Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose,
And nothin' ain't worth nothin' but it's free ...
Kris Kristopherson, 'Me and Bobbie McGee', 1973
I met a lot of people on the bus. During my trip to Alaska in the Summer of '88 I had met a passenger that I really liked. She had just moved out from Chicago to San Francisco and we ended up spending a lot of time together during the trip. I saw her off and on over the next couple of months, and we'd often get together while I was between trips. She was fun to hang out with and her life was busy as she adjusted to a new city, so she was fine with the casual nature of a relationship with a bus driver. Of course, the longer we stayed together the more serious we got. The more serious we became about our relationship the more difficult it became to have a job where I was traveling most of the time.
The Sometime Partner
Since I was staying at her house whenever I wasn't driving I eventually got rid of the room I'd been renting in San Francisco. It just made more sense than having me spend rent money on a place I never slept. It was a 'temporary' arrangement while we figured out where our relationship was going, but I could see that I was coming to a point where I would need to make a decision I did not want to lead anyone along.
Around this time I drove north to Seattle, then took a charter group of Seattle high schoolers down to Ashland, Oregon to attend the Shakespeare Festival. Since I would be driving the trip alone I decided that Ashland was a good place to sit down with enough cups of coffee to make a decision.
Go Big or Go Home
I had been all over the US at this point and was beginning to think about the future. The Tortoise had been a great vehicle for travel, but I was becoming impatient for what was next. One avenue that I had discussed with many travelers was going around the world. I had marketable skills that I could use to work my way along. I had an understanding of how to move through different cultures and integrate myself. I had a book full of addresses in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Asia. I clearly saw a path laid out where I could travel from continent to continent, meeting new people and finding work along the way.
I had everything I needed to make it a reality, but the one thing I did not have was the desire to go. I had been on the road for more than 2 years since leaving Portsmouth and I was tired. I was tired of not having a home and tired of constantly being on the move.
Looking for the End of the Road
I had got what I'd wanted. I had wanted to travel, but I didn't want to spend my whole life on the road. I had someone that I wanted to settle down with and I had a place that I could do that. I was growing to resent the life of travel that I had craved for so long and look longingly at a life where people and things stayed in one place. Looking back it seems odd to say that I burned out on travel after not quite 3 years of it, but as someone who likes a sense of place and being part of a community this was a long time for me to live so disconnected a life. Where it took something of a leap to step outside the mainstream and onto The Road now it would take a leap to step off The Road and back into society.
I decided that I wanted to leave The Road and climb a different mountain. I wanted to build a life with someone in a single place. In the late fall of 1989, feeling partly relieved and partly sorry, I decided to give up my role in 'The Only Trip of It's Kind'. I had no idea exactly how I was going to make that happen, but I knew that I no longer wanted to wander.
My life On The Road was coming to an end.