Well, we thought it would be good to send a final post, to share some closing thoughts, and say thank you.
The last day Ian had the most impressive crash of the entire trip. He had his right hand in the air at the moment Owen slowed in front of him. With only his left hand on the bars, he grabbed the front brake hard and toppled ass over teakettle straight over the handlebars into the road, cracking his helmet and coloring his arm and shoulder with road rash.
It was also the day that Hobbit generously buried three large, heavy rocks in my front bags. He thoughtfully let me carry those rocks over 30 miles before I discovered them.
We had a fun party at our house, and slept in. We spent the next day cleaning out our packs, airing out our tents and packing Hobbit and Annie’s gear to ship home. Hobbit ate a lobster roll and we stayed up late sharing stories by the fire. The following morning we drove Hobbit and Annie to the airport. I gave Annie the sagebrush from the Cheyenne reservation for their final safe passage home.
We didn’t know what was going to happen on this journey, we only knew we should go. Ultimately, most things were much different than we anticipated. The landscape certainly was. On many occasions I studied Google maps carefully, both road and satellite images, and then conjured a picture in my head of what eastern Washington State must look like, or the Beartooth Pass, or Michigan, or the plains of South Dakota, and almost every time the landscape looked and felt much different than the image I had in my head.
Below is very close to what we actually did. I discovered that Google Maps permits only a certain number of route adjustments. I ran out of tweaks but this is very close. The only major difference is we took the ferry across Lake Michigan at Manitowoc, not Milwaukee. You can also view the interactive map here.
I’m reminded of a saying by the remarkable innovator and leader Jerry Sternin, “It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking, than to think your way into a new way of acting.”
The act of embarking on the adventure itself opened up new awarenesses – new ways of thinking that stretched time. Each day was its own universe, each experience eternal and timeless, and also a wink of an eye. Charlie had a funny moment somewhere in Wyoming when he said, “This trip has been amazing. Life-changing. I feel totally transformed. Can I go home now?” And later, when the kids were pushing so hard at the end to finish the trip, we reminded them that once we finish, the entire adventure will seem much shorter in our memory.
I recently revisited a favorite book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. In it Bronnie Ware, a palliative care nurse, recounts spending the final three to six weeks with dying patients and shares what they have to say about their lives, and what regrets, if any, they have.
The most common regret people have is “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” In her book, Bronnie writes that most people had not honored even half of their ambitions, knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. It’s also a reminder that our personal health brings a freedom we often don’t realize, until we no longer have it.
She writes that often we regret working too hard, and not allowing time for escape, adventure or renewal. We also sometimes regret not having the courage to express our true feelings, hiding them to maintain peace, which can build resentment within ourselves.
And finally, Bronnie writes that commonly people realize later in life that happiness is a choice.
“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”
People often ask us if we think the trip was transformative in some way. My answer is we don’t know yet, but one thing is certain. We will never forget it. Whatever it means, the lessons learned, the relationships built, the strength found within ourselves, will transform over time.
I’ll be honest and tell you that sharing this adventure has been a great joy for all of us. Hobbit is planning an exhibit in the spring, and we are collaborating on a book that shares the journey and images together. We’ll be in touch when that materializes.
In the meantime here are a few favorite moments from the trip. Thanks for following along.
– the Gang of Coast to Coast 2017
Obi-wan, Sparks, What, Hobo, Thunder, Hobbit, and myself.
P.S. Here’s a nice news report from our local TV station in Portland.