Being alert in an enormous landscape has confirmed that the day-to-day, small things matter most. Knowing the names of trees. And people and what moves them. Noticing the subtleties of the weather and the gradual turn of the seasons. The look of the land at different times of the day and how it’s textures and smells change with the angle of the sun.
A homestyle vegan meal at Cornbread Cafe with my very good friend Shelda to fuel the final day of my journey.
The afternoon that I rolled up to the sandy beach of the Oregon coast was sadly anticlimactic. I didn’t have anyone to high-five or cheer with. No one knew that I’d just finished the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Perhaps the hardest thing I will EVER do. I laid my bike down in the sand and sat, watching the waves for a bit. When envisioning how my finale might look, I thought I might cry. I didn’t. I thought I might cheer. I didn’t. The whole thing was rather Forest Gump-like. I was glad to be done riding.. but mostly happy to be done being alone. I remember thinking to myself, “I’m pretty tired. I guess I’ll go home now.” Wherever that is. I stayed for a while because I felt like I should, and then biked to the highway to hitch a ride bike to Eugene. To HELL with riding my bicycle a mile further than I needed to. I’ve been on a bicycle exactly once (a painful, humid cruiser ride in South Carolina) since finishing #k8bikeswest.
In the weeks since I’ve completed my “roadtrip”, friends and family have been asking me about the lessons I learned along the way. It took me a couple weeks to even come to terms with the fact that I rode my bike 2,500 miles, through 20+ days of rain and over countless mountain passes. I’ve been using the writing of this blog to help myself process through all the memories and little lessons learned. So, now, 38 days later, I’m finally attempting to put into words how this 56 day adventure changed me.
I’ve mulled over these words for the last week, feeling like 6 lines can’t possibly explain how this trip changed me. Yet, I don’t think there is anything else for me to add.
“Try everything. Say yes over and over. If nobody asks a question that makes you want to say yes, make up your own. And then make up the answer. Dream twenty different answers and choose a new one every day until you find the one that fits”
Stagnant and comfortable sameness? Not now. Not me. I’m not interested in “easy” and I’ve learned I DO have what it takes to kick the hard shit straight to the curb. This trip has been the final act of my former life. A pivot point. A turn in the road. It’s been about creating time to change my life. It’s shown me that the obstacle is the path and the chasing IS the dream. Because I had the courage to embark on this journey, I’ve become a little louder. A little more shameless and a whole lot more of the Katelyn that’s always been lurking below the surface. I can’t imagine ever fully returning to life as normal. I’m writing a different story than the one I imagined all those years ago, growing up in Central Kansas.
My heart continues to be the best compass I have.