Reflections from the Road

Honestly, yesterday felt pretty weird. I wasn’t on my bike, I wasn’t constantly trying to figure out where I was on a map, and I wasn’t interviewing people I met. While I had dreamed of making it to the Atlantic for almost two months, I wish I was still out there on the bike. I loved waking up everyday and biking and meeting folks from all walks of life. I already miss their stories and their support. I also loved seeing new places and doing things I never thought I would be able to do.I guess I should feel proud of my accomplishment, but it really just feels like a part of me is missing. I did come away with a very strong sense of hope for America and the beautiful world around us.

As I reflect, I would like to share some of the most important things I’ve learned. I went across America with three interview questions, but my experience wasn’t limited to those three driving questions.
These questions will be guiding my school project in the fall.

  1. Is our country heading in the right direction?
  2.   What could be done to make our country better?
  3. What current issues matter most to you?

They serve as a tool for uncovering what people really care about in their lives. I remember before I left, I spent a lot of time crafting these question so I could get a broad range of responses. I also got a lot better at interviewing people along the way. In the beginning, I was always very nervous interviewing someone and now I don’t even think twice about it. I sought out the stories of the folks along the way as well as their answers to my three interview questions.

The last interview of my trip was with a member of the House of Representatives for Maine, Thom Harnett. He also happens to be my uncle, which made it very easy to get an interview with him in Brunswick. His facial hair is far more impressive than mine and he is a very kind man. Before working for the State of Maine, he was the Mayor of Gardiner, Maine and with the Attorney General’s office for many years. We chatted about how our nation is moving in different directions in different levels of government. Like others I had spoken to, Thom was proud to see the progress made by local communities all over the country. To him, we need more of a focus on issues such as climate change in our federal and state legislatives. Lastly, it was great to hear how much he cares about his family and our planet.

I have learned so much from this incredible journey and I am just starting to unpack it all and truly understand what I experienced. I will return home with a fresh set of eyes and an enriched perspective of the world. I’ve learned to savor the present and the good nature of complete strangers. I would like to thank everyone for their support! Thank you to all of my blog followers and please feel free to share your responses to my three questions. You may me respond below or email me at


13 responses to “Reflections from the Road

  1. David Tendler

    Well done, Jack. You should be very proud. Quite an accomplishment.

  2. It’s been wonderful to be an onlooker in your journey this summer. Sharing your story with others moving forward will help you keep it alive and who knows how many others you may inspire to reach out in similar or very different ways. The conversations you’ve begun are incredibly important for all of us to consider and you’ve shown how we can each contribute to these conversations in a respectful and meaningful way. Thank you and congratulations and best wishes in all your future endeavors!!

  3. Elizabeth Hays

    Jack, I have enjoyed your journey through your posts. You taught me about the tension around wind farms of which I was totally unaware but which clearly fits into the larger tensions around climate change. Finding solutions may be complicated and personal but worth striving for.
    This final post illuminates something you’ve learned that some people never do: the goal is important but it’s the striving and experiences in stretching towards that goal that build a life.
    I’m delighted that you are continuing this project and hope you share more!

  4. Jack,
    Congratulations! I don’t know what is more impressive; that you actually rode over 3000 miles or that you learned how to talk to all types of people.
    We have been wondering where did you sleep? Did you ever feel unsafe riding your bike?

    Enjoy the rest of your summer!
    The Jennings Family

    • My parents made me sleep in motels, which was very helpful. I didn’t really have many safety issues on the trip. I got used to cars getting pretty close so that didn’t really scare me after the first week. Thanks for you support!!

  5. william harnett

    Fun bike ride…..Love to see you enlist……To serve & protect is the greatest give we can give our country…our children & our childrens children..Like to see you in the USAF !!…You should qualify !!!..Go Parascue….

  6. Congrats on wrapping up an amazing and strenuous journey. How very inspiring! I’ve been enjoying your stories and photos. Clearly, you’ve gained more perspective on the great diversity of human experiences across our country than have most adults. I look forward to hearing more about your reflections and your experiences when school starts back up!

  7. Ingrid Lauenstein

    Godspeed Jack, thank you for letting me follow on your journey. You have a new journey now and I know you will Be always present, how special you are and how much you will be missed. America lost a fine young man.

  8. We will never forget you Jack. Peace and love to you on the next ride.

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