Pouring with sweat on the outskirts of Dallas, the late Friday afternoon heat utterly oppressive, I was astonished when the lovely lady at Customs & Importation got halfway through reading the lengthy Vehicle Identification Number from under the bonnet, and simply said “oh, that’ll do!”, ticked all the boxes and handed me the necessary forms. It was that easy. As too was registering the vehicle as a Classic Car in Texas, with barely an eyebrow raised. If this seems other worldly, it’s because it is. Not a single person I’d met achieved what I had: buy an Australian vehicle; ship it halfway across the world; drive across two continents; not be killed in the process; import and register in the USA. And yet there I was, passing the last milestone with the most minimal of fuss. It was stupefying.
After resting for a few days with my friend in Tyler, Texas, I had planned to head Yellowstone, one of the most famous national parks in the world, 1000 miles north at the other side of the country. However, the ten additional days I lost when shipping Izzy in Guatemala meant something would have to give. Izzy and I would have to part company. My friend volunteered to sell her on my behalf: she would fetch a much better price down south than anywhere else in the country. Although it was always the aim to import and then sell her, it was no less heartbreaking to leave her behind.
I hired a small car and with considerable melancholy drove through the rich centre of this staggering country. Yes, the little Hyundai had working air-con, cruise control and didn’t simply poop diesel, but as you can imagine, it just wasn’t the same. I was though excited to be travelling through states I’d heard about all my life – Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois. I travelled the famous Route 66 and revelled in listening to that classic American drawl only found in diners. I whizzed by the horse-and-carts of the Amish and gaped as the weather turned nasty in what’s affectionally known as America’s Tornado Alley. I whizzed by the next horse-and-carts a wee bit faster! I marvelled at rusted-out Oldsmobiles left at the side of the road and chatted to Missionaries on their way to a convention over a lunch of burnt-ends in the jazz-mecca of Kansas City. Agog, my eyes were like marbles the entire time.
The reason I’d come this way at all was to reunite with family in Eau Claire and Green Bay, Wisconsin, meeting cousins for the first time in twenty-seven years. Despite never meeting them as an adult, I loved every minute of it – Yellowstone would, and could, simply have to wait. Over the next seven days I would relish reconnecting with family and friends in America, Wales and London, and then finally making my way back home to my patiently waiting girlfriend. It was all over so quickly. 22,083kms, 13 countries, 4 months and 4 days had zoomed by. It seemed like I only just left!
There’s a saying amongst bikers that motorcycling isn’t dangerous, it’s when you stop motorcycling that’s the problem, usually when, as the paradox goes, an unstoppable force collides with an immovable object. As too with adventuring across the globe. For four months I drove almost every day in my beloved Land Cruiser. I spent more time preparing her for the journey than actually travelling, but it was all time well spent and I loved it. Izzy was unstoppable. As for me, I had come to learn my limits, and that I was wholly stoppable. My future adventures would have to be a lot less taxing, like something involving a couch, some tea and a sunrise would do just fine. For now.
I have met countless people on my journey and explained the reasons for my adventure in Spanish and in English many times. I don’t think a single person has baulked, more often than not people have opened up about mental health issues or domestic violence in their lives, the challenges they’ve faced in coming through it and sometimes still have. I’m continually honoured that they’ve confided in me. As you may have guessed already, this journey wasn’t simply about completing a long-held dream, but about finding myself again: finding what made me tick; what made me happy; what I need to do to maintain that happiness. It’s a long-held joke amongst adventurers that you have to travel the world to find yourself.
Thank you everyone for your incredible support over the past few months: to friends and family that heard me bitch and complain when things weren’t going well; to work colleagues that read my adventures and posted enthusiastically willing me on; to those that I met in my journey that I know will become lifelong friends. For those that over the months of my trip have sat enviously behind a keyboard, iPad or phone wishing they could do something like that, I have some good news – you can! One thing that travelling affords is perspective: you never realise how lucky you are until your world changes. A dear friend’s mum wanted her whole life to travel to Machu Picchu, and a few months beforehand had a stoke and was never able to go. Don’t let this be you. As with the charities, if you ever need help, all you need to do is ask. There is a myriad of resources out there on domestic violence, mental health, adventuring, travelling, meditation and mindfulness, all at your fingertips. It may take a while to find what you’re looking for, but consider it an adventure.
Am a little shy of my 5k target for the two charities , but still incredibly proud to have raised so much. A heartfelt thank you to everyone that contributed, you've made a huge difference. For those that still want to contribute, you still have time :-)
The blog will be a record of everything - from idea conception to old age in making this adventure happen
You can find the excellent 2006 Antipodean Adventure blog by Dwyer Rooney here