Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The stars at night...

Ok, y'all, we made it. We got into Austin TX today at 5:05 p.m.

Our day started at 8:00 a.m. We had all our baggage ready.

I ordered the minivan cab for 10 a.m. to get us to midway airport. Me, being a neurotic worry wart, I scheduled it for 4 hours before our flight was to leave to make up for any problems we might encounter of not fitting our stuff in. It all fit, luckily.

It only took us 30 minutes to get to the airport, so we were there 3 1/2 hours early. Well, better to be early then late.

Ira is feelin the stress as we wait to check in our mountain of baggage. I went from a key chain with tons of keys, my parents house, my sister's house, my aunts house, andy's house (all the places I've been staying) and keys to my parents car to only one key: my bike lock. Less keys, less responsibilities.

I kept saying, if we can just get on the plane, I'll be fine. I'm feeling pretty good here.

We got to Austin, and Walt, someone we hooked up with off the warm showers list, came and picked us up with his truck. We then went out to dinner at the Third Base which is a great new bar Walt's son Michael opened just three weeks ago. It was great food and packed. We then came back to his house where we have been supplied with great digs for the night.

So as you can see, we're back on the road and roughin it.

The stars at night are big and bright (at least the capitol building deffinitly is) deep in the heart of Texas.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

jumping off the cliff, a second time

Andrea checking in again. Well, sorry all for being so incommunicado for the past three months. I left off here, telling you all about how I was trying to reintegrate myself into a normal life again. I was living in Flint, staying with my parents working a temporary holiday job. I wish I could tell you everything went well while I was there, but that would not be entirely true. This past couple of months has brought on a lot of emotional turmoil and concepts for contemplation. To be brief, I have been struggling with a lot of issues of self identity.

I have come to realize I define myself largely by what I "do". I wasn't doing much while in Flint. Don't get me wrong, I really like Flint, I think it is an awesome town. I just wasn't in a position of doing much, only working part time. I started to get depressed and started doing even less then before. Living with your parents after a long time away from home is difficult. I truly wanted to be a good citizen but slowly started to fade into old patterns of lazing around the house and not helping out because I didn't absolutly have to. I realize, I need a structured life to keep me feeling positive. I need to move forward not dangle in some temporary thing. I value work, and I value supporting yourself. I wasn't really doing this while in Michigan and it took it's toll.

I knew embarking on this adventure, there would be hard times. I like being comfortable, I have always liked having my spot with all my stuff. I am not zen, I can't just give up everything and be content. (that's why everything is in storage.) I was concerned I wasn't going to like the transient life, yet was surprised at how well I felt I was coping with the first part of being on the road. It was when we stopped everything came into focus. Being around others who are so settled in their lives, and not really being settled in my own life was hard. I am a control freak therefore I like to have control over my environment, and this just hasn't been possible lately. I've been feeling lost and afraid. I also have been suffering from panic attacks that leave me paralyzed with fear of "are we doing the right thing?", "should I just quit all this and go back to a regular life...will that get rid of this fear?" The fear and panic I feel seem slightly irrational when looked at from the outside. My friends say, well, you know, you are going back on the road soon, so why are you getting stressed out about it. But what if it doesn't go away, I ask. Lately the fear has been all consuming, almost to the point of making me want to quit this trip. This trip which has been my dream for so long.

I'm no quitter though. I have to move forward. It is part of how I define myself. I have been feeling lost, and quite honestly I don't know if I can make it another six months on the road without having a breakdown. But I'm not quitting without trying. The problem with saying you want to have an experience that will change your life is, it does change your life. Things change, and you have to deal with that...the good and the bad. Its not like things change, the clouds open up, God comes out and says "my child, you have been strong and brave, you will lead a very successful life with no problems from here on out." No. Things have changed but I'm not sure how. All I know is, I feel differently and I need to redefine myself. This is uncomfortable, but so necessary. I've been working on allowing the panic to move through me, but not take over. I'm working on allowing myself to feel uncomfortable in my own skin. I'm trying to deal with the concept life is out of my control and this is ok. These issues have almost been harder if not as hard as climbing a mountain pass or sleeping in a cold damp sleeping bag during a horrific rainstorm or getting dehydrated and sunburnt from riding through 100 degree weather.

That's all part of the journey. I knew it was going to be hard, I guess I just didn't know what aspects were going to be hard and how they were going to affect me. Ira and I have been talking about this blog. People who have kept reading have commented on how it hasn't been so positive lately. But this is the true experience. Its so important to see the struggle, not just the physical but emotion and psychological struggle which is so integral to this. Hard times are necessary to appriciate the good ones. I know this all may sound trite, but you know some times you have too look in the mirror and say

I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and gosh darnit people like me.

anyhow, enough psycho babble. I just felt, I couldn't move on with this blog without telling you what I've been going through. So the whole picture could be seen and understood.

Thanks for all of you who have supported us, it means everything. Tomorrow we're off to Texas to do it again. Getting ready to jump, can't think about it. Just have to get a running start and go.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Blizzard Party 2K7

Chicago kids are crazy when it comes to extreme weather. Half-way through our going-away party last night I stepped out on the front porch and saw no less than twelve bikes locked to the front gate, all coated in ice, sleet, and snow. Some of our first guests rode fourteen miles before arriving. Andrea and I were floored by how many people braved the storm to give us a send-off.

Find yourself in the party pictures.

We're going to miss everyone so much over the upcoming months, and a part of me wants to just stay here in the comfort of all that is familiar.

Those of you who couldn't make the party, we'll be back before you know it. Stay in touch and we'll keep writing and taking pictures for you.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Late hours at the bike shop.

I started fixing the bikes yesterday. They're covered with dirt from all over the West.

So far, Andrea's has new handlebars because she crashed on Vancouver Island. She's also getting a new chain, a fancy new old-stock Suntour freewheel, and all of her bearings repacked. Can you smell the fresh grease?

For added olfactory pleasure, Andrea's bike box came with dirty clothes from three months ago!

I'm going to need to fix my rear fender, which was smashed when the wheel can loose in Portland, and jury-rigged since then. There's also the business of my drive-train clicking, probably needing new parts. All of this needs to happen in the next three days, and I admit I'm panicking.

The best solution is obviously to party tonight and drink whiskey, which we will do.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I bought plane tickets yesterday.

We're flying to Austin on February 28th. Hello warm weather! There's a lot of work to be done in the next week. I'll be tuning the bikes, putting my things back in storage, and tying up loose ends.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Despite blizzard warnings throughout Cook County...

Andrea and I still went on a date tonight! Everyone is driving like they are crazy due to multiple inches of snow on the streets. There are sirens ever two seconds and the visibility is less than a block- how romantic!

Monday, February 12, 2007

I think Ta-da List by 37signals is pretty neat. I'm using it to keep track of our countdown to departure and everything else in my life that requires order.

Andrea is back in Chicago and we've been doing some fun stuff, like ice skating and going out to eat. She brought the camera with her, so look out for photos soon.

Our going-away party will be on the 24th. Roughly a week after is the projected beginning of our Gulf Coast ride.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

There's no place like a sinking ship to re-evaluate your career as a pirate.

January has been a shitty month. It started out with a friend being killed in a car accident (age 27, hit by a drunk driver on Christmas Eve), and didn't improve. Andrea has been living with her family in Flint for the past two months. Long distance relationships work for some people, but between the physical separation and the unresolved stress from five months of touring, ours has been tense and miserable. I'm not ready to go into details, but I've seriously questioned whether I want to spend another five months on the road, and beyond that, if Andrea and I have what it takes to work together as a team at all.

It's a new month though, and time for a re-evaluation of plans, goals, and my view of life in general. The transition from one mode of life to another has never been hard for me, but I always catch myself swept up in things and carried away with day-to-day affairs before I've actually come to terms with the fact there's been a change. I've been working for the last two months with blinders on, saving money, sleeping early, and losing contact with everyone. I've been living entirely for the future, for the goal of getting back on tour, but completely ignoring actual life around me. BAD IDEA! When it became obvious that things between Andrea and I were not working out, my priorities changed. I've been in better contact with friends, who are solidly supportive and loyal, and I'm cutting myself more slack in the leisure department. If there's nothing about your life that you can brag about, and you're living for something that's not making you happy, things have gotta change. Taking care of the people who care about you is worth whatever time and money it costs, because you never know when you're gonna be crying in your beer.

I'm not going to keep you in suspense... The tour is still on. Andrea and I are spending more time on the phone, talking things out, and she's moving back to Chicago in a week. We're planning to leave for Austin, Texas at the end of February. I'll post pictures of the going-away party.