Sunday, August 30, 2009

State of the Blog: Sabbatical and Next Steps


Just a short note to let you guys know that I’m back from a self-imposed e-sabbatical. Nothing like getting away from it all to recharge and reenergize, particularly towards the end of a hot, lazy summer.

There are so MANY things I want to share with you. Things are starting to fall into place in so many wonderful ways. Expect more soon. I promise.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Trip Photos on Picasa

[Photo: last photo of the trip, taken by "Dave" on the Oregon coast]

I finally got around to uploading my Bike Across America photos on Picasa. You can now view all the photos in greater resolution and in a much larger format.

When I look through these albums I am really amazed by how beautiful, harsh, inspiring, and completely amazing this trip turned out to be. I have a smirk on my face as I write this because I know this is, indeed, just the beginning. :)

Here's a link to all the Photos, organized by blog post and destination.

Here's a link to the Best Photos album.

Take care everyone,


Thursday, August 13, 2009

On Nutrition


When I first started this journey the focus was almost exclusively on the material. At the time, the Enemy was readily identifiable and physical. There was a huge house I no longer desired. There was a job that was meaningless to me. There was stuff to get rid of, debt that controlled me and extra money I didn't really need.

And then, somewhere along the way, the journey became internal. Suddenly, I started reevaluating everything. From confronting certain family demons to questioning the value of marriage and child-rearing, the focus of this blog became more varied and three-dimensional.

And now it's time to add a new layer to this journey.

I have always led a healthy lifestyle. Or, to be more precise, I have always sought to live the kind of lifestyle people considered healthy. It sounds good on paper: I exercise regularly, avoid caffeine and eat “healthy” meals. Having added yoga and meditation to the mix, you could forgive me for thinking that I lead a pretty healthy lifestyle.

And yet, somehow, I feel like I'm missing something. For one thing, traveling across the country on a bicycle has really changed my internal body chemistry. There were weeks during this trip when there was nothing to eat but hamburgers, fries, chili dogs and carbonated drinks. In fact, at one point, my addiction to Sierra Mist became so pronounced that I literally had daydreams of chugging some down as I was bicycling along the shoulder of an interstate highway somewhere in Kansas.

I'm also pretty unnerved by all the seemingly contradictory information out there regarding nutrition. There was a time when I felt a had a pretty good grasp on what “healthy eating” meant. But no longer. Seriously. How can I claim to know anything about nutrition after watching a documentary like “Food, Inc.,” or perusing some of the food-related commentary on such venerable blogs as Choosing Voluntary Simplicity and Cage Free Family?

Bottom line, I want to completely reassess my understanding of nutrition and so-called “healthy eating.” And I am hoping you guys can help me:

1. Basic Facts. It would be fantastic if I could find links to online sources that discuss nutrition and healthy eating. I am specifically looking for independent, apolitical, and impartial commentary that does not promote a specific nutritional plan at the exclusion of all others. At some point, I would love to delve deeper into the merits of specific nutritional diets but I'm just not there yet. I want to get the lay of the land before committing to one thing or another.

2. Detox? I may be getting ahead of myself here, but can you guys discuss the benefits, practicalities and possible side affects of detoxing after my bike trip? It might make sense to focus on this once I reevaluate the meaning of “healthy eating” (see point 1. above) but I really want to get started on something like this ASAP.

In some ways, this is the most daunting topic I have confronted on this blog. I'm not expecting to figure it all out overnight. I'm not even certain that I will be able to commit to the kind of nutritional plan that best suits me. All I know is that I have tons of questions and very few answers.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Simple Gifts


Those of you who have followed my journey since its inception have probably noticed that, with one relevant exception, I've always taken great pains to ignore references and reviews of this blog in the news media and elsewhere. As the “anti-blog,” Adventures in Voluntary Simplicity has always been rather insular, answerable only to its readers via the comments section of each and every post.

And yet, every once in a while, an exception is in order. Bill Holston, a fellow attorney from Dallas, Texas, lay minister, and long-time reader, was kind enough to send me a couple of links that I think you will all enjoy.

1. The first is a commentary broadcast on NPR entitled “Simple Gifts.” It focuses on how the current economic downturn has forced people to reevaluate their priorities and embrace simple living as a lifestyle. On a personal note, it's nice to have been mentioned with the likes of Vonnegut and the Shakers.

2. The second is a sermon Bill gave at his church, Fellowship Bible Church Arapaho. This sermon is quite thought-provoking and delves into the essence of simplicity from a religious perspective. Do email me if you would like to receive an official, non-verbatim transcript.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Reflections (4): On Death


August 6, 2009

If you are reading this it is because I have passed on. All I can say at this point is that you should NOT feel sad for me. At all. In fact, you should know that by the time I wrote this I was ready to die. Or, more precisely, I had stopped worrying about death.

That's not to say I don't feel a little trepidation about how, exactly, I died. Not sure you can ever prepare yourself for being crushed by a semi, being drowned at sea, or even succumbing to a horrible disease. None of that stuff sounds very pleasant.

But it is the process of death that I have come to terms with. I am now actually looking forward to embarking on one last great journey, one that every one of us will one day share. On this journey, there is no bicycle to ride, no tent to set up, no defined trail to blaze. Death is as natural as childbirth, as comforting as breathing and, just maybe, as beautiful as a sunset over a clear blue ocean.

Death is the greatest journey of them all.

There is no denying that things have never been easy for us. There have been moments of rancor and bitterness that, at times, have tested our love for each other.

But that's all in the past. It doesn't matter now. In fact, as I sit here today, none of that stuff ever mattered. Ever.

What truly matters is that you know how deeply I have loved each and every one of you. How my love for you has sustained me through some of the darkest, loneliest moments of my life. How this love seeped into every inch of my heart until there was nothing left but memories of my love for you.

I love you all. I always will.

You all know that I've never been the type of guy to express my feelings. But I guess that no longer matters.

I want you all to know that I would not be the person I am today if it wasn't for your strength, love and support. Know that I cared for you and that I cherished every beer, every laugh, and every hug we shared over the years.

If there is one overarching regret about death is that I can no longer be there for you. What comforts me is that I will always be your friend.


It is my wish that my remains be cremated and that my ashes be spread along the Mount Vernon Bike Trail in Northern Virginia on a clear, crisp fall day. Though I wouldn't object to dropping a little of Jack on a clear, warm summer day at Hoosier Pass in Colorado. Make sure whoever is doing the spreading is riding a bicycle. :)

Disposition of Assets
As denoted in my Last Will and Testament, as amended, any investments and other assets are to be liquidated upon my death and aggregated with any cash and cash equivalents into a common fund. The designated trustee is then charged with disbursing moneys from this common fund to pay for the Service as described below. Any remaining funds are to be used to pay for an all-expenses-paid, two-week vacation for my friends and family anywhere in the world. Have fun guys!

I don't want any corny solemnity, depressing speeches or any of that standardized, gloomy funerary bullshit at any service you guys have for me. I want people to celebrate LIFE that day.

I picture a wide open field filled with wild flowers somewhere in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. Everyone will be sitting on blankets, enjoying a delicious picnic while listening to awesome live music. No one should come in black. Wearing shorts and t-shirts will be encouraged. There will be a games section for the kids, tons of balloons, and an assortment of tasty desserts.

And, for God's sake, make sure you get a liquor license! I want people to drink their fill of wine and spirits, to dance, laugh, make love, and sing long into the night.

I want some of you to love so much on that day that you welcome a new life into this world nine months hence.

Saying goodbye is never easy. But know that I am leaving this world after having found something precious and beautiful: genuine love. Love for my family. Love for my friends. Love for my fellow man. Love for myself.

When it is all said and done I died having lived my life on my own terms and without regrets. And that's more than most people can say.



[Reflections introductory post]

Monday, August 3, 2009

Wine Simplicity

As I struggle to adapt to life off the road, I am finding myself slowly but deliberately seduced by the simple pleasures flowing in abundance here in Sonoma, California. These past several days have been filled with warm sunshine, the laughter of friends, and an endless supply of Pinot, Chardonnay, and Cabernet. Not to mention some pairing essentials: crackers, salame, fruit, cheese, chocolate, salmon, preserves, olives, etc...

For a recovering yuppie who has gone to his share of wine tastings and still barely knows the difference between Merlot and Cabernet, Sonoma has been a revelation.