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Coast-to-Coast for End Polio Now

4 May

[UPDATED 30 June 2011, 4:58 PM]

I am now three days away from leaving on my coast-to-coast hike across Scotland to raise money for Rotary’s End Polio Now campaign! On Sunday, I will set forth from the town of Montrose on Scotland’s east coast, and will arrive at the Atlantic Ocean two weeks later at the Knoydart peninsula, one of the British mainland’s most westerly points. My 200-mile route passes through some of Scotland’s most rigorous terrain, including a summit of Ben Nevis, the highest point of the British Isles! I have been very busy the past few days making last minute preparations, checking my maps, and packing my gear. I can’t wait to get out on the trail and see Scotland the best way I know how—one step at a time.

So far I have raised about $1,000 for End Polio Now, and my goal is to reach $3,000 before I return to the US in September (roughly equivalent to $15 per mile walked). If you are interested in making a donation, please follow this link to my donation website and click on the big orange button that says “DONATE.” It’s easy, safe, and for an excellent cause. All donations go directly to the End Polio Now campaign.

For the latest updates on my hike, follow me on Twitter. I’ll be trying to post something every day while I am out on the trail, so check back frequently!


[Original post follows below]

So…it’s been a while since I’ve posted, about six months or so I think. As you have probably noticed, I have been more interested in photography than writing as of late. That being said, I am planning something exciting for this summer that I thought I should bring to your attention.

But before I get there, a brief answer to “How’s Scotland been recently?” It’s been quite lovely actually. The weather has been fantastic for the past few weeks, full of long sunny days and blue sky. I finished my semester over a month ago and am getting ready for final exams. I also went back to Texas for a few weeks in there, which was really nice. I’ve been making lots of friends with other students in my program, who are from all over the world. So I am here for the summer, working on my dissertation and then coming back to the states in the fall. Okay, that’s enough of that, let’s get to the exciting bit.

I am going to walk across Scotland, from the Atlantic Ocean to the North Sea. It’s roughly a 200 mile trek, should take about two weeks. Oh, I’m going to use the hike to raise money for Rotary’s End Polio Now campaign, which I think is one of the most important charities in the world today. My goal is to raise £2,000/$3,000, or enough to vaccinate about 6,000 children against this devastating disease.

As many of you know, a few years ago I hiked from Maine to Georgia along the Appalachian Trail. Although this trip will be similar in many ways, it will have its own unique set of challenges. For instance, there is no single coast-to-coast trail in Scotland. Instead, I’ll make my way across the island by piecing together a variety of different paths, including deerstalking trails, range-rover tracks, old military roads, and good old-fashioned bushwhacking.

Right now I am in the planning phase of the trip. I’ve been working with my friend Michael Reader-Harris to chart my route (pictured above). Michael and I go to church together here in Glasgow and he’s pretty much an expert on hiking in Scotland (or ‘hillwalking’ as the locals say)—he is only a few summits away from having climbed all of Scotland’s 283 Munros (mountains over 3,000 feet tall). As of now, my route will take me through some of Scotland’s wildest regions and will include summitting Ben Nevis, the highest point in the British Isles. I’ll even swing by The Old Forge, which holds the record for the world’s most remote pub! Pretty cool!

So. That’s what’s new. I’ll keep you posted as things develop!


We Are Headed North

20 Aug

Load the car and write the note
Grab your bag and grab your coat
Tell the ones that need to know
We are headed north

–  The Avett Brothers, “I and Love and You”

So. Two days. I am getting excited. And I am getting sad. Probably too many good-byes/listening to too much moody music. I’ve left for long trips before plenty of times before, but this is probably the toughest that I can remember, just because I’ll be gone for so long. And the Atlantic Ocean is pretty daunting too.

I have to keep reminding myself though that the world is much smaller than it once was. I was hanging out with my grandparents this afternoon, and we got to looking through some of their old scrap books from the war years. My grandmother saved every postcard, letter, telegram, and newspaper clipping Daddy Keith sent her from his six months in England. No email, no skype, hardly even telephone calls. That’s pretty amazing.

Last fall, my friend Josh Carney over at UBC gave this great sermon on the Parable of the Talents. He talked about how the master had entrusted each of his slaves with talents, and how one of the slaves simply buried his talent out of fear of his master’s wrath if he were to lose it. And although he was able to return to the master what was his, the master was still angry because he had wasted the opportunity to make something more of them. God sometimes puts things in our laps, like a year abroad, and he wants us to make the most of those opportunities. He doesn’t want us to turn our back on these moments because we are afraid to try. These opportunities are not gifts, but investments for which He demands repayment with interest. I hope that I am up to the task.


9 Aug

Yes, it is almost time for me to leave. First things first, a bit about what is happening: I am going to Scotland. The University of Glasgow, to be specific. I will be gone for one year. I will be studying economic development. The University of Glasgow was established in 1451, making it the fourth-oldest university in the English speaking world, and also older than America.

I am going because the Rotary Foundation selected me as an Ambassadorial Scholar. They told me to pick a university that was not in the USA. Glasgow has one of the best economic development programs in the world, so it was my first choice. Plus, Scotland sounds like a pretty great place to spend a year, what with the tartans and tweed and sheep and scotch whisky (not to be confused with whiskey, which is the incorrect Irish spelling of the word).

Now. A bit about Rotary International: Did you know that Rotary is almost single-handedly responsible for eradicating polio? Did you also know that Bill Gates has donated about $350 million to Rotary to help in their Polio campaign? Did you know that their motto is “Service Above Self?” I am very excited to be involved with an organization that puts Jesus’s message of loving “the least of these” into action (Matt 25:40).

So. I leave in two weeks. But I am not going straight to Scotland from Dallas. I am taking The Long Way to Glasgow, via Boston, Iceland, London, Bath, the Lake District, Edinburgh, Inverness, and the Isle of Skye. My super awesome girlfriend Rachael Chambers is coming too, but only for the journey there. Once we get to Glasgow, she sadly has to go back to Boston to finish school. I know that some of you are worried about us being in Iceland, but don’t worry. She and I will be on the lookout of that volcano that was causing such a stir last spring.

Looking for pictures?

28 May

Surprise! You probably came here looking for pictures, didn’t you? Well, I’ve moved the photoblog to a new address: And I’ve changed the address of my old blog, to the address that you are at right now. I know it’s a little confusing, for that I am truly sorry. But it was time to move on from the “bikesandguitars” days—no one ever understood what bikes and guitars had in common, or why they were the title of my blog. But to my credit, from the very beginning I warned my readers that the blog would have very little to do with bikes or guitars—although both of those items did get mentioned here and there.

But wait, there is more. I think it’s about time to start blogging again. What with my trip to Scotland coming up and all there are things that I want to write about and share with my tens of readers.

And I am rambling now. In summary: my new regular blog address is and my new photoblog address is Enjoy.