b'FRIDAY, MAY 25, 1990I had just completed my second year of grad school at Columbia University in New York City. The pomp and ceremony of graduation was over and now an epic journey, months in the making, was about to begin. On Friday, May 25, 1990, I give the superintendent the keys to our apartment and catch a taxi to LaGuardia airport. The yellow cab traverses Harlem with two oversized bike boxes protruding from a partially closed trunk. I check my luggage and the boxes curbside and catch a flight to Seattle where my friend, Ben Cope, picks me up at the airport and lets me stay on his couch. Over the next two days, I reassemble our bikes and research local sources for additional touring equipment. My girlfriend, Emilie, an associate producer for ABC Sports, is in Indianapolis working on the networks pre-race coverage of the Indy 500. On Sunday, as the green flag signals the start of the race, she gathers her travel bag, leaves the fabled Speedway and catches a flight to join me in Seattle, beginning a three-month sabbatical from her job. On Monday, May 28, Memorial Day, we say goodbye to our hosts and catch a ride to an outdoor store downtown to buy front panniers and racks. We assemble the panniers on-site, load them with our equipment and clothing, and do a test loop or two around the parking lot. Luckily for me, I have a few extra bungee cords, so whatever doesnt fit in the storage compartments, I strap onto my rack. Somehow, all of our gear fits on the bikes.Fully loaded, our bikes carry two sleeping bags, two mats, four water bottles, a large two-person tent, a tarp, rain gear, extra tubes and repair kits, two mini bike pumps, a whisper lite propane stove and tank, three cooking pans, two plates, an all-in-one spoon/fork/knife, a ceramic cup for soup and coffee, a fishing pole and tackle, a few crunchy granola bars, and a half dozen freeze-dried dinners. Our minimal clothing includes sandals, swimsuits, wool sweaters, winter-weight socks and gloves, a pair of shorts, two towels, and of course, a Swiss army knife. At this point in the trip, I am carrying an extra 65 pounds and Emile about 50 additional pounds.We also box up a change of fresh clothing and postmark it for Whitefish, Montana, where we will stay with my former college roommate. Another box of clothing goes to my parents house in Louisville, Kentucky, at least 2,000 miles away. From the post office, we ride our bikes fully loaded along the quiet streets of Seattle on a national holiday, coasting downhill to the waterfront where we roll our bikes onto a ferry headed to Bremerton. From the Bremerton dock, we switch to a Port Orchard ferry, which is so small we have to tie our bikes to the outside of the boat.As the sun sets across the Puget Sound, our ferry arrives at the dock of Port Orchard. Pat and Sue Gubbins house is directly up a straight, very, very steep hill. We will spend one more night with friends before heading out on our adventure.4'