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Letter 6, USA, South. Spring 2006

After lots of trouble on the border I am now in Southern Texas. When the World Trade Center came down they became very strict. Now someone must show that hes got sufficient money and not try to work instead of taking holidays. I took the chance but they rejected me. I went back to Mexico and wrote letters to my friends asking if they could lend me money. One friend took a mortgage on his home and sent it to me. It took days to arrange. Again at the border they told me that this wasnt enough and they wanted to see at least $1000 in cash. In Mexico I withdrew the money and finally they let me enter the USA. My first impression of the States wasnt too good after all this stress. But now I feel better. In only 2 days I have 2 new tyres, a free hotel stay and lots of hamburgers. We were interviewed by local media and here in Kingsville I cant think of anyone not knowing me. I met a Vietnamese veteran who offered us hamburgers. He told us some really horrific stories about the war there. He didnt realize that all of this was due partly because of the tortures by American soldiers. He also didnt realize that hamburgers and other junk food made people overweight. I have never seen so many fat people in one place before!

When we entered Guatemala we met a rightwing politician. For one or another reason he called the police to escort us. The police took this order very seriously and followed us with blue lights flashing up to the border of Mexico. We felt very important at the beginning. On the police radio we only heard talking about a Norwegian and a Japanese biker. Lots of folks came just to see us. After 2 days we got a little tired of all this publicity. When we slept in our tents a policeman was watching us all night. When we took a bath in the river there was at least 3 police cars for our safety. This awakened the interest in us. As many as 50 people came to watch us sleeping in our tents. (Camping is something really unusual down here) they really wanted to see everything. We were warned and hoped it would be better in Mexico.
There isnt much to tell about Mexico. It was a bit boring with long even roads which seemed never to end. Folks werent too friendly either. We kept on cycling and got bored more and more with the Spanish culture. Ive got a problem with my backside. When ever I sat on my saddle some muscles went tight on me. A Dr. Jesus Ramirez helped me but after a week the pain came back and I had to see another Dr. who gave me penicillin and advised me to find a softer saddle. But I think the muscle must be operated once I am back.

I had some strange experiences with snakes. In Mexico there are dead snakes on all of the roads. At the end I got used to it so I just ran over them without taking care. But when I ran over one which wasnt dead she found herself in my front wheel. When I stopped she tried to bite me. A little tug and I had it. I think it was a small rattlesnake.
My next frightening experience was in the States. When we camped close to a river I wanted to take a bath before going to sleep. Exactly when I wanted to dive I saw a 2 m long snake about 1 m down in the water. I quickly forgot about taking a bath in the river.
My (our) plans are to ride alongside the east coast beginning in Florida, up to Canada and later to the west and north to Alaska.

Rune



Letter 7, USA Kansas, July 31, 2006

Hello.

I am now in the mid-west in Kansas. I have been on long tours but nothing special has happened. There is not much to see and no one to talk to since everyone are in their cars

The camping facilities are great though. In Texas for example, I asked one guy whether it was possible to sleep in the yard of his ranch. That resulted in a 3 weeks stay with free room and board! I worked on the ranch. It was hard, cowboys live a tough life. Texas has a new meaning to me now that I know the background. They had been gun fighting, fist fighting and drinking. But thats history now.
I have met people with the biggest hearts in the world. They have fixed my bicycle. They even had a benefit dinner to collect money for me. They took me fishing and pubbing. I really felt welcome.

After my stay in Bridge City I was happy I had room and board. But after one more week of biking I needed a new front wheel chain and gear. I also was hospitalized for my back problem. So I was left with no more money even though I didnt spend much

I biked from Texas to Mississippi and through Alabama to Florida. Later I want to go to the west coast. But where my journey will end I dont know.

Now for some stories of my adventures:
- a skunk visited me while I was sleeping in my hammock. He stole some food but when I chased him he lifted his tail. After that my tent and hammock where useless! But fortunately a girl gave me a new and better one in Missouri. I was often invited to homes for food and lodging. People in the south USA are so friendly. I have heard that in the north they are not. But I will see.

Greetings Rune







Letter 8, USA Montana, August 31, 2006

Hello !

I am now in Montana after I crossed the border to Canada. My tourist 3 month visa had run out and I had to leave the states. I tried to get an extension but this was really difficult. I was a little tired of all this when I met a border police whom I told of my problems. Maybe he had his good day when he told me to cross the border and come back again when he would give me another 3 months visa. Surprises never end.

The nature up here is really beautiful. Clear rivers and the air a little chilly. Its real Cowboy land and I feel allmost like the marlboro man who rides/cycles in the sunset. But there are also parts where there is nothing but desert and grass. I am getting a little tired on these roads but luckily I met Harley bikers and we became friends. In South America my friends were truck drivers and police. They often ask me why I don't ride a Harley instead of cycling. I told them that my horsepower are my legs which all ways gets a huge laugh.

After a hot day I've been cooled off with a waterhose by a Harley gang.
They shouted: "Do you feel better now?"
I said: "Yes, I feel better!" But they said I didnt look better and invited me for a beer.

There was a month with a heat wave which took all my strength. My day trips ended up as low as 50 km. I was told that it was the hottest month for 50 years.
I found that an icecold coke after a hot day gives you a headache.
If you like to jump off your bike and throw it from a bridge into the deep water then it is time to take a break until you find new strength to bike again.
Sometimes when I spend the night at a rest place I always got problems with gays hitting on me. Here in the states these places are frequently used for contacts by them. For one or other reason they put their interest in me! I just don't know why!
I have been to the Indian reservation of the big chief Sitting Bull who fought General Custer. Someone warned me not to sleep there, but when I got closer I forgot. They have a lot of alcohol and drug problems there. I met one indian who invited me to his home where the whole family greeted me.(six boys, one grandfather, many aunties and so on.
They gave me amulets which keep the bad away from me and bring me luck.
They baptised me White Buffalo because I seemed to be fearless cycling around the world. I took the chance and stayed over night. I have never seen such bad behaviour: young and old drunks together, smoking and fighting. The kids were obviously used to this.

I found an open house and went to sleep until police came and threw me out. There are many Norwegian living in the north of the states. They were astonished to see me coming with my bike. Many times I was invited to stay and to eat and drink. One of them spoke in really old Norwegian which he had adopted from his great-grandfather. I hardly understood anything that he said. But all of them were shocked when I told them about the welfare we have in Norway. (free hospital, doctor, schools and unemployment, insurance.)
They were even more shocked when I told them about prices for gas, beer and cigarettes. Also the couldnt believe how high fines can be there.(to urinate in the street in Tonsberg, Norway cost 15 000 NOK)

Greetings from
White buffalo
Rune

Robbed in Seattle

16 people commented Published by Rune Monstad on Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Hola
25/9 Waneche-Seattle(Ballard): 160 miles/256 km Highway nr 2,520,522. 4,000 ft.
Nice weather and nature.

Arrived in Seattle, WA at 9:00 p.m. and went to the store to by a drink and a bit of food. Came out and my wallet with my pasport, visa card and 500 dollars was gone. Someone opened my bike bag and robbed me. This is the first time this has happened to me on this 9 month trip.
Naturally, I was very sad.

Rune Monstad

Hanging Out in Seattle

4 people commented Published by Rune Monstad on Friday, October 06, 2006
The media has reported what has happened to me this last week, but I want to write more myself about what I have been doing. Since I was on T.V. and in the newspapers here, I have attended a benefit at the Norse Home on Phinney Ridge near Ballard. It was very nice and I had a great time and there were many people speaking Norwegian.

I also spoke at a high school in Enumclaw, about 40 miles southeast of Seattle. There were around 400 teenagers, I really had fun there. They asked about everything and took a lot of photos.

I have also been on a sailboat in a competition on Puget Sound, but it was bad as there was no wind! So, after 5 hours we started the motor and turned back. Still, it was fun.
Have been enjoying the chance to meet many people over dinner, a beer or coffee.

Tonight I have been invited to a bike club party in downtown Seattle which I think will be fun.
Second Ascent sportstore in Ballard will fix my bike before I start to cross Canada in winter time from West to East. Very friendly people.

People are so cool in Seattle.

I am so grateful for the help and encouragement I have receive from so many people after being robbed. I am still working on replies to many of the e-mails. Thank you for your support!!

Rune

Still Waiting for Passport

3 people commented Published by Rune Monstad on Wednesday, October 18, 2006
My passport still hasnt arrived from Norway and it looks like I'll have to wait one week more.

I am still enjoying meeting many people in Seattle. I am lucky to have received some warm clothes, cooking equipment, sleeping bag, and some other things for my bike trip across Canada this winter. It is so generous of people to do that! REI, Outdoor Research and Second Ascent have helped me out with preparing for my trip, too.

I spoke at the Leif Erickson Hall in Ballard for a "Sons of Norway" meeting. I was very proud when they invited me to become a member. They have organizations all over the USA and Canada. I look forward to meeting more of these Norwegian people along the way, as it is always nice to have some Norwegian food once in awhile too!

My twin brother might be able to come for a visit next week with his daughter who is 4 years old! I havent seen them in 1.5 years. I really look forward to seeing them! I miss them so much.

Unfortunately my camera is broken now, I have a warranty but it will take one month before I could get it back. It is a bummer, I cant wait one month.

I was filmed on Northwest Afternoon last Friday, they will be showing it this afternoon at 3pm. Hope it turns out okay!?

In about 14 days I will start to bike to Vancouver, then Vancouver Island up to Port Hardy. I plan to take a ferry to Prince Rupert in Northern Canada and from there head across to eastern Canada.

I was invited to a party today with only women present. Ill write more about what happens next time...

Rune

My Brother is Coming to Seattle!

1 people commented Published by Rune Monstad on Thursday, October 26, 2006
My twin brother and his daughter are coming next Wednesday, November 1st. He will be here visiting for one week. Havent seen them for 1.5 years. I miss them a lot. My brother and I are a dance team, a little rock n roll and Norwegian dance, too. Maybe we should have a dance show at the Norwegian Norse Home while he is visiting. We will see.

My passport still hasnt come yet, some problems with mail from Norway they say. Hope I get it by next week. It is a problem not having ID as I cant get into bars. I always try to explain that my passport was stolen, but sometimes it doesn't work.

Last week I went to the party with only ladies, I talked about my trip and they asked many questions. One of the ladies, Lisa Miller, invited me to a cyclecross competition last Sunday. I thought I was strong, but that was so hard and different from the riding I have done. I was one of the last people to get in! It was great fun anyway and I am now a new member of "Team Second Ascent" in Seattle. I am very honoured.

I went to the Nordic Heritage Museum, it was a nice museum. They wanted to have my bike when I finish my trip and put it on display. I think they were joking.

I am still meeting people and everyone is so nice to me. Show me around and I really see the culture here. I am staying with a nice family on Phinney Ridge (Seattle), Cindy and Tim Johnson.

Joe Sheard and Mikkel Al have helped me with winter gear and tips on the road.I think I have most of the things I need to bike across Canada this winter. I hear that it could be -50 degrees. Can well be too dangerous to have a leak!

I am anxious to bike again, as when you bike everyday it becomes a drug. When you stop biking it can be depressing, like hangover. Relaxing for 1- 2 week is ok with me, but not 1 month. Ive never stopped biking for so long before.

1 people commented Published by Rune Monstad on Wednesday, November 01, 2006
I finally received my passport and will soon continue with my trip. I plan to be at the King's Pub in Ballard Friday night (11/3) from 5 pm to ????.

I'd like to have a beer and say good bye to all of the new friends I've made.


Yellowstone National Park

Letter 9,USA, November 23, 2006

* Restless and sleepless nights in my hammock in the Yellowstone national park. Wouldn't you be!!?
* Cowboy in Montana
* Built a house with Mexicans
* Robbed in Seattle and got famous
* Many warnings against cycling in Canada during the wintertime

I am now in Vancouver, Canada after riding in the rain for one week. Its funny with this weather. I have been riding 9 months almost without rain but heavy sunshine

I shall tell briefly what happened to me in the last 2 months
I met a guy in Montana who is a professional biker. Troy Evans is his name.
He gave me stuff for my bike tour and also addresses of places where I could sleep on the road.
It was quite a relief to talk to someone after many months on my bike alone

Ive been in the Yellowstone national park which is one of the most beautiful places Ive been to so far. There is lots of wildlife and nature. I have seen bears and bisons a.s.o. I must admit that I brought on a bit of a sweat when I heard a wolf cry in the night whilst I was resting in my hammock. Naturally no one is allowed to sleep or camp in the park for the obvious reason of wild animals. I had many sleepless nights in my hammock, which I hung especially high up in the trees.

Later I went to Montana, which is actually a big farm to me. I was invited to a ranch where I found work for 3 days. I helped to cure a cow. The cow was put between two wooden walls, which acted as a vice. Five cowboys were standing around the cow to inject her 5 different vaccinations and to cut her horns with a hacksaw. To keep her head steady she had a ring in her nose. The blood ran when the horns were cut. One cowboy put his hand in her behind to find out whether she was pregnant. This entire act happened within minutes.
Montana is one of the most beautiful states I have seen. There I have been a real cowboy and went in peace when I carried on with my bicycle.

When I reached the town of Wenatchee I met someone whose address I had. I worked one week to build a house together with illegal Mexicans. When they found out that I spoke Spanish we became the best of friends. They asked me whether I had crossed the border like they had.
I told them I came with a passport and visa.

I moved on to Seattle to find a job on a fishing boat. Well I didnt have a green card but I hoped to get one. Getting to Seattle was my longest day trip to date. (160 miles or 260km)
It was dark when I arrived. As I went in a store to call Kristina Southard of whom I had the address. But I wasnt really inside when somebody stole my wallet and some other things out of my bags. Sure it wasnt smart of me to leave my bike unattended but I had forgotten about this danger. In the newspaper in my homepage you can read the rest.
But from now one I was famous. I couldnt go anywhere without been approached by someone who knew me from the papers. That happened so often that Kristina became my secretary. But I enjoyed it. Many folks wrote that they would start riding a bicycle again.
A bicycle club repaired my bike and gave me discount on spare parts and also sponsored me.
Sons of Norway sponsored me with some crowns and a Norwegian old age pension home held a benefit party for me. Also I was invited to speak in front of 400 high school kids.
I have met so many friendly and helpful people that I cant think of how to thank them all.

Here I say 1000 x thanks to the worlds best city, Seattle

Now I will try to cross Canada in the winter from west to east. I have never heard of anyone doing this before. We will see how it works. If it doesnt I must wait for the spring.
Many warned me not to do it. But I always got warnings wherever I have been. (Dangerous surrounding, snakes, a.s.o.
I was warned of pumas, wolves and bears. I was told to go to the police to get permission for a handgun. (I will do that.) Right now I have pepper spray against bears.
It wouldnt be very nice to be awakened by a wild animal. But I think everything will be all right

Rune
Last Updated ( Friday, 24 April 2009 17:00 )