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

IMG_0958

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.

IMG_1002

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

Day 75 – October 30th : Pasadena

IMG_0888

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…

IMG_0890

Song of the Day: Ray Lamontagne – Trouble

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

IMG_0834

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

IMG_0209

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 

IMG_0934

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

IMG_0856

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.

IMG_0838

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

IMG_0802

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…

IMG_0808

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

IMG_0792

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.

IMG_0796


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

IMG_0788

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.

IMG_0783

Song of the Day: Horse with no name – America

Week 10: Climbing the Hill

IMG_0799
MVI_0800

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

IMG_0732

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

IMG_0697

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

IMG_0647

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

IMG_0640

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?

IMG_0675

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

IMG_0631

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

IMG_0608

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…

IMG_0570

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:
MVI_0518

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…


IMG_0561

 

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…

Day 45 – September 30th: Erick, OK to Shamrock, TX – 90 km

I’ve always been impressed with the Americans’ ability to integrate and assimilate foreign cultures. It is already stunning to walk through their major cities and go through the ethnic enclaves, the famous Little Italy and Chinatown of course, but also Little Ethiopia, Japantown, Little Manila, Korea Town and many more. But coming to a city like Shamrock, in the middle of Texas, which is entirely Irish themed reminds you again that this is a country which has been built on waves of successive immigration.

Song of the day: Dirty old Town- The Pogues

And so to fit today’s subject I needed a piece of Irish music. And I’ve decided to go for The Pogues. Ok, they’re not Irish, but in an age where Swedes sing like Texans, Englishmen rap like hoods from the Bronx and no one can tell, who cares where anyone is from. Everything is intertwined. American Country music is but traditional Irish Folk songs adapted to a different setting. Music has no frontiers. And this sounds as Irish as it gets to me.

Life goes on

Not easy to pick up again

Not easy to pick yourself up and get going again. You’ve crossed a country where guns are everywhere, where attacks with firearms are common, where the threat of terrorist attacks is omnipresent, only to return and find this.

Not easy to pick your topic, anecdotes shot through with cynicism, stories of exhaustion and tales of disappointed hopes, when it’s people that have been killed, people that have been irremediably crippled and people that have been forever broken.

But that is what they’d want, to destroy, annihilate and silence us, and so we will keep building, creating and singing with a vengeance…our artistic vengeance, our creative settling of the score.

With words, songs, projects, ideas, stories and dreams we will show them that we are more alive than ever.

Sadly, I have nothing to offer to those who suffer but to cultivate this gift that is life, that which they can never take from us…

This blog will be back to normal tomorrow as I hope our lives will soon be.

Here and now I am grieving, there and tomorrow I will be moving on, towards the West, towards the Ocean and towards myself.

One

After much hesitation, I’ve decided to post what I have written in the sleepless night that followed the November 13th attacks. Hesitated because I’ve always been uncomfortable with putting stuff out there that has been written in the thrall of emotion. Hesitated because this doesn’t seem like the place to put it out. Hesitated because I don’t want to be part of the discussions that will arise from this tragedy, the shortcuts and simplifications, over-emotional appeals and self-aggrandizing statements.

But if I don’t use this plateform to express genuine emotion, flawed as it might be, what is the point of writing at all?

If I don’t use this platform for other things than pretty pictures of sunsets and entertaining tales of adventures, what is it really worth?

If I shy away from other people, their opinion and reality, from the painful questions that come with it, why would I want to publish anything?

Excuse my shortcuts and simplifications, over-emotional appeals and self-aggrandizing statements, I’ve just woken up and the wake is painful.

One o clock. The phone rings. The words cut through the thick fog of sleep. The world cuts through the bubble of meaningless plans and hopes and dreams. Terrorist attacks. 129 dead.
I check on those who are there. Those who love football, who love music, who love food, who love life. It could be anyone.
The randomness of their attack makes me feel fear. Fear what I feel. Hatred. Anger. Directed at no one.
But anger needs to be directed. The images I haven’t seen and names I haven’t heard yet are already burning into my mind’s eye. Burning words of hatred not yet spoken waiting to be said. Waiting to be aimed at someone.
And as the first wave shock subsides the certainty that someone will say these words, will play the part, lay our hearts on the line. Some of the media. In a frenzy. Sniffing blood. Some of the politicians. In dammage control. Sensing opportunity. Some of us. In pain. Drawn in.
When they will close our borders, try to narrow our minds and tighten our hearts, everyone will play a part.
To defend liberty by not letting go of our freedom to think and to forgive.
To safeguard equality by not condemning all of them as uniformly evil.
To claim fraternity by not hating those who weren’t born our brothers.
To stand as one without making our ground a battlefield
To think as one without yielding to uniform thought
To walk as one without marching for vengeance
To sing as one without chanting discord
To be as one while remaining each one
To make sure they haven’t won

 

 

 

Day 44 – September 29th: Elk City, OK- to Erick, OK – 70 km

So as I mentioned before I was going through a bit of a turbulent time in my head. I’d just missed a concert in Oklahoma City by a hair, my repeated flats were tiring (!!!) me out and I had a general weariness coming up. I was reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho at that moment, and after two weeks of rather blissful cycling I might have read a little too much into it. For after triggering a brief initial round of excitement the novel proved to be rather limited in scope and quality. And my newfound optimism and faith in the workings of fate remained fragile. The shadow of my previous American experience and it’s harshness was still menacingly looming and I hadn’t yet shed the fear of a disastrous event that would put an end to this trip. But I was working on it, and confident that I could make this the last bout of anxiousness of the trip.

IMG_0489

 

Song of the day: The End – The Doors

A perfect illustration not only of the state of mind I was in at that moment, but also of my aforementioned previous trip to the US. A disturbing, jarring piece of  music. Like a bout of dizziness, interesting in nature but unpleasant to experience. Not my favourite track by far, but one that might be as indispensible as suffering is to a growing soul.

 

Day 43 – September 28th: Clinton, OK to Elk City, OK- 70 km

I’ve decided to add a little something to each post from now on, namely one song that is associated to a particular moment of the trip. You are probably familar with the magical feeling when a song fits a moment and surrounding so perfectly, it seems to have been written on purpose.

Before I left I had the good idea of stocking up my i-pod with songs, notably Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of all times. Though their selection remains controversial (by nature, omissions and choices), there is a great deal of musical gems there, and combined with other (more contemporary) artists of my own choosing, there have been some very nice shuffle-mode surprises.

I hope that I can maybe share and make you discover a couple of the tunes that have become the soundtrack to my trip.

First Song: Passenger – 27 

One of the artists I listened most to, both while preparing and during the trip. An example of steadfastness and artistic integrity, this song of his was the one I chose to put on when crossing Washington Bridge in New York and kick off this adventure.
Here are the lyrics, I have nothing to add but to say that I wish I’d written them:
27 years, 27 years old
Only thing I know, the only thing I get told
I gotta sell out if I want to get sold
Don’t want the devil to be taking my soulI write songs that come from the heart
I don’t give a fuck if they get into the chart, or not
Only way I can be, is to say what I see
And have no shadow hanging over meI don’t know where I’m running but I know how to run
‘Cause, running’s the thing I’ve always done
I don’t know what I’m doing but I know what I’ve done
I’m a hungry heart, I’m a loaded gun

27 years, 27 years now,
Only thing I know, I know that I don’t know how
To please everybody all of the time
‘Cause everybody always fucking changing their minds

A little bit faded, a little bit jaded
Don’t want to stop, won’t be persuaded
To write words I can’t believe in,
To see my face on a video screen

 

Sixth Week – The importance of being honest

This is a peculiar moment in the journey. 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 widespread attention I secretly hoped it would.

To quote the article below, the spark hasn’t started the wildfire that would help me set my musical career “ablaze”, but I warm myself near the campfire of those I know to be around.

The sympathetic eyes of the few who follow as day after day passes, are always worth more than the hollow approval of the masses.

And living what I am, seeing what I am given to behold and being where I am supposed to, it seems their indifference is growing less cold.

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.

I sometimes briefly forget what is truly important, but there are always people that remind me, through a comment, a compliment or an article.

When I read the one below for the first time, I remembered a lot of the truths and reasons that have convinced me to set out on this journey…and will keep me going…  

In 80 Days Across the States – The revolution will not be televised

Day 42 – September 27th: El Reno, OK to Clinton, OK – 95 km

The famed route 66 is nice, but inconsistently existant.
And having to turn back after several miles because there was no sign indicating a dead end doesn’t contribute to my happiness.
While they don’t have the energy to put up these signs that would be well useful, they do have some to spare when it comes to putting up  a continuous fence, which means I can’t get back on the I-40 unless I turn back (or other bad ideas that I will come back to later).
In any case, there’s not much in between Gas Stations, so I keep going until I reach Clinton.

Day 41 – September 26th: Chandler, OK to El Reno, OK via Oklahoma City – 45 km (+ 80 km hitchhiking)

Having noticed my slightly deflated front tire, I decide to get up an hour early to fix it and get a fresh start…
Except that after having changed the tube, I find myself flat again, 15 minutes later. I do another tube-swap with the same result.
I’m all out of tubes, in the middle of nowhere, with 120 km to go to Oklahoma City.
But luckily I can catch a ride to the next village. They invite me to the Sunday mass, at the end of which the pastor asks the congregation whether anyone can help me out. And indeed I find someone to give me a lift to Oklahoma City and a bike shop.

Rex is a well nice guy, and his ancestor, whose name he shares, is a certain Benjamin Franklin. So I enjoy an improbable ride through Kentucky with the great, great, great-son of one of the founding fathers, all the way to an open bike shop.
Turns out I have little metallic filaments fom truck tires that have been piercing my tubes.
I get it fixed, but my troubles are just starting…

Day 40 – September 25th: Tulsa, OK to Chandler, OK- 100 km

I should have known that the first night in Oklahoma and it’s related troubles where an indicaton of what awaited me in that state.
But for now everything seems fine, apart from a slightly deflated front tire.
Which will turn out to be the beginning of a stretch of bother that will last for some days.
And I will find myself knee-deep in it, fishing for sense…

A photo posted by Phileas (@phileasmusic) on

Day 39 – September 24th: Chelsea, OK to Tulsa, OK – 97 km

I’m now on the historic route 66, which I will be following all the way to Santa Monica, California if everything goes well…

Day 38 – September 23rd: Wyandotte, MO to Chelsea, OK – 75 km

And so I officially enter Oklahoma, and set up camp near Chelsea.
I am tired and a bit reckless and plant my tent in a residential neighbourhood.

And so for the first time since the beginning of the trip, I find myself confronted with the police, the neighbours called.
After an initial tense introduction (“hands where we can see them, step away fom your tent”) the officers turn out to be nice enough, and actually quite impressed with what I’m doing.
But I nonetheless have to dismount my tent, pack up all my stuff and get on my way, which is not easy to do when you’re being watched by two policemen.
They advise me to stay at the nearest Motel, but given its state, I prefer to keep going, and eventually find a Church backyard, where I can set up…

Day 36 – September 21st: Springfield, MO to Carthage, MO – 93 km

After 93 kilometers I find the most beautiful camping site of the trip so far, a river near Carthage.

I’m about to leave Missouri and head into Oklahoma, and also the Transamerica trail I was following since Kentucky.

 

Fifth Week – Halfway there with no end in sight

So I reckon the halfway point deserves a special post. I thought hard about what title to give this post that attempts to give an impression of the successive states of mind I went through.

Nowhere near with no end in sight
That would have been the title I would have used at the beginning of the trip. Never had I been so unsure, full of doubt and skeptical towards a project of mine. But I just gritted my teeth, and got on with it, step by step, ignoring the thousand good reasons that would make it impossible and concentrating only on putting things together. Like a puzzle I couldn’t believe would ever look like the picture on the box, but that I kept adding pieces to until I sat in my saddle and pedalled the first tentative strides into the uncertainty of the unknown.

DSC_2570

Somewhere with no end in sight
And so I found myself taking every day, every stop, every city, like a small step yet again. I made mistakes, I was unaware. I discovered and understood. I reflected and did better. Found a routine, a place outside of the world, parallel to it. When everybody was static yet busy I was passing. And people liked me for a small moment of incredulity, maybe even amazement. I was a forward movement, cyclic in scope, that cut through the whirlpools of life.

 

IMG_20150819_224918

Everywhere with no end in sight
The free-wheeling feeling that I am nowhere and everywhere at the same time.

 

IMG_20150820_143551

 

Anywhere with no end in sight
And I am immersed in this parallel path, counting to myself of ways I could have gone. I don’t sing often but I’ve got music playing in my head all day. I speak to few people but learn new ways of talking. I take what I’m not supposed to but always leave something behind

IMG_20150913_133928

Halfway there with no end in sight
And as I am preparing for the next step, I’m taking stock. More and more I find myself smiling to myself, incredulous.  Unable to grasp it while clinging tightly to it.

And 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.

IMG_0418

 

Halway there and an end in sight

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…

 

IMG_20150913_133343