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My Journey - July 2010

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My Journey - July 2010

Post  ChasingSanity on Thu Jul 08, 2010 5:38 am

Friday, July 2, 2010
So many things happened since then. I was busy, without WIFI.. these excuses are not working for me, do they sound good enough for you? OK, then. Rob and Liz are now officially on my friends list. I made my first batch ever of Biker Biscuits in Liz kitchen with Rob's help. They are “multi” grain/bean/nut/dried fruit biscuits with coconut oil. I will add spices next time and cook both the grains and the beans first. Next time I will crush or chop the nuts instead of grinding them into flour. I also need get beyond their tendency to fall apart like other muffins. But they were an excellent first try. I contacted the news media in town but no stories I know of, just a free meal from the husband of Jane Alexander, one of the news anchors at WFGO. Craig, Jane's husband is an avid bicyclist and we had a great time talking while fulfilling a fantasy of mine; eating at an all-you-can-eat oriental buffet. I stopped in Sign-o-rama and asked about getting a sign with my blog address on it to put on the back of my bike. The boss was not in. I went back later and talked with Todd fry. He asked where I was going and what I was doing. “Australia? Through Melbourne? OK, I will make your sign but you have to visit with my friend, Michael Porter who owns a Sign-a-Rama in Pakenham, Vic., AUS. Michaels contact info is on the back of my sign. The sign makes a huge difference – people who are interested ask me about my journey. Smile Another thing I did for the first time at Liz and Rob's place was set out all my things and take pictures. I packed up while doing laundry and then rode off.

I rode on to Grand Forks. I stopped in Drayton, camped there at the city park and met a Canadian man managing the camping sites for the park. We stayed up and talked deep into the night. I tried to sleep in my hammock but the mosquitoes were too bad. I sleep in my tent all the time now, no more hammocking. Sad The next morning I went to the Drayton grocery and waited until it was open to buy supplies. I eat corn and flour tortillas with peanut butter, honey, cheese, garlic, curry and hot sauce. Sometimes all that in one bite, sometimes only part of that on my tortillas, always peanut butter. It gets boring but I have not starved. I talked with the cashier who suggested I interview with Larry Rizto of the Drayton Valley News and Views newspaper. He treated me to lunch at the renowned cafe.

I rode into East Grand Forks, Minnesota, I felt tired and a bit disoriented. What resources are where? I got directions to the library, went there, used their internet to look up bike shops, food banks and request services from the three WarmShowers.org guys I found. I talked with the staff but did not get their names.

On the way to Ski & Bike in Grand Forks, ND, I stopped in at Action Graphix and Signs where I asked Marcelo if he could do me a favor and (whew, somehow closed this document without saving but got it back without losing all my work. New netbook, the learning curve just got steeper) print out a (happened again, what button did I push?!) batch of my calling cards. Marcelo checked status of the job - how much work was involved? Just change my blog address. He offered to print to them on card stock, I asked for plain paper, he suggested the misprints he uses for rough drafts – recycled paper. Very nice. Pick them up tomorrow afternoon. Done!

I rode on to Ski & Bike. I talked with uhm, got to get their names. I told the one guy what I am about, the problem I had; the quick release on my seat post had broken through a plastic part, making it unusable. (Healthy looking, middle aged man with salt and pepper hair) scrounged around for the quick release and gave me one. I was very grateful. I asked him where I could get free WIFI, he directed me to Caribou Coffee on Washington and 24th.

There was a bicycle outside the coffee shop and a bungee cord on the ground next to the bike. I stretched the bungee cord onto the bike and went inside. A customer was grinning at me, I figured it was his bike.He was ogling my bike. We talked quite for a while. Rick Myers was about to take off on his own adventure. He was leaving in a week for Seattle and rinding his bicycle from there to Maine, Bar Harbor ("Ba-Habah") maybe. He asked why I came into the coffee shop, I wanted to check on the Warm Showers guys. Rick removed his address from Warm Showers because of his trip. Smile I stayed with him the first night. I told him all my secrets, all the biking and camping tips I could think of, anyways.

Thursday, July 8th, 2010OK, I am falling asleep in the lunchroom at an AmericInn motel in Alexandria, Minnesota. The short version so I can move on before I get caught sleeping or falling off the chair; in Grand Forks, I went to Urban Stampede coffee shop and met Mitch. We talked for hours. He taught himself electronics. I am so impressed, I am almost speechless, almost. Wink He is an inventor/innovator too. Mitch has a friend, Rick Abbott, that works at WDAZ channel 8, Grand Forks. Rick Abbott had a netbook he might trade my huge laptop for, straight across. Mitch left a message with Rick. I asked Mitch if I could sleep the night at his apartment that night. He said sure, I would have the whole place to myself while he worked at Dakota Harvest Bakery. I showed him my bike and he noticed my bike rack had a sheared off screw that had been keeping it attached to the bike. I unloaded the stuff off the back of my bike and into Urban Stampede, in the back. I raced over to Ski & Bike, asked if they could remove the screw for me. They got to work. I went to WDAZ, one block south of Caribou Coffee, where I met Rick Myers the day before. I introduced myself to the receptionist, Jessica Guzman (she was great fun to talk with) then again to Rick and told them both about my journey – “Want to interview me?” We traded laptops and set up my interview for the next day after 9:30 AM. I went back to Ski & Bike, they wanted money. I had a dollar... I forgot to tell these guys, today, I was broke. I felt bad but they gave me my bike. I went on to pick up my stuff from Urban Stampede and then find Mitch's apartment. Mitch and I talked for a long time while I installed Ubuntu Linux on “Baby”, my new netbook. before I went to sleep and he went to work. In the morning, I went to Dakota Harvest Bakery for a sandwich courtesy of Mitch. His co-workers did not buy his story about meeting a guy last night who was traveling around the world on his bicycle. Then I pulled up and started talking. Smile I asked them to all get together for a picture. We volunteered an innocent bystander into taking the pictures, interrupting him from stuffing his face with the good stuff from the bakery. I got grilled by several people coming into the bakery. Finally, I got to stuff my face and email myself anything important from my big, heavy, old laptop. I had three quick conversations with people on the sidewalk – I started off asking for directions. I deleted and uninstalled almost everything on my old laptop. Then on to WDAZ. I was late! On the way, I had I handed over my laptop. Did the interview, rode off to find a computer repair shop to get Linux updates and WIFI working. I went to Raptor PCS, talked with Brent and (scribbled name on their business card), they gave me a flash drive/ink pen but no WIFI. I went to a couple other computer shops or network management shops until I got to TechMedics (www.techmedics.com) where Elizabeth worked her magic. My spidey senses (Spiderman cartoon) told me she is amazingly capable. I rode off.

On the way to Pembina, ND, I camped in Drayton, ND. I met a Canadian man there managing the city park campsite. We talked deep into the night. In the morning, I went to the Drayhon grocery store, the only grocery for many miles north. I waited for the grocery store to open, got my supplies, followed the advice of the lady working in the store – talk with Larry who runs the Valley News and Views newspaper, local newspaper. I left a message. I tried to find a WIFI hotspot but no luck. I went the Drayton State Bank and asked the lady behind a desk if she would use her internet access to find the contact info on Spiderflex.com bicycle seats and the Canadian requirements for me to get into their country, both in Pembina. She passed me onto her boss, he was extremely helpful; he seemed to know everybody within North Dakota borders and some beyond. I thanked him several times during his efforts. Outside, I left a message with Doug, the designer of the bike seat. A guy in a small red car pulls up and says “You must be Ari, the bicyclist.” I said “You must be Larry, the reporter.” He suggested we go interview, I suggested he buy us lunch while we talked. I got directions to the locally renowned Cafe. We talked long after the interview. At least, I think the interview was over by then. I rode off. Almost; a guy in a company owned truck said something that jogged my memory – going into Drayton, I met him at his home while I was trying to figure out where Drayton was. I turned around followed him around the corner and thanked him for his help. THEN, I rode off.

A few miles outside of Pembina, ND, Doug the designer/owner of www.Spiderflex.com bicycle seats
returned my call. Considering my advertising potential, he would let me have a seat. Awesome, I love the little companies; the decision maker is available to talk with! I tried to get there before closing but missed the 5PM cutoff by a couple minutes. It was fun trying. Smile I went to the library, got to talking with the librarian, her son came in with a strange looking guy; short, skinny, very tanned, leather Aussie cowboy hat with all kinds of decorations on it and he rode his bicycle to Pembina from Northern California?! The librarian and her son parted ways with us, my fellow bicyclist showed me his workshop in a rented storage space, advised me to buy silver items at thrift stores, garage sales, etc and sell them for silver weight and then took me to the area he was camping at. I hung my hammock in the building the park uses to store their picnic tables. We talked for a long time. No, he talked, I listened. It was good to get in some quality listening, a rare treat for me.

In the morning, I showed my news bicycle seat to a lady at the Visitors Center in Pembina. I met her the night before at the Visitors Center while running around trying to figure out the town. Then I headed back south out of town, away from the Canadian border to Hamilton, a few miles away. I agreed, back in Springfield, Missouri with Bill Smillie, owner of Smillie's Grocery Store, to go visit his family origins and see how their name changed over time on the gravestones in the cemetery. It used to be something like Smeelee and they got called 'smelly', now they are Smillie and get called 'smiley'.(Jogged my memory, I called him on the phone just now) The winds were fiercely against me but, by shifting gears, I would persevere. A man in a pickup truck pulls up next to me and asks me if I want a ride. He “was only going down the road a little ways” but when opportunity knocks, open the door. He asked me what I was about and we started talking. Arnie Peterson had to do something at work for a few minutes, taking me with to American Crystal Sugar Company (I schmoozed, you know I did), then he drove me to the Smillie's house. “They know you're coming?” No, I was going to the graveyard, you say there are live Smillie people to talk with.” So he called ahead. In small towns, everybody knows everybody. Smile We visited Robert Smillie Jr. He did most of the talking. What a treat. I felt I kept my word to Bill Smillie by talking with Robert Smillie. Arnie drove me back to Pembina and dropped me off within sight of the Canadian border.

Days before, I called Carole, my ex-wife and executor in the USA and asked her to send me the certified copy of my birth certificate to General Delivery in Pembina. Some people told me I needed a passport, others told me I needed a certified copy of my birth certificate, others yet told me I just needed my driver's license. I talked with the Canadian border patrol a few hours before getting in line at the border and asked him what I needed to cross. “I have my Nevada driver's license and a certified copy of my birth certificate is in the mail. He said they would just ask me a few questions. I verified with him I just needed my driver's license.


I waited in line to find out what I needed to cross. Directly in front of me in line was a guy on a motorcycle and his female companion (perched behind him) got to talking with me. He is Larry Trudeau. Smile The gate guard asked me a few questions. I did not fit in his standard set of options so he sent me on to the office. I was quickly seen, nobody ahead of me, a woman with black hair and a blond streak asked me her standard set of options. I definitely needed a passport and, for riding my bicycle through Canada for three months as I expected, I needed $3000, at a bare minimum. “What do I need $3000 for? I camp out when I am in between big cities and I couchsurf in big cities.” I explained couchsurfing. She said I can not just be a bum. “I am not a bum.”

They searched me on the way out. I figure I look like I am carrying contraband. I would search me if I was them. I know I look strange carrying all that homemade, rag-tag stuff. I figured, with all my stuff they had to search, we would be there a long time. They were a lot faster than I expected. After the search, I went in and got papers to get back into the USA. Then, I was sent back to the American border patrol with the expectation that I be waved through.

The Americans searched me too. I was so tired by then and in shock too. When the American searchers asked if I had any weapons, sharp objects, etc, I had one of the forms in my mouth so I pointed at the bag and the pocket with my camp knife in it. That was a mistake. They said “Do not reach for your weapon.” I was not reaching for it, I had stopped moving (other than tapping with my finger) and was not touching the pocket. Again they said “DO NOT REACH FOR YOUR WEAPON.” One of the searchers grabbed the note out of my mouth and said something about getting shot. I was glad not to be shot. I said “I was not reaching, it's not much of a weapon, I am bone tired and never been through all this before; give me some slack. What, exactly, do you want me to do?” The boss lady switched into by-the-book mode. After a few minutes they told me to go wait in the waiting room. I was in a daze, no clue how long it took until they said I could come out pack up my stuff and go. I packed up and rode off. I feel tired and in a daze just remembering that time.

I rode back south a different way than I came; through Hamilton. I camped out a few miles from Hamilton. The mosquitoes droveme into setting up my tent for the night. I knew they had a Pembina County fair there but I just wanted a bathroom with a sink. It was all quiet on the county fair front, I left my bike and searched for a bathroom. They had a shower in the bathroom! A guy got in just before I could. I talked outside with a few people while I waited. I went back and got my bike with my toiletries on it. A lady asked me if I would join them eating lunch and interview with her daughter who does special interests for the newspaper. “Sure, let me get a shower first.” Got my shower and went looking for the woman, what was she wearing again? I found her, 'lunch' was a huge operation – everybody at the fair was neighbors or relatives or farm business partners. I volunteered to hand out food and was assigned the serious responsibility of pouring lemonade. Wink I got to eat as the first burgers were coming off the grill, before the rush. Then, the interview then I rode off, going south.

I stopped in Grafton, found free WIFI at Shenanigan's Family Restaurant. They have an awesome buffet and they are packed most of the time. Rumor had it the city park camp grounds have free WIFI throughout the park. It's true! And nice showers. I camped there but did not use their WIFI, too many mosquitoes. I met Mark Lindsey, the Plant Services Director of the Development Center in Grafton but I do not remember if he gave me a ride, maybe something was broken on my bike.

I rode back into Fargo, ND in the middle of Tuesday morning. The community bike shop opened at 6PM. I forgot what I did but I did not waste my time. At 5PM, I went back to the bike shop and started cleaning up their yard. I planned to be first in line and exchange volunteer work for bicycle parts. I ran out of work and ate dinner, more tortillas with peanut butter and all. I worked outside with my own tools, I did not tie up their resources; their volunteers anymore than I had to. I fixed worn out parts (my new seat post quick release handle was too flimsy, it bent when I used it. I picked up some patched inner tubes. I traded my somewhat fancy aluminum mustache handlebars for a plain set of handlebars I hoped would allow me to sit up straighter which reduces strain on my back and reduces pain on my butt with my new bike seat. I also got three used and patched inner tubes and a matched set of fancy brake levers in exchange for the ones I found that fit onto the larger, ten speed style, mustache handlebars. The handlebars I now have work better but I want more. Yes, always more. I rode away from the community bike shop at 9PM. By 10PM I was muttering “I hate riding at night.” I camped out on County Road 52, old highway 52, at 11PM. Each night now, I pray I had made some DIY (do-it-yourself) mosquito repellent the day before, in Minneapolis, soon but not soon enough.

I got a flat tire before Fargo, replaced it, got another and noticed the tire protector tape I cut froto m a roll had wron a hole into the tube causing the blowout. How long had I been causing blowouts? I got my first broken spoke with my Sioux Falls rear tire. It made a loud sound breaking. I hitchhiked from a few miles outside of Fargo, into Barnesville to the hardware store. They sell bikes and a few parts but not that specific as to have spokes. I did get to go across the street to the Wells Fargo bank and ask them to mail the actual signature on my original bank 'signature card'. I also asked if they could verify the existence of any bike shops in Fergus falls. I walked down the road and hitchhiked into Fergus Falls. Another great guy picked me up. He owns a seed... his company sells seeds to farmers. His Norwegian accent made me think he was from Europe somewhere. But, “granddad moved here in 1904 from Iowa.” He drove me to “Craig's bike shop” a house, his phone message says open Monday – Wednesday, 6 – 9 PM. Oh...Next! Then, we drove to the next place, The Rental Store. They moved to the other side of town... BUT, they are a genuine bike shop, many bikes for sale and everything! I bought spokes, got my fancy, double walled, 4 cross spoke configuration rear wheel from a tandem Suntour bike trued.

Time for me to fly, getting kicked out for a meeting in this room in 30 minutes. I got to get groceries I get on down the road!


Last edited by ChasingSanity on Tue Sep 21, 2010 7:55 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: My Journey - July 2010

Post  ChasingSanity on Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:39 pm

Saturday, July 10th, 2010
I asked for directions to Minneapolis at the Rental Store (in Fergus Falls). They said go across the street, between the two green roofs over there is a path, follow that to a tunnel crossing under the road, that's the bike path to St. Cloud. We went back inside and he gave me a map of the Lake Wobegon trail. It was that simple, that close! Smile

The bike trail is gorgeous. Words do not do justice. The efforts made by all the communities it passes through to beautify and maintain the bike trail are heartfelt by riders and workers alike. Many locals, mostly tow couples at a time, use the path to go to social events like dinner. I stopped in Dalton and tried to get on the internet at Fisherman's Cove; they have it and I could see an unsecured wireless network on my netbook and get on it with their desktop but I could not get on with my netbook. I camped between Garfield and Alexandria.

In the morning, I rode into Alexandria. I confess, the bike map has advertisements for many hotels and motels in Alexandria. Free WIFI and coffee were almost certain, I might be able to schmooze a free continental complimentary breakfast... I went, I ate, I updated and lo, they let me take a SHOWER in the pool shower! Many hours after I schmoozed with Adorable Amber and all the other employees, I left to make room for their meeting and for my groceries.

I went to Target and bought one of my favored items, a coffee cup – an OXO Softworks LiquiSeal travel mug. It fits in a bicycle bottle cage, has a button for drinking, otherwise it is spillproof and it only costs $10. Then I went across the street and bought another favored item, a pair of Starter men's Dri-Star compression shorts. They are very compact-able, lightweight, do not retain moisture or cause crease marks. The only down side is they are too sheer to be an outer layer and some of them fall apart almost immediately while others last a long time.

While at Wal-Mart, I bought the essentials; tortillas, Smuckers natural peanut butter, cheese, a couple bananas and the least expensive yogurt I could find. Why is it an item with the least amount of ingredients and preparation costs more than the stuff with ingredients I can't pronounce?

Back on the road, I rode by a bunch of trailers at a county fair grounds. An older man was walking his small, fat, poodle-haired dog along the bike trail. I asked him “What is going on here?” He said “A horse show.” I said “Ou! Free coffee, maybe!” I went exploring. I almost found my coffee on my own but the guy got to me first and directed me to their base camp. I helped myself to a donut and went looking at people and horses. Coffee is good, good coffee is great. I look forward to the rest of the world's stronger coffee. I rode on and got to the Osakis Farmer's Market. I asked for directions, I happened to ask the couple in charge. He had ridden bicycles for many years, even some epic tours.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010
I stayed with “Jen” and “Zek” for several days' I know I was busy most of the time... I rode on to Leif, my next couchsurf host. Leif is another renaissance man; he is an electrician, mechanic (bicycle/motorcycle/car/more?) avid sportsman and traveler.

On the Lake Wobegon trail I crossed paths with a bunch of bicyclists on tour, kinda like me. I shouted “I am BikeToAustralia!” that was Leif and his friends. I met half of them at the dinner party they were having when I arrived and most of the others throughout my time with Leif. He told me about the Bastille Day street festival. I went there by myself because Leif and his girlfriend had to go to a party. There was a brass band playing while a burlesque dancer mesmerized the crowd with increasing levels of nudity and skill. The sweat on her back looked like a surreal, silver tattoo. Then, three woman fire dancers showed off their skills.

After the show, I met a talkative woman and her taciturn 16 year old son. We talked for a long time, she and I before she invited me to stay at their house for the night. First, we had to work out my credentials; how to prove I am a decent guy? Then we stayed up until dawn talking. When we woke up we talked more and then “OMG the time, we got to get out of here!”

I wish I could have helped her by tearing down the shed she had that was falling down. But she was not ready for that either.

I met a man today while riding. He gave me a great idea; talk with all the appropriate companies that have headquarters here in Minneapolis about sponsorship. He is a world traveler and pointed out I really need sponsorship to go beyond the American border (or very well-off). I am going to the chamber of commerce tomorrow to get a list of the companies that have headquarters in the immediate area. Then I will email them, call them, meet with them and schmooze.

I feel like I am not accomplishing enough when I am not riding my bike. Yet, when I look back, I arrived at Leif's house Friday night, met with over 100 people since then and passed out a lot of my calling cards. I sewed on a new laptop/pannier at Jen's house and got a new back-of-the-bike sign made by Sign-A-Rama in Maple Grove. While at Jen's I rode into Minneapolis and met the Baha'i community there. I volunteered 8 hours at Sibley Bikes, the only community bike shop that allows me to trade work for parts. I got food stamps. I had to do a lot of web searching to find all that.

Why do some people object to me getting food stamps? I am touching 10,000's of lives in good way with my journey and most of my expenses, $200 a month, are spread out over the entire USA. I work for free or cheap and often use my food stamps to show my appreciation to people I meet. If there was no food stamps would there be more work available?
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