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The Year in Review

On the last day of 2015, I’d like to reflect on the last 12 months and some of the highlights…

  • Reunion with the Teaching Drum to bring the journey full circle
  • Distance from social media
  • Amazing leaps in carpentry knowledge in the restoration of old buildings and general handyman confidence through trial and error
  • Resisted the temptation to cut my hair
  • Guardian training
  • An honest attempt at working two part-time jobs, unsuccessfully.
  • Developed and delivered a handful of presentations on The Fox Trails for local libraries.
  • Attended the community building workshop in Chicago -Insightful
  • A successful season of harvest: Leeks, Suckers, Wild Rice, Black Walnuts, Cisco fishing -Bountiful
  • Completed the first 8-day Wilderness Canoe Immersion -Intense
  • Wrote half a book and scrapped it. Started again with a fresh perspective -Humbling
  • Read approximately 80 books with a focus on nature and mythology -Inspiring
  • Made a music video with the family band -Fun
  • Successfully dismantled and removed an entire car from the swamp behind the school. It’s been back there since the early 60’s.
  • Learned more about what I do and don’t want in romantic relationships -Exciting
  • Huge improvements in guitar knowledge and I picked up the harmonica

It’s been another wonderful year of growth. I’m living a very unorthodox lifestyle but I love what I’m learning and I’m happy with where I am and excited about where I’m going. Balance seems to be the theme that keeps showing itself to me and I’ll be looking at that with the coming months.

Happy New Year!

-Fox

 

Adventurous Read

This book review is touching. For anyone that’s read The Fox Trails, you know that I held no punches and didn’t censor myself in sharing. It’s all in there -the good, the bad, and the ugly. What touched me about this particular review is how the reader shared her vulnerability and the process of judgement that she went through while taking in the material. I appreciate that honesty and I encourage others to share their thoughts on the book. Reviews are always welcome! I would love to have some fresh opinions like this shared on the amazon page as there’s only been 6 reviews and each are 5 stars. I invite all feedback, especially criticism; it’s important for potential customers. http://www.amazon.com/The-Fox-Trails-Adventure-Mississippi/dp/1499734166

Next month will mark the one-year anniversary of the book release! Much appreciation for the support.

Happy Trails,

-MJ

A Bookworm's View

The Fox Trails:  A Bicycle Adventure Along the Mississippi River by Michael Jason Fox was a wild ride!  When I first picked up the book, I figured it would be a typical travel guide highlighting destinations and sights along the Mississippi.  I was really surprised when I realized it is more of a deeply personal journey of self-discovery in addition to the stories about people and places encountered along the way.  The writing style was unique in that each chapter of the book recounts events that happened in one day, thus the book is 31 chapters and his bicycle journey lasted 31 days.  Along with sharing his personal experiences he includes historical facts about Mark Twain, various places and events involving the Mississippi and other landmarks.

The book is a fine example of storytelling but at times I was shocked by the sheer honesty of the author as he recounts…

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Miss oula la

Dear friends,

Sunday August 17th, I arrived in Missoula and this is what I rolled into:

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..The Naked Bike Ride..it went through the city and twisted the titties of religious groups and city officials. First amendment, man. I watched these girls jump off the bridge into the Clark Fork River and it was something else to chase after them, jiggling and making eye contact with a father and his children, passing by them to follow suit and take my naked leap into the cold water. Freedom is what we’re splashing around in here. What a way to welcome a touring cyclist!

Missoula is also home to the headquarters of the Adventure Cycling Association.

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They were excited to see me and Julie Huck takes a Polaroid to add to the collection on the travel board.

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Hundreds of touring cyclists make it to Missoula for a visit each summer and I’m merely one of them. Or am I? My unorthadox approach to traveling by bicycle catches the eye of Greg Siple, Art Director and photographer in charge of the adventure archives. Greg occasionally does a photo shoot with a cyclist like myself. He uses an old camera with black and white film to preserve the history in a consistent fashion. We speak about my journey and my explorations of freedom with this timely arrival. After the photos, we winch my bicycle onto the scale and its weight reads 123 pounds. I guessed 150 but Greg says the average is between 50 and 70 pounds, the highest ever being 280. The more I have with me, the less free I feel though, real baggage or not and my habits of consumption seem to weigh me down whenever I enter a larger city. Eating exotically, smoking and drinking and women specifically: these are the temptations that taunt me most and they seem to be right in line with the desires of the young majority as well. I take a snapshot of myself and the culture in modern-day Montana’s big cities along the 90, and I save those details for The Fox Trails archives.

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I saw the confluence of three powerful rivers become the Missouri back in Three Forks.

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I climbed over mountain passes, braved the storms and bathed in the mountain rain.

it looks like the spaceship from independence day

the spaceship from independence day?

…and that rain came and flowed in tiny streams that joined together to form a mini-missouri, and the humble river shows me the microcosm of the life cycle and the magic of water.

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Today marks one month on the road. Half of this time has been on the saddle observing the land and half has been spent in the company of wild characters in new cities. I’m moving on through Coeur d’Alene and Spokane, WA is the next stop. The biggest hills are behind me now but I continue to climb the mountain of self and in order to reach the summit..I’ll have to lose some baggage, peel off more layers and face the freedom song for real. Missoula, you beautiful mirror.. thank you for the reflections.

Yellowstone or the Bozeman Pass?

Dear Friends,

We last spoke in Miles City. That was a hot day. 90 something with a blazing sun but I caught a tailwind and let it shove me west over the hills. Wild horses in Rosebud and I found this decorative sign too..

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As you can see, I am hauling some dangerous weight there dangling from my handlebars. I wouldn’t recommend any cyclist should attempt what I do.

Climbing high, I descended a monster downhill into Forsyth. With my phone recording video, I held on with one-hand at 30 mpr until I had to bite my phone and cling on for dear life. The video wasn’t even that cool. 

F is for Fox

F is for Fox

The wind is a such factor. I hope we can work together like that more often. At the local fishing access, I meet Rob and Shannon from Billings and they catch a half dozen catfish while I sip my beer by the river. I did get a little tipsy but do remember singing a song before bed by the fire, standing on my head. Still though, I’m up with the sun in the morning and I pushed on to Hysham to spend some time in the Treasure County Museum. I’ve been following the frontage roads along the 94 and this Old Highway 10 is one of the oldest interstate highway routes in the nation. It dates back 1912.

The Yellowstone Trail

The Yellowstone Trail

Another scorching day and I stop at the Howery Island Recreation Area for a cool down in the river where I meet a couple of kids from Minneapolis. Small world. I camp in Custer for the night. Poor Custer. The city they named after him only has 145 residents.

August 10th comes and it’s Poppa Fox’s birthday so I give him a call with the new sun. Down the road I reach Pompeys Pillar National Monument where William Clark left his signature on the rock in 1806. This signature is the only remaining physical evidence of the Corps of Discovery’s trip.030

032The view from up top was worth the climb.

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I found it most enjoyable that my entrance into the park was free since I operate a human powered vehicle. Cars pay $7.00. Back to it.

Trucks were flying by me on the frontage road. The 312 is a nightmare but I arrived safely in Billings, which is the largest city in Montana with a population of 105,000 people. I roll up on a bike trail right away and start to explore. Along the river down by the tracks, I find the jungle. 8 traveling kids sit around passing a bottle and I pull up and join them. They’re welcoming and friendly. They all have tattoos, depictions of train cars and whatnot -these kids ride the rails. Boxcar babies. “We don’t ride boxcars, we ride the grainers,” says Montana Blue. I see two three-legged dogs hobbling around. Blue has a heart on his arm and inside reads: Mama Tried. He also has “Fuck, Fuck” right across the forearm and some train tracks below his eye. Look for yourself…

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These kids have some crazy stories. They’ve been all over.

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I break out the guitar and we all pass it around and sing a few songs while we have a drink.

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Pretty soon a train rolls in and they’re all off for the races. I camp alone that night and wonder where they’ll go and what they’ll do. I watch the sunrise on the river. I could use some extra funding for the road so I looked for a cash job in town while I had coffee at the bakery. I got anxious though and prepared to leave and just then a man walks up, wondering if I need any work. He wears sandals and his hair is grey and longer than mine. Yes, it turns out he smokes pot too but he puts me to work with Adventure Gardens and work we do. I’ve always enjoyed landscaping and working in the shade with a hippie boss isn’t too bad. He paid me cash at the end of the day and even bought me dinner at the Golden Corral. Thanks Mike White.

My friend Rob who I met back in Forsyth gives me a ring and we hook up to have a beer at his favorite microbrewery, Angry Hanks. I haven’t had an IPA since Minnesota. I crashed at his place that night and found out Robin Williams died. Damn. If you’ve never seen the movie What Dreams May Come, that’s definitely one of my favorite Williams flicks. If today is what you make it then I have no time for sadness. I pass through Laurel and Park City, meeting some nice folks. I couldn’t resist taking this photo when I saw the sign…

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Coming down a gnarly hill, I reach top speed and zing around a corner to find a herd of free range cattle. I zig-zagged through without any beef..

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This country is beautiful,

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the rain can come at any moment though.

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…and so I made it to Big Timber which put my day at a little over 80 miles. Not too bad for all the breaks and down time I took. Big Timber is about 50 miles from the Bozeman Pass. I expected to see that today but I find myself in Livingston at the library, relaxing and preparing for camp. The wind was ridiculous out there..

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I’d rather be writing or playing my guitar when the wind is this strong. It was such a battle to remain positive in thought and spirit. Rather than fight it, I decided to rest and do some maintenance on myself and the machine. Bozeman Pass and her nearly 6,000 feet will still be there tomorrow but I’m still undecided on something..should I go south and see Yellowstone again or push over the mountain to Bozeman??? I’ll have to sleep on that..suggestions and comments welcome. Until next time..

Happy Trails,

-MJ

My Cover Story

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This photograph has quite the story…

A few year back, I took a road trip out west on a solo camping excursion to Yellowstone National Park in search of solitude and time for reflection. My views on money were evolving and I’d come to despise the greed and consumption in my life. I lit a campfire in the park that first night and incinerated a little over $2,000 cash –up in flames. Money can be a wonderful kindling. It was a silly thing to do looking back at it now, but at the time, that moment was an empowering act of freedom and the fire symbolizes the beginning of a path that would eventually lead me to The Fox Trails.

After camping in Yellowstone, I decided to drive up to Glacier and explore another one of our country’s great National Parks. On the way there, I drove through the small town of Seeley Lake, Montana and passed by a large hand-painted wooden sign that grabbed my attention. I turned the car around for a closer look and stepped out of the vehicle with the goose bumps of synchronicity as I gazed upon this painting that had caught my eye. It showed the depiction of a fox, sitting next to a campfire with a mountain backdrop and the inscription beneath the sign read, THE FOXFIRE.  After burning that money and having my Into the Wild moment a few nights prior to this, you can imagine why this discovery hit me so close to the heart. I took a few photographs before leaving to continue on to Glacier.

Fast forward to now…with The Fox Trails on the verge of publication, I returned to the photo that I captured in Seeley Lake, imagining how perfect it would be as the cover art for the book. That’s when I noticed a tiny signature in the bottom corner that I’d previously overlooked. The artist signed the painting -Teshia. A little digging around and I found her to be an active painter living in Montana who specializes in contemporary wildlife pieces. I decided to send her a message and to my surprise, she replied and gave me some interesting information. At the age of 16, she was commissioned by Arno Pulici to paint “The Foxfire” as a double-sided outdoor sign for his local restaurant which unfortunately burned down in 2007. This painting would mark the beginning of what would become a successful career as an artist.

I am proud to announce that I’ve been graciously granted the permission to use the image of this original artwork for The Fox Trails. I am honored to have such a special story behind the cover of this first book. It represents freedom and adventure, the fire within, the path of the heart and it takes me back to that magic Montana moment where I started on this trail to where I am today.

You can learn more about Teshia and her amazing artwork @ http://teshiaart.com/about.  Give it a look, buy a painting. My designer and I will be doing a cover unveiling in a few days!

-MJ

The Argonauts

The Argonauts

My new friend Scott Stoll, author of Falling Uphill, shared one of my stories on the Argonauts page. Sweet! Check out his book, this guy biked around the world! I hope you’re enjoying the spring weather and staying active. I have so much going on right now and I’m getting ready to share an exciting update with you soon.

-Mj

 

Biking with a Guitar

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“Bicycles are almost as good as guitars for meeting girls.” ~ Bob Weir Grateful Dead

Read Chapter 5 from my upcoming book, it’s about: bicycles, guitars, and girls…https://michaeljasonfox.wordpress.com/2014/04/12/chapter-5/

#BikeMonth

May is Bike Month!

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Bicycling is a big part of the future. It has to be. There’s something wrong with a society that drives a car to workout in a gym. ~ Bill Nye the Science Guy

Hello friends,

In honor of Bike Month, I’ll be sharing a bicycle related quote like the one above -everyday in May. I hope you can get out there and enjoy life on two wheels. Ride to work, ride to school, just ride.

For more information on Bike Month…http://bikeleague.org/bikemonth

I’ll see you out there!

-MJ