The plane was about to land in Seattle and
Amanda was acting a bit strange. An odd,
dazed expression dulled her face as she
chanted quietly to herself, "I don't have a
home. I don't have a car. I don't have a job.
This is my life" She repeated it over and over
like one of the crazy people you try not to sit
I began to wonder if she was regretting it all.
The last few days we had been living in the
vortex of a tornado, selling our accumulated
junk at the flea market, organizing and stuffing
our few remaining possessions into the van,
handing over the keys to our beloved camper to
an auto storage facility in San Diego, enduring
the final cleaning inspection of our cottage by
the landlord, disassembling and cramming our
bikes into boxes, stuffing the bike packs with
equipment into throw-away bags, then getting it
all -two carloads, no less- to the airport on time.
It was enough to stretch even the most elastic of
wits to the snapping point.
This was not the first time we had done
something like this. We had uprooted before
and set out beyond our comfort zone a few
years earlier to the remote roads of Latin
America and Africa in our Volkswagen. One of
the first questions people often ask about that
trip is, "Weren't you scared?"
Truth is, we were always sacred. Scared of the
unknown. Scared of the police checkpoints in
Peru. Scared that the van might break down in
Uganda. Scared that we might get stuck in jail
in Mexico. Scared of everything.
This time we were starting out our new trip in
the States so naturally I thought it would be less
frightening. Until we began to accumulate our
possessions into the "keep" pile and the
"discard" pile I was not worried at all. The
simple act of putting items aside to be
eliminated from our lives was somehow freeing,
even invigorating. I felt lighter as the discard
pile grew. But possessions also provide a
feeling of insulation, and by letting go of them
we were relinquishing a buffer while at the same
time gaining freedom. A brief twinge, a flutter of
concern would pass through me when I looked
at the pile in the corner. Were we fools for
choosing once again to live this strange life?
We waved goodbye to the owner of a
second-hand store owner and his clunky Ford
pickup packed with out dining table and
chairs, felling nervous but excited. Soon we
realized we could actually fit all of our
remaining personal belongings into the van.
That became our goal, to pay for storage for
the van only. A long day of selling at Kobey's
Swap Meet helped us to lighten our load even
Finally we were ready to stuff the van and
drive it to its new home at an Auto Storage
facility in San Diego. Handling over the keys
to our beloved van packed full of old tax
forms, high school yearbooks, photos,
wedding albums, college diplomas, and the
other belongings we were unable or unwilling
to part with, created a pang of doubt. Were
we really ready to travel for years on our
bikes with a tent, sleeping bags and packs as
our only home?
Hoping to set out on this journey with a clean
conscience we had one difficult task ahead.
Our leased ninety-year-old cottage had to be
returned to the owner Elva ready to be rented
to a new tenant. Amanda was determined to
get back the entire security deposit.
Scrubbing like fiends for two days we had the
aging beauty looking as close to perfection as
possible. Proud of our hard work we escorted
Elva on her inspection tour. She was polite
but quiet and at the end announced bashfully
that she would be gutting the entire interior.
Our hard work was in vain. But we got back
All that was left were the bikes. At the local
UPS office I discovered the fee for shipping
my bike was nearly $300. Fortunately we
were flying Southwest Airlines and we were
relived to learn that we could check in our
bikes as luggage to Seattle for only $50 per
bike. Buy how would we get it all to the airport
in the tiny rental car?
Amanda's brother Maury came to the rescue.
He crossed the border before six in the
morning to help us load up and get to the
airport in time for our flight. As we dumped all
of the bags and the bikes out of the two cars I
could not believe the size of the pile. It took
three rolling carts to get our stuff to the
Standing in line with the enormous mound of
equipment Amanda said, "I hope were not
over the weight limit."
The jolly Southwest agent was so taken with
the idea of cycling down the coast all summer
she barely watched the scale. Amanda tallied
all the weights and said quietly, "Including the
bikes our gear weighs 279 lbs. Can that be
It was true. We were setting out on a cycling
journey with 279 lbs. of bikes and gear. Once
on the plane I stared at the seat tray in front
of me wondering how we were going to cram it
all onto our bikes and then manage to pedal
279 lbs of stuff with two bodies that weighed
only 259 lbs. I took a mental inventory and
thought about what we could send home.
That's when I heard Amanda and her strange
chant. It seemed I was not the only one
She turned to me just as the wheels were
touching down on the tarmac and said again,
"I don't have a home. I don't have a car. I
don't have a job. This is my life. Can you
believe it?" I thought she had lost her mind.
But she was not worried at all. As I rushed to
the baggage she followed behind and listened
as I ran down my mental list of what we could
discard then said, "Don't worry, it will all work
With the boxes and bags piled into the hotel
mini van she said, "See I told you."
I just kept thinking of everything that could go
wrong. Did the bikes survive the journey
unscathed? Will the racks break under all
that weight? Will the hotel allow us to
assemble the bikes in the room? How will we
pedal with all this stuff?
Amanda had booked the cheapest hotel she
could find on the internet and we were
braced for the worst. Run by a friendly Indian
family with three generations of saried women
chatting in the lobby, the hotel turned out to
be quite nice.
After dragging in the boxes I cleared an area
and unpacked my tools and got to work
assembling the bikes. After close inspection,
relief came over me as everything looked as
if it was in the right place.
Amanda hummed contentedly as she
whipped together a meal on our camp stove
and said, "See, I told you there was nothing
to worry about."
Selling our possessions at the flea market