“Starting out was the hardest part. I was 2,000 miles away from anyone I knew,” says Lake Highlands resident Josh McFarlane, who recently completed a 3,300-mile cross-country bicycle trek.

McFarlane’s saga began last summer in the coastline town of Astoria, Ore. It ended 44 days later at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn.

McFarlane spend $500 on the road, eating at grocery stores and sleeping on the side of the road in a sleeping bag.

“I don’t think my mom ever liked the idea until I got back,” says McFarlane, who graduated from First Baptist Academy in Dallas and is a junior at Rhodes.

His mother, Lee, says her mind was at peace with his voyage only because he called home every other day. Still, she was “on her knees” until he made it safely to his school, Lee says.

McFarlane began thinking about the adventure a year ago while in Mexico working as a backpacking guide.

After being told by a passerby about people who were riding bikes across the United States, he was “blown away” by the idea, McFarlane says. From that point on, he was on a mission.

So he bought a bike for $900, flew to Oregon and was ready for the ride. And a long, adventure-packed ride it was.

“Anywhere that no one else was, I loved,” he says. “Me, the cows and the sky – that was so cool.”

There were the people he met, including one McFarlane describes as the “rainbow groupie,” a drug-dealing runaway teenager who was heading back from Florida, where the teen followed the rock group “Fish” from town to town and smoked a lot of pot in the woods. The teen had a milk carton attached to his garage-sale bike, ate edible plants and had no particular destination in mind, McFarlane says.

“I ran into all kinds of kooky people,” laughs McFarlane.

There were the dogs we met.

One morning, he woke up with growling dogs surrounding his sleeping bag and one of them was tearing into his sleeping bag.

“It was kind of intense,” he says.

And, of course, there were the cars.

Once, a diesel truck in Colorado nearly knocked him over, he says.

Yet the havoc, the silence, the solitude and the lack of hygiene made the trip an adventure, he says.

“My suggestion to everyone is it’s not about what you do, it’s about if it’s your dream or not. What I found in going after the big dream is the struggle creates its own rewards,” McFarlane says.

He says living his dream was fun, but he vividly recalls his major regret.

“Sometimes I got caught up on how much my butt hurt and how I didn’t want to ride anymore,” he says.

“You just don’t ever get used to sitting on a bike seat. It was a problem that just stuck with me.”