Lessons from a Bike Thief

Having our bikes stolen has taught me a few things about bikes. This is not the first time I’ve had a bike stolen, but it is the first time I’ve tried to address it through police reports and insurance claims.

Identification number: While I knew that all bikes had an identification number, across multiple decades of riding a bike (casually riding – not seriously or competitively) I have never been asked for the ID number or told it must be recorded and kept on my person. Vehicle identification and registration? Absolutely! Bicycle? Never. Things that no one told me, and I wish I’d thought of them myself before leaving on this USA-to-Canada vacation:

a) There are apps designed to register bikes in case they are stolen, such as: Bike Index and The National Cycle Database | BikeRegister and Bicycle registration for the life of your bike | 529 Garage (project529.com). If a bike is purchased new, the company may provide a registration service such as Bike Registration – Trek Bikes (CA). I can’t speak to the quality of each option; I just know they exist (NOW I know they exist!).
b) Do not expect the store that sold you the bike to maintain records or be particularly interested in helping, even if they do maintain records.
c) Allways include a hard copy of the bike identification number and registration details with the important documents that are required when traveling across national or international borders. If you are driving, then keeping a copy in the same location as your vehicle registration may be a good idea.
d) Even if a bike is recovered, if you can’t provide the identification number and/or proof that it’s yours, you won’t get it back. I don’t know what happens to these bikes but returning them to the original owner is wholly dependent on bike registration and identification numbers – even if you have video proof of the theft. This appears to be true for both the USA and Canada, possibly worldwide.

Insurance: My travel insurance claim remains under review, but all other avenues have come back with ‘sorry, we don’t cover bikes.’ Check your insurance before you leave. Consider purchasing insurance before leaving and/or keeping enough cash in reserve to cover the cost of replacing the bikes, new, if stolen.

Pictures: Take pictures for your paperwork and take more pictures before leaving. Photos of the bikes waiting to be loaded onto the bike rack and photos of the bikes on the rack, would have been helpful in this case.

Next time, I will have bike documentation ready. I will also change the bike rack to something more secure and/or ask about security and storage every-single-time I reserve a hotel room.

For now, the bikes are gone, a key aspect of my vacation plans are gutted, and I’m trying to find ways to modify (salvage) the biking portion of those plans. All I can do is learn from the experience and adjust in the future.

The Reason People Do Not Trust The Police: Abduction and Human Trafficking


Having lived and worked in both the Fargo/Moorehead area and Duluth, MN, this story does not surprise me. Sadly, it is far from the first time I’ve run across an article like this. Also, this is neither the first nor the last woman to experience this problem, yet police continue to refuse to take it seriously: Crimes against Native American women raise questions about police response, The Guardian, by Zoe Sullivan (01/19/2016)

North Dakota nightmare: Lake Vermilion woman abducted, taken to Bakken oil patch, The TimberJay, by Marshall Helmberger and Jodi Summit (06/03/2015)

A woman was traveling through North Dakota when she found herself stranded. While contacting family on her cell phone she was abducted:

The man had snuck up behind her while she was messaging friends and family members on her progress and was focused on her laptop computer. It was the last message her family would receive for almost a week.

Somehow she managed to escape:

The following few days, she said, are lost in a fog, as her abductor may have kept her drugged. She woke up to the dinging of an open car door, and found herself lying in the backseat of a beat-up Honda Accord with a missing back window. With her abductor apparently outside the vehicle, she stumbled out of the back seat and crawled away. “I tried to run,” she said, but her vision was blurry. Despite that, she managed to make her way down a steep ditch and her abductor apparently didn’t pursue her, but her memory of her escape is far from clear.

And survived through the help of a Good Samaritan:

While she had begun her ordeal in Casselton, in far eastern North Dakota, after escaping her abductor she found herself in a remote part of northwestern North Dakota. She said she wandered for at least two days, without food or water, before finally being rescued by a North Dakota man, who spotted her wandering across open country near the tiny town of Wildrose.

Then the police do THIS:

While Edith had hoped her experience would help law enforcement officials apprehend a kidnapper and possible human trafficker, she soon discovered that officers at the Williston Police Department had little interest in her story. She said officers refused to take a statement about her abduction. Instead, they ran her own record and found a 2011 traffic violation from Grand Forks still outstanding—and arrested her on a bench warrant for the unpaid ticket.

“I kept trying to tell them that I’d been taken, but they wouldn’t listen. One officer told me I was full of __it and was just trying to get out of the warrant,” said Edith.

According to Edith, the Williston police offered no medical assistance. Instead, they booked her into a holding facility overnight and shipped her to a jail in Minot the following day.

This is just one of the many reasons why people do not trust the police. It’s also living proof that the militarization of the police force is ineffective. When police officers are so distanced from the human beings they are tasked to serve that they can’t recognize a situation for what it is…or take the OPPORTUNITY it presents to capture a REAL bad guy…then there is something seriously wrong.

End of the Real Cowboys



“Richard told a story about his college roommate’s father, who was, he said, “the real thing, an honest-to-God cowboy.” He was in his sixties when he learned he had potentially fatal cancer. “Now that I think about, he was probably about my age,” Richard said, a little startled that time was passing so quickly. The “old” cowboy rode out into the desert and shot his horse and then himself.”

“Chip reminded everyone of the white-haired carpenter who’d made our children’s dressers and toy chest. Clarence took his life for the same reason the cowboy did. He had cancer and didn’t want to go the hospital, or be dependent on anyone. He had lived by himself a long time. Well, almost by himself: “I think he shot his dog, too,” Chip said.”

“It’s easy to applaud the old cowboy, because he’s not your father or husband or son. The truth is, there aren’t many real cowboys left.”

If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name: News from Small-Town Alaska by Heather Lende

Vacation Has Ended


This gallery contains 6 photos.

I have just returned home from a vacation on Leech Lake in the Chippewa National Forest. I spent a wonderful week living in a cabin, lounging on the beach, reading  books, hiking in the woods and kayaking. At this very … Continue reading

Trust The Camels



“From the far basket, a young girl, perhaps three years old, raised her head shyly above the humps…The woman lifted a sheet covering the basket immediately in front of me, and there, wrapped in a cocoon of sheepskin, was a newborn…I was humbled by the thought that for much of the morning I had feared my horse might make a misstep on one of the narrow ledges or be knocked over by the river’s current. This woman trusted her animals with the precious lives of her most fragile loved ones—showing more trust in those camels than many people in my own society would bestow on another human being.”

-On the Trail of Genghis Khan: An Epic Journey Through the Land of the Nomads by Tim Cope

A description of the journey from the beginning of the book:

The world expanded with every new challenge, from frostbitten toes to the dark clouds of mosquitoes that came with summer in Siberia. But most of all it was the people who left an impression on me….I found it astonishing that in the midst of an adventure I experienced more comradeship and connection with many of these people than with those where I had grown up in Australia.

Mongolian Horse Spirit



“Mongolians believe the spirit of a horse can live on in its hair, even long after death, and in the past, nomad warriors collected the hair from their best stallions to weave into a sulde or “spirit banner,” which served to bring good luck and as a way of harnessing the spirit of nature. Genghis Khan had famously used a white spirit banner in times of peace and a black banner for guidance during war, and it was thought that after death the soul of the warrior was preserved in these tufts of stallion hair.”

-On the Trail of Genghis Khan: An Epic Journey Through the Land of the Nomads by Tim Cope

A description of the journey from the beginning of the book:

The world expanded with every new challenge, from frostbitten toes to the dark clouds of mosquitoes that came with summer in Siberia. But most of all it was the people who left an impression on me….I found it astonishing that in the midst of an adventure I experienced more comradeship and connection with many of these people than with those where I had grown up in Australia.

Halloween Capital


Anoka Minnesota puts on a huge Halloween celebration every year. While I have not had the opportunity to participate, I have heard about it and driven through the town during Halloween week. It’s a big deal. Really. Big. Deal.

Halloween and Community

While browsing my public library for books on the upcoming Halloween holiday, I ran across this local history text and found a few fun quotes about Anoka and Halloween. Perhaps the most striking aspect of the history of this celebration is the amount of community building that it provides – even during difficult times like the great depression.


For most children in the early decades of the twentieth century, Halloween was a night for trouble making. The children of Anoka and their friends from the surrounding communities took this idea to a whole new level.”

On the morning after Halloween, 1919, early risers in Anoka, MN were greeted by an astonishing sight. Cows, it seemed, had taken over the town! Bovines were browsing everywhere...in September of 1920 the citizens of Anoka turned to influential men in the community to see how to best avoid a repeat of the previous year’s trouble.

The following decade of the economic depression that devastated the nation affected Anoka, but the hard times did not dampen their spirits when it came to Halloween. The 1930s brought a series of new events to the Halloween celebration, including an activity that acted as a form of group therapy, the burning of Old Man Depression.

GLBT Controversy

In the interest of fairness, I must mention the tragic events leading up to the Anoka Halloween parade controversy. In 2012, bullying of GLBT students in the Anoka schools lead to several suicides and a lawsuit, which made big headlines. It also spurred the creation of an Anti-Bullying task force and the non-profit Justin’s Gift. Unfortunately, Justin’s Gift was denied entry into the parade of 2012. According to the group’s website Justin’s Gift is hosting a Halloween party (no mention of the parade) in 2014.


Justin’s Gift still had a presence at the 2012 Grand Day Parade. The organization had a booth set up in the parking lot of a church on the parade route where they sold t-shirts, buttons, bracelets and other items. Floats from other cities also showed their solidarity with the group by mounting signs next to their waving princesses that read, “We Support Justin’s Gift.”

“Justin’s Gift was able to proudly walk among its community members in the 2013 Anoka Halloween Parade. The group was met with cheers and support from onlookers.”

History and Hauntings of the Halloween Capital by Roxy Orcutt

Seattle, Washington, USA (Photos)


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When people talk about visiting or living in Seattle, Washington, one of the first things discussed is the rain. There’s a reason for this – it rains a lot in Seattle. Or, rather, it drizzles. Even so, my experience of … Continue reading

Santa Fe National Forest, New Mexico, USA (Photos)


This gallery contains 4 photos.

I flew into Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1999 and visited the Santa Fe National Forest. As you can see from the photos, I was immediately enamored of the way the sun creates such clear and defined shadows. This was … Continue reading