Editor’s note: Just a few old journal entries I enjoy looking back on to help remember the smaller details of this trip. It’s easy to lose some of these memories in the grand scheme of the trip, but it’s the summation of all these small details that have made the experience so great.
7/28 – Delta, Utah
I love the common expressions we hear on the road. “It’s the journey, not the destination.” I love when people use them honestly and completely un-ironically. Even the movie quotes that people pull out. Ones that slightly pertain to what we’re doing. We hear the same dozen every day; a fact which would have driven me crazy before the walk, but I have come to truly appreciate. “Are you guys trying to be Forrest Gump? Haha ‘I think I’ll go home now,'” or “Where you’re going, you won’t need roads.” Actually we will though, because Caddy is a pain in the ass to push on gravel. At some point in their life they heard these expressions and quotes and identified with it in a way. “I don’t have hobbies, I have obsessions,” a newfound friend told us at the picnic table at Antelope RV Park in Delta, Utah. He’d just finished describing in detail the dozens of motorcycles he’d built and repaired in his life. “This thing (he said some fancy sounding brand of motorcycle) is comprised entirely
original parts. Except for the one thing (some piece of machinery I pretended to know) that I had to use an old stop… have you ever seen a stop sign in the wind? It waves and flaps, but never bends. Perfect material to weld into a part.” We sat with them for over an hour, talking about our walk, our lives, their lives, their bikes, and the beautiful things we’ve both seen in our time on the road. “I don’t have hobbies, I have obsessions.” When he said it, I laughed. Because I’d heard that expression a hundred times, but here it came out honest and truthful, as a simple way to explain one small part of his complicated self.
8/9 – In between Ely & Eureka, Nevada
Tonight is our last night before reaching Eureka, a 76 mile stretch of highway 50 in between services. These stretches of desert highway have consistent noises throughout the night. The echo of the cars driving in the canyons, and the time it takes to realize whether the car is driving towards or away from you. The deafening roar of the crickets when it’s the only noise for miles. The short conversations we’ve had with a half dozen to a dozen cross country bikers we’ve met, the countless adventurers by car, and our one fellow walker. When there’s so little to hear and pay attention to throughout the day, these few moments of interaction carry us throughout the day.
Last night, the second night after leaving Ely, and the second night before reaching Eureka, the cows mooed late into the night before disappearing to their sleeping arrangements, and before we had our first encounter with wildlife. Nearly two hours after Abby and I had both definitively fallen asleep, I awoke to a howling that sounded as if it were miles away, and frightened me as if it was ten feet away. Coyotes. We never worried they were near, or that we were in danger, and yet I was terrified by the possibility of them approaching us. As I’m writing this post the following night, I hear a yelping howl off in the distance, this time sounding even further away, and yet sounding like it’s in the same valley as us. I’m happy to have my bear spray and knife with me, but I know it wouldn’t serve me any good if they approach when I’m sleeping. Everyone promises us the coyotes are more afraid of us than we should be of them, but that advice falls on deaf ears when you’re telling it to a Long Island native with little to no camping experience before this trip.
8/28 – Genoa, Nevada
The mesh of my tent can obscure my view some nights. It blocks out bits of starry desert nights, and obscures lightly the objects nearby, but tonight, the ridge line of the mountains are made clear by the midnight brightness of a full moon. The refractory light of the moon, the lowhanging clouds at our high altitude, and the mesh of my REI tent work together to provide a picturesque, hazy mountaintop painting. The cows moan and rustle in the valleys below us. The crickets lose their individual rhythmic hum when they fill the area around you, replacing a repetition with a continual drone. The fear of a bear sighting has kept me awake this long, while the only sounds keeping me awake come from within my head. Off in the distance, the tail lights of travelers braking at the bend in the highway will occasionally illuminate my peripherals with a red glow. The glow is harmless and gone soon, serving as a reminder that we’ve reentered civilization, days removed from the solitude of the desert, and the solipsistic mentality the desert can put you in, and are reemerged in the questions of the future and a career that haunted me months ago, thousands of miles ago, before I’d given myself the chance to give myself over to this trip entirely. It’s all back now, and with it comes the pleasures of company, and the comforts of home, but gone, it can feel, are the ideals of connecting to the world around us, and digging continually deeper within oneself, when it’s intentional or not.