So I didn’t take the Great Northern Highway. I shrugged at the junction and disappeared down a cattle trail instead.
It took me nine days to ride the Gibb River Road – 670 km of rock, sand and corrugations that rattled every bolt in my bike. I shredded my tires twice and broke five screws in my pannier racks. Even my shoes fell apart. And I loved it.
It reminded me of another road, the first of this long journey. There the only sounds were bugs, birds and the slow crunch of gravel beneath my feet. I lived on creek water and sunshine, slept beneath tender stars. I was never better than in the Territories.
The feeling faded over time, maybe from age or the weary cynicism of travel. I thought it was gone forever, that this was a fool’s errand. I went mad trying to find it again, when all the time I only had to stop. Breathe. Let it tap me on the shoulder.
It has, and I aim to savor it.