One Incredible Year!

April 15th means exactly one year on the road for Gaila and I. 12 months, 365 days, 525,600 minutes and what seems like a whole new lifetime spent traveling. Not to mention 35,600 or so miles of adventure. Significantly more than enough to circle the globe. Oh the things I have seen from the seat of my motorcycle and the places it has taken me. Like the legless beggar laying in the middle of a busy Mexican thoroughfare yesterday. My jaw dropped and my heart bled for this poor man. Literally working the passersby positioned in the middle of a topes (speed bump) so all would slow at least and hopefully provide some change or encouragement. It breaks my heart now to know that I did not provide him at least some loose change. It is so hard to do when you aren’t expecting this and you are all covered up in our safety gear and everything it is place with traffic queued up behind you. Especially as I reflect this morning on how lucky I/we have been this past year. I should have stopped. (Poverty in Mexico)

Through the kindness of strangers (now friends) I am sitting here listening to the most perfect ocean sounds in a most magnificent beach & cliff front home. Richard and Fawzia felt comfortable enough to invite us road weary riders into their slice of heaven after a chance meeting in Honduras one month ago. That and couple of emails. Floridian expats who have taken the plunge and live in an amazing little town called Caleta de Campo overlooking an incredible collection of rocks, coastline, sunsets and pelicans galore. And perfect surf. How lucky are we? How rich has this life become in experience? Really just so difficult to put into words. And yet, pictures seldom happen at some of our most interesting moments…

While indeed amazing, this moment doesn’t feel so unique. Let me explain. Again, through the kindness of strangers, friends and family alike we have been put up, helped out and befriended time and time again. I think it is this that has made the largest and most important impression on me during this past year. People. Everywhere we have traveled people are fundamentally good and trying to achieve the same basics of survival and happiness. Personal growth and extended educations seem to be reserved for those of us lucky enough to be born in the right place and the right time. How lucky we are. I for one am exceptionally glad that the stars have aligned for us and this trip. Perhaps not the stars so much as ebb and flow of life. The paths that Gaila and I have each taken led us to this exact moment of awe, appreciation and inspiration.

We are often asked “what has been your favorite place?” Oh such cruelty this question invokes. How can I choose? Was it the Native American Indians of the Southwest US, the cod fishermen in Newfoundland, the Acadians in maritime Canada, the Cajuns of Louisiana, Mexican natives and expats alike in this wonderful country or every other collection of folks in Central America, Canada and the US? El Salvador, what a surprise. Labrador was a goal reached. Panama was the end of our southern road. Costa Rica with natures beauty and visit from my son. 10 countries, 6 Canadian provinces, 32 states 40+ national parks and countless local landmarks/treasure. This world we all share is an amazing place indeed. I am temped to go off on a dialogue about how we must protect her and honor this finite resource. Instead, I think I will leave it at this and remind myself to think globally and act locally.

Reflection now gives me the pause to consider all the things we have seen, the experiences we had and the people met. Impossible to recount them all or thank those that have helped us most. You know who you are: new acquaintances from the road, friendships kindled by a chance meeting at a border crossing, hostel, campground or gas station; friendships developed over a glass of local fruit juice/wine, home grown coffee, local beers or the mash, moonshine, whiskey, mezcal, tequila, ron(rum) that local customs and tastes prefer. My cup has always been full. To the brave souls that have put us up for the night or more – THANK YOU. You have no idea how wonderful it has been for us. Your homes whether simple or grand have been the shelter we needed and the friendships we sought. Oh, and your laundry too! (Try wearing the same basic cloths for one year – yikes.) Mechanics of the home school and professional ilk alike have been there to assist when needed. Pounded panniers, welded bits and maintenance moments like a much needed chain and sprocket for Gaila in far away St. John’s or an oil change in a Managua church. You all have kept us running on food for our souls and support for the physical effort.

Speaking of inspiration I can’t forget to mention the strong children and adults who have shared their smiles and lives with us as we volunteered at food banks, indian reservations, boys homes and educational centers for under-privileged kids. We are the ones who gained the most from these experiences. New respect, new friendship and simple moments of joy to be found in each day. Thank you Muskoka Foundation for opportunities in Mexico and the US and FoodNet in Lafayette Louisiana. Thank you Stacy at Storm Surge Films and Jake at Riders for Health for educating us on what is possible. Katie Clancy you are an inspiration to us all.

I think now of the pod of whales we saw so early in the trip as we camped completely alone on the California beach last spring. I think of the glorious send off from our friends back home in Washington. What a crew you are and how happy we will be to see you smiling faces soon! Thank you for helping us launch! Your support before and during have been immeasurable. I think of the seemingly countless sunsets disappearing behind mountain peaks or falling so brilliantly on the ocean horizon. Far fewer sunrises I must confess, but no less spectacular. Nothing quite like dawn showing itself over a still smoking volcano. And what of the stars? Camping usually provides the best views here. Like the brilliance of Utah or the sheer overwhelming view on a Labrador beach and better still the sparkle of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Yes, I am smiling big time as I write this…

Today is one of those early days. It use to be I woke at 5:30 to start my work day. Rewarding in its own right but just not the same as rising with mind full of appreciation and wonder about what this very day may bring us. Will it be the excitement of a crazy dirt or sand road road on the path less taken? Will it be endless coastlines as we head north? (Most definitely.) Will it be the nervousness of another border crossing or random police stop? (Which by the way have ALL turned out positive in the end.) Or will it be some other splash of Mother Nature’s beauty? Perhaps it will be another great church or sad reminder of man’s weaker moments. You never know. For me however, it is often the quiet time alone in my helmet where I see the birds in flight, and endless rows of local crops or school children off to a day of learning that sparks so much appreciation. Yes, it is the simple things that we should appreciate day in and day out that make grandeur so grand! A cliche perhaps, but somehow the rooster I hear crowing just now reminds me this is true.

I will be sad when this trip ends.

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5 Comments

  1. Missy Gallagher

    Beautifully written Tad! My eyes are filled with tears as I read of your gratitude and appreciation of all the experiences you two have encountered. It is amazing that a year (plus one day) has gone by since we watched you motor away. You both have done a wonderful service for those who read your blogs and/or your facebook posts & pictures. It has allowed ‘us’ to live vicariously through your journey. Thank you for sharing so much of yourselves with ‘us’ (speaking for everyone, I imagine). Selfishly, I am so looking forward to seeing you two….whenever that may be (wink). Until then, travel safe and soak in each mile. Give Gaila my love and a great big hug for me, please?

  2. Phoenix Rudner

    Tad that was really an amazing post. You’re year long trip has given us all something to work towards in our own lives. As Missy sad above we got to live the adventure through you two. As thrilled as I am to see you soon, I will really be sad to see your adventure end and return back to Seattle life though I doubt that will hold you two for long after this experience. I do believe the “After Adventure” blogging will be very fascinating to see what you go through to readjust, the reflection you will gain, and the career path you two decide to take. This can’t help but change you and Gaila in profound ways. Your energies will be amazing to be around. I look forward to your return…by the way when will that be exactly? :) Ride safe T & G.

  3. Tad & Gaila, we had a chance meeting on the boardwalk in Puerto Vallarta 3 days ago. I was on vacation with my wife & daughter and some friends when I spotted your loaded, orange BMW F800GS’s. (I own a white 2011.) I’m really glad I got the change to meet and talk to you guys for a few minutes. I’ve only read this one post from you so far, but I can tell I like you guys already! I need to get caught up on your adventure….or should I wait for the movie?! I’m also glad you enjoyed my Arkansas routes from the GS Giants event!

  4. Well written! And nice to see that your travel bug hasn’t leave you, on extended travels.

    Thank you for let us (mostly silent) -readers travel with you!

    Greetings from Switzerland,

    Stefan

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