Day 1: Corvallis to McMinnville, 52 miles
After weeks of preparation, this time spending hours organizing the restaurant’s operations in meticulous detail, I disembarked on what I am certain will be my best tour yet. I am ready for this.
The goal: extend the last two tours by adding the Willamette Valley north to Portland, then riding the entire Oregon and California coast highways. Stay connected this time, to the moment, to the landscape, to the people. My people, my family and community, the many, many new friends and strangers who I meet along the road.
Contemplating the tour, I thought over the last two annual autumn tours. It seemed each had a theme or focus. In 2010 I was awakening after many years, asleep at the wheel of my life. I was riding my bicycle for the first time in nearly a decade. I was stunned, lost, confused, floating. In 2011 I was fresh grieving the loss of my marriage, trying to find direction, manage my business from afar, but really not knowing and effectively not caring about so many outcomes. I was in flight.
But this year, after 10 months managing FireWorks from the floor, making great headway on clearing back debts, handing over the authority and management to a new chef and my son, I could deeply focus on one of my original goals: writing. What would I write about? Have I anything to say? Then an idea.
Lots of ‘New Age’ hype about the Mayan calendar, which predicts the end of the world in 2010. Why not consider the real question: If I knew I had only 3 months to live, what would I do? How would I live my life? What would I let go of? Draw in? Create anew?
And then an audacious thought: what if I interviewed people, asking this question? Hundreds of people, hundreds of interviews, now that might become an article for the Sun Magazine, who sponsors the annual writers retreat at Esalen in Big Sur. That would be exciting, transforming, inspiring.
The End of the World Tour, Autumn 2012. I guess you know what I would be doing if the world ended in December. What about you?
A beautiful fall day to kick off the tour. I headed east on Highway 20 and picked up the Corvallis-Independence Highway, a beautiful rolling country road. I pedaled easily and steady, feeling my bicycle touring legs again. Passed the best of Willamette Valley scenery, vineyards, farms, cornfields, hills, clear blue skies, temps in the 80s. Coming into Amity, I stopped in to visit my former chef at the Blue Goat. Danny made me an incredible wood fired pizza, almost as good as our own 😉
Then I rolled into McMinnville where I would stay with my mother and father in the family home on Baker Street. Many memories in this house, which was my grandmother’s when I was growing up. Pictures adorn all the walls upstairs, all the sons and wives, and so many grandchildren. So much love in my family. I am grateful, a bit embarrassed recalling the years of adolescent protest, which for me continued through grad school. A late bloomer? Glad those years are past.
A beautiful sunset from the upstairs window. I remember many times looking out that window to the west, enjoying the sky, and silhouette of the trees, seeing many sunsets before. Good to reminisce with my mother and father, remember all the times, look forward to what comes next.