Our time (this time) in San Diego has wound down. We are all thinking forward, and at the same time reminiscing. We’ve had a blast in San Diego. For the last two and a half months we’ve stayed in San Carlos with Steve and Jayna.
Folks have been wondering what we’ve been up to now that our cross country bicycle trip is complete. If you have followed our journey, you know that we completed it in San Diego.
We have not left sunny Southern California and are enjoying all it has to offer. We had been renting a place with Virgil and Susan in Serra Mesa, and decided to head a bit further east and are currently renting a place near Lake Murray.
FTR – Hello Claude. Thank you for your time. We met you on the side of the road while we were bicycling through Florida. Can you tell us a little about yourself (age, occupation, where you grew up, etc)?
Claude – Just now I am 65 years old, I am a Zen Buddhist Monk and I grew up in Waterford, Pennsylvania.
FTR – You mentioned the prolific walking you have done in your life. How many miles all told?
Claude – All told somewhere between 45 and 48,000.
FTR – What inspired you to do the walking?
Claude – The practice of Pilgrimage is an ancient practice that was used by monks for century’s as a way to clarify the question of insight. I wanted to experience what ever this practice had to offer to me.
FTR – How many countries have you walked in and which ones?
Claude – Somewhere in the neighborhood of 33 different countries and 18 different States.
FTR – Which countries have you walked completely across?
Claude – All 33 plus all 18 states.
FTR – How many people usually went with on the journeys and what did a day on the road look like?
Claude – The numbers would vary. I have walked with as few as 3 and as many as 1,000. We would get up in the morning and do 20 minutes of sitting meditation followed by a series of recitations. Eat what ever food was available then start walking. We would walk about 2 hours and then rest for 10 minutes, we would keep this routine until we had walked 18 to 20 miles or to the next village which ever was first. When we arrived in the next place we would then approach the churches first asking for a simply place to stay and simple food to eat. Because we walk without money, having to beg for everything. If no one offered us a place to stay or food to eat then we slept outside, did not eat and then walked to the next place. However, before turning in for the evening we would sit for a period of 20 minutes followed by a series of recitations. here would you sleep? We slept where ever a space was provided and if not then we slept outside. We did not carry any tents.
FTR – What would you eat?
Claude – We ate whatever was donated to us, however we did not eat any meat, fish or poultry.
FTR – It is a long way from Waterford, PA and becoming a Buddhist Monk…can you share how that happened and how long the process took?
Claude – This story is best explained in the book “AT HELL’S GATE, A Soldiers Journey From War To Peace” published by Shambhala.
However, here is a short biography:
“Claude AnShin Thomas was born 1947 in Meadville, Pennsylvania. His childhood began his exposure to violence and abuse. At the age of 18 he volunteered to serve in the Vietnam. He served there as a helicopter Crew Chief from 1966 – ‘67. He was shot down on five occasions and was wounded once, receiving the Purple Heart and carries the responsibility for the death of many people.
After his return to the US, he experienced years of unemployment and social isolation. He began to walk a Buddhist path in 1990 and received novice ordination into the Japanese Soto Zen Buddhist tradition in December of1994.
Claude AnShin deeply realized that the roots of war are within each one of us and that our acceptance of our own vulnerability, aggression, fear, and individual suffering is the starting point of peace. “When war ends here within us, then war ends. If everyone ends the war within oneself, then there are no seeds any longer from which war can grow: “At HELL’S GATE- A Soldier’s Journey from War to Peace”, Shambhala 2004.
Today Claude AnShin speaks internationally in religious and secular communities about cultures of violence and how they can become transformed. He visits war-torn countries, places of past and current suffering, hospitals, schools, and prisons. He facilitates mindfulness meditation retreats, long distance pilgrimages, street-retreats and practice days in former concentration camps, etc.
He is also the founder of the Zaltho Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization that promotes nonviolence and transformation.
FTR – What did you learn about people from all the traveling?
Claude – One of the most striking things is that those who have the most share the least – and those who have the least are the most generous. Also, I was very moved by the basic goodness of the majority of the people that I have come in contact with all over the world.
FTR – What did you learn about yourself?
Claude – That Pilgrimage is not a journey to an external holy place. The Holy place is self, with the understanding that self is not separate from all that is included in this experience that we call life.
The Four the Road Family warmly thanks you Claude.
~The Four The Road Family
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It is our great privilege to kick off our interview page with Gil Wagner.
We met Gil in Florida while we were crossing the Country on bicycles. He is an adventuring soul, but more than that, a wonderful human being. See for yourself.
FTR – Please introduce yourself to our readers (name, age, former employment):
I recently sent this out to some news hubs. It is a love letter of sorts.
We are the Four the Road family.
Rob, Gail, Dakota (15) and Luke (8).
Recently, we dipped our bicycle tires in the Pacific Ocean after biking across the United States.
It has almost been one month since our bikes and bodies touched the cool waters of the Pacific Ocean.
We have kept in touch with many of the awesome people we met along the way. Our friend Gil will be hitting Europe on his recumbent bike in the Spring. Eric Ewing and Makani (Tucson) just started training for the RAGBRAI. They are planning on not only pedaling the RAGBRAI, but to RAGBRAI (Iowa) from Arizona. Eric needs to shed a pound or two and is using this journey to reclaim a piece of his past, while intentionally creating his future.
You can check out his blog at simplespokes.com.
So, here we are.
The most miles we have done in one day the last two weeks has been about 24. It isn’t much, but we can attest to there being some hills in San Diego County.
We are staying on a ridge. When we do any shopping, laundry, etc., it usually requires going down and up several serious hills. But hey, we aren’t complaining (maybe a little).
We have been to the ocean only once but that is soon to change.
Hover over a balloon to read a little information, click on balloon for more information about where we have been, places we stopped at, slept at and visited. You can use the + sign to zoom in and get a closer look at the route we took.
– The Four The Road Family
Date: January 7th
Time Pedaling: 1 hr. 52 min.
Avg. Speed: 9.4 mph
Max Speed: 23.4 mph
Trip Odometer: 2,536.40
Weather: sunny, cool and breezy, 51 degrees (El Cajon, CA) to 63 degrees (El Cajon, CA)
Time of Departure: 11:00
Arrival Time to Coronado Island, CA: 4:15 (PacificTime Zone)
So what’s it like to cross the country with a family on bikes? Don’t be so impatient, I’ll get to that. We have some other things we must get to first. We have some thanks to offer up. We have the pedaling to the beach to cover. We have some people to share with you. In due time, friends. In due time.
We started putting together a list of people we needed to call or email upon completion of our journey. There are family members, old friends, new friends.
Date: December 31st
Time Pedaling: 4 hrs. 34 min.
Avg. Speed: 8.7 mph
Max Speed: 14.9 mph
Trip Odometer: 2,410.98
Weather: partly cloudy, windy, 61 degrees in (Imperial Sand Dunes, CA) to (El Centro, CA)
Time of Departure: 10:30
Arrival Time to Holiday Inn Express in El Centro, CA: 7:15 (PacificTime Zone)
Today was a bit rough. Roads, winds and a migraine.
We left the Rec Area and began pedaling on the frontage road once again. California is a bit more serious about bikes staying on secondary roads. The road we have to be on is Old highway 80. It is worse than any shoulder or road we have been on in any state. No exaggeration.