elk garden methodist church fellowship hall, rosedale virginia. came in dripping wet from the coldest rainiest day ever. wrung out my socks and gloves in the sink. then proceeded to cover every vent in the room with wet clothes, shoes and socks. then we put it all back on the next day. stiff, but dry.
October 29, 2011
my mom told me i need to update my blog. its been a while, hasn’t it? i’ve crossed 4 state lines and a time zone.
its certainly not that i dont have plenty to say, i write the most brilliant, emotionally touching, witty posts ever, while i’m riding. silently, to myself.
really, i do.
these rarely make it into my tiny little computer…and then when i have the time (and free hands) to do it, somehow the words aren’t ready, it seems i’ve left them miles behind, put new and different words on top of them. jumblethoughts. nobodywantstohearthisstuffthoughts. imtootiredtothinkthoughts.
and the longer i wait, the more things that pass, the more daunting the task
instead of speeding up this parade, a necessary plan if we were to make it home in the assumed amount of time, we’ve slloowwwedd dooowwnnnnn…
theres been rain. theres been short days, late start days, the days are getting shorter and we lost an hour crossing a time zone days, 50 miles between towns days (which means you do 50 or you do 100, and you can’t do 100 if you don’t start early)…
in oregon, reaching virginia didn’t compute in a time sortof way, more like an event in the unknowable distant future. maybe our feet are dragging because the end is nearing, taking shape. we are almost done, a three month life hiatus, an epic adventure, a ‘transformational journey’….over.
relief (i’m ready)
and panic (i’m not ready)
have i changed enough? learned all i should on an undertaking such as this? have i figured myself out yet? has it been worth it????
that last one is easy. of course its worth it. its worth the peace of mind that i’ll have from doing instead of wondering about doing. theres lack-of-regret there. do i have regrets, obviously. should’ve taken more photos, journaled daily, blogged more, cried less, eaten less food containing HFCS, blah blah blah.
this is everything. sea-level to over ten thousand feet above it, desert hothot heat to freezing mountin rain. i am sunburned and tanned with trialanderror, chilled to the bone with realization, my sweat smells like memories. i’m drenched with fat juicy tears that taste shapeless and vast, those of inarticulatable emotions, well before ‘happy’ or ‘sad’.
have i found answers to my many questions? some, and an important one: that there are no answers exactly but always plenty of questions, endless questions. rather i find moments, beautiful brief ones, where all of existence falls into place and everything hums perfectly, resonates in my core so i understand that something is RIGHT and good. but i knew that before i left.
i am rich with hard-learned lessons, the kind that ache my muscles to the bone and my heart to its beat. those that demand self dependency, and those that shatter it. there is strength in numbers. there is love among us.
there is so much more to this than i could neatly say, than i could hope to presently wrap my brain around.
so here are some photos, instead.
October 7, 2011
October 5, 2011
earlier today i was lying on a queen mattress, behind the curtain on a stage in the fellowship hall of a lutheran church in huchinson, kansas. i napped and listened as a hustling bunch of people prepared a large dinner in the dining room, just beyond the curtain. later, we joined the group for dinner, sticking out like the sorest thumbs, but were welcomed all the same.
zion lutheran church offers a ‘bike hostel’, including 2 queen beds, use of the kitchen and shower, and when no one is around, free exploration of this beautiful old building.
our riding group has dwindled temporarily back down to just joey and i, last night, our first night here in the church, we had grown to six. he and i stayed behind another day because i’ve conveniently aquired some sort of sinus /respitory something and just want to rest.
we met marie and cindy just before crossing into kansas about a week ago when we all stayed with a lady named gillian. she has a trailer on her farm just for cyclists. i liked everything about the place except for the free-wandering turkeys, which totally freaked me out.
then we met je-youn on the road. he flew to washington from his home in korea, and is riding the same route we are to virginia, then heading to new york to fly back home.
we met olivia back in mitchell oregon, and camped with her off and on through missoula montana. she has rejoined us in kansas, and now met the rest of the group, which brings us to 6!
i’ll never say kansas was my favorite state to ride in, but the camping has been really neat. this churchmouse’s perspective in the lutheran church is unique, for sure.
otherwise, these tiny towns let cyclists camp in their city parks, the cutest little parks with a little something different everytime. one had a shuffle board, which i slid down in my sock feet late into the night.
another was located across the street from the city pool. although it was closed for the season, someone from the sheriff’s office came down to unlock the restrooms for us. just beyond the empty pool was some silent old amusement park equipment, a ferris wheel and the spinning octopus thing, it pretty much felt like a horror movie waiting to happen. though it was probably the creepiest shower of my life (so far!) i was glad to have one, most of the parks don’t have showers. i’ve gotten pretty good at spigot rinsing, which means i remove the sunscreen layer from my legs, arms and face. ahhhhhhh, dirty adventure!
October 1, 2011
changing the route through the rockies saved us from freezing, and also meant we got to visit kati and megan, friends from charlotte who recently moved to boulder. kati treated us with delicious quiche, full of veggies, we checked out the best farmers market (with samples galore, including lemon ginger balsamic vinegrette and quinoa granola, mmmmmmm), had AMAZING pizza, hung out with some of their friends at a birthday party, and chilled with hazel, their cat. thanks ladies, for hosting us right!
after boulder came denver and my 31ist birthday; both passed quickly, we sneakycamped in a park(ish type place) just off a bike path.
in colorado springs we stayed with our second warm showers hosts (leanna and jessie), and were well fed with lentil and kale stew (so good) and beer bread for sopping. we were their first hostees!
leaving with full bellies and lots of gratitude, we headed for pueblo. getting there involved a 14 mile stretch of unpaved road, with little option otherwise. i am riding on road tires, skinny little tiny ones, and get nervous even in gravel driveways and parking lots. this road was hardpacked dirt in some places, but looser sandy rock in others. i was having a blast for most of the time, my trailer fishtailing a bit here and there, until i slid across the road and landed in some cactus type plants. after picking thorns from my clothes and uprighting the bike, i rode the rest of the way very cautiously. and a little mad.
later we sat in a gas station parking lot, wondering where to put ourselves for the evening, when a man in spandex (monty, in pink floyd themed spandex) rode up and asked where we were staying. we don’t know, we said. do you want to stay at my mom’s? he said. yeah, we said.
when monty was 45, 13 years ago, he rode around all 48 lower states, starting in texas and working his way clockwise over 10 months of solo touring. then he wrote and published a book about it. he is still an avid bike rider.
when he found us in pueblo he was visiting his mother, and assured us she’d have no problem with us staying in her sunroom. we followed him there and met jean, his very sweet mother, who gave us grapes and cookies and snack mix. and showers. we all went out for dinner (monty’s treat!) then stayed up late trading stories of our travels.
what stands out most to me meeting all of these people is the level of trust and comfort established almost immediately. both warm showers couples we’ve stayed with left for work while we were still getting ready, with hugs and a ‘lock the door behind you please’. monty left before we did, too (to lead a mountain bike ride), and his mom jean sent us off, but not before feeding us breakfast and showing us her monthly decoration table (by the front door, changing with the seasons and holidays). sitting around eating and chatting together (most often about something bike related, but not always) has been easy, natural. its really heartwarming to be so welcomed into homes of people we’ve just met. its neat.
September 27, 2011
after being in super small towns and riding on quiet roads for so long, the traffic and modernity of larger cities feels strangely loud, unfamiliar. i feel a bit out of place in my this-is-my-only-outfit, rocking my unkemptness.
we get some really strange looks at stores in small, everybody-knows-what-everybody-is-doing towns, especially from the older, ehem, gentlemen, who probably think spandex was an invention of satan himself. i like to ask these folks how they’re doing to break the stoney, confused looks on their faces.
otherwise, most locals have seen a lot of cyclists come through over the years (if we stay on route, that is) and are happy to ask if we’re headed east or west, if we’re enjoying ourselves, wishing us luck and such.
i’m accompanied by a relieving sense of anonymity in anysize town. surrounded by strangers i will only know briefly if at all, i feel little pressure to impress anyone, to be a certain way. i do not care that i’m only kinda clean, hairy, sunburned funny. i am free to temporarily shed the expectations of consistency. in writing this, i am maybe only just now realizing how little i am taking advantage of this, how ‘out of character’ i could be, no one is familiar with my character. i’m not sure i am, for that matter.
September 21, 2011
i suck at being cold. my fingers and toes literally go numb (but in a painful sort of way) and i pretty much lose dexterity completely. then i whine about it. i can’t help it, i’m not proud of it.
the adventure cycling maps were to take us west of the rockies, we decided instead to go east through estes park, to ft. collins and boulder. this route would save us a great deal of time (and climbing) in higher (colder) elevations. cameron pass took us over the mountains, to our highest point so far.
the road was wet, (and i have no front fender, which is no one's fault but mine) so my feet and legs took the brunt of the spray off the tire (pretty much getting soaked) on the way down the mountain. i usually enjoy descending so much, but this was the most uncomfortable i had been so far. at 30 miles an hour in freezing temperatures, wet clothes are not ok. i was so cold, so cold, and couldn't think about anything but that fact as we flew past a sign that said steep grade (downhill) next 15 miles. when my hands got so icynumb that i couldn't shift we stopped. i cried. it hurt. at joey's suggestion i did some jumping jacks to get my blood moving (and when my legs proved to be too tired to jump i just jacked, arms only), and slowly regained feeling in my sad body parts. once we got to the camp ground i put on everything. all of my clothes. two pairs of socks. it rained while we made dinner and i'm pretty sure there was sleet. i cursed the sleet. it rained throughout the night and into the morning, when i tried refusing to exit the tent. the warm, cozy, sort-of dry tent. when the fly started dripping into the tent, i begrudgingly got redressed (again, putting on as many things as possible), and begged the sun to come out. after we got moving it did, and we had warm(er) sunny weather through some beautiful rocky mountain canyons, headed to ft collins.
September 19, 2011
headed for colorado out of saratoga, after a long stretch of quiet highway, we came across a group of people lingering around their vehicles in a pullout area. one of the guys offered us some coffee as we passed them, yes please, always. so we stopped riding for a moment to sipandchat. they were in the airforce and taking a break from some sort of training (and were oddly vague about what they were doing, other than being super friendly to passers-by). as i sipped delicious (turkish!) french press and munched on trail mix, a group of 3 cyclists headed in the opppsite direction rode up and joined our odd roadside bunch. we all traded stories, standing on the shoulder. things like this make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
we couldn’t linger too long though, said our thank yous and goodbyes, and rode on. colorado greeted us with grey skies, and we raced the setting sun to walden. it got cold.
September 18, 2011
ever heard of couch surfers? theres a similar network of people who host cyclists called warm showers, we had our first experience with this in the small town of saratoga, wy.
but first, a stop at the town’s free hot springs!
we’ve passed up several hot spring opportunities along the route for reasons of cost and lameness (one was basically an indoor heated pool, which is fine, but i shouldn’t be advertised ‘hot springs’ so much as ‘expensive indoor pool’), but saratoga’s was awesome. and free. and almost-scalding. i love hot water, but this was difficult to get in, like slowly creeping into cold water, but tingley-hot. once submerged, my stifftired muscles relaxed and released. it was nice. for less than 5 minutes. (its a get-in, get-out, get-back-in sort of thing).
after thoroughly soaked, we rode to tom and sheila’s house. we couldn’t have asked for more welcoming hosts; veggies, pasta, ice cream and lots of laughs, a super comfy bed, eggs and coffee AND a shoulder massage! (sheila is a massage therapist). we were spoiled and then some. so much thanks to these kind folks!
rocky mountains, here we come!
September 12, 2011
i met you (for the second time) not quite a year ago, and i’m changed for it. you are beautiful inside and out, your presence makes this world a better place. thank you for the things you’ve taught me, thank you for helping me get here. i’m so grateful to know you, you are one of the most genuine people i’ve ever met. your capacity for love is beautiful, admirable. i have a lot of respect and love for you, dear friend. miss you.