Thanksgiving from the road.

It's 9:20pm the night before Thanksgiving, and I'm sitting at the dining room table in the San Diego home of my good friend Francis and his wife, Clara. I've just finished off a dozen of the cookies my mom sent me (double-chocolate oatmeal - da bessssst) and I'm watching the Blackhawks game on a pop-up-laden, sketchy streaming website in another tab in my browser. A rough approximation of what I'd be doing were I in Oak Park with my family tonight.

To date, Mark and I have biked 4,090.4 miles since we left Deadhorse, Alaska more than four months ago. We've conquered mountain ranges, camped in the shadow of Redwood giants, eaten the fish we've caught in glacial lakes, and slept under star-freckled night skies. Since July, my life has been a dream.

I'm thankful for everything this trip has been so far; I am lucky. Most of all, though, I'm thankful for the interactions I've had with others along the way. My friend Max likes to say "Home is people." I thought about that while in the shower earlier tonight after I realized that this is the first Thanksgiving of my life that I won't be with family and friends in Chicago. And I realized that while my heart will always belong to that city (or wherever my family may be), the people I've met thus far have made me feel like I'm never too far from "home" at all. I like that thought.

So, in that vein, here are a few other things I'm thankful for:

This frigid dip in the Arctic Ocean:


Professional drivers:


Paved roads:


The best weather:


The not-so-great weather, too:


The breezy downhills (no pedaling required):


The sweaty uphills (they make the downhills worth it):

Warm meals at the end of the day:


And a dry tent, too:


This reliable beauty:


And sunsets like this:


Stumbling into nights like this:


And a good snack in the middle of the day (sup Snickers):


Plus a cold beer at the end of it:


And the fact that every day I get to ride on some of the most beautiful roads in the world:


But mostly, I'm thankful for everyone I've met along the way - old friends and new. It's the people that have made this trip what it's been so far (this list isn't exhaustive by any means...there are so many more that aren't pictured here).

And of course, these idiots: