After a couple of days in San Diego where I replaced a few items that were either worn out or now 3 sizes too big for me (who’d have thought eating Nutella out of the jar could possibly result in weight loss!!!) my final day had arrived: my parents had landed in San Diego. I had been under strict instructions from my Mum that should I reach the city before them I was not, under any ciurmstances, to actually “arrive” at the pacific until they were stood waiting to greet me! As such, I had had to wander around town and get my jobs done whilst insuring I did not catch even the slightest glimpse of the ocean!
Packing up and pushing my bike out of the hostel to pedal the final 10 miles to Ocean Beach I couldn’t really believe it and I can’t begin to describe how I felt. Excited, nervous, impatient, restless, apprehensive, proud, confident. I felt continually on the verge of sobbing which is how I feel when watching “Up” but with no balloon house, talking dog or grape soda badge to blame I had only the long road behind me and the much shorter one in front.
Puffing up the final few hills towards the beach I finally rounded a corner to a horizon of blue, I was less than a mile from the sea! Now incredibly excited and impatient to see Mum and Dad I discovered my final road had more stop signs along it than every other street in America combined and every 20m I had to screech to a halt in order to give way to the non-existent cars coming from the other direction! I just wanted to get there!!
Eventually I spotted the little figures of Mum and Dad and a few moments later I was breaking through my very own “finish line” sign whilst trying to avoid getting stabbed by the staples that Mum had used to join it together!! I had made it!
… and if all this wasn’t excitement enough I had a further surprise in store…
(Sorry this video is so big by the way – I don’t know how to make it smaller!!)
Lovely little Alex jumped out from behind a rock and, as you saw, my poor little bike was abruptly cast aside! Sorry about that little blue bike!
After my cup of bubbles I headed down to the sea for a ceremonious swim which very quickly turned into a ceremonious paddle when I felt quite how cold the water was! Yet having dipped my toes in the Atlantic I had no choice but to brave the waves, at least for a moment, in the Pacific!
Stood, arm in arm with my little sister in the cold surf on the west coast of America I couldn’t keep the grin off my face. I’d not been in the sea since St. Augustine and now I’d crossed a country, under my own steam, with my lovely little blue bike.
Thinking back over the previous few months I felt incredibly lucky. I had met some outstanding people and had some amazing experiences. Undoubtedly America has its problems some of which if I’m honest I find to be rather depressing; the unfaltering belief that the American way is the only way, a totally absurd reliance on ridiculously sized automobiles, the soul destroying mentally of suing anyone for anything and all too often being “out for what you can get”. However, America is also a country of incredible beauty. It’s exciting, interesting, seemingly unlimited in it’s variety and full to the brim of the nicest people I have ever had the good fortune of meeting. Goodness me if we grumpy Brits could pinch an ounce of American cheer Britain would be a much more pleasant place!
America, or at least what I have seen of it so far, is what it is and as long as you can make your peace with some of its more questionable characteristics it is a fascinating and delightful place and I can honestly say I loved it! After all, let’s not pretend that anywhere in this world is perfect.
When therefore, people ask what I thought of my ride across America I have one simple thing to say… in the words of everyone’s favourite four legged sidekick…