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See America Right bio picture

Welcome to See America Right

A Girl

This is me, Kathryn. A hard-as-nails, adventurous, no-holds-barred firecracker with a passion for cycling, living, and making people happy. I've always been in the thick of just about everything since I was a kid, and it's not much different today. I decided a long time ago that there were a lot of things in the world that needed changing. I may not be able to do it all, but here I am.

For those interested in the facts: I live in Fort Worth, Texas, with an awesome roommate who teaches 5th grade science and a dog named Petra. Besides adventuring, I have a deep love for baking, cycling, running, reading, photography, journaling, design, and art. I love being outside - it's a much more natural fit for me than indoors.

I have a B.A. in Theatre & Dance from UT Austin. In past lives, I have been a stage manager (most of the time), a dog walker (some of the time), and a freelance baker (not enough of the time.)

Her Blog

Do not take, steal, reuse, hotlink, or post my photographs without contacting me first. I retain full rights to all of them and am usually quite nice about letting others use them, with credit, for nonprofit pursuits - but you have to ask.

This blog began as a chronicle of my journey with an organization called Texas 4000 For Cancer. In the summer of 2010, I rode my bicycle from Austin, TX, to Anchorage, AK with a group of 58 students to help raise money for cancer research and to teach people about prevention. The journey was over 4500 miles, and I kept track of our training, departure, and ride here.

Mostly though, I found myself writing about what Texas 4000 meant to me and how I was beginning to feel about the world around me and the people in it. Slowly, the blog evolved to be a sounding board for how I am working to practice what I preach, how I attempt to "see america right" - literally and figuratively.

I joined the ride for so many reasons, but one of them was to see myself grow and change in a positive way. I strive toward personal growth and change each day now, and try to appreciate the beauty of life as I live it.

This blog is now, more than anything, a chronicle of my adventures in self-discovery, community, laughter, living, travel, and shared experience. I try to have a sense of humor, and I try to take some cool pictures. I try to say something.

I hope you're inspired to say something, too. Comment or email - I will be happy to talk to you about whatever you like under the sun.

I shoot with all Nikon and none of it is fancy.

"I have work to do, and I am afraid not to do it." - John O'Hara



Vocabulary

I’ve always had an absurd love for words – the odder the better. I rejoice in being able to whip out an underused word or bring a great one back into regular use. Yesterday, I found myself using the word “funereal” at work, and I had a laugh afterward – I couldn’t remember the last time I could have possibly found a reason to say it. It’s these sort of discoveries that are small pleasures in my life.

This weekend has been a chill one for me – which means a lot of reading. The past few weeks have been hectic at best, weekends included, and the next couple will be more of the same. So this weekend, a bit of a break.

I was catching up on my New Yorker this morning and I found myself relishing the few words I had to look up – I let my subscription lapse for a year and a half, and I remember now what it was I missed so much. It’s a great magazine, filled with so much fun knowledge. It somehow manages to be worldly, relevant, and quirky at the same time.

Anyway, I love that feeling of having to look up a word. There were three in this issue: haimish, atrociology, and sabermetrics. I love how all these sound, especially sabermetrics.

Upon researching these three, two were fairly easily definied. Haimish is a Yiddish expression meaning homey, and sabermetrics is the mathematical and statistical analysis of baseball records (fun!). Atrociology, however, was harder to find.

A Google search yields a mere 6 results and a suggestion that you may have been looking for “astrobiology.” One of the six results is, in fact, the article I read the word in. It seems the author invented this word specifically for the article – contextually, it seems to refer to the study of violence over time.

All this brings about the question of what exactly makes a word just that – a word? In order for vocabulary to remain relevant over time, words have to be invented, and not just words to describe products or new inventions. Even words, like atrociology, that seemingly describe an old concept that previously went unnamed. It could even be a portmanteau I suppose – atrocity + ology (the study of) would yield a definition something like what I already said – the study of atrocity. Intriguing, to say the least.

Any other interesting word discoveries lately?

Passion

There’s no such thing as too many passions or too many callings. How can we combine them all into our life’s work? Steven Tomlinson’s talk blew me away. The audio track is not great (just a warning), so I’ve linked to the transcript below.

 

 

 

Transcript

Something to think about this Thursday night.

Fall + A Reinvention


It’s fall again – though it’s not really showing here. I see pictures from friends in the Northeast (which I have since left, with whatever permanence one can have when you are a wanderer) and in Colorado every day. The leaves there are turning gold, red, orange. Here they’ve already been dead for a while.

But I’m not complaining, no. Here in Texas we’re just glad the temperatures are in the cool and comparatively soothing 80′s. It’s even a tad chilly at night!

Fall is my favorite time of year – as one of my favorite bloggers, Karen at Chookooloonks, has mentioned before, fall is a time of reinvention, looking forward, and inspiration. It always seems to rile up feelings of being propelled toward progress for me, of creativity. So this is perhaps how I ended up back here.

I’ve taken a lot of time away from the blog since the ride ended. I’ve taken a lot of space away from life since the ride ended, actually. It took a really long time to feel like I had two feet on earth again – months, almost a year. But in the past few months, as I finally have begun to feel like I have my life back on track and am filled with direction, I’ve known I wanted to come back and get this thing back on its feet. So here I am.

It might look a little different to you (it is), it might look the same (it kind of is, too). Regardless, I feel like I’ve made some changes here and in my life, and those changes are for the better.

Yesterday, I decided to walk over to the Modern for a little contemplation time. They had a new exhibit in and I just love the museum’s architecture.

Important bullet points you should know before I continue to launch into this story:

1. I moved back to Texas – I live in Fort Worth, now, just outside of the Cultural District in Arlington Heights.
2. I work in my old hometown – Arlington – where I am a part of an Americorps VISTA program. I work for a literacy nonprofit. I might not talk about it a lot here, probably only occasionally. I love it and it was the right choice in every sense of the word.
3. I am trying to get into grad school for next year to get a Master of Public Affairs.
4. Otherwise, I haven’t really changed any more than usual. (Of course, usual for me is perhaps a lot for the regular person.)

Anyway, the museum is designed so that the whole thing juts out onto a large reflecting pool. After I’d wandered the whole thing, I went out and sat on the pleasantly cold stone and looked out over the pool at the trees while I wrote a few postcards. It reinforced what I’ve known for a few weeks now: this was the right time and the right place to come back to.

I moved back to Texas for a lot of reasons, but mostly because it was time. As someone who self-identifies as having a wandering “problem” (if that’s how you want to classify it), I had just been in Boston too long already. Of course, the necessity of a career change was still nagging at me, too, a semi-permanent little voice in my head.

So I joined Americorps and I moved back. And that’s how it all happened, I guess, the short version. I’m finally at a place where I am totally happy with all aspects of my life again, so I figure I did okay with the decision.

Anyway, I’m bringing the blog back. For good this time. Hopefully I can share more about Fort Worth, photography, running, biking, and all my travels. And yes, I’m going to start doing a weekly post about a day from the ride until it’s done. I believe the last day I did was 37 – so this week we’ll do a post on 38. I don’t want to do more than that – to be honest, this is a chapter in my life that I had to force myself to close in order to open other ones, and I don’t want to accidentally reopen it.

Other than that, I have no idea what my blog will have to say. Only that it will be a chronicle of adventures, big and small, daily.

On Going Home, On Going West


On Sunday, I’m leaving Boston for two weeks. Going home for a while, going here, going there. Nostalgia. Last year: me, a bike, a summer I never knew would change everything like it did.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that continuous draw I have, the draw back home, but not even that, the draw westward. The desire to be in the mountains, to feel that nature has and always will one up me. To feel hopelessly, wonderfully small. As I get ready to hit the road, driving back to Texas over the course of three days with my mom, another cross-country road trip – I keep thinking about what it will mean to be back on the edge, the frontier. The place where the west begins.

And if all this sounds mystical, it is, you know. I love Boston, or I wouldn’t have agreed to stay here until next May. I’m realizing though, that I am so full to the brim with things that must be done, that beg my attention, projects and ideas and collaborations, opportunities for learning and traveling and writing and seeing and giving and being that I cannot stay anywhere for long. And the west calls, of course.

In a short five months in this colonial town, so far from home, so far from that Alaska mountain that taught me for the final time (on that adventure) what it meant to be in the presence of a vastness that you can never know, I have learned so much, done so much. I have met people and had experiences I can never hope to explain or relay. This is what it is to live.

Have there been dull times? Yes, there always are, anywhere. But mostly, I find, I am just so full, like I can never stop moving, doing, being. My mother jokes about how I always was that kid a mile ahead of the others my age, living several years above my age group, always wanting to be older, get things done, do. And it’s true now, too. I live as if I’m running out of time, as if I can never accomplish it all, as if I must soak it up so deeply because it may be my only chance.

In some ways, there is no other way to live. In others, it is a rough path to trod. For if you allow yourself to feel so deeply, to be so present, to really live, then life is vibrant in a way I cannot communicate in words. I can be elated and heartbroken in one day, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But this isn’t the point, no. The point is the draw, the deep calling. The full moments of peace I have had and desire to have more of, deep in the woods, where there are no other sounds but nature, no light pollution, just stars. Where you hear the mountains creak and groan, the wind whip, the bears cross through the brush. The moments in which you feel small, humbled by the earth. This is not something I have found as often here in the east, the life is too fast – rushed, focused on the day-to-day, always looking down instead of up. Too many people and not enough space.

In August, I am turning 22. I hate birthdays and I hate sharing my age. I get tired of the surprised faces, the wonder, the remarks on how I’m so young. This year, like last year, I want to see if I can once again be as far from home as I can muster for this birthday, alone in some strange place, some wild place, somewhere where I can speak to the earth and have a birthday conversation.

I am realizing that I am on the cusp of something crazy, that something is about to change, shift, recalculate in my life, and that it all has to do with that feeling. Of going home. Of going west.

Leah - love this. miss you. i know what you mean. can't wait to see you!May 27, 2011 - 9:33 pm

Words, Journals, & Archives


Taking a break from the consistent T4K updates here (I’m hoping that by dragging it out, it may never end), I thought I’d muse a little on the concept of the archive.

Going to UT, with the famous Harry Ransom Center, I often visited their exhibits, and it was there that I was first formally introduced to the idea of an archive. I mean this in the sense of how a writer has an archive – or a playwright, or a filmmaker, or just about anyone who has kept a consistent physical record of their time here on Earth. Generally an archive leans heavily toward paper and thoughts, written out musings.

I’ve always been a person for artifacts in life – the intense meaning hidden in an object with so much age and imparted wisdom, the indecipherable message in a dropped grocery list, the comfort in a scrap of paper with words in a different language written on it.


For quite a few years, I’ve been assembling my own personal archive – a small container of these things that will inform another person of what it was to be on this Earth as I am. I hardly hope that anyone will ever be looking at such things in a place like the HRC, but I do think of what my family members who come after me might make of it all. I’ve always been a compulsive journaller, and in fact have four going at once now. There is the small one for the day-to-day: to-do lists, groceries to buy, a phone number or website jotted on the run. Then the hardback travel journal that holds memories of Texas 4000 and other adventures, as well as hopes and dreams, plans in the making. My little red reading book, filled with quotes from all over and lists of books to read, one day. And of course the portable catch-all and perhaps most dear of them all, my Midori. It’s quite a collection.


I have this fascination with the written word – I write so much out in a highly technological world. My friend Jess and I have been corresponding almost solely by letters for over 4 years now – and they are still a pleasure to write, to set pen to paper and make it known. To pick out the envelope and address it, knowing it will be a welcome surprise in her mailbox. Of course, this speaks to two other loves: paper and the mail, both of which led me to collect postcards.

Anyway, I have found a lot of solace in committing things to paper lately more so than ever. There is something comforting in knowing that having written it down, it’s there, for anyone to see. And because it’s in pen, I can’t erase it. Sometimes it is a useful exercise.


I am full of wanderlust over the past couple weeks too, and thinking of breaking out the tent in the upcoming summer months for some wilderness time. I have been doing extensive research on Morocco, making travel boards. Feeling drawn.

Day 37 – The Coast, The Coast

The morning out of Brookings, the whole crew from Zola’s joined us for ride dedications, and amazingly, even stuck it out for the hakka (see the incredible video below). I find that very few people want to actually join the hakka – they tend to be totally fine observing, and understandably, I suppose. We do tend to get a little rowdy…

The day to Bandon was my day to sweep again (hence the hideous vest), so we headed out on another beautiful ride up the coast. The Oregon coast proved windier than the same coast in California, though not quite as mountainous and craggy for some reason. Taylor and I stuck together past some gorgeous views until we came to the second rest stop where Arvin encountered some technical difficulties and I had to stay behind.


In the world of bicycles, there are several kinds of falling:

1. The Vanity Fall
- You have fallen over due to some error of your own in not paying attention to the road or to some error of someone around you not paying attention, but you are completely uninjured and probably laughing. You were likely not going more than 10 mph. Your bike is completely unharmed.

2. The Legitimate Injury Fall
- You have fallen off your bike for any number of reasons and are injured enough to need to be SAG’ed, at least for a little while. This can be as little as some road rash and as bad as a broken bone. Inexplicably, your bike is fine.

3. The I’m Okay But My Bike is Not Fall
- You have fallen off your bike for any number of reasons, but you were not hurt at all. Your bike however, has been somehow mangled in such a way that you will now have to spend a significant amount of time trying to fix it before you can go anywhere again.

4. The “I Never Want to See A Bike Again…Well, At Least Not for a Couple Months” Fall
- You and your bike need an ER.

Literally moments before the second rest stop, Arvin experienced a fall of the number 3 variety. He ran over a rock/some large hard object that he completely didn’t see and basically sideplanted his bike into a sand dune. He was 100% uninjured, but his shifter was full of sand, so I stayed behind while he and Tyler attempted to replace his shifter at the rest stop.

We were there for a pretty long time (shifters are not a simple replacement), and eventually David and I decided to leave, as I was a little worried that I would not be able to keep pace with him, Arvin, and Tyler if we wanted to sprint to catch everyone. In the end, we all arrived safe and sound without issue, though Arvin’s shifter was indeed an ongoing issue up the coast. And it never did look quite right, either. Frankenstein shifter…

Made it into Bandon, dinner. I spy several items here that I have a feeling I was very excited about at the time that I probably would be less excited to eat now. But hot cocoa is always exciting.

Day 36 – Pro Cyclist Nate Boes

5 Great Things About the Oregon Border Race:

1. It was all downhill (we didn’t know that until it was over).
2. Because it was all downhill, we talked a lot of the time.
3. Most of that talking was about how it was Nate’s first border race and he was being an idiot by breaking away so soon.
4. Angela beat me.
5. Nate beat everyone.

5 Great Things About Charlie:

1. He spent like 90% of his time on the ride trying to creep people out.
2. He was especially good at the “creepy face.”
3. He likes to breathe heavily on people.
4. He does a good accent (any variety).
5. He gives amazing teddy bear hugs.

5 Great Things About Zola’s Pizzeria in Brookings, OR:

1. The owners are originally from Austin, TX, and visiting with them was a much-needed slice of home.
2. They and their amazing employees fed us a ton of pizza and generally made us feel welcome.
3. They also had an outdoor concert going on, which reminded everyone of Austin.
4. There was an ice cream place next door to the restaurant, which was quite serendipitous.
5. They would join us for our dedications and hakka the next morning, choosing to participate in the hakka, one of the few people who took us up on it over the course of the ride (I guess it is a little intense).

The Single Best Thing About Day 36:

1. Nate Boes beating everyone in the Oregon border race…before retiring from pro cycling.

shirley - keep it up katFebruary 19, 2011 - 2:14 pm

Day 35 – Riches and Wonders

It’s kind of absurdly appropriate that on the halfway point to Alaska, we were at the height of our enjoyment of the coast and all it had to offer. We had never eaten so well – all the weight lost in the desert was instantaneously replaced after a few days in California. Fruit, chips, goldfish, a gigantic bag of M&M’s? Good lord. I promise, we did have hard days after the desert. They just weren’t in California.

As with all the food in Eureka, breakfast was perhaps the best we encountered on the ride. Yogurt – something we all missed, was plentiful, and their was homemade hot chocolate with homemade whipped cream. It pretty much doesn’t get any better than a morning like this.

Eureka also happened to be a mail drop, where we received a box from our Rockies counterparts. We were waiting to open it until we left town, honestly, because we were a tad concerned about its contents…

So we all waited in anticipation for the first rest stop, where we had decided to open the package. So we gathered round and David got out his pocket knife, and we proceeded to open the box. As you can see, it turned out there wasn’t much to worry about…the box was full of individually labeled gifts, one for each of us from one of our Rockies teammates. I had a nice little blue package that turned out to be from Fitch. What was inside is not really blog-PC… But you can see that E’s gift was 100% photographable.

They sent us a lovely copy of Where the Wild Things Are… with a sweet note and some gummi bears. And then we all felt bad for expecting a severed deer leg…

The ride overall was actually pretty windy and no small amount of work, especially the last stretch. Once we made it to Klamath, there were all sorts of surprises, and not particularly good ones, but nothing could really kill our spirits. We exchanged our trash-to-treasure gifts (and I finally gave away the FFA tie to Charlie), ate at possibly the worst restaurant in North America (and laughed and laughed about for days afterward), and visited the shady convenience store…but for some reason, we all still seemed to find it funny, rather than upsetting or difficult. Something about California, like I said. Oh, and the magic of Taylor’s newly received American flag bikini.

This was our last night in California – the land of riches and wonders.

We are strong, we are faithful,
We are guardians of a rare thing.
We pay close, careful attention to the news the morning air brings.
We show great loyalty to the hard times we’ve been through.

- The Mountain Goats, “Riches and Wonders”

A day in the life.

shirley - great katFebruary 11, 2011 - 7:49 am

Gina - Awesome!February 13, 2011 - 9:35 am

Day 34 – Zipping Through the Redwoods

“I never saw a discontented tree.  They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do.  They go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space heaven knows how fast and far!”

- John Muir

Breathe. Pedal. Stop – in awe, with wonder. There is something magic in this forest, something old, something mystic. Trees taller than any other living organism on Earth – just under 400 feet. That bottom branch there? Only 190 feet up. There are still over 150 feet of tree above it.

Not just tall though – wide. A dozen people in one of the (admittedly) smaller Redwoods. And there was still plenty of room for more. A ride with perfect weather, just the right temperature, and more or less perfectly flat or downhill. What more can you ask for in a day, except for such bliss as this?

Well, maybe, just maybe, the most amazing spread of food to greet you at Steve & Loretta’s in Eureka, CA. Fruit. A chocolate fountain. Cheese – my number one craving on the ride – so much cheese! Homemade sushi, chips & dips, vegetables, brie (!), and those were all the snacks before the meal. What. A. Day.

And so we stand together again, another family portrait, most in bare feet or socks or comfy shoes, smiling despite the chill, absurdly, insanely, unforgettably happy to be here, in Eureka, CA. And then, all the sudden, we were halfway to Anchorage.

Taylor - the only thing missing was swiss cake rolls.February 9, 2011 - 8:59 pm

shirley - kat, i do love to read of your trek to alaska. please finish it in time. mamaFebruary 10, 2011 - 7:44 am

Day 33 – Detour

One of the cool things that happens on the ride is that many hosts along the way work very hard to make our stay with them great in lots of small ways. One of those ways is often the meals they provide us with. For some reason, just about every meal I had on the ride (except in Klamath – more on that later) was amazingly delicious in my memory. Probably because I was ravenous 90% of the time.

You’d probably think that the variety is not very good in terms of what we’re served – that there’s a lot of pasta in the evening and eggs in the morning, but you’d actually be wrong. Even if the ingredients are the same, every place has a different take on it. When we woke up in Fort Bragg, we had one of the most awesome and inventive breakfasts of the ride: omelettes in a bag! I don’t think I’ve seen these since I was in Girl Scouts. It was a lot of fun to go through the topping assembly line and mix up our eggs in their Ziploc, only to be presented with a cooked omelette not too long afterward! Plus our wonderful hosts had lovingly written all our names on the bags. Amazing.

The ladies who made us breakfast, one of whom was named Laurie, I believe, and Pastor Dan were truly wonderful and kind to us. This photo is one of my favorites of the ride that I’m actually in (those are few and far between as you might have noticed…).

Once we actually made it out on the road, I was up front riding alone when I discovered that the bike path we had planned on taking just sort of….ended? So we all made a bit of a downhill trek to the road and got going again. It was a nice image, though, all of us just carrying our bikes down the hill.

The ride to Garberville was interesting, actually. It was Taylor’s SAG day so I took the opportunity for some alone time with my thoughts. There was a lot of climbing, and a lot of random construction on Highway 1 (there are constantly rock slides, fires, and other things causing damage to the highway there), and overall it was kind of a hard day.

The end of the ride was a long (9 miles, I think) 7% grade climb up from the ocean to the town, which was more inland. I’ll never forget at one point Taylor & Charlie (who was having derailleur issues) drove by me and Charlie yelled one of his infamous terrible pickup lines out the window at me. As always, he was able to bring a smile to my face on a rough climb.

At the final rest stop there was some pizza and a lot of hurried changing (at this point we’d all realized how much it sucked to ride any length of time in the van in your cycling shoes if you could avoid it) so that we could drive the last 15 miles into town. We all hate when we have to do this, but 101 loses the shoulder completely there and is very high traffic, and with 25 cyclists we can hardly expect (despite how nice it would be) cars to slow down.

After we made it to the church, I showered, ate, and then set to work on updating the master travel binder. Every time I work on it, I remember how much I love travel and all the work my committee put into it. Here’s to another day in the paradise that is Northern California!

Amira - I remember that day! I wrote the names on the omelette bags, girrrl :)February 9, 2011 - 10:44 pm