it makes for very hot climbs and icy downhill flights; i end up stopping at the top/bottom of every hill to make a wardrobe change.

In addition to the change in weather, the Pacific Coast Scenic Highway has brought a much welcomed development in our collective state-of-mind. ¬†Still determined to support 4Walls to the best of our abilities, we now have thousands of miles of experience when it comes to talking to strangers, so fundraising comes naturally. ¬†It is no longer something we have to spend time and energy stressing out about. ¬†We’re on the coast. ¬†It’s beautiful. ¬†We’re doing something we believe strongly in, and doing it as best we can–with your help, of course.

Here is a bit about our (and thus 4Walls’) new friends and supporters:

Tony is a die-hard surfer. ¬†No matter what the temperature, no matter how big the surf is, if there are waves, Tony is there. ¬†He loves the sport so much that he’ll surf anything that will push his board towards shore. ¬†Not only did Tony put us up for two nights and open his kitchen to the hurricane that is our appetites, he truly welcomed us into the family by showing us the area and…taking us surfing! ¬†Yes, despite the 48 degree Oregon water and 6 inch waves, he took us to “sunset beach” (all we could see was fog), jammed us into wet suits, and handed us a longboard. ¬†As a true champion, he then stood on the beach in shorts and sandals, shouting instructions to us as we crawled to shore upon ripples ¬†lucky to be called waves. ¬† No matter how cold we all were, or how upset we were that Tony’s longboard slipped off the roof of the van on the way home, we all had a blast and will remember the adventure fondly. ¬†Here’s to Tony for exquisite hospitality and for keeping a cool head amidst such an unfortunate event–thanks, brother, for not taking our heads as payment!

Dave, Rob, and Carla are an adventurous trio that own a small printshop in Brookings, OR, and spend every moment they’re not working trying to squeeze excitement out of life. ¬†Although they are 2/3 English (Dave and Rob), and only moved to the states about 14 years ago, they’ve done enough surfing, windsurfing, biking, hiking, and swimming to know more about their surroundings than google maps and the oldest Brookings local combined. ¬†That being said, they had no trouble pointing us up the Chetco river to a glorious swimming hole, or to the monthly art fair so that we could navigate the crowds and do some ‘ol fashioned fundraising. ¬†Thanks Dave, Rob, and Carla for great hospitality, love-saturated vibes, and top-notch local knowledge!

Saying goodbye to the printshop trio

Steve is the eccentric uncle you have who isn’t really related to you by blood, but ¬†is still an integral part of keeping family functions fun and interesting. Friendly,¬†funny, warm, and open, Steve is the ultimate people person who’s stories always end with laughter. ¬†Just like almost all of the people we’ve met on our adventure so far, we were able to learn from him, because Steve is overflowing with passion for a hobby that Sam and i are completely unfamiliar with: growing marijuana. ¬†Yes, Steve’s yard is covered with about 25 chest-high cannabis plants of various varieties, non of which he hesitated to tell us everything about. ¬†Turns out our friendly host has a bad back, so after his doctor prescribed medical marijuana years ago, he decided to invest in some plants and grow it legally himself–that way he wouldn’t have to pay a dispenser every time he needed to refill his prescription. ¬†I had never seen anything like it: a deep love blossomed out of what initially was a medical necessity. ¬†Honestly, i really look forward to finding something in life that i love as much as Steve loves growing his own medical ganja. Thanks Steve, for opening your home to us and giving us yet another experience to remember–i never once thought i’d ever pitch my tent in a cannabis garden!

[Not] Live from Port Orford, OR

Two handsome kids stole our computer and made a video for our blog! ¬†Surprisingly, they looked a lot like us and were almost as funny–check it out!

Keep Portland Weird

Hmm, how to describe Portland… Okay got it. Portland is like that kid you know, the one that most people don’t get, and therefor probably gets made fun of a lot. It’s that kid with the goofy rolling laugh who is probably wearing floral pajamas and hospital slippers in public. This kid is the absolute best, because no matter what, he is not trying to be anyone else but him (or her), and you gotta love that. Portland is that kid. Portland is genuine.¬†And we’ve all got a little Portland inside, embrace the weird.

a real campaign to keep portland awesome

  • Lovin’ the bikes – Portland’s bike lanes are almost bigger than the ones reserved for cars. Countless neighborhoods are adorned with streets dedicated to just bikers. In fact, it’s almost frowned upon if you don’t bike to work. Weird.
  • Lovin’ the Beer – Last but not least, let’s talk about micro-brews. Portland has been ranked number one in the entire world for variety of micro-brews in one city. It’s the first American city to have made the top five ever, let alone the number one seed. I mean it beat Germany for cryin’ out loud, where has this city been hiding.
  • Lovin’ the Earth – Our friend Alex once went into a coffee shop (three on every block) to ask for just a cup (which Alex needed for work) and here is the unexaggerated response.

“Hmmm, do you really need this cup man? i mean, i really wish you would go get a mug or something.”

“I actually need it for a shoot that I’m on right now.”

“That’s really unfortunate man, (insert long sigh), okay, but i wish we didn’t have to do this”

Can you believe that? A city that is so environmental, that asking for a coffee cup actually warrants a moral lecture from the coffee kid. This is wonderful. Never in America have i seen (or heard of) such an apparent respect for our environment. It’s like being in a different country 20 years in the future. Portland has all of the natural beauty of Colorado, but still feels like a coastal city, how do they do it? Dubbed “the Greenest City in America,” Portland seems to have its priorities straight.

If what I’ve told you isn’t enough, you may not be human. i am truly infatuated with Portland, and with enough time, i can see this puppy dog romance blossoming into true love. i’ll be back Portland, don’t you worry.

The Second Coming of Alex and Isaac

the boys

As much as i’d like to think that Portland speaks for itself to any visitor, I can’t deny that we saw and experienced the city through the bright eyes of Mr. Alex Louis. You might remember Alex from Chicago (he was our host there as well) and has since moved to Portland to work for OPB, or Oregon Public Broadcasting. I don’t know how it works in your hometown, but in Portland,¬†public broadcasting is hailed king of the airwaves. Knowing Ira Glass in Portland, is like knowing Elvis in Graceland, public broadcasting and everything NPR is huge, and our boy Alex is on the forefront. Keep an eye on this kid, or should I say, listen closely, he’s goin’ places.

Anywho, we couldn’t have asked for a more exuberant and equally excitable young person to be our tour guide for the wonders of Portland. Our first morning together, before heading to “the gorge” for some good old cliff jumping, we stopped to grab some Korean tacos from the downtown food carts, and guess who we ran into?

sandpoint reunion

The one in the middle, the one dress like a southern gentleman, that’s Isaac. If you remember correctly, Isaac was the kid posing for GQ in our group photo from Sandpoint, ID. After spending just over a year abroad in Israel, Isaac returned to the states only to hitchhike from NYC to his hometown in Idaho. A vagabond and a gifted storyteller, Isaac will most likely show up later in our lives somewhere, it’s just a feeling i have.

Reinventing ourselves

Now so far in this trip (as you’ve probably noticed) Henry and i have only worn two pairs of clothes, that’s two pairs of clothes for over two months. This has taken a toll on us. Rejuvenated from sipping the sweet nectar of Portland, we were inspired to find “street clothes” to wear on our west coast adventure. I wish there was a way to describe the wonder of new fabric (Goodwill new, but you get it) on our recently bathed skin, but there isn’t. The only comparison I can make came from my mother. “The only other person that could understand your experience,” she said, “is a pregnant woman. They wear the same maternity clothes for close to 6 months (maybe an outfit for everyday of the week at most) without change. I understand what you’re going through.” That Carine McLaughlin is a wise woman. I feel for all you soon-to-be-moms out there, i now understand a very small part of the mystery behind pregnancy. With new threads, Henry and I feel like we’re finally starting our re-entry into society.

Leaving the West Hills with Uncle Mark

chillin' on Uncle Mark's truck

We waved goodbye to our home in the West Hills, where we were staying with a friend from school, Steven London (the legend). He showed us some great pickup soccer and offered his home selflessly as Henry and i explored the city. We would be leaving Portland to stay with Uncle Mark in Albany, OR. You might have seen Uncle Mark comment on the blog before, he often shares fundraising advice and sometimes even picks up on grammatical errors. He has truly become a “road uncle.” However, even with our constant contact, we hadn’t actually met Uncle Mark yet (he is actually the uncle of a talented musician from college, Suzanne Yoder, who was kind enough to match-make). Together with Alex, we would first meet Uncle Mark over Lebanese food in downtown Portland, where periodic bursts of loud music, shouting, and belly dancing would take part. After delicious conversation, Uncle Mark would offer his home in Albany for our next night’s stay; we kindly accepted. We spent the next evening picking plums from Uncle Mark’s garden and reminiscing about past adventures (Uncle Mark toured New Zealand on a bike in the late 80’s). In the morning Henry and i were completely recharged and ready for some quality biking, and so we said our sweet goodbye to Uncle Mark, but not before handing us an amazing article on earthship architecture (4walls method) and these…

upgrade.

Uncle Mark is an engineer for HP and crafted these bad boys the night before we left. Uncle Mark you are the man. We won’t forget your kindness.

After an intense day of biking, we finally saw the Pacific Coast in all of it’s glory (not hidden behind ghostly fog) and there were no words to describe it, thus, this video was born.

Stayed tuned for more tales from the coast, including our stay with Tony the surfer-dude!

It’s so hard to say goodbye…

Time to blow out the candles and make a wish, Henry and i recently celebrated our half-way anniversary! On day 45, smack in the middle of our 90 day pilgrimage, we found ourselves in a Montanan basement of an ex-Yellowstone Ranger reminiscing like old men about the “good ol’ days.” Only the overpowering smell of our Ramen noodles could rival the aroma of nostalgia in the room. So many lovely people, so many lovely places, too many goodbyes. This is hard.

Sure, there are a lot of things we miss on the road. We miss the smells of our homes, we miss food that doesn’t come from a can, we even miss walking occasionally, but what we really miss the most, is consistency. Let me explain.

Usually, when we meet someone on the road, we only have about 24 hours to live out an entire relationship. The laughs roll longer, the conversations get deeper, and the break-ups are near impossible. This is life on the road, beautiful and ephemeral. It’s hard to accept that we will most likely never see these people again.

But it’s not just that, consistency is a peace of mind. It’s being able to let your guard down. It’s not having to worry about where to sleep for the night. The only consistency we have is a lack there of. This is our blessing and our curse.

These are just some thoughts that have been roasting for a few days, just wanted to give you all a taste.

… and without further adieu, here’s what we’ve been up to.

The Hoppa and the Bushman

nighttime mappin'

Riding into Glacier National Park, we ran into our dear friend Julian, the ¬†happenin’ Hoppa (half-chinese and half-caucasian) from LA. It was love at first site. Easy to say, Julian was on the same wavelength. We would spend two whole days together running a muck in the park before painfully parting in East Glacier (including jumping off the bridge that Forrest Gump ran on, campsite hopping, and once again, falling asleep in public) But don’t worry, we agreed to rendezvous in Seattle and bike the San Juan Islands together. One last hoorah! Follow his bike ride to British Columbia here.

Now for Tim the Bushman. With a boy-like wonder, Tim has been hiking the American wilderness for near 120 days now, and isn’t ready to quit. He knows how to hunt with his bare hands, start fires with mushrooms, and sleep suspended from trees. His manliness can not be measured by scientific instruments, he would break them instantly. Tim doesn’t read books, he stares them down until he gets the information he wants. Track the legend here.

The Road to the Sun

nowhere near the top...

It’s 4:30AM, and Henry roles over and asks, “Are we really going to do this?” i grunt inaudibly, wipe the slobber from my mouth, and yell over to the next tent, “Julian! It’s time.” Today we are going to bike the Road to the Sun (that’s the actual name) and I’m sure you can figure out why. It’s just less than 4000 vertical feet stretched out between 50 miles of uninhibited glacial wilderness. It doesn’t just take your breath away, it sucks it out of you and replaces it with goose-bumps instead. Oftentimes we risked spilling over the cliff’s edge because our eyes had drifted from the yellow lines to the glistening snowcaps of Northern Montana. Humbling? Yes. Hard? Yes. Fun? Without saying.

Huckleberries

bear candy

A close relative to the blueberry, the Hucks are native to mid-alpine altitudes, the pacific northwest, and my belly. How good are they? Imagine your favorite berry, be it raspberry or even acai, now multiply that by 7000. That’s how good. We’ve eaten them in almost every form: ice cream, jam, in pancakes and just plane jane (after a huckleberry picking lesson from the locals). But we’re not the only ones who enjoy these mountainous munchies… our closest competitor is our old friend Mr. Bear. In fact, the reason Glacier National Park has the highest bear concentration in Montana is because of the Huckleberry itself. We met a young Grizzly the other day who was so preoccupied with the search, that he didn’t even stop to say hello (but i wasn’t too upset). It ‘s true, money doesn’t grow on trees, but Huckleberries do grow in bushes.

7B for life

The Sandpoint Crew

Sandpoint, Idaho a.k.a. paradise found.

It was about 9 o’clock when Hen and i rolled into the lake town community after a healthy 95 mile-day when re ran into Nathan, Kelly, Brendan, Glenn and Lele. We stopped for advice for where to stealth-camp in the area, and ended up talking for the next three hours about adventure, hitchhiking and riding mechanical bulls. More friends came and the stories kept coming; we liked these kids, they felt like home. We would spend two wonderful nights (tenting in Lydia’s backyard) with our new found crew in Sandpoint, this is the benefit of being ahead of schedule for once. Time always seems to rob us of the people we love the most, so we counted our blessings for being able to stay as long as we did. This is the first time that Henry and I have truly felt normal during the entire trip, we were just one of the bunch, and that’s all we could have asked for.

Well that’s it for now, we’re off to the cascades, and we’ll do our best to write home soon. Love you all.

Day 32-36: Head west young men.

If you’re reading this blog post, it means Henry and I have NOT been eaten by Grizzlies in the Rockies; we are very much alive still. But while we’re on the topic of bears, I’ll share with you some mountain wisdom we’ve gained from the locals.

“You can tell whether you’re around black bears or grizzlies by their poop. Black bear poop has berries and twigs, and grizzly poop has bells and bear spray. Stay away from the latter.”

To explain, the ‘bells’ once belonged to tourist’s dogs (whom are no longer with us), and the ‘bear spray’ once belonged to a silly human who thought that an aerosol can and some pepper could somehow defeat a 1000 lb. killing machine. Needless to say, Henry and I have learned to hide our scent like ninjas, in order to avoid any furry confrontations while in the Rockies.

"good morning!"

As you’ve probably noticed, it’s been quite a few days since our last entry. And as liberating as it is to be void of any form of technology (cellphones, internet, and even running water) we’ve missed talking to you guys. So for future reference, if you don’t hear from us for a few days, it’s not that we don’t love you, it’s just that we’re probably knee-deep in the sticks. But if you don’t hear from us in more than a few days (a few weeks for example), you should probably start organizing a search party. That being said, here’s what we’ve been up to…

Getting stranded…

After emerging from the Black Hills, we plan a healthy 85-mile day from Custer, South Dakota to Redbird, Wyoming. No tricky trails and not even too many turns. No surprises, right? Here’s what we didn’t plan for…

that's right, 109 degrees fahrenheit.

Okay, a little bit of heat, no problem, we’ve had worse. A little bit of sunscreen and a lotta bit of water, let’s keep trucking. A few third-degree burns and two pairs of chapped lips later, Henry and I find ourselves 85 miles from 0ur start that day, but no Redbird. This can’t be right, maybe we passed it? No, we would have noticed, maybe it’s up the road, ehhh, let’s just ask this cop just incase.

“Redbird? You’re standing in it.”

“Wait this is Redbird? Our map said there should be a town here.”

“Welcome to the west boys. Redbird is that road behind you, there’s not too much else to put on maps around here.”

Here we were. The sun is setting and we’re 40 miles from the next town, oh, and hitchhiking? It’s illegal. Hmmmm. After racking our brains for a few moments, we decide that we would flag down a passing truck, explain our situation, and if they offered a ride we would take it. As long as we didn’t ask for the ride, technically it wouldn’t be hitchhiking. And it worked! An alfalfa/oat farmer picked us up in his truck and was kind enough to let us sleep on his property for the night. The kindness of strangers reigns supreme once again. Lesson of the day: in the west, you can’t rely on maps without confirming with a local first. Not only that, but the towns are spread so far apart, that if you don’t plan carefully, you’ll be drinking dirt for the night.

Blue skies and… rain?

After leaving Lost Springs, Wyoming (population 1, seriously, look it up) Henry and I start packing in mileage like FedEx. It’s blue sky and crispy white clouds, you know, postcard weather, and all of the sudden we feel raindrops. My first instinct told me that Henry was drooling in front of me (he often rides with his mouth ajar) and that i probably just got hit with some saliva. But I looked up, just to be clear, and sure enough, I could see crystal raindrops falling from a fresh blue canopy. There were a few clouds, but not rain clouds, and the drops didn’t look to be coming from them anyway. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I still can’t quite explain it. ¬†The skies are certainly changing. We are officially in BIG sky country.

our view as we approach the Tetons

Our horizons are almost endless now, and the sky is just a drier version of the ocean. Even the animals seem to swim. For the first time, I saw a family of cows walking across an open range, just walking. That may not sound like much, but just think about it. How often do you see cows with enough land to just wander on? They looked like they were going for a family hike, or maybe a picnic on the other side of the farm, but no matter what scenario you dream up, they looked happy, or free, I should say.

Lessons in the morn.

It’s day 32 (7AM) and Henry and I awaked to the stern but gentle voice of a Parks and Recreation worker, “Wake up. You can’t sleep in city park.” And that’s it. No threats, no attitude, and no blowing the situation out of proportion. I think we’ve all had our fair share of run-ins with “power-happy” officials, the ones who exercise their right to fill the gap in their inferiority complex by making others just as unhappy as they are. And that’s why it means so much more to have a level-headed interaction with a person of power. Henry and I apologized to the officer, and packed our gear up. Nothing more and nothing less. Unnecessary actions most often warrant unnecessary reactions, and that’s just the way things work. So thank you to the Parks & Rec employee for using good judgement and treating us as equals. The system can work if we are responsible with the power we are given.

The character’s keep coming…

my man francis

This is my man, Francis. He started walking over 70 days ago in Newport, Oregon and he’s not going to stop until Charlton, Massachusetts. He’s walking home in search of some higher truth. Moved by his pilgrimage, Henry and I agreed we wanted to help him. Francis also was quite inspired by our journey and too wanted to help. Since money is so short on the road, we figured we would both give each other $20, an equal exchange and a symbol of our respect for each other’s cause. Stay safe my friend, it was amazing to have met you.

the lone ranger, Jo

Oh Jo, how I miss thee. We met Jo twice in two days, the first time at a gas station outside the Tetons and the second was today in Jackson (while writing the blog haha!) Jo is from Thailand and is biking across a foreign land, America. While talking to Jo today, we asked if he was going to go to Yellowstone and he replied “ehh, it’s too commericial, I don’t think I’ll spend much time there.” That is Jo, he’s not from here and he already knows to avoid the mob. He told us that it gets boring biking by himself and that nature keeps him company. One thing I’ll never forget about Jo was his parting wisdom as we left him by the mountainside “you’re free man, you’re free.”

Pierre our fantastic Frenchman

And last but not least, Pierre. He’s an elderly frenchman who is biking from the top of North America to the bottom of South America on a tricycle of sorts. He’s as tough as he is eccentric and we were lucky enough to spend a night with him in Jackson before he heads off to hitchhike to Salt Lake City (making up for some lost time.) Good luck brother.

Look for another post tomorrow morning before we leave Jackson!

Day 27-29: Race to Rapid City

Let me preface this next chapter of adventure with a deadline: An NBC affiliate in Rapid City, SD wants to interview Henry and I on Monday, June 28th in the heart of Rapid. Good news right? Wrong. Well the interview is great news, but the resulting mileage (within our time crunch) is damn near impossible.

Yankton to Rapid City in three days. Translation. 365 miles in 72 hours. Things were about to get interesting.

First order of business: Lose all unnecessary weight… time for a haircut.

if pictures could speak...

Maybe it was something about being on the Lewis & Clark Lake. Maybe it was the full moon. Or maybe it was the heat. Whatever the reason, it was time. Credit to the Rastafaris, there is truly something wonderful if not spiritual about cutting your mane off. As people, we have a tendency to bottle stress throughout our body in different ways, be it muscular, neurological or in my case, hairologicalar (a word I made up meaning “of the hair”). And the release can be quite cathartic.

Second order of business: Bike until your legs fall off… or until you fall asleep in public.

With the wind at our faces, Henry and I light a fire under our respective booties, and charged the red road like bulls. It’s not even noon yet and it’s already 95 degrees, a temperature not exactly conducive to riding, but we endure. We push about 75 miles before dinner time and stop to grab a golden roasted PB&J in Armour, SD (part of a larger Native American Reservation). Under the shade of the pavilion, Henry and I let our guard down for two seconds, just enough time to for the Sandman to sneak up and rob us of our conscious minds. We both passed out with jelly encrusted mouths right there on the table, and were awaken by two local kids accusing us of being high. ¬†In our post-nap grogginess we assured them that “drugs were for thugs and that school is cool” (A clear regurgitation of DARE after-school specials).

The next “sleeping in public” story comes the following night in Presho, SD (population 556). After a day of intense, yet beautiful, riding we were ready to hit the hay. We grab dinner at the town restaurant, which is also a gas station/bar, and order the “Garbage Basket.” When asked what was in the entree, the waitress responded, “everything.” Our appetites were happy but our bowels were angry (a common biological dilemma these days). We mosey our way into town, searching for tent-able lawn and get directions to the town park. It wasn’t very far, but it was SMACK in the middle of this neighborhood. Not a problem, it was dusk, and soon we would have the cover of darkness. As we lay in our tent that night, under the Western sky, we can see the Tornado Warning brew on the horizon. However, we did our damnedest to outrun the storm that day, and it paid off. For the first time, we were watching a storm recede. Finally, a rainless night.

But right around 1 AM, we wake up to water. It’s raining! Wait… no, the sky is clear. What the heck? The rain… it’s coming from the ground! Sprinklers. The first time we successfully avoid a thunderstorm and we still got wet. Sprinklers and I are not on good terms right now.

Third order of business: Take all the help you can get… even if it means swallowing your pride.

So we’re 48 hours in and have covered around 160 miles, a huge accomplishment. But it’s just not enough. Even if we rode from sunrise to sunset, we weren’t going to make it to Rapid. We needed help.

Time to suck it up and stick it out–a thumb, that is.

Within 1 1/2 days we managed to catch rides with an expert scout leader (and lovely wife), an ex-boxer who now paints for a living (on his way to a wedding), and a RV-happy family that we shall refer to as the Patrick/Conway Clan. Without help from these trusting motorists, we wouldn’t have made it to our interview in time, as our last ride put us into Rapid City just around sunset on day 29. This should give us just enough time for a little SSS (poop, shave and sleep) before the big morning.

celebrating the journey with the Patrick/Conway family

However, the struggle of hitchhiking wasn’t necessarily in finding the rides, because there is kindness everywhere. The real trouble was letting go of our egos. Pride is a funny thing, and will most often rear it’s ugly face in the form of stubbornness. Asking strangers for rides (be it at gas stations, truck stops, or on the side of the road) is one of the more humbling experiences of the trip so far, and we’re all the better for it.

My man Thurgood hit it on the head with this one, “None of us has gotten where we are solely by pulling ourselves up from our own bootstraps. We got here because somebody bent down and helped us.”

Moral of the Story: Smarter deadlines lead to less grey hairs and a longer life-span.

a video of Henry and I, biking in between rides, getting “heat-silly”