top of page


Day 49, Aug 17, Pittsburg, KS.

I’m not sure when we became surrounded by deciduous trees. Its been somewhere in this state of KS, in the eastern half, but I only realized today that they are here to stay as we head east. The cicada song was rich and vibrant last night. Hearing night insects is another change that occurred gradually enough that I’m unclear when it happened. Both bring with them decades of memories from childhood forward and spawn a homesickness for a place thick with trees, western NC, that we no longer live. Summer nights as a child on my grandparents screen porch where even conversation was difficult due to the clamor of the insects. They likely correspond to the increase in the trees. Another dividing line that may also be coincident in timing that was reached this last week is the cross-country halfway mark. I’m not sure where or what day that occurred, only that it has. We got to the Missouri line today.

I’m struck now by the magnitude of change that can occur with slow, steady, incremental progress. It feels so very long ago, much more than the actual 6 weeks, since we began in San Francisco. There has not been a day where I felt after it ended that I had made significant progress toward the east coast goal. And yet, over 2000 miles has been traveled. I’ll bet we have all had these experiences before. The experience of chipping away at something steadily, day by day, sometimes feeling you aren’t getting anywhere, only to wake one day, look back, and find yourself in a dramatically different place. What are some of yours?

I think the journey for those attempting recovery and for the families of those in, wrestling with, or resisting the need for recovery feel the heavy weight of the daily effort, the same can be true. There can come a day when you look back and find you cannot believe how much ground you have covered and how much things have changed. I wish there were a guarantee, but there isn’t with anything difficult that we attempt. But there is hope, there is help, and we can believe.

Thank you to you all for following, encouraging, giving, sharing the website and posts, and participating with this project of ours, InJoelSteps. It blesses us, honors Joel, and gives hope, help, and aid to those suffering from the enslavement to substances. GoFundMe funds go 100% to four organizations that between them cover the full spectrum of the issue, from prevention, to recovery, to research, and to homelessness.

Addiction is a brain disease.

It is treatable.

It disables decision-making.

Community matters.

Company, Aug 16.

Day 48, Aug 16, Toronto, KS.

Today is a rest day. Ahh. I felt the need to move the legs beyond just walking so I put in a couple hours on the GO taking some miles off tomorrow (I’ve noticed that the Elliptigo community refers to the sport as GOing). I could subtitle this project “GOing across America” I guess? Even more economical, “GOing XC”? How about “GOing for Recovery”?

Today was mostly a bit of maintenance/repair work, sitting about the quiet, empty campground by Toronto Lake with Beth, (we are about one of 10 campers in a complex that can house about 250 - school has started!), and taking walks.

We said goodbye to a new friend who joined us the last couple days riding and at the campsites. Jay from Pittsburgh is a very accomplished long distance cycler crossing the country now for the 3rd time as he heads back home. We intersected on the road, found we had several experiences in common, and that we had a very similar riding pace for these long events. We shared a grievous loss that binds souls together. We will miss Jay’s presence, his self-deprecating humor, many stories and graceful conversation. Our dog Loki will miss her new friend who told her convincingly “you’re the best dog in the world” as he slathered her with affectionate head rubs and playful wrestling.

You know, we all need someone to say to us convincingly, “you’re the best dog in the world” don’t we? Regardless of our roles, our positions, our titles, our perceived independence, we need this. To all those in the battle to free themselves from substance dependence, I’d like to say, “you are the bravest person in the world”. To the family member who fights for their loved one to be free, “you are the strongest person I know”. Perhaps instead InJoelSteps should be subtitled, and perhaps I should live by, “GOing with encouragement”. I think I’ll try.

Addiction is a treatable brain disease that disables decision-making.

Day 45, Aug 13 (Friday the), Buhler, KS.

Though I have experienced it many times before, it still takes me by surprise when a really good day follows a bad one. Yesterday was so tough from the beginning. After 4 consecutive longer days in the high heat, and in Kansas, humidity, my get up and go had gotten up and went. My body and mind were (literally) fried. Today though, flew easily by topping out at 81 degrees, much of it in the 70’s while riding, and cloud cover with fairy drizzlings of cooling rain. I felt like I could do two days in one. The scenery cooperated too, riding by wildlife refuges and vast, contoured grassy scapes that drew you in and made you want to see what was around the next bend. Yes, there were bends in the road again, and rolling hills. Its evening now, and as I write I can’t wait to get out again tomorrow for another 6+ hr ride. While yesterday, I was so toasted I was moving and thinking as if through sludge. And to add to the unpredictability, today I started almost in the dark and it was raining, got lost in Great Bend, and rode the first two hours into a headwind. (BTW, headwinds on a stand-up running bike are no joke!)

In endeavors outside endurance sports, I find the same truth: one day does not predict the next - good and bad can cycle unpredictably. Our best strategy often is to adopt Paul’s insight that he knows need, and he knows plenty, but he has learned how to be content with both (paraphrase of letter to the Phillipians, in ch 4). Also, Lao Tzu’s advice that if you are in a difficult circumstance or space, “wash your bowl” ( that is, do what you need to do that is right before you). Adapting this guidance to my trek might mean, I know disabling heat and I know enabling comfort, and learn to be content in both. Also, if its a hard day, put one foot down and then the other. Then repeat. Keep the end in mind and take steps toward it. Focus and grind. Feelings and circumstances can and will change.

So it is in recovery. There will be good days and bad. Learning to accept both and keeping the end in mind can be very hard when it is the mind itself that is disabled by the disease. Learning to trust others, family, friends, and professionals, and lean on your support is critical to keeping focused and continuing to grind out one step at a time. Community matters.

Above are pictures of two fields that were side by side, separated only by a dirt road. Sometimes we feel like, or see others as, the empty dirt stubble field. Actually, if we really see the potential in others and ourselves, we are all the verdant green field. Of the approximately 100 billion people that have ever lived, you truly are, and your neighbor truly is, one of a kind, the only to ever be. And, get this, we all have that in common. We are connected through that. Unique, yet one. That puts judging others into a different light I think. Can you see the rich green fields all about you?

Addiction is a treatable brain disease that disables decision-making.

bottom of page