nothing like cheesesteaks, chicken cheese steaks and cheese fries...
I'm in Lansdowne, Pa (just outside of Philadelphia).
I guess i'll summarize the last few weeks, to try to give a better sense of
the conclusion of the trip, since I was told that my emails "fizzled out at
the end" by a trusted source.
I was in Whitefish, MT for a week after the last email I sent out. During
that time I did what the locals did - went to the high school football game
- "Go Bulldogs!" went to the bars in town, went hiking with someone I met
at the Dairy Queen and um... went to the library... I was completely bored
out of my mind after a few days. It's pretty and all, and I bet if you ski
it would be great to be at the base of Big Mountain, but my stay in
Whitefish really hammered home how much I like living in a city. I actually
met a bunch of bikers who stayed at the hostel and it was really nice to
exchange stories and information and shots of tequila with tobasco in it.
Then came September 11th and I got pretty freaked out being in Montana with
everyone screaming retaliation and "well, Bush said we're gonna bomb 'em
all, so we're gonna nuke 'em all, that's right!" I also felt really guilty
and useless being 3,000 miles away from New York. We started biking again
on the 13th, but with 10 hours on a bike with nothing to do but sit with my
thoughts, I was consumed by thinking about what was going on back east. At
the same time I was trying to figure out what I was going to do next,
because from Spokane Alex was going to drive back to Iowa for a week since
he was the best man in a wedding. The last thing I wanted to do was to
wait around in Spokane for 7 or 8 days for him to return to finish out the
trip. My decision was between continuing on alone for the last 400 miles or
just finishing the trip in Spokane. So, we biked through Idaho (heard lots
of warnings about hate groups in Idaho - "keep your sunglasses on since you
don't have blue eyes; you'll probably be ok since you have blond hair..."
but just like everywhere else all of the people we met were really nice) and
then into Washington. I'm trying to think of funny things that happened,
but there just weren't that many. We pulled into one gas station and I saw
out of the corner of my eye this red round thing bobbing along the ditch. I
assumed it was a liberated red balloon. However at closer inspection I saw
that it was the next obvious answer - spiderman...or a little kid dressed up
in complete spiderman garb. He was flying around that ditch just like the
real thing; he totally had all of the moves down. Also, down the road from
the gas station at the bar there were a couple of trucks parked out front as
well as a horse tied up to the hitching post. Thought that was pretty cool,
someone actually rode their horse to the bar. Idaho and Washington were
really spectacular landscape wise and i would love to come back and some day
bike the cascades.
We pulled into Spokane around 1pm, stopped at the post office to ship my
panniers home, went to the bike shop to drop off our bikes to have them
shipped to our respective homes, then got in a cab to the airport to pick up
the rental car. Now, if this was fiction I would have continued biking to
the coast and upon seeing the Pacific Ocean reflect on all of my experiences
of the summer and suddenly I would have clarity on what I wanted to do with
the rest of my life, the music would start playing and probably the love
interest that i would have met in Wisconsin would suddenly appear and all
would be perfect. No check that, Ben Affleck would appear just back from
saving the world by arm wrestling Osama Bin Laden and since this obviously
has turned into a Bruckheimer/Bay flick there would be an American flag
flapping in the back ground as we embraced and Aerosmith wailed their newest
top 20 ballad. Unfortunately this is reality and within an hour of pulling
into Spokane we were in a car (a daewoo no less) driving east with no
fanfare, no reflection, just another moment on the trip.
It took 3 and a half months to get across the country and 3 and a half days
to get back. That even included a stopover in the town where I grew up
outside of Pittsburgh - I can't believe how much the place has changed
(hadn't been back in 5 or 6 years).
I spent two days in New York, mostly walking around by myself taking it all
in, then came down to Philly and am staying with Melissa. I'll drive down
to North Carolina on Saturday.
I hope everyone is doing well.