12. Across the States in 80 Days: Week Ten – Bloody Sunshine

12th of 13 Videos about my trip, in 80 days from New York to Los Angeles by bicycle, the arrival at Los Angeles.
The music used is from the album « To the end of the world », which was recorded by The Lone John Harps in 2014.

You can download the tracks at: https://thelonejohnharps.bandcamp.com

The text was written during the trip, and reflects the state of mind I was in at that moment.


Week Ten: A cycle come full circle

Sitting on Santa Monica Beach, a few miles from where I miserably slumped down nine months before, faced with the certainty of failure.
The ocean is the same but I’m a different man.
Approaching along Route 66, past a hideous succession of urban sterility that only recently would have made me cry with despair. A whirlwind of emotion and memories sending a tear running down my cheek.
The tears are the same, but these are cried for something else.  
Riding along Hollywood Boulevard with the sun setting, winding my way through the traffic, speeding by the places that had me paralyzed and agonizing in stasis.
The streets are the same but I can use their sidewalks while looking at the stars.
Entering the studio and realizing that we’ve already laid down the foundations. Adding, decorating, flourishing in a burst of creative energy.
The songs are the same, but they resonate with the wanderings of my soul. 
Arriving back in New York for the final departure, the menacing and terrifying reality of the unknown filtered through the prism of a newfound optimism.
The city is the same, but I can see through its facade. 
Returning home, with the satisfaction of knowing there was nothing more I could have done. That whatever didn’t happen only makes the occurred more real.
Reality’s the same, but it matters less.
Setting off into a new adventure full of hope. Not the one repeated like a mantra, that I am willing to become real, but the deeply rooted kind, that stems from knowledge.
That knowledge that had almost slipped my mind. That the world is nothing but what I’ll make of it.
The world is the same but I can sing it once again.

11. Phileas – Across the States in 80 Days: Week Nine – Feed my head

Eleventh of 13 Videos about my trip, in 80 days from New York to Los Angeles by bicycle, the ninth week on the road.
The music used is from the album « To the end of the world », which was recorded by The Lone John Harps in 2014.

You can download the tracks at: https://thelonejohnharps.bandcamp.com

The text was written during the trip, and reflects the state of mind I was in at that moment.

Week Nine: In the wilderness
Here’s the desert.
It’s been a long time coming and all along I could see on the horizon.
There might still be a couple of stops on the way, but eventually there’s no getting around it.
There are many ways to get lost. Get lost in this endless vastness that is desired as much as it is dreaded. To be far gone and not entirely sure there is a way back, to want it this way.
Return differently, leaving something behind there, half-empty but with a life fully lived.
Songs, words and ideas to fill the void around and inside. They’ll get blown away, covered up and drowned out, become repertoire, catchphrase and convictions, but I can live with that.
It’s a fool’s paradise, a castle in the sky, a shelter built on sinking sands but it feels safer than their treacherous grounds full of sinkholes.
It will never be enough against the vast emptiness that is engulfing everything around, but I’d rather have this one glorious sunset than a life-time of shadow dancing.

10. Phileas : Across the States in 80 Days: Week Eight – To the end of the world #2

Tenth of 13 Videos about my trip, in 80 days from New York to Los Angeles by bicycle, the eighth week on the road.
The music used is from the album « To the end of the world », which was recorded by The Lone John Harps in 2014.

You can download the tracks at: https://thelonejohnharps.bandcamp.com

The text was written during the trip, and reflects the state of mind I was in at that moment.

Week Ten : What I want
As I am preparing for the final steps, I’m taking stock. More and more I find myself smiling to myself, incredulous. Unable to grasp it while clinging tightly to it.
I don’t want it to stop. I want sunrises with a horizon, not the walls and the fences.
I want endlessness, not the confinement of stasis.
I want life, not the idea of its perfection.
And at the same time I’m longing for the end.
Every stretch of road is defined by its destination, which I am striving for.
Always projected forwards, towards a reason.
And so I’m yearning for the arrival while I dread it.
I’m waiting for the conclusion, and want to postpone its judgement.
I want vindication, and fear being proven right…

9. Phileas – Across the States in 80 Days : Week Seven – Freedom and its enemies

Ninhth of 13 Videos about my trip, in 80 days from New York to Los Angeles by bicycle, the seventh week on the road.
The music used is from the album « To the end of the world », which was recorded by The Lone John Harps in 2014.

You can download the tracks at: https://thelonejohnharps.bandcamp.com

The text was written during the trip, and reflects the state of mind I was in at that moment.

Week Seven : Ways
We are all on a path.
Not easy to keep one’s bearings.
There are crossroads, turnpikes, switchbacks.
Some of us are on death row, in crowded corridors, clogged arteries, our journey finished before it even started.
Some of us have no way. Blocked and penned in where dead ends meet, unable to find a passage. On the streets, in alleys and aisles, belting out against it.
Some of us are comfortable on main street, serious, thorough, willing to go through with our way, to pay the fare.
Some are on the fast lane, on the highway, seldom resting.
Some have an avenue to themselves, broad boulevards lined with trees, full of propriety.
Some have taken a shortcut, the expressway, the shunpike, have chosen to bypass the difficulties. Some have been blessed, engaged on the high road, the royal road and get away with everything.
Some weather it all because they have a cause to fight for.
Some set out on a trail, track down a different sort of goal, along the corniche, on ridges others wouldn’t dare to tread.
Somewhere in between there is me. Eager to get away from the traffic but taking the freeway, disregarding the paved road, but unwilling to go through the mud, to stick with the dirt path.
On a route, trying to leave my attachments behind, trying to find weightlessness in a world ruled by gravity. In the in between of movement. Always departed and never arrived. Trying to be endlessly alive.

8. Phileas – Across the States in 80 Days: Week Six – Out of the Wild

Eighth of 13 Videos about my trip, in 80 days from New York to Los Angeles by bicycle, the sixth week on the road.
The music used is from the album « To the end of the world », which was recorded by The Lone John Harps in 2014.

You can download the tracks at: https://thelonejohnharps.bandcamp.com

The text was written during the trip, and reflects the state of mind I was in at that moment.

Sixth Week: On the road
I am now right in the middle of this mythical no-man’s land that I have sought out. Right in the middle of that story that I have read and been fed for so long. I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge my indebtedness to these ramblings. But I would be dishonest if I endorsed them completely.
Of course when I read something like “I was halfway across America, at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future”, it strikes a chord deep within.
But just like I can’t say “I am alive” without echoing someone who came before, it doesn’t mean that my being alive has to be pure imitation and indiscriminate following.
I always liked the road but not the man who was telling me about it.
He yearned for people “mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved” but in the end his madness was nothing but an excuse for someone too weak to care.
He may have redeemed himself through his writing to some extend, but his life and vision and opinions eventually appeared to me to resemble those that he was railing against.
Just like Rock n’ Roll, and all its bullshit mythology, those who are prone to “burn, burn, burn” usually end up burning everything and everyone around them to the ground.
And if they come out of it alive, often turn into the very people they so vehemently vilified.

7. Phileas – Across the States in 80 Days : Week Five – White Moonshine River

7th of 13 Videos about my trip, in 80 days from New York to Los Angeles by bicycle, depicting the fifth week on the road.
The music used is from the album « To the end of the world », which was recorded by The Lone John Harps in 2014. You can download the tracks at: https://thelonejohnharps.bandcamp.com

The text was written during the trip, and reflects the state of mind I was in at that moment.

Fifth Week – The importance of being honest
The initial excitement of the unknown has given way to routine and habits but without them having yet become too familiar to be boring.
It is also the moment when I’m coming to terms with the fact that this journey is not going to attract the attention I hoped it would.
The spark hasn’t started the wildfire that would help me set my musical career “ablaze”.
But the sympathetic eyes of the few who follow as day after day passes, sure are always worth more than the hollow approval of the masses. I come to doubt it sometimes, but I wouldn’t keep going if I did not believe it.
What I am missing will always be but a means to an end and it doesn’t mean that much in the end.
The end being always to write, play and record new songs and I can feel them coming up on the horizon, like the many sunrises in the endless skies in front of me.

6. Across the States in 80 Days: Week Four – Free (as a bird on the wing)

6th of 13 Videos about my trip, in 80 days from New York to Los Angeles by bicycle, depicting the fourth week on the road.
The music used is from the album « To the end of the world », which was recorded by The Lone John Harps in 2014. You can download the tracks at: https://thelonejohnharps.bandcamp.com

The text was written during the trip, and reflects the state of mind I was in at that moment.

Fourth Week: A Sight to behold

I am immersed in this parallel path, counting to myself of ways I could have gone.
I speak to few people but learn new ways of talking.
I don’t sing often but I’ve got music playing in my head all day.
I see without being seen.
I take what I’m not supposed to, but always leave something behind.
I will bring back glimpses, but the visions will belong only to me.

5. Across the States in 80 Days: Third Week – In the thick of things

Fifth of 13 Videos about my trip, in 80 days from New York to Los Angeles by bicycle, the third week on the road, me getting lost, the crooked road, the Appalachians.
The music used is from the album « To the end of the world », which was recorded by The Lone John Harps in 2014.
You can download the tracks or the album at: https://thelonejohnharps.bandcamp.com

The text was written during the trip, and reflects the state of mind I was in at that moment.

Third Week: Climbing the Hill
There is this moment, climbing the hill, when you feel such a tiredness, such a bone-tired weariness that you can’t go any further. You are exhausted, wrung out, dead beat.
Suddenly, the idea of another, easier way flashes through the mind.
Giving up becomes an option, the all-encompassing necessity of getting to the end of it suddenly isn’t the only possibility anymore.
From being an idea in your head it becomes a hypothetical sensation, the feeling of being shaded, resting, slumped down in a seat while someone drives you the rest of the way.
This is when resolve kicks in, when you start arguing with yourself, to conjure and expose what you would feel and look like if you gave up.
And by the time you’re full right in the middle of these considerations, you realize that you have climbed most of the hill already. So you decide to go at least until the top of it and then see.
And once you are there it goes all the way down, so you might as well get that done.
You feel exhilarated and reinvigorated by the speed, the landscapes rushing past, and you wonder how you could have ever even envisaged giving up.
You sing along to the tune, you shout out your aliveness, the wind blowing in your face.
And then you are back at the bottom. But you feel confident. You can do it, the first stretch sloping upwards is easy, you’re still carrying the movement from before.
Maybe something has changed, in the nature of the hill or deep within you.
And even as it gets a little harder you tell yourself that it can’t be as bad as what you’ve just managed to climb.
And then you feel it all being slowly drained again, the enthusiasm, the joy, the willingness, the physical strength.
And then you get to that moment climbing the hill, when you feel such a tiredness, such a bone-tired weariness that you can’t go any further…

4. Across the States in 80 Days : Second Week – Learn about the Days

The second week on the road

Fourth of 13 Videos about my trip, in 80 days from New York to Los Angeles by bicycle:
The music used is from the album « To the end of the world », which was recorded by The Lone John Harps in 2014.

You can download the tracks at: https://thelonejohnharps.bandcamp.com
The text was written during the trip, and reflects the state of mind I was in at that moment.

Second Week: Somewhere with no end in sight
I find myself taking every day, every stop, every city, like a small step.
I make mistakes, I’m unaware.
I discover and understand.
I reflect and do better.
Find a routine, a place outside of the world, parallel to it.
When everybody is static yet busy I am passing.
I occasionnally envy their certainty as they sometimes envy my freedom.
They like me for what I am, a small moment of incredulity, maybe even amazement.
I am forward movement, cyclic in scope, cutting through the whirlpools of life.
And always with the free-wheeling feeling that I am nowhere and everywhere at the same time.

3. Across the States in 80 Days : First Week – To the end of the world

Third of 13 Videos about my trip, in 80 days from New York to Los Angeles by bicycle, the first week on the road.
The music used is from the album « To the end of the world », which was recorded by The Lone John Harps in 2014. You can download the tracks at: https://thelonejohnharps.bandcamp.com
The text was written during the trip, and reflects the state of mind I was in at that moment.

First Week: Nowhere near with no end in sight
Never have I been so unsure, full of doubt and skeptical towards a project of mine.
There are a thousand reasons not to go ahead with it, each one more compelling than the other.
Every successful example of a similar venture strikes me as being fundamentally different and better prepared.
But I just grit my teeth, and get on with it, step by step, concentrating only on putting things together. Like a puzzle I can’t believe will ever look like the picture on the box, but that I keep adding pieces to until I sit in my saddle and pedal the first tentative strides into the uncertainty of the unknown.

1. Across the States in 80 Days – Preparation

First of 13 Videos about my trip, in 80 days from New York to Los Angeles by bicycle.
The music used is that of the album « To the end of the world », which was recorded by The Lone John Harps in 2014.
Both are the expression of a same quest for knowledge, for discovery and for self-awareness. Through movement and displacement the aim is to explore the limits and boundaries of the self to gain a better understanding of the world around.

You can download the tracks at https://thelonejohnharps.bandcamp.com/album/to-the-end-of-the-world

Hope you enjoy it,

Phileas / The Lone John Harps

Week Eleven: A cycle come full circle

Sitting on Santa Monica Beach, a few miles from where I miserably slumped down nine months before, faced with the certainty of failure.
The ocean is the same but I’m a different man.
Approaching along Route 66, past a hideous succession of urban sterility that only recently would have made me cry with despair. A whirlwind of emotion and memories sending a tear running down my cheek.
The tears are the same, but these are cried for something I did.  
Riding along Hollywood Boulevard with the sun setting, winding my way through the traffic, speeding by the places that had me paralyzed and agonizing in stasis.
The streets are the same but I can use their sidewalks without looking at the stars.
Entering the studio and realizing that we’ve already laid down the foundations. Adding, decorating, flourishing in a burst of creative energy.
The songs are the same, but they resonate with the wanderings of my soul. 
Arriving back in New York for the final departure, the menacing and terrifying reality of the unknown filtered through the prism of a newfound optimism.
The city is the same, but I can see through its facade. 
Returning home, with the satisfaction of knowing there was nothing more I could have done. That whatever didn’t happen only makes the occurred more real.
Reality’s the same, but I’m spinning around it. 
Setting off into a new adventure full of hope. Not the one repeated like a mantra, that I am willing to become real, but the deeply rooted kind, that stems from knowledge. That knowledge that had almost slipped my mind. That the world is nothing but what I’ll make of it.
The world is the same but I can sing it once again.

Song of the Day: Instant Karma – John Lennon

Day 76 – October 31st : Pasadena, CA to Santa Monica, CA and back- 105 km 

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I had played out a hundred times what it would feel like to be sitting on the beach with the sun setting and to contemplate my glorious “success”, but reality is never gonna be that accommodating.
I have a morning recording session, so I only set out in the afternoon. And though I get good light for the trip, I know I’m not gonna make it for the sunset on the beach.
And indeed, Santa Monica is miserable and wet and cold when I arrive. But the thing that makes me happy is somewhere else anyway. It’s knowing I overcame myself a hundred times, knowing that the next day there are some more recordings to be done, knowing that I’m back on track and that I’ve just lived one of these experiences that make all the shit you go through as a musician worthwhile. It’s not glossy, magazine-style picture quality, it’s gritty and crude, but it’s the reality of a life that I wouldn’t trade for any other.

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Song of the Day: Death and all of his friends – Coldplay

Day 75 – October 30th : Pasadena

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I arrived the night before and stayed at a (yet excellent) warmshower in Pasadena. I haven’t technically finished the Route 66 (which ends at Santa Monica Pier), but I have a meeting with Ryan Freeland who mastered our album, and who I hadn’t been able to meet during my previous trip.
After 6500 km across the US I manage to get lost in Culver City, some things just never change. Hence, the meeting is brief, but I get a glimpse of work at this sort of level (he works with Ray Lamontagne, Bonnie Raitt etc) and it’s also the first time I see a real Grammy…

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Song of the Day: Ray Lamontagne – Trouble

Day 74 – October 29th : Rancho Cucamonga, CA to Pasadena, CA – 73 km 

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My last night of camping in Rancho Cucamonga turns out to be the worst of the whole trip. I figure early on that it will be difficult to find a camping spot, what with everything being Fast Foods and fortified residential villages. So I try a first public Park, but the homeless people tell me there ain’t much hope.
I find a second Park and decide to play it cheeky. Halfway through my evening meal the Sheriff turns up. He’s a decent fellow despite the initial mandatory curtness (“put your hands where I can see them”). But he has to get me moving because some neighbour called and complained. He suggests I wait until it’s pitch dark and try another part of the Park.
Which I do, only to be woken by a far less gentle police officer. I get the whole package, frisking, searching my stuff, threats and being told to move.
I decide to try ringing at people’s doors and ask for a backyard. First house, the woman looks through the shutters and doesn’t open. Second house, the couple refuses point blank. Third house a grown man tells me his mother won’t let him. I’m starting to despair, and when the fourth door reveals an old, frail woman, I almost turn around and give up. Turns out though, she’s the most courageous of the lot and will let me use her backyard.
I really hope I caught but a glimpse of a singular and dysfunctional residential settlement and not the future urbanism that awaits us, because just glimpsing it was enough to make one despair…

Song of the day: The Sprawl – Arcade Fire

Day 73 – October 28th : Glendora, CA to Rancho Cucamonga, CA – 85 km

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Foothill Boulevard is atrocious, a modern nightmare. Over a hundred kilometers and ten cities. And each one is identical to the one before and the one after. I count 20 McDonald’s, 15 Starbucks, 15 Subways, 15 Burger Kings etc…
People are entrenched in fortified “villages”, with several houses protected by fences, barbed wire and CCTV cameras. And my own personal nightmare has just begun…

Song of the day: Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell

Day 72 – October 27th: Victorville, CA to Glendora, CA – 70 km 

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I’m riding along Foothill Boulevard, stretching well over 60 miles (110 kilometers) in length, and leading straight to Los Angeles. This is a very emotional moment, as my mind goes over all the memories and events of the last couple of months. And it’s the most energizing feeling, to finally be living this moment that I had played out a hundred times in my mind…

Song of the Day: Your love keeps lifting me higher – Jackie Wilson

Day 71 – October 26th  Barstow, CA  to Victorville, CA – 85 km

I leave Barstow, the city and the painful reminder of civilisation behind and try to recapture some of that enthousiasm and innocence for my last nights of camping.

Song of the Day: Only the Lonely – Roy Orbison

Day 70 – October 25th: Newberry Springs, CA to Barstow, CA – 80 km

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I had been told that coming into Los Angeles was a horrible experience, but it is actually this stretch that is the most terrible. Massive 50km detours to avoid taking the Freeway, getting lost, having nowhere to set up camp, this is all a timely reminder of how special that enchanted parenthesis in the desert and this whole journey away from it all has been.

Song of the Day: Society – Eddie Vedder

Day 69 – October 24th: Needles, CA to Mohave National Reserve, CA to Newberry Springs, CA – 115 km

The longest stretches I’ve gone without any civilization, but it’s definitely worth it.
One of my favourite parts of the journey and most beautiful scenery I’ve pitched my tent in.

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Song of the Day: No one would riot for less – Bright Eyes
Most beautiful song no one has ever heard of that I know…

Day 67 – October 22nd: Kingman, AZ to Needles – 80 km

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I knew there were mountains coming, but didn’t expect to spend most of the day trying to overcome them. I meet some Germans when I reach the top, and they tell me they found it exhausting to come up on their Harley Davidson…

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Song of the Day: Born to run – Bruce Springsteen
The steeper the climb the sweeter it is to unwind, and unwind I did, going down full-speed for about 15 minutes with this song blasting out.

Day 66 – October 21st: Huawapai Indian Reserve, AZ to to Kingman, AZ – 90 km

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A nice wake on the side of Route 66. I’m gonna head out straight. I’m not too far from California now, but there are some mountains in the way before I get there.

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Song of the Day: Kashmir – Led Zeppelin

A great song to be listening to when faced with the never-ending road ahead:
“Oh let the sun beat down upon my face, stars to fill my dream
I am a traveler of both time and space, to be where I have been”

Day 65 – October 20th: Seligman, AZ to Huawapai Indian Reserve, AZ – 84 km

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I’m now getting to what I was told is the “nasty stretch” of the journey. Up to a 70 kilometers without Gas Station, Shops or Housings. Despite the obvious complications (lack of water, food, internet, sites to camp) this is the part of the Journey I enjoy most. The Huawapai Indian Reserve is one of the most beautiful spots I have camped in, and knowing that things are getting closer to the end, makes everything even more intense.

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Song of the Day: Horse with no name – America

Week 10: Climbing the Hill

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There is this moment, climbing the hill, when you feel such a tiredness, such a bone-tired weariness that you can’t go any further. You are exhausted, wrung out, dead beat.
Suddenly, the idea of another, easier way flashes through the mind, giving up becomes an option, the all-encompassing necessity of getting to the end of it suddenly isn’t the only possibility anymore.
From being an idea in your head it becomes a sensation, you picture the feeling of being shaded, resting, slumped down in a seat while someone drives you the rest of the way.
This is when resolve kicks in, when you start arguing with yourself, to conjure and expose what you would feel and look like if you gave up.
And by the time you’re full right in the middle of these considerations, you realize that you have climbed most of the hill already.
So you decide to go at least until the top of it and then see what’s next.
What’s next is a road going all the way down, so you might as well get that done.
You feel exhilarated and reinvigorated by the speed, the landscapes rushing past, and you wonder how you could have ever even envisaged giving up. You sing along to the tune, you shout out your aliveness, the wind blowing in your face.
And then you are back at the bottom. But you feel confident. You can do it, the first stretch sloping upwards is easy, you’re still carrying the movement from before.
Maybe something has changed, in the nature of the hill or deep within you.
And even as it gets a little harder you tell yourself that it can’t be as bad as what you’ve just managed to climb.
And then you feel it all being slowly drained again, the enthusiasm, the joy, the willingness, the physical strength.
And then you get to that moment climbing the hill, when you feel such a tiredness, such a bone-tired weariness that you can’t go any further…

Song of the day: Helter Skelter – Beatles

Day 62 – October 17th: Williams, AZ to Grand Canyon South Rim, AZ – 87 km

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Andy told me I really had to check out the Grand Canyon, which is a 200 km detour from where I was. I decide to go for it and find myself going North for once, which is strange, I had gotten used to ending my days going towards the sinking sun.
Along the way things get touristy and I am not expecting much. I grudgingly pay the 15$ to get in and make my way to the South Rim. It’s 6 pm, I’m tired, and I’m even considering taking a glimpse and then heading off straightaway (I don’t want to pay for a camping ground).
And then I get to the rim, and I am absolutely stunned by it. No fences, you can go to the very edge, a breathtaking view, probably the most impressive natural setting I have come across (and South-America isn’t too shabby in terms of grandiose settings).
I decide to be cheeky and pitch my tent close to the rim (which is obviously forbidden) and catch the sunrise the next morning.

Song of the day : Grand Canyon Trail – Roy Rogers

Day 61 – October 16th: Flagstaff, AZ to Williams, AZ- 91 km

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A strangely pleasant day. I wasn’t expecting Flagstaff to be this luxuriously green, on the other hand I didn’t really know what to expect as the name only brought up references to Shakespeare plays I hadn’t read. I am treated to yet another amazing Warmshower experience, Andy and Sara are as generously open-minded as the other people I have met on this website.
And to top it all off, I catch sight of my first sign with Los Angeles on it.

Song of the day : I got my mind set on you – George Harrison

Day 59 – Octobre 14th: St Joseph, NM to Winslow, AZ- 54 km

I’m in St. Joseph, a little town lost somewhere in Arizona. After enquiry I’m unofficially told that I can pitch my tent in the central “parc”.
In the middle of the night I’m woken up by a loud sound underneath my head. Turns out to be the sprinklers, one of which is situated right underneath my tent.
Not knowing how much time they are gonna go and how the water is gonna behave (right now I’m protected by the plastic bottom of the tent) after much reflection, I decide to move away.
Stupid idea if there is one, cause now I’m no longer protected and everything gets wet.
So I have to hang out my sleeping bag to dry and spend a miserable night shivering and cursing myself…And obviously the sprinklers stop as soon as I have moved everything to safety.
Not even the first time this happens, because I’ve already had the pleasure of midnight sprinklers when I was sleeping rough in a Churchyard in the Aosta Valley a couple of years back. One never learns…

Song of the day: Why does it always rain on me – Travis

Day 58 – October 13th: Petrified Forest National Parc, NM to St Joseph, NM – 74 km

Waking up to this kind of setting makes everything easy and I’m not asking myself too many questions.


Song of the day: Under African Skies – Paul Simon

As I am headed to St. Joseph and the guy in the song is called Joseph, I think this is the moment to listen to something from one of my all-time favourite albums, Graceland by Paul Simon.
After having had to give Tennessee a miss I decide to listen to it in New Mexico/Arizona, and amazingly, looking at the landscapes lining Route 66 and the I-40 you could sometimes think you’re somewhere in Africa. I wouldn’t know because I have never been to Africa, but in the meantime, the listening experience is epic.

Day 56 – October 11th: Prewitt, NM to Gallup, NM – 90 km

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Gallup is located in the heart of Indian Country and it is home to the
Continental Divide of the Americas. This is the principal, and largely mountainous, hydrological divide of the Americas. It separates the watersheds that drain into the Pacific Ocean from those river systems that drain into the Atlantic Ocean.

Song of the day: Gregory Alan Isakov: Saint Valentine
“straight down to the dirt so I could find a trail / spread out across the Great Divide”

Week 8 : The path

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We are all on a path.
Not easy to keep one’s bearings.
There are crossroads, turnpikes, switchbacks.
Some of us are on death row, in crowded corridors, clogged arteries, our journey finished before it even started.
Some of us have no way. Blocked and penned in where dead ends meet, unable to find a passage. On the streets, in alleys and aisles, belting out against it.
Some of us are comfortable on main street, serious, thorough, willing to go through with our way, to pay the fare.
Some are on the fast lane, on the highway, seldom resting.
Some have an avenue to themselves, broad boulevards lined with trees, full of propriety.
Some have taken a shortcut, the expressway, the shunpike, have chosen to bypass the difficulties. Some have been blessed, engaged on the high road, the royal road and get away with everything.
Some weather it all because they have a cause to fight for.
Some set out on a trail, track down a different sort of goal, along the corniche, on ridges others wouldn’t dare to tread.
Somewhere in between there is me.
I am a bit of all of the above. Eager to get away from the traffic but taking the freeway, disregarding the paved road, but unwilling to go through the mud, to stick with the dirt path.
On a route, trying to leave my attachments behind, trying to find weightlessness in a world ruled by gravity. In the in between of movement. Always departed and never arrived. Endlessly alive?

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Day 55 – October 10th: Grants, NM to Prewitt, NM – 94 km

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Once the mud and traces of my latest misadventure have been hosed away I need to find a spot for the night. Seeing the sign at the entrance I feel like I might not be in the most welcoming of American small towns, but the mexican family who lives there turns out to be nice. There’s an abandoned house that belongs to their cousin and they tell me I can pitch my tent in the backyard.
The neighbour’s dogs are barking all night, but I’m too tired to care. Win some, lose some.

Song of the Day: Home – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
My favourite contemporary band. So many songs and albums and live performances to choose from, I put the most obvious and easy song there.
I think the documentary Big Easy Express was one of the decisive elements that made me want to go through with my own trip.
They feature alongside Mumford and Sons and Old Crow Medicine Show in a train-journey from California to New Orleans. Adventure, jamming and concerts, all I’ve ever wanted from music and I’ll keep fighting to get.

Day 54 – October 9th: Albuquerque, NM to Grants, NM – 101 km

Une photo publiée par Phileas (@phileasmusic) le

I leave Daniel and Albuquerque refreshed, clean and eager to get back to the road.
However, it doesn’t take me long to get back to my usual shenanigans.
Once again the Route 66 turns inadvertently into a mud path, but this time I decide to follow it down all the way to the bitter end.

And thus I find myself in the middle of nowhere, following the train tracks that should lead me back to civilisation. It has been raining a lot for New Mexico standards recently and the mud is clogging up my wheels, which means I have to drag the bike most of the time.
It takes me a couple of hours to finally get to the next small village, tired out, mud-caked and miserable.
But very quickly I find myself smiling again, a nice man helping me find a hose and clean myself and my bike.
And when I am told that I accidentally entered a Navahao Indian Reserve, I take comfort in the fact that here is one more item I can strike off my bucket list.

La chanson du Jour: Kashmir – Led Zeppelin

Day 52 – October 7th: Cline’s Corner, NM to Albuquerque – 111 km

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I am to be staying at Daniel’s, the guy who gave me a lift to the Gas Station the day before and who lives in Albuquerque. He is working late though, so I wait in a Panera, my new favourite Fast-Food, cause it’s got all the perks (internet, restrooms and the lot) and specializes in Bread which is my favourite food and a rare commodity in the US.
The manager is so impressed with my trip she gives me a loaf of bread (the one I had been wanting for some time but never went for cause it’s dead expensive), soup and dinner.
It might seem like little, but it’s the kind of things that make me insanely happy.

Song of the Day: Take this Bread – Felice Brothers
And I’m even happier to have the opportunity to talk about an underrated contemporary band. If you have a chance, listen to some of their other songs, notably “Frankie’s Gun” et “Greatest Show on Earth“.


Day 51 – October 6th: Santa Rosa, NM to Cline’s Corner, NM – 97 km

As I have mentioned before, Route 66 has a strange habit of abruptly ending and turning into a mud path. Those “in charge” (I’d really like to know who they are) don’t seem to have the energy to put up a “dead-end” sign everytime that happens, they do however have enough to erect a continuous, barbed wire fence between the route 66 and the I-40.
The first time I had to turn back a couple of kilometers.
The second time I had to take all my stuff off my bike and throw the whole lot over the fence.
The third time I have to be stupid, not wanting to lose time taking off my stuff and deciding to heave the whole package. Which I can’t really do so the bike gets stuck and when I unstuck it I puncture one of my tires.
I then have to walk about 10 kilometers, the daylight fading from the horizon while from behind in the valley huge walls of misty clouds and rain come up.
I curse the idiots and their barbed wire, I curse the stupid drivers and their pick-ups that won’t stop for me but most of all I curse myself for trying to save 5 minutes and ending up wasting a couple of hours.
Eventually, it’s two kilometers from the station that someone finally stops and gives me a ride. I decide to call it a day and stop there (in any case there ain’t nothing ahead for 40 miles) and pitch my tent in the backyard of the gas station.

The Song of the day: Trouble – Ray Lamontagne

Day 50 – October 5th: Tucumcari, NM to Santa Rosa, NM – 97 km

And so I leave Texas behind, which I’m happy about, because this state scared me a bit (“Don’t mess with Texas” and all that), and I’ve heard very good things about New Mexico (“Land of enchantment” sounds way better to me when welcoming people).
There is a definite On the Road flavour to this portion of the trip. Especially going through places like Tucumcari, despite the touristy side of it.

Song of the Day: Johnny Cash : New Mexico
Not his best song, but appropriate…

Week Seven: The Great Divide

I’ve just reached the continental divide at Gallup, and I’m a bit like the rivers now flowing towards the Pacific, having definitely left the Atlantic behind.
The arrival, departure and first weeks are now part of the past, present in a way, but irretrievable in essence. They feed my memories, fuel my desire for more and free me for my constant forward motion.
The more reality keeps reminding me of its inescapable presence, the more I want to ignore it, sheltered within this parallel world I have discovered, curl up and find comfort in the tired satisfaction of these traveling days.
It is a different kind of enjoyment now, one that is more secure in its essence but also more aware of itself. I decide to cherish these moments which I know will have passed to quickly, will to quickly become tired words and over-repeated anecdotes. Knowing their taste will fade and their colours will pale and they will be swallowed up by life unfolding.
The idea of arrival taints these moments with the melancholic quality of the finite, while remaining far enough to leave them whole, minute fragments of passing eternity.
I am tired but energized, wary but curious, lucidly determined, on the edge of the great divide of time, living in the nostalgic presence of the past and of what is yet to come.

Song of the day: Jackson Browne : “Running on empty”

Day 49 – October 4th: Adrian, TX – Tucumcari, TX – 97 km

Ode to Cars:

They are noisy
They pollute
They sometimes get way too close on purpose
They must have a hand in the systematic, taxidermic display of animal carcasses on the side of the highways…

But without them there would be no paved road or gas stations. And that would complicate things a lot. And when you have a flat tire in the middle of nowhere, the sight of an ugly, big-ass pick-up that can accommodate your bike is as welcome as any…

Une photo publiée par Phileas (@phileasmusic) le

Song of the Day: The Beatles – Drive my Car

Day 48 – October 3rd: Amarillo, TX – Adrian, TX – 85 km

And that’s 4000 kilometers done…

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I have this song by JJ Cale playing when I crack the 4000km mark, and though hardly surprising, because in shuffle mode he is a constant feature (I stacked my I-Pod with 7 albums of his), being in Texas and hearing an old Oakie sing about Louisiana sounds about right to me…
If you want to get into his work, I’d suggest starting with the album 5.

Day 47 – October 2nd: Groom, TX- Amarillo, TX – 105 km

Ode to Trucks

They pollute
They are noisy
They get way too close on purpose
They butcher animals like a meat-producing Texan factory
They leave pieces of their flat tires on the side of the road, which have small metallic parts that cause terrible damage to a cyclist’s tires and are very difficult to remove

That being said, some people actually have a job to do, and a pretty unpleasant one at that.
My hatred is thus relative and due to circumstance…though I’d love to get rid of them…

The less romantic side of the highway:
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To illustrate this post I needed a song about trucks, and I almost went for Tim McGraws “Truck Yeah” cause it has to be seen to be believed, but my goal being to put links to good songs I refrained and opted for something more classic.

Day 46 – October 1st: Shamrock, TX to Groom, TX- 92 km

Now we’re getting to the part that has always scared me about America, at least since I’ve watched documentaries like Food Inc. and Home. Giant cattle-farms with several thousand cows, immense corn-fields with giant machines harvesting them, huge concentrations of land. Where the entrepreneurial spirit that made America great meets the driving force of ambition and greed applied to Food production. Food for thought and unease…


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Song of the day: Don McLean : American Pie

The only song I found talking about food. Well, only the title to be honest, cause the rest is about disillusion with the American Way of Life and how they destroyed music. Which is always a pertinent subject to me…