In a way, the trip already feels like a distant memory. Those early mornings we spent breaking camp in the cold morning air of the Pacific coast feel like years ago. Rolling the tent into its stuff sack and talking of the night’s sleep; sitting at the table and waiting for the coffee to brew while talking of the day’s ride ahead; waiting for the bike to turn over after cooling in the wet coastal air all night. These moments that marked the start of this journey have already been classified into the realms of our memory that hold fleeting images and flashing images than entire streams of consciousness.
Even our time not so long ago — in Wisconsin or Ontario or New York, where we unexpectedly came upon hospitality and homeliness unfit for the rag-tag group that we were — feels like the better part of a year. The time that we battled the night to ride hundreds of miles across the New York thruway in hopes of a soft bed and a warm shower; the days at Echo Valley that we spent trading our labor for food and a bed, our young and opened minds for well crafted knowledge and wisdom; riding with a lively Canadian along the Lake Erie shoreline and discovering the hidden facets of Ontario life. These experiences are ones that will never be forgotten, but it is hard to imagine that they will ever be recollected any different than we do now — blurry remembrances highlighted by high points.
The very recent memories, however, those are still vibrant. When we think of our time scurrying across the South m0re dirty, disgruntled, and determined to get home than ever before, the images are not just flashed that summon a smile and a stare at the wall. These thoughts call our minds right back to the moment that we experienced them and place a vivid scene in our head. Scenes of us racing down the highway with the hot Texas sun beating on our forearms; of us navigating a misty, muddy swamp late at night with no idea where to camp and no bearings of our direction; of us holding tight on the throttle at a steady twenty miles per hour while sheets of pouring rain fell upon us, stinging our eyes and soaking our fabric to the bone. These thoughts remain. Yet, knowing that they will follow the same fate of our earlier memories, we can only enjoy them in this state for a short while longer. Soon, they too will be memories more established in the stories we tell ourselves rather than the pictures automatically played across our eyelids when drawn close.
And the most vivid — of course — is the now. It is the return to California, the ride over the Spring Mountains and into the Mojave Desert, where sparse formations of Joshua Trees and dense outcroppings of power lines make up the desert landscape. The hot California sun glares in our eyes as we head directly west in the afternoon, bound for Los Angeles where friends — no, family — await us with open arms. Los Angeles mends us. It heals us. It makes us whole once again. We are not home yet, but the end is in sight. One last drive up the coast awaits us. We turn the bikes North like we did so many days ago and, soon enough, are enveloped in the fog once again.
To see us in this moment would be to see us in the absolute pinnacle of our triumph. As we passed into the city limits, our fists raised to the air in the typical style that we adopted during the trip. This time, however, it was not a motion to stop or a tribute to Road Dog. No, this time it was completely automatic. Our arms raised to the air, our eyes turned to the sky, and we stared out into the blue wonder. Our voices rang out from within our helmets and screamed “WE FUCKING DID IT! YEEEEEHAAAAWWW!!!” It was victory. Nothing in the world could bring us down.
Upon our return to San Francisco, it had been 54 days since we had crossed the Golden Gate and headed North. In this time, we rode over 10,500 miles and passed through 28 states, we crossed scorching deserts and cold mountain passes, we experienced the hardest times of our lives, and we enjoyed the best times of our lives. We returned to San Francisco on August 28, 2013 tired, tanned, dirty, burnt, smelly, blistered, and broke. But we were not broken. Behind us lay the road, but ahead of us lies another equally challenging journey. It is time now not to experience, but rather to exfoliate the layers of our trip — to peel back each moment we encountered and analyze the emotions divested, the knowledge gained, and the troubles conquered.
Now is the time that we sit down and re-watch the footage; now is the time that we re-collect and re-iterate the adventures; now is the time that we re-call what kept pushing us along those lone, empty highways where sagebrush reigned as king and a raincloud on the horizon was our only worry. Now is the time that the memories that have been fading as we drift off to sleep each night are displayed in their truest form on the screen of a computer rather than the projector of our minds. Now is the time that the memories are relived. Now is the time that we take the entire effort put forth in the last two months and, for you, re-create the magic that was our time Finding Main Street.
What is next?
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