Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Companions on the Path
I went to sleep in the historic Virginian hotel and was intrigued by the concept of being surrounded by six walls, including the floor and ceiling. It was much different than a tent, mainly because the walls were much farther away from the bed and you can't just reach up and touch them. I felt more comfy in my tent. Sleeping in this box of a room seemed strange, yet secure. I understand the need for security while sleeping, I mean, who wants to be eaten by bugs. The psychological impact of being in your shell is worth the price of struggling against the unknown.
So I drifted into sleep hoping to meet my teacher or the dead writer in the astral plane. There were three tropical paintings on the wall of beach scenes that reminded me of my ten years in Key West. I slept peacefully with no spiritual visitations. My teacher's spirit helped me lay out the structure of my next astrology documentary in the tavern all day and the dead Western author inspired my Blog post. So I woke up ready to go!
I had 58 miles to get to Rawlins over a road that had little water, but with my new camel back water carrier I was on top of that challenge. My friend and colleague Moses Siregar said that in Vedic astrology this was an interesting beginning to my Saturn Dasa a long planetary period that shapes your life. In the Sidereal Indian Zodiac, I have Saturn in Aries in the 6th House of Struggles. He says my actions are the perfect response to this energy, facing lots of physical challenges and struggles in a heroic Aries like Dare Devil way. And since Mars governs Aries and I have Mars in Scorpio on the Ascendant in Vedic, a mark of a master of Martial expression, and it is conjunct Jupiter, I have the most amazing strength and support for overcoming anything. I feel like that!
So I carried all my panniers and water bottles down to the tavern, had a cup of Green Tea, loaded up the bike, and took off riding hard into those 58 miles. When you have that far to go, it's better not to think about it and instead just stay in the moment enjoying the ride, the scenery, and focusing on logging one mile at a time. After several hours I had gone about 20 miles and saw a Windmill farm, which was cool. I thought about how during the Piscean Age, oil became the dominant resource for energy. Back in the Age of Aries it was the metal ages (Iron, Bronze, etc) and the smelting of metals through fire. In the age of Aquarius it seems like Wind will rise to a dominant force, even though windmill farms get a bad rap for killing birds or not being very good at generating enough energy. Maybe space will be our resource and we'll channel the power of the stars.
The road down to I-80 to get me to Rawlins, WY was very serene with Elk Mountain off to my left the whole ride, standing as a testament to the strength of the earth element topped with delicious crystal white snow. Every time I would work hard to get up another great hill I would come over a pass and get to see a whole new vista. That's the mystery of travel and exploration restored just because you're moving at a slower pace. When you're zooming by in a car, you're concentrating on driving and not wrecking and you barely notice the scenery. When you are a passenger, you occasionally look out the window and notice the new and different, but you pretty much get bored and focus on your thoughts. When you're on a bike pedaling you definitely think about things with intense concentrated focus, but you also find yourself in communion with everything around you.
All the problems that plagued you when you were living an abnormal "normal" life seem to melt away.
The pain in my body started to return around 25 miles. My rear and the seat were not friends, so you try and compensate by standing up or pushing hard on the pedals to lift yourself even a millimeter off the seat to let the sharp pain subside. But then your feet go numb and your toes cramp up, and it hurts even worse because now your butt and your feet are screaming. So you try and compensate again by moving your feet forward so that you are pedaling with your heels in the most awkward way possible. You look like your trying to hold back some gas, and of course you can't sustain that going uphill at all, which is why the uphill slopes have a piercing sharp pin to your nervous system. You feel like a voo doo doll chained to a bike.
Then the scenery changes to help you deal with the pain. I stopped on top of a pass and looked back to study the route I'd traversed and saw the road winding down and then up over the last pass. Then I looked ahead and saw the same thing. In a way it was poetic, an endless trail stretching from the past, reaching toward the future with you on the side of the road enjoying a Clif bar and some water wondering how you are in this present moment. The road to the past looks just like the road to the future, which is dismaying in some way. However, you realize from this perspective that you can change the road to the future at any time. You are free to go anywhere as long as you are ready o deal with bike repairs. So you stay on the paved timeline striving toward your destination.
I leapt on the bike with renewed energy and enthusiasm and charged down the hill with the Horse Lord Riders of Rohan music playing on the i-pad. What an epic moment. I pedaled so fast that I felt like a mounted warrior charging into battle. At first I screamed in triumph, but the emotion of the music overcame me, and I started crying and laughing at once, and then I just cried as the wind blew over my face. Then I saw a male Pronghorn with the big antlers and he was startled by my wildness. He ran right at the fence and leapt through the air with marvelous grace. I stuck up my hand pretending to hold a card and screamed 9.3! It was an amazing jump to make that fence, gliding through the air till his hind legs were clear.
I passed the village of Hanna and was impressed: Population 834. The last two towns I had been through were less than 300. I didn't even know there were hamlets in the modern world! I thought about stopping, and my spiritual guides assured me it would be interesting but unnecessary. Something told me to keep going, I had enough water to get to Rawlins, hopefully. So I sped ahead and looked back on the little village as if I had missed something. But at least I was conscious of missing something and freely choosing to miss it in order to experience something else. I was reminded of one of my son's poem lines where he said, "Sometimes you have to destroy the perfect way to experience something else." Very cool you can check out his other poems at arianbrazenwood.com
So I continued along my merry way going up and down long, desert-like hills, until I finally saw the Interstate in the distance with lots of trucks going east and west. The last hill was spectacular, a grand hill, until I saw the recently slain dear right in my path. I had to swerve around it at top speed and I held my breath to keep from inhaling death, but I forced myself to look at it. It looked like its guts had been rent open by the blow of a car and you could see all its innards hanging out of a muck cherry sauce pool of blood with a colony of flies buzzing about. I almost threw up, but I managed not to wreck and join him in his demise. No one was blaming this atrocity on an oil company. I wondered if the dead dear right in my path was a sign I should not get on the dangerous freeway ahead. But I didn't think there was any other way to get to Rawlins.
When I got to the top of the next hill I could see a Shell gas station and a cafe. I have never been happier to see a gas station in my life! I rolled into the station to see real human beings filling up their cars and motorcycles. The cafe was unfortunately closed, so I turned and did a victory lap around the gas pumps, free of the oil driven lifestyle at last. I made myself look at the charge card interface with the three choices of gas and thought never again. I am no slave to oil.
A very white lady came in and asked the attendant if he recycled the yellow plastic oil containers, trying to hand it to him as if the answer had to be yes. He looked at her as if she had gone bonkers. He was a young twenty-something guy with tattoos and he smirked and said, "Yeah lady sure, the recycling truck will be by in an hour." The lady was outraged that they didn't recycle trying to guilt trip him with her neurosis. She stood there holding the plastic container refusing to throw it into the trash. The gas station attendant stared at her, waiting for her to resolve her inner struggle. I stood there and sucked on my water tube, studying her body language. She looked like she took better care of her car than her body. Lots of time on the computer. Takes one to know one. She had gone completely neurotic over her recycling craze. So I walked toward her and helped her toss it into the trash. And she hurried out to her car grief stricken and mad at herself and the gas station. I turned to the attendant and he just shrugged and held up his arms and said, "I see 5000 customers a day. What am I supposed to do? It makes me happy if the trash ends up in the can and not the field over there."
I asked him if there was any other route to Rawlins besides the Interstate and he said he'd lived out here his whole life and knows every single backroad and that I-80 was the only way, 20 miles. So despite the dead deer sign, I knew I had to attempt it. So I filled up my water bottles, downed a Fusion drink plus an energy potion, and hopped back on the bike to ride toward my possible doom. I took a picture right at the top of the exit watching the diesels and cars zoom by at light speed, just in case it was my last one.
I turned on my I-pad and lunged forward to join the chaos and the fury of the modern Interstate called I-80. The first diesel blew by and almost knocked my bike over, but it was a rush nevertheless as I gripped the handle bars as tight as I could. Just think of it as waves of free AC, I told myself. I tried to ride the furthest edge of the shoulder, buffeted by the crazed winds. It was like being on the super-galactic bike freeway! My attempt to stay the course on the furthest edge from the insanity of 80 mile per hour metal husks flying by were thwarted by hundreds of rubber tire shreds littering the roadside. I zoomed in and out like a star fighter pilot dodging through an asteroid field for 14 miles until finally I made a mad dash for the exit to Sinclair and another gas station.
After that mad dash, it was delightful to see a truck stop. I knew the diner would be open because truckers are a hungry lot. Of course, by the time I haggled with the waitress and taught her how to cook me some simple vegetarian food, I was kicking back having a nice baked potato with chives, apple sauce on crackers, stir-fried mushrooms, and a garden salad with vinegar and oil.
I glanced up through the diner window toward the top of the exit to see two cyclists emerge from the freeway. I watched them with a certainty that we would be meeting soon and sharing stories over food. Their tans were dark brown and they looked like southeast asian islanders. They were two college kids from New York City heading to college in Olympia Washington. They had been on the road for two and half months since leaving New York on bikes, a half Puerto Rican-half British girl named Iris and a half Japanese-halfirish guy named Alex, a couple of hybrids. Alex studied Visual Arts and Iris wanted to teach. They were old pros at this bicycling thing by now and I asked them when the pain subsided. They said it just kinda moves around, but the rear pain does decrease in time, depending on the day really. After eating and talking and sharing many exciting stories, we all caravanned down the last road through Sinclair on into the city of Rawlins, Wyoming. I had gone 60 miles and everything hurt. I wanted Thai food and they wanted the Library so they could check email. We came to the library first and I decided to wait for them, and took a siesta out by the bikes on my thermarest matt. They spent an hour on email and my tummy was grumbling and aching for the taste of Thailand. Anongs, the Thai restaurant, was only two blocks away!
It was bizarre to be suddenly waiting for someone, but I enjoyed their company so I just relaxed and talked to this local guy named Guy, who had two playful dogs. He was very friendly, but also down on politics and pretty much everything else. He would ask you a loaded question to see if you gave the "correct" answer. If you did give the answer he was looking for, he would stand their in stunned confusion and declare that most people don't know that. Then he'd fire another question. If you gave the "wrong" answer, he would launch another rant about the evils of the politicians, Rawlins, the border situation, Iraq, etc.
He had a supposedly educated opinion on everything.
Then a random guy rolled up on a Unicycle, a very large wheeled Unicycle, 36 inches in diameter. His name was Sky Horne, and he joked about wanting to become a gynecologist named Doctor Horne. He was a riot, and he just Unicycled his way across the US starting from Yorktown, Virginia. He had met Alex and Iris back in Kentucky and had just now caught up to them after taking a detour and more and more rest days. As fate would have it, he was from Brevard, North Carolina where I lived for the last four years. I had seen him on his Unicycle around town and he had seen me at various coffee shops, but we had never talked. Bizarre how the Universe relocates you across the country to finally talk to a guy who was in your neighborhood for years. He was an amazing guy with a Capricorn Sun, and Aries Moon, and Aquarius rising, the soul of an adventurer walking the path of the Wise Elder Advisor, wearing the mask of the shocking Humanitarian Inventor. He certainly looked bizarre unicycling down the road bobbing up and down like he was on a pogo stick! As it turns out, we both have friends in Hamilton Montana that we're going to stay with. How cool! I found allies on the journey. I'm not the only rebel out here escaping the drudgery of wake up, consume, drive, and pay mortgages! His traveling website is thirtysixer.com
So we all four went down to Anangs and had the most amazing feast together talking about out lives and learning about each other. Iris was especially interested in astrology and fantasy novels. I told them I'd look a their charts at camp. Sky informed us that the town was showing an outdoor community movie at the city park that very night. So after we wrapped up the delicious meal, we all convoyed over to the city park and got out our sleeping bags to watch Top Gun on an outdoor big screen with the locals. The locals were especially interested in us and our journeys. A lot of cyclers and backpackers apparently come through this town. We asked if we could camp at the city park, but were instructed to go to the KOA campgrounds instead. They said the police really patrol this area due to the two nearby bars.
Suddenly out of nowhere a giant sandstorm came cutting through town, and all the farmers market vendors went scattering. Then a blustery rain storm followed that and forced the town to cancel the communal movie. We took shelter under a large circular pavilion in the corner of the park to wait the storm out. We all four decided to hang out there and I did everyone's astrology chart. By the end of Iris's reading she was convinced that she wanted to be an astrologer. Before that she was going to run for Mayor of NY city. What a difference! I had discovered another potential Magi!
After that we played a four-way game of Scrabble on the I-pad. Iris was especially competitive, expressing angst when I naturally pulled ahead in score. They didn't know they were playing with a Scrabble master with a high score of 651 and hundreds of victories over my Scrabble-wise father. They all played well, but in the end I pulled ahead and barely won!
The game ended and the rain had subsided but we were all too tired from traveling to ride over to find the campground, so we just made a barricade of tables so the Law had less chance of seeing us, and placed our matts on the hard wooden floor, and crawled into our sleeping bags to get at least a little sleep before dawn.
Getting to sleep was rough. The trains kept going all night and Alex joked that they were robot driven. We all laughed and kept talking. Finally everyone drifted off and I had to imagine I was sleeping on the deck of a ship to fall asleep using my shoes as pillows. Of course, we were all awakened by my roster alarm at 6 AM! Everyone slept well even though it was uncomfortable. It was the first time in my life that I slept outside in a city surrounded by urban jungle sounds. I was a real life dharma bum! We all woke up and stretched and hurried over to the first internet cafe we could find to get chais and hot chocolates and coffees. Here we sit ready to return to Anongs all-you-can eat Thai buffet. We all decided to have a rest day, my first with no travel since I left Colorado. We probably won't be able to peddle anyway with full bellies!