Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wait, how'd I get here?!

Four weeks ago I had a going-way party, full of innocent fun, grilled hamburgers, Travis dancing in a wheelchair, loads of PBR and one balloon unicorn. A going-away party would imply some sort of going-away, which is indeed what happened, as three days later, I found myself cozily crashing on Casey's couch in Seattle (or, for poetic reasons, I should spell with a soft "c" as in Ceattle, to make for one hell of an alliteration.)

Literary devices aside, I left Asheville early one Monday in late September with a loaded-down pick-up, full of four bikes, and extra I-9 wheelset, and a bunch of useless crap that I somehow thought would be useful in my new life (and yet, I left behind my Cuisinart, which in retrospect was a terrible decision.)

Quigley had once told me about some MTB trails in Kansas, so of course I made that my arbitrary first stop of the trip. Total freak (or hipster, I can't tell) style, I crawled out of my truck at 6:30 am Tuesday morning in some parking lot in Lawrence, KS, got on my fixed gear mountain bike, bought some coffee, and went to ride the River Trail. Fast, flowy, and in Kansas--I recommend it highly. Post-ride, I went in search for breakfast, whence I became acutely aware that I had driven too far west and north to be able find a Waffle House or Bojangles ever, ever, ever again. At a seeming loss, I went into a downtown joint called the "World Cafe" or something ridiculous, considering its location in Lawrence, KS...and ordered an egg-and-cheese arepa. An arepa, apparently, is a Central American biscuit made not with butter, flour and love, but with cornmeal. Actually, it was pretty delicious, but Southern Pride (besides being a popular brand of chewing tobacco) makes me reluctant to openly admit this.

Flowy fun in the backcountry of Kansas
Loading up, driving on, I made it Gillette, WY the next night, had breakfast the next morning in Sheridan, at the same place we got cup after cup of coffee during our 2007 Booyah Tour. It was sentimental.

My next goal was to go mountain biking in Montana, as I had never been to that state, and judging my the name of it, it would have decent mountains. Decent mountains it had, but my premeditated stop of choice (Butte, MT) had trails that were 6-12 (depending on which local you asked and chose to believe) inches of snow. I was too hyped up on Mike-n-Ikes, bad coffee, Copenhagen, and Saltenes to make any sort of decision so I wandered around town restlessly for awhile, talked to the owner of the curiously named Beaver Bikes, bought more coffee, and drove on.

Autumn in Montana.
In Spokane, WA, having just seen a beautiful sunset over Cour d'Alene lake in Idaho, I talked to ol' pal Casey Gish, made the decision to push it to his house in Seattle, watched some guy accidentally splash gasoline all over the station attendent, bought a can of cream-of-chowder soup, ate it cold and did not like that decision, turned up the music a little louder, and made it to Casey's around midnight. Somewhere along the way, I caught myself in a moment of introspection--there I was, I happened to notice, blasting Rage Against the Machine, washing down Mike-n-Ikes with Mountain Dew, and I thought to myself that I have never felt dirtier in my entire life. Then I remembered that this was a pretty regular experience when I was in middle school.

Casey at earlier, more hydrated times.
Booyah Tour, 2007

Safely at Casey's, sleeping on a couch, not the bed of my truck, allowed (probably strongly urged) to take a shower, we caught up on life, the universe, and Warren Wilson College gossip, and the next morning we drank hella-good Anericanos in some alley in the U-District. He went to class, I drove to Bellingham, site of my new life for the next year, or whatever.

An hour-and-half and phone call to my mother later, I parked my truck in the visitor center parking lot, got a map from some volunteering retiree, and did the one thing that makes me feel secure wherever I go--I got on my bike and began pedaling, aimlessly.