Day 9, Humbug Mountain to Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park, 75 miles
My dreams are returning. And my tears.
Last night, Trump is running around, chasing two women reporters, grabbing their papers, trying to suppress their questions to him. I tackle him, drag him from the room. Sitting on top, pinning him to the ground, I say you can’t do this. You are a terrible example of a man. You have to stop.
This morning, I’m dreaming of my lover. We are separating, she’s moving out, leaving. Again. I feel hopeless, powerless, resigned. I wake, tears flowing. Again. I feel the distance now, how far away I’ve traveled, from my dear beloved.
Those who’ve followed my blog will know this is not the first round for our partnership. Just last year, my tour was a testament to a bitterly aggrieved lover, reeling from a supposed rejection. I say supposed, because now, in my clearer understanding, I can see my part in bringing all of the struggles to our relationship. All of the struggles. My part. I humility, I am understanding.
The tears now, grief at the lost opportunities, grief and regret at my projections, at how I let my fears and anger push her away. And some fear that I may repeat this distancing, in the future. I know I’m not done yet with my healing and growth. I hope for her compassion and patience. Oh, how I need patience.
It’s a beautiful day when I emerge from my tent. A good day to cry. I recall the words of Oglala warrior Crazy Horse, “today is a good day to die.” Would this be? Indeed. We all have to go. Why not now, why not today.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no death wish. That’s not why I’m out here riding the highways on my two wheel machine. I’m just aware, keenly, of the risks at hand. And if I have to go, wouldn’t it best be while doing something I love, rather than ailing on a sick bed? Thoughts while packing up, to the road ahead, the many miles I have planned.
I meet my other cycling companions in the Humbug hiker/biker camp, Rick, Ray, Sarah, Niko, Katie. I’m warming at last, reaching out. I need contact. I tell them of my plans to push past Brookings, another 25 miles to Jedidiah Smith Redwoods. I think a couple might try this too.
At last I roll off, following 101 as it winds behind Humbug Mountain, begins a gentle climb. The views of blue sky and endless waters bolster my spirits. A good day to cry. A good day to sigh. So beautiful. I stop, take selfies at the Oregon Coast Bicycle Route sign. Two other cyclists pass, Emma and Nate. I catch up to them later, on the descent of Cape Sebastian, passing so quickly, speeding past 40 mph. A good day to cry. A good day to fly!
We’re on the flat now, hear Ophir. I notice them ahead, riding two abreast. No. Not on 101. I watch with horror as an 18 wheeler barrels down, and Emma stays in the lane, doesn’t pull over until the last minute. This is the same spot where two woman cyclists were hit in 2011. I wonder, were they riding double file too? Will this be a good day to die, for these two?
I pull up, passing this duo. Call out, with the disclaimer, I don’t want to sound like an ass, but never ride double file on this highway. I tell them of the two who were hit. Nate responds, sure thing. I doubt they will heed my warning. I shrug, ride on. Thinking of my rules for the road: never ride in the lane of traffic whenever there is a shoulder. Never ride double file. If narrow, get off the road when trucks pass. Always yield.
I ride on, reaching Gold Beach. Stop way too long at the bookstore coffeehouse. Afternoon before I set out again, 50 miles to go. I know I’ll be arriving after dark, again. Almost immediately, another long climb, then speedy descent, breaking way to a long beach, beautiful sea stacks, tailwinds continuing my flight. A good day to fly.
More climbing, through Boardman State Park, several peaks and descents. I meet another pair of pedalers, Allie and Jardey. Resting on a climb, we chat, I tell them of my destination. They will be stopping at Brookings, Harris Beach. There will be so many cyclists there. I wish them luck, press on down the road. They catch up to me at Thomas Creek Bridge, where we wait for the signal light. Then on, more rolling hills, until at last, Brookings!
Brookings, but I’ve got 25 miles yet. I don’t stop, just push on through. Except when the phone call comes in from back home, crisis at the restaurant. Again. And I have good help, to resolve the problems. I spend some time troubleshooting, talking, ranting, then tell Robert I trust his judgement. So grateful for his help.
I ride on, reach the California border. Yet another selfie with the famous sign. A turning point, always, leaving Oregon, starting the thousand miles of the Golden State’s coastal highways. I think of the sights ahead, now riding with other cyclists, friends on the road. I feel the pangs of homesickness, longing for my beloved. I feel closer to her, for this longing.
One more stop, the taqueria in the town of Smith River. So good! Carne asada, carnitas, fish tacos. And resting, charing batteries, hydrating. Pondering. Sunset peeking below the cloud cover, my first in California. Grateful for this day, for the strength of my body, of my heart, of my mind. I ride on, the last 12 miles by headlamp. 900 lumens makes for a brilliant roadway, as good as car headlight, so I can ride full speed.
I turn onto 197, follow the Smith River up to the campground. Dogs bark in the darkness upon my approach, soft crickets chirping, the river rushing, the quiet whirring of gears and tire against the pavement. A quiet ride. I stop for a good night call with my beloved. So good to hear her voice.
The final miles, slow but easy. Then I reach 199, turn east towards the campground. I go straight to the shower, hottest yet. Sure, it costs a dollar for four minutes, but what a glorious four minutes these are! I dress, ride over to the hiker/biker site. Too tired for the tent, this time I just lay out my sleeping bag and fly.
I lay back think of the year past. The summer, apart from my love. How hurt and lost I felt, and so angry. Not willing or able to understand her feelings, heed to her needs. Tears come again, not shame or guilt, just at the lost connection, lost to my blindness, my arrogance, my pain. Grateful for her grace, compassion, willingness to be open to me, still.
Tears of love and joy, as I fall to sleep. Ready for what dreams may come tonight.