Yesterday I set my eyes on the Pacific Ocean. Almost three months ago, I began this journey on May 4th, leaving from Yorktown, VA- a city located right next to the Atlantic Ocean. I began with the intention of fulfilling a number of goals. These goals included the following: 1) Raise $10,000 for Save the Children to be used to help Syrian refugee children by providing them with food, shelter, and education that they would otherwise not have access to, 2) To travel the width of the United States- following the transamerica trail from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, 3) To engage in and record conversations with many individuals regarding their views on refugees and immigrants in the United States. Admittedly, I have really only accomplished one of the three goals. Although I have yet to reach my $10,000 goal (currently around $7,800), and although I have not recorded as much of each conversation I have had publicly on my blog, I did indeed bicycle from one side of the country to the other. I also have met a plethora of incredible, kind, compassionate, and empathetic individuals along the way.
I have learned much about myself and developed ways to deal with incredibly difficult life circumstances. I have raised a lot of money, that will indeed go to help many Syrian refugee children, and I hope that by sharing my story and life journey with others, along with genuinely and curiously creating a space for safe and vulnerable conversations with many others, I have spread positivity and compassion during my travels.
It has not been a particularly easy undertaking, but I have found that choosing to move toward uncomfortable situations in life and embrace them with all their wisdom and complexity, one is able to better understand and adapt to the suffering that often times results from these situations.
I have an overwhelming sense of gratefulness for my family and friends who have been so supportive of my efforts. Specifically my mother Roxanne who has been an inspiration to me after seeing her learn from and adapt to life after suffering a stroke in December. Both my mother and stepfather, Eric, have been incredibly supportive and helpful in assisting me with the community fundraising events I held in Eau Claire before leaving. I would also like to thank my father, Phil, my aunt Janelle, my grandma Rochelle, and my brother Eric for all the emotional support and cheerleading that they provided throughout my journey. And lastly I would like to give a huge thanks to Sarah, my rock and my love- thank you for your unyielding love, understanding, and support. You will never know how much it means to me and I will try and communicate my appreciation for you until I die.
I wish I could thank everyone I encountered along my journey by name, but the list would stretch forever. Also I am terrible with remembering names. Also if I have spoken with you during my travels- know that I genuinely appreciated our conversations, and any support that you provided me. When I think about how many people have graciously purchased a meal for me, offered their story, or let me stay in their house, it brings me to tears.
I feel very lucky to be able to share the story of Syria and help support them in their time of great need. I know I will continue to advocate for and try and support other marginalized or underserved populations in the future in any way I can.
Yesterday I arrived at Florence, OR and treated myself to a celebration dinner at the waterfront bar and grill. I met the most incredible people- one couple from North Carolina who were following almost the same route as me, but with a vintage airstream trailer. They had lived in Germany for a number of years and the man (I am so bad at remembering names- I apologize) was in the army as a helicopter pilot. They had built their dream home in Germany and ended up selling it to move back to the US. They did not have children and they were very kind people. They ended up purchasing a piece of cake for me. Thank you! I also met an incredible couple from Portland OR who were taking a short trip to Florence. They are at the bar next to me and shared their life stories with me. Their names are Dirk and Mags. They had a great sense of humor and were retired nurses. It was a serendipitous encounter because I am interested in entering the healthcare arena. I plan on getting either an EMT or CNA certification and working towards a graduate degree in healthcare of some sort (physician assistant or something). They had some sage advice to share with me and I was able to pick their brains about potential paths towards a larger goal. It was wonderful to meet such kind people on my last day of riding. I was planning on seeing the ocean that night, but by the time I was finished speaking with all of these people- the sun was setting. I decided to go the next morning. Here are a couple of photos- the second two are taken from the summit of Mackenzie pass of the South Sisters (between Sisters OR and Eugene OR) and the others are of a bay near Florence OR, at the end of my journey.
I apologize if I forgot to thank anyone else by name- know that I appreciate you even if I forgot to mention you.
Till next time.