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5 years ago today

Five years ago today I was stopped on Navajo Bridge in northern Arizona where I took this picture on Navajo Bridge over the Colorado River, looking north. It was sunrise.

I was riding over 500 miles from Tucson AZ to Mt Carmel UT. It took me 16 days.

I was riding my 5  year old Trek 528 Mtn bike. I had made the panniers from old buckets. The front ones were mayonaise pails I had made in 2012 while working at the Zion Lodge in SW Utah and the rear ones were kitty litter pails with hinged lids. They were light, and made good seats and tables as well in camp. 

This was the day I left Tucson, I had lived in that trailer behind me all winter 2012-13. Paid $20 a month to cover elecricity. 

Took me just over 2 weeks to complete the ride.

It must be pretty cool to live like that Gary. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to have no responsibility except to the day itself. You have been able to see probably more than most people even dream of, without all the burdens of societal ties. The rest of us poor souls work like donkeys and hope we’re healthy wealthy and live long enough to get to do half as much as you. Not sure which way is better but, your way sure does look like a whole lot of fun, grab what you can carry and make it happen! I for  one applaud you. Happy trails man!

I have been on the road and trail for 41 year in June, since 1977 when I was 21. It 'has' been a good free life. I did try the settled life from 1993 to 96 when I was married for 3 short years, but it didn't work out, so I went back to my old lifestyle again after the divorce. I do have a 25 year old daughter and two grand kids.

I am not considering getting my first, rather second motor bike. My first was a 49cc moped when I was 16 in 1972. I am looking at getting another either a Vespa or a Honda scooter next fall and continuing my travels with an engine but  staying on the road with the wind in my hair and as light as possible.

Basically all my belongings consist of mainly my tent, sleeping bags ( a light summer bag and a 20 degree winter bag) a sleeping pad, stove and cook gear, DSLR, binoculars and changes of clothing for every weather type. Total weigh including the panniers to hold them about 15 lbs.

I am back to using standard nylon panniers as the pails while okay did have a lot of air drag.

This is what my last tour bike looked like:

I have decided that the front panniers are too much weight for the front wheel, while they work for many tourers, not for me. I will be riding my bike from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to the closest Honda and/or Vespa store and transferring the rear panniers to the scooter I choose. I sold the front panniers and rack to a friend recently.

 I start work at the north rim in May and in October will be looking for my next ride. I had thought of going to using Amtrak, Greyhound and shuttle companies, but the thought of being inside a box on wheels does not appeal to me and to have to follow someone else's schedules, no uh-uh! 

Actually I am in hopes that maybe after working 40 hours a week again for the summer wil re-strengthen my legs back to staying with my mountain bike and continue touring as I have for 36 years!

Impressive to say the least. I myself need a place to belong to ( a base camp if you will) but it sure agrivated me that I’m tied to it. I’m pretty much only at peace in the outdoor, the beeze the hills streams sky and campfires drown out the noise.

any way hope it goes well for you.

I feel I am at one with the natural world, being outdoors keeps me in tune with nature. I grew up in the country and started camping when I was as young as 7 on my own in the woods behind our house. My real first camping trip was when I was 8 months old in the summer of 1856 when my parents went camping in the Catskills or NE New York. 

Boy Scouts taught me how to build better fires. 

I used to build igloo like structures in my back yard and camping in them in winter when I was about 10.

In the past 41 years I have spent about 12,000 nights camping either by backpacking or bike touring. That leaves only 4000 nights I have lived in the places I worked summers to support my adventure traveling periods every year. I worked an average of 4 months every summer and traveled 8 months. Now that I am retired I could stay traveling 24/7/365. At my older age I have found if I don't stay more active I get fat and lazy. daily exercise keeps me more healthy. 

Very impressive life story. Good luck and God Bless on your next adventure. You should write and publish a book to support your travels.

Gary, that’s so cool that you’re able to live free.  Where is your home base, and how do you get those summer jobs?

Old Guide is right Gary. I bet you have a lot of stories from that many years of traveling. It's not like thou have to, do no pressure. But I bet you'd have fun just thinking back to your travels as you write. Anyway, safe travels. 

Gary, I really enjoyed your story and love the kitty liter bucket panniers!  I'm pretty frugal and its really hard for me to throw the empty rectangular kitty litter buckets in the recycle bin as they are just too darn handy.  if you do get a scooter take a good hard look at early 1970's to early 1980's Honda CT90's or CT110's.  The bikes are bullet proof, have a dual range gearbox and will take you anywhere you want to go (I currently have 8 of them...).  Safe travels on all of your future trips.

Spirit4earth asked: 

Where is your home base,

I do not have a home base beyond North America. I live many winters in Tucson, but always at a different place.  

and how do you get those summer jobs?

I use various methods to find summer job, one is where one can apply for jobs with various places, you fill out an online application and then wait for the place you applied to get back to you. This summers job at the north rim replied to me just two days after I applied.

I also look for work in the town's I end up in. I have worked many summers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Amazing travel story. Hope my adventure is as good as yours. 

August 9, 2020
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