It’s been three weeks since I returned from my bike trip, and I’m ready to do it again. That’s the way I come home from most of my trips, anxious for another dose of whatever I’ve been consuming. Just give me the opportunity.
Similarly, I’ve come home from this trip a different person from the anxious fellow who flew to New York two months ago to begin the trip. First off I’m more confident. Confident in a general way that comes from accomplishing an objective, and the specific confidence that results from traveling over 1000 miles on my own power.
Then there’s the satisfaction from being able to write about my adventure and publish it in real time in blog form. That was missing on my earlier trips, and I think it contributed to some of my post trip hangovers. I would journal, but those were just scribbled notes around the fire at night, never buffed into polished form. That left me with the nagging feeling that I needed to get those scribbles “into circulation.” On this trek I was able to assuage my ants-in-the-pants craving while scratching my muse itch as well. The blogging took time and effort, but there was a real joy in doing it.
I’m also left with even more conviction to continue using my physical abilities just as long as I’m able. This is a corollary to the aforementioned “ready to do it again” urge. I just found out that a good friend, actually a hiking buddy and co-worker for over 40 years, who had double knee replacement some years ago, has been “grounded” by his doctor. After his double-knee, he was back on the trail within six months, but now, he has serious arthritis condition in his feet, and he’s been told to “settle down and cool it.” He’s “only” 78 years old, but still, he’s a reminder to me that eventually all must succumb. I, too someday, must face that reality, but in the meanwhile there’s no sense facing it on the couch.
So, what’s next? Obviously more biking. The “tush troubles” I encountered turned out to be quite manageable, and no other real issues presented themselves. The “where, when and with whom” however as always are the issues.
But as before, I don’t want to do it alone. I would if necessary, but it’s definitely not my preference. I’m too much of a social person. The late solo explorer and writer Colin Fletcher once pointed out that while solitude and loneliness describe identical physical circumstances, the emotional states are poles apart. On a long trip by myself, I’m not sure which pole I’d be closer to.
People my own age like to bike but don’t want to do the distances that for some reason I hunger for. And I’m still not exactly sure why I so hunger. My prevalent theory is that for a variety of reasons, I missed doing many of these activities as a young man and therefore have a yearning to make up for that now.
As for other possible companions, my younger friends, and I include my cousins in that designation, have to make special plans far in advance for time off from their jobs or other responsibilities. And that presumes their interest. Then there’s my son and daughter. I haven’t done anything recreational with them since they left home, and both profess a desire to do something together, particularly in the desert. Even for a week. But they have young children, spouses that work or go to school, and they live on the other side of the continent. None of these are show-stoppers, but they’re certainly hurdles that must be overcome. But I’m going to try.
In the meantime I’ll endeavor to stay fit, so when opportunities appear, and sometimes they do appear suddenly, I’ll be ready. Otherwise, I intend to keep on enjoying my life to the fullest, one day at a time. I began this piece on a plane to Texas to visit another set of “multi-decade-friends.” God love ’em. Where would we be without old friends. Then there’s my hiking and biking buddies here in town, that twice a week enliven my life with their laughter and enlighten my life with their wisdom.
A visit with my Southern California family is planned over Thanksgiving, followed by a children and grandchildren fix over Christmas. How much more could a person ask for? I’m not prepared to answer that right now, because we always want more, but suffice it to say, I better not have any regrets when I’m told to “settle down.” And when that day comes, well I’ll handle it. Maybe not as easy as a lube job on the tush, but there’ll be a way. Of that i’m confident.
To be continued.