Focus on News
On the Road

Friday, September 14, 2007


Doug Gray and golden retriever Dylan take a break during their trek into the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. 

WYE MILLS – For 40 days this summer, Chief Technology Officer Doug Gray pedaled over mountains and across fields following a system of rural American roads. Gray used low-tech travel on a bicycle to explore high-tech communications during his sabbatical.

The trip from Maryland to New Mexico, took Gray through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado.

He charted his progress on a blog that he updated in the evenings after riding all day. His still photos and video footage showed green forests, golden fields, multicolored mountain wildflowers and finally, the dry scrub brush of New Mexico.

A St. John´s College alumnus, Gray said he enjoyed launching his journey from the colonial setting of the college´s Annapolis campus and then ending his trip amid the Spanish mission architecture of the Santa Fe campus.

Gray traveled 1,600 miles on his bike and spent minimal time in a vehicle. Support was provided by his wife Patricia, who drove the family van and the couples´ two golden retrievers.

"My wife works for the Anne Arundel County school system, so she used her summer off to help me with this project. I´m very grateful," Gray said, adding that they put more than 4,500 miles on a new van purchased for the trip.

Gray faced all challenges of the road -- everything from flat bicycle tires to campground oddballs to technology meltdowns -- and managed to maintain his energy and enthusiasm.

In addition to pedaling an average of 60 miles per day, Gray kept a daily blog of his trip and posted video along the way. He used a camera mounted on his bicycle helmet to record footage of the scenic route. Gray said that aside from a few glitches, the technology worked well throughout the trip.

"Video is a very effective, easy communications tool. Computer´s are so powerful today and the technology so smooth, that I think most people could learn to put videos on the internet in less time than it takes to learn a word processing program," Gray said.

During his sabbatical, Gray said he saw the enormous potential for video communications in education.

"The things I learned on the trip will help me work with faculty and students," Gray said. "Video communications can enhance higher education in ways that we´ve only begun to explore."

Gray´s experiences on the trip went far beyond the technology experiment he planned.

"I knew that there would be incredibly beautiful country to see, but this trip also taught me that there are so many very kind people out there," Gray said, remembering the many strangers who helped him over the course of his trip.

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