I have been alone for most of my life, but seldom lonely. I find myself ready to embark on a new vision of my life. Others have found that solitude is the requisite condition to create, formulate, and deliberate. Martin Luther shut himself up in the abbey as he translated the Vulgate. Recently, I’ve been reading Joshua Slocum’s “Sailing Alone Around the World” and marveling at a man who had a vision to be the first to traverse and circumnavigate the worlds oceans solo.

“A man can be himself only so long as he is alone; if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom, for it is only when he is alone that he is really free.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

“I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.  We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers.” – Henry David Thoreau

Throughout college, from friends and random bystanders on the streets I would hear: “Run Forest Run!”. “Forest Gump” came out while I was in my undergrad years, many people gave me that nickname usually because that was the only way to somehow understand my constant running. I always found that and my other nickname “Mowgli” from “Junglebook” to be great marks of distinction rather than words of derision. People seldom could comprehend my love for being outdoors in any form nor my passion for running. Even when I was an “established” teacher, I took off to live in the deserts of Arizona for months while I taught. One friend did apprehend my vision, because her’s was greater, her name was Giovannina S. She was a fellow runner with numerous marathons to her name, and miles of trail underfoot. It was originally her idea to run around the United States. She shared that precious idea with me, and perhaps to her chagrin, I adopted it for my own. It seems that now the possibility of completing this monumental task may becoming more fact than fantasy.

8000 miles. Plus or minus is the probable mileage that will be required to circumnavigate the continental US. At an average of 25 miles a day running 6 days a week, the run will take exactly one year. 25 miles a day is quite a bit, but greater yet is the caloric consumption required to exert this monumental task. The running alone will require nearly 3000 calories a day on top of the 2000 calories needed to maintain ones health. To put 5000 calories a day into perspective, it is equivalent is 100 apples, 50 bananas, 20 bagles A DAY!!!  So needless to say, I can eat all the chocolate I want! 🙂

In order to time it properly with the seasons, I will have to leave the Pacific Northwest in September, travel south to southern California, travel across the southwest and south in Winter. The eastern seaboard in Spring, and spend the late Spring crossing the Midwest. Finally finishing across the great plain states and the northern rocky mountain states in Summer, just in time to return to the Pacific Northwest at the beginning of Fall. While running I will attempt to see as many art museums and national parks as possible, camping except when in big cities.

While running, I will attempt to document my travels, the glorious vistas, friends made, and natural wonders observed in drawing and painting. “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”  ~Henry David Thoreau, 1854. Thoreau had it right, better to die doing something you love then die from a heart attach bent over a desk in a job you hate. Most people can point to a certain time in their lives when their dreams died, then they spend the rest of their lives regretting these decisions. Live life with no regrets.

The other reason for this run is to “See America First”, and in my case first-hand. My purpose however is different from the former National Parks slogan. It is my desire to see that Americans are truly all human, not republicans or democrats, socialist or capitalists, or Oregon vs. Oregon State minded people. Our world has a penchant at the moment to divide us into factions; some would say that this isn’t by accident. The idiotic mantras of “America: Love it or leave it” and “You’re either with the Terrorists or with Us” have as much logical basis as declaring “Your Children: Love ’em or leave ’em” or “Your either a with the Raiders or with the 49ers”.  I believe, contrary to the divisionistic nature of our media that we are all one. We like the bees, inhabit this giant hive called Earth. We will either survive together or be destroyed by our exclusionistic principles. Science and the Bible agree we all came from one set of parents in Africa. We are all one. I choose to see people as good, although they are prone to do bad things, people are good. My mother reminded me recently, that people are not bad, they are sometimes just afflicted individuals. Seen that way, it affords one the ability to have compassion for ones fellow man. It is my fervent hope to capture the humanity that I encounter on this travel in paint and pencil.