The first 48 hours after I got back to San Diego I was pretty much a zombie. Basically, I was worthless. It was like I could finally let down and relax because I no longer had to be “on high alert” from the moment I woke until the moment I fell asleep each day over the past 3+ months. I found myself no longer having to worry about weather, routes, traffic, road hazards, road closures, repairs, animals (live and/or dead), hotels, restaurants, etc., etc. Bottom-line, my body pretty much just collapsed once I took my shower and finished visiting with my family and the neighbors.
Since my return, I still find myself thinking about my journey each and every day. It brings a smile to my face and a sense of accomplishment that is hard to explain. Sometimes it is the big things and sometimes it is the smallest of experiences that literally gets me laughing out loud. No doubt this looks weird to strangers when I am by myself. The important thing is that reflecting back on my trip brings nothing but huge smiles to Smiley. Even the bad times were good in the end because they made me appreciate the good times that much more.
Yes, the weather sucked much of the time and I did have a few too many mechanical problems with Captain America for my taste, but most of these were caused by my aftermarket customizing of my “ride” and not related to Harley Davidson as a manufacturer. That being said, these “challenges” were all part of my adventure and honestly now I would not trade any of them for the world! They tend to tests one’s ability to think on his/her feet and to solve problems as they pop up. Hell, if you don’t solve them yourself, then who will solve them for you.
Many people have asked me if I have learned anything from my trip and were there any real surprises along the way. Oh boy, where do I start?
First, let’s focus on what I have learned and what I got out of making such a crazy journey:
1. I gained so much personal satisfaction from making the trip. First, this was the first time that I have actually taken an active roll in helping a charity out directly without just writing a check. I have always been “too busy with work or family, etc”. I found talking to people about their experiences with cancer of all types and raising money for Susan G. Komen made me feel really good inside. I highly recommend that you all get involved in some form of charity work. You too will receive much more than you give!
2. The trip totally restored my faith in mankind. I was blown away by the friendliness and generosity demonstrated by so many people all across the US and Canada. I was also taken back by the number of people who wanted to tell me their own or a close family member’s cancer stories. Most of these stories were incredible survival stories, but some were as sad as you can imagine. I was also amazed by the number of people who would make a donation to a stranger who looked like hell. People would approach me due to my prominent clothing and bike logos regarding the trip and ask me questions like, “Are you really doing this?” Which state aren't you riding to? (By the way, I had to do everything I could to keep from laughing when numerous people seriously asked me that question.) Are our citizens treating you nicely? Do you need a place to stay? “Can I help you find something?” This kindness and generosity was demonstrated by all races, genders, and/or economic classes. The people of America and Canada are good people and we should all be proud of one another!
3. The vast majority of the United States and the three provinces of Canada that I rode through were truly beautiful and I would put this scenery up against any in the world. Favorites included Idaho, Montana, BC, Yukon, Alaska, Alberta, Kansas, Nebraska, Main, New Hampshire, Vermont, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas.
4. Traveling by myself, I was forced to interact more with strangers which turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip. I have always enjoyed talking to all types of folks, but my journey opened a whole lot of new doors for me. It was obvious to me that the grubbier I got the more I was able to fit in with a much broader section of society than usual. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting almost all of people along the way and with very few exceptions they were “cool”. On numerous occasions I would come away from a conversation thanking my lucky stars that I did not judge the book by its cover!
5. I knew the trip would be mentally and physically demanding, but I really had no idea just how demanding it would turn out to be. No question that weather and the bike issues played into this, but upon reflection I now feel a major reason for the challenge centered on the shear length of the trip and my riding solo. Keep in mind this 23,500 mile ride was over 3 ½ times longer than my previous longest trip in the past.
6. Motorcycle camping is just not my thing! It is either too hot or too cold to camp. In addition, I felt my bike lacked the space I needed to really bring everything I wanted for a “good” camping experience. With hotel rooms averaging only about $90 a day, you will soon see all of my rarely used camping gear on eBay priced for a very quick sale. Any bidders?
7. Plan for anything and everything. Other than the camping gear that I shipped home from Montana, I feel that my pre- trip packing was just about perfect. I highly recommend that you never leave on any motorcycle trip regardless of the time of year or the duration of the trip without having with you great rain gear, warm cloths, a good towing package, your leathers, and a super easy going attitude. You will probably need and use them all!
8. Would I buy another Harley Davidson motorcycle? The simple answer is a resounding YES! During the trip I had an epiphany about my current bike versus the kind of riding I enjoy doing. As mentioned, I only go long haul and seldom ride around San Diego. Captain America is not a “touring bike” but more of a “neighborhood bike”. Over the next several months I will be looking to buy a 2009 Harley Davidson Ultra Classic. This Harley is really designed and built for the kind of riding I know and love.
9. The interest in my sponsor also surprised me. So many folks wanted to know about Titan Sports Media Group, the Olympics in Beijing, and the reasons why the Chinese are getting so motivated regarding living a healthy lifestyle. A day never went by without my engaging in a long conversation or two about these subjects. I enjoyed these conversations greatly and was amazed about the depth of knowledge that so many people have about this incredible country and the great Chinese people. There is no question that Titan should speed up the development of their English website due to the interest that I felt along the way.
I want to thank all of you for following me along my journey and hope you have enjoyed it half as much as I have. At this time I also want to thank those of you who have made a donation to Cruising for the Cure. If you have not yet done so, I sincerely hope you will in the very near future! You can click through on the Susan G. Komen name and it will take you right to their website where donations can be made on line and in the name of Cruising for the Cure. I can not tell you how much both Doreen and I appreciate your important participation in this worthy cause. I am more confident than ever that together we will find the cure and it just may not be that much longer before we can all celebrate.
I also want to thank Doreen and my two great kids for allowing me the luxury of fulfilling my life long dream. Without their support and love this trip would have never happened nor would it have been nearly as enjoyable as it turned out to be. And it goes without saying that I so appreciate Titan and Interval International for also making this journey possible.
At this time I already look back on my journey this summer and it seems like ages ago. No doubt as time goes by I will continue to be living up to my nickname (Smiley) every time I think back on the incredible Summer of 2008. What a "fricking" great adventure it was my friends!!!! Would I do it again? No question about it. I truly had a total blast and feel like I gained so much more than I gave during my Cruising for the Cure adventure. All of the above said, I am really glad to be back in San Diego and looking forward to getting back into the swing of things in Dubai during October. I miss the region and the people greatly.
Enjoy your autumn and be kind to one another. Signing out for now,