Gelibolu, Turkey - June 13, 2010
Well, I've made the decision to abandon the round-the-world goal... for this year at least. Maybe I'll feel differently later and will be back again. Lots of reasons but the biggest is that I am just not mentally up to it this year. Don't know why. It's just not my year for this. It's probably a good decision on a number of fronts... weather (although it's beautiful today), visa problems and delays, pending civil war in Kyrgyzstan (right on my route), increased tensions between North and south Korea risking the closure of the ferry crossing to get my bike out of Russia, some bike problems, blah, blah, blah. But when it comes down to it, and I hate to say it, it's as simple as being homesick. Never considered it to be an issue before I left. I've done lots of solo travel before for periods of time longer than this and assumed that I would once again enjoy the solitude. It's just different this year. Don't even know when it started to set in. The weather through Europe didn't help with my enthusiasm level but it really hit me after Diane went home from Istanbul. I just don't feel mentally fit to take on the physical challenges and to deal with the frustrations, deprivations and aggravations that pressing on all the way to the Pacific would entail. Not now at least.
So I've had to seriously rethink what to do. Basically I see four options:
1) I can suck it up, continue on as planned and likely crash out for one of any number of reasons somewhere enroute where neither I nor the bike can be extracted very easily.
2) I could take a somewhat logistically and physically less demanding all-Russia route bypassing the more difficult yet more interesting and beautiful places like Mongolia;
3) I could take advantage of having my bike on this side of the Atlantic (or Pacific as it were), spend more time in Turkey (actually one of the original goals) and go back and do a lot of the things I missed in Europe the first time through, or
4) I could cut my losses and go home.
Option 1), continuing on, is stupid, option 2) the All-Russia route does not really hold a great deal of appeal to me... never did..., option 4) going home, will really seem like a bad idea after I'm home for about three days. So that leaves option 3. While option 3 doesn't directly address the homesickness issue, it does allow me to take better care of myself while at the same time, allow me to visit an incredible array of beautiful places. And that's not too bad!
So option 3 it is. I'm now headed down along the Aegean coast of Turkey, down to see the ancient library at Pergamon and down to Ephesus, one of the best preserved Roman cities around, Then I'll probably travel along the Mediterranean coast before turning inland to visit Cappadocia, an ancient city complex carved into the hillsides. Then from there, I don't know. I'd like to visit Russia and have a chance to use what (little) Russian I know more than I have up till now, but to enter Russia via ferry from Turkey means staying in Russia all the way up to northern Europe, exiting at the level of Lithuania or Latvia or Estonia. That's pretty far north and well away from some of the places I would like to see in southern Europe. So my route out of Turkey is still not decided... north into Russia, or west into Greece. Dunno. Both are nice.
So I always knew that I would have to be flexible and the route might need to be adjusted a bit. It already was even before I got to Istanbul! Also, I knew that there would be any number of obstacles and hurdles to face that might in fact be goal-killers. But I never thought that my head or heart would be one of them! But maybe that's the lesson to be learned this year. That my heart is in a much different place than it was in even the recent past. And I guess that's good in a way. Very, very good.
But it's not all fun and games yet. I lost a sidecase off the bike today while doing 60 mph down the road. Luckily it was the right side one and so went skidding off the road into a ditch and not into an oncoming car. It did take me a while to find, but it and the contents are pretty unscathed. I had a safety strap on it, but apparently when the bag came off the mount, the safety strap contacted the muffler and melted through. And with the heat now, it will be difficult riding... and one shock has already failed and has had to be rebuilt.
So to further complicate things, Little EEE all of a sudden has started to refuse to display Google Maps. Even going back to defaults. So I can't see my map to update it. It is just Spots from now on until I can get this sorted out. I think EEE's pissed. I keep him in a neoprene case... like a scuba diver's wetsuit... but I don't think he likes going deep sea diving like he has been doing so often on this trip.