It's been almost three months since we got back from the longest ride of our lives. To this point. And probably till the next life.
We left for flagstaff Arizona, April 27th. Jeff drove us to Winslow Arizona and there we began biking the many miles every day to Washington, D.C. The first week was rough, our bodies were not ready because we hadn't trained sufficiently, and we did more climbing than we expected and encountered more winds than we liked. It was also so very cold at night. We barely made it on our bikes every night to our destination and would just crash. That said, we were still juiced up from the excitement of beginning our journey, and kept meeting many wonderful people with such different lives. The first week could be called "breaking in". The next couple of weeks seemed to fly by, with a few hard days due to rain and cold. We met more wonderful people, but mostly, we enjoyed the Sundays at the small towns with the little branches we were able to attend. We stayed at wonderful members homes those two Sundays and felt recharged every time. The end of week 3, we really started raking up the mileage and spent more and more hours on our bikes, resulting in 6 consecutive centuries and ending with 7 of our last 8 days as century rides. The last week took us over the Appalachians and we ended up in Washington, D.C.
What did we learn and why did we do this trip? This trip ended up costing over $1000 in just living expenses and $800 more for a new bike Casey needed to buy. Despite these high costs and the toughness of this expedition, we would do it again in a heartbeat if we were to go back to before this trip. What we learned and experienced is infinitely more valuable than the monetary cost of the trip:
1) learning to work hard. Hard work. Long hours. Finding joy and ways to keep pushing through many hours of relentless peddle to the metal.
2) in the world not of the world. Seriously the most cut off from the world (save for the mission). And yet we were more in the world than ever before. It was so refreshing to remove ourselves from the complexities of the world. Our focus these past 4 weeks was solely: get where we needed to go, find food, find shelter, enjoy real experiences, keep our motivation levels up, and of course stay in good touch with our fiancés.
3) We really got to see a whole spectrum of different kinds of life, from the spaced out flatness of Kansas, to the mansions and expensive cars of purcellville. We got to see how people achieved satisfaction and happiness, we got to see what made people happy and content, we got to see who wasn't happy and content, we got to see and to a large degree classify what kind of life it is that we do want. What we learned, it's not about the stuff. It's about people, it's about finding joy in what you do, it's about doing whatever you do to the most professional ability you have, it's about living in the moment, and learning from the past, and embracing the future, and loving the now.
4) Others are important. It is more important to focus on others than to focus on yourself. Sometimes we think we see so clearly but am so quick to judge the selfishness of others and forget how self centered we can be ourselves. We couldn't have made it through this trip without shifting the focus of our attention to others. It was so important to remain selfless and to rejoice in the success of others and to always be serving and helping others.
5) finally we learned how very lucky we are. So incredibly blessed to have the gospel in our lives. This world is so chaotic and noisy. Truly tossed about as on the waves of the ocean, but the gospel is such an anchor for us and we are so grateful.
We can't believe we did it. We did it. We biked across America, but we will never think of it as that, but more as a sacred time we were blessed with.