In reflecting on my first 1,000 miles, what hit me hardest is that you can go on the most exotic adventure in your own backyard.
You see, I’m one of those people that thought you needed to go to a new country to travel. To experience an adventure you need to be out of your comfort zone, handicapped by a foreign: language, transportation system, currency, cuisine, or culture. I didn’t think it would be possible to have such a journey in a country where you know the language, the value of a $1 bill and the way of life.
But my view on travel dove right into the equator and flipped over in the past 25 days. I feel like I’ve traveled to the farthest land and had the richest experience, but in reality, I’ve only traveled 1,000 miles from home.
In this time, I’ve been stripped down. I’ve stumbled across states. I’ve been humbled by the kindness of strangers. And I’ve been completely alive. Wide-awake. Soaking up every minute from my slow ticking clock.
I think the highlight of traveling is breaking free from daily routine – allowing yourself to surrender, to discover, to wonder. While routine makes us efficient, it steals spontaneity and accelerates time. Days, weeks and months blend together as we put life on cruise control.
I’ve let all controls go. I no longer wait for a cappuccino to start my day. I take water.
I have an open calendar to taste strawberries, if I so desire. I let curiosity lead the way.
My nails no longer have polish. They are painted in chain oil and dirt from changing tires (5 flats so far).
I worry less about what I look like. I’m more concerned about what I’m looking at. I’ve witnessed the most incredible show, put on by the CA, AZ and NM landscape, and I’ve watched it slowly unfold at 17 miles-per-hour.
I have disrobed the cloak of routine, so I can freely skinny dip into the moment.
I’ve fallen off my bike once in CA and my stiff elbow likes to remind me of that foolish spill.
I’ve stumbled through an Indian Reservation and was told I could not pass. I then pushed the bike down a roughed up frontage road, sandwiched between the railroad tracks and I10. When a transient popped out of the bushes and stared me down, instinct told me to turn around and march right back to the main road. At a loss, I went to the Banning Police Station to ask for help on how best to cross this impenetrable 2.5-mile stretch. They ended the struggle by driving me those few miles.
I hobbled across my first state border (AZ), having to prove my worthiness and ingenuity after pinching the wires that connect the electric bike motor.
You see, I might know the currency and understand the native culture, but I’ve chosen a vehicle that places me in foreign situations and requires imaginative exits.
I’ve been completely humbled by the kindness of strangers. People are good.
One afternoon my solar panel stopped charging my battery. I had enough charge to ride into the Days Inn in Chambers, AZ but the town didn’t offer much more. So the next morning, I re-routed and rode 50 miles on the interstate to Gallup, NM. It was another state crossing that tested my valor.
I pulled over once I saw the first gas station with a service center. I was on the hunt for an electrical minded person. Dad, my Chief Technology Officer, was on the phone guiding me. First, check the electrical circuit with an ohmmeter.
I came in hot to the service center, boldly asking for an ohmmeter, when in reality; I didn’t even know what it looked like. A man stepped out saying, “I have one in the car.”
That man, Cecil, became my solar angel. He didn’t even work at the shop; his car was being serviced. Cecil not only had an ohmmeter but he was also an electrical hobbyist that carries meters and soldering irons in his car. Could I have been any luckier?
I let him take the lead as I humbly stood back and watched. We realized I broke one of the wires to the solar panel. After diagnosing the problem, he could have left. His car was ready. But Cecil stayed another hour and saw it through. We soldered the wires; shrink wrapped them and taped them up like new.
This moment punctuated my journey with an exclamation mark. It epitomizes travel -- finding yourself at a loss, humbly asking for help, discovering the kindness of another and realizing a new way forward. I think of Cecil every day I connect my solar cables.
As the miles pass, my mind continues to expand. Every day I am traveling and every night I arrive in a new place. I flop into bed – exhausted, with my muscles twitching, and my mind exhilarated for what tomorrow might bring.
I’m alive. Wide-awake. Just look at my scars, laugh lines, freckles and deep tan lines for the story.
And I invite all of you to go travel – pack up your courage, leave your routine at home, slow down time and go on a wild adventure…one that can even start in your own backyard.