A proper midlife crisis requires drastic change. That’s what I intend to do this year.
Life has a way of just — happening. It moves on, carrying you along. After awhile, a rut begins to form. Too long in one place, doing one thing, living one way, and the rut cuts deeper, gets more comfortable, makes it harder to change course.
When I graduated college, I got a sales job and disappeared to Florida for a year and a half. My friends worried I’d been sucked into a cult. My mom and sister begged me to come home and rejoin the family. Seventeen months later I pulled back into Wisconsin–only thirty dollars to my name, my life a total mess and everything I owned in the back seat of my Honda Accord. It had been a great time.
Many people don’t know that chapter of my life. I hold it dear to my heart.
Days 14-16: Utah, the Rocky Mountains, the Great Plains, and Home
Miles ridden: 1,570; Money Spent: ?
Somewhere between the Grand Canyon and Utah, I cracked the 5000 mile mark for the trip. It was a good feeling, knowing I’d hit the mileage goal I’d set before leaving Wisconsin. And my other goal–14 days–well, it just happened to be day 14. I seemed to be doing all right.
Days 11-13: San Francisco, Yosemite, Death Valley and the Grand Canyon
Miles ridden: 1,304; Money Spent: $250
In the morning, lying in my tent and feeling the cold ocean air, I actually started to miss home. Maybe it was the fact I’d completed my goal and was now entering the return leg. Maybe it was that the days, no matter how much fun, turned lonely at night while sitting quietly by the campfire and squinting at routes through the darkness.
Days 8-10: California, Dinner with Strangers, and a Pacific Sunset
Miles ridden: 953; Money Spent: $142
Riding can be a solitary experience, but having a motorcycle also makes you part of a community. That’s how I’d come to spend the night, 3000 miles from home, at a complete stranger’s house. They opened their home and welcomed me simply because I was a fellow rider.
Days 6-7: Yellowstone, Idaho, Oregon
Miles ridden: 921; Money Spent: $135
Before this trip, I’d only cracked 200 miles in a day once or twice and only been west of the Mississippi River a handful of miles. Touring and touring the west was an entirely new experience. That has a few advantages, mainly, I have no idea what the hell I’m doing, where I’m going, no plan and just take things as they come. I woke in the morning, still unsure if in the afternoon I’d head towards the Grand Canyon or California. Mid-day I’d decide to do neither, head north, change my mind, backtrack, lose-time and, as the sun arched towards the horizon, still be second guessing why I was going west. South! Not west! That was where the fun was at.
Days 4-5: Wyoming, Dinosaurs, and Yellowstone
Miles ridden: 644; Money Spent: $170
It got cold last night, too cold for mid-June, and I pulled the sleeping bag as tight as I could, trying my best to sleep like an encased mummy and awaking periodically when a stray arm would wiggle it’s way out.
Six months back my computer crashed. That awful half-written novel from high school, computer games designed for college classes, old pictures never backed up–they were all gone. Worst were the pictures. I’d traveled across the western half of the United States in 2007 with nothing but my motorcycle, some camping equipment, and a camera.
Those memories were lost forever until I rediscovered them alive on the web, sitting in on an old motorcycle forum these past few years with over 8000 views. I’m reprinting that trip here, edited down significantly. It’s mostly to save me when I’m nostalgic and yearning for the freedom to just pack up and drive.