Have you ever made a joke about doing something, and it has become a running joke…only to have the running joke turn out to really be a seed for a totally crazy idea that sounds really pretty good?
At least to you?
Maybe it’s the turning fifty thing I have looming ahead in a few weeks and the realization that time is getting short for doing a lot of things.
I’ve decided that I want to travel around the United States. That’s not unusual for someone my age, look at all the RVs that are sold each year and head down the highways.
The trouble is, to use an RV and do that requires a small fortune and a good pension, neither of which are something I have. It also means being willing to consume gasoline in vast quantities on a regular basis as you travel. I guess I find that rather unappealing too.
I want to do it a much greener fashion with a much more laid back attitude.
No, not on a motorcycle. I find them intimidating with their noise, the helmets give me claustrophobic attacks, and I’m afraid I’d miss something. Besides, most of them don’t get really good gas mileage, hovering around 50 or 60 miles to the gallon.
I want to do it by bicycle.
Granted, I realize that I am not a world class cyclist. I realize that most touring cyclists typically ride 75-100 miles in a day, and I’m doing good with 10. Does it really matter? How fast did the pioneers travel with oxen and wagons? I can even accept the possibility of adding a gasoline assist motor (they average about 100 mpg up to about 150, depending on the bike & load) to ensure that we get some miles done even if the slope is uphill and it’s hot outside.
It’s kind of crazy, I’d dreamed of doing that when I was a teenager and biking was easy and breezy. I could ride my clunker of a 3 speed bike for 20 miles before lunch without breaking a sweat. Now, I struggle with hills.
GM points out that it would take money to do this. I point out it takes money to stay home too. He points out my lack of physical conditioning, I point out it would obviously have to get better. He sees 100 reasons why it is a crazy idea, and I agree. It is crazy, so why not?
We could bike to Maine, and visit the Acadia National Park. I’ve never seen the Atlantic coast, or any part of the northeastern USA. I’d love to visit the Amish country of Ohio, and see the Appalachian mountains. I can imagine crossing the prairies of middle America, and seeing the Rocky mountains looming ahead. I can imagine how tiring it would be to pedal our way through the mountain passes, visiting former mining towns long past their glory days. I can imagine our misery as we cross the Great Salt Desert with its shimmering heat waves, and entering the vast deserts of Nevada and seeing a herd of wild horses in the distance. I can imagine the rising view of the coastal mountains ahead of us, and then…finally…the Pacific ocean and its great expanse in front of us. I can imagine biking through the Redwood forests of California, and the maritime rain forests of the Northwest.
Oh, I know full well that some days, the rain would fall and the wind would blow. I know sometimes I’d look at my bike and hate it. I know I’d cry sometimes because parts hurt. Sometimes I’d curse drivers, and sometimes, drivers would curse us. There might be days when I wasn’t too thrilled with GM too. There would be other days when he’d look at me and growl, informing me that this was all my fault because it was my idea.
I can accept that.
I know that doing this would be a monumental task. We have two dogs and two cats, and our dogs are long past the age where they can run beside the bike all day. They’d have to ride most of the time. They are heavy. So is camping gear. I asked our daughter if she’d keep our cats while we made our epic journey. I’d miss the grand baby. It’s insane to think of devoting a year or two to doing nothing but riding a bike and taking pictures and making memories. We should be responsible and work and save money and visit doctors and buy a house and a new car.
I want to make memories instead. I want to taste adventure. I want to feel the wind in my face. I’ve spent a lifetime being responsible and hard working and boring. I’ve done what society expected me to.
So is this a mid-life crisis? Maybe.
Maybe its a symptom of insanity.
There are lots of reasons to not do it, and few besides the simple statement “I want to do this” for doing it.
It takes a lot longer than a bit of Botox and some liposuction, for sure. Probably costs less and the side effects would certainly be different.
So if you see an overweight middle aged couple puttering alongside on the highway, with gasoline motors droning as we climb that long hill, towing a trailer with a couple of aging dogs and some camping gear…slow down.
It just might be us.
If I can sell the concept to GM, that is.