(To start from the beginning of my trip 8,600 miles by motorcycle and 600 miles by foot around the U.S., click here to read the first post)
On my last night in Toronto, one of my friends asked for a “quote from the road.” Of course, I had had plenty of time to do lots of thinking throughout the 2 months of my trip, alone with my own thoughts for so much time, but I never really thought about it in a way to put it into just a single quote. The final couple days of driving really got me to think on everything, and now that (yesterday) I’ve put Eowyn, my faithful ’05 Dyna Wide Glide that traveled the full 8,600 miles around the country with me, away in storage for the next two years, it seems like a good time to put it all into writing.
Overall, it was an amazing trip. I spent two months, on a day-to-day basis being constantly blown away by the beauty of the United States (and, briefly, Canada). I went from the skyscrapers of New York City, through the Shenandoah Mountains, to the winding Tail of the Dragon in the Smokeys, to New Orleans, through bayous, ranch lands, cacti, deserts, southern California mountains, San Diego, the Pacific Ocean, resort beach towns, the ocean hugging cliffs and farmlands of central and northern California, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Redwood Forest, an incredible hike on the PCT in Washington which included weeks of rain, near death experiences, fights with mice, and complete isolation in the mountains, the brittle cold but awe-inspiring beauty of Montana, flatlands in Wyoming, Sturgis, SD and Mount Rushmore, St. Paul, MN, congestion in the mid-west, Toronto, Niagara wine country, the rolling hills of the Catskills at the peak of their autumn colors, and, finally, back to New York City.
The really crazy thing about this trip is that the idea for it as it eventually materialized was only fully conceived as such about a month before I actually hit the road. A lot happened that changed my plans, and there were plenty of times, as I was hiking through the mountains or riding on my bike, where I just had a huge grin on my face at the thought of how incredibly things all came together. This is what the Rubber on Road motto means to me: “I never get lost because I don’t know where I’m going.” If you just go along through life without forcing anything, but allow situations to unfold in the way that they seem to naturally want to go, you’ll never find yourself in the “wrong” place.
This trip for me was less about learning something new and more about confirming and solidifying what I was already starting to believe. Throughout life, you’re constantly faced with choices, forks in the road, and I’ve found that the trick to going down that road is that when you have to make those choices, take the path where you won’t have any regrets and then, just don’t look back. There’s very rarely a perfect path, without any downside, but you can always walk through life knowing that you’ve moved forward. Things don’t always work out how you expect or even how you would’ve liked, but they do always work out the way they’re supposed to. Sometimes it’s the next day that you see this, sometimes the next week, and sometimes it can be a year or years later, but as long as you look back confident that you made the best decision you could have and have moved forward as a result, you’ll eventually see how perfectly everything did work out.
There have been certain decisions in my life that I have questioned before reminding myself of this. But when I was on my motorcycle or hiking, I couldn’t help but look back on everything that led to this and see that this was exactly how everything was supposed to work out and how happy it had made me not regretting anything. In 5 months, I graduated from University, got a job in Beijing, got trapped on a mountain, swam in an alpine lake, travelled around 25 states, visiting 6 major North American cities, watching the leaves change colors as I went through 3 different seasons, had my heart broken by a girl 5 months after I’d broken hers, said goodbye to life long friends, and made some amazing new ones. Sometimes things can look really crappy, whether it’s depression, exhaustion, heartbreak, being stuck in rain for a week and a half, or fighting off mice from your tent, but as long as you feel no regrets about the choices that you made to get there or the ones you’ll make going forward, you’ll get out of it, and you’ll find yourself being happier than ever. The only regrets in life are those you feel when mistakes are made, and the only mistakes are the ones you don’t learn from, so live a life with no regrets and enjoy it all because every bit along the way is just part of the adventure.