A chill wind blows

Day 11, Elk Prairie to Arcata, 43 miles

So cold this morning. I don’t notice at first. I see a growing light through my tent fly, open the flap to see the waning crescent moon, just above the rising sun. I watch the rosy hues overwhelm the clouds, then fade as the morning arrives. I pack up my tent, knowing I’ve got some business to do on the road, and still want to reach Arcata for my soak at Finnish Sauna and Tubs in the afternoon.

Red sky at morning, sailors take warning. I recall this saying, realizing the current politics national seems to bode as ominously. The confirmation of an extremist for supreme court, the defamation of a sexual assault survivor by the same nominee, the alt-press, and the president himself. What is happening to my country, feminist friends are wondering online.

I’m wondering, yet it is difficult to understand this impact this discourse has upon the millions of women who are listening, tuning in, watching. Not just difficult, nearly impossible to a man to understand such sexism and misogyny, blatantly defended, doubled down, by the top politician and his millions of followers.

Never more important for men to be feminist allies, than at this moment, when the #MeToo campaign has brought national attention to what has been the status quo for decades, for as long as the patriarchy has ruled, through sexual discrimination, harassment, and rape culture.

“A chill wind blows,” Justice Harry Blackman wrote dissenting on Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, which upheld a restrictive abortion law in Missouri in 1989. Since then, many states have created restrictions to women’s reproductive rights. If the current nominee is confirmed, the Supreme Court could restrict women’s freedom even further.

I share these concerns with Frank, the Brit I met back at Humbug Mountain, as we meet at the Palm Cafe in Orick. He share a little known fact that Steve Bannon has moved to Europe to further his alt-right movement from a new base in Italy. I’m thinking of how protectionism and white supremacy always go hand in hand with misogyny and the right’s war on women. Why? Because the minority of white, racist men realize they must restrict the voting and power of the majority as many ways as possible, including preventing women from having control over the most important aspect of life – their own bodies.

I ride on to Arcata today, under a chilly sky, heading to warmth the Finnish Tubs. The miles are rapid, following 101 around the huge Humboldt lagoons, over hills, then cruising onto long straight freeway miles. Phone calls with the restaurant bring stress and resignation. I wonder at my persistence keeping it going, despite so many challenges.

I make it to my tub reservation early, slip into the hot water. Also a privilege, I know. The soak relaxes ailing muscles, calms my worries. The hour passes too fast, so I spent more time at Cafe Mokka. The place is busy, many people coming in for sauna or tubs. I’m feeling isolated again, feeling the distance from home, from my love. Our phone call is strained. How I wish I could hold her, help alleviate her stress. But then again, after the politics of this day, how can a man relieve such pain?

I emerge, after dark, as a drizzly rain descends upon Arcata. I don my rain gear, stop at the North Coast Co-op before pedaling on to my rainy camp. At least the wind has died down, for now. Just falling water, like the tears wetting my cheeks.

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