I heard “Darien Gap” mentioned a lot in the news yesterday. That’s the name given to a trackless and inhospitable region between Colombia and Panama, the reason for a 66-mile break in the otherwise contiguous Pan-American Highway. It’s making headlines because it’s part of the perilous route followed by migrants — most of them Haitians — invading the U.S. at our now-wide-open border with Mexico.
When I hear “Darien Gap” I immediately think of guys like Ed Culberson and Helge Pedersen, both of whom are known for crossing The Gap by motorcycle. Culberson passed away 15 years ago from ALS but Pedersen, who’s about my age, is still around, still riding, still touring.
I found a recent interview with Pedersen in which he reminisces about the journey that spawned his book, 10 Years on 2 Wheels (250,000 miles between 1982 and 1992). A couple of things he said stood out.
First, when on an adventure, the most valuable currency you can have is time.
And second, the key to getting the most out of a trip is to travel slowly.
If that stuff sounds familiar, maybe it’s because you’ve read something similar here on Ubi Libertas Blog. Deb and I haven’t consciously modeled Pedersen — we’re simply doing what works for us. We’ve discovered that there’s wisdom in slowing down and spending time.
Now look at what Helge Pedersen suggests in the context of Robert Pirsig’s observations: “You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion”; and “It’s the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top.”
On our best days, that’s what Deb and I do — on this journey and in our lives.
Everything today went according to plan. We covered the ground we expected to cover in near-perfect conditions. We stopped twice for diesel and once, briefly, at an improvised turnout just off our route.
We enjoyed every single mile, but honestly we barely outraced ten weeks’ accumulated fatigue to our destination.
I’m glad to report that I’m posting this evening from The Ozarks — our long run back to northern Arkansas is done.
We’re settled at our favorite campground. We’re among friends, surrounded by like minds. From the moment we rolled out of here on August 1st until we shut the big diesel down this afternoon, we’ve had the time of our lives — but this is a special day, one that Deb and I have been looking forward to.
The overwhelming feeling now is peace. We’re at Home again.
It’s good to be back.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.