Family to stop in Clovis on cross-country cycling tour

Clarence Plank: PNT Staff Writer

A family of five is partaking in a long journey to Alaska by bicycle, and coming through eastern New Mexico on the way.

The “Pedouins,” as the Harrisons are nicknamed, are traveling 7,000 miles to Alaska to experience the joy, laughter, hardships and struggles along the way. They expect to arrive in Muleshoe around noon today.

“We want to show our children America before it is gone because it is changing rapidly,” father and husband Bill Harrison said. “So far it has been absolutely stunning. It is totally different than the America of the media.”

People have been donating clothes, food, places to stay or just passing along words of encouragement.

The family started off in Mount Vernon, Ky. They plan to make their way across New Mexico along U.S. 60, including going through Texico, Clovis, Melrose and Fort Sumner.

The family expects to reach Fairbanks, Alaska, by the summer of 2010, but they are a week behind schedule due to the weather.

“People can contact us through the Web site under the contact section in on there for a place to stay during the evening or what ever they can do,” Harrison said.

Harrison said he and his wife, Amarins, have been talking about taking a trip to Alaska for a long time.

“My wife, of course, is from the Netherlands, and she has never seen anything like America,” Harrison said. “I’ve been to Alaska a couple of times and told her stories.”

Amarins Harrison came across a quint bicycle, which seats five, and the Harrisons decided to buy one.

The Harrisons have six children, but only their youngest three — Cheyenne, 7, Jasmine, 5, and Robin, 3 — are making the trip to Alaska.

Harrison said the family only travels when the temperature is 40 degrees or higher. Sometimes people offer a place to sleep, or the family pitches a tent if they’re far from a town.

Kevin Bob of Albuquerque has been following the Harrison family on their Web site and talking to them from time to time.

“I’m going to meet him somewhere down there in the upcoming weeks with some clothing, spare tires and stuff,” Bob said.

Bob said the human story about this is that everywhere the family has gone, people have stepped up to feed them and given them a warm place to sleep.