"It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus, you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle. - Ernest Hemingway
It hasn't helped matters that I've been reading Around the United States by Bicycle written by Claude C. Murphy (who is one of the cyclists in the book), which basically gives the run down of a bicycle tour taken by two young guys (age 19 and 20) in the early 1900s. Their mission: to hit every state in a wager they decided to take on. They rode more than 13,000 miles over the course of their tour, and on bicycles not nearly as comfortable as today's. The book has its amusing portions, but much of it also reads more like a diary of the happenings in each place they stop. Perhaps not the most riveting book choice, but I'm fascinated nonetheless by their travels.
So, for the time being I'm soaking up information on touring, getting in as much riding as I can, and looking forward to the day when I can take off on a bit of a longer adventure via bike. I'm not sure logistically how I can make this happen (have to find someone to dog-sit while away, and have enough time to go for an extended trip, not to mention extra money for whatever needs arise along the way), but I think it's definitely doable. If nothing else, it gives me something to look forward to planning. As always, I'm up for suggestions from those who have toured (both shorter and longer stints).