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The Final Post

January 22nd: Back to the Home of the Free and the Land of the Brave


There has been quite the hiatus between our last post, so I will do a quick recap before skipping to our final ride home. After heading back to Bandar Lampung with our tails between our legs we headed to Krui where our good friend Noah Pearson met us. He was originally going to accompany us on the boat, but it obviously did not make it that long. We spent a few weeks there surfing, playing cards, and indulging in the all you can eat fried food that cost a whopping dollar before Michael and James headed back to Colorado to begin their new jobs the first week of December. My family was flying into Bali for Christmas and New Year, and so Noah and I went to Lombok and continued the surf, lounge, be happy, repeat lifestyle at an amazing place called Pipes Hostel. It was the most carefree and happy place I think I have ever been, and would recommend it to just about anyone. We spent another few weeks there and only went back to Bali for Noah’s flight. I met up with my family and we had a great time exploring Bali. I skipped down to Australia to visit some friends and hang out on the Gold Coast for a few weeks while the bikes were in transit to LA. There were a few genuine Aussie adventures and a few good waves before finally flying back home to the good ‘ole USA!

Getting of the plane was strange. It was a little chilly, and I didn’t own any shoes so my tropically accustomed toes started to feel cold for the first time in months. I was in my warmest clothes: jeans, a rain jacket, and my flip flops. Luckily my good friend Austin’s brother, Alec, goes to school at LMU, and was happy to give me a place to stay in LA. It would have been a wildly different experience without his hospitality, and I greatly appreciated all his help. Michael and James were flying in to LAX on Friday night after work and the plan was to ride the bikes back over an extended weekend. In order to do that though I needed to get the bikes out before they arrived. This turned into the usual bureaucratic nightmare that is associated with shipping the motorcycles.

I was hoping that the customs officers in the United States would be more competent and easier to work with because they actually spoke our language. Unfortunately, I was wrong and after a few days of trying to get them to sign our carnets I finally filled out everything for them. Apparently they don’t know how to do their own job. I then pointed to the points where they should stamp and sign everything. By the time it had degraded to this point it had now become a time sensitive issue. I was at the Long Beach Customs office getting frustrated and it was now 1 PM on Friday. I had to get the customs clearance and drive to Compton before 4 PM when the warehouse closed for the weekend. We would have to sit around LA all weekend, and Michael and James were expected back at work by the latest Wednesday. If we got the bikes out Monday that timeline would be next to impossible to achieve. After I got the idiot to sign all the Carnets at the slowest possible rate I sped over to Compton to find the bikes!

The warehouse was massive and everyone else there was a truck driver. I was definitely out of place in sandals and a Saab sedan. It took quite some time to explain that the Carnet was my customs clearance, and that I was going to unpack the bikes out of the crate and ride them out of there. I had to explain multiple times that I could not pack the crates onto my non-existent truck, before they finally charged me another $300 bucks unpacking fee. When I enquired about this fee I was informed that I would not actually receive any help, but that was just the fee I had to pay because I was unpacking it there. I was pretty unimpressed with the people of Los Angeles at this point. They also wanted to charge another $150 to clean up my trash, but I decided I could probably get rid of my own trash for free.

After a few more hours of waiting the bikes majestically appeared on the fronts of 3 forklift operators. I couldn’t believe that they had actually made it. I was preparing myself for them to be sideways or smashed or something stolen, but there they were intact. I was giddy. Fortunately, a few guys decided that our bikes were a little interesting, and they helped me take the bikes off the pallets and put the front wheels on. The sun set and I set about the task of assembling the bikes. A random act of kindness restored my faith in humanity as I was struggling to see in the dark. A trucker noticed that I had pulled the bikes up under the only street light and I was struggling to screw in some bolts with my phone light. He came back a minute later with a brand new head lamp, put it on my head, then walked off and said have a good night. I called after him asking how I would return it, but he looked over his shoulder with a smile and said in a gruff voice “It’s yours” then waved and hopped in his truck. His act of kindness was exactly what I needed after dealing with some of the most unhelpful people of the whole trip. With the aid of my fresh headlamp I put the bikes together and rolled them into a parking spot right next to the guard gate, where there was 24/7 surveillance. They would be safe for the night, so I headed to the airport and grabbed Michael, James, and Kelly.

Finally found this beast. I couldn't stop smiling when I sent this pic to Michael and James

It was a happy reunion. It had been 2 months since I last saw Michael and James, and 8 months since I saw Kelly. It was 1 in the morning, but we were all hungry so we grabbed some in and out and had a quick catchup. We weren’t rushing to get back to Alec’s place because they were throwing a party, and by this stage a college party is pretty sloppy. I also failed to mention that Alec lives at the main house of his fraternity, which actually turned out to be a great group of guys. I found it interesting that the president of their fraternity was openly gay, while seemingly everyone else was straight. Greek society is typically pretty conservative and masculine in my experience, but these guys were mostly just studious if not slightly nerdy college students. We still ended up staying up until around 3 AM as everyone slowly made up their minds about sleeping/leaving, but eventually we passed right out.

January 23rd: Reunited at Last!


The alarm went off at 7:00 and I immediately got up off the floor of Alec’s fraternity. I couldn’t wait to get our bikes. We hopped in the car and drove to where Graham had pulled and parked them out of storage. When we pulled up next to the bikes I became insanely nervous (similar to the feeling I had when we picked Rebecca up in Bangkok after not seeing her for 4 months…) Call that weird but I think all 3 of us would agree that the relationship we have with Hans, Seabie and Jolene are beyond man and machine.

We got out of the car, and each ran/skipped/danced to our respective bikes. Having spent copious amounts of time fixing them, riding them and caring for them to not having any contact for 3 months was difficult, but the wait was over and we fell right back into our routines. All 3 of us were able to get our bikes started without much difficulty, but riding them again was a bit difficult. I’d forgotten how heavy Hans was and nearly tipped the moment I dropped into first. It didn’t take long to get back into the swing of it.

One aspect of the trip that I missed, almost more than anything, was the headsets. The banter, chatter and discussions we had in our helmets while dodging cows, cars and various other objects during the trip was fantastic. I loved it and missed it dearly. Once we got on our bikes and started riding through Compton to get back to Alec’s, we fell right back into our normal discussions. It was incredible, just like being back on the trip again.

We’d made plans to meet up with our college roommate who’d been living in LA since we’d left for the trip and had a great time catching up with him and riding his Ducati Monster in the parking lot. That bike is a whole lot faster than ours…

Our goal was to make it Joshua Tree that night. Around 7 or 8 we rolled into the National Park having only stopped to pick up dinner supplies, beer, wine and gas (the essentials). We were reminded by how difficult riding in sand was during our search for a campsite. We ended up with a less than ideal camping area but were excited to cook food and spend some time together again while camping. We stayed up far too late filling Kelly in on stories we’d forgotten to tell and reminding ourselves of how incredible the trip was.

Our first campsite back in the US

January 24th: Takin' it easy in Winslow


We awoke covered in frost from the morning dew and hid in our sleeping bags until the threat of a Ranger catching us in our questionable camp spot forced us out into the cold. We stiffly hopped on the bikes and headed for the open road longing to get out of the hills and into the sun. The open landscape and flat, fast highways yielded allowed us to cover good ground but even the intense desert sun couldn't warm our frozen limbs and we soon stopped for breakfast. We exploded in a McDonalds taking up every possible outlet and littering the surrounding seats with our helmets, bags and multiple layers before diving into a warm cup of coffee and some food.

The road that led us into and out of Joshua Tree

We eventually pried ourselves from the warmth of the restaurant and stepped outside to be surprised by a surprisingly warm day. We filled up on gas and hit the road heading towards Phoenix. The miles rolled by with good conversation and seemingly endless expanse of shrub land dotted with rocky outcroppings and hills. As we closed in on Phoenix the temperature continued to climb and at our lunch stop we were dropping layers left and right (which we would later regret). We got lunch at a funky little bar/cafe famous for their pies with the aim of watching the Broncos game. We were not disappointed as they climbed another rung towards their Super Bowl win. We headed down the road in good spirits making our way into the high country near Flagstaff.

As we climbed we noticed more and more clumps of snow dotting the shaded areas and it wasn't long until it covered the entire ground. The higher we got the lower the sun got and temperatures began to plummet. We stopped at a fork in the road to throw on some extra layers and decided to take the road less traveled. Unfortunately this decision did not last very long and after riding over some questionably Icy areas we decided to turn around and head towards the closest town. At this point the ride turned very cold very quickly and we were soon quietly wishing for a place to pull over and sleep. We didn't have food though and were determined to make it to the next town so we pushed on. After a brutally cold ride we pulled up to a gas station in the town of Winslow. We decided to "take it easy" since we were in Winslow Arizona and warmed up while devouring a Cinnabon. We found a cheap hotel and it didn't take much convincing for us to give in and splurge to avoid going back out in the cold to search for a camp spot. We had a major let down when the hotel's hot tub was broken but made up for it with hot showers and a pizza before passing out in nice comfy beds.

Watching the Sunset before turning around. You can see the ice on the road.

January 25th: New Mexico Bound


This is what I woke up to. (It's in Celsius)

We woke up in a hotel in Winslow Arizona. What a strange and incredibly cold place in the winter. It was a balmy 17 F when we woke up, and I was not that excited to push off into the icy wind. We raided the continental breakfast and then proceeded to put every article of clothing we owned on and waddled out to our bikes. Surprisingly I actually wasn't that cold in the 5 layers of clothes I was wearing under my onesie. The only thing that started to get chilly was my toes because my boots are not insulated. I think I was lucky though cause James and Michael's hands were frozen. We pushed on through the desert and it was actually an incredibly beautiful ride. There are red rock formations that scatter as far as the eye can see, and it looks like the place wiley coyote like to chase the road runner. Every time I cross the vast lands of the US I think about what it would have been like to be a pioneer and navigate a wagon through these deserts, plains, and mountain passes. It still blows my mind.

We pulled into Albuquerque in the late afternoon, and scarfed down some Chipotle before turning North for the final stretch up to Colorado. The only problem with that is the mountain pass separating New Mexico and Colorado. With a pretty significant winter storm brewing we were hoping to make it across the mountains before we got stuck on the wrong side of the pass. As we drove North we could see the grey snow clouds swirling over the peaks, and it was pretty incredible to watch them surge in and out of the peaks, however this was not looking good for our intended crossing of the Rockies. The road contoured along the mountains and we stayed right on the fringe of the storm for at least an hour before it finally caught up with us in Las Vegas NM. We pulled in for some gas and to warm up, and the snow finally swallowed us. It really started coming down, and riding your bike in the snow is something akin to suicide especially on a busy interstate. We opted for the motel down the street, and all snuggled into our room as the snow continued to come down.

January 26th: The End


Good Morning!

What better way to start the final day of our trip than with 2-3 inches of snow on the ground? Our alarms were set for 7 am but as soon as we looked out the window and saw the white sheet of snow, we all knew we wouldn’t be riding for a couple hours and went straight back to bed. At 8:30 we woke up and saw that the snow was melting, but by no means gone. We decided to start getting ready and hoped that the sun would heat up a bit. Around 10:00 am we were too antsy to stay inside, we told ourselves we’d ride to the freeway on ramp and check what the conditions were like. If there was any sign of ice/snow we’d turn around and go back to the hotel.

Graham and I spent the morning taking selfies trying to make the girlfriends jealous

Getting to the on ramp was a lot like riding in the mud. One slight turn or pull of the brake and you’re on the ground before you realized what happened. James tested out his brakes in the parking lot and was immediately sliding across the snow covered pavement. Once we reached the freeway the road looked clear, we were nervous but confident that the road was okay to ride on. We left Las Vegas NM and continued on for the coldest stretch of the entire trip.

Approximately 110 miles after leaving Las Vegas, a near slip on a small sheet of black ice, and multiple anguished complaints, we arrived in Raton, NM. I can honestly say I have never felt that cold in my life. My hands had been numb for the past hour, my legs didn’t work and I couldn’t stop shivering for 5-10 minutes. Finally, with the help of 2 cups of coffee, a few cinnamon bears and warm smiles from the gas station employees, we were warmed up and ready to get back on the road. The day had warmed itself and the next leg of the ride was fantastic, riding over the pass from NM to CO was incredible, the sky was clear and the Rockies were gorgeous. It reminded me of how much I enjoyed riding in Colorado.

This was pretty surreal

We stopped in Pueblo for Chipotle and Castle Rock for Chick-Fil-A. At 4:30 we got on our bikes for the final stretch of the trip. It was a Tuesday and we were riding through the outskirts of Denver and of course, we got stuck in traffic. It took all of our self-restraint to not split lanes and dodge traffic, and even that wasn’t enough. We ended up dodging cars and zipping through gaps, but only if we deemed it “legal”.

The sun had set and the temperatures were dropping as we pulled into Boulder. The conversation turned to a depressing topic. We couldn’t believe it was over. We rode through 26 countries and nearly 22,500 miles and we were right back where we started. We’d made it around the world. Yes, there were a few scary moments, but reflecting on the experience, we were incredibly fortunate to face what we did. Nothing was too difficult and just made the trip that much better.

Despite all of us being exhausted, we decided to end from the same place we started. Springdale Lane will always be an important place, but the fact that we started and ended our round the world motorcycle trip at that location only intensifies my love for it. We took one final picture in front of the street and that marked the official end of the trip.

Back to Springdale!

And now a brief reflection from the 3 wisest fools around:

Michael’s Reflection:

Where to begin? Where we left you all off last (the Willy Wilson Chronicles), where we met up with Noah (one of our best friends from home) and surfed Krui, or when James and I left Graham in Jakarta to head home while he continued his travels with Noah? It’s hard to explain the feeling of saying bye to Graham, it was one of those moments that you know you’ll remember forever because it marked the end of such an incredible chapter of our lives. I’m getting goose bumps and exceptionally nostalgic thinking about it now and it’s only been 4.5 months since. I imagine the nostalgia will only grow with time.

After 4 days of fairly miserable travel (3 nights sleeping in airports and 2 red eye flights for a total of 4.5 days of travel), James and I arrived back in Colorado on the morning of December 2nd. We were exhausted, but Rebecca picked us up and had 5 boxes of Good&Plentys, 3 boxes of Milk Duds and Genessee Beer. We were able to rally.

The reason for James and my early departure from Indonesia was a new job. Our first day was December 3rd making the December 2nd arrival date extra difficult. We made it to work on time December 3rd but I can’t say I was completely there. Not only was I jet lagged, but reentry was more difficult than I thought. Being back with the girlfriends and friends in Boulder, eating home cooked meals, sleeping in a comfortable bed was all fantastic. However after a couple days I really started to miss Graham, the motorcycles, the adventure.

During our trip, every day was an unknown. Maybe one of bikes breaks down, maybe we meet some incredible people, maybe we get food poisoning, maybe we’re denied entry into Myanmar, maybe we get stung by jellyfish, maybe we eat lamp brain soup, maybe we get shipwrecked. The list could go on and on, but the point is, I miss that feeling of unknown more than anything. I’m not knocking my current situation, I’ve got a great job (working with James), I’m currently living with Rebecca and her 4 roommates who have been incredibly welcoming, I just signed a lease with two of my best friends, and I’ve been staying plenty busy. But, waking up every day and knowing the jest of everything I’m going to be doing that day is different and it’s taken some adjustments.

I won’t lie, after the initial excitement of being home wore off, I found myself in a less happy than average state of mind. The boat our bikes were shipped on arrived in LA in the middle of January and I was more than ready to fly out to LA, see Graham and all of us (including James’s girlfriend Kelly) ride our bikes back to Boulder together. It was better than I imagined. For 4 days our only goal was to get the bikes back to Boulder and have as much fun as possible while doing it. Despite the snow, the freezing temperatures and long riding days, we were able to maximize the fun category. The only major bummer was pulling back into Boulder, taking a final picture in front of Springdale Lane and 3x2 Freefall splitting up. I rode back to Rebecca’s while Graham, James and Kelly went back to Kelly’s house. We had “rode our motorcycles around the world”. It was the end. The final chapter of 3x2 Freefall.

It’s been 4.5 months since returning from Indonesia, but it already feels like the trip was in a different lifetime. The memories are preciously stored in my memory but the feeling and mindset of complete freedom and unknown has been slowly fading. I won’t ever let those feelings go out entirely, but I imagine in the future I will need to do a similar trip to rekindle them.

Graham's Reflection:

Back to the real world...This was something that had been haunting me since Thailand, and the anxiety only amplified when it was finally over. The anxiety is mix of a lot of things, but is mainly comprised of the fact that I am loaded up with student debt, unemployed, and have no idea what/where I really want to be. I know I need to stand still for a few years and establish some sort of work skills as well as pay off these debts, but the idea of staying somewhere for more than a month at a time has now become an overwhelming decision. I spent some time looking for jobs in Australia, Boulder, and Hawaii before finally making the decision to stay in Hawaii and work for an engineering firm here. It was a huge relief to finally score a job, and that anxiety has begun to fade. As it fades though I feel the inner restlessness and urge for adventure sparking up inside me, and I know its only a matter of time before I am on to a new adventure (I just learned to sail. My boat adventures won't be ending with the Willy Wilson)

Throughout this trip people have asked me what are some things that I have learned after being through so many places, and having such strange experiences. I think there are countless lessons and understandings, but the strongest theme among them is that the general population of humans that we encountered on this trip all shared the same compassion, curiosity, and selflessness. A Croatian woman drove across three countries to help us, an old man in Turkey gave us too many plums to carry, some Russians threw a block party for us, a Kazakh herder gave us 2 liters of mares milk, a trucker in LA gave me a headlight so I could assemble the bikes in the dark...I could type the incredible things that people went out of their way to help us with for days. The basis of all of this is that regardless of race, religion, skin color, sexual orientation or any other kind of category you can place a human in we are all just that. HUMAN. At our core we feel a need to share our culture, help those in need, and treat each other with kindness. My faith in humanity was more than restored, and I feel an obligation to pay it forward and share the same compassion with those I encounter in the future.

I look forward to the future and the wonderful experiences I hope I can get myself into. This trip has really driven home how incredibly lucky we are. All of the opportunities that we have been presented with that made this trip possible is innumerable, and I try and remind myself of that everyday. Not everyone has the ability to go to school, to travel, to eat three meals a day, grab a beer at the bar with friends, or most of the other things that we get accustomed to. It's easy to forget just how incredibly lucky we are. Whenever I feel bummed out about the trip being over, I try and remind myself that everyday I have the opportunities to do things that so many other people only can dream about. Its hard to be unhappy when you start to recognize all the small things that make your life incredible.

James Reflection:

The other two have done an excellent job summarizing some of the most important lessons learned along the trip both individually and regarding humanity and the world. I couldn’t say it better and will direct you back to their posts but will say in general terms that my faith in humanity and my perspective on the world has definitely changed. The experiences and lessons learned have painted the world in new colors and I know I have changed dramatically, although, many of these changes have yet to show themselves in a way that I can describe in words.

The transition back to "normal" life has not been the easiest for me but there is a lot to look forward to. Going straight back to work and falling into a very structured routine was odd, not bad but very different to the unpredictability of the trip. Not that life lacks the adventure and spark that it had during the trip but now it is no longer waiting just outside my hammock every morning and is something I have to be a bit more proactive about. That being said having the stability of a home and a routine has allowed me to expand my life in different ways.

Some of the biggest and most exciting additions of which have been a beautiful puppy named Orion and a sprinter van which I am currently working to turn into Kelly and my home for the duration of the summer. I hope to eventually take the sprinter down to South America on another adventure. Being back in Boulder close to my family and living with Kelly has been awesome and they have been very supportive in this transitional period. I do very much miss the trio and not having Grahambo nearby has been tough but I’m confident we will re-unite for more adventures down the road.

Returning to write this final post has been difficult and I have often opened the lap top to begin typing only to be dragged into previous posts or even into my own memories of the trip. Opening up the 3x2 website and seeing the promotional video immediately pulls me back to the pre-trip hype. I find myself saddened by the fact that the trip is over and that hype and pre-trip excitement is only a fond memory. But then I begin remembering stories and adventures from the trip and I realize that it was everything I had hoped for and more. No, the sadness of the trip being over does not disappear, but it is now more of a fond nostalgia that I know will only grow with time.

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