Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A Day's Rest and Familiar Faces

Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

It's been a few days since I've been able to write. I made it though the storm in Ohio all the way to Columbiana, OH (home of Harvey Firestone--the tire guy). When I pulled into town, someone suggested I ask the police if I could camp in the local park. As I was making my way through town I saw some people unloading their bikes from the car. My chain was in bad shape from all the rain and gravel paths so I stopped to ask if they had any lube. They did in fact, and even better they offered me a place to stay with them. Their daughter Beth was visiting with her boyfriend Bob (the bikers). I found out that Beth is also a physical therapist. We ate pizza and watched a movie together. It felt like I could have been visiting my own parents for the holiday weekend. They hooked me up with one of those air mattresses in the screened porch. I had the comfort of a bed but I got to wake up to the crickets.
Sunday I made it all the way to Willowick (outside of Cleveland), where my good friend/housemate's grandma lives. I've stayed with her a few times before when driving between Camden and Chicago. She had a good luck balloon on the lamp post and a sign that said "Go Jeremy Go, God's Speed" (you can see it behind us in the picture) As another surprise my friend Scott from Philly was coming back from picking up his daughter Mae Mae from Indiana and he stopped in for a visit. We played down by Lake Erie together and then Grandma B cooked a great spaghetti dinner.
I took a day of rest on Monday and had the chance to hang out with Grandma, and Chris's aunts Peg and Terry. Being on the road has been great but there's something about being around people you know and having the freedom to just relax. Grandma B is like another grandma to me. I can do no wrong with her. She not only volunteered to do my smelly laundry but she said she enjoyed it and commented on my "neat biker clothes". When I left the toilet seat up she laughed to Peg how it had been a long time since she had walked into the bathroom and seen that! Last night we went out for Mexican and were serenated by Mariachis. I also cruised around town with Peg searching for a new back tire because a nice slash caused a blowout as I was coming into Willowick (it was perfect timing). I can feel all of your prayers. My knee is feeling good. The sun is shining. And I have some great maps from Adventure Cycling that will bring west along Lake Erie today. Stay in touch.

Pic 15: Scooter and Mae Mae

Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

Scooter and Mae Mae met me at Grandma B's in Cleveland

Pic 14: Me and Lake Erie Sunset

Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

Beautiful sunset on Lake Erie

Pic 13: The Moellers from Columbiana, OH

Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

Here's the Moeller's from Columbiana, OH. Dressed to kill in their Sunday best. I slept like a baby in the screened in porch behind them

Pic 12: Mike from Ohio

Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

This Mike, a new friend I met at the library when I got to Ohio. He was so excited he brought me home to meet his family

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Hasta La Vista Pennsylvania Hello Oh! hio

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Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

Sorry, can't upload pictures here...maybe tommorrow.
Since I last wrote I must admit I've had quite a few frustrating momoments trying to get around Pittsburg. In fact I was so fed up that I decided I needed to get the rock out of PA ASAP, which brought me through the panhandle of West Virgina (I never know it had a panhandle) and into Ohio. The Oh!hio title is an inside joke because there's a little pub near Camden called Oh! Hara's.
I had another serindipitous moment last night. I stopped at a pizza joint (they want me to mention their name: Abi Cristo Pizzeria). I was frustrated because I had gone 80 miles but had very little ground covered, yet I was also tired as all get out. I was strategizing with this kid at the counter about what my options were. He had me convinced that I could ride another 30 miles into the night and make it to a campground (and have some distance to show for it). I got a few miles down the road and it started raining and I said forget it.
I happened to be passing a church called the Christian Missionary Alliance with a house next to it. A nice woman named Claire answered the door and I told her my situation and I showed her my pictures of Camden while her husband Rick (the pastor) was on the phone. He came out to the porch and said it was cool if I set up my tent in the back yard. Just as I got my tarp down, the rain started to really pour and Rick came out and offered me the spare bedroom. A hot shower, a bed and a bowl of ice cream made up for the frustration.
In the morning the three of us had a good theological discussion about my thoughts on my own salvation. We ended up talking a lot about the Cross and the cost of discipleship. Rick has found that preaching on such issues has "turned off" his congregation. So much so that they have been asked to find a new congregation. So we prayed for eachother and they sent me on my way. Rick got me back on the right track but somewhere along the way I got turned around again...giving me another 15 unnecessary miles.
But I literally just crossed into Ohio and it started to lightning and thunder. So I'm hiding out in this library and until it lets up. Definitely won't be in Cleveland tonight. Pray that I find my way smoothly and pray for my right knee---I have some patellar tendonitis that's acting up again.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Prayer and 75 cent Tacos

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Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

Not long after stopping in Somerset yesterday, I came to a dirt trail that follows the Youghiogheny River. I was surrounded by sunshine behind a canopy of trees and the sound of the river all day. It was very medatative. After tenuous downhills, big trucks and wet roads the last few days it was a gift to ride in serenity.
Some people express themselves best to God through words, some through music, some through painting or sculpting. I find that I'm most connected to God when I'm exerting my body. For most of my life it been in the form of running, but now I am finding it in biking. Yesterday I got into a rhythm where my legs were pumping at an even cadence for hours---I felt like I could have never stopped. In fact the only thing that could stop me was a sign....for 75 cent tacos.
I went in to check it out and it was a bar filled with weathered looking dudes. The type of guys who have a few stiff drinks after work and then leave with a 12 pack. But I ordered my tacos and a Lager and before long some of the guys started to talk to me. One guy said, "You're riding all that way for Camden, I wouldn't ride 2 miles for this town." When I asked if there were any places to camp out down the trail, a guy named Mike volunteered his mom's yard, which was right on the trail. She had just had her hip replaced so he made sure to tell her I was a physical therapist that works with the elderly. It worked out great...I camped out in the yard and even got a shower (see the picture of Mike's mom, Mary above).
I've been on the same trail all morning but I think it's coming to an end. I'm in McKeesport, PA outside of Pittsburg. I'm still 150 miles from Cleveland but I'm not giving up on making it there by tommorrow night. Of course there's a wind out of the NW (the direction I'm going)--SO pray for a wind change or a little push from the Holy Spirit.

Pic 10: Taco/Beer Sign

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Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

Pic 11: Consuming Lager and Tacos

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Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

Pic 9: The Youghiogheny River bike trail

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Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

Pic 8: Camping in the pallet graveyard

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Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

Pallet campground

Pic 7: Exiting prcession from Sacred Heart

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Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

Fr. Doyle e-mailed me this one

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Finally Some Sunshine

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Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

I'm not able to upload any pictures here but I'll put some new ones up as soon as I can. I'm in Somerset, PA. I was wet all day yesterday, in fact I don't think I ever took my rain gear off. I felt better after I stopped to write yesterday---must have been all of those prayers. I biked until I literally couldn't bike anymore, which put me right in the middle of nowhere. I noticed a saw mill on the side of the mountain and I went and checked it out. There was a family living there who felt sorry for me and let me set up my tent in the middle of a "wooden pallet graveyard". I again felt connected to Camden because there is wooden pallet factory our neighborhood. I rigged my tent and rain fly up with bungie cords because the mountainous soil was to hard to drive stakes into it. After a while Wayne, the dad, showed up on his 4 wheeler with some sandwiches and some fruit, which was great because I didn't have dinner. The mom couldn't believe that I didn't know that it was the season finale of American Idol. I spent a cozy night in my sleeping bag listening to some CDs that good friends made for my trip. This morning I woke up to sun shine and the sound of the saw mill. The sun feels great. I started the day with 1.25 mile climb up a 14% grade (it's the steepness that gets to me). There were contruction workers on the road who just shook their heads as I went by (I'm sure my face was grimacing and my eyes were watering). My only complaint today is that there's a strong wind out of the west, which makes me feel like I'm going in slow motion some of the time. Well I better get on the road again. I don't think I'm going to make it Pittsburg tonight because I'm a little set back because of a detour this morning. The librarian here says that the mountains don't really let up until Pittsburg, especially because I'm on the back roads. Good to hear from a lot of you on the posts and e-mail. Peace and love. Jer

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Mountains, Rain, Wind, Tunnels

Mountains, Rain, Wind, Tunnels
Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

Day 3
Yesterday rained all day and I encountered some gnarly climbs but I logged 68 miles. There were some great vistas on top of the mountains. At the end of the day I wasn't sure where I was going to stay and the rain was picking up. There were some houses scattered along the road but no real towns. I asked a few folks if I could set up my tent on their land but they weren't too keen on the idea. I was getting a little discouraged and then I heard my phone ring (thanks to cell phone tower on the mountain). It was my housemate Chris. Talking with him and Cassie, Farah, and Lauren picked me up. I continued about another mile down the road and a guy was pulling into his driveway. He asked me how much farther I was going and I said "Hopefully not much farther" because it was getting dark. Mike invited me in and introduced me to his wife Theresa (see picture) and they gave me their sons room who is in college. They had an interesting accent, a mix between a drawl and the movie Fargo. They have had 5 bears in their back yard in the last month.
This morning Theresa told me how to hook up to the old PA turnpike, which has some tunnels to cut through the mountain (see picture)---it was a good thing I had my light because they were pitch black. It felt appropriate to bike on an abandoned highway for awhile---I thought a lot about Camden.
I must admit I'm pretty tired today and the stiff, cold wind in my face hasn't helped. Keep me in your prayers. If everything goes right, I'll be in Pittsburg by Thursday night and Cleveland by Saturday night.

Pic 6: Tunnel of old PA Turnpike

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Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

Pic 5: Mountain top in PA

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Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Hospitality Continues

The Hospitality Continues
Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

Day 2: I had a great day of riding through the Amish country---you just have to be careful when passing the horse and buggies. I was feeling good all day so I called ahead to a Mennonite Your Way contact in Biglerville, which would make the day just short of 90 miles. No one was home but I left my number anyway. The contact, Bob ended up calling me back when I was about 13 miles away. He said he would be busy but he was already arranging for me to stay with someone from his church. When I was about 5 miles away he was on the side of the road to take my order for dinner---stromboli sounded good. We had dinner and then he had to go help some friends move some furniture. He thought nothing of leaving me alone in his house to chill after knowing me for only a half an hour...I guess there still are some trusting people in this world. I ended up staying the night with a couple named Marty and Rosemary (see the picture). They are great folks. Marty has lived in Biglerville his whole life. He recently retired from the local box factory after 26 years. He even meets up with old high school buddies once a week. Marty reminded me are Marty McFLy from Back to the future. Rosemary was very sweet and interested in what I had to share about Camden...and she makes a heck of a sack lunch.
While I was here in the library a guy came in who is also biking across the country. He started in Bakersfield, CA and is going to Akron, PA. He's 52 now and he did the same trip 30 years ago. He raising awareness for Mennonite Central Committe (their mission branch)---who I know do excellent work all over the world. Check him at mcccycletour.com He's going to give me a shout out on his site too.
It's been raining all day and I'm in the midst of the mountains. I stopped at the local post office to send some of my gear ahead to Crystal Lake in order to lighten my load a little. Keep me in your prayers

Pic 4: Amish harvesting hay

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Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

Pic 3: Good bye from pier

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Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

Pic 2: Door at Sacred Heart

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Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

Pic 1: Bike Posse through Camden

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Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

Monday, May 23, 2005

The Send Off

Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

Today was quite possibly one of the most special days I've had so far in my 26 years. Sacred Heart Parish commissioned me on my way during the 10:30 mass. I brought my bike and trailer to the altar where it was blessed by Father Michael with holy water. I had the chance to tell the congregation how much I appreciated their support. It was the feast of the Trinity, with I thought was fitting because although I will be travelling alone I feel very much a part of community. It was an emotional moment for many of us. I then processed through the aisle while the congregation sang the Irish Blessing "May the road rise to meet you". We all then went down to a local pier with is sandwiched by the sewage plant and a metal scrap yard (an appropriate place to start). Most of the congregation came down to wish me well---quite a few slipped me a few bucks for "candy bars" or gave me a token to remember them by. I then rode off to the Ben Franklin bridge surrounded by my housemates. Andrea road with me for the first 30 miles. I made my first stop about 65 miles down the road in Morgantown, PA. I stayed with a Mennonite couple who open their home to travelers through Mennonite Your Way directory. They gave me a warm bed and some good cooking. I have some great pictures from the day which I will post when I have the chance to upload them.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Day before I leave

Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

I started the day with a bike ride with some neighborhood kids. Thanks to the support of my boss Tim Fox (Fox Rehab) we have a fleet of bikes and helmets for kids to borrow. We cause ourselves the Waterfront South Camden Bike Club. Today we biked down to the Camden Riverfront. The kids thought it was pretty cool to bike all the way to the Ben Franklin Bridge. One of my co-workers, Bridget, met us down there and brought some snacks. Her husband Ron, who is a police officer at Rutgers Camden also stopped buy. He might as well have been a celebrity. The kids piled into his squad car and had fun sounding the siren.

There was also an article in the Courier Post about my Journey. Check it out here At the bottom of the article it will tell you how you can donate to the cause.

Friday, May 20, 2005

The Route

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Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

I thought I'd give a little overview of route I will be taking between Camden, NJ and California.

The sequence of the states will be: NJ, PA, OH, IN, MI (around Lake Michigan or cross on a ferry), WI, IL, MO, KS, CO, WY, MT, ID, WA, OR, CA

For those of you familiar with the Adventure Cycling cross-country routes, it is a mix between the Northern Tier (minus PA) and the Trans-America route.

With each state I will try to provide a link to a map that shows the specific route I will be taking. Here's what I have so far:

Pennsylvania : East/West South/North ****You can click on the numbers on the map to zoom in and see the smaller roads

Ohio: Route N

Press Release

This is a press release that Sacred Heart Church sent out this week to the local media:

Jeremy Sullivan of the Camden Community House near Broadway and Ferry in the Waterfront South section in the city of Camden leaves on Sunday May 22nd from Sacred Heart Church, Broadway and Ferry at 12:00 noon to ride his bicycle by himself to California. According to his pastor, Michael Doyle, "Over the next six months, as he exerts his lungs and legs, he will carry in his heart and prayer his friends and neighbors whose lungs have been affected by the industry-polluted air in Camden." (And that fact connects profoundly to the purpose of his pilgrimmage).

Jeremy will travel through 16 states and talk to people about the issue of air and lungs in Waterfront South. He is deeply interested in environmental justice. He sees the need for the greening of the damaged earth as a way to heal the air by planting trees, creating buffers of evergreens, and planting gardens of flowers and vegetables. For this task, which will involve many people in Waterfront South, he seeks donations. A penny a mile is $30, a nickel would be $150, a dime $300, a $1 would be $3000. Checks over the next six months will be made payable to: Sacred Heart Church with "Jeremy's Journey" on the memo. At noon on Sunday he will stand before the congregation at Sacred Heart , with his bicycle, his gear, and his hope. He will ask the blessing of God on his journey.

Children and members of the congregation will accompany him to his first stop at the nearby fishing pier, which is at the end of Jackson Street in South Camden. There refreshments will be served and good wishes will be given. At that location he will be standing between the county sewage plant, the city scrap yard and the state sanctioned St. Lawrence Cement facility. He feels that few cities in the U.S. are more environmentally abused than Waterfront South. He is asking America to help the lungs and the lives of the people of Waterfront South.