After 927 days, 45,822 miles, 34 countries, five continents, and countless hours spent watching our very own real life documentary unfold through the big screen of Nacho’s windshield, we arrived right back where we started. When it comes to good decisions that we make in life, this will certainly go down as one of the better ones. But all good things must come to an end. We set out to drive around the world, and when we pulled up in the same driveway that we left almost three years ago, we had thereby accomplished our goal.
We bee-lined it across the States, stopping mostly to see friends and to go to a few places that we’d always wondered about. We saw friends in Rhode Island, Boston, DC, and Asheville. We lounged at a beach house on Cape Cod, drove the Blue Ridge Parkway, and visited New Orleans. We were hissed at by a wild bobcat. We ate our friend’s goat. We reunited with friends in Houston, ate barbecue in Austin, and found the house that I lived in for a year when I was a kid in the Texas hill country. We ate peach pecan pie. In El Paso we stood at the border fence and nearly pulled the trigger to go back to Mexico, but somehow managed to restrain ourselves. We crossed New Mexico in a downpour, camped at a border truck stop, and at long last pulled back into the driveway of Sheena’s parents’ house on the outskirts of Phoenix.
As we drew nearer to the end we thought a lot about what it would be like to reintegrate into normal American life. For nearly three years we awoke each morning and sought the path of greatest adventure. Every week brought new scenery, people, and food. I got to spend three solid years of quality time with my wife. Some might call that a prison sentence, but that’s because some aren’t married to ladies like Sheena!
How can one go back to normal after that? We’re in the process of figuring it out now. Our blog fell rather far behind since we rolled into Europe, and especially once we hit North America. In reality, we’ve actually had some time to adjust. It’s certainly been a challenge to switch gears, but we’re trying to take the lessons we learned and funnel them into the establishment of a more fulfilling life. So far it seems to be working.
We also wanted to take a minute to say thanks to those of you who kept in touch with us by commenting here and through social media. When we left home, we stepped away from our friend network. We made lots of friends on the road, but when we would pick up and move we would again find ourselves alone. And while that could have gotten lonely, we always had your messages to look forward to to fill in the gaps. Your remarks were a constant reminder to us that there were people out there who appreciated what we were doing, which encouraged us to be diligent about continuing to tell our story as we went along. After a while we came to see it as our job, and I hope that in the end it was even fractionally as fulfilling for you as it was for us.
And as for the future of this blog, we haven’t fully decided what to do with it. I’ll be writing at least a few more posts; there will be a post-trip mechanical retrospective, as well as a full look at our financials from the trip, as those are always the first things people ask us about. But beyond that, who knows?
We are working diligently on our second book, for which we are, perhaps over ambitiously, shooting for a mid-May release. I’m also working on an audiobook, which has turned into a completely out of control and dehumanizing endeavor. If you want to be informed when those come out, in addition to our upcoming mechanical and financial posts, I would suggest adding your email to our list.
And while I am tempted to leave you with an evangelical tirade in which I banter on and on about the virtues of drastically changing your life in pursuit of true happiness, or about the incalculable value of international travel, I will refrain from doing so. You see, when we were in Kathmandu we ran across our friend and fellow blogger Dirty Biker, who had just completed the Annapurna circuit by mountain bike. He was a mess, going on and on about life and changes and wading through a quagmire of existential mental goo. Nepal seems to have that effect on people. I checked in on him later, after he’d been home for a while, and he was still all over the place, trying to figure out how to come back a changed man to an unchanged home. In the end, he relied on the good doctor to help him convey his experience to the page. Of course I am speaking of Dr. Seuss. Seeing as how I now find myself in said quagmire of existential goo, I will follow Dirty’s lead, and take a little help from the Doctor.
It’s been grand!
Today is your day.
You’re off to great places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.
And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
You’ll look up and down streets.
Look ‘em over with care.
About some you will say,
“I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains
and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.
And you may not find any you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town.
It’s opener there in the wide open air.
Out there things can happen and frequently do
to people as brainy and footsy as you.
And then things start to happen
Don’t worry, don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.
OH! THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!
You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.
You won’t lag behind,because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.
I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true
that bang-ups and hang-ups can happen to you.
You can get all hung up in a prickly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a lurch.
You’ll come down from the lurch with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a slump.
And when you’re in a slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?
And if you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.
You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles cross weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…
…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a yes or no
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a better break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or another chance.
Everyone is just waiting.
That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying
You’ll find the bright places where boom bands are playing.
With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!
Oh, the places you’ll go!
There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored.
There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You’ll be as famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.
Except when they don’t.
Because, sometimes they won’t.
I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.
And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.
But on you will go, though the weather be foul.
On you will go,though your enemies prowl.
On you will go, though the Hakken-Kraks howl.
Onward up many a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak.
On and on you will hike,
And I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems whatever they are.
You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that life’s a great balancing act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)
Kid, you’ll move mountains!
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
You’re off the great places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So get on your way!