Hello from the other side.
It’s been 3.5 months since we've talked. I needed time to decompress, time to forget what happened and time to remember it again. Time to focus on writing two paid articles, one about my motivations and the other that recounts trip highlights, including why a bicycle is the best way to travel.
Read those articles. I spent weeks perfecting them. A book proposal is also in the works. I’m writing the sample chapters now. That has put me in the mood for picking back up.
So, where were we? I left you in Oklahoma. I can’t believe that riding a sluggish 7 mph across America actually outpaced my writing, but turning rough notes into presentable stories takes more time than you’d think. The good thing is that I kept written records and voice memos that will help me piece together the rest of my journey with the same freshness as if I were still on the road.
There’s another reason why I didn’t resume writing after I finished: I didn’t want to tell you about it. Where I left off coincides with the first half of my trip. It went perfectly, minus a flat tire and punch to the face.
The second half through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California got much, much harder. I didn’t really enjoy it until about 100 miles east of Los Angeles. These were the darkest days, the coldest nights, the loneliest roads.
It got windy. It got dark… at 4:30 PM. It got snowy. I got tired. I got hungry. I got cold. I got chubby. As my pace slowed, my frustrations mounted. Not only did the terrain and weather get worse, but also my mileage increased and the landscape emptied out. I met fewer fun people and stayed in more cheap motels.
Por ejemplo, the Desert View Motel in Yucca Valley, CA where after three nights of sleeping in the frigid desert, I fell asleep here — finally warm! — on New Year’s Eve before midnight with a bag of popcorn, grapes and unopened beer in bed. Nobody has more fun than I do, right?
After I made it to the Pacific Ocean, I didn’t have the appetite to revisit my trip in writing because I didn’t want to think about the wind in Texas, endless hills in New Mexico or cold nights camping in California.
Of course there are highlights: the murals and motel in Tucumcari, Mexican food in Santa Fe, craft beer in Albuquerque, my hosts in Flagstaff, a day at the Grand Canyon, crossing into California, a week in the citrus growing region of Redlands, the diversity of Los Angeles and the sunset finish in Santa Monica.
However, in between those good times are long, lonely roads filled with self-doubt and worsening weather. I lost feeling in my toes west of Seligman, Arizona and woke up in an ice encrusted tent in Joshua Tree National Park, California.
I’m now ready to recount what happened and bring these experiences to light. I’ll start with an overview of Route 66 that takes me out of Oklahoma and into the Texas panhandle where I’m more than halfway done but feel farther away from California than ever.