So, it`s been a little bit! Sometimes a little reprioritizing is necessary to see your intended results. In this case, my intended result was a successful 4000 mile move in a 5 speed Volkswagen Jetta with my entire life inside – cats included! I`m pleased to say that the three of us (five if you include Kestrel and our new family member who is waiting on a name) made it safe and sound to Seattle, Washington, and are settling nicely.
There is so much to cover, this will most definitely take a few posts, for instance, the solo drive across the US was life changing, the logistics that went into it were kind of nuts, and the process of getting settled in and waterproofing my bikes has taken a bit. Regardless, it was an epic adventure, and I want to share it!
My intention the night I left was to get some sleep prior to hitting the road, but I ended up talking to friends whom I would miss dearly and missed that window, so it happened that I left on little to now sleep – That backfired and I had to pull over to sleep before I even reached DC. Now I had pretty much all my seats filled, the cat carrier behind my drivers’ seat, a roof box centered on top, and a bike on either side. It was cramped. But so awesome. I had my first pang of “What the f*ck am I doing?” as I tried to contort myself into a somewhat comfortable seating position at a rest stop. I found that by putting my back against the driver’s door, and my feet on the dash, I was able to get comfy enough to get a few precious minutes of sleep before the fire in me asked “You`ve run marathons on a whim. You`ve cycled hundreds of miles at once. Swam for miles with no respite. What the hell are you doing? Fire lit under my rear; I was back on the road.
On solo trips like this, nutrition and self-care typically suffer a heavy blow. My best friend was caffeine; pills, energy drinks, coffee, anything to keep me alert through the night until the sun could tell my body to wake up so I could squeeze a few more miles. My trip would last three days. The first leg was about thirteen hours, and would take me to Detroit, Michigan where I would stop for a night and spend a few precious hours with my older brother, whom I hadn’t seen in several years.
The drive through the Appalachians happened mostly through the night, so I really didn’t get to see a whole lot. For the most part it was uneventful, the most exciting thing was my boy cat, Galifrey, coming up front to keep me company. After several hours of music, it just became noise, so I hunted for a podcast to keep my mind entertained. Boy did I find one! It`s called Stuff You Should Know, and I loved it so much I listened to it for nearly the entire trip. I learned so many fun facts and neat things, it was nice to be able to use my head while performing something so dull for so long…
Michigan. Oh Michigan. If I never have to drive across your crumbled wasteland of highway infrastructure it will be too soon. With two bikes and a roof box strapped to the top of the car, I was undoubtedly pushing the weight limit on my roof. Let`s be realistic. My car was on the cusp hitting it`s maximum gross weight. As my 4-cylinder Jetta became an ATV, I seriously worried I was doing permanent damage – I needed this thing to take me much further than this. As the sun became to go down, I made it to my brother’s place. A small apartment on the outskirts of the city, everything covered in ice, every car on the road looked like they had been through the ringer. I didn’t recognize by brother at first – I was exhausted, and the last time I saw him, there was no hair, and no beard. I got over my initial shock soon enough and suddenly it was like I had seen him yesterday.
Because I love my bikes, I moved those inside his place. It was a pretty brief visit, but I`m glad we made it happen, and I’m eternally grateful for him offering his home as a place to rest my head. The cats were pretty stoked to be able to stretch their legs and literally spent the whole night darting back and forth. The night ended too soon though, and soon I found myself saying farewell, and getting back on the road. I wanted to top off my gas prior to getting back on the dusty trail, and to my surprise there was a TIM HORTON’S right next to the gas station. How convenient! I love ol` timmies. Taking a moment to ensure there was no lasting damage done to my car by the off roading I’d been doing, I stretched out, got back in the driver’s seat, and continued west. Next stop: Minnesota! My goal was Minneapolis, but if I could squeeze more out of myself and the fur babies I would. Making it to Minneapolis I found I had a little left in the tank, and so I booked a hotel in St. Cloud and kept going. Energy drink after energy drink, podcast after podcast…the sun had set long ago, with Illinois, Wisconsin, and half of Minnesota behind me.
ST. CLOUD, MINNESOTA
Just another stop alongside the trail. The cats had begun to roam the car freely sometime in Wisconsin, and now both were curled up in their bed which I had placed on my bag in the front seat. If we`re being honest, those two kept me sane. A repeat of Michigan, I took the bikes off the roof and into my hotel room, brought the cats in and let them loose – they literally exploded out of their carrier. Valuables secured; it was time for some self-love. A bit of YouTube yoga, a shower, and a large pizza down the gullet. Since I had no arrival deadline than the one I had set for myself, I sank into slumber, fat, dumb and happy.
The next morning, I woke on my own, the sun hadn’t even risen yet, really? Even so, I knew how long I wanted this trip to take, and I was going to make it happen. After helping myself to literally ALL of the breakfast provided by the hotel, I loaded and locked the bikes, gathered my overnight bag and fur babies, and headed out to the car. It was cold. Really cold. The kind that sends a chill through your bones. I was wearing several layers, and they weren’t nearly enough. Stopping to gas up, I realized that I would likely cross the plains today. Prevailing winds would be against me, and I had a lot going on outside of the car – I elected to duct tape my down tubes on both bikes to hopefully protect them from any small debris that managed to fly in between the forks. Coffee. Check. Snacks. Check. Bikes secured? Yup. Cats? Pretty pissed. Alright. Let’s do this.
…This is where the trip got interesting, and I began to relish in the drive…
The plains were massive. Mild hills rolling as far as the eye could see. Insane gusts of wind battering my poor Jetta forcing me to pay close attention to the road and correct my course as nature willed it. Despite the fatiguing drive, I had never seen terrain like this before.
It was beautiful, the sun rose behind me, and woke me up, and I spent the day flying across Americas heart, racing the sun, and watching the skies call me further up and further in. Occasionally I would call someone, a friend, a family member, whoever I could to break up the monotony. My boy cat, Galifrey, realized that was happening outside of the car was way more interesting than what was happening inside, so he found a spot to perch where he could watch the world fly by and bathe in the North Dakota sun. We were making good time, but I was starting to fatigue.
The highway hit a turn, and suddenly I was wide awake adrenaline and chills running across my skin. A rapid change in terrain had taken place – blink and you miss it.
The Florida boy who dreamed of adventure in his quiet suburban neighborhood years ago was a little older now – and he had made it to The Badlands.
This is lengthy, and life moves on! There will be a part II coming soon, until then, Stay well my friends!