Gandhi — The Man Behind the Myth

gandhi mumbai-mani-bhavan home
Gandhi’s home in Mumbai for 15 years

gandhi dw at ashram
The Gandhi statue at Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India

I used to say that my three biggest heroes of the 20th century were Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Churchill. Then I visited Ireland and discovered what Churchill had done there. I read further about Churchill’s actions in South Africa, and about how adamant Churchill was about continuing Britannica’s empire after WWII. So my reassessment of Churchill is that he was a major hero of WWII, but not much else.
About Martin Luther King (MLK): So he had affairs. Perhaps lots of them. It doesn’t bother me that much. Did it affect his commitment to the oppressed and the poor? Not that I can see. In my books, he was and is a great man. I doubt that I could have remained non-violent as he did, if I had experienced all that he had.

Now I come to Gandhi. MLK idolized Gandhi. So had I. I have now visited three Gandhi museums/memorials. There is one more in Tamil that I have yet to visit.
In 1993, I visited the National Gandhi Museum in New Delhi. I arrived first thing on Monday morning, and I had the entire small museum to myself. I was most touched by the life-sized diorama of Gandhi’s possessions at the end of his life. Everything he owned weighed less than 15 kilos total. Two changes of clothes, his spectacles, bowl, utensils, and of all things, his cotton-spinning top. He made his clothes and wove the cotton for them. He himself washed them by hand. He insisted on doing it this way, for as he stated, “My life is my statement.”
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One of the World’s Most Traveled Bicyclists, and the School of the Americas (SOA)

George christensen rode his bike from Chicago to Columbus, Georgia to participate in the SOA-Watch demonstration. To read about George’s bicycling exploits, go to

Every morning we rode around the historic and beautiful city of of Columbus, Georgia

There is not an official log for who has ridden the most miles on a bicycle ever in a lifetime. The only good logs are self-kept. One has to trust the integrity of the cyclist on this one.

#1. Freddie Hoffman has ridden his bicycle over 1 million miles, and he is still riding.
#2. Then there is Chris Davis, a 70-something Englishman who has ridden at least 960,000 mile.
#3. And then, George Christensen, who has perhaps 700,000 miles and still counting. Most of his miles were with a fully loaded bike. George carries 60 pounds of gear with him when he is touring. That is twice what I carry. He has done it by bicycle touring, by only traveling with a bike (no car) and by being a bicycle messenger.

I first met George in the late 80’s in Chicago. A mutual friend took us to dinner. George was mostly the silent one at the table. What he said was interesting, but he did not volunteer much. I was working heavy in high tech in down town Chicago at the time while he was, of all things, a bicycle messenger. It wasn’t like I thought we had a lot in common. But periodically, George would ride his bicycle out from downtown Chicago to my home in Skokie, about ten miles north of downtown Chicago, for a visit. At the time I thought, “Wow. A long way for city riding.” We had known each other for years before he thought it worthwhile to mention that he had ridden his bike from Chicago up to Alaska, down to the tip of South America, across Australia, the USA, Europe, and numerous other places. When the Chicago Bears was in the 1986 super bowl, George rode his bike from Chicago in 15 degree temperatures to New Orleans. Then he stood out front with a sign asking for a free ticket for the super bowl. He explained to Bears fans how he had gotten to New Orleans. He did not get one, but he enjoyed watching the game in a local bar.
“George, why didn’t you tell me that?”
“Well, you didn’t ask.”
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Testing my new titanium hip with a bicycle

A month after my hip replacement surgery
A month after my hip replacement surgery

I have not posted any bicycle journeys for 2 years. This was because I had developed an increasingly severe, crippling pain in my left leg and hip. I had begun walking with a limp. I figured that in my late 60’s, this was arthritis and simply the price of aging and that the bear had not caught me. In the archaeological record, men rarely lived beyond 40. So, be it.
A doctor examined my leg and told me I had a torn groin muscle. Ow, because by the Spring of 2015, it was beginning to hurt terribly. I was teaching at Missouri State in Springfield, Missouri and I had managed to ride my bicycle the two miles EVERY day (like in EVERY) for the first seven months of school. I had also climbed the 94 stairs to my office EVERY day without taking the elevator once.
But then one day in late March of 2015, it happened. I could not get out of bed. The pain was too bad. I have always thought that I could take pain with the best of them. But now I found myself paralyzed. I could no longer walk without crutches. Time to get an MRI.
The results came back with urgency. I had no torn groin muscle. I had a completely deteriorated head of my left femur bone. No cartilage remaining, with floating bone chips and a deteriorated acetabulum on my hip. I also had some internal bleeding. This explained the bruising on my left thigh.
My choices were simple: walk with crutches and a walker, in pain, for the rest of my life, or hip replacement surgery. The radiologist and doctor said that I had waited too long before getting my MRI and I now needed emergency surgery. There was no other choice. When would I be ready? Right now. They put me on a waiting list.
They had to first test me to see if I were a good candidate for surgery. The EKG, urine, and blood tests were all fine. Good basic systemic health. My problem has always been wearing parts out: cartilage surgery on both knees, double hernia surgery, trigger fingers. Just too much much running, jumping, climbing, hiking, and pedaling in my life. I wear joints out, but I guess I would not have it any other way. I would not give up activity.
A few days later, the hospital calls me back. They have a break in their schedule. Could I be ready in two days? Sure. So I show up at sunrise, and after many details, I am anesthetized. And then in the next hours, they cut off the end of my femur, reem out my hip joint, put a titanium insert into my femur, attach a chrome-alloy femur arm onto it, put a stainless steel femur head on the end of that arm, and attach a polyurethane acetabulum in my hip, along with a few screws to hold it all in place. I also come out of surgery with a deep, 6-inch-long forever-scar on my left thigh.
For the first week of recovery, I am mostly on my back, taking pain pills for the first time in my life. I experiment with not taking them, and ohhh it does hurt. I can count my heartbeat in my hip. I find myself in a state of suspended animation, waiting for the pain and swelling to go down. After a week, I begin doing mild exercises. I can only walk with crutches or my walker.
Then I start going to physical therapy. I decide that I am going to be the world’s best patient. I will do everything they say, every exercise, as many repetitions as they say. And I do. I add to this by going to the gym. After a month of physical therapy, they sent me home early and told me not to come back. They said I did not need them or the crutches or walker anymore.
So I worked out more at the gym, doing very specific exercises to build up my still weakened, somewhat atrophied, left leg. The doctor forbade bicycling for three months. His main worry was that I would fall hard on my left side and do damage the the healing muscles and joints.
Finally, after 3 months, I started cycling again. But I had a new problem. I could not lift my leg high enough over my Cannondale touring bike. It had a standard men’s top bar, and my left side was just too stiff to lift my leg that high. So I bought this. .

My new ‘step-thru’ girl bike — NOT a girl’s bike. :-)
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Bicycling from Bloomington, Indiana, to Southern Illinois, a fracking conference, and I am now, officially, a Colonel

wabash river selfie   A selfie of me and my bicycle, at sunrise on the Wabash River, on an isolated wooden bridge, south of Vincennes, Indiana.

I set out from Bloomington, Indiana with my bike at 2 pm on May 19th, 2014, heading to Ozark, Illinois, 230 miles away. I had done no previous conditioning for this trip, so I knew I was going to pay. I gave myself an extra day, to get to the Heartwood Forest Conference, which would begin on Friday, May 23rd. bike on wabash

My touring bike in full dress. This bike is 18 years old, and I have put around 35k miles on it. I have replaced almost all the components by now. Just add food and water and I am carrying everything I need to travel for months.

I rode west for 2 hours, climbing 4 steep hills until I got to highway 67. On the way, I passed the isolated country farm home where my son’s mother and I lived for 6+ years, where we conceived and raised our son, and where our wonderful Labrador Retriever, Trout Ears, is buried. It was maybe too much remembrance of things gone past for me. So I kept pedaling. Read More…



The Bosporus, with Asia in the background

We took an all-night train from Athens to Alexandropolis. Every seat was taken in the train, so Susan and I could not lie down and rest, as we had on other trains. With the new austerity programs in Greece, they have cut back on railway schedules. So one should expect full trains on long trips.

We got to Thessaloniki at sunrise. There the train thinned out. Now we could spread out and have a leisure ride through the mountains of eastern Greece. To me, there is simply a great joy in visiting the rural areas of new countries by train. Many of the routes are over a 100 years old and have been cut along ancient routes. This run was full of tunnels and long climbs. Ahead I could see the diesel engine barreling down as we slowed to 20 mph on the climbs. The views were great. Once, cedar forests had stood here. But long ago, an army of goats and sheep had forever removed them. The mountains were now left with grasses nubbed to the ground, and all the corollary erosion that came with it.

At 2 pm, our train backed into the coastal town of . It turned out that we had just missed the bus to Istanbul and would have to wait 12 hours for the next one. We were a bit tired, so we went to  a nearby hotel and negotiated for a room for 12 hours. When the desk man looked at my passport, he said “We see you last night! On ‘Locked Up Abroad.'” He then ran next door and got a few friends. They looked at my passport, then me, and agreed that I was the same guy as the one on TV the night before. They all laughed and shook my hand and offered a toast. This was all a bit odd to me. It had never happened before. But clearly, the service improved.

We grabbed a 2 am bus and made it a point to get in the back seat. There are five contiguous seats there, and if the bus does not fill up, we can lay down.  Off to Istanbul.

The annoying part is when they wake you up at 4 am at the Turkish border. There you must stand outside in the cold night air for over an hour while they completely search you and the bus for arms and explosives. All buses must go through a special scanning machine. Whatever it does, it lights up the sky around it.

We we get aboard and get to Istanbul at about 8 am. One taxi to the old center of the city. Within 5 minutes, we have found an acceptable room near the Blue Mosque for 40 euros. As with the rest of the trip, getting rooms in the off-season has been easy and reasonable.



We enter the Harem, where, until 1921,  the sultan kept up to 500 concubines.

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The National Archeological Museum of Greece. The greatest archaeological museum I have ever seen.


In front of the National Archaeological Museum of Greece. I have not seen a better archaeological museum in my life.

Whenever we  can, we visit the national  museums of the countries we are in. Given Greece’s rich history, I expected to find some jewels. But what we got was even better.

We allocated 2-3 hours to cover the museum and then move on. But late in the afternoon, I still found myself unable to leave. The National Archaeological Museum of Greece combined incredible quality and preservation with a vastness of hallways inside. I got lost several times as it just went on and on. Some of the quality of the marble had me shaking my head in amazement. Then I would step into the next room to find even greater works. Do put this museum on your must-see list in life.



A satyr groping a nymph


Look at how the wind appears to blow the marble tunic


A tombstone stellae. This is a story of grief. The young man on the left has died prematurely. His servant below him grieves. But the worst of the grief is left for the old father on the right, staring at his departed son. The Greeks knew how to capture tragedy with the best.


A satyr molests a nymph. He has no problem with his appearance either. But most incredible. This is ONE continuous piece of marble.

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I had studied Latin and Greek History is high school. One of my favorite teachers was Alpha Braunsworth. She knew her classes inside out. She brought Greek mythology to life for me. Between the lines, I could read about their gods living, lusting, and passionate. So different from the sterile Christianity presented to me daily in my life. I swore that I would visit the Parthenon, the Acropolis, the Temple of Zeus, the Oracle of Delphi. And here it was, 50 (FIFTY!) years later, and I had not visited. Speaking of a bucket list.

The temple of Hesperia in Athens. 2400 years old, and in fine condition.

The temple of Hesperia. 2400 years old, and in fine condition.


On the Acropolis, on Valentine’s Day, we were met by these dear young Greek women who were giving chocolates out to all couples they met, including Susan and I. How sweet.


The Temple of Zeus, in south Athens. Still standing, balanced, after being finished by Hadrian, 1900 years ago.

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2014 Albania

Albania was lost to the world from 1950 through 1985 because of the complete meglomaniac paranoia of Enver Hoxha. He started out as a patriotic nationalist, but ended up as an unreformed Stalinist who held absolute power. So convinced was he that ‘reactionary’ Communist forces were going to overthrow him that he had built over 700,000 anti-tank pill boxes. All over the country to this day do these pill boxes stare at you, just waiting for you to make one subversive move.


One of the 700,000+ anti-tank boxes built under the Hoxha regime


another pill box, peering at me from the bus


Yet another one, watching me from a farmer’ field. They are simply all over the place.

Actually, all of them have been decommissioned, with the death of Hoxha in 1985. But his legacy remains.


The Pyramid built to last a ‘1000 years’ in Tirana, Albania, in commemoration of the great leader Hoxha. It was designed by Hoxha’s untrained daughter. City officials closed it down 15 years ago, and it is now caving in. The stairs in front have collapsed. This is Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem, Ozymandias, all over again.


People’s art, on the outside of the National Museum. But the art inside was definitely worth seeing.

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Venice and Croatia in the winter

Fifty Years of Backpacking, and still going at it. Why travel South East Europe in the winter? The Pluses: 1. short lines, or none at all 2. Cheap air flights 3. Rooms readily available at great discounts 4. Museum entrance tickets available in all cases The Minus(es) 1. Cold rain, at times. Some of it persistent and unpleasant. Susan had three weeks of ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ vacation. So we would use it. And where to? Susan said that anyplace would be fine, since she basically had not traveled in her life. I had been to Italy a few times. But I had never gotten up to Venice. It was on my bucket list of places to visit. So we booked round-trip tickets flying from Indianapolis to Venice, and returning from Istanbul to Indianapolis. At $930 @ ticket, we got tickets at half their summer rate. So we were off to the races.   Venice was the only city we made reservations for. We readily found rooms wherever else we went, without difficulty. I began traveling internationally with backpacks in 1964. I have not felt a major reason to change. And so, here I am, on my fiftieth year of backpacking. We are traveling light. We carry all our luggage above. We have settled on three changes of clothes, and we hand-wash our clothes every night in our room. This will work for us. two-backpacks So I have my day pack here, which snaps to my ultralight backpack. This gives me both balance and accessibility. So Susan and I set in on Venice on February first, 2014, hoping that winter would be gone when we returned three weeks later. On that one point, we were really going to be disappointed. venice-sue-and-gondola San Marcos Plaza and the four museums around that plaza are must-sees. This city is going under water, slowly. Already, many of the first stories of the buildings are abandoned as their foundations settle into the the sand and the sea rises. But Venice will grace us with its beauty for a century or two more before it finally succumbs to its watery ruins. On to Croatia via train and bus. With the breakup of the old Yugoslavia, there are now lots of smaller Balkan countries. We head out for Split, Croatia. (or , We split for Split?)
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#10 Returning from the Burmese Border

One of the seven waterfalls at Erawon. Very much worth the 1/2 day hike.

One of the seven waterfalls at Erawon. Very much worth the 1/2 day hike.

This site so endeared me. Many adult men drive modified motorcycles with sidecars for taxis. But here, someone  has modified a bicycle to be a play taxi for these two sisters. How cute.

This sight so endeared me. Many adult men drive modified motorcycles with sidecars for taxis. But here, someone has modified a bicycle to be a play taxi for these three sisters. 


Most Thais are quite modest. Western tourists, less so.


Most Thais are quite modest. Western tourists, less so.


Along side the 'Railway of Death' there is a cave. When the allies bombed the railway, the slave laborers would dash into this cave. The local Buddhists made this shrine to honor those who died here.

Along side the ‘Railway of Death’ there is a cave. When the allies bombed the railway, the slave laborers would dash into this cave. The local Buddhists made this shrine to honor those who died here.

After being stopped at the Burmese border, I turned around and bussed back to Kanchanaburi. From there I visited the Erawon Waterfalls. These are a series of seven waterfalls leading up a mountain. They were stunning in the dry season. But the locals said that the true beauty and fury of the falls are only revealed during the monsoon.

I needed more bicycling before I returned to Bangkok. If I returned via the direct route to Bangkok, I would be retracing a high-traffic, boring industrial route. So I headed north toward Suphan Buri. This is the heart of Thailand’s rice-growing district. And as Thailand is the #1 exporter of rice in the world, this is agribusiness at its most intense.

I left well before sunrise and pedaled north. The scenery was purely large-scale rice farming. Massive irrigation pumps flooding fields, lush light green rice seedlings bursting thru the ponds with 1000s of white egrets wading in them for as far as I could see. The roads were as flat as the rice paddies. I would have made great time, except that I was bucking the wind all the way. By 10 am it was 90 degrees Fahrenheit. And by 1 pm, it was 100 degrees F. I was guzzling a liter of water an hour. Surprisingly, I did not feel too exhausted by the heat. I took a two-hour nap inside a large, covered outdoor bus stop. Then I headed out at 4 pm to try to made 25 more miles by sunset. I did. I struggled for an hour to find a place to stay. At the end of the day I had made 85 miles into the wind. I was good with that.

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The Wild Years

Dwight Worker The Wild Years A series of autobiographical stories about Dwight Worker’s life, running from the law…before Lecumberri. THE WILD YEARS is available in paperback and ebook.

Escape from Lecumberri

Dwight Worker Escape from Lecumberri Only two people ever escaped from the infamous Lecumberri Prison in Mexico City: Pancho Villa and Dwight Worker. This is the true story of Dwight Worker’s amazing escape. ESCAPE FROM LECUMBERRI is available in paperback or Kindle.

About the Author

Dwight Worker is an American professor, activist, adventurer, and fugitive. He escaped from the Mexican penitentiary Palacio de Lecumberri in 1975 along with the book and movie Escape about the story

Throughout his life he participated in civil rights, anti-war, and environmental movements. In 1991, Dwight volunteered to serve in the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Worker is a former professor at Indiana University, where he created the Information Security program for the Kelley School of Business before retiring in 2008 to farm, write, and travel.….READ MORE