“So, what’s next?” we ask ourselves. I ask myself, sitting back at home in my old room with my old dog, my old sheets replaced by new ones in my absence. This is the question asked as I ride around town, stopping in old haunts, looking for familiar faces that defined my years in Winston-Salem. The question that is on my mind and on the tongues and tongues and tongues and tongues of friends and family and passing acquaintances, those who I have flashed into and out of life with since my formative pubescent years. What is next, now that I am back in North Carolina? I have thoughts – backpack, bikepack, paddle my way back into heartlands of America. It’s claustrophobic here on the East Coast … as I sit in my parent’s home I am surrounded on all sides. Suburbia is back, baby. Winston-Salem, a sprawling surbtropolis of neighborhoods encircling the two-street downtown scene. Quite the change from the great nothing of the Brooks Range, the jagged peaks and craggle-tooth mountains of the north, where the densest populations are doll sheep and caribou. The adjustment – back to the great indoors, back to the great automobile, back to the great and almighty grind – is real, and tough, and iron.
Freedom is calling in the hills, but for now I must be satisfied with what’s available to me in these coming months. An understanding and appreciation for the modern adventure, for the cooling fall and coming winter and daily opportunities that can send you outside and into fresh air. The sunrise yoga, the bike ride to work, the long walk at lunch, the headlamp run at night. A vast change from the days of gravel and grit of Keys to Freeze, but I am not complaining.
That I was able to participate in Keys to Freeze was a privilege. Know that I appreciated every day and understand how fortunate I was to make take the trip to Alaska, and how grateful I am to be back in my home state with my family, and friends, and old, sleepy dog. I missed them. They are why I am back, for now. And so closes a chapter in my life.
But perhaps not the book … there is a man named Doom who assures me of that. We met Doom, JB, and Brett in Coldfoot, Alaska, five days out from the end of Keys to Freeze on the Dalton Highway. They are from Durango, CO, and had just finished an eleven day fat-biking and pack-rafting tour through the Brooks Range. Here K2F is standing outside of their van, full from the only restaurant between Livengood and Deadhorse.
During dinner I spoke with Doom about the trip and my nervousness around returning home. Doom laughed, man, and went on to tell me about the adventures he makes happen every few months. Bike tours, raft tours, climbing, running … it’s possible to age into adulthood and still take the trips that satisfy that lust for adventure. No slave to the clock, the lock, the neighborhood block. It’s out there, a wide and open world that’s accessible and available if you can dig it. Check out the http://therepublicofdoom.blogspot.com/ to see what I’m talking about. It’s exciting, and real. I am inspired by Doom. My motivation to write is back.
And so, as I continue to move forward with life after K2F this website too will change. I’ll return back to writing fiction, and silly poems, and short adventure pieces. Soon I’ll begin the exciting process of writing the Keys to Freeze book, and will share bits of it when available. Look for our final three Narratively posts in the next two months. As always, you can drop me a line using the Contact Me page.
I’m ready to take the next step. I accept that Keys to Freeze is over and am happy to now focus on what’s next. Watch out, Winston, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, whatever … there’s a Surly hungry for dirt on the loose.