Yesterday I bid a reluctant farewell to my well-organized study and my Aero sculling boat in White Salmon, Washington, and set out in Quackers the yellow pickup to drive all the way across the US.
I am due to arrive in Washington DC sometime in the middle of next week for a few meetings and presentations, before driving down to Tampa, Florida for more speaking engagements and to collect my ocean rowboat from the Museum of Science and Industry where she is being exhibited at the moment. Then Quackers and I turn around and drive all the way back to the West Coast. In total, I will be driving about 6,500 miles over the next 3 weeks.
I'm determined to keep up my training, despite this nomadic episode. This morning I went out for an early morning run from my humble little motel outside of Twin Falls, Idaho. It was a beautiful morning and the run was... flat. The skies seemed huge. I didn't see a single car while I was out. It really felt like I had my own private Idaho.
Today I dropped Eric off in Snowbird, Utah, for a skiing trip, and I carried on towards Colorado Springs where I will be staying with friends on their ranch.
To Americans it may seem very mundane, driving along interstates, staying in motels and eating in cheap diners. But to me it's all very new and exciting. I love those diners - they're just so... American! And I love meeting people along the way. The Americans are so friendly (so far) - even the traffic cop who pulled me over for speeding today. Oops! Naughty Quackers...
[Photo: Quackers speeding across Utah at sunset]
Exactly twelve months ago today, I arrived in Antigua after 103 days alone on the Atlantic Ocean. The feeling was incredible - after struggling for so long on my own, to see all these people lined up along the cliffs and the quayside in English Harbour, coming out in their boats to escort me in, applauding and cheering and smiling....
... and best of all, it was over. And I wouldn't have to row another stroke for... oh at least 15 months!
[Photo: arriving in English Harbour, Antigua, 13th March 2006]
09 Mar 2007, Leeds, UK
One frozen, foggy, frosty day in December Roz and I were filmed and interviewed by Yorkshire TV in Roundhay Park in Leeds, and later at my home. The resulting TV documentary will be shown in the Yorkshire area on March 12th - one year minus one day since Roz' arrival in Antigua at the end of her epic row across the Atlantic. The title of the programme will be "Is it worth it?", part of a series of 12 interviews with people who have done things a bit out of the ordinary.
It is a pity that most of you reading this blog will not be able to view it. I am certainly looking forward to seeing what they have made of all the material that they have taken. This includes photographs of Roz as a child, her video tapes made before and during the rowing race, interviews in the park, and one to one interviews here at the house.
Roz and I both came up with very positive views about whether it was all worth it, and I hope that this comes over strongly during the half-hour viewing. Even though you may not be able to see it, I trust that you will continue to support Roz in her adventure, knowing how important it is to her.
Well, maybe not a cruise exactly, as cruising doesn't normally involve blood, sweat and blisters.
My training is coming along well. As well as weights, circuits, running, yoga, racquetball and rowing on a rowing machine, I've been out in my Maas Aero sculling boat on the Columbia. My longest outing so far has been from the Hood River marina to Mosier and back - a distance of about 14 miles. Not a bad training session (about 2 hours) but still a long way short of the 8 hours a day I'm aiming to do on the Pacific.
Much as I like my WaterRower rowing simulator, it makes SUCH a nice change to get out on the water when conditions allow. The time passes a lot more quickly when the scenery is changing. And being chased down the river by a barge the size of a small town gives me a powerful incentive to keep paddling hard.
I'm keeping my boat in a friend's boathouse in the marina. It's very convenient as it saves me loading the Aero onto the top of Quackers (my yellow truck) every time I go rowing, but launching and disembarking in the narrow confines of the boathouse is a delicate balancing act. The boat is unstable until the oars are in the oarlocks and extended perpendicular to the boat, and there isn't room to do that inside the boathouse, so I have to partially extend them and then try to hold the boat level as I step in and push out. My training rows haven't turned into training swims just yet, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time...
[Photo by Eric Sanford, taken from the deck of our house]