In the Monument Valley, a group of sandstone buttes and mesas tower above the Colorado Plateau. A long road stretches out into the distance like a straight line on the sandpaper. This was the road where Forrest Gump decided to stop after running for three years, two months, 14 days and 16 hours. He quit much to the bewilderment of his angry running followers saying, “I’m pretty tired. I think I will go home now.”
Three years, three months, and 20 days ago when I quit my job in Germany to finish the bicycle trip to Pakistan, I had no idea I would carry on cycling for years. After finishing the trip, I felt an emotional void inside me and decided to travel more. I took the longest road trip I could find on the map. There was no rationale or planning for the trip through the Americas. Now, it’s been two years, four months, and 18 days since I left Ushuaia, Argentina and I still find myself on the road. I was intending to reach Alaska in one and half years, but now I am looking at three and half years, and even that deadline looks a bit vague too. Over the past couple of years, travelling by bicycle has become a way of life for me and I am happy being in the journey.
When I entered the US in February, I was thinking to take the coastal route and make it to Alaska during summer this year. I told my plans to my younger brother in Pakistan who asked me, “so, let’s suppose you finish your tour, what will you do afterwards?” When I couldn’t answer his question, he added, “Lamba khench (prolong it!)” I think he knew me better than I did myself.
So I took a much longer inland route through the US and am currently travelling like a wanderer, going here and there aimlessly. I am not going to make it to Alaska this year. I might enter Canada in two months and cycle there until October. After that, I will have to take a winter break and go somewhere else. During the break, I plan to catch up on all the remaining photo essays and stories. I might need to go to Germany to apply for a new US visa. Once I have a new visa, I will return to Canada next year in spring and would resume my ride up north to Alaska.
These days I am riding long hours and making some progress in the north direction, but the desire to reach the destination sooner is fading. The question, “what will I do afterwards?” occupies my mind. I don’t think it will be possible for me to go back to the office life again. Perhaps, I am good for nothing anymore, but this doesn’t matter to me.
But, what does matter to me is if the day comes when I am “pretty tired” where I will go? Forrest Gump at least had a place he called home.