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Bicycle journey includes mayoral stops

THE BALTIMORE SUN

WHEN SEVERNA PARK student Edward Morris left home two years ago for his first day of school, like thousands of other kids, he rode his bike.

But that's where the similarity ends.

The middle child of Newth and Sue Morris was no youngster on his way to elementary school, but a 19-year-old headed for college in Santa Barbara, Calif., by way of Seattle - about 3,600 miles of pedaling from Anne Arundel County.

He made it to class in 39 days.

Morris and his traveling companion, his 23-year old brother, Newth IV, chose their close-to-the-road means of transportation because they were "bored, and wanted to do something crazy."

Ed Morris was on his way to the Brooks Institute of Photography to pursue a dream of becoming a professional photographer, and his brother was heading west to start a new job in Newport Beach, Calif.

Their younger sister, Andrea, now 19, shows no sign of her brothers' bent toward "crazy" transportation, having elected to return to James Madison University in Virginia for her junior year this fall the old-fashioned way, with four tires and a steering wheel.

Two years after his bicycle journey to school, Ed Morris has spent the past two months on the road again, accompanied this time by Tim Hovey, his former lacrosse coach and longtime friend from Randolph Macon Academy in Front Royal, Va.

The two left Seattle on July 15 following a northerly bike route established by cyclists in 1985 as a safe passage to avoid high-speed interstates when traveling coast to coast.

Providing enough scenery and faces to fill a year's subscription to National Geographic, the trip wound through Idaho, Montana and North Dakota, continuing through Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia and the District of Columbia, and ending back home in Maryland.

One of the aspiring photographer's goals was to take pictures of the mayor of each town he visited as he recorded life in American communities from tiny towns in Montana to cities as big as Chicago.

"It's been nothing like what I expected," Morris says. "It's been phenomenal, completely different from what I initially planned, but so much better."

Inspiration for the journey was an assignment in Morris' photo marketing class at Brooks Institute, and the proposal to photograph towns across the nation and their mayors became his final class project. He also is receiving independent-study credit for the trip.

Morris packed 600 rolls of film and a letter of introduction from Santa Barbara Mayor Harriet Miller to all the mayors he hoped to get.

"I wanted to photograph the people and places of America," he says. "That's where the real stories are, and this is where I expect to get my best images."

The bikers averaged about 60 miles a day, leaving enough time for appointments with the mayor and residents of each stop.

As difficult as plotting the trip turned out to be, securing sponsors to help with expenses was equally tough. But in the end he was able to enlist financial aid from his school and several Santa Barbara businesses.

Bicycling is part of a land-and-sea master plan. Between high school and college, Morris attended Chapman School of Seamanship in Stuart, Fla., to earn a ship captain's license, aiming to sail around the world and compile his adventures in a book of photographs.

Morris' father, who as a Severna Park Jaycee 25 years ago initiated the concept of the B&A; Trail Park along an abandoned rail line through central Anne Arundel, rode a train from Baltimore to Cumberland on Sunday to join his son and Hovey for the final leg of their journey.

The three plan to meet Washington Mayor Anthony A. Williams today before concluding the trip in Annapolis tomorrow afternoon and rendezvousing with another cyclist, Annapolis Mayor Dean L. Johnson. They're cycling with the mayor from Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium to City Dock.

After a visit home in Severna Park, Morris will return to Brooks Institute - flying, not pedaling.

Thimble time

Members of and visitors to the Snip Snap Sewing Club are gathering their bobbins and thimbles in anticipation of its next meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 21 at Christ Lutheran Church on Jumpers Hole Road.

"Fifty to 60 percent of our programs this year will be something related to clothing construction," says board member Dolores Schmeisser.

At next week's meeting, Mary Ann Nellis will demonstrate Bishop Method sewing skills.

Information: 410-766-8117.

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