It's official!!!! On Wednesday I carried my bike over the dunes in Long Beach, NC and walked the old girl into the ocean. For all the time and thought and effort that has gone into this I felt supprisingly calm, like it was just another day. What suprises me most is that I still feel calm. The trip as a whole seems almost distant. Did I really cross the country on a bike? At this point it's hard to believe. I guess I took this trip one day at a time and now to try and sit back and look at it all as a whole is very hard. I know I did it, but it's still very hard to get a grip on the whole thing.
I wonder what I'll do with myself now? This biking has become a routine, my life, and now there is nowhere left to go. The road just ran out on me. I think it is going to take quite some time for all of this to really sink in and register. I admit it's been hard to sit still these past few days. I had some old friends at the beach that I stayed with for a few days after finishing which kept me busy and distracted. It was a strange time to be catching up with people I hadn't seen in nearly a decade as my mind was in 1,000 different places. Nice, nonetheless, and a good way to transition back. These last two or three days though I haven't quite known what to do with myself. There are no more mountains to climb, flat sections, one pot meals, or even sore tush to nurse. It's a very strange feeling. I do feel incredible calm and alive. These last few weeks despite wearing me down in body have energized me in so many other ways. Another chapter is finished in a life that I have been lucky to lead. I know from past adventures, the lessons I have learned will be slow to sink in, and perhaps they already are. I have begun to transcribe my journal onto the computer and in a lot of ways it's like taking the trip all over again. I've changed so much in the past 9 weeks whether I can easily recognize it or not. Just flipping through and re-reading earliere entries can attest to that. I guess you don't realize how much you're changing when it's just you. The change is slow from day to day and is only really noticeable when you look way back and compare the you then to yourself at present. I feel a bit pulled in two directions. There is the joy and feeling of accomplishment in finishing such a task. Then there is the pain and uncertainty of leavinig it all behind. The road became my home, an my job was to pedal.
The ride in itself was great. As I predicted my tour through NC was plush and filled with family, food, and friends. My mom came out to join me for the final ride into the beach which was great. She has become quite a fixture in my last few adventures and has always found a way to get in on the action. It was nice to have her there in the end for a big hug and a smile. I'm not sure what I would have done if I were by myself. Wander around in a daze perhaps. Then folks would really wonder what was wrong with the guy who just walked his bike into the ocean?
I think these next few weeks will be a time of quiet transition and reflection. I realize I'm a little socially handicapped at this point. The large crowds and fast pace still seem to get me a bit on edge compared to the slow quite pace I've grown accustomed to lately. I find myself equally enjoying all the company and seeking to get away. A small dose here and there and I'm ready for quiet again. It was just like this after the AT. You learn to speak only when you really have something to say, and are content to sit quietly when you don't. I guess there is no point in wondering if things will ever be the same after this trip, they can't. With the lessons I've learned and the things I've seen nothing will ever be the same. They can't help but be fuller, and richer painted against this background. I've spent the better part of this morning looking through all the pictures from th trip and I am amazed. I really feel that an entire lifetime got squeezed into the last 64 days. It's very strange to be able to sit and see it all in a matter of minutes.
I guess there are only a few things left to do before this really is all just a memory. The most important of which is the party with the children at Brenner's this thursday. I can't wait!! I think spending time with the kids will be a great piece of closure for this adventure. Perhaps then I'll really be able to see this trip as a whole, when I can really see in the flesh and blood why I came out here and what I've learned.
I'll say it one last time because I can; it's hard to explain. I'm sure most folks expected gushing and yelling and all, but it just isn't that way. Don't get me wrong I realize looking back over this entry it all seems a bit melancholy. It is quite the opposite though. It's just that that last day really was no different than any other, it just happened to be the last. There was as much to learn in that day as any other and as much reason to celebrate. Every day out there was really a success in it's own small way. I celebrated each moment and each day. There was no build up for the end, the joy was spread throughout. I just feel lucky to have been able to do this thing, and in a manner in which I can take real pride. I've learned so much about myself and in particular what real love is. That ability to give something so personal from yourself to others in the hope that in doing so you may help them, even if only a little. I hope this ride has done just that; helped a little.
I couldn't end it all without some very sincere thanks. To my family for all the love and support now and in the past. To Gordo for being as true a friend as I've ever had (see you in baja). All the folks at the hospital who have helped to get the ball rolling and keep it rolling while I was on the road. All the work you all do for these kids is admirable, whether you're a surgeon, nurse, administrative, or anything else, ya'll are heros. And to everyone from along the way who offered a kind word, a friendly honk, or even just a smile, it helped. I guess this is it, and here I find myself getting a little emotional trying to think of the right words to close on. When in doubt listen to Buffet
"Strange situations, wild occupations, livin' my life like a song"
That's all.........for now. thanks to all of you.