Oh snap! Final post!

Hello everyone!

I know, I know, it has been a long time since I last updated! Berate me at will.

Hopefully, my faithful followers know that the team made it safely to the Pacific Ocean as planned on August 4, 2007.

I sincerely apologize for not making a final update until now, 3 months after reaching our final destination.

The bottom line is, the longer the ride went on the less motivated I was to update the blog. My attitude slowly and then more quickly declined and I had less and less positive things to write about in this forum. So instead of expressing those feelings, I stopped writing. Not the best decision, but I can’t help that now.

In the end, I am still unsure as to what exactly I accomplished this summer. If you know me personally, you know my research is the most important thing in my life. Would my time have been better served engaging in research enriching projects at an earlier date? Maybe. Would I have adjusted to life in Tucson better if I had moved more than 8 hours before my graduate student orientation? Most definitely. Would I have an up and down, twisting and turning trove of stories to tell the rest of my life? Absolutely not. So, you can see, I am still at odds with my choices. I would love to write here that the ride was the best thing I have ever done, the most I will ever accomplish in so short a time, but I can not say that with my heart in it. There were many flaws to our method, many errors to be corrected next year. All this is to be expected to some degree, perhaps it is my fault to have not expected the specific degree prevalent in our journey.

So, I will say that I have made a best friend, I have lost good friends, I have become averse to those I was neutral to, and positive to those I was averse to. Many people express interest in doing a ride like the Illini 4000. To those of you in that group I must stress that the most important thing is not why you’re doing it, or when, or for what cause, but WHO. I can only speak from personal experience, so take with a grain of salt.

It is not about what you saw that day, or who you spoke to, but who you experienced it with. who was by your side, who did you make small talk all day with, or play “the movie game,” or gripe to about last night’s dinner of cold, canned beans. Who will you remember by your side, sharing your pains or supporting you through struggle (if you’re lucky enough to have that support). Looking back on this summer, there are few moments where I was satisfied in the who. I exhort you to not make the same mistake. Do it with someone you love, someone who intrigues you, someone who will make the experience an adventure, not an exercise in babysitting or micropolitical wars. Do it with respect to your cause, to your leaders, and respect to yourself.

So now, if I still have any readers around, I will open the floor to questions.

EDIT: Tom has an extremely insightful comment posted below. I encourage you to read it in its entirety, but I liked it so much I am posting a portion of his comment below.

“So don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t be hard on others. Relish in the good things… like how generous and wonderful this country is. Relish in your youth and health that allowed you to complete your trip.”

To refresh, we met Tom in Ash Grove, MO in the middle of our trip. He cycled West-East with his friend Erik. You can find a link to his blog in the list on the right.

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