LESSONS FROM THE ROAD
You were exposed to many different cultures in the corners of North America. What did you learn about people?
In my experience living among various cultures in North American society, I’ve learned that people have underlying basic needs of food, clean water, shelter and compassion, regardless of socioeconomic or lifestyle. Despite how much we strive for individuality in dress, transportation, work and lifestyle, there is a commonality in the basic necessities which is often overlooked.
Contrary to what the news portrays, there is so much more “good” out there than bad and my one-on-one interactions with people and assistance from strangers in all manner of places reflects the “golden rule” lived out by many people in their daily life. One of the best places to break down is Baja Mexico because the mechanics make creative repairs cheaply and the generosity of complete strangers is never far away.
What did you learn about travel (and the art of living on the road) on this trip?
I learned that the key to traveling and living on the road is taking one’s time. If traveling under the constrictions of a family or work schedule to return to, it is difficult to say “Oh I’ll spend another week here”. Without a home base to return to, I realized that wherever I stop to camp or sight-see is my home, even if just for the night. Taking the time to read historic signs, have friendly conversations with strangers and trying new foods and cultural experiences allowed me to form a better picture of the people.
The art of living on the road also demands a level of cleanliness and hygiene when a hotel isn’t in the budget. I rarely pass by a washroom with paper towels and soap without washing my face and I view every stream alongside the road as an opportunity to do laundry.
What did you learn about life in general?
I learned many life lessons about myself and the nature of others. Building karma along the way by helping broken cyclists, motorcyclists and motorists has often been rewarded in turn in my own times of need. Those with the least are often willing to give the most, while the most prosperous are apt to overlook or pass by a traveler in need.
Regardless of where I travel or how distinct the food, culture, climate or wealth are, life’s necessities appear to be clean water, food, a dry and warm shelter and compassion. We have a tendency to focus on the cultural or apparent differences in each other while rarely appreciating intrinsic commonalities that tie us all together.
What were some favourite pieces of gear on this trip?
My favorite pieces of gear on this journey were my Aerostich Roadcrafter Jacket and Arai XD-3 helmet. Living in this jacket everyday, it is like a turtle shell, a microclimate of comfort and safety protecting me from rain, snow, sand and rocks flung up by semis or roost. After over 150,000 km, a high speed wreck, and many waterproofings, the Gore-Tex began to leak and the zipper would stick so it was finally time for a replacement. I bought the exact same model jacket. When I find something that works, I stick with it.
The Arai XD-3 helmet has been with me for five years of daily commuting and extended touring use and should be retired after this trip. It has been blasted by sand in the desert, frozen in a sheet of ice in the Arctic and stolen by a Mexican thief but is still with me after all these years. I’m convinced the bacteria and mold lurking in its liner and face shield may be scientifically valuable.
An honorable mention goes out to my 15-year-old soot-stained steel cup in which I cook nearly everything.