Back on the road

Day 34, Esalen to Plaskett Creek Campground, 19 miles

Time to move on. I’ve just been at Esalen two days, almost 48 hours exactly. It feels longer. Much longer. It always feels longer. Perhaps it’s the stunning vistas, or the hot springs, or the early mornings I rise before dawn, or the kind people, or the food, or the gardens. Somehow time seems to stretch when I’m at Esalen. And also, at the same time, to pass too quickly.

This is now my understanding of time, of my life. That time has been a friend, a reminder of the temporary nature of life, something which seems to pass quickly, and yet last forever. Isn’t this how the human condition plays out? Here we are, infinite minds in finite bodies, able to imagine the entirety of the universe, the eons of time, and also to focus on the moment, the singularity of now.

Another session of the workshop, exploring and experimenting on meeting this moment, on receiving the support of this place, this time. A few farewells, another soak, then I’m pushing my loaded bicycle up the long steep drive back to Route 1. Walking slowly, feeling the weight I will again carry onward. Stopping in the hot afternoon. Breathing. Resting. Sensing.

Then I’m at the highway once again, chatting with a mountain biker about my tour, then pedaling off, south, towards Lucia, climbing up and away from Esalen. I stop at the bridge, look back, down the cliff edge and see the baths, the springs once more, already planning my next return. Can’t wait to come back again. And determined to experience every moment between now and then, with awareness and presence. Awake.

Pedaling, riding, climbing, descending. Stopping to look, to breathe, to feeling, to see. These few miles to the next camp pass slowly, deliberately. I want to see everything. I want to feel everything. And now, I’m feeling my legs again, still complaining. Not as strong as I have been on past tours. Not in the condition I would like to be. I notice this. Slow my pace. Experience this moment, in this body, this heart pounding, these lungs breathing this clear air, this mind grateful for the experience of traveling this way, via bicycle.

I arrive at Pacific Valley as the sun is setting. Just a few more miles to Plaskett Creek and my camp for the night. I set up my tent, tuck myself in as dusk descends. Daylight Savings Time has ended, night seems to come earlier. More time to snuggle into my warm sleeping bag. More time to dream.

I hear the surf below the bluff at the edge of the highway, listen to owls overhead. I sigh and feel content and complete. Easing into that other world, the realm of mystery and dreams.

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