Wednesday, September 2

Returning Home

Somewhere in San Francisco my sandal broke. Truth be told, it actually snapped in Telluride, CO. See when I left New York, I carried a pair of Shimano cycling shoes, a pair of running shoes, and my Chaco sandals. Wearing three shoes in rotation meant each got a fair share of wear and tear. And of course, when just west of Pueblo, CO when I sent the running shoes home (along with another 8lbs of stuff), I was down to a two pair rotation - cycle shoes when cycling and sandals when, well, every moment opposite. Anyway, by Telluride, they were shot. The strap dislodged from both the toe and the side of the foot, leaving it impossible to walk without fixing. What turned into a glue and duct-tape remedy, I made it to the Pacific without further trouble. But then, there was trouble.

Well, I was about to attempt to summon the picture, but my mother beat me to it. Looking back to what I had already posted, as to avoid repeating myself, I noticed that my mother (within the last 20 minutes) shared the image of my return home:

I think one of my favorite images was of you coming off the airplane after your journey. You had on black sweat pants, a green T-shirt, and a green plaid raggedy flannel shirt over that. Your luggage was a brown paper bag, which held your sleeping bag and dopp kit. You had a great big smile on your face that your full beard didn't cover. And then we couldn't help but notice you only had one shoe on, but they had let you on the plane anyway!
Indeed, my shoe problem left me no choice but to walk shoeless (though I suppose it was really 'sandal-less') around San Francisco, the Airport, and the plane. The brown bag she refers to was something I picked up from the Hostel my friend Kevin was staying at for the night - walking downtown carrying nothing but a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, a broken sandal, and wallet was not as inviting as I thought so the bag served to consolidate the few pieces of gear I couldn't send home with the bike. In either case, with or without the brown bag, no one made eye contact with me on the street. Now, I know what you're thinking, "Nate, SF is a big city, of course no one made..." Shut up. I live in New York and know how much eye contact is normal. This was abnormal and I, like my folks, attribute it to the bare foot, flannel (which was not raggedy by the way) and beard.
After sleeping in backyards, parks, under overpasses, and dugouts, comparatively my first night of sleep after the trip wasn't far off. That is, by then I was used to sleeping in uncomfortable places. In fact, it had been since perhaps Kentucky that I had had a bed, so the ground of the San Francisco airport wasn't too bad. However, after flying to Michigan and waking up in a bed in my Aunts house, I was a little thrown off. Literally, the first thought that went through my head the morning of the 4th was a confused "WHERE AM I!?" The next couple of days were full of family, friends, and yes, more traveling. In fact, I calculated later that starting May 27th and not ending until August 30th, I was never in the same place longer than 5 days - despite finishing the bike ride August 2nd. Talk about a summer of movement. But I'm back in the city now.
Since being back many folks have inquired about my trip and what I'm finding is that its difficult to think about what to share as there's just so much (as those who have been following have seen). Regardless, here are some talking points I start with before I just ask them to ask questions, as specific questions are easier for me to respond to:
It took me 2 months (June 3rd - August 2nd).
4073 miles of riding.
I rode solo until mid-Missouri.
Missouri was my least favorite state.
Colorado and Utah were favorite states (scenicly speaking - is that even a word?).
Kansas and Nevada were also my most favorite states (due to great company).
I would never do it alone again. Not because I regret that I did. I just did, so I don't need to again.
I would do it again with friends in a heartbeat.
I don't have my bike in NYC. I was fine with this up until a week ago when I started to really have withdraw.
One thing I discovered that I didn't expect was America's incredibly generous spirit.
I learned how to whistle by attempting to whistle every time I saw a dog. (Yes, I admit, I couldn't before the trip.)
The Hub and BGI are amazing! They, along with many other private donors, made this possible. Check them out!
I enjoyed blogging so much that I will try to continue to blog about my time in New York: (real original, no?)