An Ode to the Pacific


Pacific, my princess, waved me in

with unwavering winds.

Innately calm, I am, culminating in

A kiss to her coast, locked lips

Licking hops in a toast:

Cheers! To the sweat, pain, and tears

To Adversity Road

Hotly paved by despondency

Lined and cracked with my fears –




Much better, always

to bespeak future peace

to just


Be here, on this beach.


The brevity of my moment

eclipsed by eternity.

Infinite sand and most loyal sun

when on earth had this journey begun?

I wasn’t I, couldn’t have been

Stark presence, the prescience

Precedes my mind’s eye

Squinting far, scanning wide



Toward the dawn of time.

On that horizon, incessant searching never finds

But in searching ceased, am found

Approaching the aurora of Absolute Truth


Pacific, my princess, waves me farewell.

Sun sinks, and I arise; our-eyes surfacing

On the brink of twilight sublime

where last wink scintillates

across the ocean of time.

Dusk of this journey

sparkles infinitely into eternity.

Cycles of this summer –

Spinning spokes of my youth.



I’ve kept an ongoing list of generosities during my travels, and I’d like to offer thanks now to the extraordinary brothers, sisters, spirits, and sages I’ve had the privilege, pleasure, and honor of intersecting. Certainly, gestures of love have been overlooked and missed, and I apologize in advance for anyone I’ve missed.

Madison, WI: Lucky’s Bar – free cheese curds and a round of drinks from “Captain”

Madison, WI: Sophia and Abbie for opening their homes to Nick, Evan, and I

Pikes Peak State Park, IA: Martín – food and a lodging hook-up in the Big Horn Mountains

Pikes Peak State Park, IA: Bruce – Knowledge, route to Decorah, groceries, use of grill

Decorah, IA: Bill and Jo – Encouraging us to “Say Yes”, use of their guest house

Decorah, IA: Deke from the bike shop – Beers, cooking us dinner, letting us play frisbee with his dog that has a better catching percentage than I do

Farmland, IA: Dwight “Bear Hands” and Ruth – opening their home and barn on a whim, ice cream, breakfast, and lawn chair

Osage, IA: Mark, local animal control officer – for being in the right place at the right time for us and Ninjak

Osage, IA: Tony, Laura, Zoe, and Anna – Opening their Garaj-Mahal, making us Tony’s famous Sunday morning pancakes, and connecting us with…

Mason City, IA: Kyle – Air mattress, homemade pizza from scratch, homemade chocolate-mint waffles from scratch for breakfast

Mason City, IA: Subway Manager for three free foot-long subs and an entire box of cookies

Clear Lake, IA: Random unknown family for buying us cheese toast

Bancroft, IA: The mayor for a free round of the Bancroft Burger and space to camp in the local park where we built a monkey-bar hammock fort

Spirit Lake, IA: Brent and Sandy for treating us to round one of our breakfast at the local diner

Rock Rapids, IA: Lou and Shari’s Kitchen for free breakfast and rain cover

Rapid City, SD: Glenn in Econo Lodge lobby for two Fat Tires, guitar playing, and conversation

Sturgis, SD: Dave for the box of granola bars

Spearfish, SD: The Lynch’s – hospitality, use of tree house for camping

Spearfish, SD: Connection Church and their summer college intern staff – Lunch, conversations, encouragement, geographic balance, laughter, community

Sundance, WY: Reuter Canyon Campground – Mike and Laurie for one of the most refreshing beers, dinner (chicken, brats, potatoes, corn, salad, milk, beer, pecan pie – I mean, come on! I don’t eat this well at home!), company, conversation, breakfast (Egg scramble, ham, pancakes, coffee!), their love, faithful encouragement, and one of the most unique gifts of my journey, a $2 bill scented with oils from Jerusalem (offered with the quick comedic caveat, “It’s not because we think you’re queer!” … y’know, the old saying queer as a two-dollar bill)

Sundance, WY: Reuter Canyon Campground – Paul the campground host for giving me a hitch up to Devil’s Tower and offering quite a tour through the mountains to get there

Wyoming: Cam Navis for the camaraderie, companionship, and camping adventures

Jackson, WY: Motel host for free extra breakfast snacks to stash for the ride

Jackson, WY: Molly for hosting, great conversation, dinner to share, and encouraging me to go up the Teton Pass and to use the Old Pass Road

Victor, ID: Gene for hosting, breakfast, and advice to attend the free music, food, and beer festivities happening in the heart of the town after I came down the Teton Pass that night

Victor ID: Victor Brewing for a great Two-Hearted-esque IPA

Idaho Falls, ID: Carolyn for tent space and the nostalgic joy of enjoying a couple beers on the porch (which consequentially led me to meeting the “only three Detroit Lions fans in Idaho”)

Idaho Falls, ID: Ron (in his Sleeping Bear Dunes shirt) and wife from South Bend for conversation and coming back to offer me $20 for lunch

Craters of the Moon National Monument, ID: Tochel for hitch and revealing a hidden hot spring to me

Fairfield, ID: Randy and Laura for use of their guesthouse and an amazing breakfast

Boise, ID: The Mallea’s for letting me stay two nights with them, achieving sleep like a deceased governor, food, and July 4th fun

Middleton, ID: Jamie, Emellia, and Adam for revealing the Smurf Turf, lunch, conversation, and encouragement

Brogan, OR: Geoff and Jan from Australia for offering me coffee and toast in the morning, the wonderful conversation, and ensuing adventures. Really, there is so much I could say about the time spent with these two new mates of mine. Saw them two more times between Brogan and the coast, the final intersection actually occurring in Florence, on the coast, where I camped with them the night of my arrival.

Eugene, OR: Therese my cousin! Shelter, food, laughter, tours of Eugene, relaxation, and a bountiful bar-hopping tour

Final 10 miles: With an absurd head wind, three London blokes who had ridden from Virginia caught up with me and offered to let me draft with them. Yes, yes I’d love to.

Florence, OR: Beachcomber’s bartender for accidentally pouring Jager instead of Iced Tea (similar spouts right next to one another behind the bar) and giving it to me. Cheers!

Sporadic cities and towns: Thank you to all that sent me letters, packages, etc. I am so grateful and was so encouraged to hear from you. Your words and gifts propelled my journey, and I hope to respond to all letters soon, whether in person or by mail.


-Benjamichigan out


About Ben Stark

My name is Ben Stark, no relation to Tony or the House Stark. B.A. in Sociology from Calvin College Preferred mode of transportation: Bicycle, Ice Skates, Feet Currently pursuing Adventure as Vocation Let's cross paths!
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