Rainy fall afternoons on the East Coast get me thinking about other places I would like to be. Not now, necessarily, because I’m happy here. But sometime in the yet-undetermined future, sometime before I’m too old or dead to see them. Lately, most of these visions are tied to the bike trip I’ve been dreaming up with Autumn, one that would take us around the United States in a sort of six-month circumnavigation. I don’t know when we’ll be able to do it–we’ll have to quit our jobs, store all of our belongings, figure out health insurance, have some sort of a next step in place.
But from where I sit now, those logistics don’t look so daunting. They are overshadowed by the (surely romanticized) tug of the open road, by the joy and liberation we would feel spending each day at once away from everything and a part of everything, seeing all the contours of this brawny country at twelve miles an hour.
I think about rolling along a stream in the Montana prairie beneath clouds more impressively sculpted and bulging than anything in a Bierstadt painting. I think about the starlit desert sky. I think about seeing the Pacific from winding seaside roads in California, seeing the Atlantic through a film of mist on the rocky Maine coast. I think about warm dinners in the tent and luxurious-feeling motel rooms and shade trees and tailwinds and wells pulling clear water from aquifers deep below the plains. I think about not having to work, not having to answer to anyone, not having any deadlines or objectives besides riding 50 or 60 miles each day. I think about experiencing it all with my best friend.
Our dreams don’t just happen. We make a choice whether or not to pursue them, whether they are worth the sacrifices necessary to achieve them. Basically, we decide how important they are to us, and act accordingly. This trip is really important to me. I want it to happen. But I can’t do anything about it. Not yet, not right now.
So, for at least the next year or two, visions will have to be enough.