Monday, August 30, 2010

Into the Mighty Wind

August 28 -- Windburned, Sun scorched, Tired, Sore. Salt crusts on my face and arms. I feel greasy from sunscreen and exertion. The wind feels like a curse. At times I have to get off the bike and walk, and my feet are getting sore as well. I sit on the grass in front of a Superamerica eating my lunch. I suppose I've now completed my first 12 miles. I'd hoped to make 40 today, but I don't think it's going to happen. Coming up out of the Minnesota River valley, is brutal enough, but into a head wind blowing a steady 30-40 mph, it is killing me. I'd hoped to get down to Faribault, so I could take the bike trail that leads to Mankato. There are camping sites along the path. But I can't see making it that far. That means finding a place along the way to camp along side of the road. It makes me nervous to think of it.

Many people have greeted me. A man in a Model A Ford honked as he went past. I waved. He waved. It was as if, together, we represented an older spirit of America--he driving one of history's greatest machines; me striking off west with only what I can carry. Many people have greeted me and shown great enthusiasm for my endeavor.

After hours of riding along country roads, I finally found a truck stop off of I-35 at the Northfield exit. I ran out of water. I thought, for some reason, that I'd be going through towns, but as it turns out, only prairie. Miles and miles of PRAIRIE. I was really starting to worry about water, so I stopped at a couple of houses, but was too embarrassed to go to the door to ask for water. I worry too much about this:  how people perceive me. I happened upon a Lutheran Church, where the cleaning crew was cleaning. I saw cars in the lot, so I went in and drank a gallon from the water fountain and refilled my bottle. I told the people of my trip. They were amazed and astounded, wished me good luck. I wished they would invite me to sleep in there air conditioned youth room with over-sized couches, a large screen TV, and carpeted floor.

I now sit at the truck stop, in the air conditioning. I was out of water again, so I bought two liters, Water is heavy, and I'm so tired I can hardly see straight. I haven't found a place to bed down for the night, so I have to go out now. The sun is setting and it'll be dark soon.

After leaving the truck stop, I tried two places near a cornfield, but was nearly eaten alive by mosquitoes. The grass was too high to pitch a tent. I rode another two miles down the road and was about to knock on a door to ask if I could sleep on their lawn. Then I spotted a boat ramp going down to a lake. A little exploring, and I found a nice, secluded spot along a trail next to the lake. I was able to bathe in the water and get a good night's sleep.

August 29 -- I really wonder what my life is all about. While riding, I don't get much chance to think because most of the effort is put into pedaling into this crazy wind. I wonder if I am somehow "going against the spirit." I sit under a picnic shelter near a lake and wonder where this is leading. I feel pretty discouraged, especially as I think of how much further I have to go. I lay my head down on the picnic table and cry for a few minutes because I feel such despair for where my life is headed. I don't understand this. I've done everything I know to follow my bliss, but it seems only ever to lead to things like this, to dead ends and difficult trips that seem fraught with challenges. I worry that people think I'm crazy, or worse, not willing to work. It's so difficult to explain. I'm just following my heart, but it has become such a long road. I'm tired, my butt hurts, and I wonder where I'm going to sleep tonight.