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Riding west October 24th of the first year

"Have a good life, Pete... and be good to the meower." The dog cocked his head to the side as if to say "Where are we going?". I closed the door, pressed the button to close the garage door and scurried out over top the floor sensor. "We're on the road again."

My first shadow shot. It feels like a whole new tour.


Riding West? No. Riding South today. It's 30 miles South just to get on the AdventureCycling maps even though I know that days later I'll have to go 30 miles back North to keep on route. Meh. It's easier than mapping it out myself. It's a weird feeling to be back on the pedals after resting for 3 days; it feels like I'm starting over. As I biked out of Jacksonville, I started to think about how long it had been since I left my driveway in Pennsylvania. Maryland, Virginia... those days seem so long ago. It doesn't even feel like I biked them... it feels like it was somebody else. A different version of me? The old me? Was it simply Charlie the entire time? Whatever it was, I felt like I had only been on bicycle for a couple of days now. I wonder what it will feel like when I reach my sister's house in Portland. I can hear it already:

"Charlie Brown! You made it!!!!"

It's going to feel like I've been biking for a few days... like I wasn't even that far away to begin with. I don't think the gravity of this trip is going to set in until years after it's over.

Some days are just long. I'm reliving the first few days of the tour where the days are just long and all you do is bike. Nothing is significant. It's hard, it's hot and you hurt. That's just the way it is in the beginning. I need to get back in the groove. I've been keeping a photo journal of my life for the past 6 years and if you were to look at the photos, you'd think my life was one big party full of friends and adventures. I remember telling my Dad once, "Yea, well, I don't take photos when I'm studying. I don't take photos when I'm sitting in my cube." Reading these journals can often leave you with a taste of adventure or glory but much of the trek is not recorded simply because it's uneventful. These first few days back on the road were exactly that with one minor lesson learned. You know the first item already.

1) Don't eat food near your camp site.
2) Just because a cactus doesn't look sharp doesn't mean it's not going to leave a million little sharp fibers in your hand.

My own stupidity never ceases to amaze me.

After spending much quality time with my tweezers, the sun sets and it's time to put up the tent. Florida is having a heat wave lately and I'm roasting; sleeping in the heat is horrible. I peel my face off the sleeping bag. I need a cold drink... or some ice cubes. No, I need a giant ice cube pillow... or a pillow that is filled with ice. No. Better yet, I need a girlfriend made entirely of ice. No, slush. A slushy girlfriend who doesn't melt and who can be molded into any position. There we go. You people out there, get working. I need a slushgirl.

And then I almost hit Waldo. While trying to take a photo of my shadow, a man on a bicycle was coming straight at me in the wrong lane. I looked up just in time to see this old dude wearing a red and white stripped Dr. Seuss hat riding straight towards me... as if he didn't even know I was there. My instinctual reaction was simply, "Dude what the fuck?!" as I swerved to avoid him. I stopped to think that he might want to talk. Nope. I don't think he ever saw me even though he was looking directly at me. He just kept riding in his straight line like some sort of spirit floating along the road. I turned to tell Elvis about the experience and when I looked back moments later, he was gone. Was he really moving that fast? What in the...? Just as I'm about to get back on the pedals, I turn to see Waldo returning in the other lane. I say to Elvis, "He's coming back!" I look back down the road... Waldo has disappeared once again.

Hours later I found myself at Ichetucknee Springs State Park. On a local's advice, I decided to check out the natural spring-fed lakes and ended up meeting two guys at there, John and Bruce. We had been talking for a while when I decided to walk in front of them and just as I did, John reads the back of my shirt says, "Oh! You're THAT guy." I responded, "Yup, I certainly am." Apparently there is another guy who was recently publicized in the area about biking across the country and he confused him with myself. I explained that I wasn't THAT guy and we continued down towards the springs. Check out the photos of the springs below - the water was so clear that it looked like the fish were floating in space.

I don't know why but this photo makes me hungry.
I mean, OH COOL! LOOK AT THE BEAUTY!
:: Chomps ::



Shine on, brother.



A mighty vessal full of smurfs once sank here. They remain entombed at the bottom of this great lake as a national smurf-mark for all to see.



Paradise?


After hanging out with Bruce and John for an hour or so, I hit the road once again intent to find a musical festival they had told me about in the town of Live Oak. A couple miles down the road, a car pulls off in front of me and out steps Randy who immediately waves me down.

"I saw it said bicycling across America and hospitality on your shirt. Will you take $10?"

No way. I mean, oh hell yea! There are no words to describe the "Holy crap you're giving me money?!" feeling. These are the people who make the trip worthwhile and who can open your eyes to the generosity of your fellow man. Randy Williams and I talked for a while on the side of the road about the tour, his experience with bikes, the springs and the music festival in Live Oak. I gave him a link to my journal and warned him about the weird Chuck/Charlie thing so as to not come across as a nut-job when he read through it. After a lot of pointing and head scratching, he gave me directions to the festival and wished me happy trails. I regret not taking a photo, but I did get his mailing address. To Randy: Thanks for the generosity. The money actually ended up landing me some more friends and food down the road :-)

35 miles later...

"Hi, I was told there's a music festival somewhere around here. Can you tell me how to get there?"
"It's a quarter mile down that way. You can almost hear it from here depending on which way the wind's blowing. You can hear it but you can't catch any of the smoke unfortunately".

"YOU... SHALL NOT... PASSSSSSS!!!!"
"GO BACK TO THE SHADOW!!"


A festival full of music-loving hippies, beer, friends to be made and musicians from around the country? This ought to be good. The traffic into this place was heavy... I couldn't cross the road without someone letting me through. I put out my left hand to signal and immediately someone slowed down and let me in. I got in line behind a car and the started to sense that the car behind me was pulling up very close to my bike like it was going to hit me. Just as I was about to turn around, a voice is heard from the car. "Hey! It's THAT guy!".

All I could say is "What the fuck??". It was John and Bruce. Again. Unbelievable. Hours later we had arrived at the festival at the exact same time. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get into the festival. The supposed music-loving hippies wanted to charge $50 per person to enter for a couple of hours. Are you serious? I told the people at the counter I had biked from Maine and wanted to just come in for a while and was hoping for a break in the rules. No dice, talk to the manager lady. She directs me to some other lady. I explained my story for the third time and knew the answer before I even finished. This bitch had a heart made of ice. I offered $20 but she wanted nothing to do with it. This festival wasn't about the music, it was about the money.

"I didn't think they'd let you in."

Bruce found me just as I was about to leave the parking lot. "I thought the music-loving hippies would be able to recognize with the kid who's biking across America... I guess not." Right away I knew he was going to offer to pay for the ticket. I felt horrible. $50 to get into a music festival? I don't care who's playing, if you have to pay $50 then somebody's already sold their soul and their music along with it... just my two cents. I told him I didn't feel it was worth the $50 and he understood. I appreciated the gesture and snapped a photo of yet another astounding act of kindness from a stranger turned friend. Thanks, Bruce.

Rock out, Bruce. Enjoy the journey in Ireland.


I left the festival and decided to invest part of the funds Randy had given me earlier and purchased some circus peanuts and PowerAde. It was here that I first contacted Christy from Tallahassee via WarmShowers.org. For those who don't know about the site, WarmShowers.org is a place for bicycle tourists to gain hospitality around the world. Basically, it's a place to notify touring cyclists that you're willing to let them crash at your place. I have only just discovered the website and plan on using it as much as possible both during and after this trip -- it's surely an easy way to help out and make some new friends.

'til next time,

Charles

Look at that weird kid on the bike. HAWWWWW!!



$10 and a bag of circus peanuts to the first person who can tell me why all the mailboxes in this neighborhood were facing away from the street.



Happy Halloween!






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A New Earth

Written by Eckhart Tulle


2008
Transcending our ego-based state of consciousness is not only essential to personal happiness, but also the key to ending conflict and suffering throughout the world.




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