The End: Musings on Joy, Suffering, Gratitude, and School-Building

My Capitol-to-Capitol expedition took me across some of the wilder and more beautiful parts of the Western US and Canada. 3081 pedaled miles, four US states, three Canadian Provinces, seven national parks, nine flat tires, five moose, nine black bears, four trumpeter swans, one tandem-recumbent sighting, three (wild) bald eagles, one porcupine, one badger, a salmon run, countless new friends, and 61 days after setting out from Denver, I flew home from Juneau, Alaska. Through the generous donations of friends, family, and strangers I met along the way, together we raised $5375 for Colorado Nepal Alliance – this money will be used to build a school!

I’ve been home for a little over a week. The passage of time has suddenly sped up, wiggled and knotted and turned back on itself. In my head, Kananaskis was just yesterday, Smithers last month, Juneau an accurate week ago, Lander over the weekend. There’s no rhyme or reason to the memories that stick out, this moment or the next. Since I’ve been home, the most common question immediately shifted from “How many miles to you do a day?” to “What was the best part?”

The best part was crying in the rain at my flat tire. The gay pride festival in Lander. The gas explosion in Canmore. An emotional phone call in Dillon, MT. The ice creamery in Virginia city. Breakfast with Missoula-John in Burns Lake. Swimming in the bitterroot river. The bears on the Yellowhead. Canada day. Reminiscing fond memories of my time in Switzerland years ago with an old friend at Mount Robson. Cheating the Going-to-the-Sun Road. All the Mosquitos in Wisdom. The guys I met at Honeymoon Lake. Moraine Lake. Kananaskis. Longview. Big sky country. The Tetons. Mountains. Lakes. Sun. Air. Legs.

All of it. It was all my favorite. The pain and suffering and misery and mental/emotional growth were just as beautiful as the cruisey, scenic, sunny downhills.

I cannot possibly thank everyone who needs thanking, because every single person I interacted with on my trip made it what it was. Every text message and email and donation and encouraging word kept me going. I love everyone that contributed in any way for making my experience what it was – the good and the ugly. My trip wouldn’t have been possible if not for the positivity and support I received from friends and family at home, and the exceptional kindness and generosity of strangers and new friends I met along the way. I’m happy to be able to pay it forward to the children of Nepal as their new school is made possible by all of your support!

The end.