Chapter Three: Picking up the Pieces

No photos from the depressing 1400 miles back to Atlanta in a mostly empty box truck. I’m developing a bit of animosity for I-40.

The first thing I did when I got back was crack a beer. The second thing I did was pull the stator to confirm my diagnosis. Actually the second thing I probably did was vent, whine, and sleep. You’ll have to ask Ashley and Sean. I’ve blocked out a lot of those four days out.

The good news is that a couple of posts from now, things will start looking up. It’s not always easy to look up from a deep pit of despair with the scattered bones of your motorcycles at the bottom…

Right, but I promised bright and cheery posts. Let’s move that way.

I took comfort in the fact that I didn’t cut the trip short unreasonably, then started working on plan C. With the way things were going, I also started working on plans D and E. At some point before setting my sights on Colorado and a long overdue Denver visit I dryly (with just a hint of bitter stubbornness) told my dad that I was packing my mountain bike, hiking boots, and a backpack. I was gonna see the Pacific ocean, dammit. In fact, I was gonna see that same dang beach at the end off the TAT if I had to crawl over the Rockies to get there.

But first I had to re-pack. You can afford a lot more luxuries when you’re camping out of a car. Or even when you’re planning on camping in the car. Even with all the extra tools and a handful of spare parts you’re bringing this time. (And I was serious about bringing my bike. Pacific or bust.)

The first time I camped out of my 4-Runner was in Colorado 2010. The ULA interns were launching a large amateur rocket***, because it’s a rocket company, and we camped out way out in the sticks by the launch site and I had no tent.


Yes, there was a time before I had all my own camping gear. That time was the Summer of 2010. By 2011 I had gotten my life more together.

The first stop was my brother’s place to pick up some gear I ditched in June at the beginning of this hot mess of a summer. We tried to shake out the mountain biking rust with a trip to the U.S. National Whitewater Center. No really, they have mountain bike trails all around the whitewater courses. Once you find them. The maps are awful.

Shaking out the rust went right as planned. I binned it on a bridge before we had even gone a tenth of a mile. I was in the lead and there was a nasty rocky downhill drop to the bridge, so my brother ate it trying to avoid running me over. Thanks bro!

Insult to injury came while we were taking stock of our bones and bikes. The next guy around the bend commented that it was a strange place to stop in a snarkier tone than was really needed. We warned you about the algae covered bridge. How do you think we knew to warn you? Come on, man.

With my kit complete, I set out hellbent for Colorado with only one night between Charlotte and Denver. I spent a hot sweaty night in the Mark Twain National Forest. I would have set up a tent, but I arrived well after dark and, if I’m being honest, the site kinda creeped me out.

It turned out to be beautiful farm land the next morning, though. I stopped just long enough to crack open a coke, appreciate the view, and keep hauling for Denver. One upside of traveling by four wheels is the space for a cooler.

Next time: Denver antics, playing king of the mountain with my favorite marmot, and a distillery tour.

*** Any former ULA interns feel free to jump in and hit me with some facts, but I believe it was the *best* amateur rocket, if not the biggest. And the search for a picture turned up nothing except lots of good memories.

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