The kindness of strangers

Day 3, Seattle to Boston Harbor via Vashon Island, 64 miles

Fall Equinox. A long day ahead, I’m planning over 60 miles, early in the tour, not trained up for distance yet. I put my anxiety aside and remember, just one mile at a time.

I hear Jeff up already. He’s going to escort me to the ferry. So I throw my gear together, stumble down the stairs to a bowl of granola and yogurt. Karin is up, but shy for the picture, so she hides behind Jeff. Too cute. I tell her the picture highlights their altitude differential.

Lights on, we head out at 615am. So early. But I’m certain I need all the time I can muster for the ride. Jeff leads the way on his fixie, I’m struggling to keep up. First, the path along Lake Union, then we stop at the Freemont troll, which incorporates a real VW bus.

Downtown, to Pike Place, we stop for crumpets. Nutella and Ricotta, yum! Jeff and I chat about his family, my kids, the things friends talk about, getting to know each other. I’m glad to feel comfort in conversation, something I haven’t always enjoyed. The love of cycling is a bond that erases boundaries.

Time is tight, we rush over to the ferry terminal. They’ve moved the Seattle Water Taxi dock, so we almost miss the spot. I wish Jeff well, exchanging blogs, then catch the ferry with minutes to spare. The sun is rising, casting orange hues over the Olympic Range across the Sound. Such a beautiful morning.

The ferry ride to Vashon Island is brief, and I’m soon cycling down the island highway. A bit of a climb to get off the dock, then a long descent. My legs are feeling strong again. I stop for coffee at Vashon, chatting with the owners of AJ’s espresso. Good coffee! If you’re ever on Vashon.

The highway winds around the water, blue sky reflecting off the shimmering sound. Ah, this is why I came. So beautiful, I’m in bliss. The miles fly. I reach the dock at Tahlequa and wait for the ferry to Point Defiance. My thoughts return to the past year, the struggles of recent. The aching in my heart is still there, though less. Each day, less.

This ferry is only a few minutes, then I’m riding back on the mainland, into Tacoma, seeking lunch and a bike shop. I grab some new gloves, then ride south, through the city, Google Nav giving me the best path forward. Still 40 miles to go. I know this will be a long ride. Uninspiring too, to spend so much time riding through a city. More thoughts to muse.

I pass a marquis sign at a chiropractor, first line says “Be kind whenever possible.” Then the second line says “It is always possible.” This hits home. I think of the times I’ve in my life that I’ve spend in fear or resentment, how this has caused me to respond with less kindness. It is always possible to choose kindness. Not just when I’m treated nicely too. Even when I’m feeling hurt or betrayed. It is always possible to choose kindness.

These thoughts, and others, and the miles pass, easily. I’m finding my legs, so early in the tour. I am grateful for this. I round the military base, then Google sends me on I-5. I stay on the freeway a bit longer than Google suggests, then head north to Boston Harbor, where I’ll meet up with Jenny and Denni for the night. A long bike trail, mercifully flat, then the final hills as the sun wanes in the sky.

Jenny greets me warmly, so glad to meet another friend. I grab a shower, so glorious after the long ride. 13 hours on the road, I’m glad to still be standing. Then Denni and Jenny treat me to dinner, fermented krauts and carrots, sprouts, heirloom tomatoes, goat cheese, wild carrot jam. Ecstasy for the mouth. Tingling tastes, warmth in the belly.

We share tales and insights and feelings and dreams. Two more souls, opening to me, and I to them. Strangers a moment before, now intimates. How is this possible? Or not possible? When fear dominates, it only prevents this miracle of connections. I just need to receive the kindness of strangers. Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

2 thoughts on “The kindness of strangers

  1. I enjoy your writing, photos, and opening heart. You may know that the kindness quote is from the Dali Lama. One of my favorites. Safe travels!

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