Day 1: 470 Miles I waddled my panniers from my empty apartment on the gently lit April fools Monday, my mind was focused on the kit list, making sure everything was tied down, strapped and in place. The only person I had seen that morning was Libby, tears were shared as I was sat with realization I was leaving someone I hadnt acknowledged just how important they were to me. I rode half a mile to say a final farewell to my friends at work then I headed out of Boston, south towards Washington DC. Riding a motorcycle for me, amplifies the world around and and the world inside, this double edged sword swung freely at me for the next 11 hours. I looked ahead, not at the road but the challenge, experiences and shear mysticism that lay ahead. I smiled with a huge sense of wonder, then without warning i would start to cry with a overwhelming sense of isolation and disparity between my expectations and the reality. What social enterprises cause us to seek out the unknown? I had worked feverishly hard over the previous 6 months saving and planning for this trip and now on the first day I was resenting my own position of the unknown. It would have been so easy to stay at Libbys side, I would be happy, I would be with people I cherished and I could share the summer adventures, whatever they maybe, with someone. As it was I was riding my bike alone down a busy freeway to the US capital. I was scared, but happy I had stepped out into the unknown. The bike felt heavy, too heavy on the first few miles but I soon synced into its new character and I was away, the weather stayed fair for the remaining 11 hours it took me to cover my first 470 miles. I stayed on the interstate all the way as I was transfixed on the destination. I arrived at my friends house at 9:30pm only to find he thought I was coming the following day and would not be home until midnight. My adrenalin that had sustained me throughout the day quickly dispersed as I sat in the cold awaiting his return. He arrived home, my head hit the bed and I was happy again. The following day I awoke early to bright sunlight and and a fresh breeze, I rode the 20 miles into DC to explore the capital. Of all the american cities I have visited Washington DC felt the most european, with elegant cafes and pretty streets. I parked my bike in a slot between two cars and sat on the curb absorbing the grand and baroque monuments and statues that surrounded me, I watched young parents march by as they imparted their knowledge onto the eager ears of their children. A truly beautiful site. Day 3 - 230 Miles to Roanoke, VA I had calmed very little since my first day and was eager to crunch miles and hit the next destination and so I set out along Blue Ridge Highway weaving the bike for over a hundred miles through beautiful and historic country, as many of the pivotal battles of the American Civil War were fought in these hills. That night I had planned to camp out in a campsite not that far from the town of Roanoke, however I arrived only to find the camp site was closed, with the budget of this trip firmly on my mind I decided to squeeze the bike through the fence and camp there anyway. I set camp and slept well but that morning I awoke with a resolve that I will not isolate myself like that again, travelling on your own allows for a huge amount of flexibility but meeting people along the way was what was going to make this trip for me. Day 4 - 330 Miles to Crossville, TN Thats when things changed, on every front. Firstly the weather turned south and skies opened up and for the entire 330 miles to Tennessee. I had to stop in McDonalds enroute as I had stupidly tucked my trousers into my boots and they were full of water! SO i stood barefoot in the toilet drying my socks and boots under the driers whilst absorbing confused looks from the people coming in to pee. I powered on happy with how the bike handled in the wet and with the prospect of having a warm shower. That night I had planned to stay with Andy, who I had found through the AdvRider and as this was my first time using this I was apprehensive to say the least. Whilst I want to meet as many people as possible on this trip, I am not oblivious to the minority that adorn our news outlets on an hourly basis and as sad as this is, however bastardized, I approached his house with a great deal of irrational caution. I drove the bike down a very wet and muddy track and almost lost control twice, alarm bells started ringing, I have to ride this through Mongolia and Siberia, but that is some time away. An energetic farm dog bounced towards me on his nibble and strong paws, and my apprehensions instantly began to ease! I had just passed a barn on the right hand side when the shutter started to roll up and out walked Andy, a affable and gentle guy who I instantly warmed too. I pulled the bike into the dry warmth and shared the days story. I was quickly informed that I had a room and a bed all to myself inside the house, that news moved over me like a wave of euphoria. That night I sat, warm and dry after the magic of a hot shower, enjoying pizza and listening to the stories of from past years from trials riding, whirly birds and running crazy errands in and around the south. That evening I also met John, Andy's friend and another avid biker. Together I could have listened to these guys all night if the fatigue from the days events weren't setting in with vengeance. That night I slept with huge sense of wonder and optimism to what lay ahead, only hoping I could meet people as engaging and charismatic as these two lads. Andy Day 5 - 127 Miles to Nashville, TN I awoke to a cooked breakfast from Andy's wife, what a way to start the day and even better yet the sun was out and was meant to rise 77 around Midday. John and Andy had hooked me up with their buddies in Nashville but I had decided to stay in a motel, so I could be close to downtown and enjoy the sights Even though I had decided to stay in a motel, these gents were kind enough to come into town and show me the sights and we ended up having a great day and night in the bars and restaurants in Nashville. Again thank you to Dean, Jon, John and Andy Dean Jon Day 6 - Conway, AR Next stop Arkansas, the generosity of John had not finished as he hooked me up with the sweetest family in the entire state of Arkansas, before I got there I completed a really cool ambition of mine, to cross the Mississippi on a motorcycle, and after some advice of John I also decided to stop off and by a heated jacket and gloves, my bike has little to none in terms of protection from the elements, so an upgrade was needed! I spent the evening with my new surrogate family, roasting marshmallows, watching supercross and talking the night away, the melancholy had not lifted but as i spent time with all the friends I was making, i was slowly finding a rhythm for the first leg of this trip across America. Day 7 - Midwest City, OK 300 Miles Another fine day on the road and another group of friends to stay with, this time it was with Rich and Ashley, an adorable couple who showed me the cultural highlights of Oklahoma City, a girl was touring the country showing her film Fagbug, which depicts her true story as a victim of a hate crime, turned on its head and quite fittingly into a positive road trip for awareness.