August 21-26, Oregon Coast Highway 101, Florence to Brookings
Days now, I’m riding in a fog. Not the usual kind, where water vapor condenses into wisps and sheets of cloud hugging the land. None of that fog, I’m flying under clear skies and sunshine. But I’m riding in a mental fog.
I’m on my bicycle again, touring this now so familiar highway, over these beloved landscapes. I’ve been here before, ridden these miles, so many times now. And as I do, wondering and pondering, as I pedal and wander. I’m experiencing the deja vu, the memories of past events, over the many years that have passed.
This tour is the first I’ve taken totally unencumbered by my restaurant. Those familiar with my roots in Corvallis will know this past February, I closed the business after 20 years. A decision a long time coming, we brought the experience to as beautiful and complete a conclusion as could be hoped for. An auction, garage sale, pizza party and two nights of open mic entertainment featuring 30 performers who had graced the FireWorks stage over the years.
To be honest, I’ve been wandering ever since. Adrift, letting myself take time to grieve, let go, heal, regroup. The closure was in February. Where the past six months have gone, I’m hard pressed to remember, or justify. And such was my desire. To take a hiatus, a respite, a time of sabbatical. After so many years, every day thinking about how to manage the restaurant, the staffing, the finances, the marketing, the food and drinks, every day and every night. It was time to give myself a break.
So here I am on this bicycle again. Creaky at the start, sore muscles, with my aimless soul. A stark contrast to past tours, where I’d thought of myself on a quest, a pilgrimage, a journey of self discovery. When much of that time was really a temporary escape, always with the knowledge of the inexorable pull, that at the end of the ride I’d be returning to a business that sorely needed my constant attention to function. Yes, I had left wonderful staff, and family, and friends to watch over the operations while I was gone. But I knew the cost of my journeys, the depth of my absence. That I would spend the next several months making up for losses incurred.
Now, this tour, I’m totally freed from all those concerns. No pull, no calls to troubleshoot, nothing broken to fix upon my return. It feels so different. Like I’m empty. Like there’s a vastness inside me, that is now again mirrored in the epic vistas of ocean and mountain, cliffs edge highways, deep forests, long climbs and blazing descents.
I had thought my past tours would help me find peace. Yet I couldn’t really let go, couldn’t be present to the incredible moments. Like I am now. And this includes being open to this experience of mental fog. The hazy reemergence of my identity, so long attached to the roles I’d been playing. Like newly born, I’m seeing so much as if for the first time.