Over the years I've had the privilage to meet other intrepid adventurers who have put their words down on paper for the world to see. One of those writers is Joe Kurmaskie of Portland Oregon. He was one of many of the patient souls I met through the internet who helped me get ready for my first cross-country bike trip 'Show Me America' in 2001. A few years later while biking the Lewis & Clark Trail, Joe offered a very comfortable couch for me to sleep on as I passed through Portland.
Not only is he a great guy to hang out with, but he has a gift for writing. His first two books were collections of some of the best short stories about bike touring I've ever read. But this newest book raises the bar exponentially.
Momentum is Your Friend: The Metal Cowboy and his Pint-sized Posse Take on America recounts a cross-country bike trip he took with his two sons in tow. Yes, that's right, "in tow!" Joe rode with his 7-year-old Quinn on a tagalong bike attached to his dad's, and 5-year-old Enzo rode in a bike trailer behind his older brother. Oh, and did I say Joe also had to carry gear for the whole crew. We're talking pedaling a bike for 4,000-miles with hundreds of pounds of precious cargo. You might say 'crazy' and I'd be the first to agree with you. But at the same time, I couldn't think of a grander adventure to take a family on.
So, the trip is on a scale not seen in normal bike touring circles. Does he get the story across? How's the writing?
If they gave the Nobel Peace Prize for humor, I'd nominate Joe in a second. Better yet, he should have a 'The Surgeon General has determined that this book will cause a person to grin, smile, giggle, and get cramps rolling on the floor laughing till they cry" warning label on the book spine. Joe starts on the caffeine induced roller coaster of humor from page one and it keeps on going, going, going. But this isn't fiction, he recounts life on the road with two boys who could probably solve most of the worlds problems through the innocence of youth. This is a touching story of a father and that special connection with two other human beings who share his wonder of the world and the folks they meet along that path. Ship a few of these books to the UN and maybe those world leaders might remember that there is still a lot of good in the world, especially when seen through the eyes of a child. That's Enzo and Quinn, not Joe [laugh]. This book is a 'must read' for everyone.
See Men's Journal link below to the cover story (Dec'05) which the book is based on: In Search of America
To read a short excerpt from the book: Momentum is Your Friend
And for a real treat, listen to Joe as he talks to KBOO host Jerden Freeauf talks (Nov 1'06) about his cross country trip: KBOO Bike Show: The Metal Cowboy - Joe's portion starts about 19 minutes into the show.
But Joe doesn't stop there. Maybe inspired by this trip with his young sons, he has decided to start Camp Creative: "No Child Left Inside!" and is using profits from the book sale to do it.
Here's more from Joe:
What Is Camp Creative? An Oregon based charitable Summer Camp (with many traditional camp activities) expanding to a year-round Outdoor Program including writer's workshops, residencies, Everyman Olympics, retreats and special events. Our emphasis is on the arts (especially literary) and safe, exciting project themed expeditions: Bicycling - road and mountain Bike trip camping expeditions as our primary way of exploring. In addition, we'll have hiking and backpacking trips, horseback pack trips, canoe, sea kayaking, rafting and sailing programs. Operated under American Camping Association standards.
Where is it based? While 100-150 of our campers will be on expeditions at any given time, we are working with area farms, retreat centers and state parks to provide quality programs at these locations during our first season. We are actively shopping for a permanent reclaimable site (our mission is to disturb no pristine land) in Oregon Gorge, Oregon. This site will become our permanent home and base of operations for our programs beginning in 2008.
Who is it for? Our programs at full capacity will be for 250 kids, 7-18 yrs, with separate adult programs and full family sessions. Everyone, really, who wants a project based recreational experience. We'll offer sliding scale tuitions and scholarships. 30 percent of our participants will receive scholarship assistance. We will attract a diverse ethnic and socio-economic population from the NW with a portion of our camper slots available to kids/adults/families through out the United States.
For those too busy, unaware, distracted by shiny things, carpools and deadlines to place an order yet, I pulled 250 pounds of boys and gear and mayhem 4000 miles across America, surely you can treat yourself to few laughs at my Fred McMurray on five-wheels travails... my adventure dad left unsupervised for an entire summer antics, all while donating to an innovative program.
In the tradition of the Blues Brothers, we're on a mission over here (but without all the police pursuit and dying of a freebase cocaine addiction at the height of my career) so I don't mind asking you to buy book(s) for yourself, gifts, family, as business incentives etc. to make Camp Creative a reality. Want to learn more about our programs? Go to: MetalCowboy.com
Purchasing: $20 of each $25 book sale goes to fund Camp Creative. My publisher gets the other $5. I get a warm feeling inside and closer to accomplishing a long held dream, you get a tax deduction. To order inscribed (by the boys and myself) copies of "Momentum Is Your Friend" send cash, (paypal and credit card on our website MetalCowboy.com) or checks payable to:
Camp Creative, 2820 N Willamette Blvd, Portland, Oregon 97217
$25 Hardcover, include $2 postage and handling per book on orders of 4 four less. Ex: $25+ $25 = $54 for a two book order etc. All orders and donations of $100 or more land you/company in the 1000 Friends of Camp Creative Circle. Permanent recognition etc. (That's cumulative, so order a bit at a time if it helps budget things) In Portland? You can also just run me down in person. I have books with me at all times (the mission part, remember?)
I've already bought a copy and sent another to a friend in Australia. So, order your's today at MetalCowboy.com