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....