On March 3rd, 2010 I arrived in Ushuaia, Argentina and ended my journey to the southernmost city in the world.

On July 25th, I left for Prudhoe Bay on the north shore of Alaska to begin a solo bicycle journey 15,000 miles south along the Pan-American Highway to Tierra Del Fuego, the bottom of South America. I traveled through the vast Alaskan wilderness, into Canada and crossed into the forests of northern Washington. From there I followed the coast down, all the way through the deserts of southern Baja, where I took a ferry to the mainland. I continued to follow the coast south through the rainforests of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Then came South America: Colombia, Ecuador, the endless deserts of Peru, Northern Chile and then finally Argentina. I will ended in Ushuaia and the bottom of the Americas.

This ride is a reminder of what can be accomplished through perseverance and a little hard work. It’s a reminder of what we as people are capable of, of what the human mind, body and spirit can achieve. I hope that I can help people realize that while it may take time, and it may be harsh and lonely at times, we can make our lives how we dream them to be. I do not want to be guilty of owning a life devoid of any living. Comfort and convenience are not synonymous with happiness!

For some reason I am under the impression that I will find both myself and God somewhere along this road. Maybe I won’t find either, but I must look! I want to allow the light of introspection a pure and undiluted chance to examine my soul. I have found greater value in thoughts born in solitude than those that spring from the fray of ordinary life. I hope this trip will be the beginning to a life full of experience, beauty and understanding. I don’t ever want to forget the way the world felt when I was a child: magical and huge, full of possibility and hope. I won’t let go of that. I am an artist at heart, and this, I hope, will be my first great work.

I am riding to raise awareness for 'Acirfa,’ a non-profit organization which provides quality bikes to the people of Zambia, giving them the means to help themselves, rather than depend on charity. A bicycle changes the life of a Zambian in ways that are difficult for Americans to imagine, allowing doctors to see more patients, parents to make a living and teachers to get to school.

To clear the air and clear your head, ride a bike once a week!

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dog et Dog

Dogs here are dogs. I am used to dogs as personable, happy little
genderless furballs. In the US dogs live as people and receive so much
attention and effection that a remarkable anthropomorohic
transformation takes place. Dogs smile, and have manners and
affections. It makes them happy to make you happy, and they seem to
embrace life.
The difference in dogs who do not live with such acceptance and care
is astounding. They have all the personality and depth of expression
of a goat or pig. Everything is different, like the way they creep
along with heads down on careful feet , tails either up on alert or
down in fear instead of trotting gaily, smelling, smiling and
exploring. Tails don't wag, the chest down crouch that is an
invitation to play is a pose that is only ever struck by puppies and
humans are regarded with a wary distrust, and skirted around with a
sibmissive distance, or else barked at and charged. They have the
mannerisms of a crafty street dealer and always seem on the verge of
attacking or fleeing. I am attacked more often than I should be
because I am on a bike unlike they have ever seen, and no doubt smell
and just seem different to them. The psychology must be something
like, 'I don't understand you so I'm going to attack you.' At least in
that way they are somewhat like people.
Squirming puppies are carried by overly attentive children, but I
know that as soon as the dog loses it's cuddly charm it will end up
like the others, wild, unloved and sly. Like all animals here the dogs
are skinny. The ribs are always visible, though often this does not
look unhealthy, but lean and savvy. Many times it is obvious that some
dogs are starving. These dogs always have tails that are pressed flat
in submission and a twitchy look of fear at all times. I can't imagine
a bag of dog food being purchased anywhere, and assume that the dogs
hunt and live on scraps. All dogs run at the feigned motion of a
throw, not to playfully fetch a ball, but out of fear of being pelted
with a rock.
Most every dog seems to be infected with some level of mange or
other sickness, but occasionally I pass dogs that are so diseased I am
disgusted and filled with empathy. A gaunt little creature with only
sparse patches of fur and raw pale skin stretched over a quivering
skeletal frame making it's way slowly down the side of the road, or
standing to the side on twig legs is not an uncommon sight.
There are dogs everywhere and most of them seem to have a natural
sense for crossing streets and dodging cars, but the bodies of dogs
hit by cars can be along the highway every several miles. Some are
black greasy patches of polished leather and matted fur pressed into a
smooth bump in the pavement. Others are missing skin with bone
exposed, jaws leering wide on an eyeless head and bodies swelling in
decomposition. Others are so fresh I'd rather just leave to
imagination what their remains look like.
I wonder why the population of them here is so tolerated. Pigs,
chickens, cows, horses, donkeys and goats roam everywhere, but all
have uses. Dogs are normally adored for the affection they
reciprocate, but here that is clearly not the case. Sometimes they are
obviously used for security, and viciousness is cultivated in them,
but for the majority of the dogs wandering the streets this can't be
the case. I wonder if they control some vermin, or perhaps they are
seen as vermin, but are not as emotionally easy to exterminate as are