It was both a goodbye and hello.  Goodbye to the people I knew and my home.  Hello to people I had yet to meet and to the rest of the world.

In some ways I’m not sure which day my travels started.  It might have been the day that I left my family’s home in northern Wisconsin.  It was a nice fall day and I sat on the lakeshore with my Mom.  At one point, I told her that I would be leaving in five minutes.  It ended up being a few hours before I left, as it was so pleasant to sit next to the waters.  I won’t forget the look on her face as I drove away.  The next stop was to see my Grandpa for a few days.  He was 89 years old and realistically speaking, there was a good possibility that I wouldn’t see him again. 

I was taking off on a trip around the world.  I knew that it would last for at least 18 months, possibly longer.  Whatever the length, I was going to be gone for a long time.  I had a mountain bike race after seeing my Grandpa.  When I race in the cooler weather, I wear a pair of penguin tights.  The crowds were cheering me on, “Go Penguin!  Go Penguin!”  Racing was another thing that was going to be missed.  The following day my mountain bike was going into storage.  I had to ride at least one more time and went for a ride on a 20-km. trail.  It was a perfect autumn day and the perfect autumn ride.  I flew up the hills and took every curve perfectly.  I rode better than I had the entire year.  It felt so good I took a second lap, then a third, and then a fourth.  It was getting dark and I knew that it was time to say goodbye to riding too.  In some ways that felt like the day my travels started.

Goodbye, For Now.People were asking me, “18 months around the world, aren’t you excited?”  I would tell them “No, not really.”  There are few things that I enjoy more than travelling, but I was pretty ho-hum about it.  I really didn’t know why and honestly didn’t care.  I’m going to be travelling and that is that.  Perhaps there is plenty of time to be excited later on.  I really felt like I was going to miss riding more than I wanted to travel.  I had some plans on what I would be doing on the trip.  I had a plane ticket to Australia with stops in the U.S., Fiji, and New Zealand.  I had some ideas that I would go to Papua-New Guinea and spend some time in the Himalayas.  I really didn’t know.  I would just have to see how things went and how I felt and there wasn't much in the way of a schedule.  The best way to travel is to throw plans to the winds of time and let them flutter back down to Earth wherever they may.

However they worked out, on October 21st, I met my parents at my brother’s home and we all went to the airport.  My brother told me he would come to airport as long as it would only be, “Hey, see you later.  Send me a postcard.  Have Fun” sort of thing.  “No hugging” he said.  We both agreed on this point.  My parents weren’t of the same attitude, but they didn’t make too much of a scene.  I started to feel a bit more enthusiasm at the airport, but was still pretty subdued about it all.  I said goodbye to my family and boarded the airplane.  I was finally off…