I do my best Howard Dean impersonation, as well as deliver an update on the journey. YYYYEEEEEEAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!
In case you are unfamiliar with the moment that I reference in the introduction:
I just love everything about this. 🙂
So here is my attempt. Teleprompter text will be pasted below.
My fellow Everywhere-icans,
Hello and welcome to the second state of the trip address. A time to take a break from the rigors of the road to reflect on the happenings of this adventure, as well as a chance to see if I still remember how to tie a tie.
Currently, I’m working furiously to prepare for the next chapter of my trip, riding through 16 countries in Central and South America. Trying to make sure everything is ready….visas and insurance and vaccinations and route decisions… is nearly as exhausting as being a full time traveller. I must confess, I don’t love this part of the journey.
But you know something….you know something…If you would have told me a few years ago that I would get to ride a motorcycle all the way down to Argentina I would have given anything for that…and you know something….you know something
Not only are we going to Argentina…Tom Harkin….
We’re going to Barranquilla, Colombia and Salvodor, Brazil and Tocopilla, Chile
We’re going to Costa Rica, Panama, Padilla, Monterrey, Diamantina,
And we still have some places left in the US…so we’ll go to
Oklahoma, La Paloma,
Houston, Colorado Waterloo, Amarillo, Oskaloosa
Dodge City, Cedar City, Kansas City…any other city
Ferriday, Sante Fe
Grand Lake, Crater Lake….the lake of fire
You better believe we’re going to Winnemucca and then we’re going back to Nebraska where it will probably be time for me to take a shower!
But before we do all of that, let’s talk about Chapter 2, which has now concluded. You may expect that I will have a few observations.
First, let’s just make some broad statements about the trip. More than anything else, I continue to be blown away by the generosity extended to me by friends, family and strangers alike. When I first began, over six months ago now, I thought I already had enough friends. Now there are so many more of you to whom I feel connected. There is no way I can fully express my gratitude. Thank you to all of you, even those who just silent readers of this account. I hope each of you feel that you are a part of this. The longer this trip continues, the less it seems to be about me.
So, what was Chapter 2? Chapter 2 ended up being a loop around almost all of Eastern North America. It began on August 31st and lasted 80 days, until November 19th. During this time, we covered 13,466 miles, bringing our trip total just over 27,000 miles. We were able to visit 32 of the 92 places mentioned in the song, bringing our total up to 53 completed. There is no other area as “place rich” (as far as the song is concerned) as the eastern US.
So let’s dig into some numbers a bit. First, just a couple of clarifications. When I talk about “per day” expenses, that does not include days when I am home. Those have been subtracted from the total number of “journey days.” So even though it is over six months since this trip began, I have only travelled for 146 days.
Furthermore, the expenses stated only include those which came after my trip began. None of the overhead expenses (like a motorcycle or my camping gear, for instance) are included.
In chapter 2 our total expenses was $1,819, or less than $23/per day. This is down just slightly from the $25/day we averaged in Chapter 1. This seems like quite an achievement, given that much of this chapter was spent in some of the most expensive places in the Western Hemisphere. My total budget for the trip is $15,000, which equates to about $56/day. Having traveled so thriftily for months, I am now set up well to be able spend more freely in Central and South America.
Our lodging expenses were almost negligible during Chapter 2. In the 80 days our only expenses were two campgrounds, totaling $56. In fact, we ended the Chapter having gone 57 straight days without incurring a lodging expense. This warms my heart more than a box full of kittens. For 48 nights during chapter 2, we found a place to tent camp for free and 33 nights we were a guest in someone’s home. For those of you who provided me lodging, I sincerely hope my odor has fully dissipated from your abode. During my time in the NE part of the continent I spent 21 consecutive nights in the tent, which will surely be the longest such streak of this journey.
After averaging just $2.80/day on food during Chapter 1, our number more than doubled to $5.68/day in Chapter 2. I do not feel any need to apologize for this lavish lifestyle. I’m an American!
Since being home, I have tried my best to wreck my budget, spending over $1,000 of trip related expenses. New bike parts a new phone, international insurance and lots of supplies. With the amount of packages I am receiving, FedEx has been considering opening a dedicated supply depot in our back yard. There is just so much to prepare for the coming chapter.
Still, I feel very confident about the state of our budget. It has taken lots of discipline and many sacrifices to travel so efficiently. Riding passed a hotel when it is dark and you are cold and wet is one of the hardest things I have to do. But those sorts of decisions in the little moments eventually add up to financial stability. At this point, the only thing that could really wreck our budget would be if a second motorcycle is required to complete this trip. I really hope she makes it.
So let’s move on to talk about the heroine of this story: The incomparable Annie. Annie continues to soldier on with nary a complaint. There was nothing to “fix” during chapter 2, just regular maintenance. She just missed the 60 mpg mark during this phase, averaging 59.89, up just slightly from the 58 even that she averaged in Chapter 1. I still have lots to do before she is ready for the southward journey: Rear tire, chain and sprockets, all wheel bearings, valve adjustment…and probably other things I’m not thinking of right now.
Her lifetime mileage is now nearly 49,000. For a 670cc parallel twin, this may seem a little on the high side, but she still doesn’t feel like an old bike at all. In fact, all of the incident-free miles almost gives me more confidence in her ability to complete this journey. For someone on a budget like mine, I cannot imagine a better vehicle for this experience. Hats off to you Annie.
Not much to say here. He’s doing great! I think I got him watertight when I re-printed him the last time I was home. My roller-blade wheel bearings are still pretty smooth and I’m curious to see if they will make it the whole way. My new friend in Nashville, Travis, astutely observed that they were the same size as skateboard bearings. Thanks to him, I now have a spare set. Other than fading from the sun, he should be just fine.
I have now written 123,000 words on my blog, almost twice the length of the typical novel. This equates to 842 words per travel day or 4.54 words per mile travelled. I don’t think I will be able to catch up to War and Peace, which clocks in at 587,000 words, but my number of words has been trending up lately. Time will tell.
In a word: South. Chapter 3 will be the longest one of the trip. At the very least, I will be covering 22,000 miles. Though there are only seven places in South America, they are thoroughly dispersed. I will be exploring nearly the entire continent. One of the biggest questions still remaining is whether I will attempt to ride all the way to Ushuaia, the southern most city in the world, at the very tip of South America. Doing so would add about 4,500 miles to my route. I’m not planning to decide until I get there.
Let me put that into perspective for you: Ushuaia is the exact same distance from the equator as Schefferville, QC, the northern terminus of Chapter 2. Schefferville sits at 54.8 deg N, Ushuaia at 54.8 deg S. A fun little coincidence.
How am I doing? I think pretty well. I had a stretch during this last chapter where I was not having much fun, but it came and went. Mentally, I still feel prepared and capable of accepting the coming challenge. I continue to learn more about myself, knowing when I need a break or a little bit of comfort.
Physically, I’m holding up pretty well. At my lowest weight, I was only down about ten pounds from where I began. I really miss being in good shape. Though my average day still contains a decent amount of physical activity, I’m definitely in the worst shape I’ve been in in over a decade. Hopefully climbing up some ancient pyramids and fleeing from Salvadorian authorities will help me recoup some of these losses.
So here we are. So much done. So much left to go. I must confess that along with excitement, I do feel a fair amount of trepidation about the coming Chapter. It is so much time and so many miles in such unfamiliar places. For the first time, I’ve been getting all of my affairs in order, thinking about the worst case scenario: That this would be my final voyage. Though not fun to ponder, it is possibility that must be considered.
But I must say: I have full belief that this chapter will be a success. There will surely be some bumps in the road, buy that has not waylaid us yet. Alaska loomed large and we did not bat an eye. A bear in Idaho was able to steal our sleep, but not our sense of humor. The log roads to Ombabika doused us with dust, and yet we rolled on. Schefferville seemed impossible, but we found new friends and solace in a school bus. Eastern metropolises could not box us in. Mountain roads could not shake us from our saddle. Even amongst copious amounts of bath bubbles, we still kept our head above water. Time and time again we have been given more than we need by people who treat us better than we deserve.
So despite what obstacles lie ahead, I will continue to meet each day with an open mind an open heart and an open can of beans. I will continue to believe the motto, “In the Deed, the Glory.” And I will continue…apparently….to use 1,000 words when only 100 are necessary.
With that, I will conclude this Second State of the Trip Address. Perhaps my next one will be delivered in Spanish. Once again, thank you for being part of this wild journey. It only gets wilder henceforth.