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Book details
  • SubGenre:Sociology / General
  • Language:English
  • Pages:376
  • Paperback ISBN:9781733029902


My Peace Pilgrimage in Search of a Kinder America

by Rand Bishop

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On May 1, 2017, Rand Bishop returned a rented vehicle in Thousand Oaks, CA, and started walking home — to the Central Oregon Coast, some 900 miles away. His goal was to inspire civil, constructive dialogue in a deeply divided nation. In a land torn apart by hyper-partisan tribalism, Rand was searching for a kinder America.

TREK traces that life-changing journey from its preparation process through the 90 days Rand spent traveling the roads and trails of California and Oregon on foot. At the outset, the pilgrim, then 67, already suffered from chronic foot and knee issues, brought scant camping experience to the table, and possessed absolutely zero knowledge about long-distance hiking. The tale describes the pilgrim facing seemingly insurmountable grades, crossing precarious bridges, battling wind, heat, moisture, hunger, loneliness, and isolation. He's confronted by wild animals, alienation from the presumption that a grey-bearded, cart-pushing pedestrian must be homeless, and massive motor homes piloted by asleep-at-the-wheel octogenarians. There are break-downs, throbbing knees, blisters, lost toenails, and a nearly mortal bellyache. One fateful afternoon, the earth actually swallows the pilgrim whole and ties him down with barbed blackberry vines! Those experiences, however, comprise only a fraction of the total story.

The true heart of the TREK narrative beats evocatively in its eclectic cast of characters, the fascinating fellow humans serendipity introduced to Rand over the course of that life-affirming Spring and Summer. The author set out upon his journey distressed, broken-hearted over this nation turning so mean. Along the way, folks of every age, race, ethnic background, religious faith, political tribe, and/or social status showed Rand that, one-on-one, the vast majority of us are good, kind, and oft-times even exceedingly generous.


In 2012, after four decades toiling in the music-business capitals of LA, and Nashville, Rand Bishop returned to his home state of Oregon to assist his aging parents. Divorced, children grown, Rand was content to keep a low profile, not flaunting his impressive career resume — Grammy nominee, more than 300 songwriting credits, platinum music producer, hit song publisher, author of four books, award-winning screenwriter, playwright, and magazine columnist. Life for Rand was relatively stress free. Except for one thing... he was finding it more and more difficult to sleep. The growing hyper-partisan animosity had not only created alarming dissonance, our nation found itself in legislative gridlock. Although serious, urgent issues pervaded, nothing was getting done.

Rand was already fretting about what kind of world he would leave behind for his grandchildren. Then, the 2016 presidential election came along and America really started turning mean. No longer able to sit by while the U.S.A. transformed into something he no longer recognized, Rand, a lifelong activist for peace, justice, and equality, felt compelled to do something. Finding a role model in a woman known as Peace Pilgrim, Rand's decided course of action was a source of great concern for friends and family. Still, at 67, with sore knees, arthritic feet, limited camping experience, and no knowledge about long-distance hiking, Rand remained undeterred. He began planning and preparing to walk for 90 consecutive days, from Southern California, back home to the Central Oregon Coast, hoping to encourage folks along the way to come out of their echo chambers, abandon the blame game, and engage in more civil, constructive dialogue.

On May 1, 2017, Rand returned a rented car in Thousand Oaks, CA, hooked his dog's leash to his belly bag, and began what was destined to become an adventure of a lifetime. Pushing a 90-pound cart christened "the Pilgrimmobile," Rand conquered seemingly insurmountable grades, crossed precarious bridges, was confronted by wild animals, angry motorists, and alienation from the persistent assumption that a cart-pushing pedestrian must be homeless. The author's aging body, his fortitude, and his courage were put to their ultimate test. Those factors alone provide this tale with plenty of adventure and drama. But, the true heart of the story beats evocatively in its eclectic cast of characters, the fellow humans serendipity introduced to the pilgrim along the way.

Rand describes meeting immigrants, homeless folks, cyclists, fellow hikers, shop keepers, camp hosts, farmers, and anonymous Good Samaritans. People of every age, gender, race, ethnicity, religious faith, political affiliation, vocation, and socio-economic status populate TREK's pages. Although the pilgrim comes face to face with a random bigot or two, gets taunted, threatened, and even spat upon, negative encounters were rare. The vast majority of the people Rand recalls are kind, compassionate, and giving — even if quite a few of them teeter precariously close to the edge of sanity.

Ultimately, the author survives his trek, and the emotional crash of its sore-footed aftermath to sum up his experience this way...

"Connecting with 1,000 decent Americans rekindled my faith, not in the power and glory of some invisible God, but in the innate goodness of humankind. The nice, kind, sometimes exceedingly generous people I met along my path replenished the hope I'd lost and so desperately needed to find and feel again. And, without that hope, I don't know if I would still be capable of rising and shining every morning."

About the author

Oregon native Rand Bishop grew up in the suburbs of Portland fixated on two equally impractical career paths: stage actor or rock star. Between attending Oberlin College and the University of Washington, a season of bit parts at The Oregon Shakespeare Festival made his choice obvious. Rand ran away with the Rock 'n' Roll Circus.

During the 1970s and '80s, Rand recorded for Elektra, A&M, Sony, and MCA and shared stages with The Doors, Alice Cooper, Jethro Tull, Rod Stewart, and Credence Clearwater, while honing his tune-smithing craft. Tiring of the road, he transitioned to "the other side of the desk," to earn his stripes as a platinum record producer, talent-development executive, and music publisher. An in-demand studio singer, Rand harmonized with the Beach Boys, Rita Coolidge, Kris Kristofferson, Mick Fleetwood's Zoo, Graham Nash, Tim Curry, and Quiet Riot.

As a Grammy-nominated, BMI Award-winning, Million-play songwriter, Rand counts 300-plus diverse credits: from Cheap Trick to Tim McGraw, Heart to Indigo Girls. He has contributed compositions to more than a dozen feature-film and TV soundtracks and several stage musicals. Rand's song catalogue has generated over 20 million sales and continues to rack up millions of broadcast performances year after year.

Positive public response to "My List" (Tim James/Rand Bishop) — a five-week #1 for Toby Keith, and the most-played country single of 2002 — inspired Rand to co-author My List: 24 Reflections on Life's Priorities (McGraw-Hill, 2003). After that publication, he authored two career guides for aspiring songwriters (Makin' Stuff Up and The Absolute Essentials of Songwriting Success) both issued by Alfred Music Publishing. Rand's self-published novel/mock memoir Grand Pop spent a year in development as a premium-cable series under producer Ken Topolsky (The Wonder Years, Party of Five).

Rand is a produced playwright, an award-winning/optioned screenwriter and, for six years, contributed a regular column to American Songwriter Magazine. He has guest lectured at colleges, sat on music industry panels, facilitated creative workshops, and remains a highly respected songwriting coach. Rand has served on the boards of directors for three non-profits: Songwriters and Artists for the Earth (SAFE), the Nashville Film Festival, and Peace Village, Inc.

In 2012, after four decades in Los Angeles and Nashville, Rand returned to his home state to be of assistance to his aging parents. Residing in the coastal town of Newport, he serves as Music Director for the Central Oregon Coast Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, leads the children of Peace Village in song, and remains available to perform his original one-man musical multi-media performance piece, TREK on Stage, comprised of stories and songs inspired by his 2017 900-mile pilgrimage. On a normal day, Rand can be seen on Nye Beach taking his beagle Millie for yet another long walk.

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