Travel, work, service, art, adventure, and environmental stewardship – can all these things have an ideal overlap?
Through my past work in rural Panama, I became aware of the utmost important of sustainable food production and security locally and globally. After returning to the U.S., I started planning for the next trek which can encompass all of those things mentioned, and between April and December of 2013, I embarked on an 8-month, 3000+ mile bicycle journey across the Pacific Northwest and U.S. west coast to be immersed in sustainable food production while living a minimalistic, socially-rich, and environmentally-sound lifestyle. I set out with such intentions, open to the quality company of friendly strangers, and old friends along the way. And what I discovered was (and still is) an elevated sense of joy and well-being never felt before.
The slower pace of bicycle travel brought extra sensory awareness to every place and detail witnessed, while the physical challenge of allowed an endless stream of quality foods and fist pumps to fuel the machine – my entire being. Through meeting fellow touring cyclists on the road, staying with generous hosts via the WarmShowers & Couchsurfing networks, to learning from and about the land stewards who produce truly healthy foods for themselves as well as regional customers – I am forever enlightened and transformed by this journey, and I hope to inspire other individuals by sharing it through my captured pixels & reflections.
Since one of my intentions for this journey was to have a low carbon footprint, I am very happy to say that public transport (ferry, bus, train, light rail) or carshare were utilized for non-bicycle solo travel, while side road trips were mostly done with gas-efficient (40+ MPG) cars. Besides supporting locally-produced or made foods, I produced very little waste overall as only consumables and trip necessities were purchased, and a majority of scrap materials were composted or recycled. I have found great satisfaction in living a simple life, as the joys have always been experienced through great human connections and sheer beauty in nature, rather than the accumulation of belongings.
Here’s a time-lapse video created to showcase the 259 days into 5 minutes:
- 3012 miles / 4847 km
- 259 days
- 5 farms & intentional communities
- 3 flats
- Apr 6 // Flight to Vancouver, Canada
- Apr 9 – June 10 // Lived and worked at Rolling Earth Farm & Retreat in Roberts Creek, British Columbia
- June 11-17 // Traveled across British Columbia with friends on a road trip (bicycle strapped to the back!)
- June 17-21 // Stayed and worked at Chuckleberry Community outside Nelson, British Columbia
- June 24 – July 22 // Stayed and worked at 8th Street Greens Farm & CSA in Okanogan, Washington
- July 23 – July 31 // Biked across the North Cascades mountains to Seattle
- Aug 1 – Aug 12 // Side trips for wedding photography, family visit, and music festival
- Aug 13-24 // Stayed in Bellingham, WA to edit photos
- Aug 25 – Sept 16 // Returned to Rolling Earth Farm for lat summer harvest and to edit time-lapse movie
- Sept 17 – Sept 24 // Started southbound journey through Vancouver Island, British Columbia
- Sept 25 // Launched Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for environmental organizations & to sustain southbound journey
- Sept 25 – Oct 9 // Biked through Olympic Peninsula / WA coast / Portland / Oregon coast
- Oct 10-17 // Visited and worked at Alpha Farm, an intentional community in Deadwood, Oregon
- Oct 18 – Nov 4 // Bike through Oregon and northern California coast
- Nov 5-29 // Lived and worked at Pasture 42 in Guinda, California
- Nov 30 – Dec 19 // Biked through the San Francisco Bay Area to San Diego, with brief stays in Santa Barbara and Ojai
- Dec 20 // Reached the U.S.-Mexico border!
View Bicycle Tour 2013 – Markers Only in a larger map
It is a no emissions, low maintenance, and highly rewarding mode of transport. In addition these already amazing perks, traveling by bicycle also brings the pace down to be able to soak in more of the details and beauty along the way. This choice is also a personal challenge to live only with belongings I need and am able to carry – trim the fat, with nothing superfluous. The physical work comes with yet another perk, and that is the fitness and high quantity of quality food I can ingest to sustain the energy output – everyone’s dream, right?
Why Organic Farms?
It was through my humbling past work in environmental development work with indigenous villages in rural Panama where I became in-tune with the utmost importance of wholesome, local food production. The paradigm shift continued when I took an introduction course on the U.S. food system through the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, reading enlightening books and credible publications such as Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, as well as being more in-tune with world happenings.
I came to the realization that food is in a multitude of ways the very social and environmental essence which binds and separates us from one another as well as the physical world, and found a burning desire to dive into the realms of sustainable agriculture and food systems to not only in obtaining a fuller understanding of the complexity of getting food from farm to table, but also in promoting awareness in shifting towards a system that accounts for the long-term social, public health, economical, and environmental factors over the conventional, quantity-driven, fossil fuel-based system.
I decided one of the best ways to go about this is to get my hands dirty with the very stewards of land and farmers who have been doing it for years, and have some fun while at it!
I wish to take all that I am able to absorb, and in turn, convey the significance and share such experiences through my photographs and videos I have been and will continue to post. I have also conversed with many individuals, friends and strangers alike, about the elephant in the room:
How are we going to continue to sustainably feed 7+ billion people without significantly degrading our most valuable resources of land and water?
The answer is wildly complex, hugely interdisciplinary, but certainly not without solutions with our existing knowledge and ability, as well as continued evolution.
- Trek 520 (1998 model)
- Schwalbe Marathon (700x32C) tires
- Brooks B17 saddle
- Power Grips pedal straps
- SKS P45 Chromoplastic fenders
- Axiom Journey DLX Low Rider front rack + Topeak Explorer MTX rear rack
- Transit Pro panniers (front) + Bushwhacker Moab panniers (rear)
- Sierra Designs 30L backpack
- Original drivetrain, except for a replacement of lowest rear cassette gear (34-teeth instead of stock 30-teeth)
- Apr 16: A new place and chapter
- Apr 28: This new farm life on the road
- June 6: 8 weeks in
- July 15: 101 days on the road
- July 21: This Washington chapter (w/ time-lapse video)
- Sept 2: Back in British Columbia
- Sept 18: Rolling Earth, an Organic Time-Lapse (another video)
- Sept 22: Life Update, Vancouver Island
- Sept 24: Bike routes for Washington and Oregon
- Sept 27: Riding through the sunshine… then the storm
- Oct 16: Bike route – southern OR coast to northern CA
- Oct 17: Oregon Coast & Alpha Farm
- Nov 10: Northern California & Pasture 42
- Nov 19: The Pigs
- Nov 21: Life on the Farm
- Dec 2: Indiegogo, T-minus 9 days
- Dec 7: Gooaaalllll!!
- Dec 23: It’s DONE!
- Dec 25: Bike Tour stats, reflection, photos
And more lifelong memories from the trip: