Monday, June 29, 2009


Its Saturday June 27th, 620 am and Im having awesome thoughts and awesome vibes, still coming down from a most epic roll. Im in the back of a Golden Cherokee on the way back to Tyler, Texas and everything Im writing now I wrote in my head on that long 3 hour drive from Sulfer Springs. Let me tell you how I got myself into all this,

"Yesterday was a late day 10 am on the road. I spent two nights in Tyler and I wasn't planning on it at all. At Ryans, I didnt want to wake up early. I was dreading the upcoming day; 23 miles to Frankston and 22 to Palestine. I was completely worried about how the heat would affect me especially because of the very late start. I was expecting a completely miserable day, burning heat and shitty roads. But even as soon as I started the day was getting better and better. A slight head wind acted more like a cooling mechanism than a hinderance. The heat was taking minimal tolls on me. The roads were ideal, smooth giant shoulders and nice rolling hills. I was making serious progress and expected to get to Frankston at about 130. About three or four miles from Frankston the car Im in right now, pulls up. When it realizes that Im too far back, it busts a hard u-turn and pulls up to where Im at. I was pleasently surprised, 2 beautiful young women asking me to hop on. They were heading my way. But first they asked to take me on an adventure in the woods. In the spirit of going with the flow I went along and was curious to know what was coming next. We adventured and they invited me out to a rave that night. I was down. But something so weird happened on the way to her house.

I saw dog food and asked the driver, Kristin, if she had a dog. She was telling me all about this little puppy and was so excited for me to meet him. In the middle of our conversation her phone rings and as Im looking through some pictures of Amy's dog I hear "He's dead!?" and then Kristin tossing her phone and tearing. Bentley was dead.

What the fuck I thought, what kind of shit did I get myself into. The next 10 minutes passed like an eternity. She was coming to assumptions and I asked her not to assume until she could find out what really happened. We pulled up her driveway and there he was. Inside two white trashbags, laying there, flies hovering over and blood on the driveway. He had been run over by her roommates boyfriend, as he was backing up and snapped the poor dog's neck. Poor Kristen was sobbing and I didn't know what to do. I tried to put myself in her situation and remmbered how worried I was when Goose ran away a couple of times. She cried inside and I sat by the lifeless body. I said my prayers and ended up burying a dog that day. Digging the hole, laying the body and resurrecting the tombstone. I was so confused after. This was my destiny though and I made a choice and there was reason I made that choice. I had to keep going until I found that purpose.

Why did I get kicked out of the Peace Corps when I did over something so damn dummmmbb? And all the events that culminated after led to this trip where I was in search of a missing something. I saw purpose in me being here. There was a reason I had such a hard day before getting here. There was a reason Ryans' roomate wasn't there although he was supposed to and I ended up staying two nights even though I didnt plan on it. There was a reason I left at 10 am that day and not my usual 6am. There was a reason Kristin and Amy were passing by me when they did and there was a reason her dog died today. All these thoughts I couldn't escape. At first I was worried, worried that I was getting sidetracked on my trip, I was being distracted by two girls on an adventure. I was losing my purpose of this trip. But like a true adventurer I wanted to go with the flow and see where it would take me."

We headed to Sulfer Springs later that night and what a spiritual night it was for me. Just amazing all around and epic in every single moment. I will never forget the sights, sounds and feelings I had on the night of June 26th 2009. They say that the best adventures are best kept untold and so I shall leave it at that. Amy was taking pictures that whole day, but for some reason she lost her camera even though she planned so strongly to bring it that night. I dont see coincidence, I see purpose. Like the perfect adventure this was, the images from most perfectest adventures are only embedded in the minds of those who lived it. There was a reason her dog died in the beginning of my day with them and by the end of the day I found new life in myself. I found what I was looking for!! That missing something. That peace! I really found it. I had been asking God for a sign like this all along and for me it couldn't be clearer. I know the purpose of this trip now, it is to better myself. That is the way to aquire peace; to enlighten oneself.

I felt so much love that night, from complete strangers and it was so mutual. Picked up on the side of the road and now a connection like this. Wow I am so extremly ecstatic, so overwhelmed. Now I get to spend this week back where I never even wanted to be, with beautiful hearts, even though they may not know it yet. Last night was the beginning of someting very special for me, I believe it so strongly that I can see it. For the first time in my life I can see what I am really capable of. Nobody can deny the energy that was present last night, flowing through all of us and enlightening me so much. Not many experiences can be called life changing and even less with complete stangers but I couldn't be more satisfied with the people that have triggered something in me. Any true adventurer will go with the flow, but only the luckiest of them all have what they want come right up to them. Forever I will be indebted to my awesome, beautifully hearted and spirited new found friends, here in Tyler, Texas where I thought adventure would be so unlikely

Day 20 June 24 2009, Gilmer, TX - Tyler, TX (39.1 mi)

Today was my hardest day so far, although Im sure Texas will have many more in store for me. I wanted to leave real early; 530 am - be on the road. I was too comfortable asleep in the dark, under my blanket. I didn't get up until 530, by the time I packed and did my stretches I was on the road by 6-615. The road started out smooth, real nice. Seven miles to Pritchett and I got there at 645. Awesome timing. Then things started to fall aprt. The next 8 miles were shit Texas chipseal road. It took me 2.5 hours to get the next 8 miles to Big Sandy. In between I ran out of water so I was in search in the empty Texas road. So I found a Baptist church in search of a faucet. One round around the chruch nothing and back to the beginning. It was 815 and the sun was already punding down hard on me, like an iron on the back. I was feeling down. Time was passing but miles weren't getting covered. Then I saw that little hidden faucet, right where I had started making rounds. Nice, a full bottle and a big hill down. Then the road turned to gray. Yes! Smoothness! You see here is the thing about Texas unless anywhere else I have been. When the road is dark it usually means it is newly paved. This is no different in Texas, but the thing about newly paved in Texas is rough ass chipseal. Gravel stuck on to smooth road to create the roughest terrain on the planet, not even good for road bikes. The gray colored road, as I found when I got to the top of the hill was under construction to become rougher than ever. Less than a mile ahead, I could see the dark road agaim, brand new chipseal, for God knows how long.

It was brand new Chipseal all the way to Big Sandy, 6 miles ahead. By 915 I was there and the sun and heat were taking their toll on me. I squeezed my soaked shirt and it started dripping. I still had more than 20 miles to go. Luckily the road was as smooth as anywhere, all the way to Tyler, but the heat was unforgiving.

Every five miles or so I had to stop and lay down in the shade where I would just collapse. Although I was making good speed I was getting tired quick. I felt dizzy and was losing much more fluids and salts than I could take in. My chest was feeling tight, like somebody was squeezing it in giant bearhug. I could feel my heart pushing the force my chest strap of my backpack. I tried breathing techniques but it didn't help. The sun was only intensifying. I lost more and more water. I started to turn onto the road helplessely as I was getting more blurry. Traffic was getting pissed. Then a town I hadn't even recognized on my map called Winona came up after a long downhill. Powerade time. One liter, one gulp and then some shade. 17 miles to Tyler and it was 1042. I had to keep moving. I got 3 miles to the interstae and couldn't breathe again. I decided to lay down for as long as I needed underneath a tree. I had to get drier. I was soaked so was my map which was in my camera bag, but the heavy sweat soaked through my shirt and my camera bag into my map. In the burning hot sun, it tool less than 5 minutes to dry. At 1130 I decided to keep moving. 10 miles to Tyler, 8 miles to Tyler, Tyler city limits and on to highway 271.

2 lane, high speed, smooth. Up big hills and down big hills. Everytime I got to the top of one I hoped I could see the city, but after 5 or 6 long ascensions, nothing, not even a sign.
"Where the fuck is this place?" I was exhausted again, the sun really drains you, and I needed some more rest at 1251. But I had to keep pushing. I could see buildings but they weren't getting closer, I didn't expect Tyler to be this big. I slammed my water bottle on the ground in frustration after trying to stop myself from doing it several times and took my bag off "Get the fuck off my back!" "AAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!" "Where is this goddamn city" I kept seeing signs to downtown but it was nowhere to be seen. I gathered everything I had left in me and moved. At 157 I finally arrived at the Chamber of Commerce right in downtown. I didn't have the energy to even walk through the door, my head hung low outside and I was breathing hard and dripping filthy sweat all over. I walked in at it was obvious that nobody wanted my dirty homeless looking ass in there. I asked for a map of Tyler and where the library was to check out my hosting situation in Tyler. Four blocks down, on an uneven downhillsidewalk with a sharp 90 degree right turn and a fire hydrant right in the middle, I busted my ass hard. Being so uncoordinated and trying to push myself to the limit, my wheel caught on curb as i was turning hard and I flew forward, by 30 lbs on back taking me even further and slamming me down even harder. I got into the library dripping sweat and now blood. Again, nobody was happy to have me. First the asked for my ID, then a form, then 50c then somebody kicks my board from infront of me and cuts in line. Man fuck Tyler, people are so unfriendly here. I got on the computer and found out that Ryan was happy to havee me but got out of work at 9pm so I had to find something to do for the next hours. I went into Wendy's and chilled. then I started getting extremely terrible finger cramps. In my left hand, then my right. For intervals of 10-20 seconds my fingers would be locked and burning. I lost so much salts (potassium and sodium) in my sweat that my nervous system was now messing up, the signalling wasn't working. Rehydrated, I devoured two large fries and realxed and read.

At 915 Ryan calls and picks me up. He was such an enthusiastic person, so happy to see me and we went to play some 4 square where I whooped some ass. There was about 20 other people. When we were done one of the guys there, quite possibly one of my favorite people in the world, he turned out to be, came over. His name was Bushcalily or Bushman as I called him. His giant red beard made him look like the definition of a southern mountain man. We had deep philosophical conversations that night and I found that he had left me a signed $5 bill and bings me a book I will treasure forever, "The Art of Shen Ku". Not many people know Bush's real name but I was lucky enough to find out through him. Maybe Tyler wasn't so bad after all

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Day 19 June 23 2009 Linden, TX to Gilmer TX (43 mi)

Somebody tossed my board into the water and I was lost in the woods. After finding him, I can't remember how, he got a good ass beating and thats what I woke up to today. Damn that sleep in that bed was so good, I forgot that I was in the middle of a trip. After cleaning up, and packing I went downstairs to find Jerry and his pancakes ready to eat. Fresh, fattie pancakes made from scratch. Country fresh eggs from his daughters. A big plate of bacon. Three fantastic meals at Jerrys, man he was so good to me. He decided he would give me a ride back to to the highway I was on, where I would take the 155. On the way there he gave me some advice which I was very glad to hear.

The first was that don't think because somebody was hosting me they were doing me a favor, it was a mutual benefit since the host was living a journey through me. The second was that, after reading my blog and seeing what I had said about donations, he asked me to accept them and try to fight. I thought about what he told me the way to Gilmer and now I can respond. On the first point, Jerry is just an awesome man and him saying that he benefits from hosting me just showed me how good of a heart he really has. I can't comprehend how somebody 'benefits' from hosting me. On his second point, I have to say that when I initially try to reject somebody's offer for money I see it as a sign of humility and humbleness, two traits Im working on and that are slowly disappearing from this earth. Im not trying to be arrogant. I would love to get free money to keep me going, but one, im not going to ask for it and two will at least try to show some respect and appreciation when receiving it.
But thats just me

We said our goodbyes and so I began my day. 155 started out smooth but hilly which was fine as long as the road was smooth. Then it gradually got rougher and rougher. So much friction cruising down a hill it number my feet. And so it brings me to my next archenemy, Texas rough roads. Fuck Texas rough roads. They are almost as bead as headwind. And so the road went all the way to my first checkpoint, Avinger. I had started out on that at 630 am, I arrived at 830. 13 miles in two hours, terrible. Thats 6 miles an hour, I usually get 11 or 12 mi/hr. I didn't rest long at Avinger, I had to cover more distance before the burning hot Texas sun came out in full force. 11 miles to the next town, Cedar Springs. The road improved that section and I got there at 10. Still no time to waste. A quick refill and 17 more miles to the final destination of the day.

Things get so difficult at the last stretch. The road completely fell aprt it was like skating on a gravel driveway. The sun was kicking in, I needed a break. I took refuge in a little structure creating some shade and dide the "dead corpse posture" for the next 2o minutes. I tried to visualize. Visualize Gilmer, visualize the back pain moving up my spine through my arms and out my finger. I got attacked by ants but still kept trying, which brings me to my next point.
What is up with ants in the south?! They are aggressive little motherfucker. They are so peaceful up north. Down here, anywhere I lay I get ants trying to bite the shit out of me. And Im not talking about fire ants either. Man these ants got some issues they need to deal with

Anyway, I busted a move. After 8 miles I was beat. No water. The road was terrible and I couldn't skate. I walked, kicking my board infront of and even it didn't want to move. The road was just pebbles. Why does it have to be one or the other? Headwind or shit roads. I hoped for a ride for the next 7 miles. And Ha! A white Mazda 3 coming the opposite direction pulls around.

"What are you doing man?!" a young guy with aviators asked
"What if your wheels go? Do you have an extra pair?"
"They won't, I have extra bearing though, you skate?"
"When I was a kid, where are you from?"
"Rhode Island"
"Yeah right, let me see some Rhode Island ID"
I handed it to him and he looked on with disbelief
"Where are you heading?"
"Gilmer, you heading there?"
"You wanna give me a ride?"
"You have any weapons on you?"
"Ha, nah man"
"Get in the back seat"
Phew I though. I got a ride but fuck I hate myself for cheating. I feel terrible

"My wife almost ran you over up the road, she called me and told me about this crazy guy on a skateboard in the middle of the road, then I saw you"

"Ha, Im sorry man, the road here is terrible, I cant ride the shoulder so Im trying to skate on the parts smoothened up by cars"

We talked some more and he told me how big Texas was, 858 miles across, which would take me 20 days at 40 miles a day or so.

"Im in no rush man"

"So heres the deal, I can take you all the way to Tyler if you want, Im heading there to work"

The thought corssed my mind. It would make life easier. What if the road didn't improve? The heat? But Im supposed to skate, fuck hitching, anybody can do that, Im trying to prove something to myself. I need for once to accomplish something. I already feel horrible for taking this 8 mile ride another 40. In the end, fuck that. I plan on skating there and getting there tomorrow. The offer was tempting, very, but I couldn't

"Nah, thanks man, I appreciate it, but I gotta skate"
"Ok man"
"So whats your name anyway?"
"Chad, I work for Texas Roadhouse, a famous steakhouse around here and I pop in when nobody knows and tell them what they should and shouldn't do"

So we get to Gilmer and he gave me 4 free entree certificates to that place
"This place is all around Texas man, should keep you stuffed until you get out of here"
"Thanks man, I appreciate them and the ride, and tell your wife Im sorry"

So we parted. I loaded on drinks and skated outside of town and found a nice little spot off the side of the road and took a deep nap. From here 155 looks smooth, lets hope things don't change for a while.

Day 18 June 22 Texarkana to Linden, TX (42 mi)

Texas is hot. Brutally hot. It was still dark when I got up. I waited for Nate to get ready and he wasn't too excited, probably because he was heading to work. I rode with him where he was carpooling with Aaron and another guy, Jobi. I said my goodbyes and we each went our separate ways. Nate and Aaron are awesome, I really hope I can run into them at some point again.

Through Texarkana I passed and on one of the streets to 59 a prostitute tried to stop me at 630 in the fucking am. Not now baby. Kept moving and busted my ass on the railroad tracks. I got into Atlanta at 945 and decided to rest at a McDonalds packed with blue collar Americans. Every head turned toward me with suspicion. I set my shit down, went up to the register and they weren't serving lunch yet, I went to sit. The booth infront of me had a family and the man turned around.
"Hey son, do you need something to eat?"
"No thank you, Im waiting on the lunch menu"
"I was just offering"
"I appreciate it"

I guess he took offense. When 1030 came around, the lunch menu was on and I ordered a large fries and a McChicken. Good energy. I left at 11 and off to Linden. I was on the shitty Texas chipseal now. I heard everything was bigger and better in Texas, obviously not the roads. The vibrations were so hard they number my legs. Then a small gray Toyota truck honks at me coming the opposite direction and minutes later pulls up ahead of me. When I near, an older man pops out, extends his hand

"Jerry Harp, how are you doing?"
"Omar, nice to meet you"
"Im a cross country cyclist, and I had to pull over"
"Oh, haha, Im skateboarding"
"Do you need a ride?" I had a feeling he was testing me
"Im trying to cheat"
After talking some more he took my blog and name down.
"Are you I-ranian?"
"Haha, no Im Egyptian"
"Oh ok"
He told me he had to get something in Atlanta and would drive by me again and if I needed a place to spend the night I could take him up on the offer. Hells yeah. About 7 miles later he pulls up, gives me his number and tells me to call him when I get into town. I arrived there at 130 and my phone had no service. I called Jerry from an Exxon gas station and 5 minutes later, ha! there he was.

Jerry turned to be awesome. He was living with his wife Martha. The first thing he did was take me upstairs to a comfortable room. Then he let me shower. Then after reading the blog and finding out I had pasta and sour cream in Little Rock and loving it, he made me the bombest sour cream pasta, with bacon, avocado, carrots, peppers and a little spice. We talked. He had cycled the country on different occasions and was so impressed by my distance covering. "40 miles a day?! you could easily cover 100 miles on a bike". "You survive on $7 a day?! You put me to shame, I spend about $25" At $25 a day I would be broke by the 40th day of my trip. Id have to get a job to keep going. He then felt the need to show me around Linden, the attractions, and his family. Hell yeah

First we went by the oldest courthouse in Texas, the Linden courthouse and its confederate memorial which is present in about every town in the south. Then we went to Music City Texas where a blues festival had just been underway. I learned that Don Hindley of the Eagles grew up in Linden, fuckin awesome and he funded this nice little place. Then we visited his daughter who happened to live right across the street. She was nice but he saved the best for last his sons house and the trophies inside. He wasn't at the house at the time I was there but I met his very nice daughter in law and he showed me the biggest elk head I had ever seen. His son had shot the sucker in Colorado with one arrow! I shit you not, the trophy, from the head to the neck, not including the antlers was as big as me. I wish I got a picture but I was so busy staring at its massiveness, it didn't even cross my mind. We headed back home where a Chicken Dorito casserole was waiting on us. Oh my god, it was so fresh and so good. Its been months since Ive eaten a home cooked meal like that. We relaxed, drank some homemade wine and 1030 I decided it was time to go to bed. Jerry insisted that he wake up the next day and make me pancakes even though I was getting up at 530 and he usually got up at 930.

3 days in Texarkana

I was more impressed with this place than I thought I would be. On Friday I hit up the skateshop in the AM. Igot back and rested then played a drinking game before going to Fat Jacks. Nathan's crew consists of some really good people, all chemical engineers, non locals, working at paper mills. My favorite was Aaron, maybe because he had a miniramp that he built, maybe because he skated or maybe because he was a New Englander. I have no idea how all these people ended up here, but there is no doubt they make it cooler.

Saturday was a full day. Frisbee golf in the am, then a work dinner for the people of Nathans company. I was scared being around all these old southern white people, to be honest. What would they think of this punk looking brown man. Especially when they found out he was an Egyptian, so I just kept my distance, watched from afar and stayed cool. Those were of course my prejudices because when I got to meet a couple of them, they were really really nice people and the mill manager actaully teamed up with with me, Nate and Aaron for a couple of games of shuffle board, although me and Aaron got our asses whooped twice. After eating some catfish, we took a tour of the mill and I discovered how paper was made. I took some pictures but some of the employees got pissed because it is a 'secret process' so I won't upload any of those pictures. It turned out to be an elaborate, expensive and I was impressed. Then we went to guy named Joel's house who is another awesome guy for a couple of games of beer pong. I totally lost the skill because I didn't last. At Joel's house I also became familiar with the graffiti of Banksy. I recommend everybody to check his work out ( Its political and very clever.

Sunday was a day of rest. Tomorrow is Texas. I know how hard Texas is going to be especially the Western part. Long, very fucking long, dry, hot and dead. If I can get through Texas I can make it to the end. It will require patience, dedication and lots and lots of strength.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Day 14 June 18 2009, Hope to Texarkana (33 mi)

My camera is being really fucking stupid. First it gives an error 99 every four pictures and now it won't upload my pictures onto the computer. I hope its not a serious issue, because that would really piss me off.

Anyway it wasn't the easiest day but it wasn't the hardest of days. I left the motel later than usual, 830 after a heavy breakfast made up of a fresh waffle the size of my plate (righteous), raisin bran cereal, a danish, a donut and some orange juice. Since my motel was off the interstate I had to go back to highway 67 through heavy construction on a connecting road. As I was going down it, the sheriff coming the opposite direction saw me and stopped me. With a stern look on his face and pointing at my board "You better get that thing off the road" as if I had brought a new alien invention on to earth. Its called a skateboard and Im travelling asshole. Before I had a chance to say anything he drove off. I was pissed. When he drove off, I continued and at 9 I was on 67. 8 miles to a town called Fulton. At 1030 I got there, not bad timing for wind that has been blowing from the s/sw at 5 to 10mph for the past four days. I stopped into a trucker gas station and I got the dirtiest looks. There was a woman working alone inside and two truckers outside. As soon as I walked in, the both walked in after me to see what I was up to and to protect the lady incase I tried to steal, kill or rape her although I left all my shit outside. When I asked the woman where I could refill my water one of the truckers jumped in and said "Right there, outside". Cool. I paid for my Mountain Dew and went outside. I decided to rest until 11 but the whole time I was being watched through the big glass window. It was time to go. I passed farms, farms and farm. Cow farms, corn farms, chicken farms (which stunk like ass), and hay farms (if thats what they are even called). When I saw the hay I decided to stop and check out how they are rolled into big rolls like that.

If you are interested you can keep reading, if not, I understand. But what happens is that there are two tractors each pulling a different machine. The first one is pulling blades that chop the tall grass in smaller pieces and the other machine oon the other tractor ate it up. When the machine was full it spit the big roll out. Thats how simple it was, but I wonder how they did it back in the day.

Time to move and so I did. The heat was kicking in and it was past noon. I ran out of water quick, but still 18 miles to go. Then like that a trucker coming the opposite direction honks his horn, hangs his hand and tosses me a cold Lipton citrus green tea. Oh what a booster it was after chugging it in one sip. Thank you brotha!! I got to Texarkana at 145 and as I was checking out downtown I came across a Circa sticker and I could smell something was good nearby. Then behold, right next to it was the Darkslide skateshop. Fuck yeah, so I went inside. At first they thought I was a homeless bum and tried to kick me out, but when they found out the story behind the bum all the kids came an listened. Inside was the park and they let me pump around for a little for free. My man Hunter and Aamon, thank you dudes. I skated, waiting on my host, Nathan to get out of work. The shop was pretty sweet. Even though it offered minimal products and all kids hung out there, and it was owned by a mom, she defnitely hooked it up. To the left was Fuel TV and two comfortable ass couches. There was also a bar area, which didn't serve alcohol because the skateshop was on the Texas side and the Texas side of Texarkana was dry. Through a little door was the skatepark. Wooden ramps and nice little bowl. On the left was a door that led to another smaller park and a stage that bands play on every once in a while. Hell yeah, except for the alcohol, I think every skateshop should be set up this way. At 430 Nathan called and came and picked me up. As I was putting my shit in the back of his Honda Pilot I saw an Arbor longboard and another shorter longboard by a smaller company and his trickdeck. FUCK YEAHH! I knew it was going to be a good three days in Texarkana.
Later he called his coworker Aaron, from Maine, representing New England in the south baby, and we longboarded until dark down one of the steep hills of Texarkana. Man my legs were beat, but it was a sweet session.
Hellz Yeah!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Day 13 June 17 2009, Prescott to Hope (16 mi)

Again I'm ahead of schedule. A host has agreed to have me in Texarkana and seems like a really cool dude. The only thing, is that I told him I would be there on Friday, its only Wednesday. I can get one more day but two wouldn't be cool. So I decided to into Hope early to check it out and relax before the final Arkansas push tomorrow.

The day was easy. Again, freedom. Empty smooth roads. I was still rollin although my wheel was still missing a chunk. I blasted my music, and rolled own the hills slowly carving. "No Woman, No Cry came on and I couldn't help but sing as loud as I could help but sing it as loud as I could in the emptiness. It brought back good memories and goosebumps. Ah man, the last time I heard that song was two weeks, before leaving for Ghana. A local band reggae band, Soulshot, was playing at the Ocean Mist that night and they closed up with that song. I was with three of my closest friends.

Then Barry White's "My First, My Last, My Everything". It put a giant smile on my face and I looked up to the sky and said "Oh Barry White we miss you man, I hope you are lookin down on me and seeing the happiness your music brings to my soul. Rest in peace forever, brother." As soon as the song ended my ipod battery died. Oh well thats why I have my Solio. After 2 hours of skating I got to hope at 910. This was the birthplace of Bill Clinton, so I decided to check it out and went to the visitor center.

Hope is an unimpressive little town. I don't know how a US president could have grown up there. And so did Mike Huckabee. I walked around and after I saw everything there was to see, including Bill Clinton's first home. I decided to find a cheap motel, since I really had to take a dump and didn't feel like digging a cathole today. So I looked until I came across a Super 8 motel. I went inside and while I was booking a room the manager came came and asked my story. When she found out I was skateboarding she was so excited since her 7 year old grandson was a 7 year skater. "Oh he is going to be so happy when I fell him about you" Then she gave me a special discount. Thanks so much to the ladies at Hope Super 8 motel, they were all wonderful ladies who only put Fox News on TV ;). Today is rest. I can't complain. Love, Peace and repect.

Day 12 June 16 2009, Caddo Valley to Prescott (41 mi)

I woke up extra early as to not piss off the rangers who let me camp there. I bounced out after a deep morning meditation and a Trailmix bar. Feelin good. Through highway 67 I passed then after 3 or four miles I started to have more upper back pains and shin pains on my left leg. Then the wind started picking up early getting me real pissed. It started blowing straight my direction. And then more hills. The wind was blowing so hard I was forced to walk uphill and kick my way downhill. It got riduculous. Pain and strong headwind, it couldn't really get worse. Then as I was passing through Henderson State University an undercover state trooper in a gray Dodge Magnum pulled up next to me and told me I had to get off the road. It was 630 in the am I thought, wasn't it too early for you? Go find something useful to do. But thoughts were thoughts and my actions didn't really speak for them, so I just got off the highway. I waited for him to pass and then got back on. Less than a minute later beyond a hill I heard his sirens and saw the lights speeding away. Perfect, now I can skate, something good is keeping his ass busy. Later, as I was passing through downtown Arkadelphia, which is a busted ass filthy town I saw five cop cars including Arkadelphia police, Henderson State Police, the county sheriff and state troopers. ThenI heard one of them scream "I seeeee you, get down now!!!" They all ran towards the voice. I hung around to snap some pictures and see what was going down. I was hoping to get some police brutality on camera. 20 minutes passed, more cops came and nothing was happening except them running around like clowns. I couldn't wait around longer, it was time to keep moving. At least he now had something to keep him busy for a while. Now it was just me and the howling headwind on empty 67. Then I remembered I hadn't said a little prayer I say on the road
"In the name of God, I am in your hands. There is no God but God, there is no other power but God the Almighty, most high. Oh God prevent me from giving or encountering darkness, humiliate or be humiliated, fool or be fooled. I put my faith in you and rely on you. God give me the strength to finish my journey."

And so it was, 3 miles later the wind almost completely died down and I was cruising. Through Gum Springs and Curtis. Then I got to Gurdon at 945 where I searched for the library. I saw an old black man who was staring at me and smiled. So I decided to ask him
"How you doin sir?"
"Im fine son" with a big toothless smile
"Aaaaah, Im just lookin for the libree" in my accent
"The what?" all confused
"The libree?"
"Im sorry I can't understand you"
"The libree, you know with books"
"Oh!, The lie-brah-ree" laughing loud "Its down this road on the left
"Thank you so much sir"
Damn was my accent that confusing?

The librarian asked about my trip and then gave me a book, "A Walk Across America" by Peter Jenkins. It turned out to be an incredible book I couldn't stop reading. It told the story of Peter Jenkins, who decided to walk across the country with his dog and a whopping 65lbs on his back over a period of two years. I was inspired. 17 more miles to Prescott. Empty roads and I was cruising at at least 10 mi/hr, down hills and blasting the music, singing as loud as I could. Nobody could hear. Freedom. I felt the breeze on me as my wheels rolled. This is what this trip is about, this feeling. After 11 miles I came across the Little Missouri and decided to dive in and cool down. The sun and humidity were brutal and my shirt was soaked. My drinking water was hot as piss in my hands and the sweat in face burned my eyes. Then more long hills. I had to get to where I was going. At 410 I finally got there, chugged a vitamin water and found a place to camp behind a mill away from everyone. No more cops pulling up on me at 10 at night and waking me up. Just 15 miles to Hot Springs tomorrow. Again Im a day ahead of schedule and found a host in Texarkana. When all seems perfect, I look at my back right wheel and find a good chunk missing. Fuck, solve it tomorrow, at least I can still roll.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Day 11 June 15th 2009, Benton to Degray Lake outside of Caddo Valley (about 45 miles)

It was really foggy this morning and visibility was very low. About 50 feet ahead. My bag was way too heavy and in the quest for a lighter backpack I tossed some shit. I got rid of one pair of boardshorts which were too big for me anyway. My bigass mapbook; I just ripped the pages I needed and tossed the rest which was at least a pound. I had some date fruit cockroaches kept getting into and tossed that too, another two pounds. I had an extra lamp and knife, I left those in Little Rock. Im really hoping to ease the back pain.

Leaving Benton was confusing. I took River St which dead ended onto a river, but not according to google. So I had to turn back around and get to the interstate where I got into AR-229 a two mile ride which eventually connected with AR-67. I got there at about 730 although I left at 630. Only four or five miles were covered and I had to step up the pace. The highway to Glenrose was very hilly. Long uphills and short downhill bursts. I still had a while to go. At approximately 1030 I got to Malvern and was exhausted and drenched in sweat. I was so happy to get there I decided to pose next to the sign. I took a little break and headed to the library to settle my shit with Eureka.

At the public library a young woman came up to my computer and asked if I was travelling after she saw playing around with her 4 year old daughter who was fascinated by my skateboard. After we talked for a little bit I was introduced to her husband, Sean who turned out to be a really cool guy. It turned out through conversations later that he had walked all around the country. He called himself a wanderer and had lived in many places including South America and the Pacific Islands. I overheard him talk about mushrooms so I asked what he was all about. He said he was going to pick some up at a cow pasture later and I could come along if I wanted. Fuck yeah, so I did. First he had to get his sandals from his house. On the way there he asked why I was yawning so much and I said I didn't have a good sleep because of my busted ass tent and was trying to settle things with Eureka. He offered me one of his. When we got to his house he brought his tent out and gave it to me. I tried it out and it was easier to set up, lighter, bigger on the inside and it was freestanding which meant that it didn't have to be staked to the ground. Perfect. His wife also gave me a bag of vegetables including an apple, onions, peas, tomatoes and cucumbers. Fuck yeah. Then off to Hot Springs we went where the farm and mushrooms were.

On the way there we were conversating some more when I found out he lived in Yellowstone. He also made some money on the side by working as a tour guide. I knew a guy a did the same thing a while back in my town in Rhode Island. I asked if he knew Freddie Dawson, old man Freddie. He knew him! What a tiny ass world, and he said "It usually tends to be that way" Freddie if you are reading this, I miss you man I hope things have improved in your life, I know you were going through some harsh times when I left to Ghana. We picked a big bag full of mushrooms, some being the biggest I have ever seen, some fresh peaches and blackberries. It was a trip and he asked if I wanted to eat some tonight. Aaaaaah. As much as I wanted to, I had to focus on my trip. Tomorrow wouldn't be a good day if I ate some. On the way back to Malvern he bought me a chicken kabob that was fried with onions and potatoes and it was fucking delicious. And so I covered the next 20 miles to DeGray Dam and settled in a spot called Lower Lakes recreation area at about 517. At 730 Clark county sheriff came up to me and hasseled me because I was camped. He had a small little mustache and was kind of chubby. Slowly walking towards me

"How you doin?" in his southern accent

"Im ok"

"The weather is hot"

"I guess, its ok right now. Any problems, sir?"

"Yeah well I saw your tent. Im going to have to call the park ranger and see what he says. There is no camping allowed here. Do you have an ID?"

"Yeah" I reached in my pocket, opened my wallet and handed it to him and so he went to check things out. He came back 10 minutes later and handed me my ID back

"Let me tell you, next time don't set your tent up during the day. If I hadn't seen you, you would have gotten away with it"

"So I have to be sneaky about it now? I set my tent up and let everybody know my intentions. Im not trying to cause any trouble, just passing through and will be gone early in the morning"
He wouldn't have it

"We will wait for the park ranger, he should be here shortly" So we waited and waited and he never showed up. After 20 minutes I got up to take a picture of the lake behind the dam at sunset when I spotted the sheriff driving away. I quickly ran up to his car

"Hes supposed to come"

"So what does that mean?"

"You can do whatever you want to do"
"So I can stay here?"

"Whatever you wannado, leave or stay, I don't care"

"Ok" I was so confused

"Be safe"
"I will"

That was that. Fucking cops. They are all a bunch of action junkies that find out when they become cops, most work consists of doing paperwork and they hated it, so they always tried to find some shit to do, even if it was hasseling people who never did shit. But in reality I have passed many cops in my journey so far, almost all who have never even said a word to me.

I was asleep at 1010 when I was awaken by bright lights coming down the road. I had a feeling it was the park ranger. His white Ford truck came up passed me then turned back around then he shined his bright flashlight on my tent and in my eyes.

"Are you the park ranger sir?" approaching the truck and the old man in it
"You can't camp here sir"
"Why not? Im just passing through and leave before 6 tomorrow"
"This is not a camping area sir"

"My map says it is"

"Please sir dont lie to me, this is my job, Ill show you my map"

"I swear Im not lying"

"Show me your map" We walked over to my map and I unfolded it

"This is DeGray Lake, right?"

"Look it says I can camp, right here in this Arkansas State Highway map"
He looked closely "Hmmm, well let me show you mine"

"I know you are not lying to me sir, I know you are right. I just want you to know where Im coming from."

"I understand where you are coming from, but I will take you somewhere else" he emphasized

"Sir its 10 at night and I was already asleep. Now I have to pack again and then unpack one more time"

After some thinking he said he would let me stay if I left early, then another ranger car came up

"Now you are gonna have to go"
God damn it, I thought. So I went to my shit and began packing. When I looked up and saw him talking to a lady ranger I overheard her say "Well I don't have a problem with it" Without even hesitating. Man I love women, so I walked up

"So whats you story?" she asked in a very friendly tone

After telling her what I was about we ended up talking about skiing and laughing about skateboard falls even with the old man. He smiled every so often. She was a very nice woman, completely understanding. He was a grumpy old man who believed so strongly that somebody was going to come and harass me or kill me.

"Im not worried about it"

"You should be, I dont trust anybody"

"Well I have my knife"
"We will let you go back to sleep" she cut him off and so I did
Tomorrow is another day.