May 27, 1999
Green Bay, WI
I arrived in Green Bay yesterday riding the tail end of a low pressure zone that had kept the region chilled under a heavy sky and strong northwesterly winds. I was happy to arrive at the home of Maureen Alt, a fellow PCV who I served with in Ghana. Between Peace Corps contacts and families of former Peace Corps Volunteers I have had a place to stay in nearly every large city I have past through from Oregon to Wisconsin.
This morning I had an on-air interview at WTSN, the am radio station of the seacoast area in NH. It was nice to establish contact with my home state. I was asked the normal questions about the rewards and challenges of such an undertaking and got the chance to make public some of the positive experiences of the trip. I have seen a good portion of the country in a very unique way and met many interesting and helpful friends along the way. What a powerful contrast to the normal negative news of the daily headlines. Only reading the papers one might think that America is becoming alarmingly crazy and unsafe. Indeed some of the recent events that smother the evening newscast are difficult to explain. But experiencing the US like I have done over the past 8 weeks brings a different conclusion to light. Everyday I have been helped in some way or form by someone. For the most part I have been welcomed into towns and communities where I choose to stay with interest and enthusiasm. In some occasions people have gone far out of thier way to accomodate me and make sure that I am safe and comfortable. Yes, I have a different story to report. One that is not filled with violence and unfriendly confrontation, but with the form of selfless human kindness that we may think is extinct in America today. If I would just read the papers or watch the news I would know a very different story, an exaggerated story that does not represent the majority of what goes on. Every day I assume the same random acts of kindness occur all over the US, yet go unpublished, unspoken. I am not saying that newspapers should be plastered with only positive news, I am saying that without experiences such as this we may get a very warped view of the world.
Last week I rolled into Clintonville, WI unsure of where I was going to spend the night. There were no camping sights in the area, no county parks to be found anywhere close on the map, very seldom have I found myself in such a situation. I was thinking that I was going to have to find a out of the way place along one of the many county roads and spend the night in the "Wisconsin bush"! These thoughts wieghed heavy on my mind as I walked out of the IGA towards my bike. It was then that I was casually approached by Butch, the owner of a dry cleaning business next door to the grocery store. He asked me where I was headed and if I needed any help, an offer I have learned not to let pass by. I told him I was looking for a place to camp between Clintonville and Green Bay. He shook his head noting what I alread assumed. He offered his yard wondering if I would be so bold as to accept an offer from a perfect stranger. I quickly thanked him and accepted the offer. He let me inside his shop and I helped him hang some rugs to dry as we engaged in a casual conversation. Within a half an hour he had gotten ahold of a friend of his who opperated a motel down the street and had negotiated a room for me for the night. Not a story that would make the front page of the local paper, but one that continues to reestablish my faith in humanity.