What’s New with Me?…A Novel.

Can you visualize the insanity that has been happening in my brain these last few weeks as my departure date looms?  I have had so much to think about and straighten out and confirm and just DO that I feel like I’m losing it.  Want to hear all about it?  OF COUUURRSE you do!
Where can I start?  I think I’ll begin with my front rack.

So.  I biked over to Brand’s about three weeks ago to make sure that the front rack I wanted would be compatible to my bike and I am so glad that I did because GUESS WHAT?  MY BIKE (of course) needs a special rack!  Because Evelyn has a suspension front fork I needed to special order my front rack.  Can you imagine if I hadn’t checked about that that day?  It would take a week for my rack to arrive, IMAGINE if I hadn’t checked on that until shortly before I left!  I’m sure you can, so you can understand how that just notched up my panic that much more.  Byron (the manager) reassured me that it would be in within a week and I need not panic (although that didn’t stop me).  I had decided that I was going to keep my bike basket on the handlebars because with the rack I ordered I wouldn’t be using that space at all and anything extra to hold shit would be that much more helpful.  I’m trying to tell this post in chronological order so we’ll come back to the topic in a few minutes, stay with me here.

Next order of panic was all the last minute items I was making sure I had that were coming in the mail.  I was very intentional in not ordering anything less than 2 weeks before my departure date and I am so glad because I would have perhaps completely lost my marbles with worry.  The last thing I ordered was the trunk for my rear rack where I planned to keep my electronics.  I was super pumped about it until after I’d placed the order (in the last week of December) and read that it was shipping from Hong Kong and was estimated to arrive AFTER FEBRUARY 28TH.  FEBRUARY. 28TH.  I am leaving February 5.  THIS WOULD NOT DO, no it would not do at all!  I sent off an e-mail to the company pleading with them to let me pay for faster shipping or some alternative but I never received a reply so I was left to wring my hands until it arrived.  THANKFULLY (oh god so thankfully!) it arrived within about two and half weeks and I have never been so happy to see a package in the mailbox.  It fit everything SO perfectly!  Solar charger, camera, battery recharger, wireless keyboard (because I won’t be taking my laptop with me and will be blogging from my phone but could NOT picture myself posting blogs via touch pad lol), etc etc etc.  It’s just the right size plus has enormous side pockets that even fit my water bottles should I want to shove them there; this worked out perfectly because at that time I hadn’t decided yet to keep my bike basket and was wondering how exactly I would strap my water bottles to the contraption that is Evelyn the Bike.

My friend Caitlin gave me a blanket that is very thin physically but very sturdy warm material so I am bringing it with me.  As I posted earlier this month I was now needing to figure out how exactly to organize my rear seat up and after much fiddling and rearranging bungee cords I figured it out.  [For more details you can flip back through posts to see the photo]

Sam, the Guitar

I have two guitars that I have been trying to re-home because I couldn’t bring them with me much as I wanted to.  My very first guitar, Sam, was a very sentimental item close to my heart.  When I found out from Kerry that the local guitar shop was buying back guitars I was ecstatic and immediately brought it to them.  What I WASN’T prepared for was realizing how much Sam really meant to me as I was handing her over.  Sam was the first guitar I ever bought, I learned to play on her.  She is a Fender and not a great one but she was beautiful and had lovely sound.  She didn’t have a single scratch on her and was always shining, waiting, calling to me to come play with her.  Whenever I was lonely, whether it was in my studio apartment in Illinois (I got yelled at by my downstairs neighbor for this), whether it was playing guitar with my dad, writing songs at the local church in Long Island where I attended years ago, writing my own songs that would allow me to play in a bar in Urbana, IL (my hometown) before I moved to New York, playing in the front yard with the little girls I love during the summer making up songs about the family dog, or just me singing and strumming.  She has been with me through many heartbreaks of all kinds and played loyally while I cried through songs that meant a lot to me, even though I am kind of a shitty guitar player.  I understand that I’m rambling but what I’m trying to potray is quite simple: I loved her and she loved me.  So when I handed over her to the man behind the counter I was not prepared for the suddenly tears that burst upon me.  I cried as I signed paperwork, handed over identifications and accepted the cash for her.  I cried as I touched her strings and smooth wood one last time and I sobbed as I walked away.  The employee who helped me was actually choked up because I was crying so hard and he gave me a hug and told me how proud he was of me (he knew about my trip).  I will never forget sitting in the car and crying so hard for about 20 minutes after leaving the store.  All the way home I wondered if I had made a mistake, if I could have shipped her (I couldn’t it would have been over $100) or something else.  Should I turn around?  What to do, what to DO?  I eventually talked myself to logic, reminding myself the reason that I had had to sell her in the first place but it wasn’t easy.  One day in the future I will have a new guitar and it will also be lovely but I will always remember Sam, my first guitar love.

Two huge mental setbacks and potential actual setbacks:

I was informed about two weeks ago that it is illegal to use interstates by bike in Texas, California, Oregon, Washington and much of Arizona and New Mexico (unless there is no alternative way to get to where you’re going).  Needless to say this created an enormous panic in me.  Much of my plans were on the interstate in Texas as least until I could get to Route 66.  I went onto all of the social media pages that I was on that had to do with Bike touring and asked over and over again what I could do instead.  I was directed to a book called Bicycling the Pacific Coast, by Tom Kirkendall.  I promptly ordered it and paid for speed shipping hoping with all I had that it would arrive before I left.  When it finally came I’m reading it through and it says something along the lines of how terrible of an idea it is to bike UP the Pacific Coast due to the headwinds.  THE HEADWINDS?!  Something that I had stupidly not even considered!  I immediately entertained the idea of changing my route completely, like COMPLETELY.  Instead of heading up the coast I was like okay I’ll go east first then up the east coast!  …No, no, then I’ll be back in NY by May, what fun is that?  I’ll go up through the midwest!  …No, that’s too cold.  I tossed all these ideas eventually and headed to Facebook biking pages again asking about statistics concerning the West coast headwinds.  Finally someone told me that the headwinds begin blowing south around the end of April beginning of May (if I was lucky)  This means that I needed to bike my ass as fast as I could to get to Washington.  If I make good time I think I’ll make it to the Canada/U.S. border shortly after the headwinds start and will only have to endure them the last leg of the west coast.  Problem sort of kind of solved.

Remember the Bike Rack?

So I called Brands after a week to see if the bike rack had come in and halleluiah it had.  Here’s where a problem came in.  That was the week of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  It was the same week that my Advanced Bike Maintenance was scheduled there.  Day one of the class was putting together a mountain bike.  Day two was working on your own bike.  This was perfect because I was going to bring in my bike, learn how to put my front rack on and then leave it there after class to be shipped.  OF COURSE we had a blizzard that week so class was postponed to the following week!  So I brought in my bike that first week and they were gracious enough to put the front rack on for me and left my bike with them a few days later and just had to not know how to put on my front rack, hopefully it won’t be too difficult.  On the bright side Performance Bike just called me like an hour ago to tell me that my bike had arrived and that if I have any trouble putting on my rack they can help me for free.  SO THANKFUL FOR SMALL THINGS!!

Moving On and Out

I have been packing and unpacking my bags over and over and over again just so that I can document what I have, where it is, where it’s going and learn the speediest way to get to what I need.  So as the last items came in I needed to finalize the packing.  I also needed to make sure anything that smells like anything (toothpaste, soap, food, Clif bars etc) were all in odor proof bags because I WILL BE DAMNED IF A BEAR FINDS ME.  As you know bears are becoming my primary fear lol.  Part of this packing had had to wait until the very last days because of my clothes.  I had already gone through my belongings to donate what I didn’t need, shipped to my mom what I DID need to keep (sentimental items and the random clothes that I would keep) and thrown away what I didn’t but when it came to clothes I was waiting because I didn’t want to find my bags all packed and have no clothes to wear…which kind of happened anyway.  I packed all my clothes up and realized I had nothing to wear but the onesie pajamas I was wearing at the time.  I had to go back into my donation bags and pull out two outfits for Sunday-Wednesday lol.  I have a suitcase set, two large suitcases and a carry on.  My plan had been that my panniers would go in the large ones along with my tent, sleeping bag and extra supplies.  The carry on would carry my clif bars and bike basket.  So the first suitcase packed smoothly, perfect!  I’m searching through the house looking for the second one and IT IS NOWHERE TO BE SEEN.  Eventually it was discovered that it had been left somewhere on vacation and meant to be shipped back to me but that never happened!  Uh..okay but I need to have a second suitcase it was not an option to not have a second large bag.  I found a huge one in the basement that fit everything in it perfectly.  The only issue was that it’s one of those older ones with one hand on the side that you carry.  So I now have one large rolling suitcase, one small rolling carry on and one enormous 50 lb suitcase that I have to carry.  This won’t be a problem until I get to Austin.  Why?  Well because I’m taking the city bus to the first hosts house and will have to figure out how to get the suitcases on the bus with me.  I briefly considered taking a taxi but it was going to cost me $40 and that just can’t do.  But at least I have a suitcase, right?  When I get to Austin I will be donating the suitcases because I won’t need them anymore.

So my plans when I get to Austin are in theory, all planned out.  When I land I will be taking a bus to another bus and that will drop me off about a block from the host that I am staying with.  The following day my friend is coming from Houston and we will then go to the bike shop where my bike was shipped to from Brands Cycle here.  I will put my bike back together and do my damndest to put my front rack back on with the help of the bike shop down there.  I will then bring my bike back to the host’s house (her name is Courtney and she sounds amazing!  She’s bike toured the country solo as well which is why I’m super excited to meet her, whenever I hear about a woman doing what I’m doing I am desperate to get all the information I can) for the night.  I will set out on the road officially on Friday, February 7th, if all goes according to plan.  Right now we’re in the middle of a snow storm and we’re supposed to get more snow on Wednesday morning which is when I’m flying so …we shall see.  Fingers crossed for good flying weather.

Last night at Kerry’s Super Bowl party I met a woman named Emily who road tripped across the country recently and she told me about this App called Road Trippers.  I cannot rave enough about finding out about this app, like seriously.  It maps out where you want to go and you have the option to opt out of interstates (BINGOOOOO) which is the best news I’ve heard in forever (although I feel like I’m saying that a lot haha, I’m just being appreciative okay?) This will take a lot of stress off of me wondering how the hell I’m going to get from one place to another without getting lost because I can’t use an interstate.

Closing out this post a quick blurb about my going away party last week.  Kerry threw me a little going away party with the usual gang of friends in the area who go out to karaoke, including my friend Kathy who came out from the city.  It was so great to have one last night with friends who have been listening to me talk and talk and talk about this trip from the very beginning.  Kerry sang me a beautiful song called ”My Wish” by Rascal Flatts, that I had never heard before but will never forget.  I have since added it to my playlist and every time I hear it I think about Kerry who has been a significant constantly reassuring friend through this entire trip planning.  Without her support I think I might have talked myself out of it from the very beginning.

Kerry and I

Kerry and I

Just an idea of the song:

I hope that the days come easy and the moments pass slow,
And each road leads you where you want to go,
And if you’re faced with a choice, and you have to choose,
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you.
And if one door opens to another door closed,
I hope you keep on walkin’ till you find the window,
If it’s cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile,

But more than anything, more than anything,
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you’re out there getting where you’re getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.

If you’d like to hear it you can click here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3TeskgpWvE

I think I’ve covered everything that I can as of right now!  I know that was a lot to read and bless you for making it to the end of that novel haha!  I’ll be updating hopefully once a week whenever I can get to a public library or coffee shop with internet to post a new blog and plan out that weeks journey!  It’s upon us friends!  The day I’ve been working towards for the past 7 months!!  WHOOHOO! See you out there!!

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