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The Bittersweet Final Push

IMG_1907On July 15, I left Washington DC with four simple goals: I wanted to swim in the Arctic Ocean, I wanted to have an amazing experience getting there, I wanted to inspire my friends and others to take risks and live life, and I wanted to raise money for a cause that’s important to me.

Today, just over a month later, I sit in Fairbanks Alaska preparing for the final grueling 500 miles up to the Arctic Ocean. I have traveled just over 7,500 miles and spent 28 of the past 32 days on my scooter, often from early morning to late at night. I’ve slept on the side of the road in a tent for all but six of those nights. I’ve seen much of the varied terrain that North America has to offer, from plains to prairies to lakes to mountains to glaciers and forests. I’ve been nearly face to face with wild bears and wolves without a cage or fence. I’ve been soaked through to my skin and shivering in pain from cold, been blistered and red from heat and wind and sun, swollen from bee and wasp stings, and bled from many random scrapes and cuts and burns. I have met an amazing amount of incredibly cool people, from the great kids in Kirkland Lake up to the wicked welder in Fairbanks. Life is so varied, and I’ve been honored to experience such a wide slice of that variance during this trip.

route

Tomorrow I will hop on Red again after a long two day break and crush those final miles to Deadhorse, up the Dalton Highway. It will likely be very cold and very wet on a muddy gravel road, and I’ve no idea if it will take me three days or six. I will have to carry enough food, water, and gas to survive potentially three days in the wilderness on one of the longest uninhabited sections of highway in the USA. I have little doubt at this point that when I get there, I will have clearly fulfilled the first three of my goals for this trip. It will have been an epic ride, and scooters everywhere will be jealous of Red.

The thing that gets me down is that I’ve completely fallen short on my final goal. It bugs me because I know why – fundraising isn’t easy, it’s something that requires a lot of effort and work and constant attention. I admit that I really hoped that if I focused on the journey, on sharing the experience, on letting good things balance out, that it would happen without that attention… and I’m a bit disappointed to realize now that this was a romantic, unrealistic idea – but then, that’s me at times.

I’m not going to give up, though. I’m going to meet my original goal. In fact, I’ve made a decision that is going to ensure I meet it:

Until we reach my original goal of raising $5000 for the American Brain Tumor Association, I am not going to stop traveling around on my scooter. Once I reach Deadhorse, I’m going to go back down the Alaska Highway to 37, take that south through Vancouver and into Washington, then head south into California and east towards home. Whether I have to ride another 8,000 miles or 50,000 miles, I’m not giving up until we meet that goal.

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