I turned 42 recently. Forty-two. I’ve never been that hung up about getting old. It’s just a number I thought. Nothing really changes. Even when I reached the milestone 40 it wasn’t that big of a deal. Yet something is different this year.
I don’t think it’s a mid-life crisis though. With a full head of hair, I’m a few years off a comb-over or a ill-fitting rug and being happily married with 3 beautiful children, I don’t have the urge to buy a flashy convertible and chase women half my age. There was something of a switch that flicked in my head this year that made me want to take the next exit off the roundabout of life. Work, family, eat, sleep, repeat seemed to be the norm. I felt like I was just waiting for the next occasion, the next birthday, the next 2 weeks off. It may have something to do with the realization that unless you have been a shrewd investor in real estate and the stock market or won the lottery, 42 is about half way through your working life. If you believe in the 7yr cycle of life, 42 is the end of one and the beginning of the next cycle in the twilight era of your ‘spiritual childhood’.
And Elvis died on the toilet when he was 42. I think there’s something in that for all of us.
I came back from a family Xmas trip to NZ this year with a different outlook on travel than I had in the past. The last few trips where more ordeal than holiday with toddlers and babies and sickbags and prams as oversized luggage. This time I returned with an awakened thirst for travel and a strange yearning to see more of the world. Now a trip across the ditch hardly parallels the exploits of Columbus or Magellan in discovering new lands but there was enough of the escape from normal life that made me want more. Seeing some of the natural beauty of our nearest neighbour like Franz Joseph Glacier (above) really got the adventurous juices flowing. The funny thing was, until recently, (and my good friends will testify to this) spending thousands of dollars on travelling overseas and coming back with only memories and the odd trinket in your suitcase was not for me. If I had slaved and saved for months or years for money, I wanted something tangible, something material to show for it.
This is not to say I am totally averse to travel. Far from it. Apart from enjoying riding motorcycles because well, its riding motorcycles (what’s left to say), I have a particular passion for Adventure Motorcycling. A mixture of road and off road travelling on a bike that lends itself to both. It’s about riding to new places, seeing new things, meeting new people, and having new experiences. Up until now, my adventures on two wheels, two in total, lasted about 10 to 12 days. Nothing ground breaking or worthy of an entry in Guiness Book of Records. Simple expeditions, one south and one north, seeking out as many of the exciting and scenic driving/riding roads around this big beautiful land of ours. Something to look forward to for a holiday without breaking the bank. All the while not straying too far from civilisation, a comfy bed and shower and ample supply of fuel.
These trips had always left me wanting more and the idea of going on that one epic bike adventure, the type of adventure made famous by the likes of Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman on their ‘Long Way Round’ journey and Lyndon Poskitt on his ‘Races to Places’ series, began to develop in the Fairytales section of my brain. That portion of ones brain reserved for dreaming of how you would spend your lotto winnings, what you would say when a cute girl came onto you in a bar or envisioning the trail of destruction you leave behind after telling your boss where to jam his job. You know, Daydreamland. It was a ‘one day’ thing.
The planets seemed to start aligning the more I thought about it. I became eligible to take a portion of my long service leave from work this year. The kids are old enough to be semi self-sufficient so leaving my wife with sole parenting duties to maybe go off and discover myself wasn’t going to render me divorced with an exorbitant solicitors bill and my belongings strewn all over the front lawn when I return. It took me 6 weeks or so to find the right time and courage to bring up my plan with my wife to gauge her reaction. I’m happy to report she was responsive to it all with an answer of ‘show me how we can do it’.
So with middle age upon me, a desire to see parts of this world still considered to be frontier country, a bike sort-of up to the task and a wife that somehow understands and endorses such tomfoolery, I have decided ‘one day’ never comes and have begun to plan my biggest trip to date (by far).