Plan, dream, plan

As a person who loves outdoor recreation, I have quite a few personal trips under my belt, on top of all the courses I’ve led as an instructor for Outward Bound. Those trips have a good deal of planning, but do not have the magnitude of logistics as the Western Hemisphere Project has. Luckily, fortunately, and graciously logistical planning and coordination is Alexia’s specialty. Still, she hasn’t ever coordinated a trip that lasts over a year long… neither have I!

GEAR! The first thing that came to my mind. Again, as an avid outdoor enthusiast, gear gets me excited. Alexia and I love trying out new brands and gadgets in the field. My mindset was in a haze with all the great ideas and collaborations I envisioned. The clarity of the true nature of this adventure, validating our purpose, sourcing funds, creating a webpage took a while to set in. Creating a budget and coming to terms with the reality of what is essentially needed for the ride. We frequently talk about curriculum topics and tools, who to partner with, should I use old gear or ask for new, etc.

Finally, after two years of dreaming, talking about, and chasing shallow pursuits.. it was one rainy evening, in the van at the mechanics, we decided to just start doing. We started by creating a budget. A few days later, visiting the Patagonia headquarters, touring around the building, meeting staff, and meeting Yvon Chouinard elevated my passion for this project and propelled us forward to make the dream reality.

At first, we floundered with the weight and enormity of things. It came down to actual needs and prioritizing those needs (and Alexia getting an official title and the reigns to take off into planning world). First objectives: create a visually appealing website, create honest and meaningful content to demonstrate our capabilities as adventure educators, showcase our credentials and build upon our validity. Reach out to sponsors and start asking for equipment donations. Reach out to farms, people, and organizations to meet with along the route. Reach out to educators and people that are interested in being part of this journey.

So that’s what we’re doing now. Building, creating, connecting, and generating momentum for the future. In the next couple of months, lesson plans and educational resources will be created with future topics outlined. I feel inspired and motivated to continue to seek out this transformative experience.

Daily Mantras
The struggle is real;
There will be naysayers;
Keep on keepin’ on

Dream Board

 

Initial inspiration(s)

The day after graduating with my Masters degree, two good friends, James, Vince, and I bicycled around Omaha. We stopped often at parks, pubs, and eatery’s enjoying the beautiful day but more importantly the camaraderie and freedom of cycling. It was this day we shared our stories of our independent cycle adventure tours and what inspired us to do them. After sharing, we talked about what and where our dream ride would be. This is when I came up with the Western Hemisphere Loop; Prudhoe Bay, AK south along the western spine of North America, Mexico, Central America, and South America to Ushuaia, Argentina, a ride that has been done many times. The “Loop” however, would then continue north up the eastern side of South America, the West Indies, Dominican Republic & Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba, Florida, up the Eastern Seaboard to Maine then stair-step northwesterly from New Brunswick through Canada, eventually reconnecting at Prudhoe Bay. What a great idea!?!…kinda like my first ride 24 years earlier. Not a whole lot of planning went into that; decide on a starting point, an ending point, where to go in-between, save money, and why not? Why not led to why? Well, it would be a great adventure to see America and places I’ve never been. To be in tune with my senses and the environment. Meet people and hear their stories, and share mine, because people on bikes are cool.

What changed the trajectory of the planning and meaning for that first adventure was a comment my Dad said, “Do it for your sister! Robin, my mothers first child passed away from Reyes Syndrome in 1972, when she was seventeen, I was three. RS is a very rare disease that generally affects children under the age of ten whose immune systems are not fully developed, and who are more susceptible to flu-like symptoms. Her death was a complication of taking aspirin and a compromised immune system. She was 17 and the fourth person that year who lost their life to RS. So I contacted the Reyes Syndrome Foundation in Bryan, Ohio and gave them my story. They in-turn endorsed me, sent four hundred press releases nation wide, and began setting up radio, newspaper, and TV interviews with those interested along my 5,800 mile route. This “why” was turning out to become a meaningful and intense journey. Even today when I speak of, or write about my sister I can’t help but choke up a little. I found purpose in doing something for someone other than searching for fully selfish endeavors. Not to say there wasn’t selfishness doing this, it was for me as well. I was 21 and had a zest for experience and knowledge, especially outdoor adventures. This trip changed many things in the way I saw myself in society, and my purpose in this world.  What I also learned was the importance of reaching out to people in need, educating people about personal health and environmental issues, and inspiring people to live out their dreams.

For two years I had in-depth conversations, made some connections, had dreams, and more but it never really took off. I never lost the passion to do this epic bike ride though and in talking with others, I gained a better sense for the mission of the ride. From reflecting on Outward Bound courses I instructed, being a TA in grad school, and acting as a long-term substitute teacher at Rivers Edge Academy in St. Paul, MN, experiential teaching became a common theme. What I realized was that students were challenged, became inspired, and empowered to positively change their lives, and use their voice and take action. These are effective tools to make change in the world. To broaden young peoples understanding of issues that other people face in distant locations, not just their own community, by introducing the voice, customs, and traditions of other people throughout the Western Hemisphere. Right to their classroom or home via the Internet. This became the Project that inspired me. Effecting change through experiential education; using a monumental bike ride to link cultures with the understanding that action taken by one or more groups of people in one location can impact, positively or negatively, a group of people in another. The images, stories, and state of the world portrayed in the documentary, 180South resonated with me. Many of the issues represented, became ongoing topics that impact cultures around the world. I imagined having lesson plans so students can collaborate and create solutions to make positive change. Now, I just needed to stop talking the talk, and start walking the walk and do this!

Yet, it wasn’t clear how much work was ahead of me in planning this project…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Experience

A sampling of photos from Team Members, Alvin and Alexia. These photos were taken within the last two years and represent farming, sustainability, bicycle touring, and community. The Western Hemisphere Project was built on excitement and passion from experiences like these. Alvin and Alexia will continue to build upon this knowledge and hope to grow your interest in these issues as well.

Alvin Hoy Goeser

Fun facts about the rider

  1. Alvin has been wearing Patagonia clothing since 1989 and has saved boxes of catalogs. His wardrobe is almost exclusively Patagonia and he still rocks some of his older fashions.
  2. Alvin has now met both of his heroes: Yvon Chouinard and Jerry Garcia.
  3. Some of Alvin’s favorite outdoor sports include telemark skiing,  rock climbing, canoeing, surfing, backpacking, and of course bicycling!
  4. One of Alvin’s life goals is to become the oldest Olympic swimmer and/or speed skater.
  5. In 1990 Alvin road over 5,800 miles from Washington to Florida raising money for Reyes Syndrome Foundation.
  6. He swam with wild dolphins at the age of 17