Happy new year! It’s as much about endings as it is about beginnings. I got back to the San Francisco area on December 31st and now find myself trying to reflect on the past five months while also receiving the world at full speed.
The numbers are straightforward at least. 15,823 miles in 139 days. 24 states, 9 days of riding in the rain, 2 rear tires, and one bear encounter. We only had one breakdown, when the rear tire let go in Jacksonville, Florida, but that turned out to be a really cool side adventure in itself.
Now, I’m suddenly thrust into the reality that I have no home. It didn’t matter when we were on the road; we had dozens of people we could stay with along with innumerable campgrounds, parks, or roadside turn outs. That’s still true, but the goal now requires a home base that isn’t sitting on wheels. Kate has some time to kill before school picks up, but I’ll let her talk about how she plans to handle that.
I’ve got a sidecar to sell, which isn’t easy under the best of circumstances (sidecars aren’t in high demand, you know), but with a missing 4th gear it will take the right kind of person to come along and snatch up project Dusty. But go he must, as I refuse to be bogged down with changing engines when I have so much more to do.
To look back though, I didn’t have any overriding goal with the trip, so it’s hard to answer “was it worth it” or some similar question. It was something gnawing at me, that I had to do, and having done it I feel relief. Part of me wishes I was still out there, but I know I was getting sick of cold nights sleeping on the ground. I miss those special sunsets already, but the road-hypnosis is gone and I’m happy about that. I don’t need to figure out where I’m sleeping tonight, every night, and that is a great relief.
I’ve seen so much more of the US than before, and revisiting places I hadn’t been to in decades was awe inspiring. I got to see friends I hadn’t seen in months as well as a few I hadn’t seen in decades. I also made many new friends, whether they be for a lifetime or just an occasional “how ya doin'” on Facebook. Staring at the mess of low born humanity that’s spewing this crazy theory or that on social media, is great to look back on five months of meeting people who are willing to help, who are interested in your journey, and who have the spirit of giving and friendship radiating from within.
Looking at Facebook these days it would be easy to think there is no such person left on the planet, let alone the country.
I’m letting it all sink in while I crunch more numbers in spreadsheets and review notes. I dug my motorcycle out of storage yesterday and it was a little weird being on a motorcycle that leans again. I’m sure I’ll get used to it again. I am totally okay with being away from sidecars for awhile. As much as they have to offer, it doesn’t change the fact that they are cantankerous to operate. I mean, if they made sense, they’d still be offered from the factory. Only the Russian company Ural sells factory sidecars, and they are a copy of the BMW R34 that Germany took when they invaded Russia in 1943!
So yes, using an minivan built out as a camper would be a sensible way to travel cross country, although I disagree with Kate that a car is better. If you like to have your snacks and climate control at a fingers’ reach, then a house is the best choice. I prefer to be out in the wind and a part of the world I’m exploring as opposed to being cocooned inside a machine like an astronaut orbiting the earth. I also don’t mind having a bed though, instead of having to set up a tent, unpack the kitchen, and then pack up all the food before you go to sleep (it’s not just bears out there, racoons are relentless).
No one has asked “what’s next” yet and I’m happy about that. While I do have things coming at me full speed and a lot of uncertainty, I’d rather deal with that as it comes than write about it in detail. I’ve got an exciting feel about the immediate future despite the dumpster fire that was 2020 being tipped over and spilling into out 2021. The immediate steps are logistical and are the impetus to all the other cool plans I have in store. I have a book to write too, and I can’t take that seriously until I get some other ducks in a row.
But to leave this space sort of wrapped up neatly, let me remind folks that our photo gallery is still packed with images, and I’ll be going through from time to time adding captions so people know what makes each image interesting, or at least where it was shot. Our Instagram page will still be the most active place since it’s easy to post a pic and a short caption, while Facebook is also a place to keep in touch, since it has more tools for interating.
Kate’s store is also still open and she has plenty of ideas for expansion. For now though, it’s time for me to head inside and turn off the porch light. For now, I’m home.