Off the Grid Bicycle Tour Update: Day 77
It’s been a while so I thought we’d check in again with my buddy Rob Greenfield who is cycling across the United States in an effort to promote sustainability.
Penniless in Pennsylvania
by Rob Greenfield
I’ve nearly crossed the entire state of Pennsylvania now and I’ve done it without using a penny. Was it really hard? No. In fact it was quite easy. Why was it easy? Because Americans are wasteful and I am easily able to feed myself off of this waste. Because I ride a bike which uses my own free energy rather than drive a car that costs around 10 to 20 cents per mile to feed. Because the land provides for us and I use it’s provisions. Because I am resourceful and use what is available to me. Because I do good and so others want to do good for me. Because I understand that money is not needed to live and it is only something that has been created.
It has been a wonderful experience living penniless as I crossed the state of Pennsylvania and it is an enlightening feeling to know that I can survive in this great country without money. I firmly believe that if I gave away everything I owned tomorrow and closed all of my bank accounts I could not only survive but thrive in America. There are incredible free resources online like wwoofusa.org, couchsurfing.com, warmshowers.org, and craigslist.org. There are free resources like libraries, public parks, national forests, and BLM land. There are 165 billion dollars worth of food thrown away each year in America, much of which is still delicious and nutritious. I can use my skills to trade for things I need. There are empty houses and empty rooms all over America and people can help who have resources to exchange. It’s certainly a different way of thinking from needing money for everything we do. It takes resourcefulness and it takes the usage of your brain. Sure it’s not always easy but is sitting at a desk and hating life easy? Sure it can be challenging at times but don’t you have plenty of challenges in your “normal” life at home too?
Simplify your life and set yourself free. You only live once, maybe, so live a life you can be proud of!
Off the Grid Update: Day 77
The fenced in pond turned out to be a flooded batting cage and I realized I was sleeping at an abandoned play place with a mini-golf course. If someone were to tell me they woke up at an abandoned mini-golf course I would assume drinking was involved but that was not the case here obviously. It was just a convenient place to sleep for the night. I woke early, rolled up my sleeping pad, and got on the road early as well. I had a sixty-mile day ahead of me to get to Lancaster, Pennsylvania and the morning flew by.
When the clock hit half past twelve I had already pedaled forty miles some of which was through the countryside and some through cities. Some was very pleasant and other parts were a bit grueling in the heat and humidity. I loaded up on a ton of apples, nectarines, and plums from a big green food holding tank behind a grocery store and stopped in at a farm to fill up my water jugs from their well. The great thing about wells is the water always comes out cold from the ground. It was most certainly a hot day but I enjoyed the heat. I tend to always appreciate heat because if it’s hot it sure isn’t cold. I passed over a long bridge that spanned the huge Susquehanna River into the town of Columbia, Pennsylvania and from there it was just another 10 miles to Lancaster.
A few miles from downtown I found a beautiful creek with picnic tables under a pavilion not far from the banks of the creek. I spent the rest of the afternoon from 2:00 to 6:00 in the quiet and pleasant park. I put my solar panels out to harvest the energy of the sun while I sat in the shade of the pavilion and wrote stories. Every hour I got up and walked to the creek to cool my body off and immerse my soul in the refreshing water. I washed my clothes in the creek and hung them out in the heat of the sun to dry. The first time I walked down the bank of the river to swim a large frog plopped into the water and burrowed himself into the mud to hide from me. I could see him holding his breath partially covered in mud and I think he could see me too. Each time I returned he was on the bank waiting for me and each time he jumped back into the river with a splash. I love frogs. I always have and always will.
When the evening had set in enough to cool off the heat of the day I pedaled the last two miles in to Lancaster. I found myself in a city of 60,000 people and the streets were flooded with the citizens of Lancaster. It’s always an interesting feeling for me when everybody seems to be up to something and I myself am an outsider coming in with no knowledge of the city or the people residing within. It’s a fun perspective to view humans from the outside. Everyone seemed to be up to something, but what were they up to I wondered.
I arrived at Katie’s house my host from warmshowers.org and it was wonderful to be in a house as I hadn’t been on one since Pittsburgh I believe. We relaxed for a bit and she gave me fresh peas and mint from the garden out back. We walked downtown and wandered for a bit along with her friend Michelle. It was nothing too special but that is what made it great. It was nice to just walk around the city in the company of people my age for a while. Lancaster is full of Amish and Mennonites and that created for a pretty unique experience. Loads of religion in this city and loads of Jesus preaching handouts to be found littered on the sidewalks.
We walked back to the house at 9:00 and Katie had a handful of friends over to sit around a fire out back. The light from the fire was nice but the heat it added to the already hot night was not needed. It was quite enjoyable to hang out with all these Mennonites and to see their perspectives on life. At 11:00 I got up from my chair and walked upstairs to a comfortable bed. I slept on top of the sheets and blankets to keep myself cool from the heat of the night and slept like a rock.
Photo by Brent Martin.