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Day 60, Aug 28, Near Oak Ridge, TN.

Today was harder than I anticipated. We got off to a later start for the delightful reason of spending more time with our daughter Layne before she had to leave.Then we reached another landmark, we crossed another time line to EST, that had the effect of shortening the day. In-between though came many more and steeper hills than I thought were in this part of TN, half a dozen dog chase incidents, and rumble strips that took up 80% of the shoulder (an insane design I believe). These stresses got me thinking about the end of the journey.

I find myself of two minds. I am ready to complete it, almost a “horse to barn” reaction on the home stretch. I smell NC. Mind you, there is still @ 500 miles to go, but we have done over 3000 miles, so I think this qualifies as the final leg. But, I equally feel unready for an end as I feel there is still so much to do. I answer that with the knowledge that I will continue collecting video stories after the “GOing” is done, toward an intended documentary and book. I will continue to look for opportunities to speak.

If my journey does represent the road to recovery, reaching the east coast is like coming out of a rehab program ready to reintegrate into normal life. The lessons and freedom gained through a treatment facility are not discarded and forgotten on the completion of rehab, but are instead a springboard and model for the rest of life, forever. My continuing InJoelSteps beyond reaching the coast on the Elliptigo is simply a reflection of that.

Addiction is a treatable disease.

It disables choice making.

Community matters.

Day 59, Aug 27, near Cookeville, TN.

Another hot one but I rode until my princess joined us - nothing like that for positive motivation! Our daughter Layne Auman Braunstein drove 4 hours this morning from Louisville, KY to see us for the afternoon and early tomorrow morning before she has to return for weekend commitments. Such an encouraging delight to have her with us. And the anticipation made the whole day, even the part in the steam room, on unpredictably broken roads, chasing dogs, and honking drivers feel special and lighter.

Pleasant surprises are always nice, but when you can plan and aim for something it extends the enjoyment that much longer doesn’t it? It pushes a future event into the present as well. Someone recovering and the someone supporting that person both need something to hope for, to aim at, to believe in. Otherwise the rising steam temperatures, broken macadam, snarling dogs, and aggressive drivers really wear you down. We can each be the encourager and the one hoped for for someone. And in the isolating, scary, confusing, and lonely world of SUD, we can be a life-saver.

Addiction is a brain disease.

It disable decision making.

It is treatable.


Day 58, Aug 26, Goodlettsville, TN.

Rest day. Catch up day. The respite from the car and road focus in the outdoor steam room feels like a long slow exhale. Ahhh. Catching up on chores and communications while resting the legs, back, arms and mind is so soothing. Our daughter #LayneSanders joins us tomorrow - excited! Tonight we get to visit with #JulieHuneycutt, a friend from Hendersonville, NC and director of #HopeCoalition. She is in Nashville now for the 2021 Drug Endangered Children Conference. She has invited us to join her group at dinner with Sam Quinones, author of “Dreamland” from 2015 researching the origins of the Opioid Crisis surging through this country now. As a related note, a link on the website has been placed to a great podcast on addiction between Rich Roll and Dr Anna Lembke, a Stanford psychiatrist and author of the just released “Dopamine Nation”.

For those friends following in NC, I did some route work last night and was truly surprised to see we may be in Asheville, NC as early as Aug 31. Yikes. Coming to the last leg and still so much to do. For today’s photos I chose several of Joel. He is the reason we are here, continuing In Joel’s Steps to help others trapped by substance addiction. I’ll be back in the steam bath tomorrow, but for now, I’m not, and instead, rehydrating and refueling. I’m “re’ing”.

I raise my non-alcoholic near beer in a toast with you to “Re’ing”.

Substance addiction is a treatable brain disease that disables sound decision-making.

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