Going out for ride on a bike and taking the dog along is one thing, but for Harold Palmquist and Daisy, the bike ride has gone on for well over 1,500 miles, with well over 1,500 miles to go.
Palmquist, who is 49 and a homeless veteran, is riding across America with his dog Daisy to help raise awareness for Veterans and Their Pets, an organization that assists veterans and their pets in need.
Palmquist was in the Air Force from 1987-1992 and served in the Gulf War. He was a systems specialist and loaded aircraft armament.
Riding a bike and pulling a small trailer that has his worldly possessions, including Daisy, Palmquist promotes his cause by visiting with people across the country, and with a sign on the back of the trailer that shares the Veterans and Their Pets mission to provide temporary housing, veterinary care and food for animals of veterans in need.
Sometimes veterans don’t get the help they need because of their pets, Palmquist said.
Palmquist has become adept at living for two weeks at a time for just $40.
When people want to donate to him, he usually declines and encourages them to make a donation to fundrazr.com/veteransandtheirpets.
On a good day with some help from the wind, he can cover 40 miles. When the wind is in his face, he can cover about 20. His average is 26 miles.
He has a tent and sleeps out in the open unless he gets other offers. He spent a night in a VFW hall, a barn, a storage shed and has even spent a night in a cemetery.
He can get help from Veterans and Their Pets, but so far has only sought help a couple of times.
He has had job offers along the way and will consider them after his trip is complete and select something that is good for him. He does have a CDL and wants to find a job that suits him.
"I have no allergy to work," Palmquist said.
This is Palmquist’s second trip across the county to raise awareness for his cause. His first trip took a year. He left the Los Angeles area on April 16, 2015 and arrived in St. Simons, Ga. on April 19, 2016.
This second trip started at St. Simons, Ga. on April 10, 2017, and he has not traveled in a straight line. He started in Georgia and went up the eastern seaboard before heading westward to Kansas.
He doesn’t have a specific route but often takes in attractions on the advice of people he meets along the way. Because of that, his path has zigzagged across America, Palmquist said.
Palmquist had to stop his trip for about three months after a vehicle rear-ended him on Jan. 30, 2018 south of Natchez, Miss. He suffered a couple of injuries but Daisy was OK. If he hadn’t been in the accident, he would already be in Idaho.
Daisy came into Palmquist’s life when he was teaching English as a Second Language at a community outreach facility in Mesa, Ariz. She came into the classroom and didn’t belong to anyone there or in the building.
No one claimed her and they have been together ever since.
Palmquist spent June 21 in Sawyer before making his way to Pratt on June 22. He planned on continuing on and reaching Greensburg before the day’s end.
His immediate goal is to reach Haigler, Neb. by Independence Day. Haigler is just a couple of miles north of the Kansas/Nebraska boarder.
His ultimate goal for this second trip is reach the Pacific Ocean somewhere on the Washington coast.
One obstacle Palmquist faces is that some road lines on maps don’t indicate if a road is paved or not. His bike and trailer weigh 500 pounds, so he would much rather stick to paved roads. He loves Google Maps because they show paved roads better.
While he usually turns down offers of money in favor of having people donate to Veterans and their Pets, he will sometimes take money if he is running low. People have offered him places to stay, food and even to wash his clothes.
Palmquist is divorced and has two sons. Two weeks ago his oldest son, Harold (Ricky) Palmquist III, who is 22, informed him that he was a grandfather and had a grand-daughter.
Prior to heading out towards Nebraska, Palmquist also made a stop in Dodge City before turning his sights towards the north.
Palmquist is on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Follow him on TourDePACLANTIC.blogspot. com, facebook.com/groups/TourDePACLANTIC.
Learn more about helping veterans at www.veteransandtheirpets.org. To donate, visit fundrazr.com/veteransandtheirpets.