Laura and I were at happy hour last night at the local pub. Our friend and bicycle touring mentor, Chris, came by. He has done a fair amount of adventuring himself, long distance sailing, bike touring throughout the US, Europe and Asia. When we first told Chris and his wife Susan about our outrageous plan, they were thrilled and seemed to be not surprised at all!

We have discovered that people fall roughly into two camps when they catch wind of what we’re doing. They are either wildly supportive or they are wildly bewildered/horrified. It is just like what Lin and Larry Pardee wrote in Cruising in Seraffyn, a book about cruising but applies to all types of adventures (recommended by Chris, btw).

Once you’ve made a firm decision, peer and family pressures could be the biggest deterrent to realizing the “Grand Adventure.” In fact, you will find that almost no one will encourage to go off cruising. Your employer doesn’t want you to leave. Your parents don’t want to worry about your being “out there.”…Your children and grown friends are worried they’ll miss you , or maybe they’ll resent hearing about how much fun you are having….All of these people will create doubts by asking, “Are you an escapist? What about your future? What about the children?”

We have definitely found this to be the case. Most of our friends are supportive, but when I tell some people they cock their head to the side, as if they’re stretching to understand. You mean , Patagonia, the store? No. And slowly their face contorts as they begin to comprehend.

Earlier, in the book, they write about making THE DECISION.

The decision to go is the hardest part of the whole project. There always seem to be so many reasons not to go:children, aging parents, a business or job you’ve worked so hard to develop…But if you are determined to go, you’ll analyze each of these factors and probably discover that each problem can be solved. If not, it may be just an excuse to hide your fear of heading into the unstructured existence that a cruising life seems to represent.

A few weeks ago we made “the decision to go.” Laura had been ready for a while, but for me it took a particularly frustrating week with bike advocacy in Long Beach but also a contest (which we lost).

I’m 31 (or is it 32..can’t remember) now. No spring chicken, nor an old man. I’m in a good place. I have the knowledge of half a lifetime and a body that is still willing. What the hell am I doing here? I guess some people buy a Porsche. I will take the adventure any day.

So like I had begun to say, Chris joined us at the pub. He and his wife about to go on their own trip in a few days. Riding the train from Los Angeles to New York to do some exploring and cycling for a month. He pulls from under his coat this.


It is a sailing newsletter which he subscribes to and on the top is a quote from Mark Twain:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than the ones that you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

I am a literature major and I’ve read this quote many times over my reading career in different anthologies, inside travel books and on websites with inspirational quotes. It has meant different things to me at the different parts of my life. I think the first time I read it WAS probably about 20 years ago. I get chills at the thought. Looking back, I have lived a good life. I’ve lived on my own terms. But now it is time for something more.

Now, encountering this quote again, on the cover of this newsletter that Chris has just handed to me it means something different. It’s an invitation. It’s a reminder. It’s a blessing to GO.