So I had a lot of options as far as where I wanted to sleep last night. I biked around looking for a good domicile until I saw it. A jungle gym. I could have very easily set up camp anywhere around Willcox, but this jungle gym was perfect. Partly because I would be well concealed, and mostly because I can now say I slept in the yellow tube section of a jungle gym in Willcox, Arizona. It actually worked out pretty well because I was totally protected from the rain. I made sure my head was sticking out at one end so I could stare up at the stars while I listened to the Pixies. Rain fell relentlessly right when I woke up, so I had to kill an hour or so underneath an overhang. I should make it clear that if I’m riding and it begins to rain, I’ll ride through it. However if I wake up and see rain, nah bro. That’s not happening. Who wants to start their morning getting soaked riding a bicycle in the rain? Eh, it’s just not for me. Plus I was able to spend that time making a yummy breakfast of oatmeal and listen to Jeff Garlin’s new podcast (the first two guests are Larry David and Lena Dunham, so I mean it’s like, c’mon. How could you not love that? Well I guess it’s pretty easy to not love that if you don’t like Larry David or Lena Dunham, but I mean it’s like, c’mon. How could you not love them?). Fun fact, Larry David and I both share a love for everything bagels, and the occasional sesame.
Ok so I biked through the rain to this town called Bowie. I’m not a religious man, but today I prayed. I prayed that there might be some inkling or remnants of the glam God. Nothing. Not even a glitter trail leading to a shrine of sorts. Bowie sucks. It reminded me of Fallout: New Vegas where everything was desolate and waiting to be raided; however there wasn’t anything worth taking. In an act of defiance/resentment I peed on the side of their post office and left. That’s what you get for naming a town after a rock icon and not displaying any sort of monument to honor him.
I ran out of water, midday. I was optimistic that I’d be able to refill at Bowie, but we see how that went. So I stopped at the next rest area and refilled. It was there that I met Paul Sprawl. Paul and I gave each other a friendly wave and instantaneously knew we had to talk to each other. He’s a musician from Minneapolis who is currently on tour. He is currently writing a song for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a group that represents around 4,000 farm workers in Florida. You can read about it here: http://www.ciw-online.org/slavery.html and yes you read that correctly. Slavery still exists in the 21st century in America. It’s a disgusting and abhorrent thing that’s taking place every day in Florida. I had no idea this kind of thing went on until Paul brought it to my attention. He and I conversed for quite some time about various social injustices, the problematic sway that music critics hold in that industry, and our responsibility as citizens to make a conscious effort to better the earth. It was a rich conversation to say the least, and reinvigorated my faith in humanity. To know that there are people like Paul working every day spreading important messages through creative outlets helps me to rest a bit easier at night.
Paul said two things that really resonated with me; First he stated: “Fear is good when there’s danger” What he meant by this is that it’s natural to be afraid when a danger is clear and present. It’s irrational to fear things when they present no harm. Fear of the unknown is crippling, but we fall victim to it constantly. It’s a difficult thing to overcome and a constant struggle for many. I was fearful of dismissing myself from my comfort zone, but when I look deeper into what I perceived to be a “comfort zone” I realize that I hated that lifestyle. Working for a paycheck, lacking any sort of creativity or adventure caused me mental impotence. Now the road is my comfort zone. I have no idea where I’m going to sleep tonight and that doesn’t intimidate me anymore. At any rate, I think Paul’s point was to recognize and eliminate the irrational fears in your life, and you’ll see how quickly your mindset alters to a more positive and open one.
The second thing he said was “Our consciousness needs to catch up to our technology”. We crave the next big technological breakthrough, but do we comprehend its implications? I often times do not. We need to utilize these assets instead of relying on them for the most mundane of tasks. These devices are tools not crutches. Ok this sounds too preachy. What I’m saying, and what I think Paul was saying is that we need to take more responsibility for the things we hold power over. We have control over many more things than we think. It’s important to stay connected to each other on a platform that exceeds electronics. I look at the demise of the postal service and other social services. These things die out because we allow them to. I’ve never heard someone complain that they received a letter in the mail. It’s important to keep the things that bring us joy in our lives in our lives. There are a lot of deceptions and distractions in our lives that hinder us from making a real positive change. If you’ve read any of my prior posts, you can see just how easily I succumb to those distractions. It’s much easier to preach than to practice.
Anyway, Paul and I parted ways, but not after a hug and some well wishes. As I was getting ready to get back on the road, Paul handed me a bag of trail mix and a banana. I am glad we met and I hope to see him again someday. Once I got back on the road an enormous rainbow stretched out over the highway. It was an excellent capstone to an excellent conversation.
FLAT TIRE ALERT! FLAT TIRE ALERT! Right when I crossed into New Mexico (oh yeah I got to New Mexico today) I was greeted with a well-timed flat tire. Changing a flat in the dark and in the rain was a first for me. I found the culprit and patched the tire in a much shorter time than anticipated. Because I didn’t expect to see another bike shop for a couple hundred miles after leaving Tucson, I preemptively bought a spare tire. I think I’m going to have to use it much sooner than expected.
Today I biked through some of the worst weather I’ve seen on this trip. Gusts of wind hurled themselves in my direction all day. I was perpetually soaked throughout the duration of my ride. I ended up cycling through a dust storm which rendered me incapable of seeing anything further than 10 feet in front of my bike. I ended up riding at night on the interstate. And to cap it all off, it snowed for the last 3 miles until I reached Lordsburg. Yes that’s, correct, for the first time on this trip I had the pleasure of cycling through the snow. All in all, it was a pretty good day!
I would recommend listening to this at an inappropriately loud volume:
Total Ascent: 2410 ft.