Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The end of our Journey

On Sunday we checked out of the motel and headed to visit another friend and metal sculptor, Heath. He is in the middle of setting up his new workshop after moving out of smaller premises. After a fairly quiet time over the last year or so, a whiole bunch of work has come along all at once, so he is as busy as a one-armed wallpaper hanger with piles.

Nevertheless, he generously gave a couple of hours of his 18 hour workday to show us his huge new place, and have lunch with us.

With a few hours to kill before we had to head to the airport, we drove to Venice Beach which was only a few miles from Heath's studio and a similar distance from LAX. We visited the boardwalk there when we arrived in LA, and figured it worth revisiting to finish off our last minute shopping.

Metal figures.

As the sun sank lower over the water we took off for the airport. It was nearly dark when we arrived, but after going through security and into the soulless departure lounge we were surprised to find we were an hour early. Daylight saving ended at 2 am this morning, and Chris's cell phone had not registered the change. This was a little surprising because through out all our travels the phone had been rigourously updating the time as we passed through different time zones - sometimes twice or more in the same day as we zig-zagged through the 4 corner states. We had a long wait in the departure lounge, compounded by our flight departing later than scheduled.

The drug squad at the airport was really cute. We could have taken this dog home.
The flight home was surprisingly good. We bounced around a few times in the night. Being seated near the back of the plane amplified every bump. However, we managed to get some sleep through the 14 hour flight, and arrived in Sydney feeling less jet-lagged than on other trips.

The last leg of our journey from Sydney to Canberra was a 3 hour bus ride. Chris's parents met us at the bus station and drove us home. We arrived to find our house sittters had moved out and left the place spotless. Our dogs were happy to see us (and vice versa).

So now it's all over. Life will soon be back to normal (at least a different "normal" to that of the last six months). The transition imparts mixed feelings, perhaps best described as "travel inertia", a phrased we learned from Peter, one of our friends in the US.

The trip has been a wonderful experience. We rode 27,000 miles in six months. We took an estimated 50,000 photos, and over 600 Mb of video. We met and stayed with many, many friends - some of whom we had previously only met on-line through the "Sandbox" where we share information about all aspects of metal art.

We set out to achieve a number of things: to "look for America" as Simon and Garfunkel once sang, to visit old friends and make new ones, to see the spectacular beauty of America and to ride some of the best motorcycling roads in the world. We comprehensively nailed everyone of those aims except the last. Late snow last winter kept us from riding some much anticipated routes - Tioga Pass in Yosemite and the nearby Sonora, Carsons and Ebbet passes, and later the "Going to the Sun" road in Wyoming's Glacier National Park. Towards the end of our journey we missed the chance to ride to the top of Mt Evans (at 14,000 ft, the highest paved road in the US) because it closed for winter a month before we arrived. We also missed the experience of riding Independence Pass in Colorado because winter weather was closing in on us. Mind you, we still rode some amazing roads, and what we missed is just a reason to have another go.

The goals we set ourselves were: firstly not to die on the US roads as more than 30,000 people do every year, secondly not to have an accident, thirdly not to drop the bike, then not to get any traffic citations, and to have fun.

Chris put the bike down once when he hit a patch of oil on a wet road, but other than that we achieved all our goals.

America is such a great country. It's people are friendly, polite, warm hearted, caring, open and generous to a fault. It was sad to see the impact of the GEC - shops and commercial premises boarded up and abandoned, "for sale" signs out everywhere...

Thanks to everyone who has been reading our blog and sending us encouraging feedback. If anyone has any specific questions they would like to ask about our adventure, drop us an email to bridglan(at) Substitute "@" for "(at)" and you will find us (and hopefully the spammers won't)..

This has truly been the journey of a lifetime. We hope you have enjoyed the ride, too.