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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

This is over but It's never over (I've decided)

Our group rode into Seattle, our final destination of this 2.5 month transamerican journey, on a day fluctuating between spitting rain and sunshine. The 31 of us, who had pushed through relentless Nebraskan headwinds, muscle-draining mountain passes, and 70 mornings of rolling up our thermarests to again head Westward, dove into the cold, salty water of Puget Sound at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, August 10th.

Though this is my second time riding across the country, the end of this trip in particular has been a more impacting event upon me. Maybe it's because I'm a year older (22), or because we landed in a big, vibrant city in the Pacific Northwest (reality check, I'll soon be living out here), but probably because I am now done with college, unbound and on my own accord.

I can't begin to describe the highs that come with traveling the country, by bicycle, with 30 other friends. Adventures everyday. Stories 4 ever. And so I really shouldn't be surprised that the end of this year's trip has hit me hard again. All of a sudden, the presence of all these loved friends and co-riders, people I've shared every waking moment of the summer with- biking, eating, living, exploring, even showering- has vanished. To literally leave it all as I closed the car door and drove off was an evaporation of what I've known for the past two months. It's tough to process such an immediate and simultaneous loss, but I've stayed in a good mental state by keeping active and spending plenty of time outside. Plus, I already have plans to visit a bunch of riders in the next month, which I'm committed to keep up.

In reference to the title of this post- I've realized I love traveling and exploring so incredibly much. I have no issue with indefinitely sleeping in thermarests, camping, and going out on the road (so long as I have a laptop). It's a proposition that excites me, especially for photographic purposes. For me, there is no better place to shoot than out on the backroads of America, being in touch with what is still authentic and personal, away from yuppie bubbles and corporate slaughter (harsh). But traveling on this trail makes for great photographic opportunity and experience. So yes, this trip is over, but it doesn't mean the lifestyle I love most has to be. Such a deceivingly simple, but empowering concept. Ahhhh, youth and idealism.

I hope you're still with me. So this is my plan for the next very busy and ambitious month: Spend time in Portland, fly back to NYC, scan the 50 4x5's and 17 rolls of 35mm I shot, process the scanned images as quick as I can, develop a portfolio, send out some targeted PDF books, then pitch a story that I don't want to open the lid on yet, but that involves a cross-country motorcycle trip infused with hitchikers, gas stations, National Forests, retired RV'ers, and campground stays. It'll document a very interesting American subculture that could be definitely covered from a novel angle. And of the .2% off chance you have the time and a bike, I could use the company.

So, in the coming month(s) this blog will serve as a posting area for scanned film images as they come in and other news tidbits. Then, will become a reincarnation of this blog's original puspose, as I document another exciting trip across the country.

Photos from Seattle :

Seattle skyline in the afternoon

About to get to the beach in West Seattle. Emily, Hana, and Jake. Just toss it in.

We waited a mile before the end of route to collect everyone, so we could ride in as one big group.

Inside joke, part 1 of 2. Willa and Jake.

Immediate ditching of bikes and running into the Puget Sound.
(Photo by Ivan Stangel)

The crowd, including onlookers wondering why 31 bikers randomly seemed to stop and dive into 60 degree water.
(Photo by Ivan Stangel)

Me and Shira, post swim. Shira and I rode together on last year's ride from VA to OR as well. BFFs.
(Photo by Ivan Stangel)

The four of us fearless leaders. About to cheers to friendship, literally. Joe, myself, Shira, and Marita (L to R).
(Photo by Ivan Stangel)

A month of sugary Gatorade spillage turned mildew on my bike.

My packed bags. Check out that sweet tan 70's era, leather Samsonite suitcase. Bought it for a dollar in a thrift store in Wilber, WA. If there were ever a case for HDR, it'd be this.

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