Today, I finally got asked the question.
“Is that something on your bucket list?”
Somehow, as my plans have slowly been leaked to the masses, I had yet to receive that reaction. Somehow, I also hadn’t asked myself that question yet. For someone who does as many crazy, self-motivated things, you’d think I had a neurotic, masochistic bucket list wrought with progressively more painful benchmarks. Fourteener? Check. Twenty-plus? BRB. Normal tri? Got it. Iron man? Hurrying, I want that tattoo…
And yet, here I sit, grasping at straws. Let’s back up.
The question was a reaction to a quick conversation from a friend on the west coast, wondering when I’d be back his way. “Well, however long it takes to ride my bike there from Florida” was as close to a definitive offer as I could provide him. And honestly, that’s all that I’ve got. Rough estimates put it at two months, plus or minus 1-3 weeks, depending on rain, rations, and re-routes.
It seems relatively simple, flying to Jacksonville from D/FW, moseying over to Saint Augustine, swimming in the still-warm Atlantic, and hopping on the bike, stopping whenever I feel like it but not finishing until I swim in the not-so-warm Pacific (or I feel like I’ve really had my fill). The in-betweens, the great unkown, are what draw me to this ride. Like a summit hike of even my most familiar mountain, the possibilities are truly endless.
What type of trees will I string my hammock between? What material will the inevitable gracious hosts’ spare couch be covered with? What will I eat? I’m not concerned, but even pondering such brings my heart to a rolling boil as the excitement of a summer’s end suddenly rushes towards me. The very questions that skeptics have thrown at me are the ones that excite the most.
Back to the bucket list. I don’t have one, partly because I don’t do things that structured but primarily because I find them a bit presumptuous. To make a bucket list is to assume that you know when you’ll kick “the bucket” and that you’ll have the time and means to accomplish the oft-lofty tasks on it. I definitely have a daily bucket list, and it goes something like this (though not necessarily in the following order):
- Wake up
- Be good to fellow people
- Do something
- Do something that gives me a bit of pause. Fancy folks call this “calculated risk”
- Exercise. Move. Be outside.
- Cook good food
- Talk to somebody I’ve never talked to/seen before
- Thank God for the chance to do all of the above and ask Him what comes next
In the days leading up to the trip, I’ll do my best to address the most-asked questions and paint a better picture for whoever may care to know what the coming months hold in store for me. I might try to elucidate how I got here.
It was tempting to keep this whole thing under wraps until moments before I left for the airport. I’m not a fan of fanfare, hype, or talking about myself (seriously). As much as I value my strong individualistic tendencies, friends were the main thing that made committing to this trip hard. Friends, the prospect of missing the Rangers’ third trip to the World Series (you know what they say…) and a handful of concerts and family events. But if I were doing those things, I’d be missing out on this ride. Sometimes, you have to take control and know that doing something is better than doing nothing at all because you can’t decide between great options. That being said, allowing a week to tell the people I really do love and appreciate that they were part of the reason this was a tough decision (sort of) seems like the right thing to do.
Blogs scare me, because they always give the sense that you are doing things for your audience and not yourself. Or that you don’t have an audience at all, and the internet has a loud, plaintive echo. I’ll maintain this one as best I can for the sanity of my relations. I also have written way more than I meant to and don’t feel anywhere near ‘done’. Whatever done is. How I’ll update it remains to be seen, but that’s exciting, too. It may be factual, artistic, episodic, or abstract. Posts might be short or long, absolute garbage, or, occasionally, serendipitously decent.
It is my sincerest hope that you read this in class, at work, and never when you could be outside instead.
Look for more nitty-gritty soon, we’re a week and twelve hours away from the good stuff.