Updates are coming along. I’ve been adding pictures into the already existing posts. I’m not sure yet how I will insert entries in chronological order…any ideas?
It’s almost October. The beginning of the month is taunting me like a ball on the end of a string being dangled in front of a kitten. Sure, I’d love to reach out and grab it. On the other hand, I’d like to sit and watch it wave in front of me…I will not play your time games…
Time doesn’t exist on the bike. You get up at a reasonable hour and you hit the road before the heat is hitting you. You wander down the small back roads trying to absorb all that you pass. You push those pedals harder when there’s a Walmart in site or an endless stretch of barren land. You don’t know what day it is. You don’t know what time it is. These things that seem to dominate and keep your real life in a choke hold are hardly thought of while you ride. This is one reason why I will never take a vacation that revolves around scheduled activities. Throw in one or two spur of the moment time-based events but man do NOT tell me that I must be here for one adventure or another. Vacations have been marketed so heavily on this adventure or that. How about viewing the whole thing as the adventure and those mini-adventures are the highlights. They won’t be that though if you are late, or forgot your flippers, or your wallet. I guess I’m thinking more or those all inclusive vacations like cruises…
My mom and I went on an 11 day cruise about 4 years ago and it was a lot of fun. But it wasn’t just fun because of the islands we saw or the massive ship we explored daily. It was fun because we had a credit card and could pay for those $8 lattes and $12 mixed drinks with the a swipe. It was fun because we didn’t miss getting back to the boat before it left dock. (I did almost miss it once but jumped aboard as they were pulling in the ramp) It was fun because we only missed one meal-they are scheduled and if you are late, you don’t eat. You’ve now paid for a meal you cannot enjoy. Sounds like a blast! I desperately wanted to stay on every island for at least a day. I think the longest we were on one was from about 7am to 4pm. How sad. It takes 1 hour just to get a taxi somewhere. They were all magnificent places and we did really fun things like scuba dive, take and island tour(we got very drunk), sit on sandy white beaches, kayak along the green banks in crisp blue waters. It was amazing. I never want to do it again! I don’t remember the names of the islands and we went to about 8. I was exhausted from the go-go-go. You’re on a boat! All it can do is GO! There was one day, it was Christmas day, where the boat didn’t even port. It just went in circles.
So enough ranting. The point is that vacations should be an escape from the normal restrictions in life. They should be an opportunity for a person to let loose, take a deep breathe, and be free. Take off your watch, turn off the phone, forget about Facebook and email. Peal yourself away from all of the things that us humans have created to “make your life easy.” Challenge yourself to just relax. For most people these days it is a challenge.
I want you out there, whoever is still reading this, to challenge yourself to sit still for one hour. It’s nearly impossible. Our minds just want to tell our bodies to go! But our minds created time and our bodies don’t always agree with the concept. It’s not good to push the body or the mind to never step back and relax. I try doing yoga to force myself to “get centered” and “be one with myself.” Are you kidding? I’m thinking about not farting in front of the 30 other people in a hot hot hot room filled with highly flexible folks that make me ashamed that I can’t pretzel as they do. I’m trying not to fall over while I’m “calmly” standing on one foot, legs wrapped around each other, arms twisted, head up, breathing in unison. How is this relaxing? I suppose if I were better at it my mind would be free to wander in other directions. What is it that calms you? Do that for one hour just to see if you can. I bet for some of you it’s knitting or gardening. Cooking? Cleaning? Running? It’s funny that all of the calming or de-stressing actions I can think of are just that, actions. We’re supposed to be sitting still. I guess it is a little unreasonable to think that anyone would want to do that…Right? But not because it’s weird but because we would look back on that one peaceful hour with distain. I can hear you now telling yourself how you could have gotten 5 other things done in that one hour. Now your entire day is thrown off because you took such a foolish break. But was it time wasted?
I’m battling time every day. I have no job. I have jewelry supplies begging to be played with. I have dishes to be done and laundry and a resume to fix up and an apartment to find and grants to look for. I have so much to do and so MUCH time to do it that it isn’t getting done. Instead I am awake at 3 am going over this list of things to tackle the next day. I’m so awake that I go ahead and get up for 2 hours to fiddle around and read a cookbook instead of getting much needed rest. It’s been hard to adjust back to a world of deadlines, expectations from others, money issues, places to be…But I bet that had I jumped right back into a job, I wouldn’t feel the same about life. I would be back into a routine of some kind where every free moment is cherished. Where I have time to miss the boyfriend and ache to be home on the couch. Instead I try to think of all the possible things I could do and then don’t do any!
It’s not that I haven’t done anything. I do accomplish things, just very slowly. Today was productive and so was the weekend actually. I may be on the up swing. The date of departure from Charleston is approaching. The weight of change is beginning to sit heavy on my shoulders.
Oscar sits lonely outside. He’s not happy with how often he is used. When he does go for a spin it’s usually to a coffee shop and then home again. I miss relying on him to carry me down the road. Guess I’ll have to start relying on myself.
The day after the completion of our TransAm we began the next adventure: Getting home. Bonnie was prepared to take Kaitlyn back to Eugene and then on to a small town in the country until her flight a day later. She was not prepared to take myself and Eleanor anywhere! We had expected to be without a ride to Portland, where my flight would leave from one week later. We had plenty of time to ride there or hitch-hike or rent a car. Luckily, Bonnie was kind enough to offer a ride. We found a bike shop and bought a rack for $75. We could surely sell it in Portland while there and make most of our money back. The 3 hour ride into the country was a rough one! We hadn’t been for a long ride in a car for over a month. Everything flew by so quickly. I’d eaten too much for lunch. I was exhausted but couldn’t sleep. The rack on the car hung low, only about 6 inches from the ground at one point. It was enough to scare the shit out of me and turn my stomach to knots. I hadn’t gone all that way just to have my bike damaged while riding on a bike rack. To make matters worse, the rack slipped down and we had to check it regularly. I was so sickened by it all that by the time we arrived at our destination I couldn’t eat. The place we stayed that night and the night after was Bonnie’s boyfriends family’s land. It was a couple hundred acres of wooded land with the most wonderful creek running through it. There was a main cabin and house against the creek bank. You could practically step out of the door and into the water. The water was cool and still and deep where you jump in. A short swim upstream got you into small rapids. I swam up to crawl over rocks and explore the waters. There were snails and little creatures that fascinated me! They build their own shells by piling mud on themselves and collecting small pebbles to coat the mud. They just look like rocky soil. They were everywhere!
Kaitlyn’s flight was the next morning -6 am. Instead of going to bed at 9 and then getting up at 3am, we opted for an all-nighter. We headed into Portland to find a movie and an all-night diner. Harry Potter didn’t interest me or Eleanor and with our bikes hanging on the outside of the car, we were content not going in to a theatre. The first idea was to sleep but we weren’t tired enough to sleep huddled in the HOT car. So instead we drank. There was a small bar with outdoor seating. Wine barrels stacked high, fancy drinks flowing, girls dressed up. We sat smelly in our 80 day old outfits and ordered beers and fries-a beautiful meal. Cheers to completing the journey!
We were dumped at the airport with Kaitlyn. By then her bike had been shipped and all that was left was her trailer to carry aboard. We all said our good-byes and Bonnie was gone. Kaitlyn was gone. Eleanor and I loaded up our bikes with our gear, for the last time. I stacked the bike rack in it’s box on top of my back rack. It was quite a sight! Bungeed and awkwardly situated, I hoped it would survive the trip into town. The Portland airport is 40 minutes away from Portland by train. Lucky for us, the train stop was located inside the airport! The train started running at 5 so we had made it in plenty of time to catch the first ride into the city before the sun came up.
Back when we all began planning our trips, long before we knew each other, we had all had chats with the ones closest to us to discuss our ideas of going across the country via bike. With every person we told we collected more an more contacts: emails, phone numbers, towns to see, roads to travel, etc. The suggestions rolled in. I was told to go see a couple on Vancouver Island who I’d never met. They weren’t even on my route but for that persons’ reasons, it was a “must-see” place. So far I’d seen old work buddies in Damascus, The Cookie Lady in Virginia, a restaurant in Kansas, Adam in Boulder, a rep in Longmont, Kaitlyn’s friend in Denver, the girls’ buddy while in Idaho, Kim, Kaitlyns friend in Eugene…..and now it was time to visit Kiera- Eleanors relative she hadn’t seen since she was fresh out of diapers. Trips like these tend to pull all contacts out of the woodwork. We’d tried to find many people/friends/strangers to stay with while in Portland because a stay of more than 2 days may be unwelcome. At that point it was Kiera to the rescue. We had directions to her place-just down the street from the train stop-would that be a fair assessment of distance? Turned out to be! Around 6 am we hauled all of our gear up the apartment stairs where it could rest for a couple of days. Kiera turned out to be more than kind in every way. She took us to the grocery store, to bike shops and out to dinner. After just a day she even told us we could stay until my flight which was 4 more days away! We spent those days sampling the local beers, exploring busy streets, and checking out the eye candy: tatoos. I’ve never seen so many inked folks in my life. The entire trip I’d been dreaming about getting a tatoo but after 5 days of staring at everyone else’s tats I was content with my virgin skin. Maybe I don’t need anything permanent…yet.
Though there was much to do in Portland, we were easily content with walking-not riding, with sampling beers-no more than 3 in a day, with lounging at the pool-not doing laps at 5 am. My body was just fine with as little strenuous activity as possible. However, by the last day as I watched Eleanor pedal away towards the coast all by herself, I had an overwhelming itch to ride, run, climb-anything to exhaust my well rested body. Because you get used to the grind, you don’t even realize how much you really do push yourself every day. Take that away from yourself and it’s like taking cigarettes away from an addict. It became normal to be on the road and now it’s all gone.
Eleanor left that day only to return the next. She later told me that her parents offered to help get her home. Funny thing is that they waited until she’d landed on the coast again to offer. Maybe next year we’ll do the coast….anyone else in?
My last day in Portland finally brought on some of the emotions that I had expected to feel my last days on the bike. Reality was sinking in. I made it. I did the miles. I pushed myself. I had a blast. I made great friends and met only nice people, pure of spirit. My heart raced on and off throughout the day. I was more than happy to head home. I was excited to see the family, the farm, the crops and trees, the familiarities that we all take for granted. I was happy to think of the next chapter: back to Charleston and then on to New York City by October.
I was curious…how would jumping back into “the real world” affect me?
Good bye West coast. I will miss you.