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   Earthly Photos "A 10 year Bicycling Journey captured on film!"

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Getting drafted and being sent to Viet Nam changed me in many more ways than I ever thought was possible. Trained as a "Combat Field Medic", surrounded by a world of combat, honing  skills at survival, two years later I returned to being a civilian again. Unsure of everything, higher education proved not to be the answer.  After a semester and a half,  dropping out of college I flew off to Europe, which was way too expensive for a meager nest-egg of only $400.  So I hitch-hiked to Nepal and back, taking a year, supplementing finances by doing a bit of horse-trading along the way, experiencing such wonderful places such as Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal during peaceful times.    

Back in the USA, the end of summer found me with $800 burning a hole in my pocket and the cool fall weather about to take a turn for the worse.  Dreaming of brighter days, good friend, Frank McNear and I left Delaware hitch-hiking south, ending up in Mexico for 6 months of misbehaving; truly living on a shoestring. Fighting fiercely to defend and prove ourselves several nights while in jail, and being detained at the border exiting Mexico, should not be the 'highlights' of our vacation, but for the life of me, that is what sticks in my mind. Actually I did learn a couple things: careful traveling with Frank, and two, no need to stay in a hotel when money is tight. 

Back in the USA again one year later, a wad of money was burning a hole in my pocket, fall was ending, and the thought of freezing my butt off was just too much to bare. After buying a ticket to Colombia, I arrived in Barranquilla in 1973 with $1400, not remembering a word of the Spanish learned in Mexico the previous year. Traveling slowly south through Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, a year later I arrived at Ushuaia, Argentina, the most southern city on earth at the tip of South America with just twenty bucks to my name. Some horse-trading along the way got me this far and it looked like I was going to have my hands full to get back to Colombia.  Fortunately for me, I was robbed shortly after of everything I owned which aided me in meeting locals, and in particular, a leather craftsman who convinced me of trying my hand at the trade. What seemed like a million bags and belts later, back in Colombia feeling it was time to leave, I ended up getting arrested for working illegally, trying to earn enough money for a return ticket to the States. Without a doubt it had been an amazing three years in South America, other than the last seven days in jail waiting for deportation papers.

Back in the USA once again, fall was ending . . . you know the story, it was time to be moving on.  My plan was to travel through Central America down to Panama and hop a freight down to New Zealand.  After traveling through Mexico, Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, I landed in Costa Rica on a Friday night with just $50 in my pocket, needing a new pair of pants and shoes.  By Monday I had two jobs lined up making $35 a day.  For the next ten years Costa Rica took me out of the woods providing the comforts of a real home, cars, motorcycles, bicycles, and even at times a steady girlfriend.  All of that was great, but I missed the adventures of traveling.  The time had finally come!  After a month-long garage sale, able to fit everything into just one suitcase, I boarded a plane north to California, escaping the noose that had been holding me in Costa Rica for so long!

 

 

Getting drafted and being sent to Viet Nam changed me in many more ways than I ever thought was possible. Trained as a "Combat Field Medic", surrounded by a world of combat, honing  skills at survival, two years later I returned to being a civilian again. Unsure of everything, higher education proved not to be the answer.  After a semester and a half,  dropping out of college I flew off to Europe, which was way too expensive for a meager nest-egg of only $400.  So I hitch-hiked to Nepal and back, taking a year, supplementing finances by doing a bit of horse-trading along the way, experiencing such wonderful places such as Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal during peaceful times.    

Back in the USA, the end of summer found me with $800 burning a hole in my pocket and the cool fall weather about to take a turn for the worse.  Dreaming of brighter days, good friend, Frank McNear and I left Delaware hitch-hiking south, ending up in Mexico for 6 months of misbehaving; truly living on a shoestring. Fighting fiercely to defend and prove ourselves several nights while in jail, and being detained at the border exiting Mexico, should not be the 'highlights' of our vacation, but for the life of me, that is what sticks in my mind. Actually I did learn a couple things: careful traveling with Frank, and two, no need to stay in a hotel when money is tight. 

Back in the USA again one year later, a wad of money was burning a hole in my pocket, fall was ending, and the thought of freezing my butt off was just too much to bare. After buying a ticket to Colombia, I arrived in Barranquilla in 1973 with $1400, not remembering a word of the Spanish learned in Mexico the previous year. Traveling slowly south through Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, a year later I arrived at Ushuaia, Argentina, the most southern city on earth at the tip of South America with just twenty bucks to my name. Some horse-trading along the way got me this far and it looked like I was going to have my hands full to get back to Colombia.  Fortunately for me, I was robbed shortly after of everything I owned which aided me in meeting locals, and in particular, a leather craftsman who convinced me of trying my hand at the trade. What seemed like a million bags and belts later, back in Colombia feeling it was time to leave, I ended up getting arrested for working illegally, trying to earn enough money for a return ticket to the States. Without a doubt it had been an amazing three years in South America, other than the last seven days in jail waiting for deportation papers.

Back in the USA once again, fall was ending . . . you know the story, it was time to be moving on.  My plan was to travel through Central America down to Panama and hop a freight down to New Zealand.  After traveling through Mexico, Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, I landed in Costa Rica on a Friday night with just $50 in my pocket, needing a new pair of pants and shoes.  By Monday I had two jobs lined up making $35 a day.  For the next ten years Costa Rica took me out of the woods providing the comforts of a real home, cars, motorcycles, bicycles, and even at times a steady girlfriend.  All of that was great, but I missed the adventures of traveling.  The time had finally come!  After a month-long garage sale, able to fit everything into just one suitcase, I boarded a plane north to California, escaping the noose that had been holding me in Costa Rica for so long!

 

Journey Begins

Canada,USA,travel,intercontinental,touring,travel,bicycle,SUV,vehicle  Designing and building an off-road bike took a month, but as soon as it was done, I bid farewell to friends and family, sensing this journey was going to be a long one.  First stop, Thailand, land of Buddha and a unique culture so different than anything I ever experienced before. The next five years were spent exploring as much as possible of Southeast Asia, the Philippines, South Korea and mainland China.


My goal was not to travel as fast or far as possible, but to spend a few nights, or maybe a couple weeks in every town that seemed interesting.  On non-travel days, there is nothing better than a bicycle to experience a town.  On travel days, 50 miles or so, between towns were fun days.  But days of 100-150 miles through the mountains, loaded down with 75 pounds of equipment , were usually torture.  And, during those ten years,  I can remember countless days of endless torture.

Not Alone

Philippine islands,south pacific,Luzon,Cebu,Boracay,boat,ship,ocean  Every so often I would cross paths with another cyclist and join up with those going the same direction.  The company of another cyclist was always enjoyable, but most were always in a hurry, so our partnerships didn't last long, and in a day or so, I'd be back on my own. Every cyclist has his pace and my pace was getting to know the country, its people, the food and its culture.


The best partnership of the entire 10 year expedition was with my buddy George Craig from England.  He had come all the way from England to Hong Kong without spending two nights in any one place.  We met in China, during his recovery from a hernia operation.  Flying to the Philippines together I taught him how to slow down and smell the roses, even how to bike hitch-hike on those occasional days when the end was nowhere in sight and sleeping in the woods had little appeal.  After a month and a half together, his bike was stolen (for the 1st time) with everything he owned, so I gave him $100 and we parted ways. I learned later that he finally finished his trip around the world on his third bike (the second was stolen as well) nearly a year later.

The Great Wall

Great Wall of China,archeological,ruins,archeologist,museum,artifacts,yellow sea,shanghai  Don't really know what got into my head, but during my years in China, I decided to hike the Great Wall from end to end.  Hoping to put together a book about it, I guess.  I had no idea as to how long it would take, but at the time, it seemed like a cool thing to do.  In the end it took nearly 11 months, which I spread out over 3 consecutive Chinese summers, while storing my bike at my favorite hotel in Beijing.


China's Great Wall crosses mountain after mountain from the Yellow Sea for over two thousand miles until it drops down into the desolate desert on its seemingly endless path westward.  Food, water and injury were my major concerns, as a week without encountering civilization was quite common.  For the world's most populated country, where was everyone?  Along this journey I was arrested five times for being in restricted areas, and forced to turn around several times.  Refusing to allow that stop me, I kept going until the wall slowly disappeared into the dry desert sand. The entire story of the trek, as well as pieces of history and tidbits of interesting facts, can be found in the descriptions of each photo, starting with the first photo and continuing on until the last photo, in the Great Wall section of the photo gallery.

Leaving Asia

New Zealand,auckland,north island,south island,Dunedin,Christchurch,Mt. Cook,glacier,mountain  Departing Asia, I decided to give New Zealand and Australia a go.  New Zealand was absolutely spectacular, and in three months I was able to circle the two main islands never tiring of its rugged countryside and wildlife.  The problem with New Zealand was finding a hotel.  Many small towns where I stopped had none, plus by the time I got there the few places to eat were closed as well, and cyclists are always hungry.


To avoid the problem I would stop a mile or two out of town and fiddle with the rear wheel as if I had a problem.  Almost every vehicle would stop, and the problem for lodging and food was taken care of as they always invited me into their homes for the night.  Great way for meeting people as well.

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea,headhunter,Port Moresby,cannibal,canibal,indigenous,food  In Australia, I followed its lovely coast and eventually was able to catch a flight to the remote island of Papua New Guinea for the adventure of all adventures.  In much of the country I explored, my bike was the first bike these isolated tribesmen had ever seen.  Papua New Guinea proved to be dangerously intriguing, and twice I had to fight my way out of problems.  Fortunately, not only did I have the only bike in town, I always had the fastest.  My entire travels through Papua New Guinea can be read in the descriptions of the 200 amazing portraits presented of these wild "Birds of Paradise", headhunting warriors.

South America

Aconcagua,chile,The andes,mountain pass,Argentina,Bolivia,Altiplano,ski lodge,bicycle  Needing a big change in scenery, I traveled to South America, landing in Santiago, Chile, and cycled the entire volcanic country from north to south and back again, which by the way, is the world's longest country.  The road to the tip of South America is so exciting passing snow-capped volcanoes, lakes and glaciers the entire way.


Besides crossing the Andes dozens of times on different mountain passes between Argentina and Chile, I crossed South America from west to east twice going to Brazil to house sit in Rio, then cycled the entire coast of Brazil up to the Amazon basin to just before the road ends.

Journey Ends

dog,mascot,canine,costa Rica,san jose  After three years of South America, from Venezuela I island hopped north across the Caribbean to Puerto Rico where I caught a plane to Cancun, Mexico.   The final year of this epic journey was spent biking south from Mexico through Central America, to Costa Rica, where the journey had started 10 years and 95,000 miles earlier.  Finally completing the loop, a dream had been fulfilled, as well as that gratifying feeling of closure.  (This photo was taken with my two dogs, Lana & Spooky, in 2012.)

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