Hey friends!

Rachel and I are going to try to post as much as possible on here. I’ll be writing more of the daily doses, but we’re both going to be chiming in, posting photos, etc. We’ve got a few lined up before we go into the Sierra Nevadas, since we’re not sure when we’ll have service again. Hope you enjoy!

We’ve been slowly collecting our gear since January but during the last three weeks, Rachel and I must’ve made 25 trips to REI (not to mention local bike shops, grocery stores, and pharmacies). I listed and weighed all the stuff I’m bringing with me (note the items that have already been crossed out and thus sent back with my mother (thanks mom!)).

Check it out here

Rachel’s carrying other essentials, like first aid.

Check out our Sol Cycle tool box! Fits snug on the back rack of my bike.

Here’s how I’ve got things stacked:

4 panniers, all Arkel Orca’s. I got those instead of the traditional Ortliebs because they have pockets on the front. Plus with patches gorilla glued on the front, they look primo.

I can’t keep anything straight, so I sorted my bags and wrote what I put in them on the neon visibility tape I ran down the outside of the panniers. Roughly, the front packs have food + hammock (food for the body, food for the soul) on one side and bike and camera gear on the other. I’ve got Surly Nice front and back racks, a ton of surface area on the top, so I strapped my Voltaic solar panel to the top with a couple’a bungee cords. The front panniers sit nicely loaded lower down on the bottom rungs.

On the back, I have clothes + electronics in a third bag, and the miscellaneous camping gear in the fourth. The book I brought? Desert Solitaire, by Edward Abbey. Here’s a quote that’s a bit of a mantra for me for the trip. In context, he’s out in his trailer in the Utah desert, miles from any other human.

“.. but instead of loneliness I feel loveliness. Loveliness and a quiet exultation.”

As I finish books, I’m shipping them back home and either finding a new one where I am, or having my mom ship me one from a box of good reads I prepared before I left. I didn’t bring a Kindle because Iike the brush of the paper turning the page, and because I associate the knowledge gained with the places I’ll be when I read them, and I want to be able to go straight back to that.

Yeahhhh I’ve got a ton of stuff. There’s always a trade-off between weight and comfort, and since we’ll be on the road for three months, I’m learning to love the little things: a couple extra pounds is worth it.

Other things I did to prepare: road my bike most days in the two weeks before leaving; road it once fully loaded; got it properly fitted at Bicycle Outfitters in Los Altos; did some squats, lunges and deadlifts at the gym; spent time with friends and family; started packing for grad school.

Leaving home is always hard for me. I’m a homebody, and I crave the warmth and sense of belonging that’s hard to find outside the house I grew up in. I just found out that, with Cornell starting in late August, once we finish this adventure, I’ll only have a few weeks at home before I have to pick up and drive back across the country to New York.

That’s tough.

Here’s to finding another home on the road.