Yesterday I talked to my parents for my birthday via video Skype (Quick plug – iPod Touch 4th generation is totally rad). There’s nothing like being nearly two thousand miles away from home and seeing Mom’s yearning tears and my brother’s latest fashion. Except, for some reason both my dad and brother really wanted to show off their big, white stomachs. Prompted by their beer bellies, I encouraged them to get in shape so when I return we can do a tour of breweries around Portland. “That’s the first thing you want to do when you get back? Ride a bike?” my mom asked. “Of course,” I said. I don’t look at what I’m doing right now as riding my bike. I’m traveling. That’s the beauty of the bicycle. It is both the means and the ends. In the last two years I have driven a car twice, and those two times were to transport 30 bikes to events for work. Last year, I didn’t drive a car at all. I was hoping that 2011 would be the first year I didn’t get in a car at all, but so far I’ve hitch-biked once, and used a car to go surfing and to town twice. Damn. When you use a bicycle for transportation you are exercising and having fun while getting to where you need to. The reason for going on a tour of breweries is not to ride a bike but to drink beer, and I miss good Portland beer. That’s the first thing that I want to do: drink beer. And eat a lot of Mom’s tasty food, but you can’t exactly ride a bike while eating a delicious steak, salad, fettuccine alfredo, and apple betty now can you?
To those of you that don’t normally ride a bike, I encourage you to go out and do it. I know there is projected snow in Portland today. It’s raining in southern California. But when you think the weather is good enough for you go out and ride your bike somewhere. The coffeeshop, the bar, the video store, to a restaurant, work, anywhere. Now, don’t think about it as you are riding your bike. Think about it as you are going to that place. I guarantee that when you are done and thinking about what you just did, you’ll see how much fun it was. So right now I’m not riding a bike (although I do love to and nothing makes me happier), I’m traveling and doing it in the funnest way possible.
Now here’s the tough part (I’m going to skip ahead in the travelogue for a moment). When I arrived in La Paz I came upon a wondrous harbor with ship masts piercing the sky across the whole horizon. I heard several languages and witnessed a lifestyle so relaxed, so challenging and so adventurous I was spellbound. Every boat is a different opportunity. I could go home with Portland-bound ships. There are folks leaving on day trips farther north into the Sea of Cortez. There’s the expensive rate of 12-hour ferry to Mazatlan. Fortunately I found a friend in Evan and a ride on his 42 foot catamaran to Puerto Vallarta – a destination I was planning on skipping, but the opportunity to be crew on a boat was too thrilling.
The rolling of the waves, the luffing of the sails. The chance to completely shutdown and still get somewhere is both mesmerizing and tiresome. And the life that is witnessed at sea is something that is supposed to be read about or experienced in a short, expensive tour, not as a part of your environment. Sea turtles bobbing, dozens of birds cawing, dolphins, hooked fish and bio-luminescence. The only thing that is missing is plants and land. And at first you don’t mind. At first you just soak up the lazy sun and perk up at the sound of a whale’s blowhole. You decide enough is enough and you’ve had enough of the bike tourist’s lifestyle. It’s time to settle down and live on a boat for awhile.
But then you see land and the mountains that define them and the plants that give them reason and you remember those wheels that are tucked away in the bilge and how they can roll over everything. You remember the monster you created by handpicking every little piece. You remember the tired joy of pushing your body, the mega meals after a hard day. You remember the dizzying excitement of being overwhelmed by Spanish questions and answers. And you think, yeah, I’m a bike rider. Time to shake these sea legs.
But once again, those sails are raised, the boat shakes and you float high on that ebb and flow. That’s my new conundrum. Biking is my love. There isn’t much more that I need than a bicycle. But sailing has always been a dream and for the first time, a very realistic one. There is still so much that can be done and seen in Mexico and Central America. There are a lot of boats here in La Cruz. A lot of opportunity to hop on another one and sail to South America, or maybe catch the trade winds that whistle around here and sail to French Polynesia. A whole ‘nother side of the world. Stay posted, friends. Something’s going to happen. I’m just not sure what yet.