Friday, July 29, 2011

The End is Near

In Washington DC July 28th
It is hard to beleive that 30 days ago I started out on this adventure to see America in a new way.  I rode through 20 states,  eight for the first time, some of them coming and going, camped in three National Parks/Forests and visited two other National Parks.  Visited with family and friends, some I had never met before, talked to many strangers about Not Alone and riding in general. I had not one unpleasant moment on the trip (with the possible exception of a tent full of storm water) and had lots of very unexpected surprises on both the 'Zen and the Art' trip west and the US50 trip back east.

Many of the best lessons learned were from actual physical conditions, but some were gifts from others, like the conversation with a state trooper in Minnesota while the state government was closed due to lack of funds.  And the folks in Oakes, ND who were sharing their fireworks on July 3rd.  Things were going good for them and they were very upbeat.  The State Trooper there was not concerned about his employer at all.

I learned most about myself.  When I left on June 30th I had some doubts about making the trip.  Would the 1981 BMW R100, a last-minute substitute bike, hold up with no preparation?  It had 162K miles on it, now approaching 170K miles.  I heard myself say that I'd be willing to get on any bike I own and ride to California on it.  Well, I have done it, and the bike was no problem. My body held up well as did my mind, though there were several times I gave up in the hottest weather.  A good night's sleep and the world appeared better in the morning.  And some of those times of fatigue and overheating spurred rests that allowed me to meet significant people as in a Vallejo, California parking lot or at Ohio University.
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Having a plan and following it makes a difference.  I am a planner by profession, but have never planned a trip in this much detail. In fact I usually just pick a region to visit and plan one day at a time.  So I learned that I could make such a plan, follow it, and most important, really enjoy my ride.

I have only a couple of hundred miles to go, I have passed the scariest part - the route through Washington DC, and I have rested up at my daughter and son-in-law's home in Baltimore for the final leg of the trip on Saturday.  It is really hot here so I modified that last day to start and end on the eastern shore.  We will be leaving the VFW post in Easton at about noon and traveling the 77 miles to Ocean City, MD.  I count on taking some photos, walking in the ocean, drinking some water and heading back to Easton where the ladies of the VFW post are providing a special dinner for those that come.

After that it is a few hundred miles home to southwest Virginia but I will likely travel home with my wife and pick up the bike in a week or two when we will be visiting the area again.

For those who have supported Not Alone I extend my thanks, you can keep doing that even after the ride either through the link on this blogsite or directly at NotAlone.Com.  The people that I have met as I talked about the work of this group have enriched my life and I hope that we in a small way can make life better for women adn men in the services that have gone to war in our place.  I thank them for their service and pray that their lives are fruitful and whole.

You may notice that I try to end each blog with a 'lessons learned' line or two.  This is the result of being aware that I learn something every day, and find it helpful to remind myself just what that is.  Sometimes tongue-in-cheek, sometimes more down to earth, these lessons learned are real.  I feel that we cannot afford to learn all things by making our own mistakes, but should pick up come lessons from others.  I hope that some of them spoke to you in some way.  Be mindful of the lessons you learn each day.

To each of you that befriended me for a minute, or an hour or an evening in some eatery, park, shelter during a storm, or parking lot - you are the people I ride to meet.  Thanks and I hope that you are able to get some enjoyment from our passing along one-another's route.  For those that hosted me in your homes, again thanks and I hope to see you all again.

Please let me know if I can help you along the way and if you are in the Roanoke area let me know.

Lessons Learned: I can enjoy riding an old bike a long, planned way, meeting people and being alone in the helmet for miles and miles - the yin and the yang of life.

Special thanks to so many people involved in the ride:  Andre's folks, Ben and Cecilia, for the original idea of a cross country ride to see that precious new-born baby; Bob Pirsig for publishing the tale of his 1968 ride; all the Pirsig Pilgrims who made the trip before me and left crumbs of info on the internet along the way and in books that I used for research; the BMW folks - Bob, Dave, Duane and Kent - who supplied me with parts, hope and inspiration along the way; the US-50 researchers who published hints on the towns and the route; Peter for being with me in Colorado to Kayak and keep me in line on the APRS tracker; my employer for letting me take 30 days off to make the trip and, not least, my wife who has run the household in my absence and who I will get to see tomorrow.

1 comment:

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Welcome Home, Ron. Sorry we missed seeing you on this road trip, but we did enjoy folowing your adventures online. Thanks for taking us along. We're having a good time in RI visiting the grandson and new granddaughter.