Silver Falls!

9/11/21

Today I visited Silver Falls State Park, for my first time ever. This may seem surprising, since I’ve lived in Portland for 31 years. But, without ever owning a car, getting to natural places outside of town like that can be challenging.

After a goodbye to my Warmshowers hosts Kevin and Susan, I met my friend Robert for brunch from Infinity Room, which we ate in nearby Pringle Park Plaza since the weather was nice. I’ve always enjoyed that plaza, with its inviting fountains.

Then I pedaled out to my friend Kristi’s house, and met up with her, her housemates, her dog, and five of their six cats(!) Soon we set out (in Kristi’s car) for Silver Falls.

It was breathtaking! I’m so glad I made a point to visit on this trip. I’d love to go back sometime, and if I can somehow get their on (or at least with) my bike—it’s a long, hilly, and windy road with no bike lanes to get there—it appears that there are some great bike trails that would be cool to explore. We hiked for probably a total of an hour or so, but covered a very tiny portion of the park in that time.

Now I’m catching up on my communications—much harder now that I’m on the road, but I’m looking forward to finding time to talk with friends soon—and getting ready to turn in and rest up for my ride to Corvallis tomorrow.

Do you have a state park or other natural area near you that you’ve been kind of meaning to visit for some time? Please take my nudge to make the time and go do it now!

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

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Want to support my vision financially? I am in the process of manifesting $50,000 in lieu of a “salary” for the year of this journey. You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a fairy godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons and supporters!)

“This is my life now”

Saying goodbye to my condo for a year

September 10, 2021


A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post about how I started to “dream into” long-distance train travel, years ago.

And for the past year, as I have dreamed into this bike tour, I have employed a similar mind trick, which I believe has contributed to my success in being able to manifest this journey, and to be enjoying it so much so far:

For the past year, whenever I would notice myself bicycling around Portland—which was quite often, because I commuted to work three miles each way, four days a week, as well as doing most of my errands by pedal power—I would smile and say to myself, “This is my life now.” I would often follow up with a few more words, to the effect of “I ride around the country on my bike, going through neighborhoods just like this, and enjoying the scenery in each moment.”

Every time I did this, it gave me a lift. I would smile and think of how much I loved my life, and also think ahead to when this really would be “my life” 100% of the time.

And last night, that new life actually began!

Several times today, on my scenic ride to Salem from Portland, I said to myself, “This is my life now.” And then I smiled and smiled. I would glance back at my neon trailer, and feel the weight as I pulled it, and recognize that slight circumstantial difference from when I said those words before, vs. today. Today, it was really, really real!

But it was real all along, too. And I find that there is such a power in recognizing the components of dreams that are already real, already true. Such power in taking a moment whenever we notice it, and feeling joy and gratitude about the piece of our dream(s) that is already occupying space in our life as it is.

I invite you to try this in your own life. What is a dream you have? What is the “dream life” you would like to lead? What would it look and feel like, on a day-to-day, even moment-to-moment, basis? What parts of it do you already have? (Or could you easily add, even if only partially?) I invite you to step fully into gratitude for these aspects, every time you notice them, and affirm to yourself that “this is my life now.”

Now a brief travelogue from today:

The weather was unseasonably cool and overcast, and I even got misted on a few times. But I enjoyed the lack of blazing sun and heat, and thoroughly enjoyed the first full day of my journey.

After a lovely overnight stay with my Warmshowers hosts near my condo in SE Portland (which followed a lovely dinner from Siri Thai that a friend gifted me, in a park just as dusk was falling) I pedaled off this morning to the Milwaukie Transit Center. I had debated bicycling the whole way to Salem, but ultimately decided I didn’t want to face those formidable hills in Oregon City on my very first day. (I could just imagine blowing out my knees and ruining things for the foreseeable future.) So I rolled my rig onto a TriMet bus at the transit center, and rode it about half an hour, until we reached the top of the hill in Oregon City.

My rig on the bus

From there, it was a fairly easy and straightforward ride to Salem. I stopped for a snack in a Woodburn park, then again in Salem before arriving at my Warmshowers hosts for tonight. They are a delightful couple, and we shared several hours of pleasant conversation, as well as a brief walk to a neighborhood creek with a new bridge.

I thought of my friend Jeanne when I saw these gentle creatures today.
I was just talking about goats last night with my hosts, and then what should I encounter today?

A part of me still can’t believe that “this is my life now”… but it is. I am so happy and so grateful.

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

Want to be notified of future blog posts? Use the green “sign up” button to subscribe!

Want to support my vision financially? I am in the process of manifesting $50,000 in lieu of a “salary” for the year of this journey. You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a fairy godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons and supporters!)

Hitting the road!!

September 9th, 2021


The time is now!! I leave tomorrow!!

I am at a loss for what to say here. I want to acknowledge the beginning of this amazing journey—a year in the making—but I’m a bit speechless.

As I type, I’m sitting in my condo in the early evening, on my wonderful sectional couch. This is the couch I got with the insurance money after the flood. The flood that started all the cascade of terrible things that happened in my life in 2020. The cascade of terrible things which then ultimately managed to rearrange my life in such a way as to bring the idea of this trip to my mind.

Life is strange like that.

Everything is packed up. Many wonderful friends and neighbors helped me to get most of my belongings to my storage unit. Other wonderful neighbors took some of my “treasures” into their own homes, lightening my load. Others took treasures with a willingness to gift/redistribute them after I leave. (Huge shoutout to the Buy Nothing Project, which has transformed my life way more than words could ever convey. I highly recommend that if you haven’t joined your local Buy Nothing group, you do so now. It’s so much cooler than you could ever imagine, even if you already think it sounds cool.)

I don’t have a tenant lined up yet, but I trust that my property manager will find one for me soon. It’s been a relief, actually, not to have had people coming through and touring the place while I’ve been living here and preparing to move out.

I had my last day at my job of the past 18 years, this past Friday. My coworkers sent me off with vegan pizza, cake, and ice cream, a lovely card, and even a Visa gift card to help me on my way. It was a good sendoff.

I’ve been spending many hours contacting various hosts in the various places I’ll be staying in the next two months, and it’s been so lovely to connect with such great folks! (Hello to any of you who may be reading!) I’m feeling the abundance of my human-family network, between friends, friends of friends, and Warmshowers and Servas folks. I’ve got most of my lodging for the coming month and next worked out, in Oregon, California, Arizona, and New Mexico. (Although if you know people who might resonate with me and wish to host me in any of those states, do feel free to put us in touch! Having multiple options is always a good thing since circumstances can change quickly, and it’s also just great to meet cool new people.)

I’ve been soaking in the support and enthusiasm from so many of you over the past few weeks as well. I’m honored and humbled to hear how my own path of following my own dream is serving as inspiration to many of you. I can’t wait to see what you all end up manifesting in your own lives!

Tomorrow morning I will head to Salem, Oregon—a bike ride that’s familiar to me from many summers of visiting my then-sweetie who lived there. (I had hoped to visit him on this trip as well, since we remain close friends, but sadly the prison has closed visiting again in the wake of the delta variant.) I will stay with one Warmshowers host couple, as well as one long-time friend, during my two nights in Salem, and in the intervening day I plan to have brunch with a friend at Infinity Room—Salem’s only all vegan restaurant—and then go hiking at Silver Falls State Park, which I have never visited! Then, it will be on to Corvallis.

I’d better publish this now, so I can pack up out of here, and go get dinner. I will do my best to keep you all posted on my journey, though I suspect it will take a bit of time for me to find a rhythm of when I can make posts.

See you soon!

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

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Want to support my vision financially? I am in the process of manifesting $50,000 in lieu of a “salary” for the year of this journey. You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a fairy godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons and supporters!)

One year in, one year to go!

[Photo credit: Tina Bryanne Photography]

September 1, 2021

Well.

It was September 1, 2020, when I wrote the post announcing my dream of this bike tour.

And, I plan to physically launch the trip next Friday, September 10th.

I plan to return home at some point in mid-late September of next year (2022).

So… I feel as if I’m right at the start, at the precipice of this new adventure… and yet in a way, I’ve already had an entire year of “trip feels” as I’ve been steadfastly dreaming, planning, and moving toward this goal. (And having sooo many “magical meetings,” with so many of you, all around the nation and the world!)

This Friday, the 3rd, is my last day at my “day job” of the past 18 years. I’m walking away (or rolling away, I suppose) from my steady income, which feels scary. But I’m also walking away from the drudgery of a desk job I never really wanted in the first place, and into the open road of a dream I have long held, and many powerful connections I have yet to make.

Woohoo!!!

I’m scared. And so excited!!

Some of the next challenges I’m facing:

Get my Portland life wrapped up in the coming week. Tie up loose ends at my job, pack away into storage everything in my condo that’s not coming with me, practice packing everything that is coming with me… go to several medical and dental appointments… see a few more friends… and continue seeking lodging for the first part of the journey.

The lodging is challenging. I’ve got friends, and a few Warmshowers hosts, lined up for Salem, Corvallis, Eugene, and Klamath Falls. (And Oakland, where I’m heading on the train after Klamath Falls.)

However, I do have a “time gap” I’m working on: ten days during which I had hoped to bike down the coast, and/or across southern Oregon. I’ve not been able to find lodging in any of those places, despite significant effort. It’s been so challenging that I am starting to take this as a sign that unfortunately I just shouldn’t visit these places right now. And there are good reasons: heavy wildfires and smoke, and the highest COVID rates in the state. Probably best for my health if I don’t do it.

I’m disappointed, because I was looking forward to visiting those locations that would have been mostly new to me, and beautiful, either along the ocean or in the woods.

But, this trip is all about flexibility, taking things a day at a time, and “dancing with what is.” So… maybe I’ll spend extra time in Eugene. Maybe I’ll take day trips from Eugene. Maybe I’ll find a way to at least get as far as Ashland. And possibly meet a new acquaintance in Medford, and possibly another in Talent.

There are always options. The path will become clear in due time.

Right now, I’m enjoying the anticipation and planning.

One year in, one year to go!

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

Want to be notified of future blog posts? Use the green “sign up” button to subscribe!

Want to support my vision financially? I am in the process of manifesting $50,000 in lieu of a “salary” for the year of this journey. You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a fairy godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons and supporters!)

Last practice trip: cabin camping at Stub Stewart!

The breathtaking Banks-Vernonia Trail

Well, my third and final (I think!) practice trip is now complete. This past Wednesday and Thursday, I biked out for a one-night vacation stay in a lovely, cozy cabin at Stub Stewart State Park, about 50 miles northwest of Portland between Banks and Vernonia.

The trip was physically challenging—as I suspected and hoped it would be—so I think I got a good taste of what may be in store for me, physically, as I set out on the coming year’s journey.

I’ve done 50-mile days on a bike before, including most recently about a year ago when I went out to Estacada, southeast of Portland, and returned the same day. But I’ve never done it with a trailer before. The Chubby towed my belongings like a champ, and never felt uncomfortable to pull. However, I was rather surprised and chagrined to note that it took me an entire day (9:30 am to 7:15 pm) to make it from my door to the cabin’s door. In the past, that distance has usually taken me about seven hours, including lunch, snack, and photography breaks. This time, though, I did climb a total of at least 2000 feet—which I believe is a personal record—so that probably contributed to the time.

My trusty companion, at the start of the Fanno Creek trail in Beaverton.

This time, too, there was one extra delay: after arriving at the BG Cartel Beaverton food cart pod I’d heard so much about—and ordering some Buddhist Delight to snack on for lunch and then save most of for dinner at my destination—I discovered to my consternation that I had managed to forget my bike lock! (You may recall that on my previous practice trip, I forgot my helmet. I don’t like this pattern.)

Fortunately, a quick Google map search revealed a bike shop just a few blocks away, so after lunch I headed over there, wheeled in my entire rig, and purchased a new U-lock, which if I’m honest was overdue anyway, so perhaps my forgetfulness was a blessing in disguise. I was also able to use the restroom at the bike shop, so all in all it was a worthwhile stop.

I got back on the road, and the temperatures continued to climb as I found beautiful farmland scenery, but sadly quite a dearth of shade. After an hour or two of riding in these conditions—continuously sucking down water from the hydration pack I learned I would need by taking my first practice trip—I found a small spot of shade and pulled over to rest a bit. I was soaked in sweat. My weather app told me the temperature was 93. I estimated I had about another 25 miles ahead of me, including 906 more feet of elevation to gain.

Oof.

But I did it! And after just a few more miles, I blessedly reached the Banks-Vernonia trail, with its ample shade, abundant blackberries, and countless sweet cherry trees which—remarkably at this point in the season—continued to drop their bounty of fresh and “sun dried” fruit all over the path and the grass surrounding it. A good chunk of my delay can probably be attributed to my resultant fruit feasting!

Those extra 906 vertical feet turned out to be almost entirely spread out over the 15 miles or so of very gently inclining trail. I didn’t get to any real hills until I actually reached the park, found the welcome center, and then had to ascend for another half-mile or so, though I admit I was thoroughly spent by that point, so I walked/pushed the bike up much of that last hill, pausing a few times to rest and then occasionally ride another short stretch.

I found the cabin nestled down in a hollow (as I descended, I thought, “this damn well better be the right turnoff! I’m not climbing back up out of this place tonight!”) and was the perfect haven to rest and relax.

There were families in most of the surrounding 14 cabins in the “village,” but the noise was manageable, and the kids next door to me were adorably friendly and exuberant to be camping.

Helmet hair alert!

I showered. I unpacked. I took in the view from the porch. I took a brief walk up a hill to sit at a picnic table and watch a sunset over stunningly beautiful wooded hills.

Sunset just behind my cabin

I wolfed down the rest of my food.

That night was one of my most restful nights of sleep in recent memory. All of my (numerous!) stresses about everything I need to take care of in the next month before I leave seemed to melt away in the wooded oasis.

The next morning, I awoke slowly, at a luxurious pace, and then went for a walk in the wooded trails. The light on the greenery was breathtaking at times.

Around noon, I packed up my things and wheeled up out of the hollow. The next 15 miles or so—back on the trail—were now on a slight downhill, so I was able to glide easily through the shady woods. I feasted once again on the cherries, then made my way back to Hillsboro, taking a different route through dry August western Oregon fields. Once in Hillsboro, I hopped on a light-rail train back to downtown Portland, saving myself at least 20 miles of pedaling. Just a few stops before I was to disembark, I noticed another passenger deboarding the train with his own, folded-up Brompton! Wow. I cross paths with people riding Bromptons around Portland maybe about once a month or so, but it was quite a kick to see someone who had been on very same train with me.

August in western Oregon. I rode past miles and miles of this terrain. (I love all the oaks!)

I biked the three or four miles back up a slight hill to get home, and soon set about diving back into “everything I need to do to get ready for this journey,” including packing up a few more boxes to take to my storage unit. I was back in the “real world,” and there was work to do.

But I’m so glad I took that trip! The escape from “reality” was so welcome, and the physical challenges of the distance, the heat, the hills, and the forgotten lock all showed me that I’m ready to do this.

One more month!!

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

Want to be notified of future blog posts? Use the green “sign up” button to subscribe!

Want to support my vision financially? I am in the process of manifesting $50,000 in lieu of a “salary” for the year of this journey. You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a fairy godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons and supporters!)

My Washington practice trip

Two weeks ago today (where does the time go??) I took my second “practice trip,” to Tacoma, Vashon Island, and Seattle. I used a combination of pedal power, Amtrak trains, and ferries/water taxis.

It was a great success! There were a few hiccups–which is a big part of why I do these trips, to learn from the mishaps–but overall, I had a wonderful time in the journey, as well as connecting with great people at my destination stops.

Rather than writing it all out, I’ll share some photos (below) and this video recap with you, where I share the high points as well as the challenges:

Some of my favorite photos from the trip:

On the train, just south of Tacoma
You *must* visit this place if you’re ever in Tacoma!
My trusty rig on the ferry to Vashon Island
Me, on that self-same ferry!
Diane and me in the enchanted forest

And here is the interview with Diane I mention in the video; read it to be inspired! www.dreamintochange.com/interview-diane-emerson/

Downtown Seattle, from West Seattle
Family in Seattle!
Heading to the Seattle train station to go back to Portland

This journey is really hitting its stride, and I haven’t technically left yet! Thanks to all of you for following along with me!

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

Want to be notified of future blog posts? Use the green “sign up” button to subscribe!

Want to support my vision financially? I am in the process of manifesting $50,000 in lieu of a “salary” for the year of this journey. You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a fairy godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons and supporters!)

Another big step

This journey is becoming more and more real! This past week I gave notice at my “day job” that I intend to work up until Labor Day (last day of September 3rd) and then depart on my bike shortly thereafter!

I’ve held this administrative/financial position, at a local family-owned retail store, for the past 18 years. That is how long it takes for an infant to grow into an adult. During this time, I feel I have matured as a person enough to be ready to leave that financially secure yet uninspiring nest, and spread my wings to do what really calls to my soul.

I feel euphoric about this!

And, I have now peeled back the next layer of this journey, revealing the new tasks ahead of me. I welcome your support, if it flows easefully and joyfully for anyone reading this:

1) I will need to recruit, hire, and train a successor for this in-person administrative job, based in Portland. Start date would probably be August 2nd. If you know of anyone who is a wizard with Excel and Quickbooks, who has exceptional attention to detail, who excels at (phone) customer service, and who has a problem-solving, can-do attitude, please feel free to put them in touch with me. We don’t yet have the job description or salary range finalized, but those will be coming soon.

2) I need to find a month-to-month renter for my first-floor, 600 sf, one-bedroom condo. It is located in a 25-unit 1949 building in the heart of SE Portland, with hardwood floors, hot water and wonderful radiator heat included in the rent, and onsite laundry. The interior walls were freshly painted last year. I would love to find someone who is quiet and responsible, with no children or pets, and ideally someone I can meet and talk to ahead of time. Rent will probably be in the range of $1650-$1700 per month, with most furniture provided, as well as probably linens and kitchen items. If you know of anyone who may be looking to move in around the start of September, let me know.

3) I am walking away from my steady income, which feels exhilarating but scary. I do not plan to return to that job. This trip will involve me offering what amounts to free life coaching to virtually everyone I meet, as well as probably others via Zoom around the nation and the world. (I’ve already had “magical meetings” with many of you, and many others, and I love it!) It feels important to me to decouple this work from a pay-for-service model, but this means I need to lean into magic and ask people who support my vision of following my own joy while living in service to others to support me financially. If it feels joyful for you to contribute in that way, at any level—or if you know anyone else who might—please see the footer below for how you can do that.

Thank you all again for your witnessing, support, enthusiasm, and faith in me. I feel so honored and exhilarated to be moving ahead with this huge dream!

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

Want to be notified of future blog posts? Use the green “sign up” button to subscribe!

Want to support my vision financially? I am in the process of manifesting $50,000 in lieu of a “salary” for the year of this journey. You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a fairy godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons and supporters!)

First practice trip: Corvallis!

This weekend I embarked upon my first bike/train “practice trip” for my tour. On Saturday morning, I hitched up the trailer to the Brompton, with a suitcase inside, and headed down to Portland’s Union Station. The ride was about four miles, and in that time I got sprinkled on and decided to add the rain cover to the trailer (first time I’ve done that) and also realized just how heavy my backpack was. Normally, I’m one of the rare cyclists who actually prefer a backpack to panniers, but this time, with my lock and laptop in it as well as two full water bottles, my aching shoulders decided that I would stow it in the trailer for the “real” trip later in the day. (As well as, presumably, the real “real trip.” My practice-trip lessons had begun!) 

At the station, I wheeled over to the baggage area, where I soon found myself in a conflict with the two attendants about whether I would need to pay a $10 baggage fee for the trailer. When I had taken a pre-practice trip just to the train station a couple of weeks ago—expressly for the purpose of talking to the baggage attendant about all the logistics and fees of carrying the Brompton and trailer on various Amtrak trains—she had helpfully explained to me that if I removed the wheels from the trailer, it would be considered regular baggage, and I could check it at no charge. These two men on Saturday, though, insisted that any “bike trailer” was subject to a $10 fee. I told them I was willing to pay it if I needed to, but I felt frustrated because the other employee had told me clearly that I wouldn’t have to. After going back and forth several times, I agreed to pay it; no need to have a big conflict over such a small issue. As soon as I agreed to pay, though, one attendant seemed to reconsider: “Well, I don’t care that much about it. If she told you it was no charge, I won’t charge you.”

Nice!

I enjoyed the scenic train ride to Salem—a very familiar route to me from my prison-visiting days—but noted with some concern the rain that began falling soon after boarding. I really don’t enjoy riding in the rain if I can avoid it.

When I disembarked, the sky had turned to an off-and-on drizzle, and I put the rain cover back on the trailer and headed out to Infinity Room to grab the lunch I had ordered online from the train. When I arrived, I was struck that it was much more complicated to lock up my bike and go into a building with the trailer attached. I had my suitcase in it, and the trailer is not lockable by itself. For this particular stop, I trusted that it would be very quick, so I just grabbed my backpack out of the trailer and dashed in after locking the bike. There was a woman standing just outside the restaurant, and I asked her to keep an eye on it for me, which she graciously agreed to do.

Once I got in, I encountered another small obstacle: the food was packed in a cardboard clamshell, placed inside a grocery-sized brown paper bag. There was no way that would fit in my backpack, and I was concerned that if I tried to put it in the trailer, it might leak onto my belongings. I asked if they had a plastic bag available to secure the container. I avoid plastic whenever I can, and I believe that Salem has banned plastic to-go bags like Portland has, which is a good thing. But… in a situation like this, I had to admit it would be very handy. One of the employees went into the back to check, and returned with a small white plastic trash bag.

Perfect! Problem solved: I swapped out the grocery bag for the filmy plastic one. When I got back to my bike, I appreciated a new aspect of the trailer: a horizontal food package like that fits easily within it, whereas if I’m biking with just my backpack, it’s not workable.

I continued on my way, to Salem’s Riverfront Park, to enjoy the meal at a covered picnic table. The food hit the spot. (Definitely stop by Infinity Room if you’re ever in Salem: it’s the only all-vegan restaurant in town, and it’s run by wonderful people!)

After lunch, I managed to maneuver the bike and trailer into a restroom right near the table, too: what a blessing to have a restroom large enough to fit it all in (even if it did appear only borderline-sanitary.) I have definite concerns about the time, effort, and security issues involved in making rest stops along my journey.

I left the restroom—had to ask someone to help me hold the door open while I backed out the whole contraption—and refilled my water bottle.

I was ready to begin!

And then… two nearly simultaneous snafus threatened to ruin the trip before it began:

I had been looking forward to taking a scenic route out of Salem through Minto-Brown Island Park. I had visited this large nature park a couple of times before, and thought it would be a much nicer option than Hwy 22, which was Google Maps’ other recommended route. Minto-Brown connects to the riverfront park via a recently constructed bike and pedestrian bridge.

But… as I approached the bridge, I saw a barricade: “Closed for construction.”

What?? No!!

I looked through the gate toward the bridge, and saw people walking on it. Were they scofflaws? Danger seekers? Or, perhaps there was another way of accessing the bridge? Another entrance?

I started walking the bike and trailer around to see if I could find another entrance. I thought I did find one… but it was similarly barricaded.

Ugh!! Was I going to have to take extra time to make it over to Hwy 22 now?

But that soon became the least of my worries. As I turned the bike and trailer around after seeing the second barricade, my trailer came unhitched.

What? How does that happen? This seems dangerous…?

I tried to reconnect the hitch. I couldn’t, because it had somehow become twisted around such that the connector wouldn’t fit on the ball on my bike.

Stymied.

Stress level rising.

A group of adolescent boys who had been talking nearby walked over, and one of them kindly offered to help. I appreciated the offer, and showed him my rig (he was duly impressed) but he left just as stumped as I was. He apologized for not being able to help, and they walked on.

I felt a twinge of desperation, but then found myself remembering a recent conversation with a dear friend, who has been following my adventure while taking one of her own. She had recently encountered a seemingly scary, “stuck” situation while on the road. She consciously chose to take a moment to relax and center herself, trusting that things could and would work out somehow. And as if by magic, as soon as she did this, her seemingly hopeless situation did indeed resolve itself quickly.

I thought, This is the same thing for me. I’m going to relax a moment, and count my blessings. (The sun has come out! I still have plenty of time. My hosts, Judy and Jeff, have made me a standing offer to come and rescue me in their car if I need it.) Then I will brainstorm solutions. There are always solutions.

I texted Judy, to let her know about these two apparent obstacles and the resulting delay. She reiterated her offer to pick me up. I thanked her, but declined: No way was I going to just quit this journey before even starting! If the situation turned more dire, I could reconsider.

My next step was to call Freedom Folding Bikes, in Boulder, Colorado, from whom I had purchased the trailer. They are the sole US distributor of the Dutch-built Radical Design Chubby trailer. Chuck, the store owner, answered the phone immediately, to my relief. I told him I was in need of some “tech support,” and hoped he could help. I explained the situation, and he seemed to immediately understand. He asked if I was calling from an iPhone.

Yes.

“OK, let’s switch to FaceTime, and I’ll show you what you need to do.”

Whoa, the marvels of modern technology!

We switched over the call seamlessly—no need to even hang up—and he flipped his camera to show me his in-store demo model of the bike, trailer, and hitch. He showed me what I needed to do, which was to twist the bar to partially unscrew the end of it. I hadn’t even realized the end screwed in; I thought it was connected permanently, immovably.

Sadly, I didn’t appear to have the strength to twist it effectively. But he assured me that this was the only solution, so I thanked him, hung up, and surveyed the scene to find someone stronger to help.

My eyes fell upon a young couple in the parking lot straight ahead of me, unloading their bikes from an SUV. I tentatively approached them and asked if they could help with a bike problem. They agreed, so I sighed with relief and showed them the situation. The young man seemed to barely lay his hands on the connection and immediately loosen it. I was somewhat mortified, in a pickle-jar kind of way, but mostly, jubilant about this progress! I thanked them both profusely, and told them I was on my way to Corvallis as a part of a larger bike journey around the country.

The young woman’s eyes lit up. “Corvallis? That’s where I’m from! My whole family lives there!” She insisted on giving me her phone number: “If you need anything at all while you’re there, my relatives would be happy to help!”

I was so touched. This is the magic of the road, the journey, isn’t it? People really want to help if they can.

I handed her my business card with my blog’s URL on it in case she wanted to follow the journey (Rachel, if you’re reading this, thank you and your sweetie again!) and we parted ways.

I hopped on the bike with the now-attached trailer, and slowly began pedaling toward the other side of the park, where I could connect with Hwy 22.

Except! As I passed the barricaded path again, I saw that just beyond my previous field of vision was the actual entrance to the bridge. Hallelujah!! Those two barricaded gateways were actually leading to a very specific area of the park, adjacent to the bridge but not the path to it.

Like magic.

So I scaled the ramp, took a photo of the silvery bridge, and rode off into a beautiful field of wildflowers at the entrance to Minto-Brown. It was the perfect way to finally begin the journey.  

The rest of the 38-mile ride was mostly beautiful. The early sprinkles gave way to sunshine and mild temperatures, and although I didn’t appreciate the slight headwind that seemed to keep me company for most of the trip, the scenery more than made up for it: lush pale-green fields and early-summer trees, including many beautiful oaks.   

At long last, after four hours and 45 minutes, as the temperature was starting to drop and the light just starting to wane, I pulled my spent body and rig into the driveway of Judy and Jeff’s beautiful house and garden.

They were lovely and gracious hosts, and I enjoyed a relaxing shower and a wonderful home-cooked meal, and managed to stay lucid enough for a couple of hours of conversation about bicycling (they are avid cyclists) and traveling, before turning in to a comfy bed for a good night’s sleep.

The next morning, Sunday, we awoke in a leisurely fashion and enjoyed some oatmeal with a dizzying array of toppings, then hopped in their car for a brief tour of Corvallis, including First Alternative Natural Foods Co-op for some food and treats for my return trip (I always love to visit a local co-op wherever I travel) and a lovely small island that felt very reminiscent of Sauvie Island, just outside of Portland.

After I bade them farewell, my 13-mile bike ride to the Albany train station went smoothly, with more beautiful scenery along Hwy 20. I serendipitously avoided a brief rain shower toward the end of the trip by pulling over for lunch on a rock under a tree in a wooded park just before the train station. The boughs of the large old tree managed to shelter me entirely from the rain, much to my delight. I hopped back on the bike just as the rain stopped.  

At the station, the attendant cheerfully checked the trailer as no-charge baggage, without incident.

This first practice trip was exactly what I needed: Enough beauty, pleasant weather, and warm conversation to remind me why I want to do this for a year, and enough challenges to keep my expectations realistic and give me some opportunities for learning and growth.

Next month: Seattle!

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

Want to be notified of future blog posts? Use the green “sign up” button to subscribe!

Want to support my vision financially? I am in the process of manifesting $50,000 in lieu of a “salary” for the year of this journey. You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a fairy godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons and supporters!)

Our dreams for ourselves, our dreams for the world

May 30, 2021

I’ve been thinking lately about what it is for me to live my optimal life.

That’s a big part of what this bike journey is about for me: I want to live the best possible life I can live, on my terms.

And, one of my biggest values is caring about the world, too. Basically, I want everyone—individually and collectively—to be living their optimal lives. Everyone has a different vision for what their optimal life would look like.

But can you imagine that? What that world might look like? Feel like?

Of course a lot of it would include basic things like food, shelter, health care, and basic human rights, justice, and equality for all.

On top of that, though, it would include joy! Pleasure. Creative expression. Vibrant physical and mental health. Pursuing our unique intellectual or artistic curiosities and endeavors. Having the interpersonal connections that feel just right to each of us.

Do you know what your dreams are for your own life? Do you have a clear vision in your head—and a corresponding feeling, in your heart—of what it would look like for you to live your optimal life?

Do you have a vision for what your optimal world would look like, for all of us?

That’s what I want this journey to be. Me really living into my best life for myself, and connecting with others about theirs. I’m already having wonderful “magical meetings” with people by phone or video chat, talking about their dreams for themselves. I am so excited to keep doing more of those as I begin to travel (and in person, too!) And I also enjoy connecting with people who maybe don’t yet have a clear vision for their own or the collective optimal world, but they know they want something other than what they now have. I love listening deeply to people, holding a space for them to begin to get clear on what’s most important to them, and what brings them deep joy and satisfaction.

If you know what these answers are for yourself, and you’d like to share them with someone who cares and is making a “mental map” of all these dreams… please message me, and let’s set up a time to talk about it! Or if you don’t know, and would like the space to explore and get clearer on it, message me to set up a time for that! No charge for a one-hour, no-strings talk. If we end up doing more, we can discuss payment or trade or donation. My goal is to talk to as many people as possible who resonate with, and/or are inspired by, my journey, while also manifesting the funding for this trip. I’m confident and comfortable that those two goals won’t always intersect. I’m fully trusting that all will unfold as it needs to.

Today was the midpoint of the Memorial Day weekend here in the US. It is the unofficial start to the summer season. In three months, it will be the Labor Day weekend, which is the unofficial end of summer, and also my intended start time for my bicycle journey! I am spending this weekend relaxing and really feeling into the flow of this journey: today I spent time on my bike; relaxed in a park enjoying the beautiful weather; gave away some possessions to lighten my load; and wrote this communiqué to all of you. This is how I intend for the trip to look and feel, so I’m starting now. I trust it will flow smoothly as it continues to unfold.

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

Want to be notified of future blog posts? Use the green “sign up” button to subscribe!

Want to support my vision financially? I am in the process of manifesting $50,000 in lieu of a “salary” for the year of this journey. You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a fairy godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons and supporters!)

This summer’s three bike trips!

You all, I’m so excited! Everything keeps falling into place, and it’s reminding me how powerful it is for me to hold a beautiful vision—strongly yet lightly—and to allow the pieces to put themselves together, with just a few gentle nudges from me.

As I’ve been preparing to embark upon an entire year of bicycling around the continent… and thinking of how my current bicycling practice consists mainly of a 3-mile-each-way commute to my workplace four days per week… I’ve thought it would be a good idea to do a few “practice trips” this summer, to give myself more time in the saddle, more experience with the trailer, more practice with loading the bike and trailer onto different kinds of transit vehicles, and more outreach to potential hosts.

So, this past week I have put together two such practice trips, and the magic of my vision has been showing up in spades!

One wonderful serendipity: Amtrak’s 50th anniversary, on May 1st. To celebrate, the company offered 50% off fares for one week, which was perfect for me. I booked two trips, both splitting my time between bicycling and Amtrak: Corvallis, Oregon and Seattle, Washington.

I have a wonderful and amazing friend in Corvallis who had offered to host me, not just on my actual trip in September, but on a summer practice trip as well. I’m so looking forward to spending a couple of nights with her and her partner, both of whom are avid cyclists (and recently vaccinated). And, I’ve never spent any time in Corvallis, save for a two-hour evening event at Oregon State University a few years ago, so I’m looking forward to exploring and experiencing a new city, as well. I’ve heard great things about Corvallis.

My sister and her partner, also both cyclists, live in Seattle. (Several years ago, they spent the whole month of May bicycling around a very rainy Germany.)

I had initially thought to bicycle the whole 200-mile distance to Seattle—over the course of four days—and then take the train back home. However, I realized that would take more time than I wanted, and would be more physically rigorous than even my main trip will be, with 50+ mile days every day, and no rest in between. As I searched for lodging hosts all along the way, too, I ran into some gaps.

I reminded myself that a key part of my vision for this journey is to gently challenge myself while prioritizing ease, flow, beauty, and joy. (Some bicycle tourists are motivated by pushing themselves physically. I am not.)

So, I realized that I could use the train to make things more pleasant and joyful.

I will take the Amtrak Cascades train to Olympia, Washington, and then bicycle from there to Tacoma, arriving mid-afternoon, just in time to visit one of my favorite restaurants, Quickie Too. (If you ever find yourself in Tacoma, please do yourself a favor and stop at this restaurant! They are a wonderful Black-owned vegan sandwich shop, and their food is truly amazing. In fact, when I found out they were closed on Thursdays, I moved my whole itinerary back a day to make sure I wouldn’t miss out!)

I needed a place to stay in Tacoma, so I made my first outreach to a Warmshowers host. I searched the map, and found four hosts within a few blocks of the restaurant. They all sounded like interesting people, but I was especially drawn to one particular house of vegetarians. I sent a message explaining my trip, and received a prompt warm welcome of a reply from the host, saying they would love to have me on that date! I had been a bit nervous to reach out to strangers on this new-to-me platform, so this was a wonderful reassurance that I was on the right track.

I needed to continue on to Seattle, and I looked at Google Maps bike directions to puzzle out my best route. During this time, I talked to my sister on the phone, and she checked with her partner, who had recently biked between Tacoma and Seattle. He strongly suggested going through Vashon Island, rather than paralleling I-5; the scenery would be dramatically better, if I could stomach a few more hills.

I have never been to Vashon Island, but this recommendation reminded me that I have another incredible friend who lives there. I had been out of touch with her for some time, but I reached out with an email to see if she might like to meet up for tea.

To my surprise and delight, she also replied almost immediately, and insisted that I stay with her and her husband for the night! I had been contemplating whether to try to find lodging on the island for the night, or to press on and try to make Seattle in one day. Her offer made my decision easy, and I think I will appreciate it, given all the hills between Tacoma and Seattle.

That friend—who has not owned a car since 2008, and who told me she has biked around Europe three times(!) picking up litter all along the way(!)—said she would meet me in town and give me a bike tour of the area, before we headed up to her house for the evening. I’m so excited!

The next day, I’ll take the ferry over to Seattle, and head the rest of the way to my destination with my sister and her partner. I’ll spend two nights and one full day with them, and then leave on the Amtrak Coast Starlight train back to Portland. The Coast Starlight—unlike the regional Cascades train I’ll take on the way up—is a long-distance, Superliner train. It is more luxurious, and I love taking it any chance I get. It runs daily between Seattle and Los Angeles.

Taking both types of trains will give me an opportunity to practice loading both the bike and the trailer into different types of luggage compartments. In fact, I plan to take a pre-practice trip just to the Amtrak station in Portland sometime soon, with my bike and trailer in tow, to talk to a baggage attendant in person and ask how best to prepare for this. (When time is of the essence on a trip, there is little margin for error or uncertainty. I don’t want to be stressing about missing a train or having any luggage snafus.)

The Corvallis trip is in June; Seattle is July. I also have a third “practice trip” planned for August, this time without any trains except perhaps our municipal light-rail MAX train: I will bicycle across the west hills of Portland and out to Stub Stewart State Park, along the Banks-Vernonia Trail, where I have rented a cabin to stay for the night and do some wandering in the woods.I

love how things are coming together to make this all wonderful: my vision, my friends and family, Amtrak, and the wonderful network of Warmshowers hosts.

I’ll write about the magic as it unfolds on each upcoming trip. Thanks for following along!

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

Want to be notified of future blog posts? Use the green “sign up” button to subscribe!

Want to support my vision financially? I am in the process of manifesting $50,000 in lieu of a “salary” for the year of this journey. You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a Fairy Godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons and supporters!)