This has been the most difficult story to write. It took the whole day and I’ve been taking walks and watching bunny’s, did some meditation and cleaned the pond in between. My feelings were very intense the last week. I’ve been confused, emotional and sad. My traveling will soon be finished but I fell in love with it. Mother Nature, the universe, creation has inspired and captured me.
While I’m eating a Dutch speculaas koekje I’m thinking about the last week; my return trip from California to Pennsylvania. Monday I’ll fly to Iceland to travel for six days with my high school friend Evelien and then we’ll fly back to Amsterdam. There my family will pick me up from Schiphol airport where we said goodbye 370 days ago. It’s just a long holiday I said that day. Well… it has become a lot more than that.
Last week Saturday, after my visit to the Sierra Buttes, I left Gary’s beautiful place Taylorsville in California. (The beaver and dear pictures are his, and the crashed airplane… the two pilots were ok.) I decided to stop at Wendover in western Utah because Salt Lake City would be just a little bit too far. I thought there would be nothing interesting in Wendover but 10 minutes after I arrived my couchsurfing host Johny from Slovakia showed that the Bonneville Salt Flats were there! Imagine a classroom filled with a white dry salty floor and being an small mouse standing at the entrance of the room. And then add some mountains in the back and imagine that it’s very windy. It’s a unique, unusual part of nature that you can only understand if you’ve been there. The size of the place just doesn’t fit in any picture.
Just like one day later, when I went to my second stop for my return trip; Moab. After enjoying the sunset at the double arches – in the Arches National Park – we drove on a long and very bumpy dirt road to the edge of a canyon in the middle of the desert and slept under the desert stars. For a moment I thought about sailboat Taya. At the middle of the ocean I had the same ‘awe’ feeling. When we woke up at sunrise I was even more impressed with another overwhelming great view. Some truly mesmeric memories that I will never forget. Impossible to put in a frame. Maybe I should’ve been a cowboy? Enjoying campfires, country songs, sleeping out all night beneath the desert stars and don’t worry about politics or solving the world’s problems.
After this experience it became even harder to leave and I knew I only had a couple days riding left and would soon be on my way back to the Netherlands.
After Moab Utah I accidentally ended up on a two hour dirt road. In the evening I had a couchsurfing bed in Glenwood Springs Colorado. The host, Ben, was not even there but he still let me use his house, bed and a nice shower. Tuesday I couldn’t get a couchsurfing place but found Campsite #9 at the George Latham Trail in Berryton Kansas where I hang my hammock in between two trees and felt asleep while watching shooting stars and fireflies. Wednesday I left at sunrise and found a breakfast place next to the highway. The owner Virginia was very exited to hear my story and wanted to tell her 16 year old daughter all about it.
After my scrambled eggs and about four refills of coffee, I went from Kansas through Missouri and Illinois to make a last stop at a campground in Indiana. There I could use an outside bed of Sonja. After a ten minute conversation we found out we are both Dutch! She lives in America for 22 years and I guess my American accent has evolved a little. The next morning I woke up with a harmony of chirping and singing bird sounds. I left the campground at sunrise and had breakfast in Ohio so I actually did five states in less than 24 hours! After that I was just lost in my own thought on my motorcycle. I took the fast route back so that I could be in time to see Katy, Alan and Nathaniel before they would leave today.
The ride home actually felt like coming home. Coming towards Shippensburg Pennsylvania the nature becomes more like we have in Europe. The green fields made me think about Groningen. That’s the Provence where I was born, in north-east of the Netherlands. Empty green fields and farmers land with some tree lines around the edges. Even the smell of spring made me feel like I was back home already. Maybe this was how it should be?
When I took exit 189 from the Pensylvania Turnpike toll highway and went on 75 South I had to take a left-turn to Shippensburg. But I enjoyed the windy road on the countryside so much that I missed it and had to ride 40 minutes back!
Here I was almost home. Shippensburg, Katy and Alan and the family, Boba (the dog), the other nice people from Shippensburg and this house feels a little like home. I kind a missed that stupid dog, is what Alan would say. 🙂
Soon I will be back home. But is that still my home? Do I look forward to go back? This is one of my biggest questions at the moment. The question that everyone wants to know and actually I’m not sure about the answer. Am I actually going home? I was trying to figure that out….
Home is where the heart is they say. But where is my heart?
Two weeks ago I wrote about my conversations with Gary in Taylorsville about all the things I discovered about what I want. Where my heart is. But I forgot something very important.
The things that I wrote down are things that are important to me but there’s a but…
If I would be old and I would look back at my life. If I would have accomplished all the things that I wanted: traveling the world, writing a book, share stories about this beautiful world and all the nice people on it, making music, trying to make the world a better place, having a restaurant with a restaurant dog etc. I would probably look back and be happy with all the experiences and things I’ve accomplished. But… I would have done it alone. All by myself. Me myself and I. Just me. Solo.
As most people know that I’m very happy alone. But to keep on doing all of this alone is eventually not what I want. That’s why it’s important to figure out with who I want to share my heart, my stories and especially my future.
I do hope to share all of these things someday with someone. How great would it be to get old and still travel together, find deserts to sleep in, sail across oceans, try to make the world a better place, write books, share stories, sing songs, live close to nature and share the most beautiful moments with someone who appreciates the same things as much as I do?
With my mind I made a decision when I started traveling that I would come back to the Netherlands to live close to my family because that’s what the happiness studies have shown to make people happy. At the same time I’ve had a feeling somewhere inside that I would one day leave the Netherlands to be with someone that I love. Facts, thoughts and feelings mixed into a great messy thing. I’m confused. Being confused always make me focus about what eventually the best thing to do is. And my answer is again and again… Trust your own future and follow your heart. Because home is where our heart is and everything will be ok. If it comes it comes and if not… well. I’m an aunt for ten times and have the best family and friends in the world so I would never be unhappy.
Traveling did help me understanding more about what I want to find in a partner. I became my own best friend and started to advice myself. I deserve the best. I deserve someone to share fun and adventures with. Someone who is world wise with traveler characteristics. Someone who’s adventures, a little crazy, curious, welcome to change, likes self-reflection, experienced different peoples and cultures, likes to push himself out of his comfort zone, is observant, has a knife and a water bottle, knows how to make a fire, prefers sleeping outside under the stars instead of booking a hotel, likes to go to places without cellphone reception, likes to go swimming in seas, lakes and rivers, is grateful, loves healthy food and outdoor activities, adapts easy and knows how to appreciate the ‘basics’ like food, a hot shower and – very important – family. And maybe we can together try to help others understand the world better by sharing our stories of adventure, kindness, the beauty of mother nature and love.
Where do I find someone like this? Out there: at sea, mountains, deserts, sunrises, sunsets, starry nights, shooting stars and fireflies. I asked someone where he got his travel character from. The drive, fire and passion. Maybe his parents were travelers. But no… He didn’t learn this from anyone. Then he asked me if I learned this from anyone, but honestly…. We believe it comes from inside. It’s just there. And if you stay close to who you are I think you’ll find it too. In your own way.
I tried not to make this too cheesy and it’s weird to write about this but it’s part of me today. It’s my story. And I like to share this with my family and ‘new family around the world’. Traveling is about going, expecting and finding. Not to speculate how things may be, but to figure out the truth about how things really are. Take the next step with faith, even though it can be scary, insecure or outside your comfort zone. And sometimes the next step is no step at all.
I think this might be The Beginning of a next chapter. Or another book.
Oh, and here something I came up with that I don’t want to keep from you:
I created a new ‘week’ for myself:
Monday = Productive day: Watch the sunrise, work hard and start the week great
Tuesday = Creative day: Teach, learn and create
Wednesday = Kindness day: Be kind, care, help, give compliments, share happiness
Thursday = Healthy day: be active, eat healthful food, be in nature, meditate
Friday = Play day: party, smile, act crazy and play
Saturday = Adventure day: Find adventure, get lost, go out and discover something new
Sunday = Nature & Family day: Nature walks, meditation, (new) family and good conversations