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Oh the Places You'll Go April 27th of the second year

They're not just places anymore, they're a part of me as I am a part of them. These images and experiences are none but my own concocted from a recipe of moment, emotion and mind. They are the product of a romantic dance of energy occurring in one, unique instant and never again. Location is irrelevant. Time is irrelevant. Sensory perception of sight and sound is irrelevant. These are places you cannot find on a map or even hope to capture on film; these are places that define who I am. Look with your eyes and search where you might, but do not expect to find the places I've been, for as soon as I left, I carried them away with me.

"I could sit here and watch this all day." Massive waves rush towards the shoreline like a herd of raging horses. They share a fearless oblivion to the towering wall of rock only moments away. Each one rolls like a violent thunder, accelerating immediately before collision in a futile attempt to once and for all shatter the shields of its counterpart. The battle has raged on for thousands of years and this attack will end like all the others. Like a fat kid doing a belly-flop into the pool, the impact culminates with a painfully loud pulse of sound. "THWACK!" Life erupts in a vertical explosion of water. For two seconds, it's raining. Fat drops of ocean water plop onto the picnic table Shadowfax and I sit upon and I give a little smirk. The foamy remains of the wave quickly recede inward and rejoin the ranks for a second assault. Just beyond the castle walls, the ruins of our outer defenses are splintered by the sea. They were overrun long ago in a clash of elemental fury but are now slowly consumed by the surging tide. Every wave swallows and submerges the once great rock then sinks to leave behind a cascading waterfall on its surface. They fall and flow as little rivers upon the rock, mining deeper into its channeled wounds and by one molecule at a time, it will be churned back into sand and dust.

I have no intentions of pedaling anytime soon. Just beyond the short cliff over there, something strange is happening. I saw it when I got here and didn't think anything of it, but every so often it happens again. A large wave crashes, ocean meets earth. Moments later, a low roar is heard from far away and a violent spray of water is fired from the cliff side like canons on a pirate ship. "What is that?" The munition falls back into the sea. I walk towards the scene with an inquisitive and nonchalant curiosity. Only a couple steps and I hear it again, that strange roar. It sounds like the space shuttle at takeoff, and then, another jet of water erupts from the cliff side like a sideways geyser. "Whatever is doing this, I've got to get a picture." I peek my head over the side of the cliff to find a beach made of one solid platform of rock, sitting just above sea level. It has a small canal running through it where the water trespasses inland only to disappear into a cave below me. With the ocean making its home inside, half of the cave is underwater while the other half awaits submersion.

"INCOMING!!" Submersion is here. From just above the beach, I have a front row seat as wave clashes with rock to be held off in all but one spot. The canal carries much of the wave inland and it's absolutely ripping with power. It crashes with the might of a tsunami and funnels itself deep into the cave where it disappears as quickly as it appeared, and then it is gone. There's a peculiar silence where I expect there to be rage. "Okay... now what?" Ziggy is ready for action. "I know you're in there, let's get this show on the road." The earth beneath me begins to shake. Half exhilarated and half panicked, I watch below to bear witness. A low rumble rapidly amplifies into a cavernous and deafening roar and instinctively I put my hands over my ears.

"VWOOOOSSHHHHH!" Screaming from within the depths of the cave, he comes rumbling forth with enraged and psychotic power. The deep blue, liquid tempest sweeps out before me upon the sea. It breaths the ocean, drawing and summoning its own life force from the water. The dragon has awoken. Fear and wonder... all I can do is watch. His body is a river of blue shades, flowing, growing and gathering in strength. I can feel his fury, for it has imprisoned me in a motionless state of shock. The blue tides within are soon encased by sapphire scales and the dragon is made. Already I know his mind before he acts... he has shown me his intent. He turns to face me and his eyes flood with an opaque malice as he reveals rows of icy, bladed teeth. This is it. This is where it ends. A huff of chilled air escapes his mouth. I've accepted my fate. Those crystalline eyes pierce my soul and steal all but the sight of my own demise. As he draws back, I see only frozen daggers, and then...



"aaawwWW FUCK! What the fuck!@*%?^! God damnit..."

Where reality ends and the dreams begin, I haven't a clue. Right now, all I can tell you is that my head fucking hurts -- I woke in the middle of the night and whacked my head against the wall.

The outer defenses.

In with the water...

Out with the dragon..


"Again with the baseball dugout, eh Chuck?" It's relieving to know that I'm in good hands. It's a dismal mess outside. The rain is still pouring buckets and hail is bouncing off the roof of my makeshift home. Just over the short wall of this dugout, heavy drops smack into invisible pools of mud. I can only hear them, for the light shining from the closest building does little else but fill in dark shapes where I suspect my gear is sitting. I lay still on my back with eyes wide open. I love the sound. Like music to my ears, the rain brings me peace as it kisses the earth. It's concluding a journey from the heavens and if it were up to me, I'd lay down with the stars and welcome it home.

As my eyes adjust to what little light there is, his surroundings come into focus. The ocean is gone. My gear is everywhere. The bicycle rests to recoup what little strength is left, but I've worked him more than most are worked in a lifetime. His chain has been skipping for the ten days, the brake pads are long gone, the map holder broke somewhere in California and is being held together by a piece of duct tape. My right pedal stopped clipping. The rubber on the rear tire is almost gone. Everything is soaked and covered in damp earth. For the last week, I've been too tired to care about how much mud is on my water bottles -- as long as I get the water, I just eat whatever comes with it. Not that it matters, it flings off my tires and all over my face anyway. It lives in my beard. I've been falling dangerously out of sanity. The damp air, biting chill, failing bicycle and irreversible fatigue is pushing me further and further to the point of no return. He yells at the weather. We get into fights with the clouds. Wednesday joined us for lunch. I don't recognize the words coming out of his mouth. He needs sunshine and he needs sleep. Unfortunately, I don't think we're going to get either.

From the voice recorder:

Sixty miles to Portland. Sixty. This is it, you know. Here in this dugout, alone once again in the black of night, this is the end. I don't know if that makes me happy or sad. I don't think I'm able to comprehend it. All these things... the bike, sleeping bag, camelback and tent... such a weird relationship I've built with my gear. Tomorrow it'll all be just "stuff" again. I'll put them in the garage, the attic or closet, and they'll collect dust. They're going to age and become artifacts of a life that once was but is no more, but at the time, they were my everything. They had life... they served a purpose. They enabled me, they enabled the dreamer, the philosopher and the adventurer. One day they'll be stored away and they'll lose all character... their resilience will be forgotten. And if these bags could talk... if this bike could talk... Shadowfax will live on, a memory of his former self, but the stories will last forever and continue to inspire. These clothes, these shoes, these gloves... they've become a part of me. I'll never see them the same. The words on the back of this shirt will fade. They'll fade. They'll fade almost to nothing but never quite fade away. My bags are covered in sand and mud... disgusting, but so alive. They're doing what they were meant to do but their time is about to expire. Tomorrow they'll become hollow and empty, and I'll miss them like a friend. I'll miss everything about this. I'll miss everything about this, but it'll live, in my memory, in these words and in these moments.

I know in the future all of these things will become so foreign to me -- sleeping in a dugout, sleeping under a bridge, alone in the desert or with wanderers in the woods. It'll all become very strange to me and I'll be scared to do it... to walk such an uncertain and abnormal path. I'll be fearful that things may go wrong. I'll groan at the thought of riding a bicycle to get somewhere, or worse yet, I won't think I have it in me. And I know this feeling, I know it's going to be true. I know when I look back on this day, I'll be amazed that I actually did it 'cause it felt like such a pipe dream. Of all those things on the list of dreams, this was the one I thought I'd never do... and it turned out to be the first one I did. So often I wrote and rewrote the list, and when I put this one down, it was followed with a question mark every single time. I just didn't have faith in myself, I didn't think I'd actually bring myself to do it. And now here I am with one day left to Portland and it's at its end. Time really doesn't exist. All that exists are the moments and the rest acts as memory, flashes of sensory perception void of any duration. I can't believe I've done this.

Night continues, morning comes and I never really find my way back to sleep. It's 5:30am and if I want to escape unnoticed, I have to hit the road before school buses begin to show up. So emerge from your den, once and for all -- it's time to wander in the dark. And that was it. I packed up my gear and went on my way like so many times before. Just a few miles down the line and I find myself sitting on a stool inside a small-town diner. The waitress shares her dream of riding a motorcycle across America. She's been dreaming of it for years, and she'll do it in retirement. Retirement, eh? I wonder what I would do in retirement.

"So this is the day, eh?". An old-timer in a jean jacket exits the diner as I'm suiting up outside. "Oh, I guess you've heard," I reply. "Yea, Marilyn told us." Marilyn gave me breakfast on the house. The sun is making its debut. It's laying down a thin sheet of light before it blankets the sky. The old man asks, "How long have you been biking?". For some reason my auto-reply mechanism doesn't spit out a response. How long? How should I know? It hasn't been that long. It hasn't been long at all. I think it's been about seven or eight days, but it could be less. It was only today that I woke up in the now. I wonder how long I've been engaged in the now. Is it possible to be engaged in the now for more than a moment's time? What the hell is a moment's time? I don't know but I bet I could dance in it! ~Watch me now, hey!~

"Almost five months," Chuck answers.

"Five months? Has it really been that long?" I coast out of the parking lot and steer the bike to the left. "Five months? Do you realize how long that is? Five months ago it was Summer, and now, Winter is almost over." The bicycle rolls forward at its own pace accompanied by the familiar clicking sound when I drift along. "What happened to the Fall?" It feels like yesterday. I remember waking up that morning. The day was like any other, only this time I was going for a bike ride. Quite relaxed about it, I really had no clue what I was proposing to myself. That day was years ago. Long ages of my life have come and gone since then... since yesterday. And I've been here for much more than five months. In fact, I've always been here. I was born here.

It's on the road where I came to life. Somewhere on this road, the etched walls of control were torn down and a mind's potential broke out into the world it so innately belonged. Alive and aware with new consciousness, that which we all possess but have been shielded from, that which we've been distracted and led away from, I strayed out of society and into our own humanity. Alone and apart, I intended only to cycle. Thinking you're in touch with yourself, it's an enlightening experience to one day discover who you actually are. And what I found was not just myself, but it was all of us. We're natural creatures of this world, not the synthetic products of civilization. To categorize a man is to minimize all that he is. We are not citizens of your country. We are not a profession. We have no age. Your demographic, diagnosis and definition is not applicable. We are dynamic, thinking and dreaming beings. We are created from the energy of this universe and are free to dance and swirl in it if we only allow ourselves.

And once I understood this, once I got away from the social constructs, the nouns and adjectives, the reasoning and science, the unspoken rules of behavior and structure that was all I had ever known, my perception became dramatically altered. Rather, it became entirely natural, a state it hadn't been since I learned language. It became pure and unbound. Where I once saw with my eyes, I began to feel with my soul. Where I once only imagined, I could now directly experience and wander. I could intertwine imagination with reality and create my own perception, for I finally understood that they were one and the same. Life became very interesting. It was full of wonder, fascination and new emotion. I spent entire days simply marveling at the perfectly synchronized intricacies of organic life, such a symphony of flowing beauty, and I felt immensely privileged to be both audience and artist.

And so it went, we fell in love. Without question it was true, she loved me from the start. I came home to my love, our world, and with warm embrace she cried tears of joy. In my heart I felt a flood of stored emotion, her ultimate expression of affection and monumental relief. She missed me. We missed one another, but from when I could not know; the specifics escaped mere words but I felt it in my living memory, we were part of one another. It was intimacy of body and soul and in this moment, I knew I belonged with her. I belonged to the essence of my surroundings and swam peacefully along to its tune. Where I went, life exploded in heavy color, streaked across the heavens and rushed down from the mountains. In an instant I can be back there. I can feel it. My soul belongs in the heart of those mountains, on empty roads and starry nights.

"I could die right now." I knew only what I said because I listened, but never intended to speak those words. He said them without my permission and the statement was more true than anything I had ever uttered. What is this feeling so perfect that you're entirely at peace with life and softly smiling at death? Such tranquility I've never known, where existence has no concept of "me". Ego escaped into starry skies, amidst waves of golden grass, against the black silhouettes of night and a light trailing into the ocean to greet the moon. I was lost to the oversoul, scattered in astounding images of rare fantasy. Dream and journey readily meshed. Through a door of mist, I fell out of existence and expected to emerge in a land before time, and so I did.

Chuck continues to crank along the only road out of town while I lose myself to the days passed.

I want to remember it always. I want to remember it as it was, for what it was, when it was. It's not a hundred destinations, routes or stories, but it's moments along the journey that I want to remember. It's the everyday ride, the turns, the expressions, the miles and the simple but surreal dreamscapes that I want to relive. It's a stretch of road through a tunnel of trees in the middle-of-nowhere Virginia, where the world bathed in sun as I slid through dark passages on top of pavement. I loved the brisk chill of morning air, riding on the wrong side just because I could. It's looking down a long, long road through desert, where you can see every inch ahead for fifty miles and after that, mountains. Beyond the mountains, more mountains. Mountains so far away that they're nothing more than a blue shade against blue sky, too far to possibly reach, too magnificent to be real. It's an evening of pure fear, of adrenaline and escape. To travel in the black of night, alone, without a soul around, without knowing but still going and all the while under lucid skies and shooting stars. From fear to wonder, nightmare to ecstasy, I had never seen the night so beautiful, so crisp.

Once the distractions of a modern life were removed, I could speak my thoughts with unequaled exactitude. Every word was relaxed but with deep intention for I was entirely in the now, focused beyond precision. Tomorrow will be dealt with when it comes and yesterday needs no further attention. Just take it as it comes and what a relief it brings. My mannerisms, words and emotions were plainly me, not the product of influence, agenda, beliefs, worry or anticipation. I was just me, being me, without time or place to answer to. Survival was the only requirement for journey, though sometimes I wondered if even that was true, and eventually my destination was exactly where I stood no matter where I went. It was that simple. At any moment I could put my feet on the ground, marvel at my surroundings and enthusiastically shout, "I MADE IT!", because I had.

I was home. At some point, everyone I met was an old friend and everywhere I went was home with a return address of "Earth". I became simply a human being wandering the world and at any given moment, nobody knew where I was. While the cogs spun round and round, I was off melting to the music or getting lost in the heavens. Setbacks became welcome detours for life is better left unscripted. At times I secretly wished for everything to go horribly wrong just so I could enter new worlds I'd never known. And well, that's what happened when my pump broke. That's what happened when I met a bear in the woods, it's what happened when I cycled through a field of thorns and it's what happened when I got stuck in Pensacola. I lived for the unpredictable, thousands of miles from home, where having no clue what's going to unfold brought such an enthusiasm and love for life. I couldn't just truck along, I had to be actively engaged and aware. I was both reading and writing a story with great interest to see what the next pages entailed -- such a vigor for life! May I always live this way, where in dreary weather and torrential downpours, I dance around like a fool. So what if it's wet? So what if it's not a "nice" day to be outside, I'm alive! I can feel! With every episode of fear and exhilaration, I was ripped into the now as though some wide-eyed maniac just smacked me into consciousness and was yelling, "WELCOME BACK, BABY!! WOOO!!!"

And really, what does it matter that you're scared shitless every now and then? So death is just around every corner, who gives a damn -- if he ever got his hands on me too soon, at least I was doing something I loved. At least I felt the burning spirit of life within me when it happened. Let me tell you, I'd have been eternally pissed if I died prior to really living. And it happens, you know. Death doesn't give a damn how close you are to retirement. While you hear about all those risky fellas dying in the midsts of some unnecessary activity, it's not often anybody makes a big deal out of the thousands of people who died TODAY from sudden heart disease and car accidents. So would I hitchhike again? Oh hell yes I would. Right now, I kind of want to stick out my thumb just to see where it takes me. I think that was the best part of all of this, the uncertainty, I mean. The first ten seconds of every mor -BOOM!-

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  7. Dreams within Dreams
  8. The Imagination runs Wild
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