a look back on U.S. travels

Hello world!

Well, it’s almost time for me to embark on my journey through Latin America!

Currently, I am in Scottsdale Arizona. Here is a look back at my time spent in the U.S:

Detroit, MI

a goodbye dinner- featuring tacos!

It was a sad goodbye. Detroit was the bike tour destination in 2010 from San Francisco, CA. I had a wonderful time and made lifelong friendships in Detroit.

friends and family take picture. francois!(dog) look at the camera!

A very memorable goodbye party was at the house, where I lived with Dr. Bob, Tasheema, Marshall and the family. Friends came over to have dinner and wish me farewell. I will miss Detroit!

Then, I took a bus and train to…

Wisconsin

I stayed with my 7th grade friend, Bri;  Aleece and her beautiful children; Scott; Alexa and her baby. It was a nice change from weeks of working and panning in Detroit to relax in Aleece’s beautiful home. Bri introduced me to her wonderful friends in Columbus.

Thai dinner with Bri and Corey(photographer)

        Bri and I went to a medical marijuana march to the capitol in Madison. Before I moved to the midwest, I was not aware of the widespread advocacy for medical marijuana  in the midwest before I lived there. It’s an exciting time to witness the fight for acceptance of it in the more conservative states!

Oregon

in Dallas, OR we celebrated my great aunt Maxine's(left) birthday

I did fly into the Sacramento, CA Airport October 3. However, my Dad and I left that very weekend to go to Oregon and celebrate my great-aunt’s Maxine’s 90’s birthday! It was a great to meet the Letsinger family and explore Oregon with my Dad. Dad and I camped out in Salem for two nights. The day after the birthday party we went to a winery for brunch with Grandmother Ginny, Aunt Anne, and other family members. Dad and I dove to Portland on Saturday night. I had a chance to see my friend Chris while Dad explored the night life. We drove on the I-5  back to…

California

Back in Sacramento, I stayed at the Walker residence with Mom, Dad and the brothers. As always, it good to be home with the family.

A second tune up done by Whit. A huge thanks to Whitworth Cycles Inc for tuning up my bike for 2011! .

I visited many of my high school friends, some I have know for over 10 years. My bicycle got a tune-up and makeover by Whit at Whitworth Cycles, Sacramento. He tuned up the yellow elephant bike for my US tour, and I was pleased with the results. I knew I could trust his work. I paid a visit to San Francisco. I stayed at my SF house, now known as Rebel Base Camp. In one day I felt two 4.0 earthquakes! The second one was in Oakland, in a warehouse. It was so freaky! I almost bolted out the building. After 3 weeks in Northern California, Dad and I rode down to Orange County, where I stayed with Grandmother in Newport Beach.

On the ferry from Balboa Penninsula to the Balboa Island with Dad

I jogged along the coast in the morning, had dinner with the Walker family, and visited friends. The California fun winded down  when I arrived in Los Angeles to catch the Amtrak train to Arizona. Thanks to Ralph Reaves at the Budget Rental for giving us a larger vehicle to transport my bike!  At the station, I almost panicked when I realized I needed tools to break down my bike to fit in the bike box. Fortunately, two Amtrak workers, Eric and Alvarado, offered to help. Alvarado whipped out a wrench and got one pedal off, and squeezed the bike into the box. Eric proudly exclaimed that  he cycles, too. When I thanked him he said “Of course! You are a fellow cyclist. We help each other on the road!”

A Dia de los Muertos pre celebration in the LA Plaza Park

It was a hard goodbye to my Dad, but the scene turned into a forecast of what to expect, as I walked to get food in the colorful Mexican Town across the station. The neighborhood was decorated for a weekend celebration of Dia de Los Muertos. I ate and watched the Danza de los Viejitos, Dance of the Old Men, a sun dance ritual. I reflected back on a wonderful time in California as I rode the train to my next destination. The time went so fast, I didn’t feel the time spent my family and friends was enough. I look forward to seeing them all when I return.

Arizona

I arrived at 11:30 pm at the Maricopa station.

Travis, Jillian, and Mack(dog). Thank you guys for helping me and giving me a place to stay!

My Couchsurfing.com host, Travis Farland and his girlfriend, Jillian, were waiting for me in the parking lot. They took me to get a late night dinner and brought me to their home. They were both very pleasant and had a very nice room for me to stay in.  the next morning, Travis took me to a sports store so I could pick up my online ordered gear, shop for food at a market, and to Tempe, where I would stay the night at my friends apartment. The first Couchsurfing.com surf in 2011 was a very nice and extremely helpful experience!

Inertia(left) the angry bird and I, the evil green pig

I stayed with my high school friend, Inertia (awesome name, right?) at her apartment. She is a student at ASU. It was Saturday night, and Halloween weekend. I arrived just in time for the college festivities. Inertia and her  friends needed another person to be their pig. Their costumes were these characters, known as “Angry Birds”. Apparently, it’s a video game with furious, wingless birds, catapulted by a slingshot to annihilate the green, evil pigs who hold their eggs hostage. I was their green pig. The night turned out to be so fun! We got ready, pre-partied, attended an apartment party, then it got really exciting when we went to the strip where there were thousands of ASU students in costume celebrating. The birds and I were not trying to pay $5 cover… A street performance was stirring up excitement- Inertia and I found our party.

little drummer boy- playing samba music on the street

There was a drum band (the lead drummer was 10 yrs!) playing samba musica. Inertia and I turned up the energy as we danced and encouraged passerby’s to dance. People were doing the samba, shaking and spinning partners. That was the best part of the night. I look forward to the street dance parties in South America!

The next night I said goodbye to Inertia and was picked up by my next host, Britney Brimhall. Britney and I had been in touch months before I left Detroit. I found her on Crazyguyonabike.com by reading her online blog about her Mexico and Central American tour. She and her friend, Jonathon, rode from Nogales, Mexico to Panama City. She has been very helpful by answering all my questions through email in-between her busy schedule. Britney is a cop for the Mesa County police force. She brought me to her home in the mountains of Scottsdale. I have been staying with her and her mother, Sue, for a week now. They have been wonderful host by making us feel very much at home, feeding us, taking us out to get supplies/gear and showing us around.

Hyojin, my touring partner, arrived November 2nd. Since she arrived, we have been getting to know each other, understand each other, and plan out the logistics.

So here I am. I can’t wait to complete the process of getting ready and begin the adventure.  In the next 3 days, we will be on our way to the Mexican border!

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