Charley’s ride across America 28. Who’s Gregg and trust the universe


Day 56 march 24. 37 miles 7 hrs in 25-30 mph headwinds, slow and tiring, end Hatch NM

Day 57 march 25.  25 miles 3:30 cold (30’s) NO WIND, sunny and beautiful, up slight grade end Lake Caballo NM

Total miles 2270

Dear friends and family,

Now in New Mexico and on our way to the Gila National Forest. Each day we are climbing towards the mountains. The wind continues to be an issue. Yesterday we had breakfast with two friends of Gregg’s who are riding eastward across on a tandem. We shared lots of useful travel info with each other and enjoyed our discussion. 

It did give us a later start than we should have and soon into the ride we were riding into a steady 25 mph headwind. It damn near impossible to make progress and a normally short 35 mile day took us 7 hours. 

We were exhausted last night, so today got a really early start to get to the RV park near Lake Caballo, only 26 miles, and arrived as the wind was starting. They offered us a small cabin for fifty bucks and with the wind and having to cook outside if we tented and inside if cabin, cabin won.

Trust the universe is something I am learning from Gregg, who is quite an experienced touring cyclist and other bikers we meet along the way. I’m finding a mix of pure angels, who just help people and the curious, who are interested in our story of two old retired guys crossing the country by bike.

Last night as we were looking for a place to set up our tents in Hatch, NM, a town with no hotels, we pulled into the Hatch RV Park. There was a kiosk with a phone number to call and a warning to not take a spot without a reservation. Gregg called the number and left a message that we were looking for a place to stay.

In a few minutes a man we presume to be the owner called back.

“We are two cross country cyclists looking for a spot to set up a couple of tents for the night” Gregg explained.

“As we walked around, we noticed a spot out of the wind in the storage area that could work” he further elaborated.

“Oh, I see, you are snooping”, the owner responded.

“Not snooping, just checking it out” was the retort.

“ I call it snooping”. “ I don’t really have any tent spots as I haven’t arranged the insurance issues and some cyclist I let stay once gave me a bad review so…” he was thinking aloud

Gregg ( the former salesman) told him “Hey, we won’t give any review at all and will clear out early”

“ Put ten dollars for each of you in an envelope and call it good then” was the reply.

We did and it was.

Put together the combination of both of us greeting people that we come across ( think Crocodile Dundee in Manhattan giving his “Goodday” to strangers on the sidewalk) and allowing life to present itself to us and I can appreciate some less planning and more allowing. Sometimes a struggle for someone who did it professionally for years, but I’m learning.

Who is this guy Gregg?

Grew up in Kalamazoo MI and attended Michigan State.

He’s only 65 so younger than me

Moved to Idaho worked in paper and printing sales for 40 years

Took off in his 30’s with former wife bicycled around the world- like Karakoram Highway stuff!

Retired early and rode  the Northern Tier route across the US

Wife Janet is Dean  of Engineering at Michigan tech university.

Now lives in Houghton Michigan  on the upper peninsula with a cabin on Lake Superior 

Good writer, has discussions with Pinto his pig ( porcine heart)valve , Lady Luck, his ride, and the Wheelman- Gregg

Here’s his blog link

He’s a Good riding companion, likes  to leave really early, but I have night vision issues, so with me leaves at first light, also now we can often beat the headwinds that pick up later in the day.

We are splitting rooms now and saving a bunch of money as we go. Often we ride a long ways apart and occasionally we talk by riding side by side if there’s a wide shoulder. Our riding pace is similar, so neither of us has had to speed up or slow down from our previous solo pace. Since we each did more than half our trips solo, it’s easy to be independent.

It does make it easier to run in a gas station and use the bathroom without having to secure the bike

Speaking of Upper Peninsula Michigan AND trusting the Universe reminds me of a story from 1975.

When I graduated from college in May of 1975, all my peers in Accounting interviewed for CPA jobs and started their careers right away. I interviewed, got several offers, turned them down and decided I owed myself a break for all the hard work I did in college so borrowed my parent’s spare car and drove across the country for fun . 

I did get exposed to rock climbing in Yosemite by taking their “Go climb a Rock” course, not knowing till a year later that it would change my life.

Upon my return I worked a few odd jobs: house painter, moving company, and machine shop janitor. I thought of myself as  a sort of Studs Terkel, the writer that tried as many jobs as possible to write about them.

Now, ok, it’s getting toward the end of the year and time to put my Accounting degree to work. But first, maybe one more trip before I joined the two weeks of paid vacation per year world.

It was ten days before Christmas, so I was looking for short term adventures kind of close to home that could include skiing.. My brother John mentioned that he had a friend he used to work with in Chicago who now ran some kind of bar in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan near Ironwood, which I found out was very close to highly rated downhill skiing spots.

Cool, so I took the 67 Chevy and headed north. I found the bar and walked inside. Behind the small bar stood a long white hair and bearded big man who fit the description I was given.

I walked up to him and asked “ Are you John B?”

“Who wants to know?” He snarled back at me.

I got the impression that possibly someone might be looking for him.

“Hey, I’m John Kanieski’s younger brother. He thought you might be able to help me find a place to stay”

“Well, for fuck’s sake, why didn’t you say so, John’s a good friend and I’ll take care of you”

And he did. He offered me a room to sleep in free of charge in a building behind the bar, a few comped meals at his bar and an oil heater to keep the car starting after those thirty below zero nights.

He served drinks, played the banjo, then served more drinks between songs. He ran the whole place, mostly singlehanded. 

I spent each day skiing and each evening in the bar listening to his music. What a wonderful break I was having, till it got to be about three days before Christmas and I had to start thinking about a return to Cleveland for the holidays. Not a great idea to skip Christmas with the family when you are one of seven kids.

So, time for planning. Let’s see, how much money left from my meager odd job earnings. Oh, oh!

Upon inspection of my wallet, I realized I had a total of three dollars left. Three dollars, and no big bills folded and hidden, as I was hoping I had. 

What to do? 

Calling my parents to wire money was out of the question. Their son, the CPA with a fresh Accounting degree running out of money and not noticing!!! No way.

I guess maybe I bought a couple too many beers during those music sessions.

To get an accounting degree one has to take a statistics course.

I knew the quote from Otto von Bismarck that “God has a special Providence for fools, drunkards, and the United States of America”, so using my statistical knowledge I decided to try them all.

Even though the Upper Peninsula might seem like another country, I knew otherwise. I was clearly a fool for getting myself into this pickle and I wasn’t a drunkard, but I tried the next best thing: I took my three dollars down to John’s bar and spent two of them on a beer. Best odds possible.

In a few minutes as I slowly sipped that beer, a young guy perched himself on the next barstool. He seemed troubled.

“What is wrong” I inquired.

“ I’ve got to get to Detroit by tomorrow night and my car gave up the ghost” was his trouble.

“ Have I got a deal for you” I explained.

“We leave tomorrow morning in my car. You put a tank of gas in here and another one when I drop you off in Detroit, then I can just make Cleveland on that tank”

Of course he went for it, and the plan performed. I even had a dollar left as I coasted into my parent’s driveway.

AND trust the universe!

Love any comments.

Sending love,


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