Ceremonial Start

Many car rallies have a “ceremonial start” of the event. It’s the official start, but rather than tires smoking and engines screaming off the starting line, it’s a slow, easy roll into the first transit (open road) section that takes competitors to the actual beginning of timed competition. That’s what my motorcycle ride with Bob up New Hampshire’s entire Atlantic coast — all 13 miles of it — felt like.

I’ve lived in New England all my life. I’ve seen the Atlantic Ocean plenty of times, including during the whirlwind tour we took to Florida a few months ago. I didn’t feel a need for a big to-do. I don’t need to dip my van’s tires into the water so that I can do the same when I reach the Pacific. I didn’t even bring the van all the way to the ocean, because again, I already have. An unplanned stop there on a bike ride seemed a rather appropriate time and place to call it the beginning of what I’m calling “Smokey Coast to Coast,” my quasi-official cross-country journey.

Another bit of irony is that we passed through Hampton Beach, which is one of Trisha’s favorite places. We spent an enjoyable couple of days there in my previous van, as well as a stealth overnight on the side of the road where we could hear the ocean waves crashing on the beach all night. This time, I was there, while the ocean lover was in Ohio, far from any ocean. I’m feeling not sad about it, but smug. It’s not exactly the most positive or productive feeling I could have, I know, but it is what it is. Like I said before, this journey is no longer about her or us. It’s about me.

After a few days in Bob and Cheryl’s yard, I spent the weekend with Brian and Amanda, two friends I’ve known since the beginning of time, it feels like. I met Brian online in 1995, back when meeting people online was still kind of a weird thing. I hadn’t seen them for a few years, and it was great to catch up a bit with everything that’s gone on — not the least of which is their son, who’s almost 5 now. We’re all car nuts, and walked to a car show nearby to check out the cool rides. They proceeded to spoil me with good company, good food, and amazing beer (and a little mead) throughout the weekend. It still amazes me how with friendships like this, you can not see each other for years and still pick right up where you left off. True friendships and relationships endure. Others, not so much.

My journey west began with yet another trip back to Allyson’s, where I’m staying again for a few days waiting for a mishipped package. It’s a portable ham radio antenna, a vertical design that should work well for my usual parking situations where I don’t have the space to string out a long wire antenna. They sent it to my Texas mail forwarding address instead of where I actually am. They fixed that quickly, but it’s still an inconvenient delay on my departure west, where I really want to be going. Still, I got to visit more people than I expected, I got my ceremonial start, and I still have a bit over a week to get to Carlisle, PA for IMS Outdoors — a drive I could make in a day if I needed to. It may be time for me to grumble again about not wanting to believe that things happen for reasons.

In between work today, I’ll also start figuring out what general route I want to take to Carlisle. I don’t want to make any commitments like Harvest Hosts or Boondockers Welcome until the antenna is in my hands and I know I won’t be delayed again, but I can still start plotting and planning. I’ve been procrastinating on that, perhaps out of the anxiety that comes with starting such a huge trip, one that I’ve dreamed of doing most of my life. But I’m going to try to focus on the excitement of finally doing it and fulfilling a bucket list item.

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