Circumnavigating USA on a Bicycle

$5,966 of $18,000 goal

Raised by 85 people in 31 months
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My first bicycle tour was a leap of faith. Forty-two days before my tour began, my 6-year-old son, Vasu, died. I had been living with his cancer hanging over my head since his diagnosis at 18-months-old. I was tired. Tired of sorrow. Tired of stress. Tired of pain. I wanted to feel something different. I wanted to know what else life might be. I wanted to see Vasu's death with innocent eyes.

I sold almost everything I owned, and I bicycled the Pacific Coast Bike Route. I cycled for two months in the fall storms that struck the coast every few days and I slept in empty campgrounds; and at the end of every day the ocean waited for me, offering me a safe place to grieve.

One evening, about three weeks out, I sat on the beach and I realized it was the first day I had not had to relive Vasu's last breaths. Leaning against driftwood in sand warmed by the day's sun, I felt joy. The relief of it brought tears to my eyes and as the sun sank into scarlet hues I made a promise to myself; I would let grief have me as it pleased, but I would look for those moments throughout the day where I felt simple joy. If I found even one moment free from pain, I would call the entire day good.

I cycled the California coast seeking perfect moments. I discovered the way steam fogged my glasses from my morning cup of tea, and the way wind roared in the pines above my tent at two in the morning and yet not a whiff of air struck my tent below. And almost every day strangers helped keep me moving forward on the road of grief. Through their gentle kindnesses I slowly began to reconnect with my world.

Six years later I still practice finding perfect moments. In fact, this year, I find it even more important to look for kindness. The world transforms. Entire nations of people are losing their homes, economies become unstable, and fear dominates political discourse. In times like these we need reminders that there is still beauty in our world. So in May, I will be heading out on another bicycle tour. Over the next 14 months I will circumnavigate the USA, from Portland to New York to Florida to San Diego and back to my hometown in Seattle. It is a quest to find the many roads to kindness.

I will be writing about my tour as I ride. My travel journal is available at eleaacheson.com  and Elea Acheson, Writer , and view my photo journal at The Many Roads To Kindness . Once a month I will publish a podcast at www.patreon.com/eleaacheson telling the stories of the people I meet on the road, and all the many ways we connect to each other. For as little as a dollar per podcast you can subscribe to receive these stories.

Please consider supporting my ride here at Go Fund Me. For every two dollars you fund a mile. For every eighty dollars you fund a day. Your Go Fund Me donation will allow me to travel this 12,000 miles of road, and to offer you the opportunity to see the world the way I do; at my slow pace of 10 MPH where the details of the world are full of perfect moments and beautiful people. 
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Hello, my friends. Thank you thank you thank you! The bicycle part of my quest has finished early. My new road follows the quest into writing and finding human connectedness everywhere, not just on a bicycle, and what happens when connectedness fails. I also follow the quest into an old realm, a chance to start again with a project I truly loved. My fiancé and I are expecting a child in June. Thank you for what you gave me. A chance to discover humanity. A chance to explore fear and how it drives us. A chance to uncover the secret elements of trust. Serendipity guided me throughout, and helped me recognize the end of the road. You got me here. You made this possible. My gratitude is yours, forever.
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Hello my friends, it has been a while since my last update. The old adage is true "No news is good news." I have cycled almost 3,500 miles, gotten two new tires, worn out a brand new cassette, four new chains, three flats (all within a week of each other and hummed happy little tunes while I fixed them), slept on countless people's beds and couches, eaten with the most amazing people I just met, swam in the Erie, lunched beside the graves of those who died hundreds of years ago, snacked with adventurers of every color, and found hole-in-the-wall shops to fill my soul with local delights. I can't turn around and spit without hitting someone filled with the kindness of human. Even the worst traffic isn't bad because of meanness, they just don't want to be responsible for smooshing me (which is fine by me, I don't want to get smooshed). My goal to raise $18,000 for this adventure has reached over an amazing $5,000 dollars, but that's just the cash value. I was also expecting to have used $8,000 by now, but the road proves generous as well as kind. I still have enough to get me to at least Florida (I'm in NY. I turned right last week!), and donations keep coming in. Please help me this week and next, as I will be campaigning again to get me home. Florida to Seattle baby! Home, sweet home. Please share my GFM page with your friends and family and the stranger you get in a chat with about the weather. And may you find the kindness of humanity in everything you do. ❤️
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Hello my friends,

I am finishing my first week off since I started cycling two months ago. I can't believe it's already been two months, and also can't believe I've got 12 months to go.

It's been a long road of lessons.

How to navigate all the obstacles and keep my emotional momentum has been interesting in the Chinese proverb kind of way. I have learned the hard way, and found the easy way, and overall feel success. Even the doubts and despairs seem like part of the process.

I am more than 2,000 miles down this road, and have been offered so much kindness and welcome that it actually seems entirely too ordinary now. Every now and then I'll look up the news and it seems as if the world experiences a parallel, horrible reality that does not exist where I live.

Perhaps I'm burying my head in the sand. Perhaps the news people are burying theirs.

Either way, no matter how awful the world may seem, there is still beauty to be found everywhere. I feel lucky to be experiencing so much of it.
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Hello my friends! My departure date is finalized. I will be leaving Portland on May 9th. I sent out a request to stay at a stranger's house the first night out - a bicycle tourist family I have not yet met; and I was welcomed in. The women of the household even asked what my dietary restrictions are so that she can feed me dinner. This is the road of daring connection, my friends. This is the road I have experienced small doses of on every tour I've ever been on, and that I have chosen to explore. This is the road where humans willingly show their kindness, and their joy in sharing their lives with others. I am excited, and so happy you are with me on this. My new travel journal entry goes up tonight. Check it out at www.eleaacheson.com. And please share my campaign link with your friends and family. I have enough donations so far to get me about halfway around the US. I need another 3,000 people donating $5.00 each. www.gofundme.com/eleaacheson
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Read a Previous Update
Jenny Bealis-Schell
24 months ago

Elea ♥ Congrats!!! Nate, Chris and I send our love and hugs from Colorado! :)

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Scott Martin
24 months ago

Well the next journey has chances for joy and tears, hills and rainstorms, and beautiful vistas and opportunities for pure awe as well. :) :) Congratulations Elea, Good luck on your new journey. :)

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Andy Winch
26 months ago

I rode with Elea today in Suffolk Virginia for a few moments today, totally by chance. She was loaded to the gills with panniers... I didn't think to her ask if she needed a recommendation for a bed, or a spare tube. Her smile is infectious! Good luck.

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$5,966 of $18,000 goal

Raised by 85 people in 31 months
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Created April 9, 2016
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FV
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frank vaughan
15 months ago (Monthly Donation)
FV
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frank vaughan
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FV
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frank vaughan
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FV
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frank vaughan
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LR
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Larry Roth
24 months ago

Today is the day... Peace to you! Larry

FV
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frank vaughan
25 months ago (Monthly Donation)
FV
$20
frank vaughan
26 months ago (Monthly Donation)
Jenny Bealis-Schell
24 months ago

Elea ♥ Congrats!!! Nate, Chris and I send our love and hugs from Colorado! :)

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Scott Martin
24 months ago

Well the next journey has chances for joy and tears, hills and rainstorms, and beautiful vistas and opportunities for pure awe as well. :) :) Congratulations Elea, Good luck on your new journey. :)

+ Read More
Andy Winch
26 months ago

I rode with Elea today in Suffolk Virginia for a few moments today, totally by chance. She was loaded to the gills with panniers... I didn't think to her ask if she needed a recommendation for a bed, or a spare tube. Her smile is infectious! Good luck.

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