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My journey -August 2010

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My journey -August 2010

Post  ChasingSanity on Wed Aug 04, 2010 7:23 pm

Tuesday, August 3, 2010
I am camping on a farm 15 miles south of Minneapolis. There is no WIFI. While I was at Leif's house my laptop saw his WIFI sometimes, other times not. After Leif (great guy, too bad I did not get to know him better), I stayed with Lisa and Dave. They run a coffee shop in Minneapolis. The majority of the people I stay with are first times to Couchsurfing.org hosts. Lisa and Dave are first timers as well, it felt like they were not sure where to place their boundaries. That was confusing, but in retrospect, I am glad to have been part of their... defining moments?

When I went to a MPLS Bike Love picnic. I hoped I could find a place to stay for the night and not have to find a place to camp out. I asked around but my luck for the night only got me advice and a guide to a place I could camp under police radar. I guess that's why someone was murdered there last year. Yep, seriously. The mosquitoes almost did me in and the bicyclists talking to each other while coming back from the fireworks kept waking me up, other than that it was a quiet night.

I woke, packed up my tent and tried not to startle any pre-dawn joggers (into calling the police).
Jennifer, yes, another one, is a lady I met at the MPLS Bike Love event, she said she had a friend that would love to meet me and even let me camp where he was. That all happened, Jen called me and left a message “meet us at my house (directions)”. I went, I met, I threw my bike in the back of Brandon's pick-up truck. I am staying there now.

During the past few days, I kept checking with the news media. They were all so excited when I first contacted them but not now. No clue why. Maybe, I am already interviewed enough for them?

I made more of my mirrors. I met a guy at a grocery store, Herb, he was interested in seeing my mirror. I had misplaced both of the ones I had so I met him the next day. I made several, with Brandon's help. I sold oneof the mirrors ti Herb and have a possibility of using his workshop to make more mirros more professionally. Brandon's dad has contacts that will cut my mirror, in plastic, cheaply, 50 at a time. Brandon suggests I get the mirrors made out of steel, high polished stainless or chrome plated. And, with my blog address on the back.

There is a storm passing through, the sky is quite dramatic. There was an irritating noise a while back – a funnel cloud (baby tornado) was directly overhead. It is 21:00, time to see if I can get back to the farm.

Monday, August 9th, 2010
Brandon has been a great help. Anna has been gone visiting family much of the time. Brandon's dad, Duncan introduced me to a source for my acrylic mirrors that is cheaper than I had before and it is in Eden Prairie, a suburb of Minneapolis. I bought 50 precut mirrors at .79 each when the source in Fargo, ND cost .66 each for a 12” square I had to cut myself. I did not do nearly as good a job cutting them myself. I know, I know, I was surprised too! Brandon's boss and lifelong friend, Dan has a father (another surprise, eh?) Dan's dad let Brandon and I use his garage shop to cut mounting holes in my new mirrors and round the outer edges. On the way home from that, Brandon took me to Joann Fabrics so I could get a wide selection of colors for these tiny buttons I use to assemble the mirrors. I sold two of the mirrors in Minneapolis so far.

On Saturday, I helped Brandon with his project helping his sister by landscaping her backyard. That's what Brandon does for work – landscaper.

A few days ago, someone at a potential sponsor company told me they do not sponsor individuals, just organizations like the American Red Cross, I should contact them. I did, I rode up to the American Red Cross wishing I could donate blood – can't because the epilepsy medication I take can cause seizures. And the donation sites I have been to in the past were excited to get my blood for infants?! My morals interfere with my income. Anna told me a place here would give me $50 for my blood. Sad= Those are vampire teeth.

Anyways, the people at the American Red Cross were excited to see me and recommended I talk with Lacy... who was not there that day. I left a message, she handles sponsorship for them. She called me back and said no clue about where I could go for sponsors. I felt better – the expert was challenged by what challenged me. She then said try the Minneapolis Council for Nonprofits. Wow, what a find! I went there today (in the same complex as the Small Business Administration), situation and goals and asked them about sponsorship. The lady at the front desk said something about my paertnering up with organizations – SHE DID NOT SAY “no”! Yeah! She gave me a list of nonprofit councils nationwide!

I plan to leave for Madison, Wisconsin tomorrow. I have enough materials to make many mirrors, except for the squeeze and release cord clamp – those got to be cheaper someplace else or something else cheaper can do the same job. But, I have a few of them too. And, Brandon paid me for both days of work on the same day I worked, so I set! I just need to get some tortillas and maybe a bag of apples.

I have many good feelings about my mirrors selling. I am becoming self-supporting, proving financially worthwhile to society for my ideas and craftsmanship and my future could get even brighter.

Sunday, August 15, 2010
I am at the Clarion Inn in Baraboo, WI. Last night, I slept in a low spot on the ground next to St. Paul Lutheran Church on the east side of Baraboo. Clarion Inn is on the fancy west side of town, closer to the Wisconsin Dells resort area.

Friday, August 20th, 2010
Wow, has it only been 5 days?! I went to the church service thinking I was close to the part of town I would be leaving from. Not so. After services and meeting the church goers, I rode back through town then south. I followed directions as best I could but distances stretch and shrink while riding, mostly I feel like I traveled far enough to reach a given landmark, did I miss it? Sometimes, I did go too far, most times, not far enough. Anyways, I got lost or felt like I got lost a bunch of times.

Somewhere along the timeline, I was hunting for a bike shop that was next to 'the skate park'. I saw some teenagers clustered together at a fenced-in concrete skateboard practice complex – the skate park? I asked if they knew where the bike shop was that was supposed to be nearby. “No such thing, what you need done?” “True my wheel.” “Tune it? I can do that, $5” “Cool, you do it and I pay you, no problem.” But, halfway through, his family drives up to ask if he wants to go with to the Wisconsin Dells (a famous nearby resort area). Dad ffirst wanted to know what I was doing with his son then gets involved as Quality Control Inspector. “You know how to do this?” He asks his son. Hehe, the young man proves capable. Dad keeps up the pressure to perform well. The whole family asks me about my journey and dad refuses to let me pay for his son's services. Hehe, son was not pleased and I teased them both about the interaction. Dad gave me a little money, donating to feed my dream and inspire all. :happy, proud tears:

I rode on. I asked directions at the Wild Side bike shop (on the southwest edge of Baraboo?) and asked them to true my rear wheel. Maybe they could do better with more tools and more experience. I am glad the senior tech/mech looked at my bike – he found a very small crack in the rim and confirmed the young mans diagnosis; several of the spoke nuts, called nipples, were stripped. My rear tire was inoperable and going terminal at an accelerating rate – I was in trouble. I rode on.

I felt guilty about planning to NOT ride all the way into Madison but some things Are beyond my control. I got to highway 12 and was about to position myself advantageously for hitchhiking when a guy in a small pickup truck commented on the “BikeToAustralia.ROFLforum.net” sign on my back. I gave the short version story and asked if I could get a ride in the direction of Madison. He was only going a short ways. I accepted, introduced myself to his Airedale (big dog), we put my bike in back of his pickup truck, I got in and away we went. We talked along the way, I asked his advice about free camping between here and Madison. He decided to take me to the edge of Madison and show me the camping site on the edge of Madison. He dropped me off at Middleton Beach camp site on the west side of Lake Mendota. Fine intentions but the usual free price for camping for me - a camp bicyclist with a tent or hammock was $23 for a night. I thanked the camp site manager and asked directions for free WIFI or a coffee shop on the way into Madison then rode on. That much money for a night for me?!

I did not see the Starbucks coffee shop he mentioned, but I don't like Starbucks anyways. I got to Madison Whole Foods, asked them if they had free WIF I. They do, I asked if it would be OK for me to sit outside with my laptop and stuff hoping for someone to come along and ask me about my adventure and take pity on poor little Ari. It turned out one of the Whole Foods employees, Erin, and her husband, They both have backpacked extensively across the Americas, both North and South. Erin has backpacked 7000 miles!!! I rubbed Seth's shoulder then wiped my hand off on my chest – get some of their magic. Erin went to work, Seth and I talked a bit. I asked if I could get a shower and Seth let me stay the night at their house. My bike got the garage and I got the carpet in the living room, luxury accommodations for us both – safe, dry and mosquito free. Not to mention I got to socialize with Seth for most of the night. I made a mirror for Erin with my hand-cut (not professional quality) mirrors and was going to make one for Seth too but ran out of materials. That was Sunday night.

Amy is a CouchSurfing host who was not able to host me but offered dinner. First, she planned to cook but life changed her plans so we met at Buraka's restaurant downtown. I went there early to make sure I could find the place and get an idea about what I wanted to eat. As I was looking for a place to lean my bike out of the pedestrian path, a man asked me what I was about with all this on my bike. Marco is a black man with an interesting, hard to place accent. He is from NOT ETHEOPIA. Have I had lunch yet? No, well he owns a small restaurant nearby, he offers me lunch. We go to Buraka's! Marco owns Buraka's! Jules, the waiter, advises me what foods have a lot of vegetables and flavors. The homemade hot sauce in the glass bottle is very flavorful but should be approached cautiously.

I raced over to Budget Bikes, was accosted by an enthusastic bicyclist who told me I had to meet his brother, a bike mech at Willy Street Bikes, I met then went on to Budget Bikes, asked many questions there, met Jess at Budget Bikes then raced back downtown to meet with Amy at Buraka's. Amy was an enigmatic pleasure to meet. We ssat opposite of each other on the patio tables outside of Buraka's and watched people on the street, she had a better view, with more action and intrigue than I.

After our get together (date? What do I call that? What I want to call it.), I went to meet Kristen, the Couchsurfing lady who would be my host. Kristen was getting together with some friends of hers at a bar, Cooper's, I think. Five or six women, some of them had to be single, didn't they? But, Kristen was my host and they were not wearing availability labels. I entertained and was entertained in turn sharing stories. By some miracle, I managed to get my stuff in Kristen's car without damaging the big bass speaker in her trunk. We talked a bit then got to sleeping, Kristen had work in the morning and I had to get my bike into riding condition ASAP. That was Monday.

I got more materials for my mirrors, made a mirror for Seth but they were on a week long vacation. I sold some of my mirrors throughout the week, one to this awesome harpsichordist and connoisseur, Jess, I met at Budget Bikes. Jess and I met at his house on Tuesday. I rode around to bike shops chasing down an affordable repair for my wheel and exploring upgrade options for my bike. The I rode on to Jo Ann's Fabrics and got the materials to make more mirrors, stopped a few places along the way, went to Whole Foods, made a mirror for Seth, found out they were on vacation, bought food to support myself and share with Kristen then caught a ride back to Kristen's from her on her way back from work. We talked a bit about our various plans for the next few days – how long was I planning to stay and how would that mesh with Kristen's own itinerary? Time to sleep and get ready for the next day. That was Tuesday?

Wednesday, I stayed near Kristen's house because my bike wheel was too far gone to ride around and Kristen had the day off – not driving into town. I planned what to do the next day – Thursday when I could get a ride into town with my failing... failed bike. I made a date with Edwin at Budget Bikes to talk about marketing my bike. I also investigated the price of repairing or replacing my rear wheel. Woof, were they expensive - $50 was the low end! All the replacement rear wheels I had gotten before were gifted to me from one source or another.

I went to McDonald's next door to Budget Bikes to get on the internet, check emails, etc and get a cup of coffee while waiting for Edwin to make his appearance at work. An older woman customer sitting at McDonald's eyed my big backpack curiously. I said “I am on an adventure, see?” I showed her the sign on back of my backpack. We talked, she asked if I had breakfast yet. I reviewed the morning, nothing counted as breakfast. She handed me $20, said “buy yourself breakfast, keep the change.” I got the healthiest options I could, chicken strips, hold the sauce and a coffee. I am a coffee addict, it is not healthy. I said my goodbyes to the lady and went to meet Edwin.

Edwin listened to my proposal and demonstration - “We don't do that. I need a packaged item. Talk with Planet Bike and Varis Bikes about manufacturers.” That is not NO! Things are moving in positive directions in my life. They are moving slowly, unsteadily and unpredictably but my plans are rolling along. Smile

I went back to McDonald's to get on the internet and plan my routes. The lady was still there. I shared my success with her and then got on the internet. On her way out, she gave me more money! I had more than enough to buy my rear wheel! I went back to Budget Bikes with a new agenda. I talked with some of the guys about my best options with their new and used wheels. I did as much work as I could myself and had a working bike! Oh, I need to get some spare spokes, their stainless steel spokes cost $.69, I have paid $2 and $3 each!

Kristen was trying to sublet her apartment and move to Seattle. She did all that in one customer – a lady that wants to buy almost everything Kristen is selling, almost everything she owns, so she is almost ready to move. The lady wants to move in ASAP. Kristen is sick from overextending herself and stress. I was in the way of her goals to pack and coordinate her move, how soon could I be out? My attempts to find another place to stay in town fell though, all three of them. I stayed the night with Kristen. That was Thursday.

I packed up and moved out this morning. I stopped at Jo Ann Fabrics to get more materials, yep, ran out of other stuff to make my mirrors. Now, I am set. It rained about 4PM. I think the storm is past. Hopefully, I can go to the local hangouts and get picked up for a place to stay, if not I have a backup. Time to find free WIFI and post this.

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010
My backup place for the night was behind a grocery store. They said I could camp there “but you did not hear it from us”. I tried to be as low profile as possible hiding myself under my blue tarp and my big, bright yellow bike in the middle of a some scrawny bushes out back of the grocery. I hope nobody got frightened seeing me there between midnight and 6AM.

I found a WIFI hotspot and contacted Warm_Showers people asking for a place to stay for a few days or more. Warm Showers is harder for me to use than CouchSurfing because, when you move the map over, the list of people in that area of the map change and I was not writing down who I talked with. Eventually, Mindy responded with an affirmative – I could stay at her place for a few days, she lives on the west side but much closer to downtown than Kristen. Then, Julie said I could stay at her place; a couple blocks from the capital building.

Mindy has a pay as you go washing machine in the basement of her apartment. I washed my clothes and hung them out to dry on a clothes line outside. One of my undershorts disappeared about that time, wish it had been the ones that were falling apart. >.< Many suspects but Mindy is not among them. I eventually bought another pair.

Julie lives on the third floor of an apartment building with no elevator. Julie and I schlepped all my stuff up to her apartment, the bicycle went up last. She said I could stay at her place for as long as I needed. What a load off my mind.

On Friday, August 27th, I went to Planet Bike and Saris. At Planet Bike I asked about sponsorship and them selling my mirror. I also got to meet them all, for such a huge effect they have on the USA biking industry, they sure don't have many people. Heath, in charge of product development, emailed me an Idea Submission Form and niceties. I replied back Sunday, filling out their form, my Non-Disclosure Agreement and niceties. Heath said he was not expecting such a fast reply, they are working on another bike mirror item, resubmit in a few months. How strange, is this standard procedure in business?

The receptionist at Saris told me I picked a bad day to come in and ask about sponsorship; everybody I should be talking with was out of the office for one reason or another. I emailed the lady most likely to reply with an email soonest. Smile

One day, I went to the downtown library to get on their WIFI, a guy outside asked me if I was really going to ride my bike to Australia. Kevin lives at Ambrosia, a housing co-op in town. We've talked a lot since then and he wants to do a variety show benefit for me. Charming idea. I better go there now, talk with him and get this posted.
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