I have been struggling to write this last entry because itfinally marks the end of my epic journey. While I was riding, on theother hand, I had no trouble finishing. In fact, I was feeling pretty finishedby the time I got to L.A., but there was a big part of me that just wanted tofinish the route. I had the feeling this would happen; starting the journey asa casual ride and planning to pull out when I felt the time was right, but Ifelt so close that I wanted to make it to the Mexican border to feel some sortof closure and have a concrete start and finish to the route. "Canada toMexico" sounded so hypothetical a year ago, and now that the miles havepassed, it hardly seems like it really happened. My trip did in fact have a setdeadline and I stuck to it. I needed to finish by November so that I could makeit up to Girdwood, AK and get set up with a place to live before my new jobstarted at the ski resort. It’s not that this deadline couldn't be changed, butI needed it to keep me going, and I was looking forward to being settled afteressentially 4 months in transition (if you include my summer job, living inemployee housing).
In Santa Monica, it was the first time I realized that I wasmissing some simple luxuries such as the towel example, and the first time onthe trip I spent some time actually resting for a night by ordering takeout andvegging out on the couch. These are luxuries I had never missed before, and ifI weren't so intent on finishing the trip by November, I think it would havebeen a huge turning point for a much larger journey. It was the chance to takea break and appreciate these little things, but return to the touring lifestylewith ease. The day I left and had all of my things with me, I was thankful formy hosts, where I was, and how I got there. I had everything I needed on mybike and was happy to set out for the final couple days of the trip throughLong Beach and down to San Diego. I rode the beach trails and eventually met anice cyclist who escorted me around the Palos Verdes Peninsula and into LongBeach where I rested and had a Mexican Coke at the aquarium. And from there Irode past a few famous skateboard spots, and found my groove all the way pastLaguna Beach where I finally came to rest at Dana Point State Park, where Isomehow caught up to a cyclist I hadn't seen since San Francisco. It was a longday, but really fun riding the casual miles of beach trail along-side peoplewho were out enjoying another just sunny day in southern California.
My parents had driven out from New Mexico and were to meetme in San Diego, so I was pretty pumped to charge through this last day to staywith them in Pacific Beach and head to the border for the obligatory photo-opthe next morning. I got up with high spirits, feeling extra chatty withroadside workers and morning cyclists, only to get my spirits dampened by guysat the marine base entrance to Camp Pendleton. My cycling maps showed the routepassing through the base, and when I showed up there were two other cyclistswith a different map and the same problem. They checked our IDs, searched ourbags, and unsympathetically denied us access so that we were forced to ride 10miles of busy SoCal freeway. The decision to ride it was quick for me since Ihad done it earlier on the trip, but the visiting road cyclists were furiousand bought me a drink for leading the charge once we arrived in Oceanside. Theywere visiting from England, and apparently it was their first time getting ataste of American anti-cyclism. Maybe I was used to it by that point in thetrip, or maybe I just wanted to be finished with the ride, but at the time itjust seemed like another bump in the road that would pass and soon beforgotten.
From there, the rest of the ride was a blur. I made it toPacific Beach, found my parents on the boardwalk, swam in the hotel pool, andbusted down to the border the next morning. Instead of following the maps andheading to Friendship Park (which looked totally sketchy, btw), I made it tothe San Ysidro crossing and shared victory photos with my parents, followed byvictory churros, margaritas, fish tacos, and everything else I could think ofto celebrate the occasion including another surf lesson in Pacific Beach and aroad-trip to Albuquerque for a few days.
I made it! I could not believe how far I had come and itstill doesn't seem real as I look back at the photos today. I am so thankfulthat I had the privilege to make this trip happen and that I had so muchsupport along the way. I made some awesome friends, and plan to continuekeeping up with them as the years go on. A few have already started makingplans for their next big trip, and I have been wondering about that idea myself.In the days following the trip, I felt overwhelmed with feelings ofaccomplishment, but also a bit of shock after having such a specific purposefor 6 weeks. I flew into Anchorage at the beginning of November ready for awinter in the mountains, and excited to tell my story and meet new people inthe cycling community. I was ecstatic to see my girlfriend, find a place tocall home for the year, and reflect on the experience as it has solidified mypassion for travel and made me a lifelong advocate for cycle touring. This tripwas incredible and I hope that it will inspire others to seek out adventures oftheir own, whether by bicycle or some other form of transport (joking aroundthe fire one night, we wondered: has anyone rollerbladed the PCH?).
Thanks for reading!