Day 53. Mile 9831. Journey’s End.
We made it—alive, and none the worse for wear. Fifty-three days on a motorcycle, but we traveled through only fourteen states and two provinces. We did not see the USA in its entirety, not even close! But, to be fair, many of these states and provinces are larger than most nations! We endured the raw elements—from frigid rain in Quebec to scorching heat in the Mojave Desert, from crisp mountain air in Wyoming to choking forest fires in Colorado and New Mexico—well, that’s something we will never forget.
How fortunate to travel that far without a major problem with the bike or trailer. Considering all of the roadkill we saw, we were also fortunate not to have hit a single mammal or bird. We are not counting bugs! In some places the deer and antelope were thick as thieves, often ambling only a few feet from us on the roadside.
One of the neatest parts of the trip was visiting with friends and family---schnorring, to use a Yiddish word that means sponging in a parasitic manner, not snoring. We would like to thank our hosts who opened their beautiful homes and their generous hearts to us. They gave us a little respite from the tedium of mile after mile on the bike, a clean bed, a shower, and a chance to do our laundry. More than that, they showed us their distinctive environments and lifestyles. What fun!
Steve and Cynthia live in Hackensack, NJ, just a few minutes from the Big Apple. They took us on a tour of New York where we were able to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and to dine in a fabulous Argentinian restaurant. Real and Jose opened their Cookshire, Quebec home and showed us how the Quebecois live. They inhabit a very different world, and their view of it is distinct from other Canadians and most assureredly, people from the States. They bundled us up for a 1000-mile trip to some of the most untouched, pristine lakes on the continent, where we had awesome luck fishing for Walleyes, Northern Pike, and trout. Our friends Pat and Peter entertained us in their lovely home beside Cayuga Lake, with Seneca, the largest of the Finger Lakes in Upstate New York. We sampled great wines and ciders made at local vineyards, and we visited a beautiful gorge and waterfall. It was also great to see their son Jim, whom I haven’t seen for about 20 years. In Plano, Texas Marty and Sylvia entertained us at their lovely and put even us up in a fancy hotel. We ate at South African restaurant and enjoyed visits with their children, Michael and Arleen. We stayed with Arleen and her family at their nearby home in Plano. We worshipped with them at the Watermark Church—a very special Christian community. And we cooked meals together! Arleen and I have similar approaches to cooking. (Let the flour fly!). We even made pupusas, an El Salvadoran, stuffed corn tortilla. It was a very busy time for Arleen, Joe, and Jake as they were in the process of selling their home and buying a new one. So the visit took on a frenetic pace. Between you and me, that’s about where Arleen lives. Cousins Sam and Leslie live about 4 hours to the south, near Houston. Their home was very comfortable and immaculate. We really enjoyed hanging out with them! I had never visited their homes before, so this was a real treat. Cousins Ellen and Arnie live an extraordinary life in Ivins, Utah. Ivins is in the Snow Canyon, a desert with massive outcrops of red buttes. The home was masterfully designed and built to blend into the environment unobtrusively. Desert animals from quail to bobcat, would visit regularly. Ellen and Arnie love the national parks located relatively near them—the Grand Canyon, Bryce, and Zion parks. They visit them regularly and were exceptionally knowledgeable tour guides. Whether chasing wild turkeys in Zion, posing with the almost-too-friendly animals, or hanging out at home watching a movie on TV, we had a blast with them. We headed up north to South Dakota to visit with Bill, the friend I first met in Costa Rica a few years ago. Bill is a dedicated bachelor and lives in his male cave in the Southeastern corner of South Dakota. He is learned about flora, fauna, and all things Indian. For me, the highlight of our trip was doing some night fishing on the great Missouri River, as the moon rose over the Santee Indian community, across river. Our last hosts were Tonya and Chris, the parents of Jo Ann’s grandchildren. They live in a grand home in a spiffy Detroit suburb. We had a lot of fun with the kids, and it tickled my heart to hear little Skye call me Grampa.
What was our favorite part? Was it zigzagging through gorgeous snow-capped mountains? Was it watching moose and their calves drink along the river’s edge? Was it snapping photos of mule deer as they visited our campsite, or of wild turkeys along the Virgin River in Utah? Was it the feeling of smallness that we experienced as we took in the expansive spaces of canyon valleys carved out by rivers millions of years ago? Or the feeling that we were standing on sacred, holy ground touched by the hand of God and offering ample evidence of His wisdom? Was it visiting with our beloved friends and family along the way? Or chatting with fellow travelers, swapping stories and exchanging ideas for travel routes? It was all of this—a beautiful experience and lifetime achievement.
It remains to be seen whether or not we can do something of this magnitude again, but if we have learned anything from this experience, it is this: do it while you can.