Saturday, September 29, 2012

Awaken Africa

Before I started this journey I thought long and hard about how I might raise money for Awaken Africa. I have felt conflicted since many of you donated to another amazing cause a couple years ago on my behalf, so I didn't want to ask again. I am now 1100 miles or third of the way and have realized that its not about me but about all the children that Awaken Africa can and will help. So once again ...I use my adventure to help raise awareness. Imagine this child. A pot of boiling water topples onto her from a stove. Her once pretty little face is barely recognizable, disfigured by third-degree burns. She does not have the luxury of plastic surgery, post-trauma counseling or even the loving care of a family. Imagine the pain, the fear and confusion at so many levels this child would face.

Burns like this are just one of the many tragedies that are common to many African communities, where makeshift stoves, open fires and lack of family supervision are the hallmark of poverty.

The topic of children’s mental and physical health is very important to me because I believe that health is our most amazing privilege and I think that it is our responsibility to cultivate and protect this privilege for the children of the world.

Awaken Africa is dedicated to facilitating healing and growth of children and families from underserved communities in South Africa. The 501c3 organization offers culturally relevant mental health services that treat the psychological traumas resulting from low socioeconomic circumstances, violence and like threatening health conditions. Awaken Africa is committed to raising the psychosocial and emotional well-being of children and families from underserved communities in South Africa thereby cultivating the leaders of the future.

Thank you for your consideration

Friday, September 28, 2012

Mountain Time

We are lounging in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. The sulfur hot springs provide are a nice way to sooth the muscles in preparation for our 140 mile, 8000 feet of ascent, ride into Taos tomorrow.

The hot flat landscape has been replaced by the greener, cooler hills of Colorado. I think that most of us have found our rhythm, and routine thanks to our Trek Guides who make our daily transitions unrecognizable, who are always there to sooth our hunger and thirst, who have our bags waiting for us in the next hotel, who are always smiling...even when we are not. All we have to do is eat, sleep and ride...if we replaced ride with sex we would be like the lion, the king of the jungle. But for now we are just the masters of living.

Red State, Blue State

The NFL was created by a man who considered the state of consciousness of the people of United States. He realized that this was a country of pilgrims who fought for what they wanted and believed. He realized that this country loved a hero, loved the forward movement of its history, and that it loved its story and the successive chapters thereof so far. So he took the the basics of rugby and soccer, the 2 sports not really enjoyed by this new nation and added a quarterback, a forward pass, and the 1st down, just like a chapter where a fan can stop for a second to absorb the big picture.

As we cycle through red and blue states in a presidential election season, we are constantly reminded of the genesis of this country as we know it. Washington represented a self sufficient group of people who wanted a government who would play a minimal roll in the development of this new nation. Just like we needed a new sport we needed a new form of government. And this became the basis of our constitution.

It's now 2012 and we are no longer that people who had nothing, and were ready and willing to band together to build a nation. The nation has been built, and we are enjoying the privilege that this nation offers us. Our consciousness has changed, we take this nations infrastructure for granted, which is fine. But shouldn't we all acknowledge that we are a bit more needy then our forefathers. We depend and need - roads and bridges; cheap gas and public transport; regulation and deregulation and regulation; we need to feel safe and comfortable. We need all these government subsidized perks so that we may sit back and enjoy Monday Night Football

Monday, September 24, 2012

Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon has been forming for 2 Billion years...

And it's as majestic as it is old. It's image for me has always been of a post card destination, loaded with tour buses andhoards of people. The latter is very true. But if one can find a place of solitude and gaze out over this relic of time and perhaps even ponder its existence, then the anxiety of falling into a tourist trap quickly fades.

To put it into perspective, if the first human looked out over this canyon, they would see pretty much the same thing we see today. Our existence is a speck in the big picture. It's an important reminder not to take things too seriously... Cause our things are just a speck in the big picture.

After a rest day at the Grand Canyon the group had a beautiful, wind aided cycle into the Navajo Nation, where we will spend tonight in Tuba City.

The picture below is like most pictures in that people who look at it have a very different experience to the photographer. This picture stood out for me in this case. I was sitting quietly on the edge taking in the grand canyon, when this big crow hopped along the edge and when it got to about 2 feet from me it stopped looked up(so I iPhoned it) at me and then hopped along to the next ledge. Someone once told me the crow was my animal I'm a believer.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Getting your kicks on Route 66

Lunch today was in Peach Springs, a small town in the Hualapai Indian Reservation. As we ate a local resident wandered over and stuck up some casual conversation leading into a request for some water and then some spare change. The water was apparently needed because he had a bit of a hangover. He went on to say that he doesn't drink much but last night he had a 20oz'er before bed. I thought to myself, that a nice big beer like that may make me sleep well I doubt it would induce a hangover. That teaches me to assume, since it was 20oz of whiskey...

The roads in the reservation were resurfaced with the nice gritty tar and there wasnt a bar of cell phone service. Admittedly I probably don't understand the big picture, but at face value I had some third world déjà vu. Sort of a weird feeling in the middle of the U.S.

A couple of kids walking along the road further engaged my philosophical thinking. Society tends to look at underprivileged or traumatized children with eye of pity, or perhaps even the need to adopt or help, or just see the good in them. Those children grow up like we all do, with personalities moulded by survival and fear. When we encounter adults who annoy us, or who seem to be not nice, or who scare do we perceive that person? Those people are the same people they were as children. Why do we stop seeing regarding them with pity, why do we stop looking for the good in them?

We are heading west along route 66 and based on the media coverage over the past few years I've been expecting so see droves of homeless people heading west in their 5 year old minivans. All I've seen are miles of freight trains with China written on the containers, 2012 minivans heading east, and people using iPhones. The only place that appears to be in a recession is Peach Springs, but I'm guessing that has looked that way for since Chester Arthur was president.

The desert is getting greener and bushes a little higher. Besides wild Burros, the only signs of wildlife as we speed by on these hot days is a wild boar, bobcat and owl...roadkill. Which happens to be the name of the restaurant we are dining at tonight.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Havasu, Arizona

One of the joys of daily long distance riding cycling is the ritual of rubbing cold anti-rub cream on your cycling shorts and pulling them on first thing in the morning.

But the payoff is arriving in amazing places like Lake Havasu...home of a London Bridge. In the 60's Havasu purchased a bridge from London, England for a couple million bucks and here it stands today in all it's glory. Who'd know we are in a red state...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Heist

Picture a movie where there is a split screen. On the left there are a couple of cops at the LA airport scratching their heads as to the whereabouts of the coffin that was just reported missing. On the right you see a couple of guys with long hair tearing up the I10 towards Joshua Tree in a rented hearse. In that coffin 30 years ago was the musician Gram Parsons who overdosed at the Joshua Tree Inn. His father wanted his body back in New Orleans for burial. But his friends new he wanted his ashes spread around the hills of Joshua Tree National Park. They made it to the chosen hill, doused the coffin with gas and lit it on fire before having to run from authorities, who eventually caught them. They were fined $750 for stealing the coffin. Body theft was not against the law then. Parsons charred body made it back to Louisiana.Last night we stayed a few miles down the road from where Parsons enjoyed his last days in this small oasis town in the middle of the Desert.Parsons life and death is not what put this area on the map. And neither did the   mormon settlers when they named the plant formally known as Yucca, the Joshua Tree, because it's branches reminded them of the biblical Joshua raising his hands to the sky.  Bono, brought a subtle world wide attention to this area when, knowing why the tree was named so, thought it would be the perfect name for an album exploring the boundaries of American Culture.The Mojave desert is just about in our helmet mirrors, as we shack up for the night in Parker, Arizona on the east bank of the Colorado river. The Mojave desert is harsh beauty.  The road disappears into the end of the earth, the mountains with their ragged edges stand their ground against the nothingness, of earth, and pre-tumbleweed. And the stillness is owned by the sun, which keeps the air at 100 degrees but kicks the road and rocks to about 120 degrees...the latter becomes the ambient temperature for a cyclist.  But nothing an efficient pace line and frequent water and goodie stops catered by our very efficient guides, can't handle.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Coast to Coast

"Pay attention Timothy"...I don't know how many times I heard that growing up. Subtle advice,  that never really seemed to sink in. Today was day one of cycle across America. A 80 mile spin from a nice 70 degree hotel across the street from the Pacific in Santa Barbara, to a dry 100 degree Valencia. The word on the street is that dry is the best kind of heat...Im reminded to day that dry heat, is the dryest kind of heat. As I cycled along today the concept of paying attention festered in my thoughts. All I could think about was the end of the ride, or why I signed up for this in the first place or if i remembered to pay my health insurance...rather then paying attention to the beauty of the Santa Ynez mountains or just listening my own breath and body. It reminded me how we continuously strive to get to the end of things. The end of a project, the end of the month to be paid, the end of the time before a vacation, the end of a run, the end of discomfort, the end of comfort(cause we know it's coming). And if you add all these up, it adds up to the end of life. We strive to get to the end of life. As I cycle across the U.S. my mantra is to examine paying attention and understanding the big picture rather then dwelling on or fretting the smaller stuff. There are 20 something of us. And it's just the beginning. And that's all that matters.