Part 1 of a 3-part series.
Back to Reality
Okay. I admit it. Debbie and I have been flat-lining ever since returning from TheHopeLine Tour of 2014. How does one sum up, let alone move on from, a 4,344-mile bicycle tour to beat all? Months of unopened mail, a deferred book launch, and easing back into sedentary daily life after our high-energy routine have translated our hyperactive motion into a feeling of being frozen in time, still locked within the memories and the grandiose scenes that delighted us this summer.
Surreal photos on our living room’s digital picture frame punctuate an experience that is difficult to put into words, even for its protagonists.
– There’s one of those pictures just now: Debbie and her bicycle dropping into a mystifying, yet magnificent, stretch of the Wyoming terrain, which has graciously allowed us to become part of the scene.
– There she is overlooking South Dakota’s mysterious badlands, awestruck by another of our country’s unusual physical features.
– Another magical moment pops up: Debbie climbing White Bird Hill in Idaho, with its adjacent and plunging canyon in the background, reminding us of our wind-buffeted ride to the top. The word “Hill,” as it is applied here, mind you, is the worst of misnomers. We’ll not see a hill like this for quite some time, if ever again.
– And–oh no–another splendid, foliage-filled frame of Debbie cycling US Route 6 in Pennsylvania, heading toward an unpredictable ending unbefitting of a gallant road warrior like Debbie. Regardless, adventure never looked so good.
As I ponder post trip thoughts, two of our trip’s attributes come to mind. The first is intense. When you combine the daily rigors of a long-distance bicycle tour and a fundraiser, with its substantial social media content, you often finding yourself burning the candle at both ends. Debbie and I found our candles’ wicks were often aglow late into the night and shrinking from use during the day as we pedaled east toward cooler autumn temperatures. Nevertheless, the mercury in our fundraising thermometer continued to rise.
And the second attribute? The exact wording still eludes me, but here are some candidates: amazing, awe inspiring, life changing, moving. However it is described, deep emotion and overwhelming blessing must preside regarding this tour. It spoke to the heart…and it still does. As experts who describe the potential point value of gymnastic routines might say, we went “big.” Real big! And the post-event scores and emotion reflect that.
The experience was fantastic; the challenge, monumental; the blessing, Montana-sized. We basked in the freedom of the open road, soaked in some beautiful countryside, raised some needed funds and awareness for TheHopeLine, and grew closer together. Falling just short of our intended destination at tour’s end did little to dampen our spirits or take away from what we had already experienced. In fact, the unanticipated finale forever branded our journey as one filled with God moments, thanks to our heaven-sent rescuers.
I miss the open road, traveling to parts unknown, being wowed by the beauty of America, connecting with people about TheHopeLine, and doing it together with Debbie. In fact, it feels like we’re still in grieving around here. Our larger than life experience has forever changed our perspective. There’s a big world out there. Being a part of it for three and a half months has simply whetted the appetite for more. Whatever form that may take, you can count me in.
For Part 2 of Tim’s post trip thoughts, in which he talks about the route and the touring high points, click here.
If you have not yet pledged support to TheHopeLine as part of TheHopeLine Tour of 2014, it’s not too late! What’s more, a generous donor of TheHopeLine has agreed to match your contribution dollar for dollar from now until the end of 2014. Won’t you please help raise the fundraising thermometer higher while making a lasting difference in the lives of young people in crisis? To pledge support right now, click here. If you would like to learn more about why TheHopeLine is worthy of your support, please read our case for support page.