Monday, May 23, 2011

back home

On 16 May 2011 our trip came to an abrupt end when Bill was hit by a car on Highway 16 outside of Searcy, AR and killed. It was in the early afternoon not long after Bill, Hannah and I stopped on the roadside to admire a summer tanager perched on a wire. We continued along, went for a cold swim in the blue and beautiful Little Red River, met up with Sam who had found a ride to Little Rock where he got a new wheel, and just before we entered Searcy, our destination for lunch, Bill was hit from behind and we are sure that he didn't feel a thing. He died under a willow tree. He was taken to the White County hospital, and two days later Sam, Hannah, and I were picked up by Hannah's parents and driven back to Tivoli, where we are now.

There will be a ceremony for Bill at Blithewood (located on Bard Campus) at 2:00pm on Saturday the 28th. Anybody is welcome. There we will be planting a Flowering Dogwood, one of Bill's favorite trees, in his honor.

Bill's parents Sue and Whitney are setting up a memorial fund to support an under-resourced library in Washington D.C. called the Ballou Library. Coincidentally (or karmically), Bill's middle name was Ballou, and it is his mother Sue's last name. Bill loved books, and I think it's a wonderful thing for us to do in his honor, to help create a place for people to read. There is some information here:

Memorials can also be sent to Whitney Cranshaw, 1400 West Lake Street, Fort Collins, CO 80521.

We're missing Bill so much. It really hurts, and it feels like the only thing to do is to be together, and to try to love each other the way Bill loved us. We talk about him and think about him constantly, and I think we're in the process of realizing that even though he's not here, we won't ever lose him.

Our time on the road with him was life-changing. And Bill was a better example of that than any of us.  Throughout the whole trip we all felt we were having this incredible privilege of watching Bill find peace with himself, with every single person that we met, every single person who had been in his life whom he loved--so many--, and with every space that he inhabited as we moved along. I often watched him and thought to myself that as he rode his bike, he seemed to be in the middle of this bizarre and beautiful sustained meditation. I'm so sad when I think about Bill not being here, but I'm so glad that when I do think about all the time I spent with him in the last few months, he was as happy as I've ever seen him.

I look forward to being with so many of the people who loved Bill on Saturday. Until then we're hiding out in Leora's cottage in Tivoli, keeping close, and sending our love and our thanks for all the kindnesses we have been receiving.

P.S. Since the ceremony will be relatively short, we've been thinking that it would be nice to collect written memories of Bill, for us all to have and read (everybody/anybody is welcome to contribute). For me, there are very specific moments and conversations and stories that keep coming to my mind since the accident.  Really all of us who are here having been sharing stories endlessly. Sometimes they make me laugh so hard, and sometimes they make me sad, but in a way that is good. So we thought it would be good to have some compilation of the things the people who loved Bill and who Bill loved have been remembering. It could be a sentence. It could be a novel. A photograph. Whatever it is we would love it. You can email to 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

tumbling shoals

we're in Tumbling shoals in the house of Sam's second cousin Craig and his wife Lee. We're right off of the Greers Ferry lake (?) and it's beautiful here. The house looks right over the lake. If we stay here tomorrow we'll have to jump off the 20 ft bluff into the water. I'm not sure if we'll stay here. I don't  think we've decided. We're headed toward Bill's second cousin's house in Memphis. Lots of second cousins.

The last few days we've been riding through the Ozark mts/ Boston mountains and it's been some of the most beautiful riding of the trip. Lots of hills though. Yesterday we rode 60 miles and thought maybe it was time to start looking for a place to stop and camp. Bill and I stopped to wait for Sam and Hannah along highway 16 and we started checking out this driveway with a sign over it that said "Camp Cody," and we could see far back in the woods a beautiful log cabin. We wondered if we should go ask if either we could pitch our tents around their house or if they knew a place to camp. Bill and I walked down the driveway and found two people around the back of the house. We asked if there was a place to camp and the man said, "You could camp here!" He got down from his ladder-- I think they were putting finish on the cedar exterior of their house-- and came over to meet us. He and his wife were both wearing full body camouflage suits as they worked. It's time for dinner now so I can't write much but their house had maybe 100 taxidermis all from animals either alan or his wife dorris had killed--from antelope, to many many deer, elk, gray fox, porcupine, bear(s) maybe 5, razorback, rattlesnake (that Alan gassed in order to preserve it without a wound), pheasants, geese, bob whites, raccoon, turkeys, pronghorns, bighorn sheep, bobcats (3 or 4) and I suppose fish that I think were taxidemied if one can taxidermy fish I don't know and I couldn't identify them. There were so many animals staring in at us while we ate a huge feast.

Also, there were dozens and dozens of rifles hanging on the walls all very intimidating but also some of them I must admit were quite beautiful like the old "Gold Henry" collection. He didn't open up the gun safe, which was probably good because this would probably have scared me. They had a good laugh when we told them that not one of us has ever shot a gun.

Dinner was amazing. They cooked us steaks, biscuits, corn, salad, french fries and sweet potato fries and hot chocolate. Alan built us a giant fire after dinner and gave us all a couple shots of Wild Turkey (the bourbon) which was warm and delightful. While we sat around the fire we were able to see the two gray foxes that come every night to eat the leftovers that Dorris leaves out for them ("Just tooo cute to kill!") behind the house and we heard whipperwills calling from the woods, which I've never heard. In the morning we had chocolate gravy with biscuits and eggs for breakfast and said goodbye to Dorris and Alan as they drove off to the hospital where Alan works as a doctor in the E.R . 

We had an incredible time with Dorris and Alan at Camp Cody. Yesterday might have been my favorite day/night of the trip. I love the ozarks/boston mountains.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

fallsville, AR

this will be short, but we're sitting in the 1 stop market in fallsville, Arkansas. It's sort of raining and it's cold, which we did not expect (we've all been talking about sending our warm clothes home). We've had some great nights recently--- not much time to do them any justice here, but we had a great (crazy) time in Tulsa, OK with Ryder Spar, a guy who we were sent to by Mallory and Trey in Guthrie. He was a great host and showed us a great time... it was quite amusing when he went to get groceries at 7:00pm and returned after nine inebriated. It was quite funny. He proceeded to cook us a great dinner-- fajitas and hot dogs. We were then convinced to go to the bar sound pony and participate in trivia.... which was fun... when we were forced to send up a team member to dance for a  trivia dance contest, Ryder was very eager and did some sweet surf moves. The judges weren't that into it, but we loved it. THe dance was the last time I saw Ryder-- he disappeared and we got a ride with his friends. It was hilarious.

Then to Hulbert, OK Chris and Denise--- one of our favourite stops! CHris and denise run a lavender farm/soap making business and Denise dyes yarn and knits. We arrived at their house just before a huge thunder storm came in. They cooked us an amazing meal and we just loved talking with them. YOu can read about our visit on Denise's blog---- (we were delighted by this--- we all just read it together)

THen to Fayetteville with John and Patti, another wonderful stay with some wonderful people. THey cooked us a salmon dinner and we had wine and it just was a very luxurious wonderful night.

Alright! Gotta let the others check email and whatnot on this computer while we wait for our breakfast sandwiches.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Paradise in guthrie

I'm sitting in mallory and trey's beautiful little cabin getting tired even though we rode 0 miles today. Yesterday when we got into town Hannah called trey or mallory not sure which and she said we were gonna find a place to swim before coming to find the house. I think Trey said well there's a pond here you guys could swim in... When Hannah broke the news we all thought she was joking. We were sitting at the Guthrie bikeshop (the first stop when we got to town-- bill's collection of tubes littered with patches was starting to get crazy. Six flats before we even left the campsite in mobeetie, TX) and I was pretty bored obviously because I've had 0 flats and therefore had no shopping to do, and so when Hannah told us the news of the pond we were quick to get on our bikes and head for our second stop, another very important stop in every town that we visit, the ice cream store, usually a gas station but this time we got Brahms. Pretty luxurious. When left the bikeshop the owner came out to wave us off and give us free cliff bars. His name was Kent I think.

So we ate shakes or drank them or whatever and rode bAck through town all noticing the digital sign in front of the bank that informed us it wAs 90 degrees which encouraged us along toward the pond. Trey met us on the road and as we got onto a dirt road somebody road up behind us on a cool old Honda moped. There's mallory, Trey said. With the moped and the dirt road and treys funky fold up bike and pony tail and mallorys summer ish clothes riding along behind us on the dirt road Trey and Mallory looked incredibly cool (this was the first time we had met them). And they were our age!.. i guess it was not what we expected out in the middle of no where in Oklahoma. I was very excited about what was happening. We rode along in the dirt the trees seemed to get thicker And our smiles wider and we came into Trey and mallory's small paradise. ("the cabana club" was the name of the lake when it used to be a public swimming hole). Though hardly is it small. Sure the cabin is quaint and it's beauty was not in it's size-- it felt like a home I would like to make if i was living with a loved one in the woods near water (don't worry leora I took notes), but the pond was hArdly a pond. More a lake. Or a walden pond. Minutes after we happily and firmly tossed down our bikes, An action I take greAt joy in after a long dAy, we were flinging ourselves off the dock and it wAs easily one of the best moments of the trip. It felt so good. I yelled to Hannah and bill who were still on shore "we might need to stay here!" mallory who was walking back to the cabin heard
Me and yelled back that we could stay for as long as we want. If only she knew that the premise of the book I am reading-- magic mt-- is a short visit, 3 weeks ?, turning into 7 years...

Ok reAl tired now.

They cooked us a huge feast and we loved them and I don't mean past tense only there and we ate under the stars, watched a grin of a moon set and drank some sangria they mAde. They told us of their recent bike trip and their hopes and dreams for the future and we did the sAme. Bill and I slept outside under a dark moonless sky and as hoped for, we just couldn't leave today. We plan to leave at sunrise tomorrow toward Tulsa where we will be on Tuesday, but if 7 years goes by and we cannot be found, we're at the cabana club and we're having a great time.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Weatherford, OK

We're in Weatherford, Oklahoma, staying with some nice folks we found on warmshowers.

We're glad to be out of texas. We like Oklahoma. The trees and the birds and the winter wheat. The hills we don't like, but we'll deal.

We're headed toward Guthrie today. Bill needs tubes. I need a raincoat. I used it as a seat during lunch on the side of the road and I left my seat on the side of the road. We'll be in Tulsa in a few days. We just got a lesson on what to do when we see a tornado. Kind of exciting. Kind of scary.

Got to go.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


We're in dalhart, Texas stuck w rain and snow and wind. LAst few days were long but good. Slept under a bridge on the way to conchas lake from las Vegas NM. Bc of wind and sunset we didn't make it and thought the dry creek bed under bridge was best spot. Wind picked up in the night and I thought we'd blow away. Next day we rode on through tucumcari, NM and a huge dust cloud. The wind blew us to ute lake in Logan, NM where we found a great motel run by a sympathetic woman named lordis and her cousin Linda. LindA drove us to the lake and we went swimming despite the freezing water and 50 mph winds. Back in the hotel room we were thrilled to watch the lifetime movie cAlled "William and Kate" based on the romantic history of prince william and his wife Kate (congrats to William and Kate, by the way. Their story touched my heArt). We were even more thrilled by our next feAture: "con air," a personAl favorite.

On toward Texas yesterdAy. En route we saw many scissortAiled flycatchers, which might be the coolest birds Ive ever seen. So far, Texas smells like cowshit and there seem to be more cows thAn people. And yesterdAy I asked bill if it snows here And he said probably and now we know for sure.

We're in the sands restaurant headed for Dumas tomorrow. Probably, bill says.

That's all. We miss everyone, especially on days like this! Luckily we were able to watch spiderman 3 this morning in our hotel and we saw a commercial for "the perfect storm" which will be on at 7. So we should be ok. Unfortunately the local movie theater was turned into A church recently, which I can't imagine was a decision made by the big guy. Anyways. Adios !

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

santa fe contd.

It's our last night here in Santa Fe, after four full days of taking it very easy. It's been so good! Such good food and company and accomodations! We've had the pleasure of spending a lot of time with Terry, David (Liza's parents) and Jackson, Liza's brother, and we've loved every minute of it. So much great conversation and many great walks... I could go on and on. We feel very...adopted.

I just wanted to write a little more from where I left off the other day. It's so hard to choose a day to write about because they all bleed into one another in a very magical way. Anyways, Daniel Store brought us the fry bread, and I'm tempted to think of this as one of the best eating experiences on the trip, though it's hard because there are so many-- we  become so hungry that nearly every eating experience be it hot dogs in mac n cheese or pop tarts  in the oatmeal seems satisfying beyond measure.

In front of Daniel Store's  house, or I guess it was his mom's house, we pitched our tents and it was not long after dinner that we crawled into them and turned on our headlights to either read what is at least for me a half a page from the one book that I brought-- the Magic Mountain-- or write a quarter of a page before falling asleep. I was awoken in the middle of the night by the urge to pee. This is a terribly annoying thing when it's cold out and you are bundled in a sleeping bag. Nevertheless, I unzipped the bag and the tent and I was overjoyed to see the moon so low and huge over the far off mesas in the desert on the Navajo reservation. Bill woke to my rustling and I pointed to the moon and it was spectacular enough to lure him from whatever dream and sit up-- "Oh my god." And then an owl hooted. And then again. And again. We were both so thrilled. I climbed out to pee and tried walking toward the sound of the owl but I had no idea--hardly any trees around! I decided it was very important that I remember the owl's call so that I could look it up in the morning, so I made up some mnemonic to match the syllables and sounds and rythm. In the mornign I struggled to remember what it was because I was basically still asleep throughout the whole thing. My mnemonic was, I remembered, "I will follow you. I will follow you. I will follow you." It's the same number of syllables as the barred owl-- a mnemonic I've heard for the barred owl call is "who cooks for you all? Who cooks for you all?" I thought my dreamy mnemonic was funny and oh so wishful. If only an owl would follow us as we went on our way.

As we ate our breakfast, oatmeal as almost always, Daniel Store walked over and asked us in an almost disinerested tone if we drank coffee. We said we did...with some hesitation... and then he disappeared back into the house. He reappeared a few minutes later with four cups of coffee. His generosity was so strange and amazing largely because he said so few words, and he didn't really seem to want to become friends with us, instead he seemed to have this almost instinct or  custom that led him to care for us. He went about his business, but made did what he could to help us. We were strangers, but when we left it felt as if we had some strange bond with him because he was so generous to us. It's crazy how often I have felt this way. So many people go so far out of their way to help us, and there is so little to do beside accept their generosity, say thank you, and then continue with the feeling that we must at all costs reciprocate this generosity whenever and to whomever we are capaple. Hopefully it goes around.

From Leupp we rode to Greasewood, where we met Raymon John, a sheep farmer who loaded our bikes into his truck and drove us to his farm. The sun was going down when we arrived, and he showed us the old hogan-- a traditional hexagonal hut that the navajo  use for ceremonies-- that we could sleep in. We were far out on the plains and the light was coming across sideways and we were all so incredibly happy to be once again receiving someone's inconceivable generosity. The sheep were all corralled and looking at us confusedly. We admired them, met the very shy sheep herder, and settled in to our hogan. We made a small fire outside as the sky darkened. The stars were incredibly bright. We roasted marshmallows and ate them between two chips ahoy cookies, which is actually great (not better than smores though).

In the mornign we saw the sheep wandering out near the mesa with the sheep herder close behind, and Raymond John arrived at abotu 830 to greet us and give us a ride back to the paved road (about 5 miles). He brought with him his son Mervin who was very friendly and told us many stories about life on the reservation and various navajo traditions and ceremonies. He showed us some incredible native american music during the drive, and he took a picture of us when we said goodbye at the Trading Post. And with that we were off to Canyon de Chelly, which would require so many pages and words to even begin to do it justice. I started a water color there and I was afraid I may have deeply offended teh canyon. I've never seen anything like it.. at any rate, I must go. It's late and everybody else is enjoying the heat of the woodstove. We move on in the morning-- to Las Vegas, NM, and onward through Texax, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee and then to the coast in North Carolina. We were talking the other day about trying to convince our parents to come meet us at the outer banks in North carolina to camp and hang out at the supposedly beautiful place in North Carolina. Bill said his parents already mentioned possibly comingo ut there... I keep forgetting to tell my parents... and the rest... if you read this... think about it....