Epilogue: privilege, mental health, environmental stewardship - Should I Stay or Should I Go? - CycleBlaze

Epilogue: privilege, mental health, environmental stewardship

So here it is a week after the conclusion of the trip, and I'm still conflicted. Was it irresponsible to undertake this journey? The fact that there were so many others doing the same thing, or working on much longer tours, no longer assuages my conscience. We laud the use of quarantine to control the spread of previous epidemics, yet we balk when it’s our turn to do the heavy lifting. Have we as a society lost our sense of the common good? Are we spoiled to the extent that we are willing to risk our lives for the sake of temporary comfort?

I don't want to lay a guilt trip on anyone who, like us, has chosen to tour. I would hope that people adopt a spirit of minimal impact, a concept that those of us who choose to use this method of travel are already familiar with. We're just not used to applying it to people and the conveniences that all of us enjoy while on the road. This was our first tour of more than a couple of days in which we camped every night. We didn't use public or private transportation other than our own bikes. Although it wasn't intentional, it was our most eco-friendly tour by far.

To be honest, it wasn't as fun as those trips in which we met a lot of local people, took showers every day, and sampled the offerings of malt shops and diners whenever we felt hungry. But this was satisfying in its own way. We focused more on nature, the joy of self-propulsion, and our own thoughts, as we rediscovered the familiar terrain of our backyard playground. We could have done a better job by shopping less and perhaps even wild camping here and there. We’re not fond of wild camping.

Several bike tourists we encountered chose to take to the road after losing their jobs to COVID. It makes perfect sense to me: if you have some savings, why not take advantage of the time by doing something you love, that's also affordable? There were others who had planned their tours for such a long time that the momentum carried them forward almost against their own wills. We didn't fit into either category, but meeting these fellow travelers helped us to understand their situations a little better.

What I'm hoping is that this little excursion bought us the ability to carry on for a while longer. We both have strong desires to travel. This scratched our itch. Maybe I'm just reaching for excuses here, but I think it helped us to maintain both our physical and mental health.

What's done is done. It was a wonderful tour that we will remember for the rest of our lives. I look forward to more trips within the state and the region in happier, healthier times. Perhaps one of these days we'll even join those who hop on Highway 20 and stay on it until they reach Newport, then set their sights on Bar Harbor, never looking back.

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Scott AndersonThanks so much for sharing this journal with us, Kevin. I enjoyed seeing this country again and envy your experience. I biked the North Cascades Highway 40 years ago ( a month after Mount Saint Helens went up, and the eastern highways were still covered in a layer of ash) and I’ve always hoped to go again some year.

And thanks too for your honesty in sharing so eloquently your reflections on your decision to go. It’s such a difficult time, and one with no easy answers.
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4 months ago
Kathleen JonesI echo Scott's remarks regarding should you stay or should you go (an apt title). I feel about as conflicted as you though I enjoyed the journal very much.

I've chosen to stay home. Sometimes when I see others touring right now I'm really annoyed, other times not. There is no rationality to my reactions and they vary from day to day. It's mostly based on worry for them and for the communities they're traveling through. I'm glad to see though that most folks are aware of the ramifications of what they're doing, and are being respectful of themselves and others. What a crazy time.
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4 months ago