With The Dream Project trip coming to an end, I figured it's finally time to throw my hat into the ring with all the other amazing Dreamer's stories.
Since this very well may be the last post on the road, I feel it best to talk about what made this trip so special. Now the easy answer would be the people, or maybe the scenery, even the team dynamic. But there's something more this trip did for me personally, and I feel I speak for the entire team when I say this trip affected us all.
It is commonly said that in the course of a lifetime, a man will see uncountable meetings and partings, and I feel inspecting this quote further can help us define that “thing” the trip did to us. Truth is, I've always loved this quote, and though the latter half touches on love and death, the spirit of the quote is best defined in the half included. The meetings and partings, the journey, that's what made this trip so amazing. Now don't get me wrong, the scenery alone was gorgeous. Each new state brought with it a level of beauty greater than the last. And as we transitioned from expansive plains, to valleys where the grass moves like an ocean, to infertile, rugged land with rocky hills stretching miles and miles; to towns and rivers bordered by mountains, to lush green hills that skimmed the clouds we couldn't help but be amazed that these places even existed. But to just talk about the scenery alone wouldn't be doing the past two months justice.
Growing up in one place for your entire life, it only makes sense to experience culture shock when going to new places. And sure, you would expect something like that in Europe, but to have that same culture shock hit you in your home country -- and to such a degree -- now that's something special. So when I write about meetings and partings, I guess that's what I'm referring to... the amazing blur that sweeps you up until the journey's end. The wonderful thing about travel is how it broadens the mind. And as far as meetings and partings are concerned, when new people, new philosophies, new dreams, new personalities, new life enter your world. And when you sit down and hear these stories, then leave them in such a short time frame, only to meet someone brand new the next day and hear their outlook... that's what a journey is all about, the fleeting moments. All of these perspectives are weighed against our own values. Take one of our hosts last night for example. We'll keep them unnamed for privacy, but he's toured all over the world on a bike solo, but his best trip was one later in life with his kids. As someone who really wants to travel solo, hearing that despite biking around the world, a trip with family was his favorite was unbelievable. It's different perspectives like this that challenge our beliefs, and we've all grown so much because of them.
As a team, we've experienced all types of people and cultures these past 59 days. Walks of life ranging from young adults like us, wildly pursuing their life’s dream, to the young at heart who have learned to embrace their own lives with age. Yet with every one of these people came a smile and a willingness to listen to some kids. And the kindness has been unbelievable. On top of letting us into their homes, churches, recreation centers, etc, our hosts have offered us so much. We've had dinners prepared for us, desserts ready in the fridge, steam rooms, open access to projectors, personal tours of their towns, and we were almost always given an ear to talk off. I mean, an entire town even shut down for us, gave us a firetruck escort, made us a grand feast, was eager to talk, donated to the cause, and gave us a send off breakfast. Honestly, before this trip began I couldn't even fathom kindness of that caliber. And even though we entered Portland today, there isn't a bad host in memory. What more can we as a team do to pay this kindness forward?
As we enjoy Portland, the question of how our future selves will grow from this trip is raised. I mean, after so many fleeting moments, so many stories, and so much kindness, what's the big take away? For starters, I can say with confidence that each and every person on this team developed or deepened their love for travel. And while some have grown tired of the road for now, I'd wager they'll be back on the travel high soon enough. But that's not the “big thing” this post is dedicated to. If I were to attempt to put it into words, I'd call it the slight smirk the riders will crack as they look back on these past two months. You can't really define this trip’s effect on us in one lesson, one situation, and the pictures and videos can never do it justice. It's the feeling us riders, and all the people we met will have when they reflect on the beautiful blur that was this trip. And while some of it was painful, anxiety inducing, soul-sucking and downright frustrating, I wouldn't trade these past two months for the world.