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Most of my travel over the past decade has consisted of a backpack and airfare to a far-flung country. Excitement mounts as the taxi whips through Brooklyn towards Terminal 4 at JFK. You think about your imminent departure, the tiny bottles of wine that await you on your international flight, and briefly ponder what movie selections will be offered. Mostly though, as you inch your way up the check-in queue while looking at the giant Calder sculpture suspended from the ceiling, you are eager to experience something new and foreign. The days that lay ahead are full of potential, and you're only a passport stamp away from living it.
While abroad, I've ridden my share of buses for many miles and numerous hours. This
Until fairly recently, I had been woefully remiss in exploring the back-roads of my own country, 'mericah. Motorcycling has opened up an experience of travel that is uniquely present and physical in a way that plane, train, and automobile are not for me. For one thing, I always fall asleep on those modes of transportation. That, obviously, is not an option while riding. Over the 4,000 miles we've covered thus far, I've been ever awake and present. That has literally never happened before.
Motorcycling is strangely meditative, and I find my mind vacillates between a calm emptiness as I take in the scenery and mulling various subjects from Sons of Anarchy to relationships and the past. Deep stuff, really. Your mind, though, can only wander so far before the road and your body pull you back into the present. You navigate each turn while your body registers every shift in temperature, pressure, and smell. You feel the drop in temperature and air pressure before you register that the clouds promising rain have caught up to you.
I have felt enormously fortunate and glad that our worldwide journey started here, at home. It has been amazing riding through these states and their towns, big and small (Aladdin, WY population 15!). I cannot adequately describe how fantastic the prairies, mountains, rivers, and sky have been. The most used word of the trip has been "pretty." That is likely an understatement.
The ride has also offered a perspective on American life that has not been accessible to me as a life-long coastal dweller. This exposure to strangely foreign, but also so familiar worlds and daily life is necessary, refreshing, and grounding--like when you travel abroad. Best yet, we are only really halfway through our U.S. travels. The whole West and Southwest awaits!