Day 16 (Neil Does it Again)

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Today was my last day in Tucson. I showed up to Aunt Margaret and Uncle Bruce’s house smelly, tired, and hungry a week ago. This morning I leave clean, full, and refreshed. I had such a great time with them. We learned so much from each other. I loved the fact that they enjoyed feeding me. I probably had about 6 meals a day at their house. Candy, burritos, pork chops. Basically if they had it, I ate it. Ah it was a glorious week for my stomach. But it was also nice to be able to openly and freely talk about their son Michael and my brother. To call my week with them therapeutic would be an understatement.

However all good things come to an end. I have to get back on the road to see what else is out there. Today I didn’t really see much. Something tells me it’s going to be the same landscape shots for a while. I’m, ok with that. Mountain range after mountain range transformed from being something I despised, to something I draw inspiration from now. I’m beginning to appreciate these views more and more because I know they’re eventually going to come to an end.

I reached a town called Willcox a few minutes before nightfall. I guess I’m going to sleep here for the night. Riding through this town is all kinds of creepy. First of all, Willcox has one stoplight with people standing around drinking and staring at it. Secondly, its largest source of revenue appears to be dilapidated and abandoned motels scattered throughout the town. There’s a part of me that want’s to sleep in one of these uninhibited motels, but there’s a bigger part of me that doesn’t want to get murdered. Right now I’m sitting in a McDonalds which appears to be the only functional establishment for miles. I’m not worried about finding a place to sleep. This town’s too sprawling for the five people who live in it to find me.

Anyway, while on my ride I was thinking about a few things today; one of those being my old man. Much of that has to do with a song that came on shuffle this afternoon. I had to stop and stare off into the distance as it played. It was about as cliché as using the phrase “that’s so cliché”. I didn’t really care. I thought about my Dad and how much he busts his ass to keep his family happy. Growing up I had friends with Dads who were doctors, businessmen, and any other white collar middle class profession you could think of. Mine was a janitor. I was embarrassed by this throughout all of high school. I wished I could have bragged to my friends about how he was a pilot, or an architect. I was stuck with janitor. I thought about it more today and recognized the fact that I always had a hot meal for dinner. I always had a roof over my head. I never had to worry about the electricity or heat being cut off. I’ve met people on the road that were unable to say the same. My father provided for his family and worked his ass off at a shit job to make sure that they were comfortable. Both of my parents did. I know that if it was up to him, he’d be doing something different, but he did what he thought was right. I respect the man for that. While there are many things we may never see eye to eye on, I know I can take comfort in the fact that he cares about his family and has sacrificed so much to assure their wellbeing. There are many things I’ve inherited from my father, some good and some bad. A truly selfless work ethic combined with a pragmatic sense of duty is one of them. And that has redeemed my adoration and reverence for him. I am convinced he sacrificed his volunteerism at the fire department because he was working too much overtime at the schools to try and perpetuate the lifestyle we were so used to. This is something I failed to acknowledge in school because I was too preoccupied worrying about my social status in the now meaningless high school caste.

My father did his best. I only hope I can be half the man he is. Aw shucks, I love the old man.

Obviously, this was the song:

Stats:

Miles: 78.77

Calories: 3640

Time: 6:57:13

Total Ascent: 3192 ft.

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