Dear Family, Friends and Supporters,
I would like to take the time to thank you for your warmth, support, encouragement, patience, life sustaining care package (courtesy of Tim Bustos) and belief in me and what I have been attempting to accomplish. I left San Francisco on Friday, June 11, skirting the waves of the mighty Pacific Ocean, amidst a bright flicker of euphoria. I must admit that the experiences of the last couple of months have restrained my initial elation at the moment of departure and brought me back in line with the parameters of reality.
To those who have written or will write me, allow me to describe a typical day and explain why this has not been a vacation trip and why you can expect not to hear from me until sometime in September. Usually, I awake at sunrise and start pedaling somewhere between 7 and 10am. My average speed is 6 miles an hour, without gears and no coasting. When I have a 50, 60 or 70 mile day, this translates to 9, 10, 11 or 12 hours of cycling during the day.
By the time I roll into the next town, I usually check into a hotel (if there is one) or find a safe place to camp for the night. Often, when I get into the room, I only have the energy to flip channels until I fall asleep. The next morning, if you look at the bed, sometimes, you can’t tell someone slept in it because the bed linen is undisturbed as I just fell into the bed and drifted into slumber the previous night. If I have a rest day, I normally spend the time in the public library, preparing press releases to media organizations in the next 4 or 5 cities through which I will pass before the next rest day.
Though I envisioned corresponding regularly with people and updating my online journal based on each day’s experiences, I have concluded that this will have to wait. I write notes from the roadside everyday and hope these will culminate in a book in the near future. Stay tuned. For the present, I would like to share feelings, thoughts and reflections that I have amassed over the past 2 months. Though I have often scorned these mass e-mails and have always been in favor of connecting on an individual basis, what flows below is all I currently have time and energy for.
The past 60 days of this odyssey have taken me through the California Gold Country, up, above, down and beyond the Sierras, across the baking heat and desolate landscape of the Nevada terrain (highway 50 – The Loneliest Road lives up to its reputation), past the spectacular sights and small and large towns and cities of Utah, along the ascents and descents of the spiritually-inspiring topography of the Colorado Rockies, through the corn and soybean fields of Nebraska, up and down the endlessly rolling hills of Iowa (contrary to a popular misconception, Iowa is NOT flat) and across the Mississippi to the windy city of Chicago, which is where I am now.
I have been molded and sculpted by experiences and ordeals whose impact will last a lifetime. Constant reminders have compelled me to remember that, as much as I want to peak around the bend and see what fate has in store for me, it is imperative to grasp the moment at hand. If one loses sight of this perspective, the precious treasure held in the palm of the present is lost forever.
That which has humbled me the most during this chapter of my life has been the treatment I have received from my fellow Americans. In light of all we have been through as a country, particularly over these last few years, it is quite difficult to convey just how remarkable and refreshing it is to discover that trust and neighborly caring IS alive in this country. Were it not for this fact, I would have returned home to San Francisco weeks ago. During the truly challenging moments, when I seriously doubted myself and my dedication to the causes for which I have been riding and even questioned the very reasons for which I was engaging in what, at times, seemed like a hopeless folly, time and time again, people, TOTAL STRANGERS, picked me up, literally placed me back in my unicycle saddle and blocked off the path of quitting that I was eagerly and anxiously contemplating. These people, my fellow citizens, would take the initiative to offer me food, drink, lodging and would resuscitate my heart, resurrect my soul and re-inject meaning into a venture and vision that seemed to bear little or no fruit. As much as I have relished the divine, natural beauty of the United States, the crown jewels I have unearthed are the individuals who dwell throughout our land that have rekindled the flame of my belief in the general goodness of human beings. If we were to treat our “neighbors” (people who live in our neighborhood and those who do not) with only a fraction of the warmth I have encountered on my path, our world would be much enhanced.
As I surge eastward, beyond the 2/3 mark of my trajectory, I look forward to gaining a clear sense of the effect my journey has had on the fight against cancer and hunger. I hope that during our lifetime, the reigns of cancer and hunger as plagues that afflict the human race will be ended. In another aspect, my dear friend, Colette, suggested that my trip will end up being a success, if only as a result of my efforts to fulfill my self-declared appointment as a goodwill ambassador. Though this trip does not require travel documents, my unicycle has been my passport, granting me access to people, homes and an overflowing hospitality, as I have visited states, towns and areas that are quite foreign to that which I am accustomed.
As you can see by the itinerary that I am including below, I still have a “few” miles to go until I reach my original hometown of New York City. If the divine forces above continue to cradle me gently in their cupped palms, as they have done so generously for the passed 10 weeks, I will roll across the Hudson River in the middle of September. If you would like to see a bit of the media coverage my trip has generated, go to
www.google.com, type in “Patrick Thomas unicycle” (with spaces) and then click search and you will see a few stories/articles connected to me.
If you would like to send me invaluable moral support, this is ALWAYS appreciated. You can e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or to the e-mail link on the website.
Though I will try, I cannot promise any responses before September and I beg your patience and understanding. I read EVERYTHING personally as I have access to e-mail once or twice a week.
If you do nothing else, though, try, everyday, to impact at least one life in a positive way. It could be someone you know or a total stranger via a random act of kindness. I believe that there is no evil or negative energy that goodwill, love, warmth and a genuine, profound caring cannot overcome. If we were all to lock hands and commit, allow ourselves to be infected by the contagious strain of caring throughout the year (not just during the holidays) for the human beings with whom we share Earth, we could form a potent wave, that could not be contained by any dike. It would wash over all towns, cities, states and countries, near and far, and precipitate a new dawn, a promising crop and a bountiful harvest. This is the dream that accompanies my slumber and the vision to which I awake in the morning.
I hold you all dear in my thoughts and thank you for keeping me in yours-
Peace and Prosperity
Date Place Miles
August 10 Marengo to Iowa City 30
August 11 Rest & Write
August 12 Rest & Write
August 13 Iowa City to Davenport 56
August 14 Davenport to Rock Falls, IL 62
August 15 Rock Falls to Hinckley 60
August 16 Hinckley to Chicago 56
August 17 Rest &Write
August 18 Rest &Write
August 19 Chicago to Valparaiso, IN 57
August 20 Valparaiso to Rochester 66
August 21 Rochester to Kokomo 43
August 22 Kokomo to Indianapolis 60
August 23 Indianapolis to Seymour 62
August 24 Seymour to Louisville, KY 54
August 25 Rest & Write
August 26 Louisville to Carrollton 55
August 27 Carrollton to Cincinnati, OH 58
August 28 Cincinnati to Washington Ct. House 72
August 29 Washington Ct. House to Columbus 40
August 30 Columbus to Coshocton 77
August 31 Rest & Write
September 1 Coshocton to Cadiz 58
September 2 Cadiz to East Liverpool 48
September 3 East Liverpool to Pittsburgh 40
September 4 Rest & Write
September 5 Pittsburgh to Ligonier 62
September 6 Ligonier to Breezewood 63
September 7 Breezewood to Shippensburg 54
September 8 Shippensburg to Harrisburg 42
September 9 Harrisburg to Reading 61
September 10 Reading to Philadelphia 63
September 11 Rest & Write
September 12 Philadelphia, PA. to New Brunswick, NJ 66
September 13 New Brunswick to New York, New York 35