There is a chance you may never read me; or maybe, you may be an “alternate universe you” following an “alternate universe me.” You see… In 1998, I almost fled the country. No, I was not an escapee on the run from the authorities.
I was planning a bicycle tour around Europe; or at least as many countries I could see in three summer months. (I told everyone I planned on returning… Really?) I spent a long, cold winter in New England planning it out. Planning my route. All I really knew was I had no doubt.
I took the steps to obtain my passport and looked into open-ended airline tickets to Heathrow Airport in London, England. They didn’t have such a detailed website back in the day. I didn’t even have a bicycle at the time but that was a minor detail. I had plenty of loot and I had done my research, one pixel at a time served over our dial-up modem. I did learn how to and how much it would cost to pack and ship a bicycle and all the gear by airplane. I’m not sure if Rick Steves had a travel site back then but I had his book.
I chose the United Kingdom as a jumping of point with vague ideas of visiting Liverpool, something about the Beatles and growing up during the “British Invasion.”(Read this fun article from Rolling Stone Magazine online.) Maybe I just wanted to hit a pub and toss back a couple (dozen) pints of warm stout.
I really did want to travel through the Channel Tunnel (Chunnel) from Folkstowne (Kent, England),to Coquelles (Hauts-de-France, France.) at 160kmh/100mph. That was about as exciting as the world got in the 90’s. The “World Wide Web” did have a large amount of information readily available even 30 years ago. I found the prices of Eurail passes and schedules and I could bring my bicycle on board and tons of stuff I should have put in a journal years ago.
My itinerary was rather vague. My planning did extend beyond entering France at blazing speeds but now I think back and maybe I didn’t want my 4 years of high school French going to waste. I couldn’t speak much, but I sure could, “Parler Vous.”
That is how most of my travel plans begin; more of a direction than a destination. You know, France, Spain, Italy, Belgium…. Belgium? Of course Paris for the wine… Um… The Louvre, Eiffel Tower…. I even researched Hostels. I wasn’t sure how I would fit in there but I am sure I would have fit in there.
After visiting REI websites touring checklist, I found I would have been woefully unprepared for a bicycle tour. I figured, panniers, backpack, tent, sleeping bag, cooking device… Maybe some food? Hydration? A flat tire would have left me stranded and dead. (Are you reading this?) I imagine I imagined France had Perrier pumping stations and raven-haired maidens offering platters of bread and brie every 20km/12m along the county roads? It seems I would need a travel van following me with a pair of assistants for a weekend trip from reading that checklist. I was planning on months. I think part of my plan involved asking farmers if I could set up a tent in their field. Comment dites-vous? Puis-je dormir sur votre fille (If you are reading this; I did not die in that farmer’s field.)
Who am I kidding? If you’ve read my blog you know where I would end up eventually. The beach! Côte d’Azur! Maybe somewhere close but less expensive. Drinking some fashionably unfashionable, RED wine, laughing my ass off while pissing off the locals with my stupid, “Quel fromage!” jokes. (ohhhh… Mon petit beaujolais…) Later stumbling home alone at night to write, “Postcards from the Edge.” (I love you Carrie Fisher)
If you are reading this in English, you know who I am. If you are reading this in French, I don’t know who I am. (Unless you are reading a translation; then none of us really know who we are.)
Another reason you are reading this (are you reading this?) is I may have ditched my plans for a woman I was in love with the idea of being in love…
There are a million choices I could have made at a million points in my life where I would not have what I have now. I am being provided… I am being watched over…