Monday, December 18, 2006

The hardest part of touring.

It's not the physical pain or emotional distress. It's not the frustration of trashing your drive train on the open road, a hundred and fifty miles from nowhere. It's not the bears, raccoons, squirrels, or any other animal that steals your food. Same for the sun, rain, and cold. The most frustrating, discouraging, and menial aspect of this trip is the money-saving part. It's nice to be in the city if you have late-night oil to burn and money to blow on drinks, food, music, and endless entertainment. When you're socking all of your cash away for another five months of touring, these temptations make you feel depressed, lousy, and wishing you were living in some little snowbound cabin in the North Woods, where the California Clipper, the Maproom, Stella's, the Innertown, and the handful of good friends who all deserve proper attention at the forementioned establishments were safely out of range. I've started a disgusting coffee-drinking habit because it's the only way i can socialize on my self-imposed budget. For the first time in years I've gone for a week without resting my elbows on one of Chicago's heavily lacquered bars.

In times like these it's crucial not to lose sight of goals. Being ground to a bloody pulp by workweeks with no reward must be balanced against something tangible, so I find myself filling a notebook with lists and plans for the next few months, and looking back through our photos and my journals from the road. I'm organizing my gear, going through checklists, and reading maps at the Harold Washington Library. I'm forcing myself to stop in the middle of the day and visualize my time in the city as an island that I'll be rescued from in a matter of months, and to remember that the rescue ship with be loaded down with the bounty of freedom on the open road, and that the air will be clear and sweet like the sea, and not at all cold like Chicago winters.


Anonymous said...

Don't dig Java? Try some Tea maybe?
-Cheaper than coffee at most coffee shops.
-Great variety of types -black tea, green tea, white tea, herbal and the exotic oolong.
-Antioxidant qualities and caffiene

Exploration and empires were fueled by tea, not coffee.

The expansion of the British Empire worldwide was aided by tea drinking because you have to boil the local water (and therefore kill any germs and dysenteric agents that might be in it) before you have your cup.

Go forth and explore- with Tea.

bikefam said...

Hi Ira and Andrea,
Remember us, we're the Dog People. We finished at the Mexican border Oct 14, the day after you reached San Francisco. It was an amazing trip. The dogs did great, loved every moment of it. And I did recover from my crash. Bike touring is an amazing way to see the country, meet people, and have experiences that will last a lifetime, as I know you've discovered. And it never gets old, as we've discovered. Good luck making it through the winter at the old grind and good luck next summer. We'll try to keep up with you. As for us, we're back at the grind for awhile. Hopefully some short trips are in store and another long one in 5 years or so. Have a Merry Christmas as well. Jon and Carla, Lander and Afton, aka "Two Tails on the Trail" (