Travels With Jim and Rita

Episode 17 - A Soulful Journey through America's Heartland

May 10, 2024 Jim Santos, travel writer and host of the International Living Podcast Season 1 Episode 17
Episode 17 - A Soulful Journey through America's Heartland
Travels With Jim and Rita
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Travels With Jim and Rita
Episode 17 - A Soulful Journey through America's Heartland
May 10, 2024 Season 1 Episode 17
Jim Santos, travel writer and host of the International Living Podcast

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Ever wonder how the slow burn of travel can ignite a soulful transformation? Join us, Jim and Rita, as we recount the tales of San Miguel del Allende's sizzling May heat, where our quest for coolness led us to uncover the cultural gems of this historic Mexican town. We're spilling the beans on navigating local markets brimming with budget-friendly fresh produce and each surprising twist in the rich narrative the cobblestones of San Miguel whisper to those willing to listen.

This episode takes a turn down the path of personal evolution with our guest, Heidi Beierle, an intrepid spirit who pedaled her way from Wyoming to the diverse tapestry of American culture. Heidi's cross-country cycling odyssey is a beacon for anyone looking to unlock the depths of their courage and meet America's heartland with open arms. As she shares her stirring transformation, we ponder the indelible mark left by the open road and the unexpected kindness of strangers met along the way.

But it's not all pedal and breeze; we get real about the logistics of solo female bike touring. From safety to minimalism, we cover the essentials—like the warm embrace of the warmshowers.org community and the meticulous planning aided by the Adventure Cycling Association. Heidi's journey is a testament to the hospitable spirit of small-town America, revealing how a solo venture can challenge and change you, leaving behind a profound sense of connection and pride in the landscapes and people that become the milestones of your journey.

https://heidibeierle.com/

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jim@jimsantosbooks.com

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Ever wonder how the slow burn of travel can ignite a soulful transformation? Join us, Jim and Rita, as we recount the tales of San Miguel del Allende's sizzling May heat, where our quest for coolness led us to uncover the cultural gems of this historic Mexican town. We're spilling the beans on navigating local markets brimming with budget-friendly fresh produce and each surprising twist in the rich narrative the cobblestones of San Miguel whisper to those willing to listen.

This episode takes a turn down the path of personal evolution with our guest, Heidi Beierle, an intrepid spirit who pedaled her way from Wyoming to the diverse tapestry of American culture. Heidi's cross-country cycling odyssey is a beacon for anyone looking to unlock the depths of their courage and meet America's heartland with open arms. As she shares her stirring transformation, we ponder the indelible mark left by the open road and the unexpected kindness of strangers met along the way.

But it's not all pedal and breeze; we get real about the logistics of solo female bike touring. From safety to minimalism, we cover the essentials—like the warm embrace of the warmshowers.org community and the meticulous planning aided by the Adventure Cycling Association. Heidi's journey is a testament to the hospitable spirit of small-town America, revealing how a solo venture can challenge and change you, leaving behind a profound sense of connection and pride in the landscapes and people that become the milestones of your journey.

https://heidibeierle.com/

Support the Show.

https://www.buzzsprout.com/2292506/supporters/new
https://www.jimsantosbooks.com
http://jimsantos.net
https://www.youtube.com/@jimsantos508
jim@jimsantosbooks.com

Jim Santos:

Welcome to Travels with Jim and Rita. With Jim and Rita, I'm your host, jim Santos, and in this podcast series you can follow along as my wife Rita and I work out our crazy plan to outfox the real estate market in the US and actually increase our retirement nest egg by spending the next three years or so living abroad and exploring the world. Are we bold, forward-thinking pioneers or just plain nuts? Let's find out together, shall we? Hello everybody, I'm Jim here with my lovely wife Rita, and this is Travels with Jim and Rita.

Jim Santos:

This week we're coming to you from San Miguel del Allende in central Mexico, trying desperately to acclimate to the climate. We foolishly assumed that May would be early spring and therefore pleasant at just over 6,000 feet, but a little research would have revealed that May and June are actually the hottest months here. To add insult to our ignorance, there's a heat wave in progress that's bumping the daytime temperatures nine degrees or more above normal. So although the nights are in the 60s, the daytime highs for at least the next 10 days will be in the mid-90s. Now, locals are quick to point out that, with this arid climate, at least it's a dry heat. Well, you know where else you can find dry heat In the freaking oven. Now we do have some fans that are cross-breathed from time to time, so we're trying to make the best of it.

Jim Santos:

And on the plus side, we're in a cute little Airbnb in a great location. There's a large mercado just a short walk away. We've already picked up loads of fresh veggies and fruits at some great prices. Some examples Well adjusted from the Mexican peso to the US dollar, we got a dozen eggs for $2.71. We got a head of iceberg lettuce, a head of red lettuce, two red peppers, a bunch of celery and two white onions for just $6.48. And we've only really just begun to explore the area. We'll have more about it in future episodes, but we're definitely well within our proposed travel budget of $3,000 a month, even with accommodations and airfare here from Playa del Carmen. So, rita, what do you think about this location so far?

Rita Santos:

Del Carmen. So, rita, what do you think about this location so far? Well, actually, I'm amazed at how big the colonial section of San Miguel is compared to like Antigua or Casa Viejo in Panama City. It's really quite large. It's very interesting, very beautiful. I'm enjoying it.

Jim Santos:

And, as you mentioned, I think it's even larger than the Cusco historical district.

Rita Santos:

Yes, I think so too, yeah.

Jim Santos:

How about the people here?

Rita Santos:

Oh, they're really sweethearts, very easy to communicate with. They're very accepting of my Spanglish and, yeah, I'm enjoying their culture.

Jim Santos:

All right, well, on with the show. A few weeks ago I mentioned that when we told some people we were going to travel for a few years, they assumed we meant by RV in the US. While it's true that our plans are of a more international scope, I didn't mean to imply that slow travel within your own country cannot be rewarding as well. Our guest today, Heidi Beierle, is a case in point. She set out on a slow travel adventure of her own through the heartland of America, traveling by bicycle. She's a writer, artist, a self-professed creepy crawly lover, and is based in Bellingham, washington. Her work has been published in National Geographic, traveler, high Desert Journal, voice Catcher Journal, journal of America's Byways, on the Adventure Cycling Association blog, and her new book, heidi Across America was just recently published. Heidi, welcome to Travels with Jim and Rita and thanks for joining us.

Heidi Beierle:

Thanks for having me. It's just such a delight to be with you.

Jim Santos:

You have really an interesting story and for our listeners would you mind, I guess, first of all just giving us a little background, kind of introduce yourself?

Heidi Beierle:

Sure, I grew up in Wyoming and kind of lived this free range life as a kid and then used college as an opportunity to get away from home, and I wanted to get as far away from home as I could without going to the West Coast. So I went to the East Coast and interesting being in a totally different environment than I grew up in and I just really missed the big, wide open spaces of Wyoming. But it was an opportunity to kind of learn how to change my life by going to school and so I used that as my next sort of springboards for hopping around the country. So I lived in a variety of places.

Jim Santos:

Where did you go to school?

Heidi Beierle:

I went to undergraduate school at Colgate University in upstate, new York, and did another round of education at TCU in Fort Worth, texas, and then ended up eventually at the University of Oregon in Eugene Oregon.

Jim Santos:

Those are all some very different places from Wyoming.

Rita Santos:

Absolutely.

Heidi Beierle:

Definitely.

Rita Santos:

You know, I think Fort worth was a little more similar it did give you a chance to see all the different subcultures of the us, though I I definitely, yes had had a lot of experience sampling other yeah, other environments and other social, social cultures.

Jim Santos:

And was this what? Uh, this exposure to different environments, was that what got you interested in travel?

Heidi Beierle:

I'm I'm sure that was part of it, I think, more than like a traveler, I had a very adventuring spirit and so I was. I was really interested in backpacking and mountaineering and ice climbing and pursuing these kinds of adventures is what led me to travel more.

Jim Santos:

What was it that led to the decision to jump on your bicycle and start traveling?

Heidi Beierle:

to jump on your bicycle and start traveling. So for a while I had been not using my car very much and using my bike for transportation. This is when I lived in Eugene Oregon. But you know I had used a bicycle when I lived in Wyoming as an early means of independence, before I learned how to drive. So I always had this. I enjoyed riding my bicycle. It was kind of a thing in our household that growing up my dad had ridden a hundred miles and there was this little cross stitch in our stairwell to commemorate this, this massive beat. So there was this kind of mythic air about bicycling in my growing up.

Heidi Beierle:

And so when I was biking more as transportation in Eugene, I got to the point where I finally got rid of my car and you know kind of exploring what was possible for living a car-free lifestyle and one of the things I missed was getting out and recreating. But then I started to imagine, well, I could still go do that on a bicycle. And I had an encounter with somebody at the store where I worked who I thought had been out rock climbing and I asked her about it and she said, oh no, I just finished riding my bike across the country and I was like wow, that is so incredible. And I was getting ready to go to school, back to school, and she said well, you know, you could, you could do something similar. I mean, you don't have to go for that that long of a ride. Like you could go down to San Francisco, say, in like two weeks, if that's, if that's the time you had. So I actually had two weeks and I thought well, I'll give it a try.

Jim Santos:

Sure Nothing to it right.

Heidi Beierle:

Yeah, right, or go to San.

Jim Santos:

Francisco Sure.

Heidi Beierle:

Exactly. So I gave it a go and you know, I think having been a mountain climber in the past really did help me in some respects, because it wasn't it wasn't like a totally new idea for me to travel solo or go light and I had the gear. So I rode down to San Francisco and it was so empowering to me. I was like, wow, this is just really a fun way to see the world and just experience what my potential is in terms of what my body can do.

Rita Santos:

That reminds me of our challenge. When we decided that we would do the Inca Trail in Peru to Montepichu, somebody said, oh, you couldn't do that. I thought, hmm, I'm 67, but I think I can do that. Yeah, and we spent a year training for it. Wonderful. And how did you do it? Oh, we did great. We did great.

Jim Santos:

Yeah, we're still here.

Rita Santos:

It was challenging.

Jim Santos:

Yes, Was that your first multi-day trip, then on a bike?

Heidi Beierle:

It was, and so that was right before I started my school year at the University of Oregon, and school was supposed to kind of pull me out of this dark place I was in life by offering me some credentials to jobs that were appealing to me, and I thought it would just kind of shake me out of this funk that I was in. But it kind of did the opposite. It made it worse. I was not connected with my friends anymore because there was so much schoolwork to do and all these deadlines, and I just remembered how amazing it felt to go down the coast on my bike and I thought you know, all I want to do is ride my bike.

Heidi Beierle:

And at that moment, at the end of the first term where I was like this is, this was like the wrong thing I received an email from my mom that was an invitation to attend Preserving the Historic Road Conference in Washington DC. Like almost a year later so September and my uncle lived there and she said let's go to this conference and we can hang out with your uncle. And I thought, wow, that's really nice but not really what I think I need for myself. But then I looked at the dates and I just did a really quick calculation. I was like, if that's, that's in September in Washington DC, that's before the school term starts in the next year, and you know if it, if it finishes up in June, like I could, that's three months, like I could pedal my bike across the country in three months. Like I could pedal my bike across the country in three months.

Heidi Beierle:

Sure, so it was just this very flip kind of joke of a response. I was like sure I'll pedal out there and meet you. And then I got to thinking about it and I was like, actually that's a great idea. I can, you know, I can figure out how to present at this conference. And so I turned it into a project and got a speaking opportunity at the conference and then did this research on historic roads and rural economic development on my way out to the conference and that was what I presented on in the genesis of the book, and I didn't have any plan before that to ever ride my bike across the country.

Jim Santos:

What's interesting to me when I was reading about your book here, rita mentioned the Inca Trail. One of my impetuses for training to do that was I felt like I was not in a very good place myself. I was with a wonderful woman, should be very happy, but I was still getting over the death of my first wife to cancer and feeling survival guilt and just not in a very good place and I felt like if I could meet this challenge to get my body ready to do this and actually accomplish this, that it would just make me feel better about myself. And I kind of got an echo of that of looking through this for you. It seemed like you were also not in a very good place when you decided to start doing this.

Heidi Beierle:

It seemed like you were also not in a very good place when you decided to start doing this.

Heidi Beierle:

Yeah, and I think it's a really astute point that a lot of times when people head off on an epic adventure of this nature, riding across the country or hiking the Inca Trail. They're really at kind of an inflection point in life, or wanting a change, or inviting a change, and I noticed that definitely when I spoke to the other cyclists I met while I was out pedaling and also as I was doing some research on long distance cycling this idea of people being at a point of change in their life and one part you know, I think travel is great for getting us out of our comfort zone, and so it's less easy to lean on the familiarity of our experience.

Heidi Beierle:

That kind of keeps us stuck in whatever rut or groove we're in, but you know we're still. You can't, you can't ever escape who you are. And so I think sometimes people approach travel from from the perspective of they're. They're sort of running away from from themselves, and so maybe they're not as poised for transformation as people who are embracing that potential of. I'm looking for something to help me.

Rita Santos:

I think it does force you to develop a different network than what you're comfortable with. So when you do that, that, just that, just begins change.

Jim Santos:

And more self-reliance. What's the saying? No matter where you go there, you are Right, right, right.

Heidi Beierle:

Well, and I think one of the beautiful things about slow travel and maybe travel generally, you know you really rely on your capacity to handle whatever comes your way. And I think one of the things that slow travel does is invites more spontaneity and less planning and sort of puts you more frequently in situations where you're not expecting things or you're maybe not prepared and you have to rely on other resources that you have to get through.

Jim Santos:

We've noticed, doing slow travel in other countries, that one of the most fascinating and enriching things are the people that you meet in different locations and along the way. Now, on that trip, you must have gone through a wide variety of American towns. Did you find that, where the people you met along the way an important part of your journey?

Heidi Beierle:

Absolutely. There's a picture that I took in this town, boone, colorado, in eastern Colorado, and it was the first town I encountered when I was out on starting my trek across the Great Plains, and this man was a very I don't know. He was dressed as a cowboy, like the kind of cowboy you would see in the movies, and I was kind of like is this real?

Heidi Beierle:

And I was in this store that didn't have any windows in it and he was. He was there at the cash register and there's all the kind of like convenience store drugs behind him and an American flag hanging from the wall and I was like this is just. I was so drawn to him, even though he was kind of scary to me also. He didn't really want to engage my questions about the weather or anything and I was like I just, I so want to take a picture of this person because nobody would believe that this, this, I've encountered this person here and when I asked him how long he lived there, he finally loosened up and gave me more than kind of like a grunt and he said something that made me express my connection to having grown up in Wyoming and suddenly we had some commonality and then the conversation really flowed and we talked for quite a while and I really liked that encounter for how it just helped me question my biases about who this person was and what they might think about me, and part of his warming gave me courage to interact and engage with other people. I mean, I'd certainly received kindness from people before that, but this trek across the Great Plains really put me in touch with like a generosity of heart and soul that I hadn't really experienced other places before. I had somebody recently ask me like isn't that just kind of like a Midwestern thing? And it might be, but it's not something that I experienced growing up in other places and when I'd been a recreator, a traveler, I'd gone to wilderness areas, so it wasn't really the social environment that was most speaking to me.

Heidi Beierle:

And then later, when I was encountering a lot of intense heat, I stopped at another convenience store and the woman who was working there was really concerned about me and I asked her you know well, would it make you feel better if I let you know I was okay? And she's like yeah. So she gave me her cell phone number and said you know, I have some people a little further down the road if you do get into trouble. And, as it turned out, I did get into some trouble on that road but another person came to my aid and his family and that was also really remarkable and surprising experience. So I had this, I had this encounter with strangers over and over again. That just really changed my mind about strangers aren't necessarily people to be afraid of in in how I experienced it. They were really part of you know how I was able to do what I did and they added so much, so much color and texture to my experience. I can't imagine not having the local people be part of my story.

Jim Santos:

You mentioned getting out of your comfort zone, and this is what happens from that, because you get out and you actually have these interactions with other people who have not grown up in the same place as you and have not had the same experiences as you.

Rita Santos:

They're open to you.

Jim Santos:

Yes, yes, yeah, that's really a wonderful part of travel, whether you're doing it internationally or across the country. That's something we haven't really touched on here, but we run into single women all the time who want to travel but are afraid to travel by themselves. Now, if I understand this correctly, you did this trip across the country just by yourself.

Heidi Beierle:

That's correct.

Jim Santos:

Yes, what would you say to other women who are thinking about going out on their own but are just too intimidated by it? Feel like a woman by herself is just inherently not safe.

Heidi Beierle:

Everybody is different and I recognize that my experience hasn't steered me away from traveling alone.

Heidi Beierle:

But anyway, I just I just acknowledge that some people will not feel feel safe, so there are other ways of doing that. You know, if you go on a tour group or something that's organized per se, you can have something of a quasi solo experience, with still having the security and comfort of being with a group and having people there watching out for you. But also my experience being a woman alone in a white body I'm sure probably different for people of other races in America anyway was that I think people were more concerned about me because I was alone than if I had been with somebody else, and so they were almost like falling over themselves to offer aid or comfort or assistance. So I do think that people also recognize the vulnerability that a woman alone presents and that it is actually maybe a safer way of traveling than one might realize.

Jim Santos:

This is not exactly your normal way that most people travel as well. Right, what kind of? You must have some sort of planning before you set out across country. How'd you go about, you know, picking the routes you're going to take, and I imagine even just logistics of what to pack and what to carry with you must have been rather daunting.

Heidi Beierle:

Because I was in school the thing I was most concerned about was making sure that my body was ready, and I don't really think that it was before I left. It was kind of like the first week was was kind of like my training run, but I was still getting ready as much as I could with with my body going on rides in the early morning and a longer rides on the weekends.

Jim Santos:

So you did do some prep work beforehand, you didn't just.

Heidi Beierle:

Right, but I hadn't, I hadn't gone on. I don't think I'd gone on a ride longer, maybe even 30 miles. So I wasn't. I wasn't really in great physical shape. But the important part is really making sure that you're on a cycle trip anyway, that your, your sit bones, your interface with your saddle.

Heidi Beierle:

It has some preparation, otherwise that starts to be really really difficult and part of my challenge was there was no way to prepare my body to be 10 hours on the saddle every day unless I did it. So I still did get saddle sore, but it was like a week into it. A rest day was really helpful and, in terms of the gear, like I said, I I was a mountaineer before I started bike touring, so I had some understanding of light, compressible gear and the kind of minimalism that I chose, I would say, for doing this gear. I had a friend also who was really encouraging me to go as light as I possibly could, but you know, for the simple reason that the less stuff you're carrying around, the less stuff you have to carry around.

Heidi Beierle:

It just makes it a little nicer if you're not hauling a whole lot of unnecessary gear, so I really took that to heart.

Rita Santos:

Did you sleep in a tent or did you stay? You know, found, find housing.

Heidi Beierle:

I had. I was studying bicycle tourism, so I really wanted to experiment with everything that people were doing out there just to get the experience of it, and I did have a kind of rudimentary shelter, a tarp shelter. It didn't have a floor on it.

Heidi Beierle:

So, it wasn't really great shelter in buggy areas, but it would. It would keep the moisture off and gave me a degree of privacy and so, yeah, I use that. I use that a few times, but mostly, you know, I was kind of I was staying more in like motels or homestays. I did this in 2010, before Airbnb was really a thing, but there's a. There's a website called warm showersorg, which is kind of like couch surfing for bike tours.

Heidi Beierle:

So, I use that a few times for homestay and sometimes that would be camping in somebody's yard or staying in a spare room or something I kind of. Yeah, like I said, I kind of kind of did everything. I didn't take cooking gear with me, so I made a point of getting meals where I could get them in towns and just kind of snacking in between.

Heidi Beierle:

And in terms of the logistics, Adventure Cycling Association has been around since 1976. And they established the bicycle route that I did travel. Then they have more routes than the one, then they have more routes than the one. And part of what is awesome about this organization is they've done route mapping to guide cyclists along kind of quiet roads and byways, lesser traffic roads whenever possible. It's not always the case.

Jim Santos:

I was wondering about that because I have interviewed people who are doing bicycle trips through Europe and in a lot of Europe some of the transportation is really geared towards bicycles anyway. Yeah, so they have organizations that have mapped out safe routes and everything, and I was wondering if there's anything like that in the US. When we think of cross-country travel, we generally think about interstates, and I'm sure you stayed away from those.

Heidi Beierle:

Yes, for the most part. I did uh find myself on a little chunk of interstate in wyoming because there's nowhere else to go else right and there was another place in I think I was in missouri where I ended up.

Heidi Beierle:

I think it was an interstate um might have been a state highway, but that was. That was kind of an accident. So, in addition to having the the routes mapped out, the roads they also have. The segments of the map are conveniently broken down into like 25 miles, which is a good distance to go before needing a break, and they have icons indicating where the water stops are, where the restrooms are. If there's a town with services, what kind of services are in there.

Heidi Beierle:

So they're really they're very well researched and, as somebody who was really busy with school, I chose to go with the work that had already been done by others instead of trying a DIY option, so it really took a lot of the headache out of planning for where I was going to go and then I just kind of winged it for the most part in terms of staying in towns, so I didn't really call ahead.

Jim Santos:

Did you run across any other bikers doing cross country while you were doing this?

Heidi Beierle:

I did. I was a little late in the season starting for the direction I was going, so I encountered more people kind of earlier in my trip than I did later in the trip. But then I also eventually caught up to some people who were headed the same direction I was. Yeah, I encountered people all over the place actually other other cyclists. Some of them headed the same direction and some headed the other direction.

Jim Santos:

Do you think you learned anything about small town America that surprised you or that you didn't expect to find? I asked because my wife grew up in a very small town in West Virginia, kind of like a medium sized town, and as we travel internationally, sometimes we're in very small villages, sometimes in big cities and for the most part we find that although there are a lot of differences, people are all still mostly the same.

Rita Santos:

They all want the same thing, yeah.

Heidi Beierle:

Yeah, I found I was more comfortable in smaller towns. I don't know, I don't know if that had anything to do with the people or my frame of mind, but I agree, yeah, that people are. It's like I did ask. I did ask people a lot what they like about where they live and what I noticed most that people said about these small rural communities was they really like being close to nature, the outdoors, like having it accessible right there, whether they were ranchers or farmers or they just like having the space and the recreation and less of the hustle and bustle of a city. But if they wanted more of an urban experience or resources, they could easily drive to get them.

Rita Santos:

I think people in smaller communities tend to take care of each other a little bit more than an urban area. You can get very lost in an urban area, I think.

Heidi Beierle:

For sure. Probably the experience I had of people being so caring toward me is part of we're all here together.

Rita Santos:

Yeah.

Jim Santos:

Kind of experience, where in the cities it's much more anonymous anonymous and that feeling that we're together, that kind of kindness to strangers and everything is seems to be getting rarer and rarer, especially right now as we head into an extremely contentious election year. We've talked before on the show. We wish that more people would travel, because we think if people met people from different walks of life or different circumstances, that they might catch on that diversity is not necessarily a bad thing, that people are more alike than you think they are.

Heidi Beierle:

This might be true for people even driving, but I feel like one of the benefits of being on a bike is it's like you're just more vulnerable and exposed or you're just more available. I even experienced this in cities, too, like people in cars are more likely to stop and ask me, a cyclist, for directions, or even as a pedestrian, than they are other people in vehicles.

Heidi Beierle:

You know, they're just more accessible. Somehow, I don't. Actually, you know, sometimes I don't necessarily have any more information than somebody else, but it happens a lot. More information than somebody somebody else, but it happens a lot. And so much as to say I think having that kind of one-on-one experience or that more exposed vulnerability in showing up in a town, lends to connecting in a more personal way instead of instead of a way that's more insulated, by, like, our ideas of who somebody is, or the bubble of our vehicle, or yeah, we like exploring new areas on foot.

Jim Santos:

Uh, basically because you know when you're you said you have bubble. Yeah, when you're in a car, you're basically in a little bubble, traveling along too fast to really see everything. Yeah, the two biggest obstacles for me, I think if we tried to take up cycling, would be my butt cheeks. I don't think I could handle the saddle that. How long did this trip take you?

Heidi Beierle:

I did 80 days 80 days.

Jim Santos:

Was there some point in those 80 days where you just thought I can't pedal another mile, I can't go any further?

Heidi Beierle:

Absolutely, it happened often. Usually, what would happen is like I'd be like oh, I can't do this anymore, and I would find a place where I was going to stay and get a shower and get some food. I'd sleep, I'd wake up in the morning and I'd feel so much better.

Heidi Beierle:

I'd try it again, right, and it was a lot of wash, rinse, repeat for a while, but I I did also get to a point where I I was very concerned for my ability to keep going because I was by myself and it was so hot.

Heidi Beierle:

I knew that, you know, if I got heat stroke or something that like I could, I could be dead before I could get help, and if I was too hot I might not have the presence of mind to get help. So I did, um, I did do myself the favor and take a little break to get out of the heat wave, and then I returned to the route and kept going.

Jim Santos:

At the end of this trip did you find that you were in a much better place personally than when you first set out on the trip?

Heidi Beierle:

Absolutely. It did totally change my life not in the ways that I thought, and part of that it's like such a combination of things. So, definitely my experience in the middle of the country did so much to change how I thought about my country period and all of these really kind people, like the gentleman that I met in Boone, colorado, with his American flag. I'd really been encouraged to have a flag on my bike when I went through that part of the country for safety and I wasn't at the time. I was like what, I don't understand why, but OK, and it just really focused my attention on the American flag and after all of these people helped me, I eventually found the flag and had it flying on my bike. I eventually found a flag and had it flying on my bike. I just thought, you know, this sense of care that these people have and these kind of magical, sparkly experiences that I'm having in this part of the country really changed how I saw myself as an American, as somebody who was embarrassed. I went to like, let me try on this idea of being proud of this place. It's not so much the idea of America, but I feel it in the hearts of these people, I feel it in the spirit of the landscape all around me. I feel differently about America, having peddled across it than than thinking about it as this abstract place. It's sort of like in my body now. Also, all these people.

Heidi Beierle:

I was traveling solo but I realized there's all these people helping me. I'm not actually alone, and even the people here in physical space are not all the people helping me. I have all these people in virtual space who are part of this journey as well, who care about me and love me and and you know, I'm also here here with America, this landscape, this place, it's, it's everything you know it's grass, it's animals, it's, it's air and it's water. I'm like all of this is here and I am part of all of it. I'm not actually alone. So that loneliness, that pervasive loneliness, I had really melted away during this journey and recognizing also that I was worth taking care of, that I was worth living for, getting to that point of realizing like, oh, there's a reason that I am here, it is not just to die out on the road, and you know it just. It really filled me with a profound sense of self-love, like there was. I had. I hadn't felt that before either. So it was like, simultaneously, I'm not alone and that I am lovable.

Jim Santos:

That's really a beautiful thought. Now, uh, have you done any uh similar feats since then? You ever get the urge to get the bike out and hit the road again.

Heidi Beierle:

You know I am. I am headed out on this bike book tour, so I didn't think I would ever ride my bike across the country again. But I seem to be headed that direction, although it's a little more of a slow travel where I'll be using some other forms of transportation and a little less, a little less locked in on the bicycle.

Jim Santos:

Yeah, so I mentioned that on your website. I was going to ask about that. The book, of course, is Heidi Across America and it was just released, I think the end of April, correct?

Heidi Beierle:

That's correct.

Jim Santos:

So you are going on a bike tour to promote the book.

Heidi Beierle:

Yeah, you know I keep adding modifiers to it A slow travel, bike book tour. So I I am leaving on my bike and I expect that the bike will be a big part of how I get around. Bike trip around. Climate made me very aware of the fact that I'm not needing to pedal every inch. I never, I never actually, was needing to pedal every inch of this thing. And because climate is so erratic as it is it could be fires, it could be smoke, it could be flooding I just am very aware of the fact that something is going to be out there that is going to be in the way and I need to be flexible, right for how I get around it is there a schedule for this uh bike tour on your website if anyone wants to try to uh catch up with you and yes, it's.

Heidi Beierle:

It's still forming, but I haven't have it roughed out. So if people visit my website, heidiacrossamerica. com, that'll take you to the book page and then there are a couple links to the tour schedule and map on that page and also in the footer.

Jim Santos:

Okay, great, but we've been chatting with Heidi Beierle. She's the author of Heidi Across America, her books about slow travel, bicycling and, of course, life in general. You can find out more about Heidi and her book on her website at HeidiAcrossAmericacom. That's H-E-I-D-I across America dot com, and her book, of course, is also available on Amazon, barnes, noble and other locations. So, heidi, thanks for joining us today on Travels with Jim and Rita and happy cycling.

Heidi Beierle:

Thank you so much for having me. It was wonderful to chat with you.

Jim Santos:

Before we go, a reminder that Rita and I will be at the 2024 Ultimate Go Overseas Boot Camp coming up in Las Vegas, nevada, october 26th through the 28th. We'll be in the exhibit hall to answer questions about slow travel, the places we visited and our plans for the future. I will have the dubious honor of facing a crowd to give a couple of talks, and there'll be experts and expats from around the world. So if you're interested in attending, check out intliving. com/ events that's intliving. com. S keep listening, spread the word on social media. If you can, please take a moment to leave a rating and review and, of course, subscriptions are always welcome. If you have any questions or you'd like to tell your own story, email me at jim@ jimsantosbooks. com. You can also check out the blog on jimsantosbooks. com to get pictures of some of the places that we visited. So until next time, remember we travel not to escape life, but so that life does not escape us.

Intro
Update on San Miguel de Allende
Welcome to Heidi Beierle
A Fortuitous Email
Travel for Single Women
The Inner Benefits of Slow Travel

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