I’ve been underway for twenty-six days, with two days sans riding. It’s the longest I’ve ever been underway in my life. A transformation takes place when you are constantly looking for a place to stay and for food to eat. The things that used to occupy your head become vague, then they go away.
People were made to deal with the stress of finding food and shelter. It is healthy stress, invigorating stress, stress that you mind and body respond well to. It differs from work stress, from Facebag stress, from the psycho-social stress of dealing with “modern life” because your body and mind don’t really object to it, and when those obstacles are conquered for the day you fall into a kind of deep, relaxed tranquility that nothing else compares with.
And the the next morning the hunger and uncertainty restart, you are propelled from the warm sleeping bag, the pedals turn slowly at first, and the next adventure of the next day has begun.
From Olympia I took mostly side roads on a route suggested by Corey. Wooded roads, neighborhood roads, logging roads, spruce, fir, pine, old growth forest, recently logged hillsides, farmland, blackberries, and the 10-mile pedal along Mason Lake made this one of the most beautiful rides of the entire trip.
The day’s destination was Belfair, and it turned out to be a hard and hilly day, hewing closely to the typical average of 10 mph; 60 miles in six hours. The only blowback we got as cyclists came after the turnoff in Belfair towards the park, where signs warned not to “pick up hitchhikers” due to the “correctional facility.”
Whatever they were correcting, it wasn’t bad driving habits as more than a dozen cars in less than three miles dealt out nasty punishment passes. But the park’s gorgeous hiker-biker sites made it all worthwhile.
I’d gotten a text from a blog reader, Brent, who drove over from Tacoma with his son Carson to deliver crucial lifesaving supplies of homemade raspberry jam, freshly picked blueberries, and sticks of Sckubrats instant coffee. It was awesome to put a face to a name, and more importantly, to put mouth to delicious jam and berries.
My neighboring site mate was a guy who had ridden from Jackson Hole en route to San Francisco. He’d been underway for a month.
The park was filled with the typical assortment of giant storage trailers, and one of them had a table saw out in front along with a jigsaw and a lathe. I tried to imagine the conversation prior to leaving.
“Bubba! Don’t forget the danged lathe like you did last time!”
“We needed to plane those joists and all’s we had was the table saw. Don’t forget the table saw, either!”
“Or the recliners!”
“And fer damn sure don’t forget the margarita machine.”
“Aw fer fuxake, Maw, I’d just as soon forget the air compressor.”
As I sat in my tent I heard a lady walking by the hiker-biker sites with her little boy. I peeked out. He was about five, dressed up in a Buzz Lightyear outfit.
“See those people? They are on bicycles.”
Buzz didn’t say anything.
“They put all their stuff on bikes and ride around with it.”
“All of it?”
“How can they do that?”
“Well, they leave at home a lot of things that you might think you need but maybe you really don’t.”
“Do they bring their toys?”
“I guess maybe some of them. But not many.”
Buzz didn’t say anything.
The next morning at 6:00 I was cooking breakfast and who should come racing by but Buzz Lightyear. “Hi, Buzz!” I said.
He waved and grinned. “Hi!”
A few minutes later he came by again, racing even faster. “Wow!” I said. “You are fast, Buzz!”
He pedaled furiously off.
As I was packing up his mom came by. “Just wanted to let you know that I was telling my son about you bike tourists yesterday.”
“Yeah, I heard.”
“He was so fascinated. He stayed up so late asking so many questions!”
“Oh, just about what toys you brought, and what about pajamas, and did you still have corn flakes and Pop-Tarts for breakfast.”
“The big stuff.”
My eldest son used to have a Buzz Lightyear outfit. He’d put it on and go tearing around our house in Japan. He’d put that outfit on and become strong, daring, ready to right the wrongs of the universe with a single punch. And underneath his little helmet there was always a smile of “I want to be like you someday, Dad!”
I wonder if that smile, even a little bit of it, is still there?
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