I decided to publish a post I wrote on our family adventure site. It was the day that we officially made it across the country by bike. I edited very little of it. You can read about the entire journey at fourtheroad.com. I hope it inspires you to go further and climb higher.
So what’s it like to cross the country with a family on bikes?
Don’t be so impatient, I’ll get to that.
We have some other things we must get to first. We have some thanks to offer up. We have the pedaling to the beach to cover. We have some people to share with you. In due time, friends.
In due time.
A hero of mine is named Gil Wagner. He is an adventuring extraordinaire. He is the guy who comes up with brilliant ideas and then has you believing that they were really yours all along. If our trip ended in Florida after meeting Gil, it would have been successful. He offered advice and encouragement early and often. I felt his hand upon my shoulder the entire way. Gil was the first person I called after dipping my tires. When I called Gil he was recuperating from knee surgery. He said that the hospital staff calls it rehab, but Gil calls it training for his bike trip in Europe this summer. My man.
If I wrote a few lines about each person and family that has touched us, it would take several hours. Instead, I will write the names and you can find them in previous posts to see how they impacted us.
Gil Wagner, Ed and Sharon Barger (and their friend Jim), JT Hopkins and Family, Tom, Edye, Bernie and Barbara Walker, Jeff and John, Jeff Ellis (our first awesome host), Linda (Greenville), several churches…several pastors, Pastor Jon in Pearlington, Howard Johnson’s of Fredericksburg, The Burleigh Family, Janet and Paulus, Eric and Yvonne and Family, Roy and Darlene, Terry Brown, The Weis Family, Officer Ken Ortego, the staff at the Chevron in San Simone, Chrysa, Carol Montgomery, Shannon Federoff and Family, John Eyeberg, Raymundo Gomez, Crazy Cat Cyclery in El Paso, Aaron and Bre, Tevin, Mash and Robert, Dane, Dodie and Mike Marrufo and Family, Karmel, Konnie, Mobile Bay Ferry Captain and Crew, Ron Iverson in Benson, AZ, Sybelle and Arnold, Bernadette in Benson, AZ, Lucy Adair, the Yuma Sun, the Valley View, Johnson City Paper, the newest Indian Reservation (Akela Flats), Jackson’s Hide-A-Way RV Park, Virgil and Susan. We will add to the list as we recollect.
We left the Quality Inn in El Cajon after filling up on the complimentary breakfast. We had piled in a good amount of pizza the previous night, but manged to take in some carbs just the same.
Before getting out of the parking lot, we were all standing on our pedals trying to make it up the hill. Then, the climbing got worse. Several people had told us that it was all downhill to the beach once we came over the mountains. Some even said that it was 30 plus miles of downhill. San Diego is basically in the mountains. We can only guess that they hadn’t ever been there (at least not on bike). Or, there had to be a secret road, that was hidden from us and Google. The ‘easy road’. Either way, the ups and downs didn’t much bother us. We have sort of become programmed to pedal in spite of terrain. Besides this was ‘our day’ and we only had 17 miles or so to our DESTINATION. We could have done that if it was all uphill.
Thankfully, it wasn’t.
We were stopped along the road and did a video with a woman named Eutha. Eutha is the only female survivor on her side of the family courtesy of Breast Cancer. We had a pleasant conversation on the road with her and were even offered a place to stay if we needed.
After pedaling on a few miles, we spotted a barber shop that was calling out to Luke and I. Well, at least me. But hey, Luke didn’t shed too many tears as he was being sheared.
The barbers were Vietnamese. The one that cut my hair was a bit older. He was leaving for Vietnam in a couple of days. He told me that for the last 21 years he had been traveling for about 3 months out of each year. He has been all over. He wasn’t sure how long he would be alive or healthy, so he was taking advantage of now.
Seems about right.
We could have stopped at another barber shop and heard something different altogether, but it was this one we stopped at. We got to hear his story. That sounds about right also.
The barbers mentioned an excellent Vietnamese Restaurant about two miles up the road. Can you blame us for being hungry? We had pedaled 6 miles already.
On the way into the restaurant we spoke with a woman who then invited us to dinner. We had the coast calling, so we took a raincheck until later in the week. We went in and ate.
The waitstaff was attentive and friendly. The food was amazing. The name of the place is Pho Ca dao if you are ever near El Cajon. 5223 El Cajon Blvd. After eating we had to knock out some fast pedaling in order to make it to the ferry to cross onto Coronado Island.
We had been put up for the night at the Marriott on Coronado Island by Karmel (and family). She had offered to put us up on the beach when we got there to dip our tires. After our long journey it seemed a perfect ending to honor her by dipping our tires where she chose.
We pedaled through the famed Balboa Park swiftly. We had a couple of stretches that were downhill for a block or more (could this be the famous downhill???).
We made it to the ferry with a few minutes to spare. We talked to several folks who had questions for us about our trip as we waited. The ferry came and we loaded our gear onto it.
We arrived at Coronado Island about an hour before sunset. It was a couple of miles to get to the beach on the other side of the island. We were meeting Karmel’s best friend Konnie on the beach for ‘the dipping’.
We got to the beach and took the handicap ramp to get our bikes and gear down. A sidewalk led us a block closer before ending, leaving us to drag our bikes and gear through the sand. It had been nearly 3 months since we had dragged our bikes through the sand in Jacksonville Beach and dipped them in the Atlantic Ocean. Luke kept smiling and saying, “We did it”. He also made some hooray type noises. Dakota, Gail, and I were content to gather in the moment mostly in silence. It almost seems like a mystery; how little more than determination could have taken us across the country on our bicycles.
We all took our shoes off and pulled our bikes to the spot the last wave covered, and waited. With the surety of the setting sun, the pattern was copied and our feet and tires got a thorough soaking in the cold Pacific water. Our mission complete.
Bells didn’t ring. Confetti didn’t fall. We took some pictures with Konnie and spoke with her and a few other folks who congratulated us.
We left the beach the same way we came, by dragging our bikes and gear through the sand. Everything was seemingly the same.
Except us. We were different. The confetti and bells are in us. So are the memories.
This journey of ours wouldn’t have been the same if you hadn’t been with us. We want each of you to know that you have good neighbors on your block, we’ve met some of them.
To the Coast…wherever that may be for you.
Good night friends.
I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into our journey and life.
Live it LOUD!