I made it to the east coast! I was done with the “Across America” part, now time for the down and back. 4,721 miles down the street from my house, I found myself in a second home, Meriden, CT. This was the first community to reach out to me the day after I founded my organization, March 26, 2010. Mr. Ted Lipkin was the first person to contact me from Meriden and quickly put me in contact with Kashia Cave, founder of My City Kitchen, an organization which teaches the youth, hands on, how to cook healthy, well-balanced meals for themselves! I quickly found out that this was only her part-time job; her full-time job, was being Superwoman! I actually called her the day after I was defeated in arm wrestling by the strongest woman in Utah! Feeling defeated and less of a man, I called Kashia, a vivacious, high energy, go getter originally from Trinidad and Tobago. And within a single conversation, I felt like a winner again. She gave me much-needed encouragement, and assured me that Meridan was going to be the biggest stop for me. She don’t ever lie! I was booked solid for a week straight with numerous opportunities to reach out to the youth of Connecticut and share my story. I thank you, Kashia and Ted, Mayor Rohde and the City of Meriden and all those who have inspired me to continue on my journey around the nation.
I departed Meriden, flying down US Route 1, beside myself that I was 80 miles outside of New York City. Every city and town I have visited thus far, has been my first visit and it will continue to be so until I reach Galveston, TX. So with every stop and around every corner, there is a new experience to be had. Even more so in New York City and I could not wait to see all of the lights and excitement of NYC. I was hustling down US1, pedaling as fast as my abnormally large and overly tanned legs (only to just above the knee) could go. I was actually listening to my iPod, which I normally don’t do until the last hour of my ride. But I needed to listen to music to distract myself, soothing the anticipation that ran through my body.
Within all of the excitement, 40 miles outside of NYC, my luggage on my bike began to slowly slide off of my bike. I pulled over to inspect my loaded bicycle, only to discover that my right saddlebag had flown off! This bag contained a photo copy of my passport, license and social security card, which I used when I was backpacking through South America last year. I called all of the local police stations on US1 to see if they would be able to scan their jurisdictions for my bag, with little cooperation. After exhausting all of my resources and options, I decided to continue on towards NYC.
An hour later, I found myself in Greenwich, CT, a very affluent community and apparently a safe place to camp out. I first stopped by a local bike shop, Greenwich Bicycles, to pick up a new saddlebag. I told the owner my story and ask if he carried any in stock. With zero hesitation, he went to his personal bicycle and grabbed a brand new saddlebag off of his rack, and gave it to me as a donation. I was thrilled and could not show how grateful I was for his generosity. I stayed for as long as I could talk with him, but the sun was going down and I needed to find a place to pitch my tent in town. He recommended a local park by the marina, but advised me to find a good hiding spot. With my brand new saddlebag securing my luggage, I bicycled down the Main Street, which was the Fifth Avenue of Greenwich. I passed Tiffany’s, Coach and any designer you could think of.
The second I arrived to the marina, I noticed a lady on the corner of the street, waiting to cross. I smiled at her, “Hey, how are ya?” “I’m good, you look like a travelling man, where are you from?” After a brief description of where I was from and what I was doing, she invited me to join her, “You want to take a ferry ride? It’s a beautiful ride and this is the last ride for the season!”
I did want to. She was a good saleswoman. But then there were three questions that plagued my decision to go. Did I have enough time? Did I have enough money? What if I didn’t come back in time, and couldn’t find a place to sleep? Time, money and failure. Oddly enough, these were the same three questions I asked myself before starting my organization and 11,000 mile bicycle ride. Do I have enough time? Do I have enough money? What if I fail?
People ”Across America” have expressed their great desire to join me along my journey. I ask them what’s stopping them. And every single person I have encountered, from all walks of life, have had the same three questions holding them back from their dreams. Now, I don’t even ask them, I just tell them what is hindering their ambitions and they are amazed that I knew their responses, before they had the time to articulate them.
“How long is the ferry ride?” “I don’t know”, she responded. “How much is the ferry ride?” She looked down at the ferry voucher she had in her hand, her sunglasses propped on her head, holding her short, brunette hair in place. She looked back up at me. “I have an extra voucher for you, I bought them at the beginning of the season and have been TRYING to go all summer, but haven’t been able to. I made the DECISION to finally go today.” “What if I don’t come back in time and can’t find a place to camp?” “You’ll figure it out!” She was right, I would figure it out, I’ve figured it out every night of my trip thus far.
I then realized that I was contemplating the same questions that I had to dismiss prior to my departure, in order to accomplish my dream. The same questions which hold so many back from accomplishing their dreams, often discouraged by not having the answers to these three questions; time, money and failure. I did not have the answers to these questions before my departure. I wasn’t sure if I had enough time, enough money (I left with 36 dollars in my pocket after paying my overdue bill at my local bicycle shop), nor the experience to guarantee my body and mind would be able to endure this gruelling challenge. Without the answers to these questions, I departed my hometown on my bicycle, and I accepted the offer from the lady at the marina, on the corner of the street.
I had an incredible time on the ferry ride. It took us out to an island, some 5 miles off of the coast. Just as we departed from the island, returning back to the marina, a lady emerges from the captain’s cabin. I am assuming she was from New Jersey because she had orange skin, exaggerated makeup, tight black leather pants, a cheetah print blouse and a Snooky bump. As she stumbled out of the cabin, glass of wine in one hand and cheese in the other, she started pumping her fist (honest truth) and rhythmically chanting, with a heavy Jersey accent, ”We want a Loop-dee-loop!” Her enthusiasm spread throughout the vessel like a plague, and she created a near riot atmosphere. I took this opportunity to exchange names with my hostess, whom invited me. Her name was Nanette. I told her my name, and gave emergency contact information, just in case we didn’t make it back to shore.
I leaned across the aisle in front of me to inquire about this infamous “Loop-dee-loop”. An older couple was sitting directly across from us, with large yellow rain coats, whom very well could have been the Gordan Fisherman’s parents. They informed me that it was a tradition for generations, that on the last ride of the season, they perform a dount-like manuever in the middle of the harbor, spinning around in place… a Loop-dee-loop. The captain refused to do so, and I feared for my life.
To my surprise, we made it back to the marina. Nanette invited me to sleep in her guest room, as well as to the best mexican restaurant I have ever been to. It was an incredible experience and to think, I almost let three little questions get in my way. If you are chasing a dream, do not let anything get in the way; not time, not money and not failure. If it is in your heart and mind to succeed, you will figure it out. There is always time, there is always money out there to be found and, you know by reading my previous blog, you will never fail as long as you decide to succeed! Keep chasing your dreams, sooner or later, your dreams will get tired of running from you!