For those of you who thought my mangled carcass was slowly decomposing in a swampy roadside bog in Louisiana, I've got news for you: 5,500+ miles, 4.75 months, 5 flat tires, 10 states and 31 host homes later I'm very alive and exceedingly well in KEY WEST, FLORIDA!!
To be honest, I am probably more amazed than anyone that I actually followed through with it...and survived! At the outset I'd speculated that my chance of arriving in Key West was maybe 30%, given the myriad problems, challenges and obstacles I could encounter: crippling knee pain, chronic hemorrhoids, paralyzing trepidation, foul-weather burn-out, mechanical catastrophes, disastrous encounters with cars, trucks and RV's, monetary shortcomings and failures, gratuitous overuse of adjectives, etc. But through a combination of good fortune and halting perseverance, I made it to the end of the yellow brick road! What an adventure it's been!
Far and away the best aspect of the journey has been the incredible people I have met. More than anything––and, yes, I know this will sound cliche, but it's true––doing a trip like this restores/reinforces/confirms one's faith in the goodness and generosity of the general populous. Over and over and over I was blown away by the
Something disappointing I've discovered along the way is that there are a lot of people out there living with an abiding fear of the world. Other cyclists I've spoken with confirm this. A ubiquitous comment shared amongst cyclists is, "I've had a number of people ask me if I'm carrying or have considered carrying a gun." (!?) Another question cyclists often report being asked is, "Aren't you afraid of getting attacked/mugged?" (Naturally, this always comes from people who have never done anything like a cross-country bike trip.)
I suspect that this common dread stems from a culture of isolationism; we've built an infrastructure of virtual (and actual) walls and shields that keep us from interacting and socializing with those around us. Day after day, over and over, I've observed people sitting in their cars/trucks, queued up at the fast-food drive-thru (when there's no wait inside), living in their little fortresses (ie., houses), "safe" from the perceived threat outside/next door, observing the world through the television and computer screen, growing more and more convinced that the world is a scary and dangerous place.
Fortunately, the cure for the dread is to simply get out and discover that you're not attacked, mugged, murdered, harassed or even threatened and that the many people who are not kind and friendly are not malicious and dangerous but are likely just the aforementioned fearful.
Hey, do your part to reform this culture of fear! Get outside and interact with your neighbors. Talk to strangers in line at the grocery store. Initiate conversation with your co-workers and family members about this fear. Invite the neighbors you don't know over for dinner. Undertake a cross-country bike trip or a 500 mile walk.
And for God's sake, get out of your car!!
Whoo, sorry about the rant! Had to get that off my chest. Feel much better now. Kind of like after you vomit.
Now if you're wondering about the missing two and a half months of blog entries, they're coming. I have hundreds of photos and dozens of videos to sift through and edit and I will get them uploaded along with blog entries as soon as I can after I get home (April 2nd). I'll send another email when the blog is finished.
Tomorrow (Monday, the 28th) I'm renting a car here in Key West and driving up to Miami where Tuesday morning I am boarding a train for a five day trip back to Seattle.
It will be very nice to be back in the wonderful Pacific Northwest!