The past couple of months have been quite a journey. As I wrote in my previous blog, I decided to jump on a plane and fly to the country of freedom and opportunities, the USA, before making any jump starts towards building a new career. It has been an experience I will never forget and do not regret!
First of all, I would like to thank everyone for their support, it meant a lot and helped me through a tough period. Cycling will always be my passion, but as you all know, there is more. I keep in mind that for each door closing, ten will be opening. The only thing I should do is find out where these doors are.
But before I could even think about looking for doors and new opportunities, I wanted to take some time off and travel. It is probably no surprise that I chose the United States of America, my favorite destination. I booked a free flight (with miles collected by years of flying, thanks to cycling) to Los Angeles, rented a car and drove to Phoenix (Arizona) to visit my aunt and niece. Arizona is the most American state I have visited so far. Big trucks, which are in my opinion completely unnecessary and indefensible with the current goals of CO2-reduction, fill the Interstates but the little boy and hypocrite in me kind of appreciated them! Being in Arizona, meant it was my first time in an actual desert. I had never seen one cactus for real until I hiked at South Mountain (almost in my aunts’ backyard). Nature wise, the state is very diverse. You might not believe it, but when you drive North, towards Flagstaff, skiing is possible and the landscape changes from desert to alpine. Yes, I had a great time in Arizona, thanks to family and friends!
The trip continued towards Utah, where I drove through Monument Valley (famous from Western movies) and the Navajo Nation, which is the largest area retained by a Native American tribe. Being in Navajo Nation was like going back in time. Not ten years, but much more. I read about their history; however, I still do not know enough to create a strong and founded opinion about it. To me it looks like they still do not have the same opportunities as we do. Driving and camping in Monument Valley gave me goosebumps, I have never seen sculptures like that before. The moon took care of lighting the campsite and cellular service was not available. It felt great!
From Monument Valley I drove towards Moab and Colorado National Monument. It is probably not a surprise, but both Moab and Colorado National Monument are stunning. In Colorado National Monument I spent the night on a horse farm, in a small cottage. It felt literally like going 100 years back in time. It was a cool experience since I had never seen the ‘old America’, or the Wild West before. Since weather was about to get worse and snow was in the forecast, I decided to continue the drive towards my favorite town in America and the place where I know two great people (Todd and Debbie), Boulder!
The drive became pretty epic. Vail Pass (where we did a time trial and criterium during last year’s Tour of Colorado) was fully covered in snow and I was fortunate that the Eisenhower Tunnel (one of the highest vehicular tunnels in the world at 3,401 m) was open. As the drive continued, snow kept falling, which was a rare event since they have not had these amounts of snow in 40 years at this time of the year. Arriving in Boulder felt like coming home.
This America trip gave me the opportunity to explore new areas, visit stunning national parks, meet new people and see friends and family. It also made me realize again how much I like the American people (although the current debate is very polarized), the American nature, their food and their culture. Furthermore, this trip has given me enough fuel to restart my brains and get ready for some years of studying and build a new career.
As you might have noticed while reading this blog, I have another passion in life and that is nature. The more I travel (which I know is not good for my carbon footprint), the more I realize we have a hell of an opportunity to change our way of living, so not only our quality of life, but the quality of the whole ecosystem, could improve and become sustainable. I do not want to sound like a climate activist, but more as a realist, by giving my opinion. This is one of the reasons why I am motivated to get my degree in Management in International Social Challenges as soon as possible. Of course, I am not naïve; I am not going to change the world, but by choosing this study I want to become a very little part in facing and finding solutions for the social challenges the transition to a sustainable economy might and will cause.
Well, that is enough for today. I wish you all a very nice summer and hope you enjoy the spectacle of the Tour the France! I cannot wait till September to start facing the next challenge, getting my degree!