My last morning with Uncle Dutch and Aunt Gerry consisted of a cream of wheat breakfast, a pair of hugs, and a promise to see each other again. Spending time with them was something I will cherish for a while. I’ll miss our stimulating, well versed, and often times heartfelt conversations. I felt connected to them on a level surpassing the expectations of a two day visit.
The road was vast and thought provoking today. Because there wasn’t much to look at, I discovered a neat phenomenon. If you stare into the seemingly endless open road for a length of time, then direct your eyes to a mountain range, the mountains begin to shape shift. That is how I spent an entire hour today.
I was finally chased by my first pack of dogs on this trip east! They didn’t really put up much of an effort. I was disappointed by their lackluster attempt to catch me. I guess they had better things to do.
Because of how dry the air is out here, I received a nosebleed today. A nosebleed that refused to stop and left me with blood all over my clothes/the road. I actually ran into a few people and had conversation with some all the while oblivious to the fact that I had dried blood encompassing the lower half of my face. I had a ten minute conversation with a guy named John in this state. I can only wonder what must have been going through that guy’s head and why he humored me for that long.
About halfway through the day I came upon a white bicycle. If you don’t know what those are, they’re essentially a memorial spot for a cyclist who was struck and killed by an automobile in that location. I have seen far too many white bicycles on this journey. This one belonged to a 40 year old man named Brett Saks. I noticed a zip lock bag in the back wheel containing a few notes from his child. I had no choice but to sit there and stare at this bicycle. I thought about what Brett’s face might have looked like when he’d be flying down a hill, or the joy that I’m sure overtook him when he’d catch a tailwind. Naturally, I reflected on my own morality and reminded myself of how easily I can be struck at any instant. I know that all I can do is control my actions on my bicycle and remain conscious of the hazardous nature of this endeavor. I am connected to this white bicycle, and I will think of Brett when I reach the coast. I will reach the coast.
Later in the day I rode through the town of Coolidge. Coolidge has a Wal-Mart in town. Coolidge also has a section of town occupied by closed down and abandoned businesses. Towns like these are a constant reminder of the unregulated greed that saturates our capitalist structure. I have observed more decay of Middle America than I would care to discuss. At this moment, I feel a disconnect with human nature.
Before I exited Coolidge, a boy on a bike yelled what I thought was “bike power” while raising his clenched fist in my direction. I raised my fist in response. After a few seconds, I debated whether or not he said “bike power” or “white power”. I couldn’t hear him because I had my headphones in. Either I perpetuated this young man’s hatred, or I reinforced his love of bikes. I’ll never know. I was separated from my interactions with the outside world, because I was busy connecting with two people discussing the necessity for furthering space exploration on my Ipod.I have never interacted with these two people yet I felt more associated with them than this kid. However, while I had zero impact on the discussion taking place in my ears, I definitely made an unknowing impression on the boy. I think I’m looking too far into this ordeal. Hopefully we’re not racists.
Once outside of Coolidge, I had much less visual stimulation. Therefore I had more time to contemplate the idea of fear. I am not afraid of scorpions. The fact that I am in an environment where the chances of me encountering a scorpion are dramatically increased, would suggest that I might become fearful of them. Nope. I am afraid of commitment. Not scorpions. The idea of spending the rest of my life with someone else is a much bigger fear than some insect. What if I’m 40, married, and I wake up next to that person and become overwhelmed with boredom towards that person? Or even worse, what if they grow bored of me? I am afraid to say ‘I love you’ to some people because I know that one day they’ll die. I think that’s more irrational than being afraid of a scorpion, but it’s a legitimate fear of mine. It’s an anxiety I’m working to eliminate from my life, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about it more often than not. Sometimes I wish I could fear something so innocuous like a bug instead of such heady things. I desperately want to turn my brain off for just a day and be afraid of something dumb like a scorpion. Ugh, fuck scorpions. By the way, I am totally going to get stung by a scorpion tonight for talking so much shit on them. When you’re staring at the same landscape for two hours, and you don’t think about things like this, I sometimes envy you.
I am camping off the side of the road again tonight. Last night I was in a heated house sleeping on a comfortable mattress. Tonight I will put sticks on a fire in an attempt to stay warm and to fend off the pack of coyotes that incessantly howls at the moon every 45 seconds. I still don’t know which of these nights I like better. I live a strange life, but it is the one I chose for myself and I am quite fond of it.
Total Ascent: 1224 ft.