Saturday, August 13, 2005

Final Photo Journal!!!

That''s all folks


This Bud's for me!


Hey! That cloud looks like brad pitt...


A long awaited swim.


I promise mom, last time!


Welcome Home!


I've been out here too long.


Tennessee Welcomes Me!


practice...practice...practice...


Welcome to Kentucky!


Mac in Asheville, NC at the Iraq Wall. Volunteers are building a wall with
an engraved stone for each of the 1800 troops killed in the Iraq War, along
with a memorial for the Iraqi dead. The intent is to show the human cost of
the war with a view to ending it as soon as possible.

Final Photo Journal!!!

That''s all folks


This Bud's for me!


Hey! That cloud looks like brad pitt...


A long awaited swim.


I promise mom, last time!


Welcome Home!


I've been out here too long.


Tennessee Welcomes Me!


practice...practice...practice...


Welcome to Kentucky!


Mac in Asheville, NC at the Iraq Wall. Volunteers are building a wall with
an engraved stone for each of the 1800 troops killed in the Iraq War, along
with a memorial for the Iraqi dead. The intent is to show the human cost of
the war with a view to ending it as soon as possible.

August 9th Winston-Salem, NC

It's official!!!! On Wednesday I carried my bike over the dunes in Long Beach, NC and walked the old girl into the ocean. For all the time and thought and effort that has gone into this I felt supprisingly calm, like it was just another day. What suprises me most is that I still feel calm. The trip as a whole seems almost distant. Did I really cross the country on a bike? At this point it's hard to believe. I guess I took this trip one day at a time and now to try and sit back and look at it all as a whole is very hard. I know I did it, but it's still very hard to get a grip on the whole thing.
I wonder what I'll do with myself now? This biking has become a routine, my life, and now there is nowhere left to go. The road just ran out on me. I think it is going to take quite some time for all of this to really sink in and register. I admit it's been hard to sit still these past few days. I had some old friends at the beach that I stayed with for a few days after finishing which kept me busy and distracted. It was a strange time to be catching up with people I hadn't seen in nearly a decade as my mind was in 1,000 different places. Nice, nonetheless, and a good way to transition back. These last two or three days though I haven't quite known what to do with myself. There are no more mountains to climb, flat sections, one pot meals, or even sore tush to nurse. It's a very strange feeling. I do feel incredible calm and alive. These last few weeks despite wearing me down in body have energized me in so many other ways. Another chapter is finished in a life that I have been lucky to lead. I know from past adventures, the lessons I have learned will be slow to sink in, and perhaps they already are. I have begun to transcribe my journal onto the computer and in a lot of ways it's like taking the trip all over again. I've changed so much in the past 9 weeks whether I can easily recognize it or not. Just flipping through and re-reading earliere entries can attest to that. I guess you don't realize how much you're changing when it's just you. The change is slow from day to day and is only really noticeable when you look way back and compare the you then to yourself at present. I feel a bit pulled in two directions. There is the joy and feeling of accomplishment in finishing such a task. Then there is the pain and uncertainty of leavinig it all behind. The road became my home, an my job was to pedal.
The ride in itself was great. As I predicted my tour through NC was plush and filled with family, food, and friends. My mom came out to join me for the final ride into the beach which was great. She has become quite a fixture in my last few adventures and has always found a way to get in on the action. It was nice to have her there in the end for a big hug and a smile. I'm not sure what I would have done if I were by myself. Wander around in a daze perhaps. Then folks would really wonder what was wrong with the guy who just walked his bike into the ocean?
I think these next few weeks will be a time of quiet transition and reflection. I realize I'm a little socially handicapped at this point. The large crowds and fast pace still seem to get me a bit on edge compared to the slow quite pace I've grown accustomed to lately. I find myself equally enjoying all the company and seeking to get away. A small dose here and there and I'm ready for quiet again. It was just like this after the AT. You learn to speak only when you really have something to say, and are content to sit quietly when you don't. I guess there is no point in wondering if things will ever be the same after this trip, they can't. With the lessons I've learned and the things I've seen nothing will ever be the same. They can't help but be fuller, and richer painted against this background. I've spent the better part of this morning looking through all the pictures from th trip and I am amazed. I really feel that an entire lifetime got squeezed into the last 64 days. It's very strange to be able to sit and see it all in a matter of minutes.
I guess there are only a few things left to do before this really is all just a memory. The most important of which is the party with the children at Brenner's this thursday. I can't wait!! I think spending time with the kids will be a great piece of closure for this adventure. Perhaps then I'll really be able to see this trip as a whole, when I can really see in the flesh and blood why I came out here and what I've learned.
I'll say it one last time because I can; it's hard to explain. I'm sure most folks expected gushing and yelling and all, but it just isn't that way. Don't get me wrong I realize looking back over this entry it all seems a bit melancholy. It is quite the opposite though. It's just that that last day really was no different than any other, it just happened to be the last. There was as much to learn in that day as any other and as much reason to celebrate. Every day out there was really a success in it's own small way. I celebrated each moment and each day. There was no build up for the end, the joy was spread throughout. I just feel lucky to have been able to do this thing, and in a manner in which I can take real pride. I've learned so much about myself and in particular what real love is. That ability to give something so personal from yourself to others in the hope that in doing so you may help them, even if only a little. I hope this ride has done just that; helped a little.
I couldn't end it all without some very sincere thanks. To my family for all the love and support now and in the past. To Gordo for being as true a friend as I've ever had (see you in baja). All the folks at the hospital who have helped to get the ball rolling and keep it rolling while I was on the road. All the work you all do for these kids is admirable, whether you're a surgeon, nurse, administrative, or anything else, ya'll are heros. And to everyone from along the way who offered a kind word, a friendly honk, or even just a smile, it helped. I guess this is it, and here I find myself getting a little emotional trying to think of the right words to close on. When in doubt listen to Buffet
"Strange situations, wild occupations, livin' my life like a song"
-jimmy buffet
That's all.........for now. thanks to all of you.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

DONATIONS!!!

When sending a generous donation to the Brenner Childrens Hospital, you have two options.

1) Please click the link to the right in the the "LINKS" column titled "MAKE YOUR DONATIONS HERE!!!"

or

2) Make your checks payable to Brenner Childrens Hospital
(Write Mac's Ride for Brenners on your check) and mail it to:
Brenner Childrens Hospital / Development Office / Medical Center Blvd. / Winston-Salem, NC 27157

July 25th Asheville, NC 3,700 miles

"Yes I've gone to Carolina in my mind." I can't really believe it, but around noon yesterday in an unassuming little hollow in the smokies I did it.....I crosses in NC!!!! Leaving in the rain in Astoria nearly 8 weeks ago this day seemed a lifetime away. And in many ways it was a lifetime between there and here. So many memories, friends, mishaps and miles. For the few minutes I sat there under that sign all my aches and pains faded. I was home. It's a pleasure cruise from here, filled with family friends and food. But a lot has happened between where I last left you and today.
Since we last spoke, things have gone from hot to hotter. Whew! I think my weight was holding pretty steady for a while there, but the deep south weight loss plan has taken hold. As any of you who live on this side of the yard know temperatures have been breaking records for weeks now, and I have had the pleasure of experiencing it all first hand. My opinion..."yup, it's hot" For the first few days back in MO, and IL the heat was really getting me down. I could barely think, much less enjoy my daily spin. It was at this make or break point that I came to a conclusion. It's hot, it's gonna be hotter and nothing is going to change that. Rather than suffer through the heat I decided to revel in it. If I was going to sweat, then I was gonna see how much I could sweat. I wouldn't just survive the heat, I would push harder through it. All I needed was a little perspective. This trip is for a very special group of kids. Would they worry about the heat? I doubt it. The courage it takes to push on through a little heat is nothing compared to the courage that each of these kids and their families show on a daily basis. That's perspective. From that day on the heat hasn't been nearly as much a factor. I figured I had crossed the entire country and countless mountain ranges, and I'd be damned if a little heat was going to ruin this final leg. Hey at least I could go back to eating carbs right? No need to worry about ballooning up at this point.
I would have to say the greatest part about these last few hundred miles has been my return to the mountains. The Appalachians, a mountain range that many of you know is very close to my heart since my walk along the Appalachian trail in 2001. It's great to be back in the hills, and familiar terrain. It's also "interesting" to be back in the south. The roads I have been traveling have taken me through a part of this section of the country that most people will never see. "Interesting" places. Places where you're as likely to get bit by a stray dog as you are run over by a drunk on an ATV going the wrong way down your lane. Believe me I speak from experience. My favorite memory has to be a night I spent on the side of the road in Kentucky just east of the Cumberland Gap. I can't have gotten more than 2 hours sleep between the jeers and screeching tires of drunks headed back from Middlesboro. It's not often that two sherrifs stop at 3 in the morning to tell you you shouldn't be there, and advise that it would be safer to pedal in the dark than risk a run in with the locals. As with the rest of this trip, my luck held and I lived to see another sunrise. Probably the scariest night yet.
Despite a few hairy situations, the pedaling has been wonderful in this section. The mountains here are absolutely beautiful. It's a different kind of beauty than the west. Whereas the mountains in the west possess an almost overpowering beauty, it's not so here in the Appalachians. The beauty here is much more approachable and inviting. Tight valleys and beautiful clear streams running through groves of rhodedendron. Maybe I'm biased growing up here, but I would say that the Appalachians could rival any mountain range out west in their beauty. A great contrast anyway. It's great to be on familiar turf. And as always my luck has been impecable. In KY, a break down led to two wonderful nights with a friend of the family down in Bowling Green. Thanks D+A!! Unexpected delays have led to chance encounters with incredible people, and an unexpected reunion with a very dear old friend. I love ya miss Shana banana!!! The road continues to provide.
These last weeks have been filled with a lot of thinking as well. I realize except for 6 days back in early June I have spent nearly the entirety of this trip alone. To say I am filled with emotion would be more than just an understatement. So much has happened, so many beautiful experiences, defining moments, choices, and awakenings with no one to share them with other than my journal and the few readers of this site. For the most part these emotions have become internalized, where they have built and built to the point now where I am bursting. It's a good feeling though. This is why I came alone. This time has taken on a personal and special feel that no other time in my life could possibly rival. Good, bad, happy, or sad it's all been mine to work through and to incorporate. For the fiftieth time I'll say "it's hard to explain". I think it will take months and even years for me to put this all into context and to gleen all the knowledge and lessons this trip has provided. I've found what I came out here looking for and then some. While I'm sad that my days on the road are numbered I'm now ready to share these experiences. I can't wait to see my friends and family. Nothing will ever be quite the same after this trip. I say this in the best way possible. So many doors have opened to me, and as with any good trip I'll carry these mental pictures and memories until the day I die. These last few weeks will forever color my decisions and experiences in the future.
My main focus on these final days is to try and get as much as I can out of the time I have remaining and reach as many people as I can for the kids. I've been looking forward to this stretch through NC for weeks for that exact purpose. This is it, the final push to spread the word and hopefully do some good for a lot of deserving kids. I hope that I'll be able to use these emotions that I have collected cross country to excite people and get them involved. The planning has begun for a party for the kids after my finish and I can hardly wait. It's all been on paper so to speak up until this point, but the chance to meet these kids face to face gives me goosebumps. They're the reason I'm out here, and the reason you're here. So I'll say it one last time. There's power in numbers here. No matter what the donation, every bit counts. Tell a friend, and tell them to do the same. This is about so much more than a ride cross country. The ride itself was merely a vehicle to bring people together behind a common cause. This is about helping others and in doing so giving a part of ourselves. I know with the original site being shut down we've hit a bit of a set back. As far as I see it this is nothing though, this trip has been filled with challenges and this one is no worse than any other. Hopefully we'll get things back up to speed as soon as possible. If you're reading this entry you've found your way just fine. So please pass on the new info to everyone you can, and I'll look forward to seeing ya'll soon. A huge round of thanks to Gordo for all the work you've put in to keeping the site going under trying circumstances. You're friendship and creativity are amazing. A big thanks to Mom and Dad and all the folks at Brenner as well for keeping things rolling while I'm gone.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Photo Journal #8

Johnson Swimming Hole. Best ever.


Shut in Pool...


Biker Shower Stall


Mississippi River


Crossing into the East!


Welcome to the East!!!!!!!

Photo Journal #7 - Kansas/Bread Basket

The only color in Kansas


See above again!


Off Road Touring!


Checking my maps!


No More Kansas!


He does gutters too!


Alley Springs, MO


Spring Fed River

Photo Journal #6 - Wyoming/Colorado/Kansas

more pics from the road!!

Bringing a sense of stype and dignity back to touring (smurf shoes + polka dot socks)


oh uh look! Corn!


Kansas!


Best way to beat the heat!


Foster family in Colorado


Summer home in the rockies!


Hoosier Pass, Highest Point on the trans am


Rocky Mountain Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiggggggggh Colorado!


Understatement of the year!


No more wind.


This goes for days....

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Photo Journal #5

more pics from the road!!!

View from Camp @ Huckleberry Hot Springs


Morning Glory Pool


Geyser


Tetons - A Picture is worth a 1000 words...


See Above...


Big man on campus!


Boiling mud...


State #4


Welcome to JellyStone!


Old Faithful


Who are you lookin' at?