Tuesday, August 19, 2014

All 50 States

I don't rightly know when I decided upon the goal of riding in all 50 states. I'm sure it was a focused goal after my first transcontinental with PAC Tour in 2006, the southern tier from San Diego to Tybee Island, GA. I knew that when I achieved that goal I would get another tattoo of our country, featuring some key routes, and, of course, my faithful recumbent.

Turns out I rode exactly 25 states on a tour, either a transcon with PAC or a solo tour I designed, and the other 25 by just grabbing a state here and there as it came to me or as I went to it.

An ambler in Yellowstone too close to our new car for comfort
Turns out Kirk and I went to four states I needed this July: Montana, North and South Dakota, and Nebraska. 

Little did we know when we planned this 6,000 mile driving car trip from Tucson to Eugene, OR, by way of Nevada, California, up through Washington, Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Utah, Wyoming, and northern AZ before coming back home, that Kirk would get to do ALL the driving. 

Yep, I'm still not driving because I can't seem to string together 90 seizure-free days to earn back my driving privileges. 

It was a special trip in so many ways:
  • completion of a bucket list goal--riding in all the states (see caveat below)
  • having a new car with a bike rack on the back so Kirk could bring his bike, too, and we could ride some miles together
  • visiting Pompey's Pillar in Billings, Yellowstone NP, Zion NP, Grand Canyon North Rim NP, Mt. Rushmore, Great Basin NP
  • spending a day with our good friend from Mt. Prospect, IL, Jack Verhasselt, who was visiting family in Billings the same time we were there
  • a surprise visit in our son's father-in-law's office in Billings where he is the school superintendent
  • a visit with a new friend in Cheney, WA who also lives with epilepsy daily
  • soaking in with awe the expanse of our amazing country
I wondered how I would feel having completed this bucket list goal: would it be exhilaration, kind of a "yep, got it done", sort of a let down that the target was not ahead of me and what would the next target be?

I was pleased that what I felt, mostly, was gratitude to Kirk, for Kirk, who participated in my attaining my goal with as much energy as I have invested in it. Behind that gratitude was more gratitude that at nearly age 69 I have been able to pursue and achieve my 50-State goal. And, behind that gratitude was just a most pleasant exhale of a job well done.

An unexpected joy along the way was discovering that my good friend, Barbara Cleveland from NH, had basically grown up in all the states we were traveling through. She's exactly my age; her Dad had been an executive with the Union Pacific Railroad which meant that she rode the rails with him most summers as a wee child, sleeping in UP bunk cars, getting separated from her Dad and ending up in some distant town and having to be shuttled back by train to wherever Dad was.

Didn't know any of this about Barbara until I happened to send her some pix by email early in our trip and her remarkable childhood stories just poured out of her. Day-by-day, I sent her more pix; day-by-day she shared more stories, and we both learned a lot about how we had become the adults that we have become. A treasured gift for both of us.
Leaving Yellowstone, heading east

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Badlands in the distance

Yep, you're right, Mt. Rushmore

Barbara Cleveland's bunk car, Ely, NV

Bristlecone tree in Great Basin NP in NV. Some of these trees are nearly 5,000 years old and still thriving

More UP cars for repairing tracks

Zion NP, UT

A little secret here: I am actually still 2 states short: Delaware and South Carolina. We could have gotten SC in 2011 when we were on our 12,400 mile, 99 Day Trek from Chicago to Tucson, but alas I broke my foot and was off the bike when we were traveling through SC. We thought I'd get Delaware this July when we took our son, Bryan, and his 11 y.o. daughter, Ayva, to Williamsburg and D.C. But alas, the tail of the state we thought was Delaware turned out to be Maryland. So, SC will have to be "gotten" in July 2015 and Delaware in the summer of 2016. But as long as we are both still alive, they will be "gotten" in the next two years.

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