Peace Corps Coast to Coast: RPCV Cycling to 50th Anniversary Celebration in D.C.
By Erica Burman on Thursday, July 28th, 2011
It’s hard to believe, but NPCA’s September celebration of the Peace Corps’ 50th anniversary is fast approaching. People will be coming to Washington, D.C. from all over the country in order to be here for several days of reunions, advocacy, service, reflections, socializing and more. (Click here to see the complete, searchable, official Peace Corps 50th Anniversary Calendar. Look for an event; add an event.)
One Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) is already on his way. Via bicycle.
Thomas Camero left his home in Hood, Oregon on July 1 and his goal is to arrive on September 20th or 21st, in time for the September Peace Corps Anniversary celebrations in Washington, D.C. Along the way he’ll “promote the wonders of being a Peace Corps Volunteer” (Thomas was a Peace Corps and Crisis Corps Volunteer in Honduras, 1978-1980 and again in 2000). For this adventure, Tom is traveling minimalist style. “I am using a Bob trailer and plan to camp as weather and body allow. I’ll have my guitar, tent, stove, and minimum cooking stuff. I am a back-of-the-pack rider and often stop at brew pubs.”
His route, using Adventure Cycling Association’s bike route maps and data, has him turning right out of his driveway, riding two blocks and connecting with the Lewis and Clark Trail to Missoula (via Columbia River Gorge, Walla Walla, and Lewiston). From Missoula he’ll follow the TransAm Trail thru Yellowstone, the Tetons, and Rockies to Virginia. At the suggestion of National Peace Corps Vice President Anne Baker, he’ll take the W&OD Trail for the last 45 miles to get into D.C.
At the moment, he’s en route to Fairplay, Colorado, where he’ll be visiting Honduras RPCVs Jon Lind and Leslie Hughes on July 29.
We haven’t met Thomas in person yet, but from his correspondence, he strikes us a rather sociable guy. He writes:
I knew I wanted to be a Peace Corps volunteer when JFK said he was looking for folks that would like to be somewhere amazing, learn a language, and be part of a new group of US diplomats. It took me three tries to be sworn-in as a PCV, and my experiences in Honduras (78-80) provided me the background to expand my engineering skills and secure some great overseas jobs.
I followed my Peace Corps service by working a long while in rural Alaska, again in Honduras with my family, Panama, and three Afghanistan contracts with the UN, NGOs, and international engineering companies on water, sanitation, and other infrastructure projects. The skills I learned as a PCV (bucket baths, boiling water, no electricity) gave me the ability to adapt to the unforeseen and come out smiling. Most of the time. You know.
I plan to share my stories on the bike ride with like minded Peace Corps sorts; laughing, singing, and telling/hearing those celebrated tales of woe for almost 12 weeks. So far there are about 19 interested in participating. One friend will be riding with me for the first month, many from Hood River will accompany me the first day, Leslie from my Honduras group will join me on a tandem with her husband in Colorado (riding over 11,480’ Hoosier Pass), two friends are coming up from Virginia to ride the last 45 miles to D.C. And there are a good number threatening to ride the last few miles with me/us. I will have Peace Corps 50th ride numbers printed to send to everyone and to also distribute as souvenirs to all I meet along the way.
All Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and future Peace Corps Volunteers are welcome to join the ride anywhere on the trail — and join Thomas “for a beer, mocha, or oatmeal along the way.” If interested contact Thomas Camero at email@example.com. Thomas has also created a site called “Peace Corps 50 Bike to DC” to share pictures and stories. I’d like you to be a member of the site, check it out at http://peacecorps50biketodc.shutterfly.com/.