June 30th Moab, Utah.
Nearly five weeks into the trip, just over 4000 miles covered and now in Moab, Utah. As you may have seen in the media, the SW of the USA is currently experiencing a heat-wave, with a world record equalling temperature being measured in Death Valley a couple of days ago. This has affected me and the bike in several ways. The bike is liquid cooled but quite likes a bit of air circulating as well to help out the cooling process. In normal operation, the coolant gets up to about 75-80c, with it running hotter in traffic where there’s more start-stop and gear changes. Riding into Denver a few days ago, the combination of the altitude (It’s not called the mile high city for nothing) and the air temperature being in the high 90s, saw the coolant reach boiling point and beyond despite the fact that we were moving at 60 MPH. It’s really disconcerting to start up and see the gauge register 65c before the engine has run for 30 seconds.
As for the experience for me, the only way I can think of describing it is like sitting in front of a huge hairdryer whilst wearing all the bike kit. It’s uncomfortable and unpleasant, even though the air is dry. Drinking lots of water becomes a necessity rather than a choice. So this has led to a change in travel tactics. Now I start each day as early as it’s light – generally up at 4.00, and on the road by 4.45 – 5.15AM; and finish the days ride by 11.00 AM. This makes it possible to do 150 – 200 miles, which is plenty for a day and from this time on the temperature climbs exponentially. I’m also booking accommodation ahead, so I’m not riding around a town I don’t know looking for a motel. Once I’m off the bike. It’s a quest for somewhere air-conditioned and some ice cold beverages. One thing they do know how to do well over here is chill their drinks properly; frozen glasses, ice cold beer. As I write this mid-afternoon, it’s 106f outside according to the local TV station – and there’s even more to come when I get to Las Vegas, which recorded another record equalling 117f a few days ago…..
I know if you’re reading this, and looking out at a grey and wet British Summers day you might crave a little heat , but frankly at the moment I would gladly change with you……
‘Where ever I lay my hat’…. And other thoughts on the meaning of home
I was totting up the number of different beds I’ve slept in since June 2 when I left the UK, and it came to 21. This combined with a comment someone made about going ‘home to the motel’ has made me think about what ‘home’ means.
Our idea of home is hard wired in early. I was the first person in my family to own any property – my parents always lived in rented accommodation which often went with whatever job they had at the time. So, there’s never been what I would call a family home – either a location or a building. I’ve never thought I’ll go home to visit friends or family. And of course, being a child of divorced parents I came from a ‘broken’ home. I’m not sure what home is but am sure what it isn’t is a place – a house, an apartment, a town or a city – unless it’s the place I happen to be right now.
‘Wherever I lay my hat and so on……. ‘
And in each place I to engineer 3 important things you might expect in a home:
1 – Surround myself with things – although it’s extraordinary how little stuff you need for 8 months on the road – the majority of what I’m carrying in terms of both weight and volume, is to keep the bike going; tools, spares, etc. I’ve got more than enough clothes and they’re fit for purpose i.e. warm enough, cool enough, and able to keep me dry. What I do carry is an enormous amount, via the joy of digitalisation, of the stuff that matters to me either on my Kindle or iPod.
2 - I’ve got security; at least I hope so as I dead bolt the door in each motel before I go to sleep.
3 - And as a result I’ve got a relative lack of anxiety. An important element that makes a happy home IMHO.
I suppose it’s what I haven’t got that really means home to me.
Helen Rowland, the American humourist summed it up; ‘Home is any four walls that enclose the right person’
Any thoughts generated by this? Let me know via the guestbook.
Oh, and there’s a bit more video if you haven’t caught it yet – http://vimeo.com/69295854
‘Good night and good luck’ Ed Murrow