Boston, Massachusetts. February 27th, 2015. I landed at Logan International Airport sleep deprived, overwhelmed, and completely confused. At the very least there was a Dunkin’ Donuts to greet me and settle my nerves, ironically. I had made the choice 5 days earlier to break the flow of this journey to be with my family, but especially my Father, whose health had been in significant decline in recent weeks. I’ll save the details to honor his privacy, but it became clear during my final weeks in Southern Baja that I could not in good conscience continue without a strong touchpoint and visual assessment of the situation. As the plane descended into the greater Boston area, I felt my body stiffen. In 6 short hours of travel I had bid adios to a long peninsula appearing almost empty of development from my seat in the sky to arrive at seemingly endless development as far as I could see. Never mind the contrast of traveling across the continent in less than a single day’s ride time. Everyone I saw seemed so busy. I picked up the big bike box from oversize luggage and dragged it outside to meet a grand surprise — it was about 95 degrees colder than Baja. Not just cold. Fucking frigid. And me in my shorts, flip flops and down puffy. My gracious Mother pulled up and we jammed the enormous cardboard box into the backseat of her car. Luckily it just fit.
There was A LOT of snow. Enough that the two lane street my parents’ house is on was reduced to one narrow lane. My first thought: How the hell am I going to keep riding my bike in this frozen snow covered city?? Boston had endured an epic winter of snow. More snow than anywhere else in the country. There were about 4-5 feet remaining on the ground when I arrived. Not normal for those who don’t know.
Luckily, there was at least one member of the family that was quite happy with the winter wonderland. So deeply amazing to see my sweet pup after nearly a year away from her. Painful to see a year of her life having passed by the white hairs on her face, but we reunited as if no time had passed. She slept in my bed almost every night.
Mom and Dad at the dinner table. So strange to be in a place so familiar after the experiences I’ve had. It was hard actually. I felt rigid. I know it must have been hard on my parents for me to be like that but I couldn’t help it. I’d spent 9 months cultivating a simple, peaceful existence, and within a week was surrounded by the juxtaposition of feeling so loved by them, but triggered at the same time. Many challenging conversations were had over the 3 weeks we spent together. Never easy, but I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. Thank you Mom and Dad, for listening, for sharing your experience with me, and for your patience.
Somebody likes Dad’s bed!
After a day of rest and adjustment to the weather, I was chomping at the bit to move. Given that the rear wheel of the bike was in a tenuous state, I rode it straight to the bike shop I knew could help me out, Belmont Wheelworks. They’ve always done right by me in the past. Luckily they had time to rebuild the wheel around a new rim while I waited. Good timing. The rim I had traveled approximately 150 miles on after knowing it was cracked… was VERY cracked. The inside was split between the spoke holes all the way around. I got lucky to not get stuck out there! With new wheel set up, the next challenge was figuring out how to get movement… After all, it was still about 10 degrees outside! At the suggestion of my friend Lorena, I went to a gym a few miles from my parents house. Every day. For about 3 hours. I’d just jam out on the elliptical for 2 hours straight then switch to the stair machine. Boring as all hell, but at least I got the endorphins flowing. After a few days it warmed up enough to ride outside. I explored some of the neighboring towns to my home town, one’s I’d never seen before by bike. Quite a fun discovery actually…
I took a break from home for a few days to visit Batya, my soul partner who’s seen me through this whole journey, perhaps more than anyone. She and her life partner live on a beautiful plot of land in Western Massachusetts. So strange an amazing that due to telephone, email, text and Skype we didn’t feel like it was so strange to see one another. It was just lovely.
Sita LOVED being out in the snow with me every day, snowshoeing, doing barn chores for the horses.
Batya and I studied music together at Hampshire College. While historically I played percussion in our sound explorations, I was lucky enough to share some moments with Batya on recorder, me on my little tin whistle.
At long last, it was time to move forward. I’d been in Boston for 3 weeks. I got to do some bodywork with my dad quite often, help a bit with improving some details around the house, and most of all — just talk. Given the break from the journey, I decided I may as well take the chance to fly to Seattle before heading back onto the route in Mexico. It was amazing to land in that city and feel, to my surprise, a sense of calm. Like I was coming home. Scary too, as I was still planning to leave after about a week.
Pulling the bike box out of oversize luggage yet again, I began to open it with the intent to ride into the city from Seatac. An airport worker approached me and shared that I could put it together, “over there in the bike assembly area” — yep. That exists. Seattle, you’re amazing. You have a bike stand with tools and a pump in a special area just for bike travelers who are needing to assemble or disassemble their bikes for travel.
10 months after riding away from Seattle, I landed back on the same deck I’d left, that of my soul brother Ben. This manifestation of rig is only slightly different. That plus the acquisition of a pack raft… I’d acquired the raft while in Boston with the intention of adding it to my rig for water crossings and other wet possibilities as I head into Central and South America. But given the frozen state of all waterways in Boston I’d not yet taken it out. That very day I packed up a small backpack with raft, paddle and dry bag, walked down to Lincoln Park beach on the Puget Sound, and set off into the water. It was brilliant. Instantly quiet as I got a few hundred feet off shore. Raindrops pattered the water around me as a sea lion danced in my wake.
May 22, 2014. Shiny new bike and bags and gear the day I left. So glad I got rid of those huge panniers.
Only 2 days after yet another flight, I got a ride back to the airport…again. My Sister Sheridan was going to be in Salt Lake City for a ski weekend and the only way I could possibly see her before heading back South was a quick weekend in SLC. Luckily my Dad had a few extra miles saved up for the flight! We met on the slopes at Snowbird. Having gotten my old board out of my friend’s basement, I made it onto the slope within an hour of landing. It felt foreign. Honestly it was generally a very odd experience, being in the ski resort world for 2 days. I have been so accustomed to living like a dirtbag on a shoestring, I felt quite uncomfortable being around all the expensive clothes, restaurants, etc.
My sis, selfless as always, wouldn’t let me pay for a thing. So kind, yet very hard for me to accept. Indeed the life I’ve chosen for now is one that no longer affords luxuries like lift tickets to ski resorts and nice meals out. On my own, I’m really okay with that, but in the company of others it triggered a sense of being dependent, immature, a child. We spoke of this at length one night, about how I’ve always felt a little behind the rest of the family, in terms of income and wealth. How this among other things has pushed me to swing the other way in my life, to avoid always coming up short. It reminded me of something I was asked in an interview a few months back about the difference between riding towards vs. away from my previous life. In this issue there is certainly a large component of riding away from that requires more investigation.
Being with Sherry was at first awkward, as I know she wanted to make sure I was having fun. I was so overcome with the extreme contrast of snowboarding that I was very quiet. With time I settled in to being with her and was able to access the deep love I have for our friendship and all it’s dynamics.
Ben was a gracious host for almost 3 weeks. We talked, laughed, ate good food, and of course rode a lot of trail. The single track on Tiger Mountain was super muddy but fantastic! Thank you Ben, for all you do and all you are. You continue to inspire me to be the best person I can with this short time on the planet.
Ben and I even made it out onto Lake Union with our inflatable boats. Given all the time I lived in Seattle I’d very rarely spent time out on the water.
I was able to spend some quality time with Ben, Dina and a handful of other great people, my chosen family. It was hard to leave. Not only because I love them all so much, but because the stretch of time off the bike made the journey feel quite distant, and returning to it felt somehow more like a concept than a real experience. I feared the possibility of landing back in Mexico and instantly realizing I was done. But I had to go there to find out…