There, Again or Foolish Across America, Day 17

   Well! Thanks for sticking it out, if you're still reading. It's been way too long since I've posted. The combination of a thousand things (including my accidental losing of about three pages of writing) made it difficult. Here's a post to update about the last day of the ride, I'll keep it going with some good rides and adventures I've had since being out here. Thanks so much for the encouragement and for reading.

   Return to the desert, to the vast ghost that sprawls across the southwestern states. We traveled fast, the scenery becoming more and more familiar as we went. My tires touched upon Arizona Highway 95 and the memory came flooding back. The Buckskin Mountains rose over Parker and I could smell the sand and the river silt. Salt cedar choked the corners of the Colorado. The cliffs along the road were peppered with green and yellow Creosote bushes. Unusual rains had carpeted the hills in green grass and purple flowers. In their lush disguise they looked almost like the Andean foothills I knew in Ecuador.
   The sky was a deep azure with only a slight wisp of cirrus shielding us from the bright sun. It seemed unlikely that I had ever been in Delaware to begin with, that I had only weeks ago been shoveling a path out of my driveway and saying goodbye to everyone. Riding out in the cold and the snow, tucked behind my windshield: it seemed like an old memory. The roads here, now, were hot and cracked with sun, and the wind blew the same desert scent I had come to love. It was strange to return, alone. I felt the weight of some sad memories on one shoulder. I felt the pull of new promise and freedom on the other.
   It was a few days before the work start date, so we were staying in town with Green and Lin, two girls running an affiliate project trapping Elf Owls. In Parker I gave Pajaro the address and went on, wanting to ride the last part of the trip alone and fast. I raced past a dozen cars and whipped along the mountain road. I pulled the throttle back and shot past a caravan of RVs, riding the thin space between the yellow lines as I passed. I came down out of the hills flushed and burned with wind, and there before me was Havasu City. I pulled into the Owl Girls' driveway and shed my helmet and gloves. I heard a Verdin chirping in some neighboring mesquite bush: my first desert bird of the year. He sang and sang and sang and I smiled and smiled and smiled, and let out the long breath I'd been holding since the day I left.