John Otterbacher
Author, Speaker and Adventurer


In my late twenties I took a second foray into solitude. Fully aware that I might run for the legislature the following year, I longed for some time alone. That and the physical extension a long ride on a small motorcycle would certainly entail.

For two months I made my way – on back roads mostly – across the country to California, down into Mexico, up the coast a ways, and back across the deserts of the Southwest. Beauty and desolation in equal parts. The return trip ended abruptly and painfully in a 3:00 AM crash on a bridge across the Mississippi at Saint Louis, Missouri.

I had already milked the summer of its nourishment by then. Nights in a sleeping bag out under the stars in empty places, too often distracted by my considerable fear of snakes. The ache of chosen aloneness to be sure, but also the exhilaration. Long days in the searing heat, sandpaper wind and aching kidneys. A very sore butt. A satisfied exhaustion at the end of a long road. Rare episodes when everything was out of me, even my obsessive thinking. Only naked awareness that felt like prayer:

This winding road and its attention-demanding potholes.

This cold moon on a ridgeline night.

This cup of coffee. This steaming soup.


Clarity returns in the present tense. Animal energy seeps back into the body.

I resolve to change my life.


RIDE picture


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Awards for Sailing Grace

Best New Non-Fiction Book, National Indie Excellence Awards Finalist, Best Book Awards, USA Book News Winner, Michigan Notable Book Awards

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