Wow… Made it to Missoula, Montana. Might not leave… Ever… Or until winter… Whichever comes first.
So I did these “blogs” while I was on the Appalachian Trail and I wouldn’t say typing/writing was something I missed after typing my last blog for the trail. But I just sat down in this perfect backyard (because I just mowed the grass) in beautiful Missoula with my writing tools (Montana Gold whiskey, a corndog from a gas station, and some Townes Van Zandt tunes). And as I started typing… I got chills… I am back. Back in a weird yet perfect way. I’m not walking; I’m on a bike. I’m not going from Georgia to Maine; I’m going from Washington to Florida. But I’m back to where I’m supposed to be… Under this tree in Montana with Snoop the Bassett Hound typing this blog for y’all.
Let’s start with what I’m doing exactly. I’m riding a bicycle over 4,000 miles from Seattle, Washington to Key West, Florida.
A lot of people have been asking me the why, how, what, who, when questions. Here’s the answer: When I got done with the Appalachian Trail, 3 of the guys I finished with and I were asking each other “what’s next?” We decided on a cross-country bike adventure. So I got to work coming up with various routes and distances. At the bottom of the list was the craziest one I could come up with in the continental USA… Seattle to Key West. Over 4,000 miles. The guys responded to the list by saying “all or nothing.”
So then I did a good bit of research and came up with a more detailed route. First, I drew a straight line from Seattle to Key West. Then picked out cool cities, national parks, rivers, and various other things within 300 miles or so of the straight line. Then it was just a connect the dots game all the way to Key West.
So the plan was set. Next was getting people. We started with 4. Three guys I finished the Appalachian Trail with and myself: Strider Michigan, Boo Boo and me, T-Funk. Then we each rounded up a friend: Squeeze, Raw Dog, Mama, and
Breezy. Oh and your probably wondering what’s up with the ridiculous names… It’s a little trail tradition we brought over to this trip. Think of it as an alter ego…
And then I guess the final question is “why”… Why not?
So let’s get straight into my absolute favorite part of this adventure… The people.
Boo Boo: I met Boo Boo the first day I was on the Appalachian Trail. I finished it with him too. He’s from Chicago and got his name for bumming things at the beginning of the trail.
Raw Dog: My friend and band mate from home. We have an easy work schedule being musicians… We can take 5 months off. Got his name for eating ramen noodles and instant mashed potatoes uncooked or “raw.”
Breezy: From Michigan but has lived all over. Ski bum all over Colorado with a Southern Cali mindset. Got his name for being easy like the breeze…
Mama: Girl of the crew. Awesome chick from SoCal. Got her name for her ability to keep 7 crazy guys in line. Don’t know what we do without her.
Strider: Got his name for his superpower of hiking fast while we were on the trail. From Cleveland, Ohio. Loves Buckeyes, Hates Lebrons. Can put the best singers to shame with his golden pipes.
Squeeze: Hiked the trail the year before we did. From Chicago. Runs on everything that is peace, love, and happiness. If everyone in world had this kid’s mindset it would be a better place.
Michigan: My partner in crime. From… well I guess that’s obvious. If anyone has the gift of gab, it’s this guy. Realized he was a southerner at heart while we were on the trail. Can’t wait to get him to the Alabama leg of this adventure.
T-Funk: Me. Alabama. Adventures. Music. Life. Got my name for listening to a lot of P-Funk on the trail. My name being Tyler scored me T-Funk.
So now for y’all’s favorite part of these blogs: Stories, tidbits, and randomness.
At the Las Vegas Airport, Subway $5 foot longs run you $11.
Raw dog and I landed in the Seattle airport at 11pm with no plans. By the time we unpacked our bikes and put them together in baggage claim (very funny sight) it was after midnight. I somehow forgot to pack what is arguably the smallest yet most important part of a bicycle… the small piece of metal that holds on the front wheel. Raw Dog didn’t have his trailer to carry his gear yet. So there we are stumbling out of the Seattle airport in the early morning with bikes that are unrideable, gear under all four of our arms, looking for the closest public park to illegally sleep in for the night… and that is just what we did. In the morning the local homeless guy woke is up informing us that we could get out of the cold and go sleep in the Jack In The Box across the road.
First day, after meeting up with the rest of the crew, 30 minutes into riding, we lose Raw Dog. No phone to get a hold of us. Magically appears where we were staying 8 hours later that night.
4th of July fireworks in Seattle with the whole group for the first time… Epic.
So we have a little band going out here. Our name is Bangdadangda and consist of Strider, Raw Dog, and I. Strider: acoustic guitar, lead vocals. Raw Dog: acoustic guitar, vocals. Me: baritone ukulele, tambourine, maracas, and kazoo. We are street performing for funds. Our first day street performing was in Bothel, WA… we made $1… our second day street performing was in Leavenworth, WA… we made $40. At this rate Bangdadangda will be bigger than The Beatles…
Our route from Seattle, WA to Sandpoint, Idaho was stay on Highway 2. Instantly all we heard from locals is “why in the world would you take 2??!? You have to go up Stevens Pass and that’s the Death Highway!” Well I’m proud to say we are all still kickin’.
Lost Raw Dog again…
First bike wreck of the crew was due to a bug flying into Squeeze’s eye.
Met this lady in Washington with a pet baby kangaroo. Had a pouch for it and everything.
Had my first personal wreck… Very dramatic… Stopped at a traffic light, I didn’t get my foot out of my pedal in time and proceeded to slowly fall to the hot pavement while laughs came from multiple open car windows.
Pretty sure I was in a prank TV show. As I got onto an elevator in the Spokane public library, a voice begun speaking to me through the elevator speakers asking me if I “liked the way his poo poo smelled.”
Best and worst camping spot so far: Wal-Mart. We were having a hard time finding somewhere to sleep in Spokane, WA when we came up on a Wal Mart. Due to my life rambling I knew that it was company policy that people are allowed to sleep in the parking lot in their car. As soon as I brought this to the group’s attention, the bright idea was to sleep in the grass in the back of parking lot. After getting upper management on the horn about making this happen, there we were… camping at Wal Mart… in all it’s neon glory. So that is the “best” part… Worst: sprinklers began their reign of terror upon as at the stoke of midnight…
I have heard “Sweet Home Alabama” a total of 8 times by local bands since I have been out here… ?
As I’m playing around with an acoustic bass guitar at a pawn shop in Newport, WA, I get a phone call from Michigan informing me that he “found home” for the night. He told me to go a quarter-mile down Hwy 2 and then follow the music. Following these directions, I pulled up to motorcycle rally at the local bowling ally… So of course we spent the entire weekend there. Drag races, wet t-shirt contest, and leather jacket vendors… Fit right in.
While on the highway, Michigan saw first hand, a guy on a motorcycle slam into a moose in the middle of the road and fly over the handlebars… I didn’t believe him at first.
Breezy is our group’s mechanical bull riding champion.
Wildlife spotting update: 2 bald eagles, 3 deer, 1 bear, 1 trillion mosquitoes.
One night we all slept in this very small town’s local park after the approval of the one sheriff in town. The next morning we awoke to a guy telling us to leave because we weren’t cleared to be around young kids… Nothing like waking up under a picnic table while being accused of being a potential sexual predator.
Well that’s about it for now ladies and gentleman. Stay tuned for the next blog and more pictures. Until next time… Life: Live it. Get out there. You create your own adventures. Big or small. Love y’all.