“What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ~ Mary Oliver.
“So what was the most exciting place you visited?”, our Uber driver asked as we sped through the narrow streets of Amsterdam.
How do you respond to that big question that is impossible to answer? Other variations have been, what was your favorite experience or the opposite, what was the worst? It’s sort of like asking what was the best pixel in a mural size screen.
So I smile and think of a tiny snipet from somewhere along our journey. Usually something relatable. A great meal, a beautiful city or landmark or a funny anecdote.
I don’t mind the question. I just know my answer will never do justice to this incredible experience.
So much happened. Every single day.
It’s easier to describe in long sweeping strokes.
The mundane routine of packing up our bags every morning and hopping on our bikes for a day’s worth of riding. The monotonous comfort of grapes and wheat and trees and cows and horses.
The physical challenge of mileage and hills and cobblestones and dirt tracks and no tracks. Working my body to a whole new level. Realizing that my body is part of the cycling machine. Appreciating good health.
Eating really well nearly everyday. Fresh and carefully prepared. This was the theme throughout our trip. I can count on one hand the undesirable meals I had. That said, it would have been more difficult if I was a choosy eater. There were many meals that we weren’t sure what we ordered because we couldn’t read the menu. Actually enjoyed the surprises.
Trusting. People who were willing to help. Navigation to completely unknown places. And in our most confusing situations, trusting that things would work out and to just follow the plan.
The plan. Planning a little bit, but never too much. Plan the next day. Maybe two. Don’t get too far into the future because you can’t solve a problem from that angle. Think logically and with optimism. Disappointments and change are not the end of the world. Just make a new plan and move forward.
Expect the unexpected. Rick will back me up on this, everyday we had some sort of surprise. Maybe it was part of the route. A bike tunnel under a river. A track with foot high grass to get through. A route with sand so thick it stopped the bikes dead. Or maybe it was a view of the sea, or a mountain or flamingos or wild horses. Or the sheep we had to detour around. Or meeting some folks from Ukraine and their dogs. Who knew they had friends in Seattle?
We arrived in Lisbon on April 18. We fly out of Amsterdam on June 29th. During that time, we pedaled 46 days covering 1540 miles and traveled another 760 miles by train or bus through seven countries. One flat tire. Two sets of brake pads. A stolen tool bag and rearview mirror. Lost a pair of socks and a water bottle. Both of us got sick.
So what was the best part of this trip? Learning 1000 new things about myself, Rick, our world. Completing a daunting trip, one day at a time. Creating unforgettable memories and strengthening an already pretty solid marriage.
And know this. If two out of shape, 60ish year old people can do this, then anyone can. It may not be a cycling trip. We all have our own dreams.
I wonder who’s life adventure I’ll be following soon? Can’t wait to find out.