As you may, or may not, already know, this has been a year full of extreme change for me. Within the last year, I spent 5 amazing months in Thailand, (the majority of that time spent volunteering with the Panya Project
in rural northern Thailand) and the remainder of that time in Australia meeting and working with some very inspiring people involved with these organizations: Friends of the Earth
, to name just a couple.
I returned to Melbourne from Thailand at the end of March for about a month, primarily to pack up and move out; a bittersweet ending to an extraordinary 2.5 year journey there. At the end of April, I began a slow re-integration back to the states, starting with the southern coast of California and a beautiful road trip
through California, Arizona, and New Mexico. After taking a train trip from Santa Fe, New Mexico back to Chicago in early May I now find myself here, deliberating on what's next...
My recent time spent working with various volunteer organizations in Australia and Thailand have had a huge impact on me, and I find myself thinking about the world a little differently now than I used to. My perspective on what I want to do with my life, and how I want to live it, has shifted.
Over the last few years I have become aware of some profoundly transformational things going on in the regional areas where I was living and visiting. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet and be involved with such incredibly inspiring individuals and networks of people who are taking action by thinking far outside of the box, and doing thoughtful, healing things for this planet.
I've seen and experienced examples of successful, functioning, eco-concious communities in rural and urban settings. I've participated in planting, harvesting and being sustained by home grown, organic food in a city of over 4 million people. I've lived (happily) for over the last 3 years, basically car free, getting from place to place by biking, walking or public transiting. I've discovered the immense value of a regular meditation practice for myself...(to name a few).
As a result of these shifts in my life, my experience of living is much less stressful, and way more aware. I found this type of lifestyle to be relatively easy to maintain in Melbourne. However, now that I'm back in the states, I am eager to find the places in *this* country where this similar kind of lifestyle exists.
So, I've decided to go on a self organized, self titled: "Beyond Sustainability Bicycle Tour of North America"...
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I've spoken with some of you already about these plans, and here are some questions I've received about this journey thus far:
I know that you made this term up, but what is a "Beyond Sustainability Bicycle Tour"? What does that mean?
As stated above, in the last three years, I've watched and interacted with people who have made the choice to and are living healthy, fulfilled, enriched lives, consuming few resources and who have come up with with creative ways to live outside the box. I've been greatly inspired by these people and want to challenge myself to live outside of my own comfortable box and test my limits. So, I will be traveling as much as possible by sustainable means (ie. absolutely no air travel) and living primarily off of what I bring with me on my bicycle. I anticipate this journey will also push me to many of my own physical, mental and emotional limits, and nudge me to go even a bit further. Through this process, I hope to discover how to live healthily within these limits, and then go beyond them, without depleting my own resources. I'm looking for new ways to live in all senses, not just sustainably, but regeneratively.Where are you starting, and when? And then where are you headed from there?
I'll be leaving Chicago on Saturday, 24 July, with all of my gear, and heading out to Colorado with a couple of good friends for a few days. From there, my actual bike journey will begin with an organized ride facilitated by Common Circle Education
, starting on 31 July.
At the moment (and this is subject to change, at *any* moment) my rough (very rough) plan is to head north, following the tour in Eugene, and travel up through Washington and perhaps a bit into Canada. Then, as the seasons get chillier, head south, to southern California, and possibly even Mexico! I plan to visit many friends, family, farms, eco-villages and communities along the way. (If you have any ideas of places I can't miss, or people I should definitely meet, please let me know! I'm *very* open to suggestions!)How long will you stay in any one area?
I have no idea. Maybe I'll find some place along the way, just two months in that really fits and decide my mobile journey has come to an end for the time being. Maybe I'll be on the road for an entire year. Who knows what will happen? That's what the discovery is about! I *do* very much intend to post details about when and where I'm at and when and where I'm moving to, when I do.How are you getting from place to place?
By way of a combination of biking, hiking, train, bus and car travel. (And maybe a ferry or two here or there if I need to get to any islands, such as: Orcas Island
or Vancouver Island
) This is not intended as a "strictly bike only" journey, but more to raise awareness for the different modes of transportation we have available to us and the viability of each. And, of course, as a personal challenge for myself.Have you trained for this ride?
Yes and no. I *love* biking. I did a lot of it when I was living in Melbourne (I chose not to have a car there), and have found that, even being back in a big city that is not quite as bike friendly, it is hands down my preferred method of travel. I have been bike, foot and public transit bound for the last few years, but certainly not *every single day* on a bike during those years.
So. Will I be able to keep up with someone who is a seasoned long haul rider who trains for months and months before every ride? Most definitely not. But I don't need to. I've designed this trip to be for me to discover my own limits at my own pace.
The encouraging thing I've learned and heard from talking with many people who have done rides like these in the past (or who are currently *on* one of these rides right now) is that training happens along the way. Starting out slow, respecting my limits and really paying attention to when my body needs a break builds up strength and endurance very quickly.
However, what I *do* plan to do is get my bike loaded up with all of my gear (as soon as I have it all!) and go on as many practice rides as I can before heading out on the 24th of this month. Mostly to get used to how the extra weight balance feels, how fast I can go, what it feels like to turn and stop with 30 - 50lbs of extra weight attached to me...etc.
I'm very excited about this challenge I've laid out for myself, and am sure there will be *many* things to learn along the way.
To me, biking *is* my way of getting around. I'll take a car if I absolutely must, but I really don't enjoy it all that much, and end up feeling regretful most of the time when I'm in one.How long will you be on the move?
As stated above, maybe only 2 months...most likely around a year. It all depends on what I discover and where I am drawn to eventually settle. Aaaand, how quickly my wanderlust and curiosity subsides...which I've found in the past, is pretty much insatiable. So! We'll see!How are you going to fund this?
From personal savings I've built up over the last few years, a generous donation from my former partner, close friend and remarkable person, Zach, (thank you, Zach. I literally could not have done this without you), AND the positive, grounded encouragement from all of you. (Optimistic, supportive currency goes a LONG way...trust me!)What are you going to DO with all of the new found skills, education and information you've gathered in the last few years?
Honestly, at this point, I'm not quite sure. And I'm very much ok with that. I feel like I'm at a point in my life where I've come to a fork in the road and the fork has *many* tines. I've been reveling in and enjoying this place where I can take the time I need to explore all the options, continue my education, build on my new found skills and let it all fall into place when it does. I have *ideas* of what I might like to do in the future (ie. permaculture design consulting and teaching), but I'm not yet at a place where I feel like that can or needs to be decided.Are you going alone?
I am heading out on my own and do hope to get some serious processing time and solace during my rides, but that doesn't mean I don't want company along the way! If I'm riding through your area, or if you'd simply like to join me at any point during this journey, please let me know! I would love it!Do you plan to record this journey in any way?
Yes. I'll definitely be blogging, twittering and GPSmapping as I go. At the very least, I aim to relay my daily travel distances, money spent and inspiring things experienced along the way.Can I contact you while you're on the road?
Yes. I will have my mobile phone with me, and it will work wherever there is cell phone reception. However, in order to conserve battery life and minutes (as I'll likely switch to a "per usage" plan) my phone may be off for many hours at a time during my rides. I will be using it much less for texting and phone calls and more for emergency use and GPS locating. I will, however, have internet service pretty much the entire time I'll be traveling. So, feel free to email me at this address as often as you'd like!Where are you going to sleep?
Here's where *you* lovely people come in! I plan and hope to stay with friends and family along the way. In places where I don't already know people, I will be camping (with my awesome Hennessy Hammock
!) or hostelling. Also! I am a brand new member of couchsurfing.org
! If you are a member too, and want to become my couch surfin friend and/or "vouch" for me, that would be super fantastic!
(So, all that said, uh...do you mind if I crash on your couch/in your bathtub/out in your backyard when I'm passing through your town?)Why are you doing this?
My experiences in the last few years have unfolded into a significant internal discovery and change process which has lead me to this point. At the risk of sounding a bit cliche, I've truly been inspired to *be* the change I want to see in this world. I feel empowered, grateful, humbled and without fear.
I am doing this to challenge myself, physically, mentally, emotionally and financially. To find new ways of accepting myself and others. To seek out more ways to live with an ever smaller footprint. To educate myself. To discover if there is a physical "place" along the way that calls for me to settle (either temporarily or permanently). To get the space and distance I feel I need to expand and grow. To rediscover and fall in love with America again.
Simply, I LOVE being outside. I feel happy, fresh, creative, connected, joyous, calm, centered and peaceful when I am outside. For much of the time I was in Thailand, there was little visual or actual separation between "inside" and "outside". This is *definitely* my preferred method of living. The less separation there is with our daily lives and the "outside" world, the more we realize we are actually *part* of the natural world, not something other from it.
Additionally, this trip has been partially inspired by these two amazing people who I met while on the farm at Panya: Chris Roach
and Hannah Perkins
. Thank you both for your inspiring stories and reassuring words!Do you have insurance?
Yes. Yes I do. My bodily self will be well covered in the event of emergency or injury.Does your Mother know about this?
Yes. Mom knows. And, while she has expressed some *completely valid and understandable* motherly concerns about this trip, she has also been incredibly supportive. Thank you, Mom. I love you.
And, wherever you are in the world, I wish you well and hope to cross paths with you again soon...or for the very first time!
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Keep up with my movements and progress here: