Ready for Liftoff

Travel writer and Seattle-area bicycle advocate Willie Weir once likened the act of embarking on an extended trip to a space shuttle lunch: So much energy must be consumed right there on the launchpad before any movement can be detected. Everything we know and love conspires to keep us in place, to form that gravitational pull that holds us firm, at home. But once that first hint of momentum is achieved, nothing can stop it. The RTW bicycle tour almost becomes effortless.

We’ve burned a lot of fuel this past week — both emotional and physical — and the craft is beginning to shudder. Liftoff is eminent.

After finally adapting to living in a house with all of its contents staged for an estate sale, we turned our attention to the lack of wills and other grown-up pieces of paper one would assume a couple married for sixteen years would already have. Not fun. While Rocketlawyer.com’s incredibly helpful forms made completing our Last Will and Testaments super easy, there is no fun to be had while assembling the papers governing your funeral arrangements and health care directives. A vivid imagination will be your worst enemy. That I can assure you.

Just hours before the estate sale, I finally received the brokerage information I was awaiting and was able to quickly finish filing our taxes before disassembling my workstation. Carrying my hulking Alienware computer tower into the secure “Not For Sale” room of the house, knowing I won’t see its purple accent lights for a long, long time, was a tough moment. It was my woobie. I still have my laptop, sure, but I can’t shake the feeling that there’s a file or program on there that I forgot to put on Dropbox, or some email I left in the Outlook folder. I wonder how my Banished villagers will fare. Deep breaths, Doug. Strap in and ready for launch.

The house sat staged for a full week, making meals a challenge.
The house sat staged for a full week, making meals a challenge.

The estate sale went exceptionally well. The floodgates opened at precisely 8am and all I could do was stand back and watch as a dozen anxious buyers raced through the door. A man sprinted for the living room, pre-labeled pieces of painter’s tape in his hands, and quickly claimed our leather couches, the Bose speakers, and Blu-Ray player. Others raced into the kitchen, cleaning out our pantry, snapping up small appliances, and bagging half-consumed bottles of cheap liquor from the counter. A young couple with baby in tow snatched up the guest room furniture and my home-made bike stands. And so it went, for over seven hours. Little by little the house emptied before my eyes as I walked around introducing myself as the homeowner, and answering questions. The staff was there to deal with pricing and negotiations, thereby allowing me the freedom to deflect any attempts at haggling and maintain as emotionally disconnected as one can when the house they’ve lived in for a decade is undergoing a fire sale. I’m still not sure what was worse; my seeing it empty in real-time or Kristin leaving for work that morning and coming home to a mostly empty house.

Everything in this photo, including my one remaining mountain bike, would be gone by the end of the sale.
Everything in this photo, including my one remaining mountain bike, would be gone by the end of the sale.

The sell-off continued over the weekend as we invited others over to scavenge from the leftovers. A civic angel from neighboring North Bend remembered a young man who had recently set out on his own after losing his mother, and promptly called him over on Sunday morning. It was mutually beneficial, I assured him. I needed the rest of the stuff to disappear and he quickly needed to furnish a house he’s now renting. For pennies on the dollar, I let him take everything he wanted: Our bedroom set, my desk and bookshelves, speakers, clothes, shoes, and even some of our nicer art. And so Monday I rented a U-Haul truck and, together with our mutual acquaintance, he and I and Diane Morris, the owner of Singletrack Cycles, helped him furnish his new place with all of our old stuff. As I told him, I know we’re going to be the recipients of a lot of kindness from strangers out on the road. It feels good to prepay some of that karmic debt before we leave.

A lot of time was spent waiting for people to come and pick up the remaining items, but everything was eventually sold.
A lot of time was spent waiting for people to come and pick up the remaining items, but everything was eventually sold.

Now it’s just a matter of cleaning the house, taking the remaining items to the neighborhood Goodwill drop-off location, and moving our totes and luggage into storage (for our local friends, we highly recommend Snoqualmie Ridge Storage — they’ve not only been great to work with, but very generous in their support of our trip). We sign the final documents for the sale of our house on the 18th and expect the sale to close that Friday, two days before we depart.

Our neat little two piles underwent a bit of an explosion as the week progressed.
Our neat little two piles underwent a bit of an explosion as the week progressed.

Of course, it hasn’t all been hard work. You never realize just how many friends you have until you let folks know you’re going to be leaving for a while. Our social calendar has never been more full.  From friends inviting us out to dinners to a going-away happy hour party hosted by Kristin’s co-workers, our nights have been busier than ever. And then there’s our great friends Alan and Katrina who kindly opened their house to us and welcomed us to stay with them these last two weeks before we leave. We can’t express how happy we are to hear that they’re going to fly out to New Jersey in July to visit once more before we head across the Atlantic.

Kristin's going away cake from Binny Bunny Bakery in Seattle. I'm glad I got there in time for a piece.
Kristin’s going away cake from Binny Bunny Bakery in Seattle. I’m glad I got there in time for a piece.

And therein lies the problem of splitting your life between two coasts. Saying goodbye becomes a lot harder when you have to do it twice.

But enough about that. I hear mission control has given us the green light. All systems are go. Our next post will come from the road.

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Doug Walsh

Writer, Traveler

Doug Walsh is a writer, traveler, cyclist, and gamer who spent two years traveling from Seattle to Singapore, the long way around, by bicycle and sea. He's the author of the upcoming novel "Tailwinds Past Florence."

3 Comments
  1. I heard about your blog from Bret Sutton, another long-distance cyclist who worked at Expeditors CHQ. This was the first piece I read, and as one who has been through the same experience, I was smitten with your writing.

    I’ve gone through this launching process three times in my life, and each time, it feels like jumping off a cliff. My parachute always opens, and the adventures and serendipity that result are breathtaking. Thanks for sharing your journey in words and pictures.
    ~~~
    Margaret Meps Schulte, author of STRANGERS HAVE THE BEST CANDY (available on Amazon)

    1. Margaret,

      Thanks for the nice note and am glad to hear you’ve found your way to our blog. I don’t remember from whom, when or how, but your name has come up before in conversation, as did the title of your recently-released book, which is now on my Amazon wishlist for my next purchasing binge. Hope you find your way back to our blog from time to time and the writing and photos continue to make you smile.

  2. thinking of you both. I am excited for your trip & to read updates. I can’t imagine how you feel. May the wind forever be at your back, all the dogs you encounter friendly and all the cars stay more than 10 feet away.

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About Us

We're Doug & Kristin Walsh, a couple of Washingtonians who love to travel, both abroad and in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest. We set off to travel the world in 2014, primarily by bicycle. We're back home now, but the travel bug continues to be fed every chance we get.

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