Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Destination is... the Destination

Quest for Missoula

We left Hamilton the next morning and Alex shot ahead on his bike leaving even Tony the speedster behind. He had Mars crossing his ascendant and I told him he needed to channel that Martian energy into action or else it would leak out as frustration and anger at those around him. So he bolted and it ended up doing him a world of good. We traveled north from Hamilton where there is a wonderful bike trail along the highway all the way to Lolo, then a quick 8 mile jaunt into the big city of 60,000+ Montanans.

As planned, or synchronized by the Universe, we contacted Julia and she let us camp at her place right near downtown. As it turns out, I had arranged to meet a client named Amy in Missoula and she drove up to the house at the exact moment that I did (I had emailed her the address and she works in Missoula). So I grabbed my lap top and we headed off to enjoy an amazing Thai dinner at Sawaddee and after dinner I blew her mind with astrology and she loved hearing it. I also uploaded the recording and emailed her the link.

When I got home from work, LOL, I found TOny already slumbering in his tent, catching up on lost sleep from his romantic night with Chrissy. Although Iris and Alex decided to sleep inside on the small couch where the Princess got her way, and Alex slept on the floor worshipping her feet hanging over the edge all night.

Julia was great to interact with. She was still lovestruck over Dean who had reached the Grand Tetons by now and she was tracking his location through GPS and planning to drive down to meet him again. The next morning, we woke up and trekked over to REI where they exchanged my QuarterDome T-3 tent with a broken pol and torn rain flap with no problems. They just tossed it into a bin and got me a brand new one off the shelf. How cool is REI for customer service!

Then we all split ways after enjoying some discounted REI clif bars, and I went looking for the TREK dealer bike shop so I could do something, anything, about this wheel of broken spokes. ANother spoke broke on the way over there! So I rolled my bike through the door and told them about my situation and they admitted that TREK used the cheapest spokes possible on their new bikes. So they charged me $57 bucks to re-spoke the entire wheel with the strongest DT spokes in stock and said I should be fine from now on. They also replaced my brake pads. While they were doing this for 24 hours, they let me use their loner bike, a small dirt bike that I used for tooling around town. I loaded up my tech gear in my backpack and went downtown to write up the Blog post about our adventures in Hamilton. Of course, I had to stop back by the Thai place because they had a lunch buffet, and I had the Thai noodles with Tofu. Then I found a great coffee shop called Liquid Planet where I snuggled into a comfy booth in the corner and went to work recording another chart for a client, who was quite pleased with the interpretation. I still had four more chart orders to do, but they might have to wait till Nelson BC because I was feeling the need to break away from our little adventuring party bound for Glacier and just ride like crazy toward Nelson. I was really tossing it up to a 50/50 dice roll and I couldn't decide which way to go. With Sky the Unicyclist heading up to Glacier too, I figured I'd go with them and re-unite with Sky. But things didn't work out that way.

Instead we all went out for food with Julia at the Old Post bar with live music. I wondered why they played the music so loud that everyone was forced to scream to hear each other. Couldn't we all just lower our collective volumes by the same amount and then we wouldn't have to scream. Maybe they thought it would attract stray undecided customers down the street to have music blaring out the front door. The lone musician was good though, and he played lots of interesting folkish songs with great deep lyrics.

While eating I got a text from Chrissy and Haeli from Hamilton, and they were bound and determined to track us down in Missoula. Chrissy really wanted another night with Tony. She couldn't resist the allure of his Aries masculine essence with her Mars in that sign. When love strikes, it strikes hard and fatal. They showed up in the yard at Julias and we all went inside to have a big talk fest. Julia retreated to her room to contact her love Dean. The rest of us fed popcorn and corn chips to her dog, Sasha, and talked about everything, including astrology. I was really impressed by Chrissy's astrological knowledge from her four years of study with her mom. I think she was so well-versed and also beautiful that she intimidated Iris, who began attacking astrology like the German. I couldn't believe she was asking questions and then not letting us answer and then telling us to stop getting defensive. I got really cross with her because she kept asking the same question about how can there be three artist signs when everyone create art, all because I mentioned that the three main artistic signs are Taurus the Builder, Libra the Artist, and Pisces the Visionary. It doesn't mean that people who are say Virgos can't do art. Everyone has a Venus and that Venus has a sign and house and makes aspects which shape the person's unique artistic style. I kept saying this, echoed by Chrissy, but she just kept interrupting our answers and saying things she knew would push my buttons, like "Maybe I'm not so interested in this astrology after all." I knew what she was doing. On one side I had Chrissy, young beautiful, smart, inspiring, and already in command of the astrological language. On the other I had Iris taking the Capricorn skeptic hard line like the German Heinz (true to her nature) and attacking astrology. We had a lesson a few days before where I taught her to calculate the Element/Mode balance in a person's nature through using the 7 personal planets, the south node, and the Ascendant, so maybe she was overwhelmed with what you have to know and decided she didn't like it after all, which was fine with me. I'm not here to force anyone to like astrology. But there she was with her two weeks of exposure to astrological ideas and interpretation facing off with my 25 years experience and Chrissy's 4 years of study. And she was asking questions that sounded right out of the scientist's playbook for discrediting astrology, without ever having to actually learn the art itself.

So needless to say, I went to be feeling backstabbed. I mean I was willing to teach her astrology for free just because I saw she had the gift and she was young with not much money to pay for my services. Familiarity breeds criticism. So that night I decided in my heart that I was leaving for Canada and heading west toward the Idaho border. I was really yearning to meet Alisha to see if we had the makings of an incredible partnership or not, and after listening to Chrissy and Tony frolicking like 14 year olds in the next tent over, and having to turn my I-pad music on for them, I was ready for some romance myself.

So the next morning I woke up early knowing everybody else would be sleeping in, took a shower, packed up my gear, an headed toward the gate for freedom to roam alone again. I love traveling with companions and I knew I would miss them right away, but my journey had a mission, and going to Glacier would only delay the journey to meet Alisha in Nelson. Tony did wake up and go to the bathroom while I was packing and he said, "Packing up already huh?" I said "Yeah, I need to get going." But I didn't tell him that I was going going gone. Sorry Tony, but love was calling me too! We are all born with this strange freedom vs. closeness agenda that stems from early toddlerhood. We want the safety and security of our parents, but we also have the need to move about the living room, until a lamp falls on us. Then we want closeness again. So we end up oscillating between these two extremes out whole lives, drawing people close and then pushing them away.

When I got done packing some food supplies at the local Good Food Market I got on my bike and the odometer said 1100 miles exactly. I was like whoa! This feeling aose within me that I could make it 100 miles and I visualized the odometer being at 1200. Could I really do it? I had never ridden more than 80 mils before. I checked the map and found that there was indeed a town called Thompson Falls 103 miles away. The power of visualization is indeed strong. I visualized making it there and prayed for good winds and currents.

Right out of Missoula I hit a harsh climb but hoped i was the only big obstacle, as the road called 200 seemed to wind through a river valley and promised to be mostly flat. It was indeed, but it was the hardest ride of my life. At 78 miles, an intense head wind came against me! I said, "No, No, No! Not now! You know I won't make it" And it went away as quickly as it came. I was amazed by my un-manifestation power! At 88 miles I was about to fall off the bike with all the usual aches and pains: it all starts with the Butt, then moves to the Feet, then the Wrists, then the Knees, and then Everything in one big orchestra of pain. At that moment the orchestra was in full swing and I was dying inside. I got to 90 and thought about camping in the woods, but I wanted to break 100 miles in one day. You hear about cyclists doing these arduous 100 mile days but its hard to fathom with as much weight as I have. But I knew I could do it. I had been building my endurance for weeks now and my body had changed. I had developed new muscles in my calves and thighs that had never been developed, and so I rode through agonizing pain going for the Gold! I got to the late 90's and began stopping to rest and take pictures, as the Sun was sinking behind the mountains.. I even got a great shot at mile 99.5. In that last mile the song, "This is War," which someone suggested I download and play when I'm lying in a ditch with bugs about to eat me, came on and I kept fighting and using my weight to push the pedals down slowly. I finally broke 200 and it was a glorious moment! I was completely in tears and transformed. The song was chanting "Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! the last half mile and I almost forgot to stop and get a picture at 100 miles. I was completely spent, but the town was still three miles away, so I kept adding miles to my record, hoping the grocery store was till open. The light had faded and I stumbled into a grocery mart with my legs quivering and visibly shaking. The lady at the checkout took one look at me and was like "Oh my God, what happened to you?" I told her what I had just accomplished and she was impressed. Then I asked her where the nearest campground was and she said it was on the far side o town out in the woods a few miles and wrote down directions. I wanted to cry while I watched her inscribe those directions on the little piece of paper.

I headed for the fruit and veggies section and rewarded myself with two bags of fresh fruit! I couldn't even think so I just got seven of everything, peaches, plums, kiwis, mushrooms, etc. Then I got a big pack of green grapes too! I wanted the watermelon, but even the smallest one would be too heavy o carry on the bike. So I payed the lady for my goods and painfully pedaled west to find this campground in the dark. Several miles later I pulled into the campground under the covert cover of darkness where I didn't have to pay the gatekeepers. There were lots of nice sites by a river with a train sounding off in the distance. I set up my tent aching all over but overjoyed by the final mileage record: 107.21 miles! I felt like I could do anything!

The next morning I rode another 80 miles and rolled into the rough own of Troy Montana with no campground in site. I asked some locals at a trailer park and they said that the Home Bar, a biker bar, lets motorcyclists camp there all the time. It was worth a shot. They showed me how to find this place right downtown by the tracks and it looked like they had a fenced in compound with a large grassy area for parties and camping. When I walked through the door with my sweat dripping over my body I was a vision of hell. I had my bike helmet on, with my big backpack and a tube for water and shaking legs with salt covered clothes. Even bikers clad in leather were quick to respectfully get out of my way as I approached the lady at the bar to ask if I could camp there. I told her about my journey and that my mom was a motorcyclist, and she had great compassion. She took on look at me and was like, "You poor thing! Of course you can camp here, I'll open the gate so you can push your bike through."

I felt extremely welcome and people gathered around to hear my story, after I finished setting up my tent and was perched at the bar. They were enchanted to say the least that I would ride 1400 miles or more just to meet a girl. "She must be real special," one biker said. They thought I was weird when I ordered a burger with just the veggies and also an iced tea, a cranberry juice on the rocks plus an OJ on the rocks. I took turns drinking from the three drinks and scarfed down a wonderful veggie burger with no veggie patty, just the veggies! Afterword they all wnet back into the indoor bar area where the party began, and they broke out the karaoke machine. You haven't lived until you've watched a bunch o rowdy drunken bikers singing Karaoke songs like their lives depended on it, full of heart and soul. They wanted me to go, but I respectfully declined because after two grueling days of riding I could barely sit in my chair.

So I just said goodnight and lumbered over to my tent and crashed face down. I remember waking up in the night and hearing the party raging outside. One rough sounding character asked a lady if she would give him a blow job for $1000 bucks, and she upped the offer and said, "Man, for a thousand bucks I'd go home with you, and my husband wouldn't care because the next day I'd buy him a new four-wheeler!" Then I realized that I was sleeping about 200 feet from the train tracks, and the Trains kept blowing there horns throughout the night and it was so loud that you could hear your brain shaking inside. Needless to say, it was a terrible night of sleep, and I woke up with a headache, but I knew I was going o make i to the Canadian border, so that re-inspied me.

I rode hard up an extremely dangerous an difficult hill and crossed into Idaho. Just when I started my descent down the other side of the hill, my tire blew up and I got my first flat. I knew it would happen eventually, especially after how many times I had bragged that my kevlar-lined tires were flat resistant. I pulled off on a wide driveway and took off all my panniers o turn the bike over o examine the damage. I hadn't changed a flat since childhood, so I hoped I would do it right. I knew how to do it in theory, but theory and practice are quite different. I managed to get the wheel off and fix the flat with a new tube but there was a problem. The Kevlar lining was stripping off the tire like old tattered tap and there were visible gashes in the outer tire. I had to face the fact that my tire was gone! I just hoped I could get to the next town of Bonner's Ferry 7 miles down the road before I lost another tube. My head hurt too much to even worry about trying out my patch kit. I saved the tube to practice doing that later. I got back on the bike and determined to make it to the next little town, praying they would have a bike shop. I stopped at a little diner that had wi-fi and downed a Gatorade while using their internet. I found that the nearest bike shop was in Sandpoint 40 miles to the south down highway 95, but the locals said there was an outfitter camping shop called Far North who could help me in Bonner's Ferry. I hoped they were right, or I would be hitching into Canada. My plan was to go north when I hit 95 30 miles to the border. The Universe must have a reason for this delay. So I bowed my head under the glaring hot sun and pedaled with caution, watching the road for thorns and metal screws, anything that could cause another flat. It was extremely difficult to avoid everything, and I just hoped that gashed section of tire wasn't hitting the pavement when I went over something sharp or hard that I didn't steer clear of.

Going to Bonner's Ferry was easy at first because there was a giant hill that just kept going and going and going down to the bridge that crossed a scenic river. I dreaded having to return the same way and have to climb that killer hill in the sweltering heat. I was determined to get Magellan fixed and at least make it to the border, even if I had to hitch down to Sandpoint. Luck was with me, as a local teenager at Far North had all the tools and tires and tubes and tools I needed, and he fixed the bike with a brand new tire and tube. I did get another flat going up this huge crazy hill to the bike store, and so had to push Magellan another mile, but it was a good mile of surrender and contemplation mixed with desperation. After the repair, I re-filled my waters and headed north to face that devastating slope, and it was indeed the hardest part of the journey that day. At the top, I turned into the local diner and had a baked potato with chives along with a veggie melt without the melt, hold the gross cow please! The lady questioned my diet, and I told her my theory of pure energy through photosynthesis and the sun and how if you eat the animal who eats the plant you're ingesting already been chewed on back wash energy from the sun...she laughed but understood anyway. She was a smart one, I could tell, plus she had shapely ankles and beautiful eyes, my favorite features.
As I sat there and ate I felt overwhelmed with exhaustion. After a soy vanilla chai, I was full and I didn't want to budge. I felt like I could just curl up in my little booth and go to sleep. Instead, I forced myself up and back on the bike riding like crazy toward the border. As I rode, I imagined I was Truman sailing his ship toward the horizon that he finds is a fake boundary meant to keep him prisoner. It was just the Canadian border, which I had traversed to Vancouver and Toronto already, but i felt like leaving America, going into exile. Nothing against America, I love my country and it's brief history, but I felt like going to a foreign country, even if just Canada, that I would really begin my journey of locational independence.

I took a picture of the first stretch of the last road called Highway 1 that led away through this amazing valley into the realm of Canada. I rode hard and made it to the station before they closed. I had been lugging my passport around for weeks now in its protective waterproof bag and was excited to pull it out and get some usage out of it. The guard asked me the usual questions about where are you headed, how long are you staying, what do you do for a living, etc... Eventually he smiled and let me through! I was in the land of Canada! After taking a picture of the Welcome to British Columbia sign, I rode hard racing the Sun again to Creston, the first town across the border.

When I got to Creston the town was situated high up on a hill while the main road was in the valley. I turned to go up one of those hills but it was way too steep, steeper than anything I had ever ridden, so I just did a little U-turn and went back to the main road, which turned out to be a key decision. After riding all the way around the town I found the road called 3A that led to Nelson and looked down it with longing in my eyes. I thought about riding at night but figured that was suicide. SO I reluctantly turned right to head into the town as I found that I had reached the top of the hill in a round about way, even though I went three miles out of my way to do so.

So there I was, once again about to fall off Magellan, spent to the last ember, looking for a place to set up camp. It looked like there were some RV parks ahead but that was when a Siberian-German Miner pulled up on his motorcycle and said in a Scottish accent, "Hey, you should get an engine for that thing," indicating Magellan. I mumbled something like, "I am the engine, and I'm exhausted. DO you know where I can camp?" "Your welcome to stay in my yard if you like!"

So I followed this enthusiastic 70-year old to his turnoff and fortunately he lived right downtown, just a few miles ahead on easy roads. I rolled the bike onto his property and he said I could set up in the grass nearby or just stay in his garage. Tuns out he had two lazy boy recliner chairs in his garage, and so I decided I was too tired to set up my tent. He noticed how exhausted I was and went inside to get me some drinks and ice. His name was Reinhardt and his wife was Linda. They had a big ten year old dog that looked like a small horse, but he was friendly.

Turns out Reinhardt's family was shipped off to Siberia where he was descended from miners. For age 70, he didn't look a day over 50, and was strong as an ox. We talked for a while and shared stories and then he let me crash. I pulled out my sleeping bag and got into it and then fell back slowly onto the recliner for a well deserved sleep, after I ate a few bite of peanut butter and another carrot cake clif bar!

The next morning my rooster alarm woke me up bright and early at 7 AM, and they invited me in for breakfast. I had cereal and coffee and brought my soy vanilla creamer inside. I can't stand the taste of straight black coffee! Linda gave me some organic cereal and I had two bananas for their potassium content. My legs were pulsing with pain and cramps. Linda showed me her impressive German library and even picked one book to open and it was about the poet Goethe's life, the guy whose poetry I had just summoned around the fire to counter the stubborn German Heinz. I was amazed, and wished I could read German.

The fascinating part about staying with them was that they seemed just like my Dad and step-mom. They loved their dog dearly and even gave him his own couch, which he guarded protectively. They had all these bird feeders hanging in the trees outside and they religiously fed the brid. Linda;s aura seemed just like my step mom in a strange way and Reinhardt was born in 1940, just like my dad. I loved his personality. He was like the retried miner version of Sean Connery, devoted to his tools, his construction projects, and his technology. He was very proud that he was keeping up with the modern age, able to check email and even use Skype. We became Skype friends and I showed him how to use the I-pad and he hought it was amazing. He went into try and do the zoom in and zoom out on his computer screen, but realized he didn't have a touchscreen. The next time I see him, I won't be surprised to see him with an I-pad, just for the maps program. He and Linda spent three months in Ecuador last year and he would have loved to have the maps program plus the language text.

By about 9 o'clock it was time to head out. I felt the same way that I did when I left my Dad's at the beginning of the journey, knowing I would reach Nelson today if there were no setbacks. Funny how you can cross imaginary borders into a foreign country and find the same beings in different clothes and with different backgrounds. I wondered if there were other Traveling Magi out there right now? Reinhardt assured me that I would enjoy the ride alongside Kootney Lake, but failed to mention the killer hill at the end near the ferry. He did offer me a ride, but agreed tha this was my victory ride, the last leg of the journey, and I needed to do it alone and under my own power. I waved at them and rode north into the wilds of Canada.

The roads are different in Canada, smoother in most places, but up and down, up and down. I was actually able to make it to the top of some hills just on the momentum and steam from the last hill. It was a wondrous ride with many spectacular views of gigantic mountains looming over the placid waters of the most beautiful lake. It was a hard ride adjusting to the Canadian roads, but in the end I made it to the last hill leading up and then down to the ferry. I stopped at the base of the intimidating slope next to a handcrafted Broom Shop, and took a picture for my mom. The problem was the going up part, as it was the most intense hill I'd climbed, even more intense than the hill leading out of Ennis, but luckily I had no wind to fight. But I also baked in the hot sun, often stopping to drink water in the shade.

Eventually I made it to the Ferry just as it was offloading the cars from the other side. They let me roll Magellan onto the vessel and I locked him against the side so he wouldn't tip over during passage. I met some more cool Canadians and told them about my profession and my journey and they offered to take some pictures of me on the ferry, which I welcomed. The views of the surrounding countryside were breathtaking and mystical. I like riding on ferries. It reminds me of ancient times where ferrymen would take adventurers over to the beginnings of lands of high adventure, either that or the skeletal ferry man in mythology that took you across the river Styx for a gold coin. I always wondered if I had any coins on me just in case. This time I remembered I had a special quarter with Colorado on its back side. That would get me across, a coin engraved with the land of my soul.

Eventually we reached the other side, and I had 15 exciting miles to go to get to Nelson. I put my music on and rode with the wind. My legs were exhausted due to the up and down of the Canadian roads, but I just kept plugging forward anxious to see Nelson and meet Alisha and set up camp. She had emailed me that morning and asked if I could stay at the local campground in Nelson because she was moving and her house situation was in flux and chaotic and there were problems with the landlord. Sounded like she was still in the throes of Pluto conjunct her Capricorn Moon.

On the last few miles in, my legs were burning and my tears were flowing, both tears of anguish and physical pain and teas of the excitement of arrival. The song called "This is War" came on at a perfect moment when I was working my way up a huge hill, and it really fought me up the hill. I pedaled and pedaled as hard as I could, and I quoted Truman out loud to the Universe, "You're going to have to kill me!" The pain was so fierce after riding for four days straight breaking mor ethan 80 miles every day. My body was vibrating, my legs were shaking, the muscles were sore beyond belief, the sunburn was intense, the clothes I wore were beyond dirty, covered in layers of salt and dripping in sweat. For a moment I didn't think I'd make it, but just as I came around a corner I saw the Entering Nelson city limit signs and stopped to take a picture. It was intense, but I didn't really feel like I was there until the victory ride across the bridge into Nelson's downtown area. I wondered what song would be playing when I crossed the bridge. I stopped in awe before the bridge gazing on this emerald city built into the side of a mountain. I couldn't believe its green beauty. It reminded me of the White City of Gondor from Lord of the Rings, built into the side of the mountain. From looking at flat maps you don' get the perspective of the city or the steep angles of the roads. It was fascinating. I looked down at Magellan and gave him a pat on the TREK symbol and said, "We made it" through the tears in my eyes. As I urged my faithful mount forward we rolled onto the bridge to Tears For Fears singing Shout! Shout! Let it all out! But all I could manage was a quiet awestruck exhaustion.

I had set out to reach this unique mountain city hoping to complete many projects and meet a woman worthy of my love. When I left home, I was certain of the old cliche that the "journey was the destination." I will never say that again. Whoever wrote that has never taken an arduous journey like this and suffered so immensely. I mean I get it and all, sure, what happens on the journey shapes the person you become as you show up at the destination. But the statement neglects to honor the journey for being a complete adventure nor the feeling I had when I rolled slowly across that last high bridge overlooking an emerald harbor. When I left, I was certain the Journey was the Destination. As I traveled I realized that the Journey was the Journey, whole unto itself. When I arrived I realized that the Destination was the Destination, whole and complete, shining like a jewel atop an ancient mountain overlooking precious waters. I rode my bike through town realizing I was completely out of water and feeling dehydrated, but I managed to find the campground and secure a site in a crowded area. I alerted Alisha through email that I had arrived and headed toward the showers with razor in hand. I was rough looking and I knew it. Part of me wanted here to see me in this broken spent dirty state, but I wouldn't feel right hugging her. So I surrendered to the warmth of a calming shower with shaking legs, peeling the salty clothes from my form. In a few hours I would come face to face with this mysterious astrologer named Alisha. I didn't know where to begin with her. Should I hug her should I kiss her? SHould I keep it conversational? I didn't know where we stood. I don't think she fully realized that I had ridden all the way to Nelson to see her, to be with her, hoping she was HER, but ready for my hopes to be dashed against the walls, especially given her recent tumultuous life change. The shower felt serene and I felt clean for the first time in days. After a shave, I was looking good, and I put on my town hang out clothes, a jersey and some black shorts to await her appearance. I got an email saying she was on her way. I knew her heart,her mind, her spirit, but nothing of her physical form beyond pictures and video Skype sessions. I hoped with the innocence of a child looking for the right flavor of ice cream that I would dig her and she would dig me. Time would tell. But ultimately the Traveling Magi had some humanity o serve and some great projects to complete. With Saturn the planet of accomplishment crossing my Midheaven soon, the Life Calling line in the chart, it was high tide to complete life-chaning magus opuses. I was ready to write my Magi Opus....

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Arriving in Rivendale...Hamilton MT

As it turns out, Iris, Alex, and I were not the only ones to face adversity on that long hot, waterless trek from Dillon to Wisdom, Montana. Just as we rehydrated and set off down the road to cover the last 20 miles to attain Wisdom, Tony's other tire blew a hole and he could not go on. Iris and I rode ahead while Alex stayed back to help him try and patch it up. The tire was beyond repair! A while later, Tony went by with his bike in the back of a pick-up truck, and was transported over Chief Joseph Pass the whole 77 miles to Hamilton. Iris and I described him as a "Lucky Bum!" So Tony technically did go through Wisdom, but then turned left and West and went straight up the mountain pass and down into Hamilton where he was put up for the night by a millionaire at a mansion! Lucky Bum!

Meanwhile, back in the farmlands, Alex, Iris and I attained our destination of Wisdom, but the place was swarming with mosquitos. So we retreated into a restaurant where they refused to close their front doors. These people were either crazy or tough, or they just wanted travelers to suffer the wrath of the quarter-sized Wisdom mosquito! As we ate a hot dinner, I uploaded my request for funds or chart orders to my Facebook page mainly because its hard to make it to Canada on nine bucks! Within minutes of posting it, donations began pouring in... a dollar here, 20 dollars there, a chart order here, a payment there...by the end of dinner I had 300 bucks and felt better about not starving on this quest and filled with gratitude that the readers of this blog value the experience and the story. So thank you dear readers!

These three British cyclists rolled into town headed east and we watched them across the street at the gas station battling swarms of mosquitos. After they came and talked to us, they decided they were going in on a hotel room for $54. The three of us decided to brave the mosquito infested campground a half a mile West of town. I had to put all my bug armor back on just to set up my tent. We decided to place our tents extremely close together so we could make hot chai from within the tents and pass them to each other. I decided to boil the water in my tent, and I had them hand over their mugs and quickly zip the tent back up. After boiling the water and dropping the chai tea bag in, I unzipped the bottom of my tent door and placed the chai outside and quickly re-zipped my tent door so no mosquitos got in. Then Iris opened her tent, quickly reached out to grab her chai, and then re-zipped it. Within ten minutes we were all sucking down hot chai teas inside our tents laughing about the days events and wondering where Tony was staying at, unaware of his plush lodgings.

The next morning the mosquitos were in grand attendance when I woke up, stuck to the screens of my tent yearning for a crack at my skin and my blood. I reached up from my sleeping bag and started thumping them away with my fingers. That was a fun game for a time. After I got bored with thumping mosquitos, I donned my bug armor rain gear and ventured out into the wild campground, wondering how fantasy characters in novels ever dealt with the bugs, and making a mental note to always describe the bugs in future novels. I located the bathroom and it was a horrendous building with a non-flushing port-a-potty swarming with mosquitos. As I peed, I kept dancing in place because the foul beasts were attempting to make a landing on my privates, and that was not happening! Had to cut it short and run for my tent!

I quickly packed up my tent and informed the Ninja Prince and the Wise Princess that I'd meet them in town at that crappy diner for hash browns. I attached my saddlebags to Magellan (I like taking everything into my tent at night in case I need anything) and rode back to town for some hot tea and hash browns, about the only thing a vegan can order off a Western diner's breakfast menu. I found the three British guys eating there and asked to join them and we shared fantastic stories over hot tea and breakfast. Alex and Iris showed up just as the Englishmen were departing for Dillon. I decided to ride out first to try and get some distance since I'm the slowest with all my gear. We had a humongous pass to cross called the Chief Joseph Pass. I thought of my good friend and musician Jozef, who did the marvelous music for Return of the Magi, and thought I'd take a picture of the sign if I saw one.

As I suspected, the going was tough because the bugs were in high feeding frenzy and bees joined the massive horseflies and unreal mosquitos. I could see the forested mountains in the distance, and in full bug armor, with water bottles topped off with awful tasting well water, I rode like a mad man toward the summit. Alex finally passed me about an hour and a half later, as I found myself ascending the longest slowest curviest road yet. It just kept ascending and curving, and just when you thought you were approaching the top and would round a curve, there would be another curve way off in the distance uphill! The slope was not that intense, but the Wind was blowing now, and the bugs had renewed their attacks. I finally had to stop and take off some bug armor because the heat and sweat became unbearable. I just hoped I didn't break another spoke, and resolved to give the TREK dealer in Missoula a piece of my mind if I ever made it down there. The big surprise was that, although I saw Iris approaching from behind at the bottom of one of those crazy curves, I managed to stay ahead and beat her to the top of Chief Joseph Pass, where I proudly took a picture of the sign for Jozef. Then it was all downhill to the 93 Junction and a cool rest area. I flew down that hill like a madman on caffeine and met Alex at the rest area.

When I rolled up, Alex was off his bike swatting the heck out of horseflies. But he refused to kill any bees. He said they were peaceful and that although they would land on you, they wouldn't bite, as they just needed some salt. I caught his wrath later when I "accidentally" smacked a bee on Iris' arm. We broke out our cook stoves and made some lunch and tea and were enjoying ourselves thoroughly (except for the horseflies), when an athletic couple pulled up on their touring bikes just emerging into Montana from Idaho.

We made the usual introductions and all talked about our origins and destinations and the whys, wheres, hows, and who's of our individual stories. They were from California and were heading up through Idaho and Montana to Glacier and then going to visit her family in Minnesota, where Tony was from. The woman reminded me of a superhero, with amazing Wonder Woman legs that I could not stop staring at. Her thigh muscles alone were supremely impressive. Turns out that they were both Triathletes where you run, bike, and swim extreme distances as part of a race. The guy looked like my best friend and yogi Brett from Hawaii, and I told him so. They were a pleasant couple and we looked forward to seeing them along our path north.

We got going and I took the lead excited to charge Magellan down this great hill we had been hearing about. It was still another 38 miles to Hamilton, but we were determined to make it the full 77 miles, especially when we had just conquered the hard part, the first 39 miles uphill! The downslope was exhilarating as usual, but dangerous, as lots of fallen rocks littered the shoulder, so you had to keep weaving into the road around fist sized rocks to avoid crashing! It was a hair-raising ordeal, but exciting, and after a couple of more near-death experiences with a several families waving at me from inside cars, I made it to the flatlands after 11 concentrated, tiring miles! And of course, right when I hit the flats, the headwinds swept in to ruin the day, so I stopped at a gas station in Sula, bought a juice drink, pulled up a chair on the wooden covered deck, and propped up my feet to await my slower companions. My extra weight had to win out sometimes! After Alex showed up he got himself an ice cream for a dollar and propped his feet up too. After many minutes went by we wondered if Iris was still braking down the mountain (she's terrified of going too fast - her Capricorn Sun keeps it cautious)...but eventually her bike came rolling down the hill, followed by the triathletes that we had met at the rest area.

The Triathletes were so tired from the day of travel that they decided to camp in Sula and rented a tent site for 15 bucks and tried to entice us to stay with them by buying a six pack of Coors beer. But I didn't drink and Alex and Iris, although enchanted by the offer, were more interested in making our destination. The local clerk, an elderly woman with one of those deep voices that sounded like she had to push one of those buttons installed in her throat (but she sounded that way naturally), warned us that there would be a ton of traffic in Darby ahead due to the annual "Redneck Olympics". She said that a bunch of rednecks got crowded together in a stadium to watch all kinds of competitive feats like who could saw logs the fastest and swing a sledgehammer hardest, etc. It sounded fascinating so we thought we'd hurry on ahead to check it out, joking that Tony would be amongst the crowd cheering for some farmer climbing a greased pole or something equally idiotic and crazy. But then again most people thought we were the idiots or crazies for riding our bikes across the country!.

Even though the headwinds were fierce, the gentle downslope made up for it and you could go pretty fast. I had to stop and pee at this weird restaurant called the Naughty Moose. I wondered what went on there after hours, wink wink... As I came out of the bathroom, I saw this stuffed mountain lion growling at this stuffed wolf, a locally famous re-enactment of the primitive territorial squabbles of beasts. Once I was back on the bike, Alex and Iris were long gone and I vowed to overtake them, but didn't. I rolled passed a stadium full of cheering people watching the Games, but I couldn't hear much with my I-pad blaring in my ears. When I rolled into town I found my friends lounging in a city park in the shade listening to live country music. The mostly older people in attendance looked thrilled to be there (not!). And the band was singing songs about how they didn't need marijuana and long hair to be free, just guns, god, and a bunch of other culturally indoctrinated Fox-News related desires. I joked around saying to my companions, "That's right, you New Yorkers need to sit here and get cultured!"

I crossed the street and went into a gas station where an entire family of five or six greeted me enthusiastically and said they had waved at me going down the pass. They wanted to hear all about my adventure so I gave them the cliff notes version and they were highly impressed. When I found the drink section, I saw a Monster drink and remembered that it had saved my life on a trip across the country where I almost fell asleep at the wheel driving. I remembered the intense rush of energy that it gave me and kept me up screaming and yelling exciting things and thinking grand thoughts through the night. It was just the potion i needed at the end of the day to beat my friends the last twenty miles to Hamilton. I walked back across the street and sat under a tree and drank the Mega Monster drink and told Iris and Alex that they were going to taste my dust, but they just laughed and didn't believe it. I felt like I had a secret I was going to pop on them as we rode. I was excited!

The gurgling, sparkling crazy liquid flowed down my throat and burned into my stomach to begin working its magic while they sat sucking on frozen milk that would make a solid thud in their bellies and hopefully slow them down. I knew I was going to be wired! They were both going down, and I knew it, as long as I could catch one or two hills and jam ahead. But I had made my bold prediction and I was ready to put the Monster rush to work! My phone beeped and I had a voice mail from Tony saying he was in Darby. We wondered if we should ride around town looking for him, but figured since the sun was going down, he'd be making his way to Hamilton too. So we just blasted forward finding ourselves in a race with the mighty sun again.

I got ahead and won the first ten miles as the Monster potion fueled my legs and pounded my brain with excitement. I had to stop atop a rise as I saw an amazing vision of the Sun sinking into a bowl carved into the top of a mountain. Just when I snapped the picture and uploaded it to Facebook, I glanced back and saw Alex and Iris barreling up the hill threatening to pass me. I got so excited that I kicked Magellan into motion and sped ahead in low gear screaming with excitement. Little did I know, but Tony was waiting at the next gas station and I was so focused on riding hard that I didn't even hear him screaming my name as I sped by with the wind and fury flowing over my soul. Alex stopped to greet him and gave up the race with my wild horsey self, but Iris knew she could easily pass me on the flats, so she charged ahead and began to close the distance.

She says she wasn't racing now, but in my heart I knew she was giving it her all, trying to pass me on multiple occasions. But the traffic was intense and my bike was too thick on the narrow shoulder of the flats for her to pass. I knew she would catch me given the opportunity but I looked down at my odometer and was going 20 MPH! I vowed not to let it slip beneath 20 MPH. Luckily the drink masked my fatigue, because it takes a lot of energy to maintain that speed with that much weight with a crazy ambitious Capricorn on your tail! And I knew we would get plenty of rest in Hamilton so I gave it every last ounce of strength. She was not winning this race!

Five miles to go! I knew she didn't know where my friends lived, and she thought we had 8 miles to go. I just had to keep up my pace. I kept looking back and she was gaining on me when I was fortunate enough to hit a hill. I turned back and waved at her as I sped ahead. I got ahead but we hit the flats again and she began catching me! I glanced down and my odometer had fallen to 19 MPH, and I got excited and mad and stood up and pedaled hard to get back up to 20 MPH. I was literally screaming at Magellan to go faster! She was putting her full court press on and I needed one more hill if I was going to keep her behind me, but there were no declines in sight. So I just kept pedaling like a madman knowing I had to get to mile marker 45, after passing 43. Two more miles! My Monster drink overcame her as I saw her falling behind. I could tell she had given up and I cruised through the last three miles and turned on Golf Course Road to find my friend and fellow astrologer, Lisa Allen's house on the corner of Daly street. Her house was surrounded by a moat of plant life with a few openings in it for going through. Iris never made it, as she missed the turn and they all ended up downtown, but managed to find their way over later.

Meanwhile, Lisa came running out of her house and hugged my neck. I also met her super cool triple Earth Sign daughter with Jupiter Rising, named Chrissy, an enthusiastic girl who is devoting her life to the archetype of Beauty in beauty school. When the others finally rode around the corner I had already had a tour of the premises and was inside the house discussing dinner options. It turns out that Lisa had made a fantastic vegan soup for our arrival and we all sat down to a wondrous feast, surrounded by Lisa, her 18-year old daughter, and several of her young pretty friends, including Haley a healer druid herbalist who was also interested in astrology and a few other odd and interesting characters that kept going and coming. They're house was more of a communal pad for the emerging youth than a regular home, and when the man of the house, Lisa'a eccentric husband Ray came through the door, things got really fascinating fast. As it turns out, we are both gamer geeks with a passion for fantasy adventure. He is also a musician about to start back up the band he had back in the day, and was at an amazing turning point in life when we all looked at his chart. He was a very cool guy and loved astrology as well. It was great to see the whole family and their friends talking about astrology so excitedly. Chrissy was especially knowledgable about astrology pulling facts about her friend's charts from her brain like a file with her Virgo rising self. She obviously respected and learned from her amazing mother, rather than resenting her and being embarrassed by her magical craft. Lisa was also a healer, with her recent addition of herbalism and dowsing to her gifts.

Ray had such a rush connecting with me (A gentle Pisces who could barely get a word in edgewise with the two talkative women of the house, but Aries rising himself, so he had his moments of heroic conversation. At one point he said, "Dude, I feel so connected with your soul that I bet you could guess the Dungeons and Dragons book I have in my bathroom right now! I'll give you 5 bucks if you can guess it!" His gaze turned intense as he began beaming the image right at me. At first my logical mind started thinking off all the possible books it could be and it was overwhelming, so I switched it off and opened up my right brain to feeling the force. The first thing I felt was the psychic power emanating from Lisa by the sink, feeling that she was confident I could guess it. I hated trying to guess people's signs when they find out I'm an astrologer. It betrays there lack of knowledge about what true life-changing insights they could actually gain from astrology. I often felt a surge of anger over the mediocrity of humans when I heard those excited but mysterious words, "Oh! Oh! Try to guess my sign?" I understood why they liked to do that, but it was sad that our culture so devalued such a mystic art, science, and spiritual path. When I looked into Ray's eyes, I felt a force coming from him and I closed my eyes and the powerful and evocative image of an old Second Edition Dungeons and Dragons book from the 80's popped sharply into my mind called Fiend Folio. So I just said it simply, "Fiend Folio?"

He was blown out of his rocker, if he ever had a rocker, because I had guessed the exact book he had in the bathroom, and he was flabbergasted as he grabbed my shirt and guided me into the bathroom to reveal that my guess was indeed correct! As he wandered about the house collecting a dollar here and a quarter there to come up with my five bucks talking to himself in disbelief, the others were listening to Lisa and her daughter Chrissy rattle on about astrology. It was great to see Iris, a potential astrologer herself, experience people her age talking astrology like it was second nature to know this language. I hoped it inspired her to learn more!

Ray came around the corner and handed over the five bucks, three dollar bills and eight quarters, and had to give me a big bear hug, and said, "You have irrevocably altered my existence dude. I had a lot of faith before but now...whew!" He just stared at me with large eyes that said the universe had been restored to whole.

All in all we had an amazing time in Hamilton for a few days, staying at Lisa and Ray's for three nights sharing meals, stories, insights, etc. Tony and Chrissy even struck up a light romance as her Mars (which shows what a woman is attracted to) was in Aries and he was an adventurous Aries. Tony was smart and kept it light, because he knew being a gentleman was the way to go since he had no intention of cutting his trip short to fall in love nor of insulting our hosts. Tony and Alex hiked the canyon into the amazing mountains the next day seeing crystal clear streams reminding them of Rivendale from Lord of the Rings. Iris and I focused on resting and I updated the blog and did some astrology charts. On the second day, our elven hostess Lisa took us on an hour tour through her garden introducing us to a wide variety of plant life, showing us the difference between the healing plantain type plants and the dandelions, and pointing out the herbal properties of as many as 15 amazing plants like Yellow Dock, St. John's Wort, and Mullen. By the end of the herbal educational tour, I felt like I knew a slice of what Christina, my ex, knew and had learned and loved about the plant kingdom. It was indeed eye-opening to glimpse the plant realms through the instructive eyes of an elven magi-druid! Check out her Blog at http://aartiana.wordpress.com/

Later that day we all sat down to watch the Matrix, and rooted for Neo against the evil machines. By the end of the day we realized that our journeys, like the Truman Show, were about breaking out of our own self- and culturally-imposed matrices that imprisoned us in a way of life bound by rules and control. We were all excitedly quoting the movie saying things like, "There is no spoon!" "Try not to bend the spoon. Instead, realize that there is no spoon. It is the self that bends." "Now you realize the difference between knowing the path and walking the path." "Mr. Anderson!" And so on. After doing laundry and getting ready to go it was already 4 PM so we asked if we could stay another day and Lisa said we could, even though her nerves were pretty frazzled from having all her daughter's friends and us in the house. The dishes alone were enough to make one pull one's hair out. So I went off to the coffee shop to record an astrology chart and the others decided they were going to do something nice for Lisa and Ray, and offered to cook a gourmet meal.

That was when they showed up at Perkins (all the cool coffee shops had closed), where I was sequestering myself to the quiet room, and asked me for ideas and monetary contributions. I taught Tony how to make an amazing stir fry with a special grill marinade sauce and had them buy some large tomato tortilla wraps and gave them ten bucks to help it happen. I told them to save me a big one for when I returned. They didn't! When I rolled through the door hours later the dishes were stacked high again, and every pan was empty. The meal turned out to be so delicious that they couldn't help themselves, even though all seven or eight people had healthy seconds too. I was disappointed but also glad that my recipe sparked so much joy. So I cooked something even more grand and used Lisa's kitchen spice rack to create food art. I boiled some noodles and poured the delectable sauce and stir fry over it, and proclaimed that it was delicious. We all went to bed with full bellies in Rivendale, and went to sleep excited about the journey to Missoula in the morning. Unfortunately for Tony, he got little sleep after staying up till 6 Am frolicking with Chrissy and talking about life, the universe, and everything.

When morning came, I popped up, collected the laundry we had done, packed my panniers, strapped them on the bike and rode downtown for a chai before departing. I really wanted to check out this coffee shop called Liaisons, and was glad I did. It was the only coffee shop that had a child care room in the back! Where was this place when I was raising my little boy? After the crew assembled and had a drink, we all set off on the next leg of our journey to the big city of Missoula with a population of 60,000. We hoped our friend Julia from the Bike Camp would make good on her offer to host us while there, because we each had business to attend to in the largest city we had seen in a while.

I did finally get to do mini-interpretations of both Tony and Alex's charts in Hamilton. Just as I felt, these guys are my spiritual homeys. Alex is a rebellious 11th house Leo born under a Full Moon in Aquarius, and his Aquarian moon is right on my Sun sign! He also has Virgo Rising with Venus and Mars in Virgo in the house of visionary artistry, no wonder he's so detailed, quick, and into visual arts as a major in college. He's got Saturn and Mars crossing his Ascendant so I warned him about channeling frustration into action and to meditate on getting disciplined about getting his true authentic act together. Tony is an Aries, but his Moon in in Sagittarius, so he has the soul of an explorer and scholar like Albert Einstein. He also has his Mars (Male force) in Aquarius the sign of the great humanitarian and inventor and his Venus feminine essence in Pisces, the sign of its exaltation and the source of his dreamy oceanic eyes. Turns out that his Sag Moon is sitting right on my Sagittarian Ascendant, so we are like spirit brothers. Very cool to have such Universe-picked companions!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Broken Spokes and the Truman Show

A Strange Awakening

"Hello Kelly, are you in there?" a compassionate soft voice asked from outside my tent. I was startled awake but still on that strange bridge between worlds where you have no clue what's really happening. Oh yeah, the bike mechanic had called before I fell asleep saying he'd be by at 5:15 AM and it was time to go out and meet him and try to get Magellan back in riding shape after throwing a couple of shoes, I mean spokes. I rubbed sleep from my eyes and said, "Hey! I'll be right out."

I slipped out of my sleeping bag and the bitter cold of morning chilled my naked body, but I quickly slipped into my padded cycling shorts, a t-shirt, my rain jacket and put on my shoes to go meet this guy named Nick Pairitz. He worked for the government in environmental studies and had to be at work by 7 AM, which gave us a few hours to tinker with Magellan.

I got out of my tent and shook his hand. He stood medium height with an average build, but his eyes were indeed compassionate and his aura friendly. His sideburns were Elvis long and he had a goofy smirk that said he knew more than he was letting on. I later found out that he had a degree in engineering from Cornell, from the local citizenry.

We pulled Magellan into the Bike Camp main building away from the sleeping three wise women, but I knew we would not be able to avoid waking them up with our repair noises and conversations, so I hoped they were early risers like most elder cyclists. From the looks on their faces later, they would have liked to have about 30 more minutes of sleep but they understood that I wasn't going anywhere without this repair.

Nick turned the bike upside down and went straight to work like a master, but patiently explaining each step after I said I wanted to watch and learn. I told him about Jackson and my first broken spoke, and now that I had two more, I really wanted to learn to fix it myself. He showed me the right tools to get and I watched him work quickly, efficiently, and patiently, with explanations like a good teacher would give. He even brought along a portable tire truing machine where he tightened or loosened the spokes with special spoke wenches and showed me how to do it. You have to turn them in the opposite direction of Righty-Tighty-Lefty-Loosey!

Once we finished our work, I shook his hand and payed him $25 and he went off to work. The three wise women were already packed and gone too,leaving me at Bike Camp all alone. I crawled back into my tent and kept sleeping until the greenhouse effect began cooking me, and forced me to wake up and take a free shower.

It turns out that the Town Council voted on an agenda that a man named Bill White brought up to use $10,000 of his personal wealth to build a cycling camp for all the numerous cyclists that come through Twin Bridges. The town had slumped into the woes of the economic depression and even the local grocery store had closed down. A year after building the free cyclists camp (they accept donations to pay for upkeep and to pay back Bill over time) the grocery store reopened along with a few other businesses like the JUmping Rainbow Espresso business started by a young couple in their front yard. They imported a coffee bar stand about the size of a caboose and set it up right in their side yard with a doorbell that rings inside their house. When someone walks or drives up to order a drink, they just pop out of their house and make an amazing drink. I rode over there and ordered a soy vanilla chai and retreated into their netted siting area where they have a table surrounded by chairs. I was so groggy still that I ended up spilling two-thirds of my drink all over the table. They were quick to help me clean up and also made me a new drink to replace the one I had lost. I took a deep breath and was glad to be having a rest day in Twin Bridges, wondering when Alex and Iris, and Tony would show up. After writing and checking email for a few hours I went over to the local grocery store to check on food and not only Alex and Iris, and Tony showed up, the ACA group rode through town as well, and I hugged Bryn and Amber. Unfortunately they were on a schedule and had to make it to Dillon before nightfall with their ACA (Adventure Cycling Association) group leader. Apparently people pay $4000 to join a cycling group with an experienced guide to do the famous journeys across America. So I bid them safe journey and showed Alex and Iris the amazing and FREE Bike Camp. We ended up having dinner with Tony over at The Shack, which was recommended by some motorcyclists at the top of that Ennis overlook, in fact the former owner of the restaurant, Patti was the one to mention it. I had a medium no-cheese vegan pizza and it was delicious.

After dinner, we cycled back over to Bike Camp and wished that every town had a cool bike friendly attitude like Twin Bridges. Apparently other towns in the region along the famous TransAmerican Trail are thinking of doing the same thing, so Bill WHite may have started a legendary trend, as cyclists bring lots of money into these small western towns on a daily basis to stimulate their economies. I had downloaded the Truman Show on my I-pad but we wanted to wait for our Unicyclist friend Sky to catch up but decided to head back to the General Store and purchase popcorn and watch it anyway inside the Bike Camp main screened-in building. It was a pleasant break to be resting the legs, have Magellan back to full mechanical health, and be accompanied by friends again.

In addition, two German cyclists, an older wily Taoist old man who talked about going with the flow of wherever their hearts lead them and his wife/traveling partner a beautiful woman with a slight impairment to her voice box who you really had to strain to understand showed up. I could tell they both really enjoyed listening to my Soulful playlist when I played it on the I-pad. And in addition to them, a guy rolled up to camp going east named Dean who was about 43 and his wife just left him. He was interested in changing his life and living a life of raw adventure as well as online dating. When he first rolled up, he had his shirt open and you could see hair on his chest and he seemed like a player, with his website called crazyguyonabike.com As it turns out, he has joined an online dating community site and when he's approaching a new town he arranges a date or two and meets up with cool woman he likes on the road. I thought it was a fascinating way to meet people who would be interested in dating a recently single long-term adventurous traveler. Most dating sites where people list their interests are sometimes silly in their descriptions of what they like because everyone seems to have the same cardboard desires: going on walks, reading, working out, long walks, sharing meals, going to movies. But when Dean put down that he was into cycling and travel, he really meant it and could prove it by his bike and his bob cart and his pictures. As it turns out he had met a really cool nurse/healer named Julia in Missoula and she decided to join him in his travels by car as she drove all the way from Missoula to spend the night with him at Bike Camp. So we had quite the crew there visiting and talking, and interacting and Julia was really into astrology and I did a mini interpretation for both Dean and her and they enjoyed it. As a result of our friendly interactions Julia invited the four of us to stay with her in Missoula when we came through next week! This would give me a chance to go to REI to replace my tent and a TREK dealer to see if I could get a better rim!

It was so good to watch the Truman Show with Alex, and Iris, and Tony. I had watched it at my mom's in Loveland so the scenes were fresh in my mind but always hilarious. I love Jim Carey as we both share that wacky, witty, comedic Gemini Moon!
I discussed with them afterward the idea that we are all in our own sort of Truman Show, where we've accepted the reality we've been presented with, but that there were other dimensions of emotion, and mind, and archetypes and the spiritual realm which most people utilized but also ignored. The physical world and its needs took precedence and we out here on bikes had a special opportunity to minimize our worldly needs so we could refocus on these other grand dimensions. I mean, of course you could totally make your travels about seeing and visiting physical sites but that when you also cultivated an awareness of symbols and watched your heart and mind, and as my good friend Peter always says, learn to trust and follow your heart in all things, then the adventure took on a magical component beyond just mere travel. We talked about that into the late night hours and then finally all retreated to our little tent huts.

In the morning I went to the Jumping Rainbow Espresso to have another amazing soy chai and they even had an employee working for them, how cool! I sat down to write a blog post and waited for Alex and Iris and Tony to come and get me so we could ride down to the next town called Dillon, just 28 miles to the southwest. Tony had tire trouble with flats and had to hitch a ride to Dillon to get to that other bike store I had contacted while Alex and Iris forgot to come get me because Iris had taken so long waking up, that they thought I had left without them. So I hopped on Magellan and proceeded to travel against some mild headwinds over ten miles of construction on a gravel-laden shoulder that seemed to only let you go at about 8 MPH, very slow going. I rolled past the Beaverhead National Monument and then the terrain became hilly, but just up and down small hills for the last ten miles into Dillon.

When I rolled into Dillon, Alex sped up beside me and then everyone showed up. It seemed that they had the bead on a good FREE campsite down by a river. So we went on into town and found that Dillon was quite large. We hit the local Safeway grocery store up for groceries and charged our cell phones and devices before exploring the town on our bikes. There were many cool cafes and unique shops but they were all closed as we had arrived late after sleeping in at the cozy Bike Camp. We stumbled upon a couple outside the Courthouse and the man was supposedly on the City Council so I asked him where we could camp for free, because we were traveling across country and were on a budget and didn't want to pay for an expensive KOA site. He directed us out to a campsite down by the river too and said even though it was technically illegal to camp overnight there, that no one would bother us, so we did! We rode out there and had to set up our tents among a swarm of mosquitos by a river. I wondered how the ancients dealt with the pests. Once Alex got the fire going they seemed to become less of a nuisance. So we set up our tents, except Tony who was waiting patiently for the sun to go down to see if the law would come along and kick us out, but they never did.

I cooked my Taste of Thai Oriental rice noodles and spiced them with some dried Shitake mushrooms, stir fried tofu, and Thai peanut sauce and it was beyond delicious. Alex and Iris went with the cheaper Ramen Noodles and hated every bite after I let them taste my vegan cuisine. Tony went with the spaghetti and tomato sauce favorite fallback and cooked way too many noodles. After eating and hanging out we had hot chai tea and retreated to our tents for some good sleep, hoping not to be woken up in the night with police shining flashlights in our eyes! They never came, even though a police car did drive by while we were cooking and the officer noted our fire. The City Councilor probably told the to leave us alone in such a small town.

The next morning I popped up first with my rooster alarm, packed up my tent and gear and was on my way into town to check out the Sweetwater Coffee Shop. I wanted to go to the other more dangerous sounding Bad Ass Coffee Shop, but when I rode by Sweetwater, I saw several cyclist bikes that looked like the ones camped at KOA when we had driven by the night before, so I stopped to talk cycling shop. There were three cyclists in there, and two were riding tandem, a young couple, while an older guy in his forties named Mark, who was riding with a cause of raising money to help stop de-finning and wonton slaying of sharks in asia through his site endfinning.com They couldn't believe I was carrying four panniers plus my huge backpack!

The Chai was indeed sweet and I added a shot of espresso because we had a very challenging 65 mile ride ahead to Jackson MT and Wisdom MT. I didn't know if we would make it because it was uphill over two very large passes. Something deep down sensed trouble ahead, but I didn't know what to make of this feeling. I just knew it would be challenging. When the crew showed up we filled our water bottles and we visited the local health food store. I was really wanting to buy some soy vanilla creamer so I could treat them to some amazing chai around the fire later that night. I distinctly remember wanting to buy a six pack of healthy ginger ales, but I opted for Almond Dream vegan ice cream instead to give me a nice kick in the early going. Later I would regret this decision deeply.

The ride started off great and we found the frontage road that would lead us down to the highway that turned back Northwest toward Jackson and Wisdom. I remembered coming to this area to attend a National Rainbow Gathering back in the summer of 2001 which occurred in the mountains up above Jackson. It would be nice to visit that little town again with a different mission this time. Before I packed in two boxes of my astrology book Celestial Renaissance: A Revolution of Astrology, and I was determined to set up my epic astrology circle again and teach whoever came the ancient wisdom of the stars. This time I was passing through as the Traveling Magi en route to a new life of Locational Independence and to meet Alisha, who might just be the true love of my life, if only I could learn to love and honor my deeper visionary self first and foremost. It was fascinating to reflect on how my life had changed so dramatically since those early days in Asheville NC. I had hitched a ride from other rainbow folks from NC all the way to Jackson WY to attend the gathering. I remember standing by the bonfire of the Jerusalem Camp at 3 AM with my good friend and spiritual brother David Alexander English and we watched the Northern Lights in amazement.

The Wind started off great that morning with 42 miles uphill to Jackson, a hard day ahead. I was grateful for the cooperation of my new nemesis, the WIND! However, I soon learned to respect and yearn for the Wind when all kinds of mosquitos and horseflies started harassing me. It was so intense that I almost crashed Magellan into a ditch trying to swat at them! And the Sun was blazing down as if it meant to melt us into butter patches. Tony shot ahead and left everyone eating his dust, while Alex and Iris blasted ahead when I stopped to take my first picture of the scenery, as usual. I couldn't upload it to Facebook with no service in the desolate area. I decided that I'd rather be hot than a meal for the bugs, so I put on my heavy rain jacket and my synthetic rain pants so that I had full armor against the pests. Even though it hurt me to do so, I began silently praying for the Wind to return, realizing the good side of a nice breeze, but not wanting a malicious headwind either.

As a result of being so hot and sweaty under all that rain gear, I was sucking down water at an accelerated rate. The others had long disappeared over the horizon and I was struggling up the first of two gigantic climbs. Unfortunately, on the downslope of the first climb when I was supposed to be enjoying a rushing easy ride, the headwinds kicked in slowing my descent hard. I had to pedal just to go 8 MPH on the downslope which is never fun, and my camel back full of water was exhausted. I still had my two water bottles full, but I started scanning the horizon in search of a cafe or gas station, worrying about possible dehydration if my water stores ran dry. When the Adventure Cycling Map that Alex carried said NO SERVICES, and warned us to stock up well, I realized they were serious. There were no services anywhere in sight, not even farm houses. My lips were chapped and dry from the beating wind and I was down to my last water bottle with over 18 miles to go. My throat was dry and the wind turned against me as I began my ascent up the largest climb of the day, wondering how I could possibly make it. I had reached that point in the ride where everything was beginning to ache and there was nothing you could do about it but ride hard and pray for good winds and currents. After several applications of lip balm, and another hour of trying to conserve my last water bottle's contents, I truly learned how to drink and enjoy a good gulp of water. I would squirt the nourishing liquid into my mouth and just hold it there over the course of a mile or so and just swallow little by little as the highway swooped underneath my tires, truly enjoying the water trickling down my parched throat.

The whole ride I was listening to Alan Watts lectures on Taoism, Zen, and Hinduism. My brain began hallucinating in the sheer heat and I saw Indian Gods like Brahmin and Vishnu with their multiple arms rising out of the road before me. I realized that the Indian religion of Hinduism started with the conception that the universe was not a creation that had been constructed as in our Western theologies, but rather, a drama that is enacted over thousands and thousands of years during enormous ages called Kalpas with smaller subdivisions called Yugas. They thought of the supreme being as a magical child who got bored with being one unified infinite field of consciousness and began playing hide and go seek with himself/herself and that we are all manifestations of the divine all trying to wake up and realize the game, to seek ourselves in the hidden positions we've gotten ourselves into. I realized I was on my last gulp of water with 17 miles to go to Jackson and began to worry. Then I realized that on some divine level, I had tricked myself into this position, in getting way out here with no water and seeing how I would react when placed in a survival situation.

Would I be too proud to hitch a ride and stubbornly force myself to cover those 17 miles with no water? I started going through my food inventory in my mind wondering what items had high water content: I had some leftover dried shitake mushrooms, some peanut sauce, and my Braggs amino liquids (but it was salty and would make me more thirsty). So I thought dry might meet dry and stopped to chew on a dried shitake mushroom, and it worked! My thirst went a way for a while. But it wasn't long before I had to eat another, and another. My water bottle was dwindled down to the last gulp and still 16 miles to go. It was sweltering hot and I wondered if it was my destiny to feed this tired body to the bugs and be done with this mad struggle. I thought about lying down in the ditch and letting the bugs have at it so I could wake up in eternity, but my rational self refused to give in. The wind returned harsh and biting and I had to push the bike up the next pass with the top nowhere in sight. I stopped and stripped off my bug armor rain gear just to be cool and realized my undershirt was extremely wet. I had been sweating violently all day. I was wondering if I could squeeze my shirt into a water bottle and drink it, when up ahead, I heard the sound of flowing water!

I pushed my bike ahead and saw a small creek flowing right under the road through a drainage pipe. I knew the water was contaminated with giardia from all the farm animals I had seen on the land, but there were no farms in sight that I could ask for water. I stood there looking at the water with my thirst glands salivating, weighing the options of intense sickness versus dying of thirst and I forced myself to turn Magellan away slowly and begrudgingly and keep trudging up the pass, too weak to ride in the harsh wind. I was furious for sending my water purification tablets off to Canada, thinking there was no way I'd need them. How wrong I was. I weighed the option of hitchhiking against the egotistical goal of saying I rode my bike all the way to Canada. There were not too many vehicles coming down the road anyway, and I would need a pickup truck for myself and Magellan.

I slowly squeezed the last gulp of water into my mouth and held it there for a good mile, just letting it trickle ever so slowly down my throat. I thought of Alisha and how she would feel if I died out here on the road on the way to meet her and that picked up my spirit. I hopped back on my trusty steed and pedaled hard toward what I thought was the summit. But another summit appeared in the distance and the Wind came ripping down hard. I took the Buddhist approach and thanked it for cooling my skin and blessed it for keeping the bugs away, even though it impeded my progress to that little town of Jackson, which I remembered had a tiny general store and a hot springs. The last thing I would want at that moment was to wallow in a hot springs. I wanted cool nourishing water desperately, and I began chewing on another dried mushroom. I was determined to fight and alternate between pushing the bike in harsh winds and rolling down the occasional slopes. But in the end I surrendered and begrudgingly stuck out my thumb as a pickup truck had already gone by. I don't think they saw me out of their rear view mirror trying to beg for a ride, begging to stay alive in that fierce wind and sweltering heat. My mouth was dry and my lips were burning so I just kept applying lip balm. I wish I'd a bought that 6 pack of ginger ale instead of that damn almond ice cream that morning! I vowed to always buy an extra can or bottle of liquid if I made it through this.

As a few more vehicles went by, I got brave with the trucks and stuck out my thumb before they got to me, but no one seemed interested in stopping to help me now. I wondered how the others faired ahead and sent them a desperate text, saying that I was 15 miles out with no water and dying of thirst, hoping they would ride me out some awful tasting well water from Jackson. But there was no Verizon service out there in the middle of nowhere. So I trudged along wondering if this was it, wondering what effect dehydration would have on me as I stumbled into Jackson 15 miles from now. I knew I could make it 15 miles with no water because I'm stubborn that way, but it would be a long and painful unnecessary journey. So I stuck my thumb out again at the next pickup truck and they sped by as if to say, "You made you're bed and now you've got to sleep in it you damn cyclist!"

Then I had an idea. What if I held my water bottle out as if to say, "Hey I'm out of water and could use some more. Could you help a lone traveler dying of thirst?" I tried it with the next pickup truck that sped by about ten minutes later and the little black truck went on by and I bowed my head in dismay. But then as I slowly looked up I saw the driver stop ahead and turn around. It was an older man and woman, and they offered me what was left of a small water bottle and said they could transport me to Jackson. I thanked them profusely and the man named John (my dad's name is John) helped me lift Magellan into the back where they had a cooler. The lady whose name was Maryella (my stepmom is Mary), pointed to the cooler and told me it was full of ice! Oh my God! I downed the water first and then as the truck picked up speed and the howling wind rushed over my face, I watched the landscape ascend to impossible heights, and I was so glad I surrendered and took some help. I thanked the Hindu Gods of dramatic enactment for making me realize the essence of my true nature, my immortal timeless spirit that is having this amazing adventure in a body, and sucked on ice cube after ice cube, like they were the teats of eternity, rubbing their cold blocky melting forms over my lips slowly, savoring their stored coolness. I imagined the state of the universe before the Big Bang inflationary period being smaller than a dot, and pretended their frozen quality poured from the time before that primeval explosion.

John and Maryella dropped me off at their turnoff about a half a mile from Jackson. When we came over the last rise, I was grateful to the nth degree. I would have never made it over that pass and my friends would be worried sick. I thanked them from the deepest abyss of my heart and looked John right in the eyes. I told him my dad and step mom were named John and Mary, and that today they had saved their son's life. Good karma was in store for them indeed. I got on Magellan and took my short victorious ride down the hill into Jackson and found my friends sitting on a bench outside the general store, looking about as bad as myself. As i turned out, Iris had a flat about a mile ahead of me and needed the patch kit that Alex had (I had one too). The same ride that picked her up, picked Alex up as well and delivered them to Jackson. Tony alone made it all the way with no help after buying a new back tire in Dillon at the bike shop and powering ahead with the true gusto of an Aries. I felt a true kinship with both he and Alex and was anxious to see their charts.

The water in Jackson was terrible well water, but not as bad as the stuff you get in Tularosa, New Mexico. The calcium deposits run thick and you wonder how anyone lives on the stuff. But after almost dying out there in the wilds, I filled those bottles with honor and slowly drank down a few bottles of it, ignoring the taste for its life giving qualities. Today I learned how to truly drink a drink of water, to truly savor its essence, and I thanked the Universe for the lesson. After a quick meal of all kinds of random items from the store I realized that my Pay Pal debit card was down to it's last nine bucks. Soon I wouldn't be able to buy any food either. I had faith things would work out. Iris said that they would never let me starve. I wanted to hurry up and get to Nelson so I could finish writing my next epic astrology book and complete the editing of my next documentary film on chart interpretation, so I could earn some money the good old fashioned way, not begging for donations from inspired readers or selling collections on E-bay.

For some reason, clients have not been ordering astrology charts, probably sensing that I'm out here struggling to survive between internet cafes, but I've still been able to record charts and send them off digitally. I knew I could make it to Nelson, but I also heard the guards at the Canadian border would not let you enter Canada penniless. Maybe I should have sold my HD camera? Maybe my friend Melissa would start sending me money for the lap top I sold her, my loaded Dell Inspiron? When was my spiritual tithe coming from my good friend and client Lane? Maybe I should ask all my Facebook friends (802 of them) to donate a dollar on my http://www.travelingmagi.com website. Even if only 10% sent aid, that would give me 80 bucks for seeds, and nuts, and chai and noodles. I was used to getting at least 3-5 chart orders per week, and now they had dwindled to one per week after I had fully redesigned my website, which was disappointing.

I figured the economic depression had everyone down. No one needed cosmic wisdom about their character or cycles during these rough times when people just wanted to survive. After almost dying in the mosquito-infested high plains of Montana I knew their desperation. Things would pick up when I got settled in. I hoped Nick's magical repair of my two spokes would last. being woken up in the dark hours of sunrise by that engineering Saint Nick had to come with some magic! I prayed for magic as we hopped on our bikes and headed for Wisdom, Montana. I told Alex and Tony that no matter what, in 20 miles when we got to Wisdom, that I was going to interpret their charts. I was burning with curiosity now. But in fact, as it turns out, Tony would never make it to Wisdom at all!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Twin Bridges Haven

The Mountain of Doom

So there I stood with strong headwinds blowing me back in my shoes and another huge mountain in my path, the largest of this section of the Trans-American Trail. My body had miraculously recovered from yesterday's grueling 72 mile ride. My knees hurt so bad during the night in my sleeping bag that they were popping every time I moved. Should I wait for my friends to catch up? I had had enough alone time. I was yearning for their companionship. They texted me and said they missed me and wanted to catch up and to not worry about the stubborn German guy. I texted them back and said I'd meet them in Twin Bridges, as I was determined to climb the terrible ascent out of Ennis against the wind. I figured if I could just get to the top it would be nice and downhill after that. What I didn't know was that a lowfront had moved in for three days that had conjured some of the most powerful winds I've seen, trumping those of Wyoming.

But I hopped on Magellan, stopped at the gas station to go to the bathroom and fill my water up, and then pedaled slowly out of town, with my rear still aching on the seat from the day before. But I felt strong, at least until the road turned sharply West toward that ominous mountain. With hardly any trees you could see the long winding road switchbacking its way up the mountain. I shifted gears and lurched forward anxious to get to the top. How hard could it be? I was only going about 50 miles to Twin Bridges and it was mostly downhill after climbing 11 miles.

Within minutes, I realized the gravity of the situation I was in and knew I should have waited in Ennis for my friends. Too late, as I was already a third of the way up the side of the mountain. I imagined the sweet ride back down the hill with the wind and I almost turned around several times, but there was no turning back on this journey. Alisha was waiting and Toto was singing in my I-pod the Africa song, "Hurry boy she's waiting there for you!"

So I pedaled harder and got my legs burning again, sweat dripping under my shirt. However, as I got higher and higher it got colder and colder, and I had to stop to break out my rain jacket to keep warm. The Wind was so harsh that I started yelling at it again, but this wind was relentless, not haunted like Jefferey City, but just plain relentless, like a teacher who is hard on you so that you learn discipline. I felt like I was being schooled by the Wind, and the Wind was kicking me in the teeth. I remember thinking, "I hate cycling! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it!" But then I remembered the fun times, the communities of people I've met, the campsites and camaraderie of rolling gypsies, the sheer intensity of going 46 MPH downhill, and I had to admit to myself that I loved cycling too. It was a strange love-hate relationship that shifted with the WInds and Currents. But this day, it changed sharply back to intense hatred as I pedaled as hard as I could to go 2 to 3 MPH. I swear I almost got off the bike, packed my stuff into my backpack, and tossed Magellan over the side of the ledge! That's how much I disliked cycling at that moment. Every cyclist you talk to dreads the uphill fight against relentless headwinds though. So you try to grin and bear it and keep your eyes on the road before you, with an occasional glance toward the apex, hoping you're scaling the distance fast. But the going is slow, very slow, and sometimes you get so burnt out that you just get off the bike and walk, and you feel like a failure as cars drive by. You imagine the people inside laughing at you and then a diesel blows by and scares the crap out of you! You drink and drink water, if not to hydrate yourself, then to at least try and lighten your load, desperate for anything that will help you make that ascent.

It took me three arduous hours to climb nine painful miles that morning and I still had not reached the top, but fortunately there was a nice rest area overlook where a conglomeration of motorcyclists going downhill had stopped.
"How's the hill?" they asked with smirks on their faces. I just shook my head and said, "Living hell on earth." We exchanged the usual pleasantries and I told them about my mission and my destination, and they suggested I stay at their Bike Camp in Twin Bridges, designed for cyclists and free! The former owner of The Shack restaurant, Patti suggested I ea there because if I was vegan, then it was the healthiest place in town. After a good thirty minutes of talking and pretending the hill didn't keep sloping up for another two miles, I had to force myself back on Magellan and slowly make that final ascent to what looked like the top, only it wasn't. When I peaked out over the rise, the road became flat, which was heavenly even with the strong wind threatening to blow me back down the hill, but in the distance I saw another ascent. I wanted to cry. I don't think I've ever cried as much as I have on this journey, especially from sheer physical discomfort and pain. Maybe the Universe was purging me of my demons. As I lost weight and reclaimed my former athletic body after living in too much comfort with Christina in the woods of North Carolina, I welcomed the transformation. But i was truly painful beyond belief. I took another picture of the ascent ahead and uploaded it to the web with a caption, "Could this truly be the top?" But i wasn't! After another bitter ascent over the next rise, another rise appeared in the distance. Good God! I stopped the bike and took another picture and uploaded it to Facebook with the words: "I hate cycling uphill against strong headwinds. I would rather be branded like a cow!" At least the fiery heat of the metal would be quick, one great scream, and some intense searing pain as the metal cooked into your flesh. I found it hard to believe that I would rather experience branding over climbing this mountain of doom. But it was damn straight true.

Finally I reached the highest rise and came to the top of the mountain. The wind was still pounding against my body but there was an utter serenity up there on the flat of the mountain. The top of a mountain is a tranquil temple of nature, a holy place that defies description other than sacred silence hidden in the how of the wind. I wondered if Jesus ever had to face harsh headwinds when he went up to the mountain to pray alone? At least he could command them to stay their ripping ways. I tried to do that, but to no avail. It was as if the Wind needed to cut into my soul, to make me surrender, to make me feel what it's like on the last threads of exhaustion. I remembered the time my first wife Tracey and I hiked the Colorado Trail in our early twenties, trekking over 13,000 foot peaks and falling into great snow drifts in June. We wished we'd a brought snow shoes! But the tops of those mountains had the same feeling as this one, serene with little foliage beyond scrub bushes, and a holy wind tha stood ready to deliver ten commandments. As I sailed across the melancholy landscape the Song Hallelujah came on my I-pod sung by a white dude with dread locks named Jason. His voice soothed my soul as I finally reached the REAL apex and began my sharp descent toward Virginia City.

The downhill slope was harsh, which was unusual, because ordinarily you get to relax and enjoy the fruits of your uphill labors. But the headwind was still so strong, that you had to pedal hard just to maintain 8 MPH. In addition the Current was rough with lots of little rocks and sand on the shoulder and a narrow shoulder at that. When I finally got to Virginia City I felt terrible. It was a quaint little tourist town with the main street sloping downward a about 25 degrees! How do the people walk the main drag leisurely in this town? They must develop intense calf muscles! I pulled into the local pos office and almost fell to the ground when I got off the bike, as my body was still trembling from facing and overcoming the mountain of doom. The lady inside took one look at me and said, "How did you like that hill?" I just groaned. The famous German cyclist Heinz had given me a booklet full of pictures of his 48 years of adventures that included pics of him camping and biking in some of the most remote corners of the world. I especially liked seeing his tent pitched on the Great Wall of China. I thought my son, a fellow Capricorn like Heinz would enjoy reading about his adventures and his devotion to science and progress. After reading his story I understood his aversion to mystical arts like astrology. He was a realist who wanted physical proof of celestial influences, but astrology works through the archetypal spiritual realm on the principle that the inner world we live inside is reflected an connected to the outer wold we experience in space-time. In final analysis, I figured my Capricorn son Arian would be inspired to do some wold traveling after seeing what his fellow Capricorn had accomplished. SO I sent the pamphlet on to Dauphin Island, AL where Arian was summering with his other family, including his step-dad David who is an avid cyclist, sailor, and all around adventurous spirit himself, and who wants to cycle with us in the near future. Maybe he can et away and come join Arian and I on the Pacific Coast route down the 101. I hear from many cyclists that it's their most favorite route with tailwinds the whole way south. That sounds like heaven!

After a veggie burger at one cafe, served by these two twin sisters, and a mean hummus wrap at a pizza joint, I continued my trek hoping to make it to Twin Bridges by nightfall. There I would wait for Alex, Iris, and Tony all three bound for Olympia. After another long flat leg-numbing, knee-hurting, headwind struggle I finally rolled into Twin Bridges only to realize that my bike rim had blown two spokes. I was sick of these lame wheels breaking spokes. I vowed to see a TREK dealer in Missoula right after I returned my tent to REI with the broken pole. The first place I saw was an antique shop where two mechanics were in a connected garage working on Harleys and other motorcycles. The bike mechanic in Jackson who fixed my spoke and trued my wheel told me that if it happens again, don't try and fix i myself, but seek out a bike mechanic. I wondered if these two knew about bicycles too.

Feeling utterly defeated after two hash days of traveling, I rolled Magellan up their driveway and asked for help, feeling humiliated. They perked me up with their bright spirits and zany banter and the assistant mechanic actually knew a lot about bicycles. IN a matter of minutes we had Magellan stripped of his baggage and turned upside down. We pulled off the back wheel and started disassembling it piece by piece intil we got to the sprockets tha hoist the chain. There was a crazy hex nut lock on it an we couldn't figure out how to unlock it. We must have tried every tool on their garage, trying not to damage it. As one mechanic tried to turn the lock, I held it in place with two rags but i wouldn't budge. After about an hou we finally gave up and I thanked them for helping me. Then I logged onto their wireless on the I-pad and did a search for bike shops. There were two in Butte 100 miles north, one in Dillon 28 miles south along my route, and miraculously, one in Sheridan about 8 miles back where I had stopped and enjoyed a kiwi fruit. I called the guy in Dillon and he told me he'd be in his shop at PM the next day and that he'd b glad to help. He told me to hitch a ride to Dillon so I didn't damage the rim.

So I rolled over to the supposed free Bike Camp and came upon the three wise women who had left an hour before me from Ennis. They already had their tents set up by a lovely smooth flowing river surrounding a wondrous shelter designed by cyclists for cyclists. I had reached cycler's Nirvana. The three wise woman helped me set p my tent in the harsh winds when they saw how exhausted I was and when they saw the wind blow my tent footprint across the green grass. Thank you three wise women! I was in Twin Bridges, with two broken spokes, two funky funny motorcycle mechanics and in need of at least two nights of rest. I took a long hot free shower and then crawled into my tent defeated once again and wondered if I should just hitch a ride in the morning to Dillon to ix my bike before the others caught up. Before I drifted off into a well-deserved sleep, my intuition said to call the local guy from Sheridan named Nick Pairitz, so I did and left a message. He called back right before I fell asleep around ten O'clock and told me he'd be there at 5:15 Am sharp, because he had to be at his regular job at 7 AM. I hung up and thanked the Universe for two possible bike mechanics and knew I'd be back on the road soon. Luckily I had planned ahead and carried two extra brand new bike spokes on my supplies! I went to sleep anxious to see what mysteries would open themselves on the morrow, glad that I would see my friends again and welcome to this marvelous and unique cyclists haven!