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.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Another video from Saturday May 26, 2012

Saturday, May 26, 2012 at Tern Lake and the Seward-Anchorage crossroad. This is just before I rode through the Kenai Mountain Range Pass. This is a few days old.



Video From Saturday, May 26

Early Morning Saturday, May 26, 2012 I has camping in Cooper Landing, Alaska.  I was so tired.  The vide quality is not good and I had to edit it al little.  I posted this even though it is from a few days ago.


Alaska Railroad

The last two days have been very full.  I have been doing things that look more like a business trip than a bike tour.  I have been working with many people from Subway and working out how I am going to film this part of my documentary.  This stuff just takes time.  It is difficult pulling it all together from my bike and where ever I can find a place to make a home base.

I just filmed at Alaska's first Subway.  I still had time to ride through part of Anchorage so I stripped the bike down of all my gear. I took a camera and rode my bike to talk to people.  Without the solar panel and battery back up my equipment did not last long.

I have been so busy making videos I have not had time to post them.  I am continuing to work out bugs uploading through a mobile network.  This is much harder than it looks.





Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Grandma Subway

This is Bobbie.  She built the first Subway store in Alaska with her son, Steve Adams.  He is now the president of Subway of Alaska.  She is known as Grandma Subway.  I interviewed Bobbie today and enjoyed hours of stories she told.

Today was very exciting.  I spoke with many people who make Subway stores a success in Alaska.  I also filmed hours for the documentary.  Tomorrow I will film on location at one of the Anchorage Subway stores. I spent time on my bike and filmed with my GoPro as I rode through the city.  I have many hours of editing ahead of me.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Another Bike Repair

Meet Peter the mechanic at Paramount Cycles in Anchorage Alaska.  I developed a severe squeak and thought it might be a bottom bracket crank bearing.  It wasn't.  It was the two rear de-railer gears.  Each needed a lube job.  So easy and yet I missed it.  The service was quick and friendly.

I spent time talking to Peter off camera about his American dream.  I think I am on the right track.  Chasing a dream is difficult.  I am finding people tend to be very emotional and cautious when talking about their hopes and dreams.  Chasing a dream is hard work and is full of risk but it is also exciting.  I am going to keep exploring Anchorage and find a good place to film and interview more people.


Welcome To Anchorage

Finally!  This was my first 100 mile day.  I can only post so much from the road.  I will spend Sunday working technology bugs to keep new video posts rolling.  I think I will be able to make arrangements to film in more Subway Stores on Monday.  Be patient and I'll better clips posted as I learn how to do this blog from the road.


Almost To Anchorage

It has been a long day of riding.  I have captured film for my documentary.  I feel pretty good.


Bird Creek Subway

This is the Subway that just opened in Bird Creek which is on Turnagain Arm.  It was small and the service was excellent.


Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet

Turnagain Arm is still partially frozen.  I have many childhood memories of driving with my parents by this place in the summer.  Beluga whales spend time here in late August.


Sunrise Inn Employee

Meet Johnny Lee.  I met him just after my bike crash in Cooper Landing.  Sunrise Inn is a good place for second breakfast!


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Made It To Anchorage

After eating dinner at the new Bird Creek Subway I rode the rest of the way to Anchorage.  I am Staying with Mr. Wilson who is with Subways of Alaska and his family.  I am tired.  I'll post my video blogs in the morning.  Good night Anchorage.


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Wind At My Back

I have had the wind in my face and the wind at my back. I much prefer the wind at my back.  Look at the distance I made when the wind was at my back!  I was flying.  From this side of Turnagain Arm I can see where I came out of the Kenai Mountain Pass over an hour ago.  In about two miles I'll be at the new Bird Creek Subway.  I am thinking of a foot long with pepperoni and something...


Turn Again

Wow! That descent was awesome.  There was a strong headwind.  So all I had to do is just roll down the slope.  There was no trailer wobble.  There was no need for breaks.  It was a rewarding end to the Kenai Mountain range.

Now I am going around Turnagain Arm.

The best part is that while I was on this leg of the journey two phone calls came through.

The new Subway at Bird Creek wants me to stop by and film.  They are going feed me!  Yes.

The other call was KTUU.  I am going to be on TV!

I have 25 miles to Bird Creek and dinner.  Then another 25 miles to where I am going to stay tonight.


Beyond Hope

I am on the descent with trailer wobble and all. Hope, Alaska is behind my and Turnagain Arm is in Front of me.


I Can Almost See Hope

The Kenai Mountain Range is beautiful.  There is a town called Hope, Alaska ahead of me.  It is off the main road.  Hope is too far off the road for me.  I'll keep going past.  


Death Wobble

I'm back on the road.  All is well.  At 38 MPH the trailer has a death wobble.  Ugh!  Moving on...

CRASH!

... I crashed hard core!

I'm not hurt but I'm gonna need to fix my trailer bags as soon as I can.  Tears in the netting can be repaired easily enough.  I need to stop and get off the road.  I am going to go to Sunrise Inn, make repairs, and eat something before I go on.


First Campsite

Kenai Riverside Campground RV Park and B&B was the location of my first campsite on the road.  Cooper Landing was named for Joseph Cooper and A miner who discovered gold here in 1894.  This is a must visit community if you pass through here.  If you stop in this summer ask for Walter.  He was great.  Thanks Walter.  I need to make a few more adjustments to my trailer and I am back on the road.


Next Stop- Anchoarge, Alaska

I just packed up the tent, had breakfast, and am on the way to Anchorage.  It was about 39 degrees fahrenheit and rainy.  This morning it is in the low 40's and misty.  I did not sleep well but I was warm. the people I am meeting are wonderful.  Look for me on the road.  


Tell Anchorage I am on my way to a Subway store to film. I'll be there a few days. I'll post my progress along the way.



Attention friends, family and fans for the Anchorage Subway Stores spread the word!  
John’s America Bike Tour starts my journey in your town Saturday, May 26 through June 4, 2012.
I will be shooting a commercial to support this journey and college tuition as I make a documentary titled, “Finding My America”.
I am going to ask what your favorite Subway sandwich is and what you love about America.
I will also be asking people to tell me about how they are making their American Dream come true.
Visit http://johnsamericabiketour.com and follow the people I meet on a 6,000-mile trek from Kodiak, Alaska to Key West, Florida.
I hope to see you there soon.  




Friday, May 25, 2012

Cooper Landing, Alaska

I visited the Subway in Soldotna and interviewed  the people of Beemun's Bike Shop.  The Sorrell's were wonderful hosts.

I rode from Soldtona to Cooper Landing this afternoon.  I counted more than 30 moose on the way.  I was just nervous enough as rode by I did not film any of them.  Bummer. Now I am settling in my tent for much deserved rest.  It is raining.  I am dry. I ate camp food. Yum.  Good night.


Repairs Are Made

I am in the garage of my friends the Sorrell's in Soldotna.  I have repaired the faulty tube in my tire and am repacking my trailer for balance.  I am beginning to think about how I will film the introduction to my documentary.  I have captured really great film clips.  If you have ideas about how I should start my documentary share them in the comments.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Kevlar Is Bullet Proof, Isn't It? 5-23-12

That will teach me to boast about my triple kevlar lined tires.  I am just outside of Soldotna waiting for a ride.


The Long Climb

Homer has a three mile very steep climb.  I have climbed many steep slopes in my life so I was not intimidated.  This climb in on the coast. A sea fog moved in keeping me from seeing the end of the climb. This prevented me from pacing myself to the top.  Oh my!  That is done.


Cycle Logical Is Awesome!

Hey, look at my helmet mirror.  I am so cool I can see out of the back of my head.  The people at Cycle Logical bike shop were great.  I interviewed them for my documentary.  Homer is a wonderful place!



Bike Jersey Is Getting Attention

Meet the Artist Kathy.  She saw my "John's American Bike Tour" jersey from the road and stopped to talk.


Crab Fest In Homer!

Hey Kodiak!  Look what I just saw!  It is Crab Fest getting ready to go to Kodiak.  I can almost taste a funnel cake right now.  I am going to miss it this year.  Have fun.  Anna, have an extra one for me : )


Leaving the Ferry

The deep ocean ferry I am on is called the M/V Tustumena.  It loads all the cars into the belly of the ship with a turntable elevator.  I am riding the elevator up and out of the ferry.  My next stop-- Homer, Alaska.


Rumble Bumps and WiFI

I had a little trouble with the rumble bumps on the shoulder of the road.  I managed to get two flats on the last 20 miles of my ride to Soldotna.  So much for the kevlar in my tires.  I performed my first roadside repairs.  I have much to learn and many miles to learn them.

I have many videos to share.  I was up very late last night trying to upload.  The wifi is good but many people are using it.  Uploading is going far slower than I thought.  Funny to think I had better connectivity  in Kodiak in Homer.

I was greeted by many people last night.  It was overwhelming to be faced with unexpected repairs, a backlog of posting projects and the need to be social.  I am tired yet still excited.

Please be patient uploading in progress.  Videos will be posted soon.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Made it to Soldotna, Alaska

What a beautiful ride!  To my surprise I had a couple of flat tires.  So much for the Kevlar tires.


Making Progress!

About 2:30 PM I am just outside of Nilichik, Alaska. The scenery is beautiful!  Cook Inlet is amazing.  I feel like I am moving too slow.  I am making progress.  I love the feeling of the open road.


Leaving Homer

What a great town!  I have more to share but I will need to find better Internet connectivity to share it.  that will come later.  Note the three mile steep climb I just covered.  This Spot Connect Map is about 15 minutes old.  I am on my to Soldotna.  Spread the word!



I stayed with the Putney's in Homer

These are really great people.  The Putney's took me into their home and made my time in Homer incredible.  I want to thank Homer Cycling Club and the people of the bike shop Cycle Logical for making my time here fantastic.  


Do you know the coffee hermit?




"Facebook is a cult for a faceless orthodoxy!"
-coffee hermit

This guy is really cool..
He also plays recorder.

"What's the point in doing things normal when you can do them abnormal?"
-coffee hermit

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Soldotna and Kenai, Alaska

John’s America Bike Tour 


Join my journey in your town Wednesday night, May 23 until Friday Morning, May 25.


I will be shooting a commercial to support this journey and college tuition as I make a documentary titled, “Finding My America”. 

I am going to ask what your favorite Subway sandwich is and what you love about America.

I will also be asking people to tell me about how they are making their American Dream come true.

Visit http://johnsamericabiketour.com and follow the people I meet on a 6,000-mille trek from Kodiak, Alaska to Key West, Florida.

I hope to see you there soon.  

Repost of James Brooks Article On The Bike Tour


Kodiakan begins cross-country bicycle ride today
by James Brooks / editor@kodiakdailymirror.com


John McDonald smiles May 21, 2012 as he talks about the decisions that led him to begin a cross-country cycling trip from Kodiak, Alaska to Key West, Fla. today.
(James Brooks photo)
John McDonald smiles May 21, 2012 as he talks about the decisions that led him to begin a cross-country cycling trip from Kodiak, Alaska to Key West, Fla. today. (James Brooks photo)
John McDonald poses with his bicycle after dipping its rear wheel into the Pacific Ocean at the start of his cross-country trip Monday afternoon, May 21, 2012 at Buskin River State Recreation Area.
(James Brooks photo)
John McDonald poses with his bicycle after dipping its rear wheel into the Pacific Ocean at the start of his cross-country trip Monday afternoon, May 21, 2012 at Buskin River State Recreation Area. (James Brooks photo)
John McDonald shows off the cycling jersey created for his cross-country trip, May 21, 2012.
(James Brooks photo)
John McDonald shows off the cycling jersey created for his cross-country trip, May 21, 2012. (James Brooks photo)


As John McDonald dipped the rear wheel of his bicycle into the Pacific Ocean at Buskin River State Recreation area, his words were drowned out by the sound of an Alaska Airlines jet taking off from the nearby airport.

That jet would need only a handful of hours to travel the length of the United States, but the trip McDonald begins today might take three months to do the same.

McDonald, who graduated from Kodiak High School on Sunday, is biking across the country on a filmmaking expedition.

“I’m planning to make a documentary called ‘Finding My America,’” he said Monday.

In a January interview, McDonald said he’s looking for people pursuing the American Dream.

“All of the websites that I went to, and the news — everything that I was hearing was saying we’ve lost our America. America is not what it used to be,” McDonald said. “I really didn’t believe that. There’s such a mask right now that says nobody has faith in their country, and that’s disconcerting.”

After he boards the ferry Tustumena this morning, McDonald’s path will take him to Homer, where he will bike to Anchorage. After a short stay, he’ll board another ferry for stops in Juneau, Ketchikan and Bellingham, Wash., where his cross-country trip begins. He won’t stop until he reaches Key West, Fla.

“Not only am I going to get a sense of finding my America on a bicycle going slow through the heartland of our country, but I’m going to be riding with everybody in the country,” McDonald said in January. “It’s going to be different people every day or every week.”

When McDonald finishes his trip, it will be the fulfillment of a dream that started when he was 10 years old.

“We got him his first bike when he was around 5,” said his father, Stewart McDonald. “We would go on camping trips, and he would get out on those trails and ride like he was fearless. … He’s been doing that literally since he’s been elementary school-aged.”

McDonald’s dream began to turn into a reality just before his senior year began and he made his decision to commit to the trip.

“Sixty days is the fastest I could possibly do it if I went 100 miles every single day,” he said. “(The last few days) have been hectic, but in a good way.”

The trip is being sponsored by Subway and a handful of local businesses along the route. McDonald will film commercials for the businesses in exchange for assistance along the way.

He has lined up a dozen Subways and more local bike shops, and on Monday he filmed at Kodiak’s downtown Subway.

When asked why he’s riding across America, McDonald has a simple answer: “That’s what you do if you love riding a bicycle. You ride across America.”

KMXT Radio Interview

Follow this link to listen to the late night radio interview before I left "The Rock".  That is was we call our lovely island home.

Talk of the Rock: From Kodiak to Key West

John McDonald on the right.  Subway Store Owner, Dan Rohrer on the left.

Homer, Alaska At Last 5-22-12

What a rough night.  The water between Kodiak Island and everything else is full of perilous waves and vile sea monsters.  I survived.  I see land-- sweet land.  I met a man who is trying to start his own small business selling nutritional supplements.  There are entrepreneurs everywhere!


My Ride to the Kodiak Ferry Dock 5-22-12

This is my last ride down Center Street in Kodiak, Alaska.  Waiting at the other end is the deep water ferry that will take me away.


Boarding the Ferry

I am posting videos taken by people who saw John off this morning.  He will be out of contact for most of this day.   A friend




The Tracking Device Works Very Well


Early Morning Ride

Arriving at the ferry dock in Kodiak.


I'm Awake... Sort Of

This is the last blog from my home.  I am tired and ready to leave the island.  I wan to thank everyone that supported my dream and helped make it happen.  Next stop-- Homer.


Leaving Kodiak Island

The journey begins.  To my surprise there was a large crowd waiting to see me off on this journey 3:00 in the morning is not exactly a convenient time to say good bye.  It was a warm feeling to know so many care about me.  I am off to Homer, Alaska.  I plan to visit the Subway there and a local bicycle shop called Cycle Logical.  The Homer Cycling Club has members that will be meeting me and may ride with me for a while.  Keep in touch as I start my adventure in my home state of Alaska.


Monday, May 21, 2012

The Bike Tour Start

This is the start of John's America Bike Tour.  I am dipping my rear wheel in the mouth of the Buskin River which empties into the Gulf of Alaska.  This river is special to my family.  This is where my parents were the day they learned I existed.  I have rafted and tubed this river many times.  I caught my first salmon right here.  It is a great place to start this epic ride.  My Dad is at work and it is just me and my Mom.  She is handling my departure much better than I thought.  I am going to ride around Kodiak one last time.  The next video will be boarding the Alaska Marine Highway system to leave the island.  See you there.

The Media Is Calling

I just picked up my bike jerseys and stopped by our local Subway office for a last minute business meeting AND Capital City Weekly out of Juneau, Alaska called to interview me for a news story.

This is me on the phone.  This is my new jacket.  Pretty cool. 





My bike shirts are here!


It is just after 12:00 noon Kodiak, Alaska time.  I delayed my start long enough to intercept the FedEx truck down at our local airport.  It is nice to be able to drive up to the truck and plane right at the airport and pick up a package.  I wonder if this can be done in the lower 48 states?

So I have a few short errands, I'll get the camera rolling and head out on the road.  I hope to take a few pictures and update the blog and Facebook pages before I start.  Days have become hours.  Now I can measure what happens next in minutes.


One!

One and done! This is it. My last night before the tour. I begin the ride through Kodiak tomorrow. I'll visit the local Subway Stores one last time. The bike clothes I ordered are late and might not make it in time for the trip. I hope they make it here before I leave on the ferry for Homer, Alaska.

This blog is about me describing my bike, trailer and gear. Tomorrow I will film it in action.

This is it!. Good night.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Two!

Two days until Monday, which is the start of the bike tour right here in Kodiak.  It is very late at night and have not slept in 48 hours.  I am going to go crash and get much needed sleep.  I graduate tomorrow.  Technically I graduate later today.  It is after midnight.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Homer, Alaska


Attention friends, family and fans for the Homer Subway Stores spread the word!  

John’s America Bike Tour start my journey in your town Tuesday, May 22, 2012 after 2:00 PM.

I will be shooting a commercial to support this journey and college tuition as I make a documentary titled, “Finding My America”. 

I am going to ask what your favorite Subway sandwich is and what you love about America.

I will also be asking people to tell me about how they are making their American Dream come true.

Visit http://johnsamericabiketour.com and follow the people I meet on a 6,000-mille trek from Kodiak, Alaska to Key West, Florida.

I hope to see you there soon.  


Kodiak, Alaska


Attention friends, family and fans for the Kodiak Subway Stores spread the word!  

John’s America Bike Tour start my journey in your town Monday, May 21, 2012 morning.

I will be shooting a commercial to support this journey and college tuition as I make a documentary titled, “Finding My America”. 

I am going to ask what your favorite Subway sandwich is and what you love about America.

I will also be asking people to tell me about how they are making their American Dream come true.

Visit http://johnsamericabiketour.com and follow the people I meet on a 6,000-mille trek from Kodiak, Alaska to Key West, Florida.

I hope to see you there soon.  

Friday, May 18, 2012

Three!

Three days to go.  I am almost set for the bike tour.  I am spending time with friends before we all go in our own directions.

FOUR!

Four days to go!  It is late at night.  Much to do and not enough time in a day to do it all.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

FIVE!


Five days to go.

I am at Dead Man's Curve on the main road between the US Coast Guard Base and Kodiak.  More reality is sinking in as I look at my home town the last time as a senior in high school.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

SIX!

Six days to go.  I have my solar power, battery pack and phone functioning!  Nothing left but to complete the final tune up on my bike, pack, graduate, and start my journey.

There is that moment when fear of the uncertain grips that child within wants to curl up in defeat.  I stand at the precipice with my childhood behind and the mystery of responsibility in front.  For the moment I choose to neither go forward or backward.  I stand, close my eyes and think of my best childhood joys.  So I am gonna find a tire swing and hang out with friends.  Four more days and then I graduate!




Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Seven!


Technical difficulties- please stand by.

Today I recorded a 12 minute review of my bicycle and gear.  Then I put my bike in our local shop for one last professional tune up.  Then I uploaded the video and something went terribly wrong. The audio delayed from the video.  It made this intolerable to watch.  So I deleted it and recorded this video for day seven.  

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Eight!

Ah... Mother's Day and snow... a perfect combination.  Eight days to go and today is about Mom.


Nine!

Well this is day 9 and counting.  Tomorrow is Baccalaureate Service for graduation and Mother's Day.  I am packing for the trip.  AND my new pedals just arrived.

I may be planning a detour through Washington DC for an opportunity to work with an organization that teaches kids how to do their own bicycle maintenance and promote cycling.  That is cool.

There still is interest in small businesses that will be willing to be a part of my documentary.  I am filming internet commercials for Subway store owners who want to sponsor my documentary. Several other businesses have offered support. A few more Subway stores have been added to my sponsor list today.

I am humbled at the thought that there are people out there that get what I am trying to do.  I want to earn my American Dream.  I want to earn enough for the college of my choice.  I want to make this documentary and inspire my generation to make America great by our own hard work and vision.  Riding my bike across America is not novel.  It's been done to death. I am heading out to run my own small enterprise of making this film and learning something about my country.  I am trying to keep my overhead low and make this thing work--really work.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

The bread crumb map test!

This is the information that was sent from my Spot Connect to the web!  You can see the rocks we were trying to reach on the map.  The waves were getting pretty big next to the shore line.  When we returned to the beach we were rolled over in the surf.  We were soaked.  My iPhone, it's Life Proof case and the Spot connect handled the scuba dive quite well.  It was a good test. 

I'll be able to use these bread crumb maps to post where I have been on the bike tour.  Stay tuned in... tell your friends... Thank you for your support!