Monday, May 25, 2009

Beaver Dam, KY to St. Mary, MO: Appreciating What's Right in Front of You

Miles Per Day: Day 20=REST; Day 21=44.11; Day 22=54.72; Day 23=33.32; Day 24=59.45; Day 26=52.95

Total So Far: 1,165.53

Inspiration: the silence of empty roads; Rescue Me; the owl right outside my tent in Eddyville, Il; Sepultura; sending myself Netflix DVDs to post offices via General Delivery; Counting Crows; hushpuppies;

Spirits: HOT; exalted; happy; determined; friendly.

Things Seen On the Road: gorgeous marshes on the banks of the Mississippi; a baby deer; curious road crews; 4 to 5 miles of road in the distance in a particularly flat area of Illinois.

Favorite Quotes: (1) Dwight talking about his 12 year-old son at a Murphysboro bar: “[paraphrasing] he wrote in his class essay that if he ever had to deal with Nazis he would use his AK-47. And suddenly they call me and tell me to that I had to go and talk to the principal...can you believe that!?...I mean, all he owns is a shotgun;” (2) someone at a breakfast joint in Beaver Dam, KY: “I wish I was young enough to get on a bike and head out there with you...sounds like a grand adventure.”

For the first time since I started this trip I have allowed myself to fully comprehend how far I've come. In just 26 days I have biked over 1,000 miles and have crossed three states. I am now on Central time. That really blows me away.

But I can't let myself think beyond that. The way I have approached this trip is to break up the mileage into smaller, more manageable segments. Not knowing where I will be more than 3 days out forces me to focus on what's right in front of me and to live in the moment.

This is probably the most valuable lesson so far: forget about what's over the next hill...have the patience and the courage to realize that the most valuable things in life might actually be right in front of you.

The stories keep on piling up:

*Mud Play: After riding out of the ferry at Cave in Rock, Il, I got busy looking for a campsite. Taking a wrong turn, I found myself stuck in the mud right on the banks of the Ohio River. I got off my bike and started walking it out of the area but within minutes I could barely move it. The mud was starting to harden in the hot sun and I had no choice but to dig the stuff out with my bare hands. I then had to walk the bike up to the Cave-in-Rock state park for 45 minutes. Not fun.

*iphone GPS Can Suck: So, I'm still relying quite a bit on the iphone GPS application. I would say that 85% of the time it is golden. However, three days out of Beaver Dam, I was heading down a pretty steep hill when I spotted a beautiful pond towards the bottom. I counted myself lucky because I was totally off the established trail and my iphone had found something beautiful and unexpected. And then I realized that the pond was actually water that had completely flooded the road. I immediately hit the breaks and missed a dunk in the water by a couple of feet.

*Solitude is Awesome: Stopping to take a sip of water and partake in yet another Trail Mix bar I looked around and realized that I was completely alone. The road I was on was particularly deserted and I hadn't seen a car or a house in over half an hour. I put my bike near a tree and took my sunglasses off. With a smile on my face I yelled at the top of my lungs for a good 10 seconds. Solitude can sometimes be the most amazing thing in the world.


Crossing the Ohio River into Illinois:



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