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A Piggy and some Pineapples January 30th of the second year

"They come with FIRE! They come with AXES! Gnawing, biting, breaking, hacking, BURNING! Destroyers and usurpers, CURSE THEM!"

Loving it.

It's a sort of essence -- that's the best way to describe it. To any of you who have done any serious camping or hiking, you know what I mean. It's the epitome of fresh; a smell of rejuvenating and natural freshness. I've slowed to a crawl on the bicycle and eventually just stopped altogether. Moss covers everything. You can feel it in the air. The babbling brook just beyond is churning and recirculating a life force into a cool breeze which flows as thick as a cloud and as heavy as water. It's a green zeal and everything is wet. Rather, the surrounding nature is juicy. Yes. It's juicy. Somehow I've cycled into this overpowering realm of living energy and can feel its spiritual presence. It is earthy. The moss is a living and breathing tissue. The air is pure. Each breath is that of chilled, virgin river water. It felt 'right'.

"You're skipping too many stealth spots, dude." -- "Eh, none of them felt right." -- "It's getting dark. You know how this works. You keep riding your damn bike and before you know it, the sun is gone and you're running around like an idiot in the night." -- "Whatever. Something always works out. Quit your worrying." -- "Sure, it works out alright... it works out beautifully. As long as you don't mind sleeping next to headstones or waking up soaking wet in tall grass, it all works out." -- "Cool it, man. Something will come up."

To any of you who have shared the joy of months on the road trying to stealth camp the whole way, you know this conversation. I keep riding and riding and the scenery, setting sun and simple motion is too gratifying to put on hold. Before you know it, you're in the dark with nowhere to turn. "What did I tell you? What did I tell you, man?? Why didn't you just setup camp when you had the chance?? Idiot!" I keep cycling. "HA! Look there! The perfect stealth spot! Who's the idiot now?!?!" And then, of course, things just work out. You knew they were going to work out, but you still tortured yourself inside. I hoist the bike on my shoulder and hike down a steep incline to meet the Tomales Bay on its shoreline. "See. See! What did I tell you? It's perfect! We barely had to hike, the ground is flat, nobody can see us from the road and there wasn't even a need to trample through any thorns. Furthermore, we have an excellent sunset!" I was probably trespassing, actually -- I think it was a state park system, but there weren't any signs. Meh, it doesn't matter. As long as I go undetected and leave no trace, no harm is done. A boat cruises along the bay and I rush to cover the bike's reflectors.


I was never really a heavy sleeper, but by no means could the sound of a leaf or two-inch wave woken me up before this trip. "That water sounds alarmingly close..." Popping my head out of the tent and into the moonlight, I quickly learned that bays have a tide. The water was less than a foot from my tent. "Oh. Oh shit. This is no good." Scrap the imaginary plan book and write up a new one; we're relocating in the middle of the night. I couldn't see much -- my LED headlamp is a piece of crap. I looked around the shoreline and it became apparent that all the flat land at the base of the cliffside would be underwater shortly. He jumped on the opportunity to immediately mock me. "Good one, man. 'Everything will work out, quit your worrying'. Way to go."

I ended up dragging the tent partially up the cliff and sleeping at an angle for the rest of the night. It's not so bad. Just put your head at the higher point and if you're lucky, your body has enough static friction to keep from sliding down into the corner. I woke up several times in the middle of the night squished into a ball at the bottom of my tent. I didn't wake up because of this though, I woke up because I kept hearing things. It started small, like a fish jumping out of the water, but the fish must've been growing because it got much louder.

It's a pig I bet. Something is walking around in the water. No, now it's splashing. I laid there in my tent trying to figure out what could be making these sounds. It's something bigger than a pig... and it's fast. Maybe it's a drowning pig? I poked my head outside to get a look, but the water was dead calm and nothing was there. It must've ran away when it heard the zipper. I tried to get back to sleep. "SPLOOOSH!!" What the fuck was that? A cannonball? Now it's a loud "kerplunk!". What in the hell is out there? I opened the tent yet again and when I shone the light in the direction of the sound, there was nothing. "Okay... this is weird." At times it sounds like an elephant stampede just a couple feet from my tent. Whatever -- it wasn't coming after me. I laid back down. The noises continued. "There is a definitely a pig out there and it's got to be drowning." It was breathing heavy and snorting uncontrollably like it was in labor or something. I grabbed my metal spoon, Leatherman, hunting knife and rocked a drum solo in combination with some lyrics. "♫ PIGGY PIGGY PIGGY!! YOU'RE A DUMB DROWNING PIGGY AND IF I HAD A STOVE I'D TRY TO EAT YOU! ♫" The midnight heavy metal concerts always clear out the place. Now... now I can get some sleep.

Success! By the time morning rolled around, everything was underwater except for the small patch of wood chips I slept upon. Close call, no?

"WAP WAP WAP WAP WAP WAP WAP!!" No, it's no piggie this time, it's an army of birds flying in from the north so low to the water that their wings are smacking the surface. It was a gathering without segregation. White ones, small ones, ducks, swans, big billed silly birds and a hawk or two. As the water still surrounded my tent, I couldn't actually go anywhere until the it receded. So, I had a front row seat. Reinforcements kept their numbers growing exponentially and soon the party came to include much more than birds. "Uhh... since when did rocks swim?" I peered through a shield of feathers to see this dark object moving in the water quietly along. "What is that?"

It was too far away for me to make it out, but I kept squinting and pondering just the same. As I'm reaching for the camera to utilize Ziggy's optical zoom, I heard that damn pig flailing around in the water right next to me again. I threw open the tent as quickly as possible and when I looked into the water, he just sat there staring at me. "Oh! Holy shit it's a seal!!" He looked at me for a good ten seconds then spun like a torpedo with flippers in the water. He stopped again and looked at me as if to say, "Can Charlie come out and play?". Woah! This is no piggie! Ziggy! Ziggy, get your ass over here! I turned away to grab the camera and when I turned back, he was headed out to sea to play with the birds.

Featherfest '07.

The best photograph I could get of our buddy.

The birdie bash came to a close as the bay retreated to lower ground and soon I hiked back up to the roadway. It's route 1 going north once again... I know where I'm going. What do you mean you know where you're going? Have you been here before? You don't even know what's on the other side of this hill or what's around that bend. Oh. I guess you're right. I guess I meant that I know where I need to go. It's happened more than once on tour; I'm biking along, biking along, biking along and I'm completely oblivious to the fact that I've never in my entire life been here before. I've never seen this street before. I don't know what's on the road ahead, I've never met any of these people before and yet I can fall into this mindset where it all seems familiar. Have you even see trees like this before? This architecture? This landscape? These foods? No, I haven't. Pay attention, my friend -- it's likely you'll never be here again.

Hrmm, you're right -- this is quite different. It's dynamic, I suppose. Before the tour, it was the same damn alarm clock each morning, the same route to work, the same office, the same people, the same cafeteria and the same hour-hand on the wall inching toward 5pm. Well, that's what it was for me, anyway. I never thought about the tour in this light before. Each day is totally new. Each experience is a new memory I've never before made. Everyday is worth remembering and as long as I remain in this state of acute awareness, I'll continue to grow. Well shit, that sounds pretty awesome. I guess that makes sense after all, right? I mean, I never found a need to record my daily work-life into a voice recorder before. Maybe this is why people come to appreciate the changing seasons?

To quote my cousin's journal, "Roy had a last piece of advice too: it was to never settle down and to keep traveling. He said to live your life as if it were a movie that you would enjoy watching, and to keep it interesting you should keep on adventuring."

I've never been here before today.

I've never seen water burst so beautifully upon rocky shores before.

I've never seen such amazing landscapes.

And yes, I'm still jealous of how good some cows have it. Are there tryouts for this shit? I mean, who decides which cows get the humid, fly-infested farms and which cows get the grassy, rolling pastures on the edge of the world?

Night followed and I found myself in dense, moss-covered woods once more camping on a ledge just above a small stream. It's peaceful. The sound of water sliding over a rocky forest floor in the midst of such a natural and pristine environment is truly a dream. It's the smell, the presence of life I've mentioned previously... it's so right. It's safe. Eucalyptus bark acts as a sponge upon the Earth and welcomes me to bed. The ease of rest renders dreams far more detailed than reality. As I relive the memory, I wish I could have remained there forever. That's how it's been so many times on this tour, though. I'll eventually need to move on. Soak it up as much as you can. Paint the mental pictures. Search tirelessly for the right words to invoke its ambiance years from today. Share the magic. Inspire life.

"I wish I knew then what I know now." I've heard this too many times. I've said it myself. In reflecting upon my previous lives, it's plain to see and easy to apply. However, this tour is much different. It happened before the tour, really. At some point, I woke up and saw it all from a greater perspective. I feel like I've figured it out; like I'm "wise beyond by years". I realize that sounds incredibly naive, and for all I know, it may be exactly that. It's this capacity to disconnect and see in from the outside. It's conversing and whole-heartedly listening; not just listening, but examining, observing, pondering and questioning. This is no ordinary bike ride. I barely even talk about the ride itself. At times, consumed by these natural surroundings, I swear I've transcended my own body. Something is happening here. I don't know what it is, and frankly, I'm just as curious as you are to see what the next steps entail.

Another moment in time where I wish I knew more about photography. Ziggy is yet a rookie. We need wide angle lenses. We need a small, telescopic tripod. We need knowledge of enhanced color capturing techniques and prolonged exposures! rAWR!! Next time!

A new day was born. I cracked open a can of those infamous pineapples that nearly got me killed once upon a time. I've been eating these dollar cans Dole pineapples since day #1. I remember the first time I sat down for a road meal by myself. I was absolutely loving these pineapples. I sat down in the grass next to a wooden fence on a bright, Maryland, September day. Not an ounce of the scene escapes my memory. I can hear the seal being broken as I pulled on the metal ring. The resolution and depth at which I remember some moments is infinite. The focus is uncanny. I feel as though I could visually zoom in and playback in slow motion the exact moment my fork pierced the fruit. I can still taste it. I sat on the side of the road chowing down on these pineapples with a big, stupid smile. Cars occasionally drove by. "They must think I'm crazy." I wanted them to think I was crazy. Their opinion mattered to me. I wanted to be different. If I wasn't seen as different, what was the point of riding my bike out here? It was only the beginning. I was still part of that order where their impressions affected my opinion of myself. I had no idea what I was doing -- I just wanted to be recognized in their eyes. I was so young.

They say that sense of smell can best invoke memory. This is what happened. I'm holding this same can of pineapples and they're just as delicious as ever. Only this time, I'm not in Maryland. This time I'm in northern California staring off into the Pacific. This time I have to be conscious of my beard and where the pineapple juice goes so I don't find myself face-to-face with the I'm-gonna-eat-you bear. You're not in Maryland anymore, Chuck. You hadn't even seen the Atlantic at that point. Today you stand a world away. The eyes are embracing an immeasurable blue and several lifetimes have already come and gone. I'm not that person anymore. I'm not just that kid on a bike anymore. I looked at Shadowfax. I looked at myself. We look like them. I mean, we look like those individuals, don't we? The same clothes, the same gear, the same shapes, the same gloves. You know. You know you're not him anymore. Take a look at the first few entires in this journal. Take a look at what he wrote. Are those thoughts anything like yours? No. Not in the least. Who was that? Was that me?

I'm here.
It's now.
I've done it.
I'm doing it.
It's magnificent.

I stared off into the ocean and came to tears.

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Work Less, Live More

Written by Bob Clyatt

Semi-retire and do more of what you love.

My mini laptop that I carry with me to make this site possible. Only 2lbs and nearly impossible to break.

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My name is Charles Tronolone and I'm attempting something a bit unconventional; I'm trying to make a living by writing while on a perpetual bicycle tour. How I got to this point is a story in itself, but suffice to say that I refuse to be just another cog in the machine. There's too much important work to be done and too many eyes to open for us to be content with personal goals or riches. In late 2006, I managed to escape the machine, and now I'm setting off to help bring it down.

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