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.

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.