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(see all 3 book)'s RoadNews Newsletter:
11 Years Down The Road: Looking for my second wind.

2013 (Sent From Death Valley National Park, Southern California, USA)

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I am writing this on laptop battery power in my lonely desert camp in the Mojave National Preserve, Southern California. I was going to have to pack up and ride north today but a kind woman in an RV gave me a couple gallons of water so I decided to take an extra day off in my free camp and write this letter. My thoughts about traveling these past 11 years are complicated. I really do not know what to say other than drifting with the seasons on a bike seems to come very natural to me. I can sleep anywhere, eat almost anything, hang out in most crowds and be adaptable. Making friends and building trust quickly is key. All very important skills for a long term traveler. But I could do these things even before my travels started. So, 11 years and I am still at it. It seems hard to stop now. March 30 is my anniversary but I don't expect a special celebration. Maybe I will be lucky and be near a store or bar but this is a lonely stretch of road, heading into Death Valley, and I will probably be camping in the middle of nowhere using a 10 liter water bag as a pillow. Wherever I am you can bet that I will hoist the best drink I can find, even if it is my water bottle, and ask the road where she is taking me next. (Picture is a couple days ago in Joshua Tree National Park)

Playing around with the self timer on the long climb in Joshua Tree National Park

It has been so long since I wrote an email letter I better quickly recap the last year:

Extended travel is not without its costs. My drifter lifestyle has kept me far from home during most family functions. Traveling uncles are out of the country for birthdays, Thanksgivings, graduations and most other family events. So, unfortunately the worst was bound to happen and when it was my turn I was far away from my family. My mother sadly and unexpectedly passed away while my travel partner and I were cycling high in the Indian Himalayan Mountains. So remote in fact that when we finally pulled into a modern enough town with electricity and internet I learned of the tragedy several days too late to get home in time for the funeral. I was crushed. My crazy nomadic lifestyle caused me to miss my own mother's funeral.

To add to this tragedy was the situation with my travel partner and girlfriend Gretchen. We had traveled together for over a year through Nepal, India, and Bangladesh. But we always agreed that two travelers like us would eventually find separate roads. When I went back to Indiana she went to see her family in California. We parted ways on good terms but don't have any future plans of traveling together.

I lived with my dad a few months while he adjusted to life without my mom. They had been married over 50 years. Mom left us unexpectedly and no contingency plans were in place. I hung out with dad a lot and my family always has something going on like birthdays and holidays. Through Face Book I reconnected with several high school friends (Greenwood HS 1985) and we had informal reunions. To keep my fitness up I pulled down my road bike from the attic and made the best of the Indiana summer/fall on the numerous country roads.

Now that I am back on the road (more below) I have to think about what is next. If you ask me on any given day what I want to do with my life you will get one of two opposite answers. Most days I dream of continuing on several more years to the remaining places I have not been to yet including Europe, The Middle East and Africa. On other days I just want to return to a normal life in my house in Prescott, Arizona. It's funny, before this trip I used to dream of extended travel and made it my life's goal until I made it happen. Now, years later, here I am with no limitations as to where to travel next. It is kinda weird reaching such a lofty goal in ones life. You are left asking: Now what? How do I top that? Is everything else boring compared to that? To give up this freedom seems crazy but I also know I can not keep this up forever and the longer I am on the road the harder it is to stop.

Recently I rode through Prescott, Arizona and checked on my house and a few remaining friends. I've known, even on the day I started, that this trip would end there and I can picture what my life would be like. Walking to work or home from meeting friends from my downtown house and joining the hiking and biking clubs. Comfort, stability and even health insurance.

But my sister Terri, has better plans. My nephew Jake is a wiz at school and has taken so many extra classes (many with college credit) that he is graduating a whole year early from high school. He is already accepted at Indiana University (where I went and raced Little 500) and has a whole year to kill. Terri wants Jake and I to take a long bike trip to give him something enriching to fill the gap some time to grow up before college. So, I temporarily scrapped the temptation to go home and committed to meeting Jake in Portland, Oregon in mid June. Maybe passing the travel bug on to my younger relatives is just what I need to catch my second wind. A strong enough second wind will carry me all the way to Africa......

One of the rare times I pay to camp was in the Joshua Tree NP campground

My current travels:

Last month I flew to Phoenix and am in the process of spending three months solo cycling around America's incredible desert areas and National Parks on my way north to meet Jake in Portland in mid June. Death Valley is my next destination.

Current pictures

My tentative route map here.





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