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Rollin' on Home
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Home sweet home! I’m finally rollin’ in the states! I had been dreaming of the day that I finally would land on US soil and here I was finally living it. Canada was the perfect final international destination and I boarded my ferry from Victoria to Seattle elated with warm, yummy feelings of gratitude, joy and optimism. I was greeted in Seattle by a fraternity brother Kris Moore from USC who I had not seen in nearly 15 years. Kris had been following the ride since we started so he was just as excited to host me as I was to reconnect with him.
Kris and Stacie were super gracious hosts and I was styled out with my own room, lovely meals, deep conversations, a fun walk around their neighborhood and time to connect with their 1 year old daughter Sienna who I just adored. Kris gave me a whole day of his time to take me around Seattle, rebuild my hub, fix up the bike and reconnect. It was the perfect reentry into USA. I did have a few emotional hiccups but they luckily faded fast.
Ya see, while I was out globetrotting Kris was working on his career at Microsoft, got married to a lovely wife Stacie, bought a beautiful home and had a baby girl Sienna. I had tried to prepare myself mentally for the confused feelings I might experience as I reentered civilization and wondered for a few moments if I made the right decision. Heck, here I was with a tent as a home, a bike as my primary vehicle and not much more to show materially. I have a delicious baby boy but no house to put him in just yet. But after the initial shock wore off and Kris and I had some time to reconnect, I was once again grateful for my decision to dedicate the last decade of my life to connecting with our planet and its people and enjoying pure freedom before I happily took on the responsibilities of providing for a family. Our final conclusion was that there’s plenty of time to make money and the experiences I’ve had I would not change for any amount of money in the world.
I was hoping to be able to ride with either Kris or another bro Noel but both of them had work commitments. So I was just as happy begin my 200 mile journey to Portland solo. A part of me really wanted some long hours behind the handlebars to reconnect with myself, get grounded and enjoy once again this passion for cycling that was beginning to fade due to me always working so hard with the cameras and production. In fact, I really wanted to hammer (aka, push myself really hard) so I decided to do the 200+ mile trip in just 2.5 days of riding—quite a feat with a 200+ pound bike. I was excited for the challenge.
I rolled out solo from Portland heading south, Ipod crankin’, mostly sunny skies and life was good. The first day I rocked out about 50 miles of rolling roads out of the city, into the burbs and outside of Tacoma. The highlight of the day was certainly the campsite I found right on a lake in a county park that was to die for with birds in every direction and magical fall colors. The evening was well below freezing as fall was n the air, but I got a great sleep and was up at the crack of dawn for a long day in the saddle.
On day two the scenery got better and better as I left the industrial areas of Tacoma and Seattle behind and dove into the guts of the state. There was not a guest rider in site for the first 50 miles but finally I found a greasy cat named Gary hitching on the road. He was grateful for the ride as his car just broke down, which was just part of a long string of bad luck for the guy including losing his job, both parents and his best friend this year. We only rode about 10 miles but Gary’s last words were “you made my day, thanks a million” reminded me of why I love riding this way.
But for the most part this leg of the journey presented itself as an internal, meditative ride. It was turning out to be nothing of what I expected. I found myself just wanting to just be by myself and ended up riding the next 70 miles in a blissful state, enjoying my favorite music and pastime of cycling without having to think too much about, well, anything. It was a gift to myself to just be rather than document every 30 minutes something on the journey.
As I was searching for a campsite on night two I met a Mexican man Alfonso and his family. Once they heard about the trip they invited me in for dinner and eventually for a hot shower. I slept in their back yard on some flat land behind their house for my tent. Neither Alfonso senior or junior could get out of work the next day so I began the long day 3 journey to Portland at 5.00 AM in pitch black accompanied only by endless sparkling stars. By the time 6.30 rolled around I got a message from a fellow world traveling cyclist Tad Beckwith from Portland who was planning to take the day off and ride with me from the Longview in Washington to Portland, Oregon. Stoked!
Tad and I share a connection that goes back to 1999 when Tad started his own ride for peace called Peace Bike (www.peacebike.org). He found us in 2002 on the net just after he finished his 20 country tour when Garryck and I were just kicking off. For over 8 years we’ve been waiting to meet up and do some riding so we were both super excited to finally connect. We spent the afternoon rockin’ the roads to Portland with perfect blue skies and extra warm temperatures, chatting away about every topic imaginable. I felt blessed, peaceful, fully alive.
Tad was a pleasure to spend time with and I was excited to have him as my host for the next several days of my Oregon adventures. I was treated like one of the family and after a blissful sunset arrival into Portland we rolled into their lovely home where Alanna had a home cooked meal ready for two hungry boys. I spent the next few days resting my sore legs, having nice chats, taking a spin on an electric assist bike by Tad’s company EcoSpeed (www.ecospeed.com), visiting my friend Jenny I met in Zambia at her community farm (www.tryonfarm.org ) and finally making my way downtown to connect with my good friend Willie Wilson who flew in from Spokane, WA to ride to Eugene with me. I do love my life.
Willie and I met in Nicaragua and have been friends for over five years. He’s been watching my ride since we connected and assured me he would come out for a pedal one day. The day finally arrived. He flew in from Washington State where he just happened to be re-entering life in the states after 7 years of living abroad. So we had plenty to talk about. Willie treated us to a pimpin hotel downtown Portland, a much appreciated sushi meal and night on the town that was just what we needed to get the Willie n Binkie giggles rolling for a three day ride to Eugene we both needed.
The warm, sunny weather I had from Seattle to Portland finally faded to cold and rain that night after our Portland shenanigans but luckily Willie had another treat for me in store—a man name John Withers. Turns out that John is my neighbor in Nicaragua where I have a beachfront lot ready to build a surf shack one day. John lives in Vancouver, Washington just north of Portland and he was excited to host us for the night. John, Tee and his amazing adult children took us in like family for an unforgettable night of Mexican enchiladas and chile relleno made from scratch, great conversations, laughs and connections that will likely last a lifetime. After a perfect night sleep we woke up with more rain, but with the forecast calling for clearing in the afternoon and 3 days of sunny pedaling. Nice.
Our Pacific Northwest Mamacita named Tee offered to drive Willie and me to the starting point of the bike route we found on the internet that would allow us to avoid any city driving and start on sweet back roads from just outside Portland all the way to Eugene. The moment we hit the starting point south of Portland the sun peaked out of the clouds and Willie n Binkie were rollin’ along, grinning from ear to ear.
Although we both had lots to share regarding our unique re-entry strategies after so many years away from our home country we did not kill our precious present moments with overanalyzing life. Instead we both opted to just be kids again—get stinky, ride bikes, tell dirty jokes, laugh our asses off, tell stories and watch the gorgeous Oregon countryside roll on by with sunshine and tailwinds. We were both so used to working constantly it was a challenge for us both to just “be”, and to really be on vacation. As for me, I had been filming dozens of hours per country for the last four years and, as far as I was concerned, I was home, my storytelling days were just about done. So we logged three long days in the saddle and the physical exertion without the stress of “work” was just what the doctor ordered for these boys. By the time we rolled into Eugene we were ready for a huge celebratory meal and were committed to stand by each other as we maneuvered our way back into civilization.
Eugene was the end of the line for my Pacific Northwest adventure since I had to make my way via an Amtrak train to California. Although I had a blast riding in my home turf I have to admit that the true highlights of my tour were the video conferences with Luca and Cristina in Spain. My life was changing so fast and this light of my life was leading the way indeed. I rode over to the Burley Trailer company in Eugene and they happily set me up with a top of the line trailer for Luca to join the adventures in California. So I not only traded my Bob cargo trailer for a baby stroller but I now had to quickly trade my cycling clothes in for a tuxedo as my best buddy’s Rich Nason was getting married down in Pasadena. First Jamie having a baby and now Big Rich getting married—my how grown up we are now! My Pacific Northwest ride was over as I had to b-line via Amtrak to California for the wedding then, just a few days later, Cristina and Luca arrived into LAX from Spain after 1.5 months apart. I was pumped to see them!
Cris traveled solo with Luca for over 24 hours but somehow arrived reasonably rested and both of them looked great. The next day we flew to the Bay Area and my cousin Shannon and her lovely daughter Delfina were the first to greet us at the airport. From there it was over to my cousin Tessa and Sean’s place where my camper, bikes, surfboards and expedition equipment were ready for Luca and Cris’ first adventure in California. Before we knew it we were on our way to Fort Bragg via the Crayne residence to start our coastal adventures to San Diego.
Traveling in late October can be a bit risky on the weather front and we ended up driving right into California’s first major storm. It was a cold, wet and windy one so after a few days on the road we opted for warmer and dryer terrain. We had only one taker for the ride, our mutual friend JJ we met in South America, so it was easy to accept the tempting offer to spend a few cozy days with my beloved Barrett family, home of my lovely God Child Kaya. Kaya and I first met eyes in 2003 and I’ve been watching grow up since we kicked off this adventure in 2002-3. Although we really wanted to ride the north coast of the Bay Area it was immediately clear that this is where we were supposed to be.
The “Big Day” was going to be Sunday, October 24th. This was the day we had a group of riders ready to pedal the official “last day” of the Peace Pedalers expedition and cross the Golden Gate Bridge. But God had other plans that I can now look back on and laugh. First, on the night of the 23rd, the eve of the big day, I walked out to my camper after a few glasses of wine and met what I thought was a cute kitty cat. I sent over gentle “Hey, Kitty Kitty” but in return heard a kind of sniffle of sorts. Within a few seconds I noticed the intensely strong smell that brought me back to the days of my dog Brandi—SKUNK!! Yep, got skunked and you had to be there to experience the chaotic events that pursued as I did whatever I could to not stink up the entire house—it was simply a classic moment and the “Hey Kitty Kitty” will be in our memories forever.
Then Sunday rolled around and we were all about to get skunked again. Not only did it rain, but the winds were that gale force horizontal rain, with temperatures just above freezing. One by one we got cancelations from our crew of riders as the morning rolled on. It simply was not safe to ride for anyone so we simply popped some popcorn and cracked some vino and smiled. It did not take long for us to get over it :)
The next day gave way to perfectly sunny skies, perfect for a ride across the bridge. However, it was now Monday. So JJ, Cris, me and lil Luca rolled it solo and sucked in the lovely views, warm sunshine and lovely feelings of finally retiring from Peace Pedaling. I thought I’d feel different but the overall feeling was genuinely joyful. I was and still am happy to switch adventures from solo globetrotting to fatherhood and family adventures. And the first family adventure was now officially underway!
I could write dozens of pages about the next month with my friends and family as we rolled down from San Francisco to San Diego then back to the Bay Area. At first it was going to be a large production called the California Peace Ride but Panasonic had to drop out last minute due to lack of budget. So I scaled it down to an intimate family and fundraising journey down the coast. Now that I’m officially retired from the public Peace Pedaling world I’m leaning more towards living a normal, personal and far more private life. So I won’t write a full on play by play but give you a nice taste of my first adventure with my son Luca, partner Cris, family and friends, fair?
After crossing the bridge we kept our gypsy family adventure machine rolling. We dropped off JJ then rolled over to my best friend and co-founder Garryck Hampton’s place where we would have some dinner and spend the night. From there it was off to the pumpkin patch in Half Moon Bay then Santa Cruz to spend a few days camping and surfing before the official Peace Ride started. We had great weather, waves and lovely moments surfing, cooking, exploring the beaches and enjoying big smiles with Luca n Cris.
The day finally arrived when Mamacita rolled into the Bay Area and we would kick off the adventure. We had our first of four planned fundraising video screenings at the Park Chalet. The turnout was a bit low due to the fact that the Giants were playing a World Series game that very day. But I was stoked to have a luscious handful of friends and family in attendance. We stayed the night with Shannon, Greg and Delfina and the next day we kicked off the ride in a gentle drizzle but with the forecast calling for sunshine later in the day. I was honored do our first day of riding from San Francisco to Half Moon Bay with a delightful crew that included my cousin Shannon, friend Eilish from Canada, Garryck and Lavy, my bro Doug Slezak and several others. By the time we rolled over Devil’s Pass the sun was out and we were rockin’ our way to Half Moon Bay.
I lined up oceanfront camping for the crew and the sunset was simply divine. The vibe was alive on day one of the ride and I could not have bee happier to have my son, mom, Cris, family and friends all together to share this special moment. We spent the evening making smores, sipping beers, eating, laughing and watching the endless stars come out after many days of rain. Now the sun was forecasted to stay out for over a week so that kept me smiling even though many of the riders had to head back the next day. On Halloween Sunday Shannon and I rolled the tandem and Eilish from Canada rolled solo as we made our way to Santa Cruz via Davenport.
In Davenport I had more family and friends join for lunch before we made our last few miles pedaling into Santa Cruz for another fundraiser and screening. Once again the turnout was a bit low due to another game of the World Series going on but we still managed to connect with some folks and raise some money for Good Hope School thanks to the support of Deb, Whole Foods, Bicycle Trip and Seabright Brewery.
After Santa Cruz we took a day off at one of my favorite California state parks, New Brighton. We enjoyed warm sunshine with family and friends followed by the viewing of the Giants winning the World Series at Tessa and Sean’s place in Capitola. The next day the surf was world class so after seeing Eilish off to the bus back to San Francisco I got in the water for some truly world class surfing that took me well into the afternoon.
The consensus from the our team, which now consisted of Mamacita, Luca, Cris and I, was to enjoy the warm sunshine for a few days in one place rather than hopping day by day. So we b-lined it to Big Sur and landed a killer creek-side spot, set up two hammocks, and settled in for three nights of pure bliss. To be in Big Sur with summer weather but without the summer crowds was a dream come true. We were able to do some local rides, catch some epic waves at Andrew Molera, soak in the sun and do plenty of hammock swinging. We were joined once again by my cousin Shannon and daughter Delfina too!
We finally made our way south and I opted for riding my Black Sheep road bike, a titanium speed machine that made the endless hills fly by. The sun changed to thick fog, which made for perfect riding temperatures. It felt good to just ride—no tandem, no cameras, no people, no expectations. Just riding, listening to my music and watching some of the world’s most stunning ocean scenery go by. Life was good. And the fact that I got to look forward to ending each day riding with big hugs and love from Luca, Cris and Mamacita made this adventure my very favorite of my tour.
We rolled our way through San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Malibu where the surfing, cycling, sun-set-watching, beach combing, Luca-sandwich-making, yummy-meal-cooking fun kept us all smiling ear to ear. The expected drama of all of us living and traveling in small space never happened—we were team harmony!
In Malibu I met a cool cat Chris while surfing County Line (love that spot!) and he invited us to his crib overlooking Malibu—epic! From there we drove to meet the newly married Rich and Shue-Ping in Pasadena for another perfect night of family n friends. And before heading into the drastically different terrain of Orange County we camped a few nights at the enchanting Malibu Creek State Park where the mountain biking, deer watching, sunset catching, Luca strolling, smore-making, nap taking good times were in effect.
Huntington Beach was the next destination and I had the company of a fraternity brother from USC Will Martin for the afternoon. It had been many years since we connected and it was great to see him again. The Shorebreak Hotel hosted us as my brother Gino came in from Dallas to meet up with us and connect with his first nephew Luca. Willie Wilson also made his way into town and we rode our way to Corona del Mar for our 3rd fundraising event and screening that turned out to be the most successful. Many thanks to Amanda Goldey and Maram Finnell and the crew at Port bar and restaurant! The only downside of my OC activities was the loss of my surfboards from the roof of the camper—but thanks in advance to the crew at Surftech in Santa Cruz for getting me set back up again and into the water fast!
Willie and I rolled the tandem from Huntington Beach to our last camping spot in South Carlsbad State Beach. The last time we rode together was in Oregon on fat tires with a 200 pound load. I was now on skinny tires with no weight so we were flying like the wind. The highlight of our ride was definitely in San Clemente and it’s a great story. We were riding along the bike path near the train tracks. A train was coming and all the cars were rushing to cross the tracks. The last car was an elderly lady to stopped last minute and panicked. She did not know it but she was on the train tracks and the guard has fallen on the roof of her car. The train was coming in full force and I hopped off the bike, ran across the tracks and screamed at the granny to back up. She came out of her trance, backed up and was just seconds from being a dead granny. I saved a granny’s life that day and it felt great! Willie and I were glowing for the rest of the ride.
Unfortunately the good grannie karma did not come back to me in the way of waves and weather. The swell died down and a mean storm was on the horizon once again for the “big day”—Sunday the 20th of November, the last day of the ride. But I had Shannon and Delfina in from Santa Cruz, Willie in from Washington, Luca and Cris in from Spain and my Mamacita camping right on the ocean so all was good at South Carlsbad State Beach.
Sunday the 20th arrived and so did the biggest storm of the year in San Diego. I’ve buzzed in and out of San Diego for 7 years and never, I mean never, have I seen as cold, nasty and rainy storm as that day. But Willie and I were not going to let some storm slow us down too much, although we had gale force headwinds all day ;). We rolled our way to Ocean Beach in San Diego while passing hundreds of cheering female Breast Cancer walkers also weathering the storm with smiles. We finally arrived at the Ocean Beach hotel with the news crews, newspaper photographers and, most importantly, my friends and family there to greet us as the rain poured down in full on buckets. It was the warmest welcome we could have received on this freezing cold day.
But, like always, just after we arrived and settled in a bit, a HUGE rainbow appeared. Mom always said that there was a rainbow following the Peace Pedalers expedition and clearly she was right. I made it home safely. We canceled our outdoor fundraising party and opted for a warm, cozy restaurant to bring the crew together from all over the state, country and the world. I was in heaven being with so many friends and family.
So that’s that. From there I was able to share our tradition of Thanksgiving with my family with my new family of Luca and Cris—truly unforgettable. We then rolled our way north back to Santa Cruz where we would spend the next almost week looking for my place to live a few hours a day while camping, surfing, cooking, hiking and exploring Santa Cruz. I totally scored on my first day of house searching landing a crib just steps from world class surf with a hot tub, outdoor shower, super cool roommate, big black lab and visiting rights for Luca and Cris anytime—all for a monthly rent that seemed almost too good to be true. Maybe my little Grannie-Saving karma found its way back ;)
My crew in Santa Cruz all fell in love with Cris and Luca and we threw a farewell party their last night in Santa Cruz that was truly magical. That was followed by another farewell party from my crew in Burlingame (thanks Weez!). Then God wanted us to have juuuuuuust one more day together as the Spanish air traffic controllers went on strike so Cris’ plane was canceled! So we hit up San Francisco for a day of sight seeing before I personally escorted Cris n Luca to New York (Thanks mom for the flying benefits!!!) so they could catch their flight to Spain.
As they left tears fell pretty hard. I clearly had grown used to having them a part of my life. As I made my way back to Santa Cruz to start working and living I got another sign from God to enjoy more time with Luca and Cris this year. Turns out I can’t start my work in the studio till January 2011 and my house would not be ready until January as well. So I was homeless and jobless for three weeks. So I decided to check the flights and there just happened to be an open standby flight the next day for a whopping $100. So, poof!, off I went to Spain and this is where I’ll sign off and bid you all Happy Holidays and an amazing 2011!
Speaking of 2011, it’s looking very exciting. I’ve got a super duper MacPro editing system and 42 terabytes of storage holding upwards of 1000 hours of content that’s digitized and ready to dive into. I’ll be heading back to Uganda and Kenya to visit Good Hope School and meet the son of Innocent, the founder, who will be christened on my birthday, February 10th. His name is Jamie! And if that was not enough, the 3rd graduation of Good Hope School students is that day as well. So I just HAD to go. I Kenya Mom and I will be visiting Joseph who we put through school and is ready to graduate as well. Time permitting, I may rock down to Zambia and interview some of the parents of the kids that we saved the lives of with the Malaria medication back in 2007. We’ll be enjoying and, of course, filming some critical follow-up interviews for the documentary film. As of now the plan is to keep moving forward with a documentary film then use that to help get traction to launch a few TV series around the world. The book? My agents says best to wait until the film or TV series comes out and I agree, so this will have to wait :)
So is this the last journal? I don’t know. I think it’s the last one for my adventures of Peace Pedalers as we have known it. I may head out for more adventures but not living for months on end out of plastic bags—unless some network pays for me, Luca, Cris and a crew to come adventure somewhere—then I’d consider it ;) So stay tuned for updates and thanks for listening and reading all these years.
I’d like to especially thank my mom, Mamacita Carol Fabian, for years of hard work and dedication to the project. And all our sponsors for believing in us and supporting this dream—which still is in the process of being fully realized. And to Garryck Hampton who has always been a part of the expedition, whether personally or in spirit. Big love to you all!
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