Monday, June 28, 2010

Philadelphia, America's Birthplace

Philadelphia has been 99% pleasant.


After dropping my gear off at my host house I headed into the heart of the city. I started exploring kind of late and didnt really have an objective so I didnt see much the first day. I did however see the Liberty Bell and Penn Landing. The rest of the day was spent riding around figuring forming a plan for the next day. It was very cool to see a cop pull someone over for blatently cutting me off while riding my bike. Quite surprising.

A different view of the Liberty Bell
Spider 1

I woke up very early (this would be my 4th day averaging 5 hours sleep) and went to pick up my ticket for Independence Hall. This day I was able to see Independence Hall, two other building on the property whose names escape me, and the Graft House where Jefferson wrote the declaration. At this point I decided to have lunch which consisted of a giant banana split and a phily cheesesteak, in that order.

Independence Hall


I then spent an hour or more at the Betsy Ross house, who is of course famous for sewing the first American Flag. I didnt think there would be much to interest me there but I was happily mistaken.

Betsy Ross House
Betsy Ross Plaza

After that my journey took me to the Rodin Museum which has some incredible sculptures. My first official day of exploration ended with the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Of course, I had to run up the famous steps that Rocky ran up in the movie. It was here that I finally realized I am not the runner I used to be.

Rodin' Thinker
The Thinker

Evil Eye
Evil Eye

What I though I would look like at the top.

What I really looked like.

The third day I slept in. There was a time when sleeping in meant waking up at 1 pm. Now it is waking up at 8:30. My final day in Philadelphia was primarily spent in the Ben Franklin Institute. I was there with one of my hosts and their child so we were there for quite a while using all the exhibits.

Philly's got heart.
Philly's got heart

And here I am at the end of my final day as minutes become hours and my time of departure creeps ever closer. I shall venture forth upon paths unknown to a new city and a new home.

True Freedom
Im Free

The one percent dissatisfaction was because my pricey airpump was stolen.

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

What Fisher House Is

For those not greatly familiar with Fisher House or dont know about Fisher House at all here is a brief interview with Russ, assistant manager of Fisher House Fort Sam Houston.

This was initially supposed to be a youtube video with the manager of the Boston Fisher House but time was short and we were unable to do it.

1. What does Fisher House do?

Fisher Houses provide a home away from home for family of injured or sick military members and their authorized dependents receiving treatment at a medical facility. Patients recover more quickly and completely when family members are here to support. As Mr. Fisher said, "Family is the best medicine".

2. How many families have Fisher House helped since its inception?

How many families served since inception?

Over 11,000 saving them over $15 Million in lodging costs plus savings on food and transportation costs..

3. How long can a family stay at a Fisher House?

As long as necessary. The longest stay we have had at our Fisher House (Fort Sam Houston) was 668 days. Don't know if any other Fisher House has a longer stay.

4. What fees do families pay at Fisher Houses?


5. How many Fisher Houses exist?

Currently there are 45 fisher Houses. Five more under construction and at least 12 more on the drawing boards.

6. How does Fisher House acquire funds for operation?

There are Army, Navy, Air Force and VA Fisher Houses. Fisher Houses rely on donations for their existence. I believe VA Fisher Houses receive funding but the rest of us rely on donations.

Russell T. Fritz
Assistant Manager
BAMC Fisher Houses

There you have it. The standard room includes a bed, television, alarm clock full bath room, iron/ironing board and computer. Sheets and towels are provided as well as cookware, tableware and laundry detergent. There is a house kitchen for cooking and free washer and dryers for laundry. I'm sure I'm leaving some stuff out. It is basically a home away from home.

Hopefully this clears up and misconceptions or provides a better understanding of the organization that I am riding on behalf of in order to raise money and awareness.

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Sunday, June 20, 2010


It Sure Is 2

I made a video revealing some interesting things about me, in regard to the ride, but the lighting was horrendous so I took it down. Guess I should start watching them before I post. Or pick better spots. I will re-record the video and post it soon.

Boston, halfway.

It was a great stay, I had a lot of fun, and a lot of firsts. The first day was productive but no exploration was accomplished so I will skip forward to the second day.

While here I was able to ride some of the Freedom Trail but I was sidetracked by a Beatles tribute band. They were actually really good and I ended up watching them and making a meal out of free samples for nearly an hour.

The band's name was Beatle Juice
Beatle Juice

I was able to walk through Paul Revere's house and visit a very interesting cemetery. In addition to these excursions I went to Boston Common, the Public Garden and purchased some nifty and needed bike gear.

Revere's House
Revere's House

Cemetary in Boston

The first day of exploration ended with a dinner with a family I met through Soldier's Angels (all the Soldier's Angels people have been incredible) and they took me to eat fried seafood at a delicious restaurant called Seawitch*. After dinner, they took me to Salem, which I was very interested in seeing, for ice-cream. Salem had some great sights too and the history I heard about certain places there was fantastic. I was very glad to have met these people and seen these sights.
*No witches were present.

House of Seven Gables
House of Seven Gables

Statue in Salem
Witch Statue, not really

My second full day truly was a day of firsts. I kayaked for the first time along the Charles River. Kayaks could only be rented on the weekend along the Hudson so I wasn't able to in New York but I was glad that I wasn't. Kayaking at my turnaround point was a great close to the second leg. A few people commented, in a positive manner, that I was moving pretty fast.

In the Kayak

First Person View

After kayaking I went sailing for the first time. My host in Boston loves sailing and offered to take me on the river. That was a lot of fun as well. It reminded me of being on a water-park ride. The views from the water were incredible but I didn't have my camera from me as I was wisely advised that I should leave them on shore.

During this time I recorded the video that I didn't post because it was too dark then went back to the host home for dinner and preparations for the next day. Dinner was home-cooked lobster. Not better than the haddock the night prior, just different. The lobster reminded me of eating steak, consistency wise. Thus I shall refer to it henceforth as "steak of the sea."

So it seems in a city of history my exploration of was lacking but I thoroughly enjoyed my stay, for it consisted of experiences not previously known.

I realize that the writing style of this entry becomes very distinct at the end, to say the least. I shall attribute this to a fatigue induced poetic delirium.

And I ride on. . .

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Reminder of reasons

The Wall

"While in DC I saw some incredible memorials and thought about all the sacrifices that have been made to make this country what it is. Yeah things are not perfect but the translation for Utopia is "No place"

If you can, try to visit DC sometime in the future. Walking these streets and seeing the monuments and memorials, you realize that we live in the shadow of great men. Men that truly believed in the idea of America and fought, and sacrificed, in order to breath life into that idea.

Those morals are carried on today by our Armed Forces that fight and sacrifice so much that we may live comfortably."

The above is a direct copy from the description I posted in my Youtube video about my stay in DC.

The reason I am posting it here is to remind all that this ride, this blog isn't just a chronicling of my experiences in America. It is a fundraiser in order to say thanks for all that the Armed forces have done and sacrificed in order to help preserve our freedom.

The past week+ the fundraising part has been stagnant. I don't place and blame or disappointment on anyone. I understand some are not able to give financially. I also understand some may be waiting until the journey is complete to donate.

But if you are straddling the fence about whether you should or shouldn't donate just think about what life is like on the other side of the fence. Our troops don't have family with them when they are deployed. Some may only have their pictures and memories. Some can get online but not all. They may not be able to shower everyday or eat their favorite food. They can't hug their loved one or sleep in their own bed. The reason they can't do that is because if these few didn't sacrifice their luxeries we could all lose ours.

Unknown Soldier

By donating a few dollars, $1, $5, $25, etc. you aren't saying you support the war or are against it. It isn't about that, it is about supporting our troops.

Korean War

If you are able to give a few dollars and are willing to do so click here. Bear in mind I make no financial gain from any monies earned through donations. All money is given in full to Fisher House Organization.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Here's the situation


The past few days have been a lot of fun and I feel very accomplished.

In Hershey, I was hosted by some great people and had some incredible food. I was also able to fulfill something that I have wanted to do for a long time. I went to Herhsey Park.


It was delicious, fun. I was surprised at how many rollercoasters they had there. I was able to ride all but one, but I hear that one isnt all that great. At least thats what I heard from the person I went with.

Hershey had some very cool coasters and we sat right up front on each one so the experience was that much better. Of course I had to buy a chocolate bar there and purchased a big Special Dark Hershey bar but forgot it at the house I was staying at. I remembered when I was about two blocks away but I was too far gone at that point. I have a strict no back-tracking policy, lest I be lost and need to because I took a wrong turn. Enjoy the candy bar you two, its in the freezer.

Chocolate World

Riding out I passed through Amish Country and saw Amish carriages, kids in straw hats and bonnets, and bearded men worthy of the name Ezekiel. That was a really cool sight to see. I had been waiting for that since Illinois.

Amish Carriage

Today, in New Jersey, was able to visit a sight that I have been very excited about. I have wanted to see this since I first heard about it years ago. In a small town called Grover's Mill lies a monument to The War Of The Worlds. I have been a fan of this book and HG Wells since I was a kid so I was more excited about visiting this place than New York. The only thing I regret is not recording a video there. Maybe on my return, if I pass through here again.

WOTW Monument 2 edit

I was met there by a nice couple that live nearby treated me to lunch. I hope I get to see them again on the "andback" portion of this ride. Perhaps I can treat them to lunch that time.

All in all, I have had a great week and hope that New York caps off the weekend proper. I just havent decided if I should have New York pizza or hot dogs first.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I think you did the wrong dance

I didnt see a Pennsylvania sign.

One month on the road and my luck finally ran out.

I left Baltimore early this morning and those people love their horns. My host said they wold honk if they saw me on their way to work, I thought she passed me nearly 20 times.

Baltimore Sunset

I managed to ride 26 miles before a heavy drizzle started to fall so I stopped at an American Legion to try to wait it out and eat lunch. That drizzle turned into rain and after a little over a hour I decided that I couldnt waste any more time.

I covered my bags, suited up and rode in the rain for the first time on this ride. This is not the first time I have suited up but the previous two times it was just a heavy drizzle. I ended up riding about 40 miles in the rain, crossed into Pennsylvania.

Riding isn't easy with eyes closed.

It wasnt a bad experience but I would prefer experiencing that as little as possible. My feet were soaked for about 6 hours and I actualy had to hold my brakes going downhill to make sure my bike didnt slip out from under me.

For a brief synopsis of my stay in DC visit watch the vlog.

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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Appalachians and Malfuntions

I am finally able to upload this. I have been trying for quite some time but have obviously been unsuccessful.

The Appalachians were anti-climactic. When I would tell people of my intended route three things occurred. They would become moon-eyed. They would shift in position. They would say something to the effect of "Good Luck," "Those are some tough climbs," etc. I was expecting something that would nearly stop me in my tracks and reduce me to a quivering mass of a man. It was quite the opposite. Yeah there were 3 or 4 mile uphill climbs but there were descents that were just as long.

The highest ascent.

Not sure if I should be scared or excited.

It wasn't until after the Appalachians that I was truly tested. Outside of Elkins, WV I had to endure an 8 mile uphill climb. I was yelling and frustrated after about 2 miles but I knew that deep down, I loved it. The challenge was incredible and very satisfying.

I was nearly caught in a heavy storm. When I saw these clouds I thought it best to seek cover. Sheet-like rain started pouring literally 30 seconds later. You cant see them but there are actually mountains behind those clouds.

Shortly before reaching my destination my bike decided to become a fixie, constantly spinning the pedals, lest the chain break. This forced me to come up with a very interesting downhill riding position.

Even though it looks like I am, I am not sitting on the ground. This picture was taken sitting on my bike going downhill at speeds upward of 37 miles an hour. With my pedals acting up I had to pull my legs up on top of the crossbar.

After about 40 miles, the bike straightened out and I was able to make the ride into DC and have it fixed. At least I think its fixed. It acted up a bit today but that could have been circumstantial.

I'm currently in DC and will be blogging about that tomorrow (hopefully) but I just wanted to give an account of the Appalachians and whatnot.

All is still on schedule.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lazy Days

Today is the first day I have not ridden since I left San Antonio, May 7. It has been an interesting feeling. The day has been spent eating, sleeping, internetting, and a doing a bit of productive things.

I woke up to the pitter patter of rain. My rainfly kept everything dry but it reminded me that I had to buy a tarp. If a heavy rain occurs, that would bleed throuh the rainfly and soak everything.

I walked to the camp store and I had to explain to the concerned proprietor that everything was dry but my purchase was just a precaution. I like to be prepared for all situations.

Once I woke up for the second time I cleaned my bike drivetrain, which was desperately needed, and ate breakfast. I also called a reporter that drove out for a newspaper interview. I must take this time to thank the camp worker for helping set that up.

I ended up falling asleep two more times before making dinner and taking a shower.

It has been very relaxing but it is strange knowing that my bike has moved not ten feet the entire day. I took a personal oath to not ride until tomorrow morning so my riding muscles can rest.

Here are a few picture I have taken in West Virgina. The river was on the ride here and the butterfly and flowers are here at the Broken Wheel Campground