Amongst  the  Baggage
This sticker was on the side window of one of the Tortoise busses. Aside from being the line of a Grateful Dead song, this also always summed up the feeling of a really good trip.

The Road is Not Forever

One sunny morning in the early summer of 1990 I was enjoying a Spring day in Seattle, having just moved there after several years spent driving busses around the continent for an alternative travel company based in San Francisco.

I was sitting alone at my dining room table enjoying a cup of tea and looking out the window. It was the kind of day that made me want to head back out on the road; perfect blue sky, warm sun and a gentle breeze coming through the open window. As I sat staring out the window I dreamed about what I always dreamt about at that time — what I'd be doing if I was still driving The Green Tortoise. I thought of myself behind the wheel of a classic motor coach full of international travelers ... I imagined us rolling through the beautiful countryside ... I imagined us stopping for a meal ... I imagined all the work that was involved ... I imagined the way I used to feel when I was out on the road: tired, haggard, and rootless ... I remembered the many odd moments that I used to look up from whatever beautiful place I was visiting and dream ... I would dream of a room ... a room with a door that closed ... a mug of tea and some peace and quiet ... a bed that didn't move ... waking up right where I went to sleep ... faces that didn't change every two weeks...

... it suddenly dawned on me that the very thing that I used to wish for out on the road was right where I was right at that moment.

From that day onward I stopped dreaming about traveling so much. I had always known that I would not travel forever. I had lived my time on the road. I had done exactly what I had set out to do. I had learned what I needed to learn. Now it was time to settle down.

"What You Are Looking For Is What Is Looking"

This saying from my days in Portsmouth now made perfect sense. I didn't actually find anything out there on the road. There's a lot of empty space. There are other people moving from one place to another. There are many choices and many destinations. Somewhere in that empty space you come to a new understanding of yourself. Like Dorothy discovered in The Wizard of Oz, everything I needed was with me all along, but I had to learn to distinguish what was inside me from what was outside me. Even if someone could have told me it was there — and they did — hearing about it and experiencing it first hand are two different things. I was certainly different for having spent time traveling but it was time to move on.

Looking Back at Life on the Road

Looking back on it now, I am amazed to think that I used to sleep in the back of a bus; that I used to wake up and have to figure out not only which bus I was in but also which state; that I used to drive and cook for 40 people and not think that was strange. From my current existence my life on the road seems like another life altogether.

I sometimes drive past certain spots in Seattle where I used to park the bus and say to myself, "I used to sleep in a bus right there".

It doesn't seem real — but it was great.