In September of 2009, my oldest 21 year old son, Cory, picked up a bike from a garage sale and let us know that he was going to ride a bike to California a week later….with a friend. We were shell shocked. What?? No prior planning, no plan at all. A used bike, $150, an atlas that he would start to map things out on….we were against it.
Could he do it the next summer? You know, give himself some time to plan and save money? Could he go with a group? You know, safety in numbers. He didn’t know anyone in California! Would he consider going to his Dad’s place in Arizona instead? You know, little things like shelter & food. Practical, parental things.
Days later, the friend backed out. “Whew, at least that’s over.” I thought with Mom relief.
“I’m still going.”
We talked and talked and researched and researched and tried to rationally dissuade him. He was very open to everything we had to say, but in the end he was going. The only bit of advice he took was to make his destination Arizona where he had a place and family instead of California.
Cory’s Adventure Journal: September 5, 2009
I feel more unprepared than ever. At the same time, I feel like I’ve been ready forever. It’s really strange to think that I only decided to do this a week ago and it’s already happening. It’s also weird that a week ago I didn’t have anything I needed for this immense journey, and now I’m almost overprepared materialistically I also have absolutely no idea how any of this is going to work out… What I’m going to eat every day… Where I will sleep… I don’t even have a tent at this point. None of that concerns me though… I know that I have what it takes to make this work, to survive strangely, my life is literally the least of my concerns….
It’s the people I am leaving behind.
Overall feelings: excitement, anticipation, appreciation with undertones of worry about my friends, family. -Cory
He agreed to do a “trial run” with the equipment he had at a close by campground at Heuston Woods. He called me the next day to bring him a couple items he left home….
September 6-7, 2009
Beginning? I rushed to get everything together before departing to meet mom for goodbyes. What happen next is still confusing. Mom has some sort of strange power over me that is hard to explain. She makes me question things I was certain about minutes before. Anyway the meeting with mom ended up being very emotional, and when she found out I was going alone, she got very concerned and started offering alternatives… I could come live back at home or she would even fly me out to Phoenix to give it a shot with dad. We decided that I would think it over while camping at Heuston Woods. She bought me the one-man tent I wanted, along with a water backpack and new socks, then drove me to the campground. Aside from making sure all my equipment work and getting some reading done, I got very little accomplished. Today, after sleeping through a huge rain storm I packed everything up and road down to Oxford. I called mom and told her I still wanted to do it, when actuality I had made no such decision. However, I think I know what has to be done. Also, I really do you want to do it. It’s just difficult. I hadn’t expected all this mental dilemma. Mom met me on my way out of Oxford to give me a couple things I left, and to say goodbye again. I was dripping wet when she found me. We talked for a little bit, so naturally she convinced me to stay the night at home and continue thinking through things.
Feelings: confusion, anxiety -Cory
I found him climbing a huge hill, on his bike, with a clear plastic rain poncho attempting to cover all of his things and himself. All that was sticking out from under the poncho were his bare legs, soaked tennis shoes and no socks. And it was pouring rain. I was proud and petrified all at once. He had these moments where it was clear he had one foot in being our little boy and one foot in manhood. This was one of those moments. I sucked back my tears and pulled over on the side of the road. As he stopped his bike at the passenger door, I smiled and reached over and opened it.
“Hi!” I tried to sound cheerful. His face looked down and defeated. “You ok?”, I said.
Then the tears fell from his face as he started to gather the items off the passenger seat that I’d brought him. “Cor, get in. What’s going on?” He was a very introspective internal person. Trying to get him to open up verbally was a struggle. He communicated best in writing when it was matters of the heart. That wasn’t an option here, but his uncharacteristic tears spoke volumes. “Why don’t you come home and give it a few more days to decide? Or at least dry your things and leave on a day of good weather…get off on the right foot.” He agreed. We loaded up his bike and things in the back of he van.
September 8, 2009 Day of Rest/Thought
I spent the majority of the time at the computer while home, gathering ideas for self- sustainment and camping, as well as weather history for the areas I would have to go through. I thought about it a little more, and I feel sort of like I need to do this, to follow through. Also, I know this trip is almost mandatory for me. I feel almost like this is some sort of spiritual pilgrimage or something. I can feel the rush of excitement that comes from standing on skis on top of the mountain, or climbing up a 40 foot rock with no rope, just by thinking about the potential adventures, I think I could really learn a lot about living.
If I can make it through this, I’m pretty sure I could make it through absolutely anything. I think that could be useful.
Who knows what kind of awesome experiences await me on the other side? God knows what kind of crazy things are to come in my future, but I want to collect as many experiences and perceptions as I can along way. I have wanted to do something cool to change up the drone of every day life, experience nature at its best and be free of all agendas, and live life at my own pace. I have a prime opportunity to make that happen, as well as a sense of “calling” to do just that. I’m pretty sure I’m ready to do this. There are lots of unanswered questions, especially pertaining to what will happen when I get there.
But isn’t that completely in the spirit of the journey?
AnyWho, the last half of the day I spend with Jenny and Butch, which was cool. I’m glad I got to say bye to them in person. I told them that they should move out there with me. They seemed pretty excited at the idea, and I really would like them to come too. And I really would like them to go, but I sort of think that won’t be happening. Although it may be a real possibility with Vanessa, and I’m really hoping for that. She’s definitely become my best friend in the last few months. I am eternally grateful to her and her family. Feelings: a bit more confident, excitement, gratitude, love, anticipation, and help.
To do: -get patch kits and ooze from Dick’s. Decide route of departure.
-Do it… I need to do it.-Cory
We have to let our children go many times over….
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