Adventure stories with Jeff Bullock and Casey Zmich

This year, I had
the opportunity to interview Casey Zmich, who lives just outside of Buffalo,
and Jeff Bullock, a graduate of Grand Island High School, who now lives in
North Carolina. Both of them told me about their adventures. Casey, who
describes himself as “66 years young,” rode 16,000 miles on his bicycle between
July of 2016 and September of 2017. Jeff Bullock, 32, started hiking the
Appalachian Trail in March 2017. He completed the hike in October. The
Appalachian Trail is approximately 2,100 miles. Neither Casey nor Jeff is
finished with having big adventures. Casey said that he would like to ride his
bicycle south, through the United States, Mexico, Central America, and to the
southern tip of South America. Jeff said that his next goal is to hike the
Pacific Crest Trail, from the U.S. border with Mexico to the U.S. border with Canada.
It goes through three states: California, Oregon, and Washington.
Here are some of
the stories that Jeff and Casey shared with me:
photograph provided courtesy of Jeff Bullock
Jeff: In Virginia,
there’s this place called MacAffee Knob, and the closest city is Salem,
Virginia. It’s like the rock formation in The Lion King. You can sit on the
edge. I was there for a couple of hours to watch the sun rise. When I left
there, about five miles down the trail, is a cliff called Tinker Cliff. I was eating
lunch, sitting on the cliff. To my left about twenty feet away was a huge
diamond back rattlesnake. I froze. My only options were to go to the right
slowly or jump off the cliff that I was sitting on. I went to the right. I got
away from the rattlesnake.

I would often see five rattlesnakes a day through
Virginia and Pennsylvania. Also, in Pennsylvania, there is a section called the
Roller Coaster. You go up and you go
down for fourteen miles. It was exhausting. I actually remember the day. June
21st, the longest day of the year. It was when the weather alerts warned that you
should not be outside because of the humidity. We were outside, and I was
drenched in sweat. It was horrible. At the end of the day, me and a guy I was
hiking with ended up at the oldest hostel on the trail. For thirty dollars, you
got a bunk, a pint of ice cream, a large pizza, and they did your laundry. I
showered, too.
Casey (on
interesting places that he visited):
Winwood in Miami. It’s part of the town
that was graffitied. Artists came in and painting the buildings with beautiful
art. Businesses began to open up again, and it’s a revived community. Art was
the key to reviving the community.
It was a strange
way that I was seeing it. I was at an avocado farm for four days in Homestead, twenty
miles south of Miami. Gabriela, a warm shower host, needed my assistance to put
up a display at a convention hall in Miami for AirBnB, and she showed me
Winwood and treated to a dinner for my assistance in helping her set up the
I made Key West
for their fantasy fest party during the last ten days of October. It’s like a
Key West Mardi Gras. The main costume is body paint. There are certain people
who don’t mind running around the streets, wearing nothing but body paint. Some
of them were very nice designs. Some of the people were very good, and they
were nice to look at. It was a crazy time. After being entertained, I headed
north to Homestead, where I stayed at the avocado farm for four days and helped
Gabriela when she was doing the exhibit on Saturday morning in Miami. I was
tending to her AirBnB guests, giving them breakfast and cleaning up. Also
showing them the farm and letting them have some avocados.  People wanted avocados, and I gave them four
Jeff: I got off
trail in New York to spend a couple of days in my aunt and uncle’s house. They
are actually in New Jersey. I saw a couple of bears in Pennsylvania and a couple
of bears in New York. One was thirty feet away, the other was ten to twenty
yards away. Then there is this one shelter (a lean to) that I stayed at. On a
clear day, and it was a clear day, off in the distance, you could see the whole
New York City skyline. It was quite a sight. It was nice. Then I got back on
the trail in New Jersey. The trail actually goes through Bear Mountain Zoo. It’s
not a huge zoo. It was nice to slow down and look at the animals. Connecticut
was really muddy. There was a boardwalk that you walk on. You go through
marshes and swampy areas. Then, in Massachusetts, I met back up with one of the
buddies I was with in New York because he had to get off the trail to meet with
Casey, talking
about the ride to San Diego:
 …where I
had to climb my highest pass, the Emery Pass, in New Mexico, which was 8,220
feet. It was absolutely gorgeous. So it took me about twenty more days to enter
into San Diego, where I stayed a few days at a warm showers host and went
around sightseeing in San Diego. Then I rode with a deaf gentleman named Tony
Bruno. When I registered us both to ride through a military base called Camp
Pendleton, I noticed his birthday and that he is a day older than me. He detoured
to Las Vegas, and I continued north on the Pacific Coast Highway. Snuck through
Los Angeles and got to see the beautiful coastline of the Pacific Ocean.
Highway 1 out there is beautiful. Unfortunately, the area that I wanted to see,
Big Sur, had a landslide so I couldn’t go over there. So me and a young
gentleman named Daniel from England, who rode with me had to ride up to highway
101 and go that way around Big Sur. Daniel was in a hurry, went ahead and went
to Vancouver where he caught a plane to Australia.
There is a town
of Venice, and it has not changed from the 1960s; it is still an old hippie town.
All of the artistry and everything is from the ‘60s and the people are from the
‘60s, too.
Jeff: Vermont was
nice. It was the green mountain state. It was still hot in Vermont, so we came
across a lot of ponds. We pretty much swam in every single one of them. I ended
up meeting up with some other people from my group. We went to Killington, the highest
peak in Vermont, and it is one of the best ski resort. We went right by there and
if you want you can do a side trail to Killington Peak. It’s not right on the
trail. We took a picture f the ski lift and the lodge. There were a lot of
suspension bridges in Vermont. We crossed them. They were on the trail. 

Shrewsbury, Vt., there was a post mark sign that said you have 500 miles to the
end. It was crazy and insane that we had just 500 miles left. I was in Vermont for
July 29th to August 13th, about two weeks. The people in Vermont call it
Vermud. It was really, really muddy. Some people got caught in a mud pool. It
came halfway up their bodies. They were stuck halfway in the mud. It didn’t
happen to me, luckily. It was fun and entertaining. I wasn’t with them at the
time. I saw them afterwards, and that’s exactly what happened.
Casey: I ventured
into Portland, where immediately I saw a marijuana store. I never thought that
I would see the day when they were selling marijuana outright like that. Then
the Tidal Pool areas of Oregon were absolutely gorgeous. Portland is very
bicycle-friendly and all-around friendly type of a city. Washington was a very
nice state. Mount St. Helen’s, Rainier, Mount Adam, and Mount Hood. That’s where
I caught my ferry ride from Los Angeles to Vancouver Island, the city of Victoria
in British Columbia. There’s where I began my ride through British Columbia to
Prince George onward to White Horse. And the Yukon. And venturing over to
Anchorage, Alaska.

Alaska is great.
Make sure you have rain gear because it is a large north American rain
forest. You never know when it will be warm and
when it will be cold; the temperatures change during the night. I like the
mountains and the landscape. I was in Alaska during two weeks of June and two
weeks of July. I enjoyed riding in the twilight of the night because it was
never actually dark. You get to see most of the animals eating along the
side of the road. I saw several grizzly bears eating with cubs along the side
of the road. Moose wandering around. It was less traffic because everyone was
asleep. Several times, I rode until four in the morning. They say it’s the last
of the wilderness. Just have to be careful where you put your food because the
bears will smell it out. There were some nice steep descents into Anchorage. 

Question: What sort of adventure would you like to have? Think big and talk abut your dream adventure in the comments section. I will share your comments in a future post.

3 thoughts on “Adventure stories with Jeff Bullock and Casey Zmich”

  1. Wow! The duo are quite adventurous. Interesting to read about their adventure trails.
    I am not an adventure enthusiast, but if I have to think big, may be cycling in the hills would be my dream adventure. 🙂

  2. It's so interesting to hear these kinds of stories! And I really admire people with this kind of thirst for adventure. They seem so free. I, on the other hand, have no sense of adventure. For me, what I would want to do, as an adventure, if I had the courage is take a long vacation somewhere I have always wanted to visit, like Ireland or Italy or Paris. To be honest, I can't imagine taking that kind of trip. I went to Canada once, to get married, and that's the only time I have ever been out of the country.

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