3 min. VIDEO of this trip: https://youtu.be/yTVn3-wTGHw & some great stories below at 🔵.

🌊 🚴🏼‍♂️ 🌊 Dear All:

Yesterday evening I dipped my front tire in the Pacific Ocean to complete my 3,800 mile solo bicycle journey across America. I am truly grateful to have had this experience & thank everyone for their encouraging words & kindness along the way. I met so many interesting people and saw some beautiful sights as I made my way from Stone Harbor, NJ to San Diego, CA.

I pedaled a winding route through 16 states (NJ, DE, MD, PA, WV, VA, NC, SC, GA, AL, MS, AR, TX, NM, AZ & CA). Thanks to the generosity of so many people in York, PA and across the U.S., this trip raised $20,000 for Bell Socialization. Bell runs the family homeless shelter in York, PA. All donations at this link go straight from GoFundMe to Bell. https://gofund.me/55b78754 .

🔵 Here are just a few of the experiences I had on this cross country bicycle journey:

I heard a chorus of thousands of bull frogs at night in Delaware.

In northern Virginia, I camped along the Shenandoah River & saw the lights of tiny cabins sparkling at night atop the Blue Ridge mountains.

In southern Virginia, I enjoyed a country breakfast cooked by a fellow camper on his iron skillet over a campfire. He is a professional chef and was on the road, just him and his dog. He was looking for a place to move to in the southern or western U.S. where he felt at home.

While camping in another spot in Virginia, I met a pair of newly wed young professionals who had bought a “first camper” instead of a first house. They were working remotely as they traveled America and climbed some of its highest peaks.

I met a campground owner in Virginia who had worked for decades as a Wall Street Journal reporter and had some fascinating stories.

In North Carolina, I met a 25 year old fellow who makes his living as a YouTube influencer. His videos of his pet monkey and iPhone fixes have been viewed millions of times in over 100 countries around the globe.

In Alabama, I witnessed an earnest door to door meat salesman give an unsuccessful pitch to an RV campground owner.

In Birmingham, I met up with a friend from York. We toured the civil rights museum and saw the jail cell where Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his famous “Letter from the Birmingham Jail.”

In Meridian Mississippi, I met a top gun fighter pilot and his family while eating at a sidewalk cafe.

On my way to a Mississippi campground, I was chased by a small pack of dogs and outran them in the nick of time. I later purchased a small airhorn which really did the trick during later dog encounters.

In Chunky, Mississippi, a train surprised me by passing within 50 yards of my designated campsite in the middle of the night at a popular campground. I hadn’t realized that there was an active rail line so close to the campground.

While bicycling on a quiet country road just outside Newton, Mississippi, I had the good fortune to meet a 77 year old retired school teacher named Andy. We got to chatting and I learned he had ridden coast to coast on his bicycle 20 years earlier. He gave me some great advice on my route and he and his wife insisted on putting me up for the night in their guest cottage.

I stayed in a petrified forest in Mississippi. 36 million years ago redwood trees washed to that location from across the continent, got caught in a log jam and turned to stone. Many people remark about how particularly peaceful that forest is and how it gives you a feeling of calm when you camp there. The little campground where I stayed in that quiet woodland was also interesting because it had an antique train caboose sitting right in the middle of it. The campground had a tiny museum with cool artifacts including the jaw bone of a dinosaur (a baby Mastodon) found only 6 miles from there.

In Arkansas, a friendly 75 year old navy veteran named Sonny took me out on his fishing boat down a winding river. A week later in another campground, I got to know a legendary local named Tommy who was in charge of the 6 mile long Arkansas lake there. He was about to retire and told me some wonderful stories about the huge catfish and alligators in that lake. Right before I pedaled out of the campground, Tommy gave me a mug that said “Honorary Arkie.”

I applied to and was grateful to be accepted into divinity school during my bicycle trip. I am excited to be heading back to school this fall to begin work on my master’s degree. I learned of my acceptance to Lancaster Theological Seminary while pedaling through western Arkansas.

I was warned by a number of people to watch out for the following things in Texas: Armies of grasshoppers covering the road, jumping tarantulas, rattle snakes, fire ants, harvester ants, goat head thorns that puncture tires, dehydration, powerful thunderstorms, toads that shoot liquid from eyes up to four feet, scorpions and wild nocturnal pigs that will charge you — especially right before sunrise. Fortunately I made it through Texas safely (despite experiencing a few of those items above including a rattle snake, aggressive ants and several powerful thunderstorms).

The friendly folks at a volunteer fire company in Avery, Texas invited me to stay overnight in the back room of their tiny fire station.

I camped near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, TX and experienced thunder and lightning that was downright biblical.

I met a friendly young newlywed couple at a community park in Paris, TX. At one point, they asked why I was bicycling across America. When I explained I was raising money for a homeless shelter, they told me they had met in a homeless shelter.

A lot happened in Texas. I got caught in a surprise hail storm (thunderhail). I also met a world champion skeet shooter whose grandfather was the sheriff when Bonnie & Clyde came through town. I saw the Southfork Ranch from the show “Dallas”. I also got to see the world famous “Bucky’s” gas station which has 88 pumps and its own exit off the freeway.

Friendly husband and wife cyclists in Wichita Falls, Texas put me up for the night in a beautiful downtown art studio the night before a big show.

I pedaled on farm roads across an open expanse of central Texas on a gorgeous “big sky” day. During that entire day’s ride, l saw hardly any people, but encountered a rattlesnake, a herd of goats and a beautiful white Great Pyrenees dog who was guarding them.

A friendly RV repair expert in Texas told me about the time a poisonous snake dropped into his fishing boat a few years ago & his friend shot at it so many times that the boat nearly sank.

I met a competitive cyclist named Ken that came in 5th out of 10,000 people in a famous Texas bicycle race called the “Hotter than Hell 100.” He contacted me after seeing a post about my coast to coast ride on social media. He offered to ride with me for the day on my way out of Sherman, Texas. It was fun riding with another person and he gave me some great tips on hydration, nutrition and staying motivated on a long bike ride.

New Mexico was truly beautiful. I now understand why they call it “the land of enchantment.” The landscape is just stunning. There’s something very special about that state and the people who live there.

I got caught in a surprise hail storm in New Mexico and was relieved after peddling for a few miles to find shelter in an old shop with a tin roof in the middle of nowhere. The store was operated by two native Americans. They sold antiques, fruit and hot peppers.

I passed through San Patricio, New Mexico where Billy the Kid and his gang hid out in nearby caves.

I ate in a small restaurant in New Mexico that was once a bunkhouse and stable frequented by Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett and Pancho Villa.

As I left Alamagordo, New Mexico, I passed by the White Sands missile base and a space laser test facility.

The son of a Native American medicine woman in New Mexico told me about the UFO’s he’d witnessed. Big ones. The size of the whole town.

I got stymied by 2 different massive wildfires in central Arizona.

I was careful to stay well hydrated and leave extra early when I rode out of Phoenix. That day the high temperature was forecast to be 118 degrees. It’s a dry heat and, in some ways, it was preferable to a humid day at a lower temperature in the east.

Yesterday, on the last day of this coast to coast bike trip, I rode 31 miles. It was a beautiful sunny morning and I could smell the sea breeze as I coasted about 2,000 feet down out of the mountains into San Diego. It was fun way to finish this adventure.

One of the best things about traveling across the country by bicycle at 10 miles per hour is that you really FEEL places. The smell of the air and the earth, the shift in the breeze that alerts the senses to a gathering storm, the laughter and stories of fellow travelers around a campfire. . . As you travel across states, the changes really stand out: shifts in accents, population density, the trees and vegetation, the types of insects and animals, the food, the humidity and altitude.

Many thousands of people have made similar journeys by bicycle. I’m sure many would agree that you never forget seeing your first Saguaro cactus. Or your first time awakening in the middle of the night to a pack of coyotes howling 50 yards from your tent. You always remember the look on the face of the skunk or rattlesnake that you steered around in the nick of time on a country road. And you never forget that first scent of the cool Pacific sea breeze in the mountains of California after crossing hundreds of miles of barren sandscapes.

Here are a few links in case you’re interested in additional info:

❇️ Thanks to the generosity of so many folks across America, this solo coast to coast bicycle benefit ride has raised $20,000 so far for Bell Socialization which runs the family homeless shelter in my hometown of York, Pennsylvania. I used to be a caseworker at Bell Family Shelter so Bell is near and dear to me. All donations to this GoFundMe go straight from GoFundMe to Bell and are tax deductible. https://gofund.me/55b78754

🔵 Click the following link to view a fun 3 minute YouTube video I just made containing pictures & video clips from this solo coast to coast bike ride. https://youtu.be/yTVn3-wTGHw

The website for this cross country trip has photos and stories from along the way: http://www.thisclearbluesky.com

Also, here are 3 TV news stories about this bicycle ride across America. (These are from earlier in the trip):

FOX 43:

https://www.fox43.com/mobile/article/news/local/york-county-man-biking-across-the-country-to-raise-money-for-bell-socialization/521-0da649dc-48bb-4053-a4c2-7dde9b59e747?fbclid=IwAR2XGpbTP1JN_RCTKU3wJLQ2VorxOqTvSRc3x8EIwn98XCMLIuTqHD9Q6CQ

ABC 27:

https://www.abc27.com/video/york-county-man-riding-his-bike-coast-to-coast-for-mental-health-services/5793560/

FOX 43 (segment from earlier in the trip):

https://www.fox43.com/mobile/article/news/local/york-county/man-raising-money-for-homeless-shelters-stops-in-york/521-4009fae7-ef6b-4651-b103-556ff1cdf6ca

Thanks to all have donated to Bell, sent encouraging words and followed along on this journey. I truly appreciate it. It’s been a pleasure having you along for the ride. 🙂

Cheers!

Bill Swartz

billswartz@mac.com

http://www.thisclearbluesky.com

#COASTtoCOASTbicycleride

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