We've cycled into Seattle and our great two-wheeled trans-America adventure is over, 4 months and 4200 miles after leaving Boston. We've crossed nine states and a bit of Canada, hauled ourselves over three mountain ranges, had 15 punctures (all Graham's) and far too many McDonalds! We've cycled from spring, through summer and into fall. When we left Boston the goslings by the trail were cute, fluffy, little things and now they've joined the skeins of geese that cross the skies above us on their own trans-America migration.
Seattle is a beautiful city with hundreds of bike trails, green parks and waterfronts, views to snow-covered Mount Rainier and an iconic skyline, topped off by the famous Space Needle. It's not an exaggeration to say cycling here from Boston has been one of the richest experiences of my life and yet, apart from Niagara Falls, we didn't visit anywhere famous! What I loved about our journey was that we cycled a line from Boston to Seattle and enjoyed whatever came our way. We discovered that the bits in between are much more interesting.
We discovered the real America in the small towns, the plains, the mountains and the wonderful people that we met along the way. I'm sad it's all over - I could turn around and do it all again -but I'm proud, and a little bit smug, that we took on the challenges of distance, terrain and climate to cycle across a continent.
We're always being asked what's been the highlight of the trip and I always say it's been the wonderful people that we've met along the way - strangers who've put us up in their homes, let us pitch our tents in their yard and fed us dinner; all the people who stopped by the road or in the park or grocery store to chat and wish us well; new friends who took time out of their lives to ensure we had a good time; people who've converted barns and outhouses into cosy places for pedallers to stay; and the couple in Seattle who gave us their prepaid Starbucks card so we could enjoy a coffee on them! They are the kindest and most generous people I have ever met.
Back in Montana on 6th August we chatted at the roadside with an eastbound cyclist from Seattle, Haakon. He invited us to stay with him on our way into the city. On his journey, Haakon had also experienced the amazing kindness of strangers and he told us that he was delighted he could now offer a kindness to us and "pay it forward". And so, in good old Waltons style, there is a moral to the end of this episode. If you experience a kindness, pass it on or "pay it forward".