Monday, December 26, 2016


When we stopped to eat or enjoy a local site, we often talked with folks from the area. One of the most common questions that we received was, "why are you doing this?"
Riding with our friends

The simplest answer, and one we occasionally used, was and is: "Because we can." But that sounds a bit flippant, perhaps, and we never wanted to be flippant - at least I did not! Maybe Roger has a bit of that streak in him, because he'd sometimes reply, "why not?" And that's a pretty good answer and a bit flippant as well, when you get right down to it.

People would ask if we were traveling with others. No.  Were we doing it to raise money, or awareness for some cause?  No. We were just riding our bike around the country because we thought it would be a cool thing to do, and because we believed we could do it.
Being on a bike, I really enjoy watching the clouds

We'd typically follow that initial exchange with some kind of explanation about how we arrived at our plan to circle the country on a bicycle. And that's a bit longer response: we first did an extended tour about six years ago when we visited our daughter in Tahoe. That trip convinced us that we could handle a trip of several months, which we thought would be long enough to cross the country. And Roger had always thought it would be cool to ride across the country. But we couldn't just go straight across - if we were going to do something like that, we'd want to stop in and see the people we knew. And so the trip across the country because a trip around the country, because we have friends and family all over the place. There wasn't any way that we could go across the northern part of the country and visit with Roger's sister, without also coming around the southern half of the country to see my family. It just wouldn't be right!

So a couple of months, maybe, became half a year or more. That seemed daunting at first, but pretty soon seemed just fine by us. Because a big part of that "because we can" answer has to do with the fact that we are retired, without huge obligations tying us to our home, and financially fortunate enough to be able to essentially take a six month vacation. Once you have dealt with the logistics of leaving for a short while, you can pretty much stay away as long as you like.

I got a bit tickled by folks who were so amazed at what we were doing. Now, I will acknowledge that I'd be impressed as well if someone told me they were going to go on a six month bike trip. It seems, on the face of it, like such a huge effort to undertake. But in the actual doing of it, I came to see it as quite an indulgence, rather than a big job. After all, we were doing something we love to do, without paying a whole lot of attention to any of the normal stress-inducing factors of modern life, and having a good time every day (at least at some portion of it!)  It really was an excellent adventure, and we loved it.
Pie with friends is sweeter
We missed our pals at the beer stops also!

So yesterday, we spent the day riding our borrowed bicycle, out to Bautista Canyon and home again, enjoying a day with friends in the sunshine, punctuated by pie at noon and beer when we got home. And it's reasonable enough to ask of us once again: "Why? Why spend the day riding 90 miles?" And once again we have to use the answers that we've used over and over again this year:  "why not?" and "because we can"!  They are only the second-best answers, though. The really true, honest-to-God best answer is: "because we love it." We really do.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Man, I needed that!

Last week, I got an email from the Warm Showers network from a traveling cyclist asking to stay a night with us. I will confess, I did not even wait to ask Roger about it before responding "yes" to this traveler! I was so eager to have a chance to spend a little time with someone else who has done what we did that I was delighted to send a note welcoming Daniel to our home.

I made sure the sheets were clean and the guest bathroom in decent shape, and thought about what to cook for our vegetarian guest. I had an event for the Redlands Conservancy on the Sunday coming up, so I was doing a lot of baking and had prepared a big pot of pumpkin soup. But I figured a cyclist might be hungrier than "soup" for supper (based on our own experience) so I decided to offer fettucine alfredo, some roasted vegetables (something we were always hungry for) and salad.

I was in touch with Daniel several times during the day, and rode out to meet him on his way to town. Just riding alongside someone with packs on a bike felt great. I was able to see my own town and the route back home with new eyes, comparing the roads and the scenery to those I'd experienced on my way to other Warm Showers hosts during our tour.
Wishing I were going, too!

We met Roger at Escape Craft Brewery for a beer before heading home, and I enjoyed hearing about Daniel's trip. He's a good bit younger than we are, so he's riding without any end-stop on his trip. He sold his condo, quit his job and doesn't need to worry about a schedule in the least. He's just completed six months on the road, as we had, and was expecting to reach 7000 miles when he rode off on Sunday. It was great fun to be able to talk about places we'd been and ask him about his favorite days.

Sunday morning, he rode off towards Palm Springs and a planned rendezvous with friends in Joshua Tree National Park. He'll spend the holidays there, and then he's thinking he'll go south to Baja California until the weather warms up back home - in Massachusetts.

Vaya com Dios, my friend - may the wind be ever at your back!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

In Thanksgiving

Since we have been home, Roger and I have been trying to get back into the groove of daily life. Of course, we were "living" every day while we were touring, but that experience was so far removed from the stuff of normal day-to-day activities and operations that it remained an adventure, rather than just - life. You know - what you do every day when you don't have something special to do.

So here we are, doing what we did before we left, with the added bonus of recuperating from the accident. I am astounded that the scabs on my knee and ankle are still not healed. While the scrapes on my face were fairly superficial, and I scabbed up and then lost those by the end of a week's time, my leg and ankle sores must be quite a bit more severe. It has been nearly six weeks since the accident, and they are still tender. The skin has appeared to heal several times, then it gets sort of oozy like a blister, and then it scabs up again.  I guess that there must be some underlying trauma to the tissue below the skin that is trying to get itself sorted out. Maybe I bruised the bones, also, because sometimes they just hurt, and there's nothing there that I can see that would cause that.

Roger had an MRI yesterday to take a look at his knee. He is still in quite a lot of pain, particularly when he gets up after being seated a while. Then it takes a bit to get it limbered up. We'll see the orthopedist next week to learn what's up. We expect that his medial collateral ligament was torn. Don't know yet whether that's something that heals on its own, or whether he might require surgery, and if so, what that would entail.

Making pie with Grandpa

Thus, we creak along! We are enjoying our rides on the borrowed tandem, and we particularly enjoyed spending Thanksgiving with our daughter and granddaughters. For many years, Roger and I have enjoyed our own tradition of spending Thanksgiving in one of our National Parks. This was the first Thanksgiving since we've been together that we did not do so. In part, we were pretty worn out with traveling, and I just couldn't quite wrap my head around planning a trip somewhere when we'd only gotten home a few weeks earlier. Plus, we'd been able to visit a good number of National Parks during our tour, and were kind of preparing ourselves to miss our own holiday trip this year. And most importantly, we just really felt like we wanted to spend some time with Dana and the girls when we finished our tour.

Phebee really liked the dressing
So they joined us down here, and we had a grand old time. I was a little bit anxious about the food - I haven't cooked a turkey in years! (It's one of the upsides of being away from home for the holiday.) But everything turned out great. We had all our favorites, plus two pies. Yum! Honestly, I was basking in the glow of satisfaction from that turkey dinner for several days. It's probably a sin for anyone to be so caught up in the outcome of a meal, but I was.

And so, we offer our thanks for our good health, our family, our friends and good fortune. We are so very, very lucky. So often these days, whether I'm getting a coffee at Stell's or running into a friend at a holiday party, I get this greeting: "I'm so glad you're back. I mean, really - it's so good to see you."  And I know what they mean. We had so many people watching our backs. So many people following along, enjoying our trip.  So many people who opened the paper that Wednesday morning and caught their breath when they read about the accident. So we see them now, and they give us a hug, and they say, "I'm so glad you're home." Because really, this could have ended quite differently. I said something like that to Roger the other day. We were moping a bit, feeling a bit blue, and I had to pull myself out of a hole and remind myself that we both made it home. We're sad about what happened, and we're still hurting a bit, and we don't know what's next, but we're here. We're together, and we're okay. That counts for quite a lot, and for that we give thanks.

Let the feast begin!