Monday, March 23, 2020

Well, That’s All Folks

Coronavirus has



I have come to the extremely painful and unfortunate late resort of prematurely ending my Big Year in light of the Coronavirus-inspired public health crisis. Several sleepless nights and restless waking hours of painful deliberation have led me to this point. I’ve just run out of options. Distance unicycling is already a very difficult and complicated undertaking in the best of times. I have found that it becomes next to impossible to carry out in a state of emergency. The closure of California State Park campgrounds was really the final blow. With camping and homestays removed from my toolbox, hotels are pretty much the only remaining option. But the reality of hotel rates along the road ahead in Southern California is impractical. Not to mention the increasingly complicated and unreliable food situation and limitations on activities. 

The virus has changed the way that we operate as a society. Reliance on people, especially in LA, was a massive component of my progress. As self-reliant as I’d like to think the adventure was making me, I simply could not advance without the help of kind folks. Without the generosity of the people that I encountered along the way, I would not have even made it out of Olympia.

A unicycle Big Year is a dream for the best of times, a luxury in times of stability. In a scenario where non-essential businesses are forcibly closed and nonessential practices are discouraged, my lifestyle does not merit special treatment. Everyone is suffering from this crisis, and calling it quits on this journey, as much as it hurts my heart, is a sacrifice that ought to be made. 

I am eternally grateful for the blessings along the road during these eleven weeks. I’ve met incredible people and have been privileged to see the west coast in a unique and unusual way. It’s been a blast, and I’m not stretching when I say that I’ve had the time of my life. It’s incredibly bitter to go out after setting a respectable pace of 209 species and 1000+ miles in less than 80 days. But I suppose there are worse ways to go out on a long-distance cycle tour.

Y’all have been an incredible support group. I drew so much on your great vibes to cover the ground that I did cover. For that, I cannot thank you enough. 

As for how I proceed? I’m not sure. I mean nobody knows where we’ll be heading from here. All we have is hope, which is a great substitute for direction. I’ll definitely get around to posting about the past couple of weeks, as they were some of the most exciting and enjoyable days of my trip. 

In the meantime, I hope that everyone stays hopeful and healthy. It ain’t nothing but a hiccup in the grand scheme. Cherish time together and continue to support each other; love, hope, and patience will pull us through.

22 comments:

  1. I am really sorry for the disruption of your journey. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about it. At least there are local areas to enjoy nature such as Silver Bluff, Phinizy Swamp, and Merry Brick Ponds. Keep your spirits up.

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    1. Thank you for the note. It is an unfortunate circumstance all around. But the birds keep doing their thing. And watching them never ceases to bring comfort and relief. Thanks and same to you!

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  2. I've been concerned about you since this thing popped up. Although it is a tough choice, it was the right one to make. As you may know, GOS for May has been cancelled also. Take care of yourself.

    Sue

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    1. Sue, I appreciate your concern. I’m pretty sad that I couldn’t meet up with you as planned. It’s pretty tough to have envisioned something so vividly and then reality diverges from that. But we’ll bird soon without a doubt. In the meantime, stay healthy.

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  4. I have enjoyed reading all about your Journey JP! I have been praying for you a little extra the last couple weeks with COVID-19 making it’s appearance. I am sorry it came to an early end, but I’m glad you enjoyed it while it lasted. Stay safe getting home! :)
    Mary Katharine

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    1. Thanks for the prayers Mary Katharine! I was blessed to have had a safe journey and to have made it out of Cali without a hitch. Thanks for following along!

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  5. You are such thoughtful and compassionate young man. Thank you for sharing your journey. I look forward to reading about the last days of this trip and all the future adventures I know you will have. Be well.

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    1. How nice of you to say! Thanks for the kind words and encouragement to continue writing. I really need that these days! Hope all is well for you!

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  6. Oh no, this must have been a heartbreaking decision... but no doubt a wise one given the extenuating circumstances. Hope you make it home safely and I look forward to reading about the past couple of weeks. Maybe you can unicycle from home on some good day trips/patch-birding for the rest of the year if birdy spots in your area stay open? Let us know if you try for a Big Year again in the future!

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    1. Hello Emily! I just checked out your blog and am very impressed by the layout, content, and statistical breakdowns! 238 is a helluva list for a state biking Big Year! I’m envious! And patch birding seems to be the appropriate direction for the time being. Birding Dorian’s patch was inspiring and eye-opening. I’ll release that post soon. Thanks for the comment!

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  7. Looking forward to hearing about your last couple weeks of adventure. Sorry you had to cut it short.

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    1. Thanks Vjera! It’s a hard truth to come to terms with, but I was left with no viable alternative. Hope you are well!

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  8. JP - it was a major bummer to hear that you had to cut your Quest short. Those of us in the "Nisqually Refuge" community have been following your Blog and are glad that we had the chance to share the beginning with you. Here's hoping that you get another opportunity to visit the West Coast again; look us up when you do! Stay well.

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    1. Hey Jon! I hope that the group is able to continue walks at Nisqually these days. It was a killer end to 2019 to bird with y’all and a killer start to the year to bird there. I hope to be out there again some day! Maybe when it’s not freezing and raining sideways! Hope spring treats you all well.

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    2. Nisqually Refuge closed down last week; this is the first Wednesday in a long time that I haven't been out there. Our Governor has basically shut down all the State Parks, Forests and Wildlife lands, and beaches. The cities and counties have done the same, so most of the "group birding" venues and activities have ground to a halt. I'm old enough to know that "This, too, shall pass!", and when you make it back to the Left Coast, make sure you get in touch with us. And, yes, there are warm and sunny days here every year!

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    3. Gosh that’s bad news. I bet you’re going stir crazy. Hopefully more time at home translates to gains in the yard list. You have my word, good sir. I hope that you find some distraction in those neotropical birds that are creeping northward.

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  9. Hi JP! I was hesitant to even check your blog cause I expected this might happen. I have to say you bowed out with characteristic grace. You have really inspired and entertained a slew of people who have been following your exploits and rooting for you. Hope to see you back in GA sometime soon. Dr. C.

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    1. Hey Dr. C! It was a concerning moment when I had my first elbow-touch in San Francisco. It gave me a bad dose of foreboding for the imminent end. But I’m glad to hear that tales of my travels were shared. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

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  10. I am just glad to hear you are safe! If you ever make it back to Washington my husband and I would be happy to join you on a birding adventure. Be Well!

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  11. Or perhaps we could meet up in Palm Springs. We have lovely friends there who are amazing hosts. Safe travels home. Jeff and Priscilla Millam Tacoma, WA

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    1. Hello Jeff and Priscilla! Both possibilities are enticing. I hope to make it back out there and am happy to know that I have friends to meet up with! Hope y’all stay well.

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