A Recap - To Get In Gear, So To Speak

I left San Francisco on August 1st with the leather outfit that encased my body and not much else: a camera, my journal, a sleeping bag and a tarp, a few t-shirts, one pair of pants, long underwear, toiletries and first aid, a cell phone with three batteries, a can of Fix-a-Flat, and a few sentimental totems. I didn't bring a tent, and I didn't bring mace or any other weapon. I spent some nights alone, some with friends of friends, and some with complete strangers I met along the way. I rode in formation with Harleys, and shared the road with tractors and Amish buggies. I rode my Vespa into a bar, a coffeeshop, and several stranger's garages. My route took me down back roads, dirt roads, and secondary highways; through a glittering high-speed underwater tunnel and over quaint wooden bridges. I rode through gravel and mud and only eight miles of interstate. I reached elevations of 8,000 feet; survived a record-breaking storm; and endured temperatures that ranged from 109 F to 42 F. I drove through lightning, thunder and some of the most gorgeous landscapes ever seen; was rescued from a budding tornado by an entire community of people; rode a longhorn steer in a Badlands bar and hugged a cheetah in Cincinnati. I ate a lobster on a dock in Maine and fresh cantaloupe in the Dakota dust; made friends I'll keep for the rest of my life and experienced more than I could have imagined.

When I arrived in New York City, I was stunned at how difficult it was to end the ride, how heartbreaking. It had seemed like a life, a lifetime, a lifestyle; I didn't want to give it up. Sitting on the curb in Brooklyn one night, I reflected on my ride - two months, moment by moment. And there, the truth of the trip emerged. We are here to live on this earth in awe, of people, of place, of ourselves.


Anonymous said...

Why grind your body into nothing and bore yourself senseless when you can brave the unknown and FEEL like you're alive?

nothus said...

This is fucking beautiful.

ro said...

I'm so jealous of your experience.

It's a God Thing said...

Standing ovation.

~ MD ~

P.S. I am completely addicted to your story. I'm glad it's only 2006 because I'm so not ready for it to end. Not this soon.

LadyHawke said...

Shreve, hello. I discovered you just this morning via Coyote. A Harley rider who wonders what three DAYS alone on the road would be like, I'm awed and loving your Spirit...intrigued and empowered! I love your philosophy and look forward to treating myself to your entire journey.

G said...

I so much admire your personality, and the courage you were able to summon up to undertake such an arduous trip. Sure, there are some who did it on foot or on bicycle, but those bring with it much different kind of planning and expectation. On a Vespa, it's *almost* like doing it on motorcycle, with the exception of limited speed and range per tank full. You make much better time than on a bicycle, and yet you're a bit more in touch with your surroundings than on a motorcycle. I think you made an excellent choice.

And I'll bet you had no idea how much that trip would affect you. How it would make subtle changes to your outlook on life. Apparently it was enough to abandon your previous plans and make a life for yourself in the comparative wilderness.

I think everyone needs a moment in their lives to do something like this. You get to a point where you've lived a good number of years on the planet, amassed a decent amount of experience, and settle into a rut. Certainly there are many who are happy with what unfolds... but some of us don't realize how much we gave up along the way. How out of touch we've become with fulfilling our underlying needs. A trip like that helps one break away... to strip yourself from the "usual grind" and enter an entirely different world.

I just came back from a 3 week trip in Europe. All self-planned, no tour guides whatsoever, and I avoided most tourist traps. I sought to live as the natives do. It really wasn't a very long trip, but it did help clear my head a bit. And yet... after reading your blog, I still feel like I've not yet made my soul quest. The clock is ticking... I've got the time, still being out of work, and the economy will be pickup itself back up soon. I wouldn't mind being a Vespa Vagabond for a bit, but something tells me my trip will have to be something else... what, I know not. Life is funny that way.


Richard said...
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Richard said...

I'm catching your blog for the first time (3/21/2010), from a link on Modern Vespa dot com.

Today, I took my first "long" trip on my Vespa GTS 250; Gainesville, FL to Orlando & back. (260 miles round trip.)

I wonder if I could ride my Vespa back to Portland, OR...?