On Thursday morning, after a less than stellar sleep session (3AM bed time + 85 degree Summer humidity + no A/C + a broken fan staring at me and laughing = !@#$^%^) I left Burlington and headed southeast through Vermont and New Hampshire and into Massachusetts, the final stop on the road trip – the East Coast.
I stopped in Cambridge for the night to visit John and Kelly Buchanan, friends from San Francisco and newlyweds. For those of you reading since the beginning, these are the two friends that got married on my last weekend in SF before starting this whole thing, the ones (well, John, not Kelly) with the clippers that done the liberating deed with the mohawk.
While I’ve been traipsing around the country, they’ve been busy. In the last 2 months they quit their jobs, got married, went on a honeymoon, bought a house in Cambridge, moved to Cambridge and have spent the last three weeks busting butt painting, unpacking, dealing with the shock that comes along with this kind of massive lifestyle change, and preparing for new jobs and school which they both start today (John was accepted at Harvard Business School. He should be on fries next week).
In the three weeks that they’d been in Massachusetts, they hadn’t had time to visit Boston. And they live in Cambridge, just a few minutes away. We ended that with a trip on the T down to Boston Commons and walked through what seemed like a museum of historical sites (Sam Adams grave, location of the Boston Massacre etc). We strolled through Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall and the Waterfront (the Atlantic Ocean and official end of the cross country trip line for this trip), enjoying the end of Summer sun and the crowds gathered to start the weekend early.
It was great to see them both. Weird how all three of us have undergone some serious changes since mid-July – although in slightly.. different directions. They make up 2 of the 4 (I’m one, West Coast Hammer is the other) of our crew that left SF within a week of one another, doing some serious damage to the group of friends we’ve all enjoyed for the last 5+ years. Times, they are a-changin’.. When I come back, things will definitely be different. Friends, once concentrated in SF, have scattered all over the country.
After a grand total of about 17 hours in Massachusetts, I mounted up for the final time on Friday morning and, for the first time, pointed the wheel West. I rode through Harvard Square, across the Charles River and out of Boston. I rode for 11 hours and 619 miles through Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania (including a stellar stretch down Rts. 6 and 209 through the Delaware Water Gap Forest), back to my mom’s place in Pittsburgh. It was my longest single day ride since I started this thing. By the time I hit Pittsburgh, I’d ridden 839 miles in the previous 33 hours, for a total of 8,970 miles since the trip had begun, 46 days earlier. And I was done.
I’d averaged almost 200 miles a day, and spent, by my guess, about 200 hours in the saddle of this bike. Imagine getting in your car and not getting out for 8.5 days. That’s what it’s been like – over just a month and a half’s time. I know it’s silly to develop attachments to inanimate objects but now I see how it happens. I’ve been through a lot with this bike (Beatrice is her name in case you’re wondering – Beatrice the BMW. You got a problem widdat?) and I swear she has a soul. I didn’t want the trip to end.
While I’d been dreading this day and 619 miles on the highway, I actually enjoyed it more than just about any other ride I’ve done on this trip. I don’t know if it was because of the weather (beautiful sun and blue sky once I hit PA), the music (I listened to the iPod for the entire 11 hour trip – Elliott Smith and most of my My Morning Jacket stuff – stellar road music!), the knowledge that I would soon be home for a week of rest, or the sudden reality that I am about to travel around the world, the second of two epic adventures I’ve set out on since leaving my life in SF. Regardless, I found myself smiling and a little sad as I watched the shadow that the bike and I cast to my left onto the highway beside me, getting longer as the sun began to set on this absolutely amazing chapter in my life. It’s hard to process it all and if already feels like it was long ago. But it’s been amazing. I hope I’m able to hold onto these memories forever. (Took this shot just after I pulled into my mom’s place.)