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The end of the road . . . for now. January 18, 2010

Posted by marcusbest in Uncategorized.

It was cold and dark when I arrived home at last. The small New Mexican town I live in was quiet; the smell of burning piñon wood filled the night and Christmas lights blinked silently. I pulled into my gravel driveway as if I was simply returning from running errands in town, as if the last sixteen months never happened. The dogs lazily greeted me, wet nosed and with tails wagging, as they always do. My roommate of 9 years was there to welcome me home, and we sat on the porch and shared a toast of some Brazilian liquor with an unpronounceable name given to him by a friend. The next morning I woke up in my own bed, I brushed my teeth with my electric toothbrush, made a pot of coffee, and realized that I would do the same the next day, and the day after that. I wouldn’t be putting on my helmet, wouldn’t be saying goodbye to anyone. I wouldn’t be turning down dirt roads looking for a flat place to pitch a tent. I was home at last. And as if to reinforce the idea that I’d be going nowhere anytime soon, one of the dogs chewed my ThermaRest to shreds.

I still haven’t unpacked from the trip. My aluminum sidecases are still neatly packed with all that was absolutely necessary. Each item earned it’s right to be carried so far, and whatever I didn’t need was discarded, sent home, or given away long ago. Now Jesse and all that she carried sits behind my house beneath six inches of snow. It seems odd how easy it has been to abandon all that was so familiar over the last sixteen months, the small routines that outlined each day, the smell of the gloves, the wind and the feel of the road. Though I often felt like I could keep traveling forever, some part of me was ready to be still, to step back and appreciate where I’ve been and where I am now.

I don’t have any grand revelations to report. No one insight into human nature that flip-flopped my world view, no cathartic experience that changed my life. But I did have a thousand tiny revelations, a thousand insights into human nature, some almost imperceptible, and it may take years for me to express what I’ve learned and determine how my experiences have changed me. I like to think that all the places I’ve been, the friends I’ve made, the people I’ve smiled at or waved to are all a part of me now, and I in some small way a part of them.

It’s daunting to think of all the people to whom I owe thanks for the success of this trip. I must start with Mike and my New Mexico family for supporting and encouraging me completely, for “holding down the fort” in my absence, and Mike, for taking care of so many details that made the trip go so smoothly (wire transfers, for example). To my parents and brothers and sister for their constant support, for allowing and encouraging me, both as a child and now, to explore and test my own limits.

Thanks to Bruce for all his help in preparing Jesse, for donating time and parts and refusing payment for any of it, and to Lloyd at Archuleta’s Machine Shop for the use of all the equipment. Thank you Jonah at Taos Mountain Outfitters for the sponsorship and support. Thanks to Robert at Bavarian Motorcycle Works in Grand Junction for housing me, feeding me, and solving a host of mechanical problems right at the start of the trip. Thanks to Altus and Brian at the G/S workshop in Cape Town for the advice and the help putting Jesse back together again. And to Mat and all the guys at BMW Boxer Toko in Holland for all your knowledge, help and hospitality. To Axel and Christina for organizing a nightmare of a parts shipment from Germany to Kyrgyzstan and then treating me like family during my time in Bavaria. To all the other adventurers whom I met along the way, some of them still on the road, who let me know that I wasn’t alone but part of a community: Grant Johnson, Greg Frazier, Kamil, Betzgi, Yiri, the Cooks, Demian, Eddie C., Alymkan, Tim, Davor, Dennis, Carl-Heinz, Jurgen, George Pink, Martin Munch, Billy and Trish, Micha and family, Mike and Masa, and Kamil and Iza for a great 2 weeks together. A huge thank you to Sammie, Darrell, and Sue in Cairo, not only for all the help with Jesse, but also for the excellent home cooked meals and for welcoming me into your home. Thank you, Laura, for the unforgettable time in Egypt. Thanks again to all the CouchSurfers who hosted me along the way, especially Greg and Delia and Catherine, who hosted me for around 2 weeks each. Some of my most memorable experiences were with CouchSurfers. Also thanks for the great Italian hospitality in Zambia, Simo and sons, and the American hospitality in Malawi, Paul and family. Thanks to the group of BMW riders who showed me genuine South African hospitality and a great time. Thanks to my European friends who showed me a Europe that I would never have seen otherwise: Magali, Catherine, Axel and Christina, Dennis, Elias and family, Rolph, Mat, Sijr, Bram and Barbara, Micha and Family, and Kate. Also to my New Mexico family for the much needed R&R in Rome and Viterbo.

Thanks also to members of ADVRider.com and HorizonsUnlimited.com who answered so many of my questions on so many subjects and offered support and encouragement all along the way. Thanks to the founders of ADVrider and Grant and Susan Johnson for providing such useful forums.

Thanks to all my friends back home for inspiration, support, and assistance in so many different ways. Also, thanks to Susan at CAA and Jerry Vestal for sorting out my taxes. And thanks to anyone who buys my photos to help pay for this trip and those to come.

I think of the hundreds of strangers who went out of their way to welcome me into their homes, to feed me, to give me directions or fuel, and I distinctly remember feeling like I was living off of the kindness of strangers and that I would be lost and hopeless without the consistent generosity shown to me throughout the world. So thank you to all of you who’s names I’ve forgotten or never knew.

And at last, thanks for being my audience, for listening to my stories and sharing my experience. For those of you in Taos, I’m planning a slideshow and photography exhibit within the next few months, and for those of you not in Taos, I’m working on getting my photos from the trip available on line, and soon you can buy them and others at MarcusBest.com

Until next time,


1. Rebecca (Vestal) Augustine - January 20, 2010

Hey Marcus. Glad you are back safely at home. My family loved reading your blog while you were gone. Your pictures are amazing. You are so lucky to be able to travel all over the world. I’m glad we got the chance to see the world through your pictures! Emma, who is now 8, was especially enamored with your photos. Can’t wait until you post the slide show.

2. Chris Woods - February 4, 2010

Good luck with the Exhibition. Cheers

3. Julie and Craig - February 7, 2010

We appreciate your ability to share you trip with us all. We’re able to live your adventure vicariously through your artistic images and writings. Thank you.

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