Armchair World Home Page Armchair World's Company Store Articles on science, history and health Articles on food preparation, wine, ingredients and recipes Travel information, articles, travel insurances, hotels, airlines, railpasses Armchair World
Armchair World Travel - Menu Info--Escapes-- Air-- Hotels-- Cruises--Vacations--Cars-- Railpasses--Specials--Insurance  

Ocean to Ocean on Two Wheels

Reflections on the Trip

July 21, 1996

I have been home from The Great Trek---Ms. Toad's Wild Ride ---BOBOB--- for almost three months now: longer than I was gone. And I must say that being here is STILL odd. I returned with a new head, so to speak; and I'm still having trouble putting that new head into the old trappings. It is very unsettling to still be this disjointed in my own life. Yes, I'm still riding; but then I always rode. The distances of my loops are longer than before; and I'm riding in higher gears than I used to. But riding in a circle, repeatedly, simply doesn't hold a candle---or a valve stem---to travel, to riding from point A to point B. Frustration.

Upon return, the moment 1 walked into my house---a house I've lived in and filled up for twenty-five years---EVERYTHING in it suddenly seemed extraneous, burdensome, unnecessary. This is the fruit of living with just 40 pounds of stuff for two months. I understood that immediately. But oddly, the feeling has not gone away. For the past year or so I have been aware of a need to thin down, refine possessions, divest; and I had begun to slowly do so. But in the weeks since I've been home that process has accelerated. I have cleaned closets, the attic, taken loads to the dump, to Goodwill, had a garage sale. The dent is almost visible. I shall continue. In addition to, shall we say, material dislocation, 1 also experienced upon return some strangeness in people-relating. Being constantly in motion is a very Zen experience. Everything is in the here and now, in the moment. There is no past and no future that applies to any particular place you find yourself, or to any person to whom you may be speaking. This is very seductive, because there is NO emotional baggage pertaining to the folks you encounter. It is, again, Zen --- in the moment. Seductive, yes. Realistic, no. I had to readjust, at home, to the fact that all around me were people who KNEW me, for better or worse. Oddly, this was easier to overcome than the stuff aspect. Had I thought about it at all ahead of time, I'd have assumed it would be the other way around.

I suppose the main thing is that I naively did not anticipate any of this. I expected a little post-partum-blues-type syndrome. But I did not expect what I'm dealing with. 1 feel like I'm just skimming along on the surface tension of my own life. An interesting phenomenon, it's true. But it would be nice to really BE here, since I AM here. In New Mexico, we encountered two fellows in their twenties, who had ridden out from Philadelphia (I think), down the east coast, across the south, and up the west coast to Seattle. They were on the road for five months. I'm sure they will experience even more-so what I am. I need to write them.

However, let's talk travel. My selection of gear proved fine for the whole trip. I could have done with fewer undies, but that's really about it. The rain suit I had was pretty warm and unbreathing --- NOT Goretex, which was too heavy to suit me, and too costly. Plus I'm told it is sweaty, too. So mine did the job, even if it wasn't optimum. But at least I was not carrying anything I felt was frivolous. We encountered one fellow who had a load of ninety pounds!! Strapped on his back rack, along with an incredible pile of other stuff, was an aluminum folding patio chair. Another fellow had crammed into a giant duffel on his back rack his pillow from home. I guess it wasn't frivolous to him.

For helpful hints, I have a few choice tidbits for those who may venture out. Procedurally, send stuff ahead. Find a friend, or a friend of a friend, who lives about halfway along your route, and ship a package of stuff out there before you leave home. Things like second-half maps, more vitamins, standing medications, clothing for a different weather pattern, and the like. Things which you know you will need for the second half, but which you really don't have to carry the entire way. And when you arrive where that box is, empty it of the incoming stuff, fill it up again with stuff you have been carrying but don't need anymore, and send it right back home again. And remember --- padded mailing envelopes can be found in most communities. Send home stuff all along the way that isn't being used. Don't carry a single thing that isn't necessary. Ship it back.

As regards items, the following:

Everywhere we went, people asked us questions. Where have you come from? Where are you going? Why are you doing this? What did you like best? Worst? Let me hit some of these, and others.

Many thanks to those who wrote and emailed me; I'll answer whenever possible. It's always a pleasure to compare notes with those who have made similar trips, and to encourage and/or advise those who have not yet set out.

Yes --- wind, rain, mountains ... these are discouraging. But basically all one needs to do a journey like this is the will to do so. Age is not an issue (one motel keeper in Arizona told us she had a coast-to-coaster who was 74!). Conditioning and technique can be acquired in the doing --- though at least a little advance training IS helpful. But if you have the will, you can do it. If I could, you can. Just find that window...


© 1996 BFZ

More Chapters on the Ocean to Ocean Ride

Homepage | More NetEscapes | Armchair World Directory

We appreciate any comments or questions you might have. Our e-mail address is .

You can also fill out our feedback form for sending us your comments. Thanks!