Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Episode 21: A Picture of Thanks

Sitting in a train for 8 hours from Boston, Massachusetts to Latrobe, Pennsylvania, I thought "how could I ever thank all the people that made this trip possible?" Since the U.S. is celebrating Thanksgiving, I thought it only appropriate to acknowledge of all who made this trip possible: through pictures. I've ended up with 1,500 pictures for this trip, might as well put them to good use. Andale, andale! Arriba, arriba!

The Recycle Bicycle Shop- Ellensburg, WA
Mountian High Sports- Ellensburg, WA
Peter White Cycles- Hillsborough, NH
Recreational Equipment Inc.- Seattle, WA
Mountain Equipment Co-op- Vanouver, BC, Canada
Competitive Cyclist- West Valley City, UT
Trailhead Bike Shop- Ludington, MI
Green Mountain Bike- Rochester, VT
Julie, virtual assistant of Amtrak- United States

Birkin Owart's Family, Quincy, WA

Bill Bender- Sagle, ID

Abbot John Klassen, Br. Aelred Senna, & the monks of St. John's Abbey- Collegeville, MN

Doug, Barb, & Gus [the Dog!] Benson & friends

St. Mary's Catholic Church, Fr. George, Kay & company- Port Huron, MI

Nicole (& Diesel) LaChance- Portland, ME

Elijah Blaisdell- Boston, MA

Alex Niu- Cambridge, MA

Tom, Linda, and Tessa Mandras- Nashua, NH

Abbot Mark Cooper, Br. John Paul, Fr. Anselm & the monks of St. Anselm's Abbey- Manchester, NH

Archabbot Douglas Nowicki, Fr. Bonaventure & the monks of St. Vincent's Archabbey- Latrobe, PA

Erik Flaten- Portland, OR

Abbot Neal Roth, Fr. Peter, Br. Aelred & the monks of St. Martin's Abbey- Lacey, WA

Mom, Dad, Jim, & Lolo Lola- Tacoma, WA

Tim & Rose Rosemeier, Samantha, Michael, Vincent, Veronica, David Rosemeier, Minneapolis, MN

Tito Eboy, Tita Ting Ting & Lizares Family, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Mavie & Chris Labayen, Philadelphia, PA

Brendan & Brittany
Reece & Family
Peter & Sam
Josh, Sarah, & Tara

Paul Nelson from Nelson's Hardware TrueValue - Cumberland, WI, left

Wisconsin adventurers, right

 Unfortunately, this list is not complete. My memory is great but not spotless. So to everyone I didn't mention, I remember the good memories we shared. A short speech and a long story could be written for every name, picture and company here. I hope recognition, my prayers, and my friendship has made your life more beautiful. Thank you for making my life so blessed and wonderful. Please keep in touch! In fact, if you send me an email and say hi, I promise I will write back!

Or friend me on Facebook. So from my humble heart, thanks... but also salamat po, danke schön, merci, grazie, gracias, obrigado, السلام عليكم, & 謝謝.

Until next time.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Episode 20: Long Live Lobster

As the title suggests, lobster is the name of the game. But first things first: I MADE IT. 

The first part of my "Coast-to-Coast" Bicycle Pilgrimage is over as of 14 days ago. Technically my bicycle and I went coastal state-to-coastal state since Ellensburg is smack dab in the middle of Washington, but let's not worry about the details. The "bicycle" part is still an option, basically until the weather doesn't allow me to, and the "pilgrimage" is not over as I'm visiting some monasteries this month. Click here and you get (more or less) the route Kyle and I took to Minneapolis, and what I took the rest of the way.

Atop Cadillac Mountain, 1,528 feet above sea level.
Maine: the lobster state. Everyone told me the lobster season was good this year, from Montana to Wisconsin to the local lobsterman in Maine. I arrived in the lovely state of Maine via the western border city of Fryeburg and onto Brunswick, my first official Atlantic coast city, at dusk. At that time I was in the highest spirits of recent memory, after going through tough weather, (rain, wind, snow) and sickness (cold & fever), all going through three sets of mountains in the Appalachians (the Adirondacks, Green Mountains, & White Mountains). I ended up at the Brunswick and the stayed in Portland after a night on the town with a local. Then went onto Bar Harbor, a piece of cake except for rain and constant kickers of hills that killed my morale. But I made it up to Cadillac Mountain, the highest mountain on the Atlantic Coast, north of Brazil.

So lobster. Crustaceans. This summer they were going for $2/lb.! The cheapest I found was $3.99- still cheaper than anywhere else, even the New Brunswick lobstermen protested for fair prices because of the U.S. surplus driving down market price. Price = cheap. Preparation- they have to be alive before you cook them otherwise their digestive juices end up breaking down the organs, giving off an enzyme and eventually going bad. So wait... I have to kill it to cook it?!

But... Butt...
I stare at it. It moves. I flinch.

"I hate creepy crawlies."

Nicole simply picks it up and hands it to me like it's a play thing.
Tells me, "If you rub it between the eyes, it goes to sleep."

I rub it. It goes limp. Doesn't help my courage one bit.

"You'll put one in?"

"... Ok."

And I am up close and personal to the biggest one I've encountered. I work up the courage to pick it up and get proof via picture.

Cooking lobster. In an apron.
Done. No big deal. I just killed something. Do I have to go to confession for that? Is there such thing as humane killing? It was in a coma when I put it in the boiling water. It came out freshly boiled and looking yummy, not like it did squirming half an hour ago. I ate my lobster, my lobster, with this in mind, thinking how different I would feel if I ordered one from a restaurant and paid three times as much.
Dinner: served.

But as I slowly shucked it up, from bottom side down the middle and same up top, slurping up the juices and slathering butter all over; it's a messy affair really. The fastest way to a man's heart is through his stomach and boy did Maine win my heart.

Dinner: served again.
At the end of it all, I ended up having 5 lobsters in the 6 days I was in Maine, two in Portland, two in Belfast, and another in Trenton just outside of Bar Harbor with a lobsterman and his family. Sure, Acadia National Park, Mt. Cadillac, Catholic mass at a record 38 minutes with music and all, Bath where they're making a super stealth destroyer are great stories, but that'll be for another time... all for the sake of lobster.

Until next time.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Episode 19: The Things I've Learned: Part I

Think of a plan, make a plan, have a plan; but not everything goes according to the plan.

Reflecting on 79 days and counting every single day, I have tried to appreciate the accomplishments, no matter how little. Or the things I have failed to accomplish. Fail and reflect. Accomplish and reflect.

Agua de Vida. I would take a gander that 50% or more do not drink enough of the daily recommended amount of water. Or drink enough caffeine to counteract it.

If it's cold, be active. And wear layers. Stay dry. Have soup, hot tea, coffee, cocoa.

If it's hot, be active. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Enjoy the sun but not too much everything must be taken in moderation to avoid heat exhaustion.

Anger is a reactionary emotion. It can consume and give way to irrational thoughts.

Joy is a reactionary emotion. It can consume and give way to rational and irrational thoughts.

Hospitality can go a long way but don't count on it.

From mooing to cows to meeting people in my spandex, there's always a good story to tell when one stands out from the crowd.

Do not travel facing backwards on the train. We aren't meant to travel backwards.

Until next time.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Episode 18: Fear

In the light of the upcoming commercial holiday, what makes one scared? Scary movies, haunted houses, creepy crawlies, or the dark hallway? I have spent many a night on the road wondering if I'd make it- "what if a gigantic animal decides to feast on me tonight?" "what if I simply freeze to death?" "what happens when I see the bogeyman?" Can't go running to mom and dad's room anymore.

I'm focused on survival: I become suddenly aware of my surroundings, my hearing more acute, and time seems to slow down. How do these instincts tap into our spidey senses and allow us the fortune of being spared from foreseeable peril? Answer: our ancestors. They did the same thing before there were automobiles, firearms, grocery stores, homes with running water, sewage, and electricity. We've all been bred to innately be scared when there is a reason to be.

What I wonder on the road is whether other animals sense fear in others. Growing up learning to be tolerant of house dogs that viciously bark but are instinctively weary of strangers to their patch of land, I have been chased by some who pursue out of play and some I'm not so sure would wag their tail if I were slower. But it's all part of that game of life: survival of the fittest. And I happen to have wheels; take that quadrupeds. Though I have yet to be chased uphill or on gravel. That'd be the end of me.

I came upon a book called Beyond Death's Door by Dr. Maurice Rawlings at a garage sale in Wisconsin. Perfect, because I was getting frantic with what I'd do with my time once I finished my current book. It was written in the late 70's when resuscitation techniques became proven and widespread. Dr. Rawlings discussed his documentation of the patients that were pronounced clinically dead and lived to tell the tale, whether pleasantly good or terrifyingly bad. A simple short read for those interested.

Then we have fear of reasonable things- our parent's wrath when we're little when we do something bad, or what happens if one of our love ones gets hurt, or if we fail. Those fears transform us into respecting our elders, respecting nature, and respecting failure. Respect is an essential part of life and why we are largely afraid of things. Or should I say the end goal is to develop respect for what we fear: God, nature, death, life. Which, by the way, is the origin of the term Halloween- All Hallows Eve/All Soul's Day, although it has Irish and Scottish pagan roots. It's a holy day of obligation for you Catholics out there (go to church!).

In other news, this is my 61st day of my bicycle trip, entering New Hampshire, typing this post in a cozy Bed & Breakfast:

Donna & John Andersen
Breakfast on the Connecticut
651 River Road
Lyme, NH 03768

I'll be staying in Lincoln tonight and arrival to Bar Harbor, ME will be Thursday. Some numbers for y'all:
Days: 61
States: 10
Days of Sun: 50
Days of Rain: 10
Days of Snow: 1
Days of Sickness: 4
Rest Days: 23
Mountain Passes: 3
Hikes: 4
Miles travelled: around 4,000
Miles by-
Bike: a lot
Train: 1,400
Car: 120
Days in Tent: 40
Days under Roof: 21
Showers: 28
Laundry: 12
Flat tires: 0
Ounces of gas consumed: 38
Calories burned: 250,000
Books read: 5
Days with Monks: 6
Days with Family: 12

Until next time.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Bicycle Banter: Aromas

These are the aromas of Ontario
Young tomatoes by the truckload all over the road dodged and smashed but plump and full of seed and juice.
Dehydrating burning tobacco kilns sending their pungent pervasive aroma easterly
Monsterly peppers hanging and laying on the fertile soil deceiving the eye but seizing the tongue
Brown cows black cows spotted brown and black cows signalled by lingering manure and hay grazing and perplexed by mammals mooing must be another cow they say
The faint charcoal BBQ smoke of suburban invisible families enjoying food and drink on the land while I move along the land
These are the aromas of Ontario.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Episode 17: Twitter 101

Before you do anything else, follow these instructions:

A) SMS "follow @across2worlds" to 40404 (Twitter),


B) Go to Twitter, sign up and follow me.

If you've been living under a rock the past 6 years, or one social-media website is enough, I give you Twitter. Not actually giving you, but educating you with the facts. Twitter is a micro-blogging service to tell the world what you're up to in 140 characters. You can follow famous people like the U.S. president (@barackobama) or your favorite actor/actress (@tomhanks/@zooeydeschanel). And find trending topics classified under hashtags (#monasticpilgrimage) to classify what's happening in the world. Yes I am simply using you to increase my followership.

If you kept on reading to this second paragraph and haven't followed me already, shame on you; you must have been one of those problem children in school. Just kidding, I still love you. Many people have been asking where I am at exactly this moment (Shawano, WI) and where I'll be the next few days so Twitter becomes better than Facebook because, unlike Facebook, you can follow and unfollow whomever you please and is more social-media acceptable than a Facebook unfriend. *gasp* If I indeed unfriended you on Facebook, it's because we haven't talked in years. I'm sorry and you're welcome to friend me again. I simply don't need 1,200 friends.

After this simple passive-committal step, you'll be able to get up-to-the-minute report of everything (via SMS, mobile app, and stationary app) that I don't post on Facebook or this blog. It's like one of those stalking relationships where you look at pictures of your 1st grade elementary crush. Yes, I just admitted that publicly... but this is rather useful information, like where to eat if you happen to be in Shawano, Wisconsin.

Woo. Completely transparent. Like Lance Armstrong, who for the record, passed every in-competition test. A winner in my book, not some sports politics on who has jurisdiction in deciding his fate. Doped up or not, he still won the Tour de France 7 times among others. He bested Miguel Indurain at the 1993 World Championship before cancer, the 5-time winner of the TdF and physiologically better than Armstrong with a resting heart rate of 29 compared to 33, and a VO2 max of 88 ml/kg/min compared to 84. And he survived cancer treatment. How many people do you know do that and accomplish more thereafter? Food for thought.

Last but not least, the two people I miss at the moment:
Cousin David and Kyle
Until next time.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Bicycle Banter: Numbers, Maps, and Things

For the rest of my tour route, click here. If you are remotely (~25 miles) close to this route and would like to provide your front yard, please contact me at Thanks!

Some numbers so far for y'all:

Days: 32
States: 7
Miles by bike: 1,200
Miles by train: 1,200
Miles by car: 100
Days of sun: 30
Days of rain: 1
Days of snow: 0
Mountain passes: 3
Hikes: 4
Average daily mileage by bike: 62
Average speed (mph) by bike: 12
Showers: 16
Laundry: 8
Flat tires: 0
Ounces of white gas consumed: 28
Calories burned: 160,000
Days with monks: 5
Days with family: 9
Bears: 3
Bald Eagles: 2
Animal noises I've learned to make: 4
AND a picture, for kicks- Gus the touring cyclist, and Gus the dog:
Until next time.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Episode 16: The Rising Sun

Kootenai Falls
We approach West Glacier in the late afternoon via treacherous highway 2. Some clouds with mild weather. We eat at the taco truck by the name of "The Wandering Gringo" and it doest indeed wander- south to Arizona (maybe that's why their tacos are darn good). The Apgar Village is recommended to us by bicycle path located at the mouth of Lake MacDonald. Canadians are our neighbors and share original Coors (the good kind, and stuff that can't be had in Canada) and good stories up to the night.

A highlight, if not the crowning jewel of the Northern Tier of the Adventure Cycling Association route is Glacier National Park. The look people get when one mentions Glacier, something happens- they swoon, or their eyes focus into the distance, or become animated, telling you the best hike to a lake or pass they've been to. It has become, for some, a place to be one with nature, become a place to go to for spiritual enrichment, become a place to be awed, inspired, fulfilled, and nourished. So I thought, "ok nature, show me: do your best."

The Highway to the Rising Sun. Sounds epic. Going-to-the-sun highway is the actual name but it doesn't roll of the tongue quite well.We set off by eight o'clock on a freezing morning. They close the only road that goes through the park to cyclists because it's a two lane road that has practically no shoulder when two-wheeled velocipedes carrying person and pack would certainly be secondary to motorists because of the view. A picture is worth a thousand words? Well, these will be the grandest thousand for a while:

The ascent took 4 hours (for me) to get to the top. We took pictures and did the tourist thing at Logan Pass, located at 6,646 feet above sea level. After descending into Rising Sun to set up camp, we met with Graham, an old high school buddy who tours people around St. Mary Lake, the second largest lake in Glacier to Lake Macdonald. The next day we spend lunch at Piegan Pass after getting to St. Mary Lake, a 4.5 mile hike that ascends 1,750 feet higher while a little creature's curiosity nagged our picnic of chili and rice.

After spending a week in Minneapolis, Kyle got a call for a potential job offer and had to head home. He made it to Washington by train safely and wish him well in the real world. So I'm on my own starting tomorrow, heading into Wisconsin in anticipation for the Great Lakes. I'll miss you Kyle. The one thing I've learned is that it's the journey that matters, not the destination. And so part two of the journey starts tomorrow.

Until next time.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Bicycle Banter: Travel

We travel day by bicycle.
Drink, eat, bike. Drink, eat, bike.
Drink, eat, sleep.

We travel afternoon by train,
plains running slower than the power lines.
The lounge car with people perusing-
city folk, farm folk, Omish folk, mountain folk.

We travel evening by train,
all wandering folk, all to leave a place to get to a place-
Glacier, The Oil Boom, Fargo for farewell,
Mom at the hospital, St. John's.

We travel morning by train.
The rising sun calls for listening with the heart,
a stranger pouring his life into my story.

I travel day by car, with monks.
Pray, eat, work. Pray, eat, work.
Pray, eat, sleep.

I travel day by foot.
Alone with God.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Episode 15: Just Do It

Sorry Nike, I'm stealing this for the day. People say things they want to do. Less people act upon what they say. What started out as a dream is about to become reality. I'm leaving to go on a journey, physical, spiritual and everything in between. So I'm acting upon what I said months ago. To get up and decide to do it was the easy part. To pray and discern if God wants me to is less easy. To actually walk out the front door with my life on a bike is the hard part.

My buddy Kyle and I are biking across the Northern Tier of United States of America, the place I've called home for most of my life. From Ellensburg, Washington to Bar Harbor, Maine. 11 states, 2 territories, 4,200 miles, 6,000 calories a day. Glacier National Park, The Great Lakes, Niagara Falls, the Appalachian Hills. And why you might ask? For the adventure of course, not for the attention. Not for a charity or for academic research; for a change of scenery, meeting new locals everyday, and eating food of the area. 

I have noticed that the people who inspire me, the ones I've met and read (and able to learn from) function on a higher sphere than most. They go out and... Just do it. They seemingly contribute to society effortlessly. They listen. They teach. They write poetry and compose music. They eat, pray, and love. So I go searching out there in the world and inside myself, and in people for something intangible, something more than money can buy. Maybe we'll find a paradise no one else has found.

This summer I have sold, auctioned, and given away all my possessions, besides my books and tools of trade. Since I've gotten back from Macau, I've earned my bachelor's degree, my wage as a musician, a bike mechanic, and librarian. I'm able to pay the bills, play music, ride the bike, float the river, throw dinner parties, go to dance parties. I've made new friends and gotten closer to old ones. And farther from some. If I were to impart any wisdom it'd be: if one walks the humble, respectful, just, and rightful path of life, everything works out in the end. People have good hearts and it makes me all warm and fuzzy inside knowing that. By the way, if you'd like to contribute, I'd give you my utter thanks and blessings. I don't think it's tax-deductible but you'd have a special place in my heart.

I write all this envisioning epic Wagner or ethereal Mahler in the background and guffaw at the idea: if a simple person like me would ever receive a drop their genius I'd be thankful. And their blessings for the trip. Thanks music gods. What I'd do to sit down for coffee with Rachmaninov. Or Beethoven. Or Bach. You probably won't hear from me as regularly because I'll be doing my soul-searching. Not google searching. If I have something profound or funny to say I'll tweet something somewhere (@across2worlds), or post some pictures that inspire. Maybe someday I'll write a book about it but as of late, I have nothing to say. 

Godspeed gentlemen. And gentlewomen.

Until next time.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Episode 14: Providence

“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”
― C.S. Lewis 

Chelan Countryside
As most summers, it's filled with sun, friends, little school, and being spontaneous. On the last day of July, after breaking 2,100 views, I started thinking what would readers like yourself like to read about? I doubt the usual what I ate for dinner, family vacations and how awesome the new Batman movie is, but rather something that entertains, a light read, something one could learn and maybe change the course of your decisions and maybe your life. Your personal legend. So here's my life lesson for July: Providence.

Beauty doesn't really get much better than this.
What does one not talk about with new acquaintances? Religion and politics. I don't talk about religion much because of the fact that many people have strong beliefs and opinions toward such things. But I am here to break that. Whether you have been reading this frequently or for the first time, I'm forcing you to read this. Actually, in reality I'm not forcing you to do anything because this is a free country and you can close this window at anytime. It's only to boost my view count. Yes, I'm using you. How about that, Dr. Reverse Psychology?

Antilon Lake, Chelan
In July, I went to Ellensburg, Tacoma, Gig Harbor, Wenatchee, Chelan, and most of the cities in between. Something liberating about that was traveling mostly by bicycle. While the greater distances was through public transportation, I tried my best to ride to my places of destination. And through the graces of good people out there. Like Trader John from Entiat who gave me a 1/2 lb. of cherries because they hadn't opened yet. Thank you.

All Trader John said was "just remember me in your will."
Ambition is addictive. 100 miles to Chelan? That's 10 hours on the bike. Sure. But my body said no. And I thought, "why not see if I can hitch a ride?" So I hitchhiked for the first time. You don't know what you don't know. I met and rode to Chelan with a pleasant fellow by the name of Mark Pilling who lives and works in his truck... that's also a camper, as seen below. He sells and services satellite equipment for TV, VoiP, and internet, which requires him to travel all over the U.S., such as relief services after Hurricane Katrina for which he ended up staying for 7 years. We also had an intelligent discussion on the origin of man and the Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints history. It was as if we were long-time friends reuniting on a road trip.

Thanks Mr. Pilling for the ride and conversation.
Let me tell you a story. About a couple of souls with a wonderful heart. Lindsey, Maddy, and I taught the children of Macau and came back living through the good and the bad, the adventures and the lazy days and came back (speaking for myself) a new man. Ever read The Secret? Neither have I, but what I can tell you about this self-help book is simple: Think the way you want to live. Ever read Paolo Coelho's books? I've read 2.25. The Zahir, The Pilgrimage, and my current read, The Alchemist (thank you Sam). If you're not fond of reading, which would be ironic since you've gotten this far, his weekly blog is an acceptable, financially non-committal, inspiring read.

Lindsey & I
Maddy & I
Quotes from The Pilgrimage, which I admittedly looked up on BrainyQuote because the books are not within reach:

“I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man. Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living now.”

“But if you believe yourself worthy of the thing you fought so hard to get, then you become an instrument of God, you help the Soul of the World, and you understand why you are here.”

“You will never be able to escape from your heart. So it's better to listen to what it has to say.” 

“We are travelers on a cosmic journey,stardust,swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share.This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.”

“There is only one way to learn. It's through action. Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey.”

“It's one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it's another to think that yours is the only path.”

“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”

From The Alchemist

“Still, being fragile creatures, humans always try to hide from themselves the certainty that they will die. They do not see that it is death itself that motivates them to do the best things in their lives. They are afraid to step into the dark, afraid of the unknown, and their only way of conquering that fear is to ignore the fact that their days are numbered. They do not see that with an awareness of death, they would be able to be even more daring, to go much further in their daily conquests, because then they would have nothing to lose- for death itself is inevitable.”

“Have pity on those who are fearful of taking up a pen, or a paintbrush, or an instrument, or a tool because they are afraid that someone has already done so better than they could…”

“We must never stop dreaming. Dreams provide nourishment for the soul, just as a meal does for the body. Many times in our lives we see our dreams shattered and our desires frustrated, but we have to continue dreaming. If we don't, our soul dies, and agape cannot reach it.”

“We always know which is the best road to follow, but we follow only the road that we have become accustomed to.”

Until next time.