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.
Sidenote: One hotel on the entire trip offered us a free room…and the winner is? The Howard Johnson’s in Fredricksburg, Texas. Sounds about right. Texas was a tough state. But, it was also kind. Thank you Howard Johnson’s!
Sometimes encouragement comes quietly. I have an Uncle who donated to the Susan G. Komen Foundation and encouraged others to do so also. We don’t see each other often but he is one of my heroes (I don’t have many, but he is one). He is the guy that makes lemonade out of lemons. I often think of him and his indefatigable spirit. I didn’t need to talk to him to feel his support. I can hear his encouragement in my mind.
Another hero of mine is named Gil Wagner. He is an adventuring extraordinaire. He is the guy who comes up with brilliant ideas and then has you believing that they were really yours all along. If our trip ended in Florida after meeting Gil, it would have been successful. He offered advice and encouragement early and often. I felt his hand upon my shoulder the entire way. Gil was the first person I called after dipping my tires. When I called Gil he was recuperating from knee surgery. He said that the hospital staff calls it rehab, but Gil calls it training for his bike trip in Europe this summer. My man.
If I wrote a few lines about each person and family that has touched us, it would take several hours. Instead, I will write the names and you can find them in previous posts to see how they impacted us.
Gil Wagner, Ed and Sharon Barger (and their friend Jim), JT Hopkins and Family, Tom, Edye, Bernie and Barbara Walker, Jeff and John, Jeff Ellis (our first awesome host), Linda (Greenville), several churches…several pastors, Pastor Jon in Pearlington, Howard Johnson’s of Fredericksburg, The Burleigh Family, Janet and Paulus, Eric and Yvonne and Family, Roy and Darlene, Terry Brown, The Weis Family, Officer Ken Ortego, the staff at the Chevron in San Simone, Chrysa, Carol Montgomery, Shannon Federoff and Family, John Eyeberg, Raymundo Gomez, Crazy Cat Cyclery in El Paso, Aaron and Bree, Tevin, Mash and Robert, Dane, Dodie and Mike Marrufo and Family, Karmel, Konnie, Mobile Bay Ferry Captain and Crew, Ron Iverson in Benson, AZ, Sybelle and Arnold, Bernadette in Benson, AZ, Lucy Adair, the Yuma Sun, the Valley View, Johnson City Paper, the newest Indian Reservation (Akela Flats), Jackson’s Hide-A-Way RV Park, Virgil and Susan. We will add to the list as we recollect.
We left the Quality Inn in El Cajon after filling up on the complimentary breakfast. We had piled in a good amount of pizza the previous night, but manged to take in some carbs just the same.
Before getting out of the parking lot, we were all standing on our pedals trying to make it up the hill. Then, the climbing got worse. Several people had told us that it was all downhill to the beach once we came over the mountains. Some even said that it was 30 plus miles of downhill. San Diego is basically in the mountains. We can only guess that they hadn’t ever been there (at least not on bike). Or, there had to be a secret road, that was hidden from us and Google. The ‘easy road’. Either way, the ups and downs didn’t much bother us. We have sort of become programmed to pedal in spite of terrain. Besides this was ‘our day’ and we only had 17 miles or so to our DESTINATION. We could have done that if it was all uphill. Thankfully, it wasn’t.
We were stopped along the road and did a video with a woman named Eutha. Eutha is the only female survivor on her side of the family courtesy of Breast Cancer. We had a pleasant conversation on the road with her and were even offered a place to stay if we needed.
After pedaling on a few miles, we spotted a barber shop that was calling out to Luke and I. Well, at least me. But hey, Luke didn’t shed too many tears as he was being sheared.
The barbers were Vietnamese. The one that cut my hair was a bit older. He was leaving for Vietnam in a couple of days. He told me that for the last 21 years he had been traveling for about 3 months out of each year. He has been all over. He wasn’t sure how long he would be alive or healthy, so he was taking advantage of now. Seems about right.
We could have stopped at another barber shop and heard something different altogether, but it was this one we stopped at. We got to hear his story. That sounds about right also.
The barbers mentioned an excellent Vietnamese Restaurant about two miles up the road. Can you blame us for being hungry? We had pedaled 6 miles already.
On the way into the restaurant we spoke with a woman who then invited us to dinner. We had the coast calling, so we took a raincheck until later in the week. We went in and ate. The waitstaff was attentive and friendly. The food was amazing. The name of the place is Pho Ca dao if you are ever near El Cajon. 5223 El Cajon Blvd. After eating we had to knock out some fast pedaling in order to make it to the ferry to cross onto Coronado Island.
We had been put up for the night at the Marriott on Coronado Island by Karmel (and family). She had offered to put us up on the beach when we got there to dip our tires. After our long journey it seemed a perfect ending to honor her by dipping our tires where she chose.
We pedaled through the famous Balboa Park swiftly. We had a couple of stretches that were downhill for a block or more (could this be the famous downhill???).
We made it to the ferry with a few minutes to spare. We talked to several folks who had questions for us about our trip as we waited. The ferry came and we loaded our gear onto it.
We arrived at Coronado Island about an hour before sunset. It was a couple of miles to get to the beach on the other side of the island. We were meeting Karmel’s best friend Konnie on the beach for ‘the dipping’.
We got to the beach and took the handicap ramp to get our bikes and gear down. A sidewalk led us a block closer before ending, leaving us to drag our bikes and gear through the sand. It had been nearly 3 months since we had dragged our bikes through the sand in Jacksonville Beach and dipped them in the Atlantic Ocean. Luke kept smiling and saying, “We did it”. He also made some hooray type noises. Dakota, Gail, and I were content to gather in the moment mostly in silence. It almost seems like a mystery; how little more than determination could have taken us across the country on our bicycles.
We all took our shoes off and pulled our bikes to the spot the last wave covered, and waited. With the surety of the setting sun, the pattern was copied and our feet and tires got a thorough soaking in the cold Pacific water. Our mission complete.
Bells didn’t ring. Confetti didn’t fall. We took some pictures with Konnie and spoke with her and a few other folks who congratulated us.
We left the beach the same way we came, by dragging our bikes and gear through the sand. Everything was seemingly the same.
Except us. We were different. The confetti and bells are in us. So are the memories.
The Susan G. Komen Foundation is a part of us. The account will remain open indefinitely.
We have learned a lot. We will put that knowledge to good use in working with the Foundation in the future. We think we can make a difference. We also think you can.
We will be writing some more posts that bring closure to our odyssey. Some insights.
This journey of ours wouldn’t have been the same if you hadn’t been with us. We want each of you to know that you have good neighbors on your block, we’ve met some of them.
To the Coast…wherever that may be for you.
Good night friends.
Date: January 10th
After our stay of 2 days on Coronado Island, we headed to San Diego. We didn’t have have a definite place to stay and began checking rentals.
For those of you who don’t know, we planned on staying in San Diego instead of rushing back to the cold and snow. Can you blame us?
At a rest area in Arizona we met a husband and wife named Virgil and Susan. Virgil gave me his card and told me to call him when we were in San Diego. Virgil is 88. He has stories. Good ones. We are staying with him and his wife in a vacant rental and hope to put some of his stories on video.
He is a retired Navy and a retired teacher. Must be in the water.
We would’ve had to sell a few more items to go on this trip if it weren’t for a little store down the block from our house named ‘Walmart‘.
We didn’t get a single discount, but didn’t need to. If you are pedaling a $3,500 bike, you may not want to read this.
This is about what we spent on our gear from Walmart:
- 4 – Sleepings bags rated at 20° $25.00
- 1 – Ozark Trail 5 person tent $50.00
- 2 – Instep child trailers $200.00
- 2 – GMC Denali 21 speed bikes $340.00
That comes in at just over six-hundred dollars which couldn’t buy one entry level bike.
Can a bike that was bought at Walmart make it across the country? Really?
Yes. In fact, they did make it. I am not trying to hurt feelings here, just stating facts that we experienced. Mind you, we weren’t bicyclists when we started and didn’t know any better. Now we do, and I would buy the same bikes and gear.
We want to open doors for people. If money is holding you back from riding the bike trail with your family, visit Walmart.
Do a little due diligence. Check reviews. It may surprise you. I know it surprised several bicyclists and bike shop owners.
Life slowed down after reaching the beach. Adventure beckons, but there is schooling to catch up on, amongst other things.
Luke sure wants to nail Mt. Elbert in Colorado before heading back. Dakota wants to polish her nails.
My wife and I?
Good night friends.
Date: January 13th
We have been in good hands. Staying with one of them. Not many of them left. The ones who laid everything on the line back when everything was on the line. Virgil was an aviation technician during WWII and the Korean War. Lot of weight on his uniform due to the medals. Things like the Purple Heart, you know? He has stories, and unlike some folks, he has medals to back them up.
He learned to box at the YMCA and took it to the Navy with him. Brought the Welterwight Champion of the World (at the time) to his knees with a well-placed kidney punch. The champ, Terry Downs, wasn’t especially pleased and gave Virgil a few back. They became good friends.
Virgil is a blunt sort of fellow who doesn’t mix his words. He is 88 years old and having been through what he has, doesn’t need to. His wife Susan has a doctorate in Computer Science. She taught schools how to utilize a new and growing technology back in the 1980’s.
They are the couple we met in Arizona that offered us a place to stay in San Diego when we made it. True to his word, he told us to come on over when we called him.
We are trying to do at least a few miles a day on our bikes to keep active. My wife and I both lost about 20 pounds each pedaling across the country. Gil told us we could pretty much eat any and everything and still lose wight. He was right. I did get a helping hand from Quizno’s, though.
Speaking of Quizno’s…I was on my way to the bathroom to be sick in privacy, but, like much in life, plans can quickly go by the wayside. The front door was closer, and my body let me know it was ready NOW. As soon as I made it out there I vomited almost directly in front of the store. I walked a few more steps and unloaded a bit more, and then, repeated the process once more. I dry heaved a bit more until I felt comfortable enough that things had run their due course. I felt better and was ready to enter the store again. As I walked through the door, there were about 6 people standing around the counter looking directly at me. None of them were talking anymore. Nor, did any of them ask if I was okay.
I am known for my quick wit, but can you believe in my state of suffering, I had none to offer? Nothing. I have carried that shame like a weight around my neck. To free myself of the suffering and long term effects of such a memory, I have taken time to offer a few possibilities that may have done the trick.
I may make it back to San Simone some time and may tempt fate and have a bit more of the crumbled bleu cheese. If I am so fortunate as to get food poisoning once again, this is what I may say to the ‘watchers’:
- “Stay away from the crumbled bleu cheese, it’ll get you.”
- “You should see what the other guy looks like.”
- “Does anyone here know mouth to mouth?”
- “Can someone please pick my lung out of that mess?”
- “I demand to see the chef at once.”
For fear of losing my audience, I will keep a few of the bullets in the gun.
As we upload more videos and pictures, we will remember things that should be mentioned. We will try and fill in some space with what we feel is important.
I talked to a friend tonight from Hammond. He is 71 years young. His name is Chuck. On Sunday nights he would head to Starbuck’s with our family and he would reluctantly play Bananagrams with us. He has a brilliant mind but isn’t much for these types of games. We were glad that he was still willing to spend time with us in this way. On several occasions we went to the symphony with Chuck (his treat). It hasn’t been that long, but dawgone it, we miss it. We miss talking with Chuck and learning from him. I was glad we got a chance to catch up a bit. We look forward to visiting him in person.
We are planning to hit Havasu Falls on the way home. Have a picture of the Falls on a wall at home, ready to take it off the list. Also plan on hiking up Mt. Elbert courtesy of a request by Luke. He’s ready to take it down. We (I) am considering Mt. Whitney, but will have to see how that goes. I reckon traveling across the country on bikes began something like that; a consideration, a thought.
I’m sure you have a few of those. What’s stopping you?
Theodor Geisel penned one of the of the greatest works that I’ve read:
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
Gail and I are working on getting our children situated with schooling while we are here. There is a piano close by that they have been practicing off the rust on. Gail and I (and Dakota) are in the process of launching a couple of other sites. The seven we have now aren’t enough (wink wink).
Good night friends.
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