DAY 159

August 20, 1999

This is day 3 since I first met Chena. Already there is an incredible bond between us. How lucky I am to find such a wonderful companion. But she has extreme separation anxiety with only a few moments apart.

Today was filled with a LOT of last minute errands and getting Chena ready to fly with me to North Carolina. The best part was the bath, what fun!!!! She loved it!!!! We went to "The Dog Wash, Inc." and I bathed her on one of their many tables set up for dog owners to use to give their dog a bath. They also provide everything including brushes, shampoo, and even help if you need it. The worst part was the dryer, I put her in this big box with a plexiglas sliding door. She then had to stay in their for about 20 minutes while the blowers inside dryed her off. Of course her hair is SO thick that she didn’t get 100% dry. Chena is well-suited for subzero arctic temperatures with that thick coat of fur.

I also went to Rae's Harness Shop and bought a LOT of stuff!  Everything needed for skijoring and a Springer set up fo rmy bike so she could pull me on my bicycle.   Now that is something I could've used early in my bike ride, I could've survived those 80 and 90mph headwinds in Nebraska much easier with Chena pulling me :)

At the goodwill I found a nice blanket for $4.00 to line the portable kennel that Nina gave me to transport Chena in.  Then I stopped by the artists house to see him before I left.  He really liked my dog and said his dog is named Chena but his wife kept the dog in their seperation.  The artist seemed a bit more stable today and a little more centered.  That was until he started getting a bit philosophical again and wanted to have another one of his deep discussions.  Geez I found myself being a bit rude to break away so I could go meet Mike before I took off on the flight. 

I was able to meet Mike for a little while and showed him Chena.  I asked if he could take a few photos with my camera of me and Chena, since this could be the last time I'm ever in Alaska.  So we stopped by the park and took a few photos and then I was off to catch the plane

OK enough of that…. I will say that it was very difficult for me to put Chena in the kennel and watch the baggage guy wheel her away on a cart at the airport. She kept whining and watched me as she disappeared around the corner.

Sitting in the terminal, I’m thinking back to when I was sitting in the terminal in Raleigh, NC waiting for my flight to Key West. At that time I was a bit nervous about what I was about to do. Riding a bicycle across North America into the unknown was pretty scary when I thought about it, especially since I had never done anything like this before. Now I find myself sitting here scribbling these notes down and scared as hell to go back. What to do? My mind races with thoughts of the future. In Florida, I never even had the slightest thought of me sitting in an airport getting ready to return from my journey.

Thinking back to some conversations with Sean and Kevin, I remember a discussion about the possibility of falling back into my old self and old habits again. I feel as if I’ve changed now, but will I be this new changed person when I return or will expectations of family and friends help to put me back right where I was before. Kevin had a similar conversation with a man he met several years ago. This guy was returning home to his wife and kid that he left to escape on a one-year journey through South America. Apparently, he sorta went crazy with life and had to escape or he felt like he would die.   His wife was taking him back and he had similar fears of falling back into his old self, the self that didn’t enjoy that life and had to break away. Kevin and Shawn both had assured me that journeys like this do indeed have effects that last your whole life.

I feel sick right now….Images flash through my mind of this journey I’ve just completed. Just quick random images keep flashing as I sit here feeling very weird and wiry. In a way I feel as if I’m at the end of my life and all the events are being flashed in front of me. It is hard to focus as I feel like I’m on some sort of slight hallucinogenic trip. Maybe it’s my sleep deprivation that is making me feel this way. In a way, I feel as if I’m dying, or at least a part of me is dying. I don’t want this journey to end, but in a way I’m also looking forward to my new life that awaits me in the real world, organizing photos, possibly trying to write a book, and spending time with Chena. These mixed emotions are racing through my mind creating an unyielding turmoil. All I can think of now is picturing myself very old and sitting in a chair reflecting back on my life and wondering if there will be any regrets of things I should’ve done with my life. This is one thing I am so glad I did, and will have to do many more journeys. Just as this journey is now over and almost like a dream, my whole life will one day seem like that, a brief dream, gone in an instant. There were some regrets on this bike journey of not doing some things. I want to make sure I minimize any regrets of my life I might have when I’m 80 or 90 or however old I get to be :)

I feel as if I’ve had the opportunity to explore all aspects of my inner self, especially what is really important to me. People and taking time for others is very important. Learning to have more patience and compromising when it comes to sharing experiences with others. Even though many think that being alone and isolated on long journeys are the most important, I think human interaction is more important. Why should a person exist in an isolated world, it is worthless to exist without the human interaction.

But I have to say that it is indeed very important to find the right balance for time alone and learn to be at peace with oneself. The alone time was very important for me and helped me to really think and as my journal reflects, sometimes thinking too much. There were times when I thought so much I felt as if my brain was hurting. Just thinking, thinking, thinking, until everything was thunk :)

I’ve had more than my share of alone time on this journey and I am indeed thankful for that experience. The intensity of being totally alone while enduring mental and physical challenges has had a tremendous impact on my being. I have a tremendous amount of respect for those that endure long solo climbs up mountains. The guy I met in Billings, John, had told me about being totally alone with just his thoughts as he climbed El Capitan for 5 days, that would be very difficult and I respect that.

Geez, how do I write an ending to this journey…. Actually it is only the beginning of a life of more journeys. That is something I learned…life can escape us too quickly and we all need to make time for journeys in our lives. Anyone can take a journey of some sort if they really want to. So if these pages find someone reading them that has never done anything like this before, I hope my journey has inspired someone to go out and do something like this. If I can do it, than ANYONE can go on a journey of some sort.

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