w: ajleon

The 8,432 Thousand Dollar trip across America

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”  – Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Exactly 138 days ago, I left my home in the East Village beginning a journey to travel around the world over land and sea.

And early last month, it started to get very interesting.

On the evening of December 5th, at the end of a brisk and blue sky day, I find myself driving The Pegasus (an old municipal bus I rescued from Craigslist) in the middle of a snow storm through the Colorado mountains. On the road, I witness six accidents, including two semi-trucks that had completely flipped over, one that I remember passing me a few miles back. As I cascade through to the last two miles of that death trap on Highway 70, and finally reach Denver, I  reward myself for evading death with a double espresso from one of the city’s highest rated cafes.

After a trip like that, it tastes like brewed Glory.

Melissa and I pile back in The Pegasus, and hop on the highway only twenty-two miles from our final destination for the evening.

We get about half a mile down the highway, and I begin to have just a bit of trouble accelerating. A quarter mile later, I completely lose the ability to accelerate in the dead center of the Highway 25, with cars zipping past at 70 miles an hour. We get out of The Pegasus, run across the highway, call AAA and wait two hours in 7 degree weather to get a tow in the middle of the night.

The next morning, a mechanic whom I’ve never met and whom I certainly don’t trust, delightedly alerts me that The Pegasus needs a rebuilt transmission.

Suddenly, I have three choices.

1) Spend 4,432 dollars on a new transmission for a vehicle I purchased from some creep on Craigslist, 2) Sleep on the streets in Denver until I figure out an alternative for continuing this leg of the journey or 3) Throw in the towel, and admit that a journey as ambitious as this one was doomed from the beginning anyway.

One week later, I leave Denver five thousand dollars poorer.

Ten days later, I find myself stranded in Topeka, Kansas needing a new AC Compressor and Serpentine Belt.

Another excruciating decision.

When money is an object, as it is for you and I, Doubt creeps in at a deafening pace.

I can hear the perspicacious wisdom of Kenny Rodgers playing faintly in the background,” You gotta know when to Hold’ Em, you gotta know when to Fold ‘Em.”

Will I be able to complete this journey? At this rate, I’ll be bankrupt by February.
If I do continue, will I be able to make the trip across america to visit my grandmother for Christmas as planned?
Should I have trusted that creep on Craigslist in the first place?
Should I have wasted 5 thousand dollars last week?
Has The Pegasus breathed it’s last?

Of course, all of these questions being the pragmatic expressions of the true question searing my mind and yours as we scale mountains we have no business climbing, as we launch a new career as an Artist at the age of fifty or spend the last bit of our savings launching a new website, as we beg, borrow and steal to build the restaurant of our dreams or take a new job at some crazy unfunded startup or as we start an adventure of a lifetime with no real concept of the weight of completing it.

 If this doesn’t work, will I be the greatest fool of all?

______

What did I do?

I went to the closest bar, ordered a Hendricks and Tonic, reminisced on one-hundred and twenty-two days well-lived and remembered something my dear grandmother has told me since the day my father died fifteen days after my 14th birthday.

Hecha Palante. Keep moving forward.

If Frodo turns tail back to The Shire the first time the Ringwraiths show up or if he just prances into Mordor and skips to Mount Doom with butterflies wisping around him and flicks the ring into Mount Doom, then no one would give a shit.

A story with no difficulty isn’t worth following and it certainly isn’t worth remembering.

I am an Adventurer, dammit.

And Adventurers keep moving forward.

Your Fellow Misfit,

AJ

Ps – I hope you had a lovely holiday and a very happy new year. As is my custom, I took a sabbatical during the last two weeks of December. And yes, I made it to see my grandmother. As I write this to you, I’m sitting on the beach in Key Largo looking forward to visiting our least traveled National Park tomorrow while smiling at the incongruous map of my 1,880 trip around the world thus far.

Next up – I’m finding the best way to travel to the few Caribbean island countries without the use of a plane. It’s trickier than you’d think. See you Monday.

Written from: the shoes of Key Largo 

860 words

1.3.13

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