SHERIDAN – Harold Palmquist arrived in Sheridan Thursday hauling 480-pounds, nearly everything he owns, behind him on his bike. Perched on top of the trailer he was hauling was a crate with his 11-year-old dog, Daisy, inside.
Sheridan was the latest stop on what Palmquist is calling the Tour De PACLANTIC, a cross-country bike trip he’s undertaken to raise awareness for a nonprofit organization called Veterans and Their Pets, which helped Palmquist, who served in the U.S. Air Force, when he needed it most.
“There are veterans in this country that do not get the help that they need because of their pets,” Palmquist said. “And me and Daisy are one such item.”
Palmquist lost his home in 2014 while living in Phoenix, Arizona.
“I was living week-to-week, paycheck-to-paycheck and eventually I got behind on my bills and it came time to go to the homeless shelter,” Palmquist said.
The homeless shelter there told him they had a bed for him, but that Daisy wouldn’t be able to stay there with him. That was a deal breaker. Fortunately, the shelter put him in contact with the nonprofit organization Veterans and Their Pets, which helped him board Daisy so that he could live at the homeless shelter and still visit his dog.
In 2015, Palmquist and Daisy hitch-hiked to Los Angeles to care for his sick father. He spent three months there and got to be with his father when he died. But when it came time to leave, he had no home to go back to and no schedule to stick to. He decided to take advantage of that.
“That was the start of our first tour; it happened just like this,” he said, snapping. “I left without phone service; I don’t even think I had a sleeping bag.”
Palmquist rigged together a trailer that he could pull with his bike to hold clothes, supplies and a crate for Daisy and started to ride back to Phoenix. And once he arrived, he kept going.
His first tour took him though Flagstaff, Arizona; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Denver; Lincoln, Nebraska; Omaha, Nebraska; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and down the Mississippi River to St. Simons Island, Georgia.
He stopped when he heard there was a job for him in Lincoln, but when he arrived, it turned out the job didn’t exist. While in Lincoln, Palmquist briefly took a job in roofing. He rode 10 miles to and from work each day and spent his days carrying shingles up to roofs. Palmquist holds a commercial driver’s license and said a job that required that license would have doubled what he was making as a roofer. But he couldn’t find a job like that in Lincoln, so he decided to move on.
“Me and Daisy still had a story to share. So I said, ‘Screw it.’ If you’re dealt lemons, make lemonade,” Palmquist said.
He and Daisy hitchhiked to Georgia and started their second tour from there.
Palmquist’s cross-country journey has been fueled by the kindness of strangers.
He doesn’t ask for donations — not for himself, at least — but he’s received countless gifts of dog food, meals, bike parts, showers and places to stay.
He doesn’t need much, though, and he tries to steer as many contributions as he can to Veterans and Their Pets.
Nearly 6,000 miles later, Palmquist and Daisy arrived in Sheridan. He spent Thursday night in the backyard of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall, with permission and set out again Friday morning.
If everything works out, Palmquist’s tour should be ending soon. He has a job offer in Portland, Oregon, that was extended to him through Veterans and Their Pets and it will allow him to make use of his CDL. For the first time in a while, Palmquist and Daisy are headed home.