No, we’re not leaving yet. We’re a good nine months away from departure at this point, give of take. “Give or take” because deciding on a method and precise dates for shipping vehicles to another continent is not nearly as straightforward as buying airline tickets. I feel like a lot of other elements of our trip planning would benefit from knowing when our travels are going to commence, so I keep circling back around to vehicle transport. But you know how when you were a kid and you’d get the merry-go-round spinning like crazy? You could stop the ride, but your brain would just keep right on circling for a while yet. This is me right now, just circling round and round. This, my friends, is the REAL adventure!
And I really do feel like the planning is the toughest part. It’s the whole mind-twist, running through all the what-ifs, how-tos and might-needs. The first day out on a major trip is always the worst. I frantically run back through all my planning at hyperspeed, hoping to identify anything I may have overlooked before I’m too far from home to rectify it. After that bandaid is ripped off, I’m good. In spite of my propensity for meticulous planning, I’m really more of a seat-of-the-pants traveler. I don’t want or need every minute detail planned out; I just don’t like to be derailed by “surprises” that were totally foreseeable. I don’t want to be blindsided by a big expense that I should have known to budget for. I don’t want to be turned away at a border because I failed to secure the proper paperwork. Those types of things are where I focus my planning. I’m actually pretty solid for dealing with real surprises, expenses, and drama; it’s just a lot easier when I haven’t brought it all on myself. The further I get from home, the more I let myself dissolve into the experience. Gone are the routines, schedules, expectations. I can go with the flow in a way that eludes me in my “real” life. When I feed my need for adventure, I feel like I have powered up my ability solve problems, overcome hurdles, and find silver linings.
Mike, on the other hand… Mike likes to have a home base. He likes to have a home base, he likes for it to be readily accessible, and he likes to visit it fairly often. He loves travel (for a while), freedom (as long as it involves a hotel), and adventure (not to include any unpleasant surprises). His normally relaxed, easy-going demeanor is replaced with a sense of foreboding, a feeling that little hiccups are insurmountable and that California has quite probably fallen off into the ocean in our absence.
OK, that’s maybe a bit of an exaggeration. But it is interesting that the very thing that makes me feel so powerful and free makes him feel powerless and lost. Agreeing to this trip is a HUGE thing for Mike, and I don’t for a second underestimate how violently this has shoved him out of his comfort zone. My asking wasn’t a surprise; I’ve been proposing this trip for nearly 15 years. We came close once, even going to far as to buy a couple dual sports in preparation. Even then, though, it wasn’t “Great, we’ll leave in the fall! We’d better buy some more appropriate bikes!” It was more like, “I guess we can pick up a few bikes, just in case.” We owned a home, had a booming motorcycle shop, our finances were focused elsewhere and the timing just wasn’t quite right.
And then came our BIG surprise: nine years into our marriage, our daughter FINALLY decided to come along. That definitely put the brakes on any major two-wheeled adventure aspirations for a while. But slowly, life brought us back around to where The Big Trip was once again a possibility. And this time it wasn’t just a possibility. We’d been ready to get out of California for a while, and having Montessa only strengthened that desire. For the first time in over a decade, we were both open to the possibility of selling our house and closing our shop. We bought a sidecar rig, which turned out to be one of Monty’s favorite things in the world. We didn’t jump right back into home ownership, so we’re not locked down with a mortgage. The shop is carefully packed away, ready to unfurl at a later date, but we no longer have the worries of managing a business over an extended absence. Monty is old enough to enjoy and benefit from travel, but not yet old enough to start traditional school. From a purely rational standpoint, the time was right. Mike, understanding this, said yes.
And this is where his adventure begins: Working through his anxiety and mentally preparing to fully enjoy this trip. To shift his thinking away from “Terrifyingly devoid of a house to run home to!” and towards “Blissfully unencumbered by the burdens of home ownership!” Yeah, that might be a bit much for me to expect. But hopefully while I’m deeply entrenched in the myriad daunting tasks of a Type-A micro-planner, he’ll be working through his fear of the unknown. And Montessa? Yeah, she’s ready to head to South America tomorrow. She’s got the heart and soul of a true adventurer. If all goes well, come next fall we’ll be prepared both mentally and logistically to embark on this amazing adventure together, as a family.