New country, New Journey, Different Feeling

Just landed in JFK with a 9 hour layover then, I fly to Ghana.

Here’s to another adventure and another country. This trip will only last two weeks, but as the instructions of the flight began to crackle over the speakers, the flight attendant began miming the exits, and the wheels on the plane reversed, departing the gate- I had the same feeling of excitement, joy, nerves, elation, and a stomach full of butterflies churn I felt wrestling or during the start of my #5000milesfor500scholars journey. However, this time there was a tinge of gloom/sadness and the hardest one yet. I left my two nieces and my 3.5 year old nephew waving bye bye Uncle Jacob and him asking if I’d wave to him when I was flying in the big airplane.

I am no longer the oblivious, innocent blue eyed blonde boy that volunteered for the Peace Corps in Cameroon, 6.5 years ago. I am “aged”, more aware, and realistic. I saw on the news #45 declare a national emergency over something that isn’t a threat and also taking place during the latest mass shooting. There are many problems our country is facing and the least, I believe, should be building a wall.

According to the CDC in 2017, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioids and illegal opioids like heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl) was 6 times higher than in 1999 and on average, 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. To me this is a national emergency.

Or the number of school shootings in 2018 where roughly 113 people were killed or injured in the US. This equates to nearly one school shooting per week. To me this is a national emergency.

Not some fear mongering tactic and symbol of hate and division. I can almost guarantee nearly everyone in the US knows of somebody affected by gun violence or the opioid crisis and nearly nobody knows somebody affected by illegal immigration.

And to top it off there is another national emergency, the devastating effect Climate Change is having throughout the lands and seas. Which will affect our kids and grandkids drastically in the years to come.

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-46507514 https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/index.html

However, as always, I will try and stay optimistic and find the good with the bad. And, I can tell you there is a fire lit inside my belly that burns brighter and stronger than before, to bring goodness. I am more mature, knowledgable, confident, and determined to create bridges, love, and peace throughout the world.

We are all inhabitants of this beautiful world and only a spec amongst giants throughout the universe. I refuse to let one mans actions and rants stop me from being the best person I can be and treat every human with the equality and respect they deserve.

I am travelling to Ghana and starting another journey. The goal remains the same… putting a smile on the person in front of me and making their tomorrow better than what their today is. However, I have a little nephew and two nieces looking up to me and who will have to navigate this lovely maze we call life, and hope to make a better and safer world for them.

I hope your 2019 is starting of well and you will continue to follow my journey.

 

 

Advertisements

FULL MOON, BEACHFLYER, WASHINGTON MONUMENT!

Hey team!!! Well, after hours of sanding and filing the BeachFlyer I got on the road and hit 4000 miles at the Washington monument. It has been my ride or bye since day one. Once again I pushed the poor thing too its limit which led to another moment of highs/lows and ying/yang.

When the negative comes to balance out the positive that’s where my perseverance comes into play. Some might call it stubbornness or hardheadedness, but it keeps me on the road pedaling.

So what is the negative and positive might you ask? I was pushing the limits, not learning from my broken wrist, trying to ride 150 miles to get to DC. I was super excited with many friends coming from far and near. 80 miles in I had 3 flats in 5 miles and became very annoyed. I decided to push the beachflyer 6 miles on the rim and destroyed the back tire. Making the aluminum very jagged. After the six grueling miles I reached 3992 miles which was very upsetting not ticking 4000 that day. I went out bought a file and sand paper and roughly 5 hours of filing, sanding, smoothing, coaxing, and sweet talks I and the BeachFlyer were ready to rock n roll. (Yes I talk to my bike) Where is the positive you’re wondering? I did a test ride and I hit 4000 at the Washington Monument on a full moon at 1AM!

My whole trip has been about ying/yang, perseverance, and a happy go lucky attitude. If you came at me with negative words or bad vibes I just flashed the ✌! ain’t nobody got time for that. Especially ridin #5000milesfor500scholars. However, if you are down in the dumps and ask for support I am there. If you gave support and encouragement I bottled it up and sent them straight to my heart, legs, and mind. Now many go to my wrist 😉

When I rode to the Washington Monument and reached 4000miles it was very surreal. It was 1 in the morning, I was all alone, and it was a full moon. A wave of emotion rolled through me, chills perked up, a grin curled on the corner of my mouth, and butterflies entered my stomach. I couldn’t help but recollect.  In 2 months I had ridden the entire West coast and across the United States. My eyes swelled with pride (one might call tears) as I stared at the night sky and full moon.

My family and I have a thing, when I am in Cameroon or traveling, we look at the full moon knowing we are together. It keeps me from getting homesick knowing we are super close compared to universe. We are nothing but dust on a larger piece of dust and eventually we will be replaced. It gives me a sense of calm and relaxation

When I looked up this night I couldn’t help but think about Cameroon, why I am riding, and the current crisis. My heart goes out to everyone displaced, who have lost family members, and it pains me I am not able to do more. I hope a resolution can be found soon.

The Washington monument stood as a rock, a foundation for my trip. There’s history behind it and it was built for one man. However, Washington had 10,000s of people behind him supporting his every move and had 100s help write his story. He did not do it alone. Yes, what he did was not easy and he can be controversial, but he led the best way he knew how to lead. Whether you’re a leader or a follower know we are in this together and you’re just as important as the next.

I am just one person simply riding a bicycle with yall my rock and stone. I am using my traits and characteristics to accomplish my goal of a unified world, with less hatred, and more understanding.  My views are not popular with some, but that is okay. If everyone agrees people tend to become complacent. Take time to listen to one another and have a friendly debate. Try not to shut your mind down with my way or the highway attitude. I have definitely seen many other points of views better than what I thought at first.

With that being said, I could not have done anything without you and I thank you from the bottom of my <3. Your kind words, donations, and comments are very well recieved. Yall have been my pillars from the beginning and as of writing this I am 300miles away from 5000milesfor500scholars!!

.

.

.

This mini journey is almost complete and I cannot thank you all enough. Again your well wishes, donations, shoutouts, and support are overwhelming. I am $7,000 dollars away from reaching my goal of raising $25,000 for ScholarShop Africa. That will equate to $5/mile. Please consider a donation as we prepare for year 3! Again, every dollar counts! If you give $7 (stinking fees) to http://scholarshopafrica.org/give/ you will have sponsored a mile of my trip. If you give ~$55 and you will sponsor a child for the three month program!

Be the hand that extends!

IMG_0958.jpgThis guy right here has been an inspiration from day one. People ask where do I get my grit, determination, and perseverance from? It’s from pops.

He removed the word ‘can’t’ from my vocabulary, taught me my never give up attitude, and if there’s a will there’s a way.  When I was 6 weeks old I was literally crop dusted possibly causing my severe asthma. Having to use a nebulizer for 15 minutes before going out to play with my siblings was torture. Being told I wouldn’t be able to be an active child caused a chip on my shoulder very early on which is still there. My dad, Jeff, never let the asthma deter me, put me in many sports and pushed me too my limits and beyond. Proving to me anything is possible with the right mindset.

Dad taught me from day one, once you start something you better finish, no matter the circumstances. He knew life has its highs and lows… its rollercoaster movement which easily transferred to the world of sports. His teachings, scolding me when I said can’t, and believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself molded me into who I am today.

When I injured my wrist, in St. Louis, I knew I would continue. My first thought was: “At least it’s not my ankle, but I hope it is not broken.”  Anyone who knows my childhood and athletic career knows this injury could have been expected. As well as, riding 250 miles with an ace bandage. Throughout my sporting career I have had: a broken ankle, broken fingers, concussions, dislocated elbow, torn hamstring, numerous stitches and staples, tongue half bitten off, both meniscus removed, Osgood Slaughter and more, I learned to wrestle and play through pain.

During the rough days dad was there to give advice, help me put in extra practice time, and give encouraging words. The good days he congratulated me, not without his coaching and lectures, of course, but never let me be content.  He instilled a drive and fire within that is unmatched.

Many people told me, “You made it 3800 miles and crossed 3/4th of the country why not stop and let your wrist heal and get surgery?” Well, if I stop now, in my mind, my mission would have failed and the people donating to my cause should be reimbursed. I set out on #5000milesfor500scholars just for that: Ride 5000 miles and help 500 scholars. Not 3800 miles to help 380 scholars.

In life we will always have a setback. How you bounce back, to me, determines how much heart, love, and passion you have for the intended goal. If one can easily give up, obviously, the task was not their passion. Bouncing back doesn’t necessarily mean completing the task at hand, but picking yourself up, brushing off the dirt, and how your attitude/mindset is moving forward. I tend to fall often… literally and figuratively. However, I am blessed because I know no matter how long the fall  there will always be a hand extended from above. Pop’s hand.

 

Even though dad and I disagree on many things, the love I have for him is unmatched. He makes it clear he wants me home in the US, but his love and support for my goals and dreams has never wavered. Anything I set my mind to, whether he likes it or not, he is always by my side as a number one supporter.

20180511_160445.jpg

Little did he know the many summer hours playing ball, cutting wood, shoveling the basement (that was not a passion so never got completed), sitting by the fire telling stories would stick with me. 

When I had trouble finding a ride to Ohio he dropped his weekend plans to drive me so I could continue. We stayed up last night talking, telling stories, and celebrating world whiskey day. Through our many conversations at the fire and last night I now know where I get my stubbornness, hard headedness, and grit. As they say the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

As I had a set back, breaking my wrist, now in a cast, it does not compare to the daily struggle many youth in Cameroon have. Difficulties for basic school supplies, lack of buses to transport to school, no electricity to study at night, not being able to pay fees to attend school, not able to purchase basic medical necessities such as sleeping nets to help prevent malaria, and the list goes on and on.

Just like I have a hand reaching down from pops, I try to be the hand that extends for the youth of Cameroon.

Let us join hands and extend them to reach far more corners of the world!!

This is how I continue to ride with a wrist needing surgical repair.

This is what #5000milesfor500scholars is about.

This is why your donations mean so much.

This is how you can help “Supply today to secure tomorrow”

Birthday celebrationS!

I had a fabulous birthday weekend showered with gifts, well-wishes, and great news.  

To start off the festivities, I was showered with blessings (literally) while I camped out.  I pitched tent at Fort Cobb State Park in Oklahoma. The area hadn’t had a measurable rain since September 11th where they received only 1/100th of an inch. My neighbors knowing the rains were coming early morning gave me extra blankets and brisket with tortillas. It was DELICIOUS. The day before it was 85 and sunny and I tool my shirt off for 1 hour.  I didnt get burnt, but had an extremely irritated back that itched like crazy. Turns out it is called hell’s itch. Look it up. 

20180425_165544.jpg

The rains started at 2AM and didn’t stop until 11! I felt extremely blessed witnessing the joy in the locals’ faces when the rains started and saturated the farmland.  I thought if I became annoyed or upset, I’d be selfish only thinking about me and my trip rather than the farmers of Oklahoma who needed this rainfall. 

Turns out my rain jacket and weatherproof pants fell off the back of my bike three days before this rain.  I planned to buy new rain gear the next stop in Oklahoma City, but Mother Nature brought rains early, I guess to test my ability to still maintain my “happy go lucky, go with the flow” attitude. I packed my bike with all 80 pounds and went to the local store. The hosts were wonderful. Allowing me to dry my clothes on the space heater, giving me breakfast, and offering me a place to stay. I said I need to take the good with the bad. Luckily, I packed a couple extra heavy duty trash bags so I was able to make a makeshift rain suit. Now ready with my new rain gear on- I headed out. Special thanks to the place with the coldest beer in Fort Cobb, Stevie Rays, for taking me in as their own!  To my blessing- the rains stopped at 11:00 and I had a clear chilly ride with a tailwind the rest of the day to Norman, Oklahoma. 

My hosts in Norman were Kwame and Natalie. We met in Cameroon while Natalie was working on her PhD research.  They stayed with me in Cameroon, for a couple of weeks, while looking for a place to rent. It was wonderful to see them again after 3 years and they were very gracious.  We bought tickets to the OKC- Utah game 5. Before this game started, sadly, I watched the Pacers lose on a buzzer beater by Lebron, so it put a damper on my mood. However, the atmosphere in the gym was unbelievable and the comeback led by Westbrook’s 20 third quarter points was a site to see and a roar to hear! I stayed a few days to rest and enjoy my birthday.  Two days of grilling out and listening to music in sunny 80 degree weather was what my body needed! For those of you who know me grilling out and listening to music are my favorite things to do. The first two days were about me and I treated myself.

I got back into ScholarShop mode, checking emails, talking to my counterparts, etc… I received WONDERFUL news. Sean, co-founder, of ScholarShop Africa welcomed a baby boy into this world the day after my birthday on April 27th.  Baby, momma, and pops are doing well and I cannot be happier for two people so near and dear to me.

The weekend of celebration continued as I chose the winner of the “name the BeachFlyer competition” and was able to give the news to the young lady herself via webcam.  A student in my sister’s first grade class came up with the name, Dragon Wheeler. I named the bike Cliff the Dragon Wheeler which is a hybrid from another student in a 7th grade class.  The first grader chose the name because dragons are her favorite animal and bikes have wheels so she put the two together.  I chose Cliff because I rode close to a lot of cliffs on the west coast and I thought that was appropriate. After talking with the winner we held a Q&A session about my ride.  I am trying to figure out how to upload that and when I do you will be able to see questions first graders can ask! Or add me on Facebook and you can see it there! They were quite good and comical too.

IMG_20180501_113216_078.jpg

BUT the competition isn’t over! Cliff the Dragon Wheeler retired itself in Los Angeles.  So, a new competition has started, I am still accepting names for my current bike!  

That same very day, April 30th, while visiting the wrestling HOF I received more great news! One of our ScholarShop students was accepted into African Leadership Academy in South Africa (ALA).  ALA is one of the most prestigious 2 year academies in Africa and less than 150 students throughout the continent are accepted each year.  Yoland, is a very gracious, humble, intelligent young lady who has huge aspirations for her future and community! Yoland could not have been a better choice for ALA.  You can read her story on the ScholarShop website.  Her hard work, determination, volunteering in her community, continually being top in her class and her dreams:  she will be a great student at ALA. Scholarshop helped Yoland reach her dream to stay in academia! Your donations helped us help her stay in school, purchase necessary items, register for exams, and taught her volunteerism, community awareness and giving back.  The cost will be high to send Yoland to ALA, but if I have found anything on this trip the world works in wonderous ways.

Through ScholarShop Africa, donors like you will continue to grow the program, send Yoland to ALA, educate more youths and supply them with necessary school supplies and help change the next generation one youth at a time.  

Please consider helping ScholarShop Africa to help students like Yoland achieve their dreams and go farther than even their dreams have went.  Visit Scholarshop’s website and help  ScholarShop to expand beyond Cameroon.  

Thanks again for the birthday wishes and I hope everyone has a wonderful May!

Winner of BeachFlyer #1!

I recieved many emails and names for the BeachFlyer. Special thanks To Mrs. Crossley’s first grade class and Ms. Day’s 7th graders. I decided on a hybrid name, for the first bike down the Pacific Coast.

*Competition is still going for the current BeachFlyer!*

I will be forever grateful for the first BeachFlyer taking me down the coast over mountains and through valleys. Chasing pots o gold at the end of  double rainbows, and camping under 1000 year old trees searching for Bigfoot. We had a difficult relationship at the beginning with 6 flats and a set of new spokes in the first 9 days, but we sorted out our issues. Unofficially setting and breaking a guiness world record traveling  140miles in a day! The BeachFlyer retired itself April 1st 9:52PM when I rolled in to see Cory. (I know the time cause he gave me a 10PM deadline haha)

Rolling in the PAS turned off and would only work one more time, the next morning to meet a friend for breakfast. The back motor burnt up and the PAS stopped working, but it got the job done.

The first BeachFlyer I ever rode on now has the name of: Duh duh duhhhhhh!

Cliff the Dragon Wheeler

20180401_07062620180322_19311920180323_16123720180324_190441

This name is very fitting. Almost riding off a couple cliffs in Southern Oregon,  staying in an old motel dating back to the 50’s, taking me to breathtaking sites, seeing the end of two rainbows and being a trusting companion, Cliff did its duty.  I pushed this bike so hard the back tire/hub went out after 1,500 miles of riding. Before me, the bike rode 1200miles from Cory. Thus, Cliff the Dragon Wheeler travelled nearly 3000miles before retiring!

Again, the contest is still happening for the current BeachFlyer!  Get your names in!

Thank-you!!!

TEAM!!! Thanks so much for the Birthday wishes and thoughts! The amount of love and support being sent my way is astonishing and makes my heart full!! This bike trip could not be possible without the support from yall!

I recieved messages from more than 10 countries and 4 continents!

My birthday celebrations started off a day early attending the OKC game where the atmosphere was electric!!! The day of my birthday started out with a haircut, followed by some kabobs on the grill and brewskies. The night ended early and I slept around 9AM.  Special thanks to my hosts Natalie, Kwame, and baby Ama for allowing me to stay a few days and ringing in the big 2-8 with me!

If you know me, the celebration keeps going! Today more grilling, more brews, and some live music at the Norman music festival. Back on the road headed towards Tulsa tomorrow. Have a lovely weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

Why oh why do we use force? A poem written in response to the Syrian Attacks

On the road I do not listen or read a lot of news. This has been a blessing and very good for my soul. However, when news broke out about the bombing in Syria my heart broke. It has taken up the majority of my thoughts and has kept me with a feeling of deep sorrow. My heart breaks for the Syrians who were affected in the chemical attacks, but also the Syrians who were affected by our heartless bombings. I cannot stop thinking about the innocent lives who were lost and the newly created orphans who will be without a parent or both for the rest of their lives. This is one of the reasons I have been silent and not written a blog for awhile. I decided to put my thoughts down in writing.

 

————————————————————–

Why oh why do we use force?

Why oh why don’t we use discourse?

Why oh why is it the West to always enforce?

Why oh why don’t we feel remorse?

To the orphans of Syria created by these heartless attacks.

I understand if you feel like retaliating back.

People will send you thoughts and prayers….

I know these will not help your sorrow and tears.

People will send their condolences….

I know these will not stop your grievances.

My thoughts are for the innocent souls killed without resolution.

My prayers are for the corrupt souls who care more about political contributions.

Why oh why do we use force?

Why oh why don’t we use discourse?

Why oh why is it the West to always enforce?

Why oh why don’t we feel remorse?

Remember with every pointed finger there are three pointing back at you.

What about the community of LGBTQ?

~$224 million of missiles launched in a few hours from air stations.

What about American education or our very own Puerto Ricans?

President Trump said, “The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread, and use of chemical weapons”.

Where is this same purpose to deter the illegal drilling of the Keystone Pipeline on land belonging to Native Americans?

President Trump added, “To Iran and to Russia I ask- what kind of regime wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children?”

I ask to President Trump the same question, “What kind of regime wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children?

What about Flint, Michigan where the water causes people death, disabilities, and illness? What about about BLM?

Why oh why do we use force?

Why oh why don’t we use discourse ?

Why oh why is it the West to always enforce?

Why oh why don’t we feel remorse?

————————————————————–

As you ponder these words please think about this…

112 tomahawk missiles launched at Syria. Each costs $1.87M to make. That’s $224M total. Estimated cost to replace Flint’s pipes$55M

And the U.S. has only accepted 11 syrian refugees this year. Yes, 11!