Monday, October 20, 2014

View of the Stoker

Originally Posted October 19, 2004 by Mags

I began to really feel like we made it not when we put the front wheel in the ocean but yesterday morning at Schooner's Head in Acadia just after the sun rose. The sun sent a white, shiny streak across the water so bright that I could only look at it out of the sides of my eyes. The waves sloshed the rock shore, two seagulls searched for crustaceans in the tidepools and the ocean moved against the earth beneath me and I realized that there really was no land to our east, that we really had come as far east as this bike could take us. I'd thought I would feel a sense of accomplishment once we reached the coast but I didn't really feel that. I felt relieved that we made it and grateful for the stretching beauty of the ocean in front of me. The memories of the trip are visions that slide through our minds when we close our eyes. At dusk a curt rancher in eastern Washington lets us pump water from his well to fill our bottles. Burros crowd a red shack in a field in South Dakota. The fields of Montana are colored yellow and rust as the cool evening dries us. The Iowa farmer talks of homemade ice-cream and the antique farm equipment show- "You should really see one of these!" Jeff, with the broken arm near Pittsburgh says, "Man, all the way from Seattle."

To celebrate this trip with everyone who came along with us we've decided to have an open house at my parent's house- Melanie and Carl Harris in Heber, Utah on Saturday, November 6 from 4-9 pm. Please email us if you can come and we'll send you directions to their house. 

Posted by Mags at 09:04 AM | Comments (2)
Original Comments: View of the Stoker
Well done to both of you!! Very impressive indeed.
If you are looking for lobster dinner on the way to Portland, I suggest Cook's Lobster House on Bailey's Island. Make sure you stop in Freeport.

Enjoy the trip west under the power of the internal combustion engine. Don't get to lazy though. Maybe you can get a trainer to ride while you follow the rails.
Good luck,
 Posted by Ben and Shannon at October 19, 2004 07:05 PM
I'm tickled that you made it. Congratulations!!! You will look back on this for the rest of your lives with a sense of accomplishment. Well Done
 Posted by David Johnston at October 20, 2004 01:28 PM

Friday, October 17, 2014

Journey's End

Originally Posted October 18, 2004 by Chad

BAR HARBOR, MAINE. We arrived at Acadia National Park yesterday. It was cool and sunny. The popular places were crowded. We followed the park loop road to the only sandy beach on the island. We dismounted and carried our bike down the stairs to the water. We asked a Japanese man who was there with his family to take our picture as we wetted our tires. In the first picture I was looking down at a wave coming up to soak our feet. The second picture came out better. Then a park ranger came marching down the steps to us. He told us bikes were not allowed on the beach and ordered us to leave. It ruined the moment.

It's hard to believe our journey is over. We still have to get to the train station in Portland, two hundred miles away, but we have seen the Atlantic Ocean and can pedal no further. When we started this journey we were passive observers, slipping through town after town, often unnoticed. We took little from the towns and left nothing behind.

Then as our journey matured it took on tone and dimension. We slipped into a new frame and grew to be a part of it, related to the people we met and places we saw. From the crazy lady in Tonasket who asked us if we planning on skinny dipping, to the leather-clad bikers of Ringling, to the lycra-clad bikers of Laramie, the Mormons of Nauvoo, the corn- and bean-farmers of Iowa, the Presidential hopeful in Coldwater, the supplement saleswoman in Anita, the Reverends of Pennsylvania, the punkers near Syracuse with whom we witnessed a traffic accident, to everyone who asked us which of us did the most work [They have missed the point of the journey.] to the New Englanders who pretended not to see us, to all the vacationers at the parks who stood and gawked at us and at the same land we were there to see, and to all of you who have been following us along our way. We have all grown into a journey that has stepped beyond its start in the west and finish in the east, beyond the boundaries of this country, beyond the limits of our collective memory. Our jouney is alive and it lives in every one of us. Our legs have turned the pedals and we have seen life.

Posted by Chad at 02:40 PM | Comments (9)
Original Comments: Journey's End 
i must admit that i will miss your smallwords updates. beside the endless moments of pleasure reading your travel log (and the hours of procrastination of homework it has provided), your legs turned pedals and you experienced life, and I have enjoyed every glimpse of it that i have seen, and every moment of it that i have vicariously lived as well. watching the land change, watching the people and places morph from one side of the country to the other, reading about the food, observing your outerware change from t-shirts and shorts to jackets and long pants, watching the seattle spring turn to a midwest summer and a new england fall, from coast to coast, congratulations my friends.
Posted by Starr Peterson at October 18, 2004 05:15 PM
YEAH!! You made it! I just knew you were going to reach the water on Sunday. After keeping the cell phone with me all day and you hadn't called by afternoon I went back to the hotel room and the red light on the phone was blinking and there was your message that you had reached the ocean. We did a little dance right there on the 17th floor. Love, Mom
Posted by shirley at October 18, 2004 09:53 PM
Hey Harse's you made it!!! I can't believe that Margeret made it. I can just see chad dragging Margeret down the highway just so that you can dip your front tire in the Atlantic ocean. Bad joke but CONGRATULATIONS. Question: why in the heck are you guys going back to Portland? You guys have definitely become RLDS.

Posted by been dip at October 18, 2004 10:39 PM
Congrats on reaching the opposite coast!
Posted by Woody at October 18, 2004 10:49 PM
we have been hanging out to see this picture - so amazing what a journey you have taken and how many other people's lives have been enriched by it too. i was telling my dad about you guys last night and now he is keen to do a similar trip when he retires. you're inspiration! living your dream. life should be more free. don't get jobs. come to oz.
Posted by Em at October 19, 2004 02:10 AM
Chad, you are truly Waltonesque. I'm glad to know there are people like you and Mags in Utah. You both need to come back for your doctoral degrees at UW. It's bliss.
Seriously, congratulations on the completion of your journey. Quite a feat.
Posted by Doug at October 19, 2004 04:26 PM
You made it "FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA". Congratulations.
Posted by Devin at October 19, 2004 04:46 PM
That'll do, pig. That'll do.
Posted by benson at October 21, 2004 01:56 PM
Congratulations!!! I have followed all journal of yours. Very enjoy your words and pictures. What you guys did is really amazing! You are the greatest travelers I ever know in person. Hope to see u in Seattle.
Posted by Gang at October 22, 2004 02:07 PM

Monday, October 13, 2014


Originally Posted October 15, 2004 by Chad

We made it. We're in Maine. Our next item of business is to enjoy a lobster dinner somewhere between here and Bar Harbor.

Posted by Chad at 04:49 PM | Comments (5)
Original Comments: Maine!
Posted by Em at October 16, 2004 01:46 AM
Amazing. It will be great to hear of your arrival, but I will miss the reports from smallwords and small towns USA. Wouldn't it be fun to bike across Canada!
Posted by Doc at October 16, 2004 11:38 AM
Oh, you both look so great! The leaves are beautiful. You've made it!!! The tire is in the water...what a team! We are so proud of you--the vision of the possibility of such an adventure, the planning, the physical prowess, the psychological power, the good will of those you met (for the most part). We have continued to pray for your safety and well being and will continue to do so till you're in our midst again... course, we probably won't stop praying for you then either. We love you and that's what parents do.

Sorry to have missed your phone call. (We were actually having a Sunday afternoon nap, can you believe it!) Love, Melanie
Posted by Melanie Harris at October 17, 2004 08:18 PM
Way to go guys.
Enjoy that dinner.
Shannon and Ben
Posted by Shannon Brattebo at October 18, 2004 12:59 PM
Hi Chad, this is ben member when you reached ohio in the small city of coldwater. I am lisa gagnon son. When you ate at china dragon and slept over at my house well how have you been doing?
Email me back at
Talk To You later
Ben Rutschilling

Thursday, October 9, 2014


Originally posted October 13, 2004 by Chad

CONWAY, NEW HAMPSHIRE. We had just started riding again after our lunch break yesterday when we saw the large missile in the center of Warren, NH. We had to stop and see why it was there. It turned out to be an Atlas Redstone Rocket, the kind they used to launch Alan Shepard [a New Hampshire native] into orbit. Back in the seventies some guy in the army found the abandoned rocket at a base in Alabama and decided to take it to his hometown in New Hampshire as a way of inspiring kids to study science and dream of space travel. It reminds me more of the cold war, but there it stands, right next to the church and the Warren Historical Society.

While we were admiring the redstone, another cyclist rode by. He stopped and told us about a hiker/biker lodge just up the road for Appalachian Trail hikers. We talked for half an hour and then went on our way. We didn’t camp at his suggested spot, but went on a few more miles until we were just west of Lincoln.

This morning as we were passing through Lincoln, Dave, the cyclist we’d met yesterday, drove by in a car and pulled over to talk again. He wanted to know how our night went and suggested we stop somewhere for coffee. We found a deli and had muffins and hot chocolate and listened to his stories of bicycle trips and of Viet Nam. He rode with us for a few miles up Kancamagus pass, “just until it gets steep” he said.

It never really did get steep, but the pass was significant because it is the boundary of the Saco River Watershed, which drains into the Atlantic Ocean in southeast Maine. We’re really close now. We should cross the state line near Fryeburg in about an hour, and then it’s a short ride to the coast. I’m chomping at the bit to get there. It’s like I have this inner hunger to see the Atlantic that is more voracious than my hunger for food. It overpowers the achy legs, sore behind, and cold winds. I want to get there today. But the days are getting so short that we can’t ride as far as we used to. Instead we’ve bought a copy of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving to read to each other when we’re holed-up in the tent.

Posted by Chad at 02:02 PM | Comments (0)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Smile, New England

Originally Posted October 13, 2004 by Mags

The reaction of New Englanders to us has been quite different from the inhabitants of other states. They don’t give a flying flip. Here’s an example. We stopped at a small country store in Orwell, Vermont to buy a phone card and use a payphone. While we sat on the bench in front of the store about 50 people walked by us. Since it was a Friday night everyone was buying beer or renting videos. Not only did no one say hello, no one even made eye contact with us. It was as if they already knew too much about us and wished they didn’t know anything. At a restaurant full of leaf peepers near Haven, Vermont we got the stare down from a guy sitting near us. Apparently our lycra shorts and bright yellow tops were too jarring compared with the mute colored L.L. Bean clad tourists around us. My ire was up so I stared back until he looked away. The friendliest person we met in Vermont was a guy near Woodstock who said, “I bet you’ve gone a lot of miles today” and then walked off before we could respond. This ain’t the Midwest. The leaves are amazing though- the trees are bright like pieces of construction paper- yellow, orange and red- and I saw one maple with yellow leaves that looked like they’d been tie-dyed in red paint. 

Posted by Mags at 02:01 PM | Comments (2)
Original Comments: Smile, New England
that is totally in keeping with my new england experiences -- maybe they would be more interested if you were on a pair of segway's instead:

Posted by benson at October 14, 2004 07:13 PM
Hi Kids,

With hardwoods as thick as hair on a dog's back that great land is unbelievably gorgeous. But my first hand knowledge kind of thins further east than Pennsylvania. I've been to New York City several times and Palmyra but other than conference attendees and relatives not much interaction with people. Maybe I take that back because of my experience with your brother Aaron when we went shopping for diamonds in down town NY and Aaron conducted a study to see whether a young person go a worse or better deal than an old person. After being taken into a back, only slightly lighted room to talk to "Frankie" in one diamond store I decided the experiment was beyond my comfort zone. They did talk to me but with a real funny accent with eye contact from under the green visor shades. So I'm not sure if I can relate well to your experience of not being greeted and welcomed by those new easterners. Maybe they think you politicing and they are all politiced out. The photos are really welcomed and do a great job of enhancing your narratives. We look forward to the photo of your front bike wheel in the Atlantic Ocean which probably you've already done.

Love, Dad Carl

Posted by Carl Harris at October 15, 2004 02:12 PM

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Fall Colors

Originally Posted October 9, 2004 by Chad

WEST LEBANON, NEW HAMPSHIRE. Since leaving Ithaca on Tuesday, we’ve been passing by a lot of places with names that conjure images of other places: Waterloo, Jordan, Russia, Liverpool, Rome, Holland Patent, Verona, Newport, Ohio, Norway and Trenton Falls.

At Rome, New York, we stopped at Fort Stanwix National Monument. It is a British built fort from the 18th century that protected the only portage between the Mohawk River Valley and Wood Creek. It is the only route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes Basin that doesn't require crossing the Appalachian Mountains.

The American colonists took Fort Stanwix in the first years of the Revolution and somehow managed to hold it for the duration. The British held it under siege for three weeks but could not penetrate it. General Burgoyne’s British Army was so demoralized by the failed siege that many deserted and he was forced to surrender his army two months later. The Americans won not by overpowering but by persevering.

We also wanted to stop at Fort Ticonderoga but were disappointed to find that it is privately run and has a hefty entrance fee. Instead we hopped on the ferry across Lake Champlain into Vermont. The ferry operator told us we were three hours behind another cross country cyclist. I don’t think we’ll catch him.

Passing through Adirondack Park, I was expecting it to be something like Yellowstone or the Tetons, with abundant camping and lots of things for the public to do. Instead I found that much of the park, at least what you can see from the road, is privately owned and posted: no trespassing. We had to camp behind the pavilion at the city park in Speculator. I still don’t know why they call the Adirondacks a park at all.

We were fortunate to pass through the Adirondacks mid-week. When we crossed the Green Mountains at Brandon Gap in Vermont it was a Saturday morning and the leaves were at the peak of their fall color. By that afternoon the roads were packed with leaf peepers driving slow and not watching the road. The town of Woodstock, VT is one of the few places on this trip I have been to before. That was about a year ago, after the leaves had fallen from the trees. The town was mostly deserted and I easily found a parking place in the green. This time there was a mile of cars backed up bumper to bumper on both ends of town. Some of you know that my favorite part of riding a bike is zipping past cars stuck in traffic. I just want to laugh at all the people sitting there realizing they should have ridden their bikes too.

The streets of Woodstock were packed with people. Most were dressed in the latest fall fashions and driving expensive cars with out-of-state license plates. Most surprisingly, people didn’t stop and gawk at our bike like everywhere else in the country. It seemed they were more interested in being noticed themselves then taking notice of us. We bought some fresh apple cider from some kids on the street and were eager to get out of there.

We’re taking a couple of rest days visiting some friends here in West Lebanon before our final push to the ocean. We’ve come over five thousand miles and have just a few hundred more to go.

Posted by Chad at 06:45 AM | Comments (2)
Original Comments: Fall Colors
We've been having some great fall weather too! It's getting exciting that you're almost there and even more so that you'll soon be home.

Posted by shirley at October 12, 2004 09:03 PM
hey, you guys are starting to blend in with the colours of the leaves! nice!

we've been home for almost a week now, it's good and bad, ivy and mick made up a song about you two not long after we left you, and they STILL sing it!

'chid and migs (ivy accent), on their biiike, with their baags, what a siiiight!' i doubt it will be a chart topper, but i think it's pretty special. let us know when you are back, maybe ivy can sing it down the phone to you.

enjoy the last few hundred miles! i can't believe how far you've ridden - so impressed!
did i tell you my brother got the bronze in the world champs? I know you don't care Chad, but i thought Mags would want to know. downhillers are cool too!

e xx
Posted by eM at October 12, 2004 11:22 PM

Monday, September 29, 2014

Extra! Extra!

Originally Published October 5, 2004 by Chad

We have finally made the news! This article about us was in the Coshocton, Ohio Tribune on Sept 28.

Posted by Chad at 09:04 AM | Comments (2)
Original Comments: Extra! Extra!
You guys are famous!! How does it feel? I was pretty excited to see South Dakota mentioned in the article. I'm glad that you found gas for your stove. Ben and I thought we were going to have to send some supplies to a post office in New York or PA. Knowing that you have your bike fixed and a way to cook food now, I'll worry a little less.

Have a great trip through the eastern part of the country! Be safe and if you need anything let us know.

Posted by Shannon Brattebo at October 5, 2004 10:02 AM
chad and mags,

It's been great checking out your web site every couple of days and reading of your adventures. You guys are truly amazing!!! With all of the media attention you're no doubt becoming celebrities destined for familial legends and folklore in a few years. I really wish I could be along for the extreme ride--but I'd only be helpful on the down hill side of the ride--since I've only pedaled my bike a couple of times this summer. I get great delight at your humorous descriptions of the people, food, and cultural diversities that exist our great land. It adds a new demension to my otherwise predictable work-a-day week. I'll be fairly deflated--as you can imagine--when it all comes to an end. Perhaps next summer I could interest you and Mags in navagating the steepest white water river in the world--located in the Himalayas--known as the Dude Cosi. It contains over 80 miles of high intensity continuous rapids--now that would be something to write home to mom about--wouldn't it!! Take Care--Alan

Keep in touch!!!
Posted by alan at October 7, 2004 12:37 AM