A pleasant night in Pittsburgh and a beautiful ride along West Virginia country roads. A magnificent evening with Tony and Abby in Shepherdstown. And then 72 miles to Washington, DC. 54. 28. 13. 1. 0. Home.
I cannot fully describe the feelings that sprang to life upon my return: triumph and relief and joy all tangling about each other in an emotional cacophony, the sights and sounds and smells so familiar and yet oddly distant, scenes from another time, another life.
|"Thunder Road," Big Bend National Park, Texas.|
I saw things. I saw superlatives of every variety: tallest tree and oldest organism and starriest sky, grandest geyser and largest lake and mightiest mountain. I saw canyons and ranges and oceans and rivers and deserts and badlands and everything in between, sights and roads and trails so breathtakingly beautiful that I literally lost my breath, so truly awesome that I was literally awed.
|"Jacob's Ladder," Taos, New Mexico.|
I did things. I walked and I hiked, I climbed and I fell, I got lost and I got found. I slept in tents and I slept in hotels, in motels and hostels and public parks and parking garages and college faculty rooms, on couches of friends and on couches of perfect strangers. I met people. I met so many people, people who gave me faith in our collective future, people who gave me faith that what I was doing was about more than just me, people whom I wish I'd gotten to know better, if only we had more time.
Time. Time stretched, time distorted, time warped and waxed and waned and wandered. Days felt like weeks and weeks felt like months and months felt like seconds, and by the end of it all, the fabric of time was so wrinkled and creased and folded over upon itself that I could not begin to separate out the various stops and starts and sights and scenes of my safari with any temporal logic; they are all simply the trip.
|"Park Avenue," Arches National Park, Utah.|
My memory of it, a short time later, is a mosaic of small images, each a grainy rendering of my beleaguered body aboard my idling bike, always stopped at a petrol pump, apple or salty snack in hand, staring off into the distance in sustained disbelief, my inner compass spinning wildly to grab hold of my bearings before I vaulted off again. The Mississippi, the Gulf, the Rockies, the Canyon, the Pacific ... each legendary landmark pulled me further from everything I knew, and I thrived in it, thrived in the exhilaration and excitement of the unknown, the unfamiliar, the unexplored.
|"Sittin' Sideways," Bodie, California.|
"This I believe," says Steinbeck: "that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about. I can understand why a system built on a pattern must try to destroy the free mind, for that it one thing which can by inspection destroy such a system. Surely I can understand this, and I hate it and I will fight against it to preserve the one thing that separates us from the uncreative beasts. If the glory can be killed, we are lost."
|"Eye in the Sky," Arches National Park, Utah.|
It's good to be back.
It's good to be home.
It's good to be alive.
|"Little Bighorn," Zion National Park, Utah.|