Places I have been
India and Neighbors
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SE Asia / China
How I started
Equipment Pages Index
The Trip Could Have Ended Where It Started
Since my last RoadNews Newsletter we rode up 6,000 ft. from Phoenix to where this whole trip began, Prescott, Arizona, USA. Riding into our hometown we retraced the route we took out of Prescott over seven years ago. These were roads we had ridden hundreds of time with the local bike club and the memeries of riding unloaded bikes came rushing back. When I looked down at my map case I noticed that I still had the Phoenix map showing and commented to Cindie "You know, this is the first time in seven years we have not needed a map to navigate." Word had spread of our returning to our hometown so even before we reached town we had an escort of old friends riding in with us.
Entering the downtown area of Prescott we saw the very spot, next to the courthouse, where almost seven years to the day we told our friends goodbye and started down a very long road that still has no end. Instictily we wanted to turn up the street to our house less than a mile away but we remembered it is rented and someone else gets to enjoy all the comforts of the little house we love so much. Instead we headed over to our good friends Jim and Karen's house where we set up base for our two week visit.
We had a full agenda for the two weeks we were in town. There was a book signing event, public speaking presentation, newspaper interview, a dinner party, and a week long ordeal of painting the outside of our house. Once the story hit the front page of the local paper it seemed that all of our friends were appearing from the woodwork. After so many years of being stranger in town, often a forigner in a distant country, and nobody knowing our name we had friends - and long term good friends at that. No one asked "what country are you from?" or "Did you ride those bikes all the way here." These people already knew us and we could talk about changes in the city, bike club, mountain bike trails, and friends who passed on during our absence. I was an acceptance that we had not felt in years.
We went to a bar with a group of friends and talked and listened to live music. Between songs the singer announced we were in the audience and explained a little about how we were from Prescott and had been on a long around the world bicycle trip. Cindie and I, who are normally working at blending in with the locals everywhere we go, found ourselves recieving applouse from the partying crowed. Afterwards we shook hands and recieved congradulations from several people. There were even kids that I knew as a teacher who were now old enough to drink (21 in the USA) who I barly reconized. We had indeed been gone a long time.
Our public events in our hometown went well. The book signing was next door to my very first apartment in town. I could picture a much younger "Tim" looking out the window back at me. The younger Tim was hopeful and excited to be starting a new life in such a wonderful place. Back then I knew my future was going to be different than most people's but the way things turned out even suprizes me. In my mind I waved back and told the younger Tim to just let go and enjoy the ride - and what a long ride it turned out to be.
It was the painting of our house that stirred up the most emotions. Our current renter (we have a property manager) would not allow us entry into the house, even to use the bathroom. We understood it was his right not to let us in but it was extremely difficult to spend a week poking around every inch of the exterior and not to go inside. Still, as we taped and covered the windows we had glimpses inside. We made the best of it. Even know the house was not ours to use it was still ours and a source of comfort and stability in an otherwise nomadic life.
In the evenings Cindie and I talked about all the emotions we expieranced being around our house and came to the conclusion that the house represented all of the comforts and security we gave up in exchange to travel throughout the world. Life in the house meant we knew, every day, where we were going to get water, charge batteries, receive mail, and sleep at night. Life on the bikes is often uncomfortable with public toilets or digging little holes in the ground, hoping to charge all of our batteries before we get get kicked out of the Laundromat, and frantically trying to get the tent down before the local police show up. The house had comfortable places to sit and space to be alone and hide from the world. Life on the bikes means sitting, sleeping, and eating on the ground. But, life on the bikes has more good than bad.
As I was drifting off in the warm and fuzzy feeling of how easy life was in the house Cindie reminded me that living in the house also meant 9 to five jobs with bosses, deadlines, stress, and living for the weekend. Owning the house was a reminder that we were adrift by choice. Even though we live in a tent we will never be homeless because there is always a tiny piece of the earth that is ours.
The contrast between our house and our touring bikes couldn't be greater. Our bikes parked next to the house represented freedom, not just to see the world, but also bills, alarm clocks, and stagnation. The house represented the easy life.
Cindie was less tempted by the house than I was because she was looking forward to getting back on the road. We had a whole summer in front of us riding to dozens of national parks as we cross the USA.
Knowing that a comfortable life in Prescott will always be there waiting for us we rode away from our home again knowing it would be several more years, thousands of kilometers, and dozens of countries before we would return. I learned that the road that has no end can leave any direction from home. We went North this time. We did not end or begin this crazy trip; we just kept going. Who knows what what is waiting for us out there but there is only one way to find out.
So, after riding over several mountains from Prescott - Jerome - Cottonwood - Sedona - Flagstaff - South Rim of the Grand Canyon - Lee's Ferry we are now in Kanab, Utah taking care of some of the unexciting business that seems to pile up when we are on the road. (We are switching book printers and have to receive a sample and fax in signed contracts)
Utah is probably my second favorite state in the USA (after Arizona) with some great national parks and hard riding. Red rocks and pine forest here we come
I have used several brands of bicycle panniers and
highly recommend Ortlieb.
See Why I switched to Ortlieb waterproof Panniers?
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