Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Home Sweet Home!

We made it! We're home! As we crossed the Texas line today we couldn't have been more excited and then as we saw the Green and Gold from the Baylor tower, the feeling of completion started to resonate. This has to be one of the happiest days of our summer.

For the past 3 and a half days we have been driving non-stop crossing through Alaska, Canada, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, and finally Texas. It was an adventure in its own right, deciding that we were not going to stop anywhere, for showers or for beds until we made it home. There was a little bit of pride in making this kind of trip. I mean people take these kinds of trip by themselves let alone after you have biked across the country, but we figured if we can bike across the country and be okay we can stay in a van for 3 days and be even better. Unfortunately the drive was not as exciting as it sounds. We were tired in the "my body really really wants to exercise" sort of way...there something about being in a van for 3 days straight that takes a toll on the body, especially when all your eating is fast food and gas station beef jerky. All the hard work we've done to make our bodies in biking shape felt like it was deteriorating. Our stomachs felt awful, our legs wanted to run, our muscles wanted to sleep, and our bodies wanted a shower.

We each took our own driving shifts. Each consisting of 5 hours. The night shift was the worst, the scary thing about riding through the night, especially through the Yukon, was the animals. It was common to see wolves, bears, deers, and yes..buffalo. The greatest thing about the night shift was when it ended, and then the sun rose...I enjoyed seeing the sun rise every morning, but then after that ray of sunshine (pun intended) the days just dragged on, and sleep in the most miniscule amount was a blessing. I just jumped in the back seat and rested my head even though afterwards my spine was in knots. And the knots didn't go away. Our heads pounded from the lack of sleep but we pushed through.

The final run even though it was in a car showed how much we've grown as friends. We laughed even though the van smelled of trash and the floor was littered with candy wrappers. We've been through the bugs and the dirt while riding bikes and in a scary way I think we have grown used to being uncomfortable. As Baylor came into view we began giving High-5s, shouts of joy, and singing to cheesy music. We made fools of ourselves, honking our way into town. The poor van is just as much a team member as we are, and it was invited to join in in the excitement. According to Nathan's motto "If you take care of your machines your machines will take care of you," and the van has truly taken care of us.

When we arrived the first thing we noticed was the Texas heat. It was funny, I actually missed the unbearably sticky summer air. We were welcomed by Nathan's parents and family, as well as Susan from the Baylor counseling services, and Dub Oliver from Student Life, whom we all hugged and who basked in our smelly selves. We are so happy. There is no place like home.

-Justin Brown

Another note from Alyson:
On behalf of the team, after talking and hanging out this evening in Nate's apartment, we want to say thank you to everyone that has supported us, and helped make this trip possible. The bike trip was for our friend whom sparked this adventure, the people on our facebook group, our families, our friends, our sponsors: Ford Direct, everyone in Itasca, staff, students, and administrators at Baylor, and everyone else who has been with us. The list is long, and every day it grows. We are so blessed to have such loving and selfless people in our lives.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Coming Home!!!

Our adventure is coming to an end, tomorrow we will be heading home. We're getting all the last minute preparation made for the trip back. Getting an oil change, throwing away the trash that has accumulated over that past 70 plus days (there is a lot of it), and creating a makeshift bed so that we can sleep while the van is pulling forward. I hate to disappoint all of you but we're not going to be biking back! This is what we like to call a race to the finish. We're having to get home (Baylor University) by August 6th. So we are going to be driving non-stop (with a couple of breaks in between) to get home in time.

We're going to be waking up at 4:30 am and driving till 8pm just about everyday for 5 days. We're each going to take shifts to help the 15 hours a day go a lot smoother and safer.

It will feel good being on the road again even though its going to zip by. The drive back will be like rewinding a video tape. We will pass through the same terrain and experience the same weather, maybe by going through all of it, it will help all of us truly see the magnitude of our accomplishment.

I'm looking at my pictures again. I've been looking at all the pictures, strolling down memory lane. They are all so beautiful. What's really strange is I can't believe I was there. Its like somebody photoshopped my picture putting me behind those wonderful backgrounds. Time flew by so fast. Now it is only a memory, a picture, but it is a part of me. I was there. I saw the wonders of all creation, I experienced the desert heat, the ocean breeze, and the pine smells, I lived through all of it, and we made it.

I'm excited about tomorrow, getting back on the road, I think Willie Nelson summed my feelings best:

On the road again
Just can't wait to get on the road again
The life I love is makin' music with my friends
And I can't wait to get on the road again
On the road again
Goin' places that I've never been
Seein' things that I may never see again,
And I can't wait to get on the road again.

-Justin Brown