I was in downtown State College yesterday talking to my friend Bob Vander Voort aka "Taxi Bob" about bicycle touring and our mutual love of Long Haul Truckers (the bike, not the kind that doesn't shower for weeks on end), when Bob started calling out "Will. Will. WILL!!" to someone across the street. I looked over and there was a young man about my age trotting along the sidewalk wearing just a pair of shorts and a reflective vest usually reserved for road construction crews, both of which had seen better days. I realized that I had seen this guy along with a couple of other similarly clad folks biking around town for the past couple of days. The only reason that I took any note of it was that all of their bikes were laden for touring, sporting racks, panniers and in one case, custom kitty litter bucket saddle bags.
Will made his way over to us and as he and Bob fell into excited conversation, I started to learn a thing or two. It turns out that Will was one of a group of folks that called themselves The Cultural Recyclists. I think that it started out as just two of them and people came and left as they pleased. Either way, Will had spent the past 14 months traveling along the northern Lower 48, travelling down the West Coast and then bouncing his way back to PA along the southern border and all of it by bicycle. Along the way, he and his travelling partners would stop at farms and do whatever work needed to be done in exchange for food or a place to rest his head. You might think this sounds a lot like wwoofing but Will assured us that he had no site guiding him nor any structured plan. He wanted to travel by bicycle. He wanted to get closer to the land and get a feeling for where his food comes from. He didn't want to worry about where to go or where to sleep but instead let spontaneity and strangers' goodwill guide him.
It sounds like he had a great experience and I look forward to looking through his blog for more inspiration. Hopefully when they're back in town, The Cultural Recyclists can give a talk either on campus or at Appalachian Outdoors.