The next leg of my journey would begin in Milwaukee. Nearly a month ago I chose to leave my equipment at Cobbie's home in this friendly city by Lake Michigan, expecting that we would do a ride together in early May. Then I screwed up my foot, so the ride got called off and my equipment just sat in his garage and collected dust for the entire month. Now, a month later, I was elated to see my bike. I missed that thing! Despite the excitement of being reunited with my vehicle, I was concerned that my bum foot wouldn't bear the abuse of riding 60 miles per day. Today would be my first day of riding since the injury.
Cobbie had mapped out a touristy route around his city. It led me on the Hank Aaron trail past Miller Park and factory, the Harley Museum, through downtown, along the beach and back home. I was thrilled to discover that riding didn't aggravate my foot at all! The ride gave me a huge confidence boost, for the first time in weeks I felt that I'd be able to make it to Colorado.
In addition to boosting my confidence, the ride reignited my passion for the road. While down by the beach I stopped to use the public workout equipment. In no time a gentleman in his fifties and a young guy had struck up a conversation with me. The older fellow was thrilled that I was going cross country. It caused him to embark on an interesting rant. He said, "Man, the more stuff you own, the less free you are. I never made a whole lot of money, just enough to get by, but I took care of myself and I'm doing fine. You don't need a lot of money to be happy!" Everything he was saying seemed very honest. He continued, "You know, everyone wants to buy a house. But you never own a house, the house owns you! Even when you pay it off, you still don't own it. You know why? Because the first time you want to do anything to it you have to get a permit!"
That was an interesting thought. I had personally come to the conclusion that real estate was not a solid investment (for me at this point in my life) because it entails many often-overlooked economic costs. When thinking about real estate, I found that financing, brokerage fees, taxes and even association fees tended to dominate the conversation. Rarely did maintenance costs and time come into the equation, which is understandable because they are harder to quantify and less certain, but unfortunate because these overlooked costs are substantial and can be consuming over the life of the asset. The gentleman's comment made me realize that these costs would be even greater than I had originally conceived.
That's what I like about being on the road, I can get lost on tangents with people and it's all good.
Another tangent: It's sort of funny that this guy reminded me of home ownership. About two years ago I made one of the better decisions of my life by choosing to not buy a home in DC. This trip can be seen as a direct result of that action...or inaction.
In addition to the stimulating talk, I took some pics of this lakeside city.
Milwaukee was reinvigorating. After my 30 mile loop around town I felt ready to go. But it wasn't just the city that invigorated me, it was my good friend Cobbie who did as well (hereafter referred to a Brother Cobb). Housing my bike, taking me out for the best wings I'd ever had in my life (no joke) and just being an understanding friend, Brother Cobb helped bring my trip back to life. I'll always be indebted to my good friend in Milwaukee for his support.
Leg two of my cross country journey would begin in the morning.