Updated: Feb 28, 2019
Folding warm, fluffy towels at work on a Sunday night when the fitness club is least busy is by no definition a stressful job. It is actually quite the opposite, and a welcome close to my normal daily duties as a rock climbing instructor. The regulars pass and we exchange a few words. There is no shortage of flirty eyes being carelessly thrown my way by some familiar faces that walk past on their way to the ladies locker room, but mostly the time is passed with my thoughts and I to ourselves. So when I was abruptly asked the question of "why" I am taking such a trip, I realized that I didn’t have an immediate answer to provide.
I am not sure if I still do have an answer to that question but I suppose it certainly is worth exploring. The first obvious thing that pops to mind is for the sake of travel itself. This would be adequate in it self but I am afraid it is not merely for the sake of travel that I have decided to undertake this journey. Reuniting with old friends is most definitely a very important element of this trip, as is the chance to make new ones. Getting to know this country as much as I can, not just for the sake of being able to say, “yes, I’ve been there”, but for the sake of truly actively trying to get a broader sense of what the US truly is.
I want to ride through the curvy roads of the Appalachians; I want to climb at the Red River Gorge, at Waco Tanks, and at Yosemite. I want to ditch the helmet and feel the hot Floridian air in my face; I want to be welcomed by some Texan family I haven’t met before on a ranch somewhere where we can ride horses as we talk about the daily life on the farm through the lens of a fooliish nostalgia. I want to meet young, carefree people on a Californian beach somewhere and I want to surf the pacific on a borrowed board. I want to get caught by a sudden storm on an endlessly straight road somewhere in the great plains, and I want to have to take shelter under a bridge as I watch the lightning in the distance. I want to roam Canyonlands in the hellish heat looking for shade to provide me a few quiet hours of reminiscence as the sun passes over the endless horizon of mesas and red sand buttes. I want to experiment with long exposure photography at Joshua Tree during a clear moonlit night. I want to skinny dip in a lake I stumble upon accidentally while lost through Alabama, and I want to catch a fish and roast it over a camp fire that night from the mighty Mississippi. I want my chain to break and my tire to go flat on a dirt road somewhere that isn’t necessarily on a map, and I want to fix them with my own two hands. I want to meet as many strangers as possible and I want to experience as many emotions as I can. I want to record and document as best I can everything along the way. I want to return home to a relieved mother, exhausted but infinitely satisfied, completely ready for the next chapter in my life at the university.
So I suppose I can not give a single answer to the original question of why I am doing this; I suppose It must be for the sake of experience, for the sake of the open road, the distant horizons, the unknown - for the sake of insatiable curiosity. For the sake of the ride.