Out Of The Wild: An Alaskan's Adventure To Find America

My name is John. I was born and raised in Alaska. I have been hearing how the American Dream is no longer possible for my generation; how the pursuit of a college education will leave my peers and me in crippling debt; and America is no longer the beacon of hope it once was. Too many of my generation believe what they are hearing. I am not going to surrender to such news.

I believe what made America great in the past can make it great again. I know many small business owners that are living their American Dream right now. I have heard these people talk about their dreams. They work harder than anyone I know every minute of every day. These are dreamers that act on their dreams. I want to chase my dream in the same way. My personal motto is, “Risk much, forgive much, and gain much”. I want to pursue a career in film. I want to chase my dream too.

I need to see more of this country to better understand my homeland. I want to meet the people who make this country work. Upon graduation from high school I am riding my bicycle 6,000 miles from Kodiak, Alaska to Key West, Florida to find my America. I am not going on this tour just to ride my bike. My plan is to document the people I meet that have put their dreams to work. I will interview them in their environment and interview the people they serve.

Using my bicycle, a tent, and a camera I will tell this story in a documentary I call “Finding My America”. I will begin in my hometown of Kodiak, Alaska on May 22, 2012. I am partnering with small businesses that will sponsor this trip. I am working with many Subway restaurant owners who are sponsoring me in exchange for a commercial I will make and post on the Internet.

When my trip is complete, I want to share what I learn with everyone. Look for the finished documentary in the late fall of 2012. The blog will serve as a behind the scenes update to chronicle my grand adventure. I am accepting financial support from anyone interested in inspiring my generation to embrace the hard work of bringing America back to a new era of greatness. I hope to tell the stories of the real American dream. I hope to raise enough money to pay for college without student loans. Help me tell this American story. Together we can be the difference.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Subway of Statesboro, Georgia

This is the commercial I made for the Statesboro, Georgia Subway. Thanks again to Mr. Jim Good for inviting me to stop by on my bike trip! This video has taken me awhile to post, so I appreciate the viewers that are still out there. The trip was amazing!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Key West

This is it.  I am here, Key West, Florida.  I am ready to be done and sleep in a bed I can call my own for a while.  I will take my bike to a shop and catch a ride to Winter Park, Florida where I will be living for the next two years.  I have a Subway Commercial to finish for the wonderful people of Statesboro, GA.  Then I need to start working on editing the amazing film I shot for my documentary.   This is going to be a fun story to tell.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Monday, September 3, 2012

Friday, August 31, 2012

Almost done!

I had the privilege to ride with Joseph Rivers today near Cocoa Beach. He is a professor at Full Sail University where I will be attending this fall. I'm almost done!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Riding with the Camden Bicycle Club!

This is the "Saturday Ride" with the Camden Bicycle Club in Camden County, GA on August 25th. Thanks to all of them for their support of my trip. I was able to ride with my Aunt Judy!

Friday, August 24, 2012

On the Coast of South Georgia, August 23, 2012

I have made my way to Coastal Georgia! This is near St. Marys with my Aunt Judy and Uncle Chris taking me out for a little kayaking. If you have been following me from the start, you will recall a blog of me and some friends kayaking in Kodiak. This experience was totally different. Warm. Calm. Alligators. Yep, I saw an alligator. From a distance, but I saw him.

This is also where my Mom's family lives, so I have been with my Aunt Barbara, my Granny and Papa, and as I mentioned, Aunt Judy and Uncle Chris. This area is also home of the Camden Bicycle Club(That will be another blog).

Friday, August 17, 2012

It was really nice of Brad and Bonnie Troth to let me stay in their house here in Peachtree City, GA. The end is so close now!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What I did while I was... not blogging :/

I went and I saw the gateway to the east! Or one of the rings from Halo :) as I like to see it.

I also hung out with My 5th grade teacher! Mrs. Tonya!

Then I went to Illinois to chill with my uncle Chris, we watched lots of Lord of the Rings:)

This is Brother Wayne, he let me sleep in his church. He is nice.

This is the first Subway I have seen in a long time! A storm is a bruin.. so I think I might take shelter in its fresh walls.

And my journey ends in this mammoth sized hole:) 

I apologize for the lack of coverage. Sometimes it is tough.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

On Friday August 10 I visited Mammoth Cave with our friends the Ward family. Austin and I had a blast in this HUGE cave. Put it on your list of things to see! And, a big THANK YOU to the Ward's for letting me crash with them in Lebanon, TN.

Change of plans!

Alright, so maybe I did fall off the face of the earth there for a second.. or a week. I would blame it on uploading difficulties or no access to wifi if it weren't for the fact that I just haven't uploaded because I have been having a blast! Kansas was pretty much like reliving "Fivol Goes West". I don't know how to describe it any other way. No water, no shade, lots of sun. Half the time I was in Kansas my phone was over heated and not wanting to work so I didn't capture much of its beauty. But trust me, you didn't miss much.

After Kansas comes Missouri, or as cyclists like to call it misery. The Ozarks sent fear down my spine so I made the decision to go north and follow an old railroad track that has been turned into a biker trail known as the Katy Trail. This allowed me to blast through "Misery" in two days!

Then Kentucky, land of hills and dogs eager to chase... enough said.

And now for the news that this post is titled after. There has been a change of plans. I am no longer going the extra 1000 miles to the coast in Virginia and then down through North and South Carolina. I am taking a shortcut through Tennessee and Alabama.

Ive made this choice for 2 reasons. 1000 extra miles is a long way to travel. And I think I am beginning to run out of steam. The mental game of touring across America has beaten me the past couple of days and I know I can finish the trip but my mind wants me to do it quicker... Nothing will be affected by the change in course, in fact I think the documentary and such may gain some from a change in direction :)

Anyway, there is the news.

Now hopefully I can get these blogs posted...

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sebree, KY 8-6 and 8-7-12

This is from a Baptist Church in Sebree, KY that hosts cyclists for FREE! Can I get an amen? I camped out here with another cyclist, Jeremy. I realize this makes me sound like a crazy, lonely, cat person. Oh well, part of life alone on the road I guess. As this is posting, I am making my way south to Mammoth Cave.

Crossing the Ohio River

This was filmed on Saturday, August 4, 2012. I crossed from Illinois into Kentucky on a ferry across the Ohio River. One of the ways to travel to my hometown is by ferry, as many of you know that have followed me from the beginning. But that ferry goes across the Gulf of Alaska, the open ocean of the North Pacific. This ferry is SO different! I love my America!

Monday, August 6, 2012

St. Louis Arch, Gateway to the West 8-1-12

...or for me, Gateway to the East

This is so out of order, but given my trouble with uploading I thought it was better to just post what hasn't failed! This is teaching me patience:) So, enjoy my look at the arch and bear with me when I back track later and show stuff about Colorado.

Rest in Peace, Cookie Lady

My mom just told me that "The Cookie Lady" from Afton, VA passed away a few weeks ago. This was a woman who had been showing kindness to the many cyclists that passed through Virginia since the 70's. I posted the link from Adventure Cycling below so you could all read about her. I will hopefully be able to take a photo of her place when I pass through there in a couple of weeks. I really wanted to meet this kind woman. http://bit.ly/Mn2V08

Saturday, August 4, 2012

I haven't dropped off the Earth.... 8-4-12

My time in Missouri was great. Seeing my 5th grade teacher was especially nice. Then my Uncle Chris, Aunt Nikki and cousin Garrett spent time with me in Illinois. That was fantastic, being able to see family. Today I biked out of Illinois and into Kentucky. I am having a very hard time uploading my video blogs, so I apologize for that. But it is coming. I am loving the process of finding my America!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

St. Louis! 7-31-12 and 8-1-12

I am in St. Louis with my 5th grade teacher and her husband. It is great to see people I know on this trip! I should be able to upload while I am here, so stay tuned...

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Katy Trail

A message from John via his family! I am on Missouri's Katy Trail. You can find information about it online. It is a great place for a cycling vacation. More to come when I am in a more connected location!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Following the yellow brick road...

I'm sitting in a library right now trying to figure out how it is possible that my documentary adventure is still a float. The boat that is my dream is filled with patched up holes and duck tape repaired seams. The majority of this trip has not gone according to plan and for a while that had me stressed out.

But I am on the adventure of a lifetime and I refuse to let kinks in my hose ruin my attitude! I have discovered that you can't prepare for a trip like this, you can only really depend on the beggining and the end. sometimes not even that. Still, the middle is the part that is completley unknown and that is good (sometimes). I recently just learned that my hard drive is alive and well! Thankgoodness!!! That was deffinitly not planned, but in the process I met great people. learned from my mistakes and grew from it all.

I'm absorbing a great deal of things while I'm on this trip and I have no intention to be swayed by a kink again.

If I had to sum up what I have learned on this trip so far, I would say that the world is filled with people who are all a different shade of kindness. The pure evil that is publisized on the television is such a minute percent of the people in this world. Which is a relief. I left Kodiak not sure of what my documentary was going to look like.."what if the America I found was lame?"... but now I know for certain that America is one of the friendliest places on earth. And the American dream is very alive.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Hard Drive Lost and Found 7-26-12

This is guest blogger Anna, sister of John.

Look what came in the mail today; your hard drive! it was in the box with the damaged camera, but when we plugged it in to the laptop the files were safe. A modern day miracle! Now, should I take a sneak peek at all the awesome footage?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hot in Kansas! 7-25-12

Good Morning friends! Did anyone think I had dropped off the earth? I am still here, in the middle of Kansas. My route has taken me through some very small towns, and the places I have stayed have not had Internet connection. So I am sending this message through my family to let everyone know that I am doing well. The heat has caused me to do some night riding just to keep out of the blazing sun. All in all a fantastic experience. I hope to post more soon!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Denver Aquarium 7-18-12

Wednesday July 18, the Sundgaards took me to the Denver Aquarium. They were fantastic hosts! A million thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Sundgaard, Griffin, Leah and Cade.
While I was with them I continued to discover equipment that was lost due to the MoPed collision, and the rainstorm the day after. I have possibly lost a ton of footage that I was using for the documentary. I am still hoping for the best. Not gonna lie, I was pretty bummed. Still am a little. But, the trip is still good and the filming will go on!

Royal Gorge 7-15-12

Saturday July 14 while I was in Canon City, my friend Cole Christiansen and his mom came and took me to dinner. It was great to see a familiar face, well, faces.

Sunday July 15 the Sundgaard family from Colorado Springs came to get me. My mom went to college with Mrs. Laura Sundgaard.  We went to Royal Gorge, but it was so expensive to ride my bike across. Here is a clip of what I could see through a fence!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Fairplay, CO breakfast 7-14-12

I hope posting in clusters like this isn't too confusing. When I am in an area with service I have to make the best of it!

Highest elevation on my trip! 7-13-12

Friday the 13th will always be a good day for me! Crossing over the Continental Divide at Hoosier Pass is the literal HIGH POINT of my tour. WOO HOO!

Silverthorne, CO Subway 7-13-12

Fantastic sandwich at Silverthorne, CO Subway! I LOVE jalapeno bread! My favorite sandwich, Buffalo Chicken, is the 5 dollar footlong this month -- makes it even better!

Friday, July 13, 2012

The last days of the Rockies! 7-12-12

My fantastic ride across the Rocky Mountains is nearing its end. I will savor the last days of criss-crossing the Continental Divide.

Walden, CO July 7-11

I had an extended stay in Walden, CO for a couple of reasons. I didn't want to draw attention to the MoPed guy that couldn't see where he was going, but if he hadn't t-boned me he would have gone over the guard rail and over a cliff! So... he is alive and my bruised hip got a good rest in Walden after the soaker storm fried my battery back-up to the solar power system and my Canon Rebel T2i that I use to do my documentary filming. My bike is unharmed, but I can't say the same for his MoPed. This video is from the camp area in Walden where I spent more time than I planned. Thank you to everyone that has donated sponsorship help to me, whether it has been money, food, lodging or encouraging words and prayers. Without it, I would be DONE!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Storms and Tailwinds 7-6-12

Here I come Colorado!!!

Poor Allen 7-5-12

Hope is not lost! Allen and I will prosper!

7-5-12 The ride out of Yellowstone and into Teton National Park

I started to title this "Mom, don't watch" and you will see why! This is a long video, hope you enjoy this ride as much as I did. My riding companion this day is Peter from the pictures I just posted.

Wyoming, Tetons, Bears, and Tacos :)


These are the Gordon's from my hometown! They came and visited me in Yellowstone!!!

Continental divide twice in one day! Sheesh!

A beautiful canyon that led Peter and I out of Yellowstone!

Left is Peter and right is Alouise Sin Claire. They are cool guys!

The view just kept getting prettier!

Goodbye canyon..

Hello Tetons! Peter and I pose while some nice people take our picture. 

More Tetons

Tetons plus my face!

Tetons without my face!

This is Josh and Joey! They helped me survive the bear infested country side of Togwotee Pass!

HAHA this is too close.. why did I even stop?

Thiss is David and Brenda! They bought me lunch at Taco Johns. YUM!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A ride through Yellowstone 7-4-12

This was from July 4th, so it pre-dates the blogs already posted. Enjoy the ride!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Subway of West Yellowstone, Montana

This is the Subway in West Yellowstone, Montana with some full time RV dwellers! Fantastic!

Monday, July 2, 2012

My west Yellowstone home June 30 and July 1, 2012

This is a picture of me with the wonderful Mrs. Jackie Klatt. She was so kind and helpful while I stayed with her. Leaving today was a challenge! She is my friend and a wise mentor, she will be missed.

And she can cook food that will turn the pickiest of people into puddles of satisfaction.

Montana mountain desert adventures! June 28-29, 2012

Over the top of Lost Trail Pass, rolling hills and pastures occupy the mountain desert known as Big Hole. 
No service, no internet. Just flat, hot, bug infested mountain desert. Two communities call this place home, Wisdom and Jackson. Together their population doesn't exceed 200 people. For a cyclist this place shows a dangerous threat with limited services and lots of road separating you from those services. 

But this did not phase Allen or me, we saw the land and the beautiful sky and went full steam ahead into desolate plain.

And that is where this tale begins... 
right here in Big Hole Montana
Big Hole is the big stretch of flat land surrounded by mountains there in the middle.

The road was hot, and the bugs swarmed around my panniers. The annoying hum of the giant "alien" insects were no match for the gorgeous land I had entered. It was mid day, and like every cyclist I was looking forward to my lunch break. The ride right before lunch is always harder than any other part of the day, but today it was harder than it had ever been.

Lunch came to me in the form of a burrito I had bought earlier at a Chevron Gas station about 60 miles back. Its colossal stature didn't last long as I inhaled it attempting to gain some sustenance from the beefy cocoon.  As I licked my lips and put my trash in my handle bar bags I made a terrifying discovery. 

Allen was beat. His back tire was nearly worn through and it more resembled an egg than a wheel.
If I was going to make it to a town I had to do it fast. 

An hour passed, then two, three hours came and Allen was still holding up! And as we came over a small hill relief enveloped us both. We had made it to Jackson at last!!
This small town of 58 couldn't give us much help but at this stage all I wanted was some grass to throw my tent on. So that is what we did. I found a camp ground and for 2 hours I forgot about the mess Allen was in and I slept. 

The sounds of happy cyclists woke me from my slumber and that is when I met Charlie, Garret, Zea, Rob, Vicky, Joey, and Zigg (the poodle)

This is Charlie.. my flash didn't work and he left before I could catch him. 
Garret is on the left and Rob is on the right.
This is Zea
This is Rob and Vicky
This is Joey

We all got acquainted and became familiar with each others stories. Their group was on a three day tour and was heading back to Bozeman the next day.
 I was going across the country in search of my America, so on and so forth.

We ate dinner and went to bed.

Then the next morning came over the horizon and it struck terror into my chest! I couldn't ride Allen another 10 miles with him in this kind of condition! And the best chance I have of getting out of here is pedaling away right now! 

I jumped out of my tent and began to search for a bike store in the surrounding areas. 

Nothing..no shops no bike kitchens. Nothing. I was stuck.

I started making preparations to hitch a ride into the nearest big city (Bozeman) which weren't going well at all.

This bright sunny day was starting to look gloomy, but just as the rain clouds of defeat began to poor down from the sky a voice blew them away with an inviting gesture.

Nancy and Joey(the navigators and support crew) were still here!
Hope was not lost! I Explained to them my situation and they graciously gave me a ride to the place my bicycle would be resurrected.

Zea putting me to shame with a torturous pair of bunny ears. As if riding in a car wasn't bad enough!!! 

On our way to Bozeman the Vangogo stopped at the one and only Levi leipheimer museum!!

The jerseys and trophies he wore were hung everywhere. It was a very neat place. I'm glad I went!

Anyway, we arrived in Bozeman, put new tires on Allen and said our goodbyes. It is tough saying goodbye to such nice people. 

So off I went, after being saved by fellow cycling enthusiasts!

The road to Yellowstone is so beautiful! I can't wait to enter the park!

At last! Wyoming here I come!

But before I head to Wyoming I think Im gonna stop at a Subway and wrap the last couple days up with a nice Buffalo Chicken on Flatbread!

The time spent in Montana was exciting and the people I met along the way made the tragedy with Allen worth it.

America is truly filled with kind open hearted people.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The gates of Yellowstone National Park

I will be posting more about my trip through Montana, but I made it to West Yellowstone! I am with my awesome hosts, the Klatts. Wyoming here I come!

The Smigaj family in Missoula 6-25-12

Thank you, Smigaj family, for being fantastic hosts in Missoula! Hope I spelled your name right!

The Zundels June 23-24, 2012

These are the Zundels from Kodiak, but they are vacationing near Kalispell. They kept me out of a hail storm! Thank you SO much for the two nights I stayed with you.

The Longgoods in Eureka, Montana 6-22-12

Mr. and Mrs. Longgood were my hosts in Eureka, MT. Their son, Pete, teaches at Kodiak High and Pete's wife, Melissa is a dental hygienist with my mom. Thank you, Longgoods!

Highest Elevation To Date

I am at the top of Lost Pass.  The air is thinner.  I'm on my way to Jackson, Montana.

Sula Tonight Jackson Tomorrow 6-27-12

This is my campsite in Sula, Montana.  Internet connectivity is sketchy at best.  Please be patient.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Adventure Cycling Association In Missoula, MT 6-26-12

These are the people that helped me plan my bicycle tour across America.  I dropped by to say thank you and get some advice about my travels.  I was rewarded by free ice cream.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sunburn, Potatoes and Montana

This is like Alaska only different. I am leaving Idaho and entering Montana.

GoPro Helmet Cam

A different view.  Faye and I are going to chase Tim and Tom down Sherman Pass.

The Start of the Descent Down Sherman Pass

Faye and I are going to catch Tom and Tim who started without us.

Subway in Idaho

I just stopped by to say hello.  The sandwich artists at Subway were expecting me to drop by the store.  I love America.  Next stop is Montana.

Welcome to Idaho 6-20-12

I am passing through the panhandle of Idaho.  It is a beautiful day.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Colville, WA to Priest River, ID

This route was over 90 miles, but it was a good day. The campground had a shower and I slept well. on to Montana next!

Tom, Faye and Tim

From left to right is Tom, Faye and Tim.  They rode with me for a day. It was nice to have such good company.  I hope I have the chance to ride with many more people along the way.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sherman Pass 5575 FT

I met up with Tim, Tom and Faye. They are retired educators,  They're on a tour to Maine.  I made the summit and I am waiting on them to ride in a group through the descent.  I may get some GoPro film out of this ride.  I am on my way to Colville, WA.

FYI Faye and Tim are married to each other.  I said this in correctly in the posting.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Commercial for Subway of Tonasket, WA

The commercial I made for the awesome Tonasket, WA Subway!

Tonasket is a great town! June 15-18, 2012

This is a long blog from Tonasket. After a couple of minutes my audio and video don't match. I must be getting lonely because I'm starting to ramble!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

GoPro through Tonasket 6-17-12

Uploading GoPro footage is harder from a mobile site than it is at home, but I finally achieved success. I have enjoyed Tonasket so much. I thought it would be fun to give you all a glimpse of it from one end to the other.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Subway owner Tammy Smith

Subway owner Tammy Smith in Tonasket, WA was G-R-E-A-T! You will see more of my visit here soon, as well as some action footage. Thanks for being patient while I work out the kinks of posting on the road, especially the GoPro footage. Ugh, it is harder to download than I thought. In the mean time, a big THANK YOU to the kind people of Tonasket!

Spot map in WA 6-14-12

My ride from Winthrop to Okanogan, Omak and Riverside was great! Early Friday morning June 15, I rode into Tonasket, WA. What a town! The people are awesome. Stay tuned for more on Tonasket, and don't forget to share all of this with as many others as you can. This IS my America!

Friday, June 15, 2012

KOA in Winthrop, WA June 12-13, 2012

I broke my bike again.  It is fixed again.  My next stop will be Riverside and then Tonasket to film my next Subway commercial.

Washington Pass

I made it to the top of Washington Pass! I am at 5,477 feet.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Climbing The Cascades

Ten hours into the ride I face some of the steepest climbs so far.

Face Time And A Climb

My sister Anna asked me to sign off by saying, "I love my sister, Anna".  So I did.  Actually I miss my family right about now.  Marblemount was a nice community.  I think I'll be riding alongside a river and over a mountain today.  It will be about 10 hours of riding.  My next film event is two to three days away. I am making my way to the Subway in Tonasket, WA.  I will be working with Tammy Smith, at the local Subway.  I'll ask her about her American dream and how she is making it come true. I have about 80 miles to climb 5,000 feet and then enjoy the ride back down. I'll go to Winthrop and then Riverside the day after that. I hope to spend a little time in Tonasket as I film my next commercial. :)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Headed into the Cascades! 6-11-12

I'm in Sedrow Woolley as of now and will be heading to Marblemount tonight. Then tomorrow I begin the climb from 200 ft to 5,000 some odd ft. Oh boy :)

Service will be limited so don't fret if I am behind by a few posts.

I was expecting WA to be filled with brand name stores and big buildings.

To my surprise WA is filled with locally owned stores and big open plains filled with farmland!

Most of the small towns I have gone through are filled with interesting and kind people determined on fulfilling their own American dream!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

457 Bike Miles Logged

John's america Bike tour began by logging about 40 miles riding my bike on Kodiak Island.  The miles logged in Homer, Homer-Soldotna, Soldotna-Kenai-Soldotna, Soldotna-Sterling, Sterling-Cooper Landing, Summit Lake, Girdwood, Birdcreek, Anchorage, Exploring Anchorage, Bellingham exploration, Bellingham to Maple Falls, and finally Maple Fall to Sedro-Wooley total 457 so far.  I have many more to go.  Now that I look at it that way the miles are going by too fast.