We met Chris Bornstein when he was camping next to us in Shawnee National Forest last weekend.
He was traveling light. No tent, no car. Just a bicycle, a tarp to keep it (and him) dry if it rained, and a bivvy sack to sleep in.
He’s 34, from Lancaster, Penn., and he was a few weeks into what he hopes will be a trip around the world.
Bornstein is calling his trip “Pedaling for Peace.” He told us he hopes to find small, local charities in the countries he visits and volunteer or raise money for them through his website.
"I can be like an ambassador, almost. Go out and show people in other countries we’re not all bad," he said.
After he left Shawnee last Sunday morning, he was headed to Cape Girardeau, Mo. He helped build a trail at Trail of Tears State Park, along the Mississippi River, and he spoke to a group at Southeast Missouri State University, according to his Facebook page.
Bornstein started his ride in August, and he averages about 80 miles a day when he's riding hard. But he's not on a tight time schedule, and if he wants to stay in a place and check it out, he does it. He said he spent more than a week in Kentucky.
He's riding a Specialized Tricross bike he bought off Craigslist, and he has one sponsor, Kenda Tires, plus other organizations who've made donations to him, whether it's maps or equipment.
He either camps or stays in homes he finds through CouchSurfing.org.
Bornstein told us he planned to go to Memphis, then west to California before heading into Mexico.
"It's been a pretty amazing trip so far," he said. "It makes me proud to be an American again ... There are way more good people than bad people."
No matter how far Bornstein goes on his trip, I admire that he started on something he believes in.