Met this guy Ronny in Weldon, NC on a leisurely ride thru the back roads coming back from a photo shoot in Raleigh. Our meeting was strange only in its randomness and the pull I felt towards him.
He is 71 years old and lives in central Florida. He decided to ride his bike to Long Island, NY to see his brother. Yes, Florida to New York. When I asked why he responded simply with "Why not?". He brought little money and relies on the kindness of strangers for food. Water refills come from gas stations and such. He is taking rural back roads whenever possible to avoid traffic and because "people are nicer" along them. He sleeps in a pup tent wherever he finds a suitable place off the road. Bathes in rivers and lakes. His bike had to be 30 years old, very simple with only his belongings weighing it down. Said he's been going off his route to visit interesting places, in Virginia he's going to see Mt. Vernon and Stratford Hall.
Well-spoken and extremely intelligent, he was drafted by the army into the Korean War and then graduated from RIT with a degree in woodworking and furniture design though most of his work life has been on citrus farms in Florida.
Of the trip he says, "We need to go back to simpler ways of living. We'll all have to some day." At one point during our conversation he wondered aloud if he would be able to make it to NY in time to see his cousins visiting from Sweden, and laughingly asked me "Is it July yet?". Told him it was June 26th and he thought he probably wouldn't make it in time, "Maybe next time" he said.
After an hour or so we wished each other well and I asked if I could take his picture. He agreed and then described in rich detail an old Minolta twin-lens reflex he use to have.
I asked if he needed anything and he refused, saying he had plenty. So incredibly true.