Nearly two years ago, when we were on our trip, we received an email from a high school teacher and fellow cycle tourist in Wisconsin, asking us if we'd be willing to speak to his students. We said we'd be happy to set a date once we were settled at home. Many emails and months later, our agreed-upon date has finally arrived. It's tomorrow!
We've decided to bring our Long Haul Truckers with us to Wisconsin. Along with our tent, panniers, and walkstools, they'll make for a nice mock campsite on stage. As Tyler unearths them from their resting place in the basement, hauling them into the garage on his shoulders, it feels like he's carrying a pair of long lost buddies. I can't believe it's been nearly a year since we got on them! (We've been riding our road bikes instead).
As Tyler readies them for travel on our bike rack, I focus on our luggage. Curious to see what, if anything, remains, I unclip one of our dusty, greying panniers, and unroll the top as I've done so many times before. Most of its contents have been disseminated around the house for use in everyday life, but here, inside this one, there is a half-used bottle of moisturizer, a crappy little shampoo I remember buying in Thailand, and the travel-sized sewing kit I used to mend our wool shirts.
As I inspect the dusty items, it feels like I am exploring a long-forgotten ghost town, or curiously examining objects at an estate sale, wondering who possessed these belongings and what their life was like. After a few seconds, reality sinks in. These are my things! I'm that woman, the woman who went traveling around the world. It seems such a strange and implausible fact to think about these days, since the life we lead currently is so different from the one we led on the road.
I long for adventure now, with all of the unabashed romanticism and naivety of someone who sleeps in a comfortable bed every night and takes hot water for granted. But I can't help it—the smell of that shampoo, the feel of the thread, the weight of the lotion bottle in my hand... the visceral memories associated with these simple items has jump-started my heart, sending a lust for adventure on the open road through my veins.
I am vacuuming our car in preparation for the six-hour drive tomorrow, when Tyler calls me over. "Come with me", he says with a mischievous smile. I love that look. Without questioning, I turn the vacuum off and lay the nozzle on the car seat. Outside the garage, he shows me my bicycle, all cleaned up for the big day. Even at its cleanest, my bicycle is obviously well-used, and boy have our panniers seen better days. They've been through a lot.
Standing over his own bicycle, Tyler says, "Let's go!" With a grin, I throw my leg over the top tube and together, we pedal off down the driveway. The ride is smooth, the panniers balanced, the weight comfortable. We mean to go only as far as the mailbox, just a few hundred feet, but we can't help heading onto the road. With a mischievous grin of my own, I speed ahead of Tyler, saying we could leave right now, we could just pedal off into the sunset!
Alas, it is not to be. Soon, we make a U-turn, heading back towards the house. We have other goals to focus on now, other dreams. Patience, we tell ourselves. All in good time. Now is the time for writing (my book), saving (for our land), and working. We have a home to build. And tomorrow, we have the daunting task of trying to inspire two hundred American youth to pursue unconventional dreams of their own.