At the start of our trip in Portland, Oregon, our friends Alan and Louise gave me a Shaliach Mitzvah. It is a $1.00 bill folded as shown in the photo. This is redolent with symbolism, religious, secular and cultural ; unifying them all. We are grateful for this thought and gesture, as we are for those who prayed for us. Many prayed from home, and some prayed for us on the spot, especially in the South. Thank you all. Incidents were few and we are safe. Apart from the little tumble near Monument Valley, Arizona, we kept the rubber side down and the shiny side up!
Liz was very chuffed and elated when we arrived in New York and justifiably so. She had done it. We had packed into four, short weeks more epic sightseeing and travel experiences than some folk would have in a life time. On and off the bike we became a well-oiled and efficient partnership. She learned that in small town America, she should forego cappuccino and settle for cah-fee. Liz is a champion and by the end of the trip, she had developed into one of the best pillions I have ever had behind me.
In Cortez, Colorado we caught up with John and Ann B, courtesy of a minor malfunction with the gear shift of their rented Harley-Davidson. As a result, we were able to spend a few days with them, riding together as far as Montrose, Colorado and then from Custer, South Dakota until we turned off south to Decorah, Iowa on our way to visit Andre and Lee in Wisconsin. Riding together with friends is a special experience and in this case especially so as John and I know each other, not just from Melbourne, but from our school days back in South Africa.
When Liz left, I felt quite demotivated for a few days. It would have been fantastic to do the whole trip together. We will be back, but it will be by motor car and aircraft!
John H and I spent two and a bit weeks together. Starting in Atlanta, Georgia, we covered the flat, less scenic, parts of the South and the mid West, but were more than compensated with the mood-inspiring vistas of New Mexico and the soaring grandeur of the Rockies in Colorado. We went from sweltering at sea level to running from snow and rain at the time of his departure in Denver. We met some really I interesting people. John was my source of weather information every morning and responsible for us visiting places that I myself might well have missed. Palo Duro Canyon comes to mind.
And so to the time by myself. I caught up with many old friends and made a number of new ones. I had many conversations, some long, some short, with interesting people; some in conventional situations like street corners and restaurants, and in places like Independence Pass, Colorado where, in the howling wind at 12,000 feet and the ground covered with snow I took a photo of and had a chat with a chap wearing a shirt, thin jersey and shorts! Aernoud is from Holland, so used to the cold.
I/we owe thanks for hospitality to numerous friends. Andre and Lee in Wisconsin, Gary and Laurie in London, Ontario, Tim and Cathy and Glynnis in Mono, Ontario, Amie and Nathan and their respective spouses in Pennsylvania, Tom and Gayla in Virginia, Jennifer in North Carolina, Terence and Martha Ann in Oklahoma. Thank you so much. You only added to the pleasure of the journey. Hopefully it will not be ten or more years until we meet again.
The blog has not done justice to everything we have seen and done. Adjectives to describe it are inadequate, superlatives insufficient. If nothing else in life come close to this, this was enough.
Finally, to bring this trip of a life time to a proper conclusion, I must donate our Shaliach Mitzvah to a charity.
In Minden, Louisiana, John and I had lunch in the Timeless Café and Tearoom. It is run by the Evergreen Presbyterian Ministries as a place where intellectually and developmentally challenged folk can be employed. It impressed me and touched me.
This is, to me, a special donation. It has its origins in faith and friendship. It has afforded protection on a great journey. And its objective is service.
God bless America; and God bless you all.