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Published: June 26th 2017
Geo: 39.74, -104.992
I've been working on this last entry for weeks. And I still have no idea what to say. There's so much! Summarize five months, dozens of states, scores of highways, hundreds of interactions, and thousands of miles into a few paragraphs. Even once the words do find themselves, I know there will be more. Every memory will multiply. Movies, conversations, and just basic life will trigger thoughts and emotions that I will wish to include here. This entry may just become a myriad of random, unrelated thoughts, and will likely also be a work in progress.
To those of you who are reading this, to those who checked in at any point, to those whom I saw along the way, to those who gave me a couch, a shower, company, hope, encouragement - in all languages both spoken and unspoken: thank you. What is life, what are memories, what is joy and laughter, what is pain and sadness, were it not for someone to share it with? Like a prayer offered up to a heartless God, a kaleidoscope given to a blind man, a bicycle given to a fish.
First off, I suppose, some statistics:Days on road: 136 (June 1 -
October 15)Miles traveled: ~17,000 (odometer read 200,000 the day I moved from Avon on May 1, and 217,355 the day I got back to Denver)
New states visited: 24 (Montana, Idaho, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, DC, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas)Total states visited: 37 (above + Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, Illinois, New Hampshire, North Carolina)Canadian provinces: 2 (British Columbia, Alberta)
Open mics played: 7 (Avon, Flagstaff, San Diego, Reno, Hood River, Seattle, Chicago)Different places slept: > 80
$ Spent on coffee: I don't wanna know$ Spent on beer: I really don't wanna know$ Spent on gas: Please shoot meFavorite place(s): Black Rock City, British Columbia
Least favorite place(s): Nebraska, South Carolina (but again - Don't Judge a State by its Highways)
Old friends visited: Easily a dozen
New friends made: Easily dozens
Most beautiful sight: Seeing someone feel, accept, and embrace genuine, pure love, perhaps for the first time
Loneliest moment: New City, New York
Scariest moment: Thinking I was going to be stuck in the middle of Alabama due to a blown clutchHardest lesson learned: When you finally get the tail you've been chasing half way across the country, don't be so drunk you hardly remember it
Heartbreaks: at least 3Hearts broken: CountlessI was often asked, especially early on, how long I was going to travel for. "For at least a few months, or until I run out of money, get sick of being on the road, or find the right girl." One time someone asked me, "What would the 'right girl' look like?" I pondered for a moment, then replied with a grin, "One that would get in my truck and continue on with me!"
One of the favorite questions I received was anything along the lines of, "What are you going to do once you're done? Are you going back to Colorado? Think you'll work at the ski resort again?" Time after time, the response almost became unconscious, "I don't even know where I'm going to sleep tonight!" Quite a few times the statement actually provided a couch for the night. I also enjoyed being asked where I was from. Sometimes I would go in to a little detail, but more often than not it came out more simply, "Well, Ikinda live in my truck, so I guess tonight I'm from <wherever I happened to be>."
Like devout Christians seeking the Heart of God - the more he knows about God, the more he realizes how little he knows. Like meeting your perfect lover - the deeper you get to know them, no matter how beautiful they are, there is always more beauty and more depths to explore. Traveling is akin to these experiences. The more you do it, the greater the desire for more. The more you see, the more you want to see. You visit somewhere briefly (or even at length) and wish you could stay longer. You want to go back to the favorite places and just get to know other places you have been better, but at the same time realize how much more is out there to see and do and experience.
If only we lived to be hundreds or thousands of years old. Oh, the travels we could have! But instead of spending just hours or days in any place, months and years could be devoted to each location, long enough to get a more accurate idea of what the place is truly like, what its people are like, what the values are, what the customs and cuisines and superstitions and general beliefs are. Then spend months or years at the next place, learning its beliefs and customs to some degree. But then again, after 500 or a thousand years traveling around the globe doing this, even if it were possible to "see it all" (10,000 years would not be enough), by the time we were done, the world would be so changed that we would need to start over and see it all again to breath in the differences as each locality presented itself completely anew.
Just about every place I went on this journey I would like to go back to. Then I look at a map and realize, in the big scheme of things, how little I saw and experienced, even though I saw more during any month of these travels as many people see throughout their entire life. One could spend a lifetime in the Pacific Northwest and not see it all. I was there for three weeks. One could spend a lifetime in Chicago and probably not see it all. I was there for roughly 12 hours. Other than a night in Birmingham (and Nashville and Asheville, if you count them), I missed the south altogether. Other than at a toll booth on highway 90, I did not stop in Ohio. All I know of Nebraska is a rest stop, a Starbucks in Omaha, and the edge of the freeway where I got pulled over for "failure to use blinker during a lane change." And then I look north, to Canada and the boundless wilds of Alaska. South, to the mystical ruins of Peru and the magical grandeur of Patagonia. The atolls and islands of Micronesia and Fiji - freckles in the grande Pacific. The expansive deserts and endless jungles of Africa. Mysterious whirling dervishes of Turkey. Breathtaking castles in Germany, and layers of cities built upon cities built upon cities in ancient Europe. The fair folk of Scandinavia, the hospitable folk of Bulgaria, the hearty folk of Russia, the criminal folk of Australia. China - containing one fifth of the world's people. Bangladesh - one of the world's smallest, poorest, and most populated countries. India - where every region, every city, and probably every street bears its own language, religion and dynamic.
In addition to everything I've written down over the past months, thoughts and memories as numerous and varied as the occupants of a New York subway car litter my brain...
...taking a shower at Starbucks - the single occupancy bathrooms were best. I would go in with toothbrush and toothpaste, a rag and new shirt, lock the door, remove my shirt - probably going on day three or four by this point, wash and rinse (I think I even washed my hair a few times in this manner), occasionally shave, brush up, freshen up, clean up, and walk out as if this behavior was completely normal and acceptable.
...the glorious feeling of washing 400 miles of grime and sweat off of my face at a gas station.
...waking up at 3 in the morning from an over-filled bladder, realizing I will not be able to wait until morning, and having to crawl out the back of my truck on some random streetside, do my duty, all the while hoping a police car or pedestrian does not sneak up on me.
...the sensations created from violently shaking my torso and shoulders back and forth after driving 8 hours straight, feeling the stimulation shooting through my atrophied muscles like electricity. Pressing my feet into the floor, as if on an airplane, encouraging bloodflow into my extremities.
...realizing that good company can redeem even the worst bar, and bad company can ruin the best.
...the peculiar feeling of leaving a place that I know I will probably never leave again.
...how saying goodbye never gets easier, and is sometimes easiest not said at all.
I knew at the beginning of this trip, I knew a year ago when another relationship failed due to some of the same destructive patterns in my life, that it was time to give myself some space, and just devote some time to myself. I hate the phrase "finding yourself". Although, I suppose this trip has been a form of that, however, rather than finding myself, I prefer to think that I have been creating myself. I liken it to your life being like a castle haphazardly made out of LEGOs, built at random, with no greater design or insight, random pieces stuck here and there, all colors of the rainbow, and an incomplete foundation. There comes a time in life when we need to just wipe the whole castle out. With a sea of LEGO pieces strewn about, we are now free to pick a piece up, inspect it, say "Yes, I like this piece," and deliberately place it on the building plate. Pick up another piece, inspect it... "I like this." Set it in place with intelligence and insight. Pick up another piece. "I don't like this." Throw it aside. And so on, until a stable foundation is formed, walls begin to erect, spires start to spiral and rocket into the sky, and the castle becomes exactly and beautifully what we want it to be.
I have also realized, after it all, that this was not the journey. This was merely the preface. Here it does not end...
...here it begins.
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