April 17, 2005: Headlines: Figures: Coyne Column: Writers: COS - Ethiopia: PCOL Exclusive: The Coyne Column: A Peace Corps Writer Discovery

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ethiopia: Special Report: Ethiopia RPCV and Author/Editor John Coyne: April 17, 2005: Headlines: Figures: Coyne Column: Writers: COS - Ethiopia: PCOL Exclusive: The Coyne Column: A Peace Corps Writer Discovery

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The Coyne Column: A Peace Corps Writer Discovery

The Coyne Column: A Peace Corps Writer Discovery

The Coyne Column: A Peace Corps Writer Discovery

A Peace Corps Writer Discovery

John P. Coyne

I first heard about Karen Larsen (Bulgaria 1996-98) and her travel book, Breaking The Limit: One Woman’s Motorcycle Journey Through North America, from Ed Frey, who nominated Karen’s book for the 2004 PeaceCorpsWriters awards. Ed served with Karen in Bulgaria. Ed was a Business Volunteer, and Karen a TEFL teacher in a small town of Cherven Bryag (Red Bank) in the north-western part of the country.

A Peace Corps Writer Discovery

 A Peace Corps Writer Discovery

Karen Larson 'breaks the limit' during trek on two wheels
After the Peace Corps, Karen returned to the States and enrolled at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Finishing her masters, she took a trip across America on a Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 motorcycle, she nicknamed, Lucy. At the time, she says, “I was intellectually weary and thoroughly sick of the filtered atmosphere of subterranean classrooms, it seemed a good time to both blow off the dust of the academy and to explore a few thousand miles of American and Canadian back roads before a new job began in September.”

There was another reason as well. A health issue in the spring of 2000 forced Karen to contact her biological family who had given her up for adoption when she was an infant. Most of them live in communities scattered up the Canadian Pacific Coast and when she telephoned them, they gave her not only the information she needed, but invited her to visit when she rolled through British Columbia and Alberta later that summer.

While Larsen might not be Theroux when it comes to acid comments and telling details of travel, she is the closest women RPCV writer that I have found who can be compared with Paul. She has her own wonderful astute eye for physical description and scene setting, all wrapped up with humor. Take these two lines from the book. Karen has left Cheyenne Wells for Hugo at 5 a.m. and she writes: “I was alone in the pink-and-gold wash of early morning light save for the occasional antelope lifting its head at the sound of Lucy’s engine. On the outskirts of Hugo a repair shop advertised on a peeling wall, ‘We fix ANYTHING—from daybreak to heartbreak.’ It was closed.”

In all, Karen traveled fifteen thousand miles of back-roads across the Southwest, over the Canadian Rockies, and down Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, a trip full of minor adventures, major confrontations, and lots of anxious moments along the way that involved men, animals, and the road itself. Back home at her parents’ house in Carlisle outside of Boston she drove into their driveway, hit the engine-stop button and reached down below Lucy’s gas tank to turn the key to “off.” There in the suddenly quiet driveway she took off her helmet, hung it over the mirror, dropped the kickstand, and then leaned forward to lie across Lucy’s fame, breathing in the smell of gasoline, hot oil, and road dust. “Well goddamn, Lucy,” she whispered to her Harley, “we did it.”

And then Karen Larsen went onto write a wonderful book about just what she and Lucy had done in the summer of 2000. Read Breaking the Limit. It is published by Hyperion. It's a winner.

 A Peace Corps Writer Discovery

John Coyne is the Editor of the Peace Corps Writers web site.

Hugh Pickens contributed the visual design.

When this story was posted in April 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
The Peace Corps Library Date: March 27 2005 No: 536 The Peace Corps Library
Peace Corps Online is proud to announce that the Peace Corps Library is now available online. With over 30,000 index entries in 500 categories, this is the largest collection of Peace Corps related stories in the world. From Acting to Zucchini, you can find hundreds of stories about what RPCVs with your same interests or from your Country of Service are doing today. If you have a web site, support the "Peace Corps Library" and link to it today.

Top Stories and Breaking News PCOL Magazine Peace Corps Library RPCV Directory Sign Up

RPCVs and Friends remember Pope John Paul II Date: April 3 2005 No: 550 RPCVs and Friends remember Pope John Paul II
Tony Hall found the pope to be courageous and capable of forgiving the man who shot him in 1981, Mark Gearan said the pope was as dynamic in person as he appears on television, Maria Shriver said he was a beacon of virtue, strength and goodness, and an RPCV who met the pope while serving in the Solomon Islands said he possessed the holiness of a man filled with a deep love and concern for humanity. Leave your thoughts here.

Friends of the Peace Corps 170,000  strong Date: April 2 2005 No: 543 Friends of the Peace Corps 170,000 strong
170,000 is a very special number for the RPCV community - it's the number of Volunteers who have served in the Peace Corps since 1961. It's also a number that is very special to us because March is the first month since our founding in January, 2001 that our readership has exceeded 170,000. And while we know that not everyone who comes to this site is an RPCV, they are all "Friends of the Peace Corps." Thanks everybody for making PCOL your source of news for the Returned Volunteer community.

April 10, 2005: This Week's Top Stories Date: April 10 2005 No: 555 April 10, 2005: This Week's Top Stories
The Coyne Column: "Why do you study Jesuits?" 10 Apr
Al Kamen says Condi Rice is Baffled 8 Apr
Chris Dodd makes "sneak attack" on AgustaWestland 7 Apr
Accused attacker maintains innocence 7 Apr
Jim Walsh supports Sinn Féin declaration 7 Apr
Crisis Corps team in Thailand begins work 6 Apr
Tom Weisner wins big in Aurora Mayor's Race 6 Apr
BBDO wins EFFIE Ad Awards for "Life is Calling" 6 Apr
PCVs removed after missionaries killed in Guyana 5 Apr
Chris Matthews covers death of Pope John Paul II 5 Apr
24 Congressmen sign Peace Corps letter 4 Apr
Update: PCVs in Kyrgyzstan back in communities 4 Apr
Tom Murphy lays into Bush administration 4 Apr
Bellamy urges legislators to protect children 4 Apr
Lynn Olson manages art gallery after judgeship 4 Apr
Bob Taft promotes tax code overhaul in Ohio 3 Apr
Richard Kaminski lost in village in Botswana 3 Apr

April 10, 2005: Events around the Country Date: April 10 2005 No: 552 April 10, 2005: Events around the Country
North Carolina RPCV discusses Nepal trek on April 14 6 Apr
South Carolina RPCVs to see off PCVs on April 18 5 Apr
Gaddi Vasquez speaks at Northwestern University 6 Apr
Henry McKoy speaks at Clemson University 8 Apr
Minnesota RPCVs need Photos for Exhibition 24 Mar
Maryland RPCVs eat crab cakes in Annapolis 17 Mar
RPCVs: Post your stories or press releases here for inclusion next week.

April Feature Stories - only on PCOL Date: April 10 2005 No: 553 April Feature Stories - only on PCOL
Dream Come True - Revisiting India after 34 years
The Coyne Column: Read Winning Vanity Fair PCV Essay
Tomas Belsky's paintings inspired by service in Brazil
RPCV reunites with friend after 40 years
RPCV reviews "Los Heraldos Negros" by Cesar Vallejo
Photo Essay: Taking it to the Streets

Crisis Corps arrives in Thailand Date: March 20 2005 No: 530 Crisis Corps arrives in Thailand
After the Tsunami in Southeast Asia last December, Peace Corps issued an appeal for Crisis Corps Volunteers and over 200 RPCVs responded. The first team of 8 Crisis Corps volunteers departed for Thailand on March 18 to join RPCVs who are already supporting relief efforts in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and India with other agencies and NGO's.

RPCVs in Congress ask colleagues to support PC Date: March 5 2005 No: 482 RPCVs in Congress ask colleagues to support PC
RPCVs Sam Farr, Chris Shays, Thomas Petri, James Walsh, and Mike Honda have asked their colleagues in Congress to add their names to a letter they have written to the House Foreign Operations Subcommittee, asking for full funding of $345 M for the Peace Corps in 2006. As a follow-on to Peace Corps week, please read the letter and call your Representative in Congress and ask him or her to add their name to the letter.

Add your info now to the RPCV Directory Date: March 13 2005 No: 489 Add your info now to the RPCV Directory
Call Harris Publishing at 800-414-4608 right away to add your name or make changes to your listing in the newest edition of the NPCA's Directory of Peace Corps Volunteers and Former Staff. Then read our story on how you can get access to the book after it is published. The deadline for inclusion is May 16 so call now.

March 1: National Day of Action Date: February 28 2005 No: 471 March 1: National Day of Action
Tuesday, March 1, is the NPCA's National Day of Action. Please call your Senators and ask them to support the President's proposed $27 Million budget increase for the Peace Corps for FY2006 and ask them to oppose the elimination of Perkins loans that benefit Peace Corps volunteers from low-income backgrounds. Follow this link for step-by-step information on how to make your calls. Then take our poll and leave feedback on how the calls went.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

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Story Source: PCOL Exclusive

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