can’t believe its been a month or so since i wrote last.
the osarks seem so far away both spatially and temporally.
so here is a brief recap on what’s been happening.
it is hot
the country is in a big heat wave with lots of extreme heat advisories everywhere i have been.
rolling into murphysburo to stay with some mighty fine warmshower folks, a short 30 miles or so nearly did me in. then as i was cooling off at the public library while they wrapped up work and such, a huge thunderstorm rolled in. gratefully they only live a few blocks from the library.
the next morning i pushed on into carbondale to figure things out. i was told of this old school motel that should be good to stay at and the location would make it easy to get around. just before i reached the motel, i spotted the co-op…hello good food! good food always helps clear my mind.
i looked up heat exhaustion, heat stroke, the weather patterns where i was heading. this was the end of june, and it was only going to get hotter. at the time i didn’t know that july would become the hottest on record all around the counry…so far. i believed if i continued it would not be in my best health interest. sure i could do it, slow but steady, but leaving the ozarks and facing the apalachian/smoky mountain range…well i didn’t see it going well. and i was excited to see my pals! i needed to see my pals more than i realized at the time.
i researched bike flight, a company that specializes in helping one get their bike shipped wherever they need it. then i looked at amtrak and greyhound to find my way to asheville, the closest city i could get to my next friend stop. and i have always wanted to experience a town i had heard so much about.
the couple days exploring the college town of carbondale was fun and odd. everywhere i went things just seemed a little off. i don’t know how to explain it. maybe they sensed i was the outsider? i don’t know, but i only felt this way around the white folks. i had wonderful conversations with black folks. it was probably me still nervous about being deeper in trump land, but this trend would continue as i searched out conversations with strangers.
so i made my plans and went further east.
there was an older black couple waiting at the greyhound stop in the amtrak station. when our bus was super late, as in after amtrak office closed, they made us wait outside. it was a hopping saturday night. they shared stories of their party days and then one of their friends just happened to wonder by and the stories really got going. their laughter lightened the moment, and even cooled down the steamy night a bit.
our bus was 3 hours late coming out of st. louis. the air conditioning was not working so they had to find and switch out the buses. when we got into nashvile it was a cluster chase for every one of us that was trying to get connecting rides. the couple i had met in carbondale and i sat and chatted until our respective buses were called and we wished one another well.
in knoxville there is only 1 bus to asheville and it leaves at 6:30 am. we got into knoxville something like 9 or 10 am. one of the older women who worked at the station saw me put my bags down (i kind of stand out with my bike bags and being one of the few white people wondering around the station). she asked where i was going/what i was doing. when i said asheville, she told me to give her my ticket and follow her.
she quickly disapeared behind the counter, talked to someone in an office behind the counter, and let me know “he’ll take care of it, have a seat.”
so i sat and waited.
next thing i know, he comes out, writes some things on my ticket, hands it back to me, says a taxi will be here shortly to take me to the hotel and to make sure to be in the lobby by 5 am to be returned to the bus station. that is right. greyhound hooked me up with taxis and a hotel, which let me explore knoxville tennessee for a day.
i want to take a minute to talk about a situation i witnessed and experienced in the knoxville station, but i am going to save it for another post. more has happened around the issue of ICE and the amazing work some people are doing for refugees trying to find their way in this country. a reminder the so called border is everywhere, or nowhere.
anyway, while waiting for the the next bus to take me to asheville, and closer to the next friend stop, i had a wonderful chat with the woman standing nearby. we talked about all the delays and the heat. there was a young child who was not having it any more and was throwing a fit. she talked about traveling with her kids, absent on this work trip. later, she asked me if i knew what was up with the table that had water and food and clothing (the thing i will write in my next post) that was now broken down. when i told her it was for refugees, she started to get worked up, thinking of the children locked up in concentration camps. you don’t do that to children. to anyone. but children?! hell no! we both started to have tears of anger and frustration well up in our eyes: what can we do, should we do, where do we turn? i could see the anger of a strong black woman/mother begin to surface. my heart swelled. my muscles tensed. interupted by the call of a bus….not either of ours.
we changed the subject.
she knows kansas city. she goes there for school bus driver conferences and such. she loves going to old kc. it is where she met her husband. he followed her east to be with her family. we talked of family and favorite places. then her bus was called.
i spent a week in asheville at a hostel downtown. i was able to walk everywhere. nothing was more than a 20 minute walk. for real. whenever i looked up directions to some place i wanted to explore, it was .4 miles away. it became a joke amongst many of us. my friends that live close by came in for a few hours one afternoon. we made plans for me to get to them. i bike 30 some miles to a town near them and they picked me up.
the roads from asheville to waynesville were beautiful. lush green everywhere. rolling hills that were getting steeper again. i did have to stop several times to cool down. by the time i rolled into waynesville, i was rung out. its funny though. as hot as i get on these days, the air conditioning where i stop is too cold for me. i waited at a coffee shop, drinking some iced tea, but had to sit outside, it was just too cold inside. luckily there was shade and i could cool down and dry off enough to wipe the salt off my legs and arms.
i had an amzing time with my friends! to have such wonderful people in my life! i am so excited for their next adventures! the time here was so good. i spent hours, days just staring out at the trees and hills while my pals worked on their projects and plans for their next things, or prepare for art shows. then we would chat about whatever was on our minds. i was able to unburden some of the turbulence inside me with out, hopefully, putting anything on them. it is such a gift to have people who can listen without needing to take anything on.
but there was still logistic storms in my head, and no one could do anything about that but me really. though my pals would play a part for sure.
how to get from here to philly was the next challenge and i was at a lost. i thought about biking back to asheville, then? i knew i couldn’t keep biking until the heat wave broke. it was so hot by 10 or 11 in the morning, and the nights never really cooled down. so i decided on a one-way car rental to charlotte where i could pick up a train to philly that would let me bring my bike without putting it in a bike box again.
so i loaded up, put on some tunes, and made a road trip, but i went a little backwards. i stopped in cherokee, nc first. it is part of the reservation with lots of history of the people of this land. i learned a little about this band and how some of them were able to avoid the trail of tears that was part of the indian removal act. again, i will write more on this very soon. thoughts on the indian removal act and public lands and our parks systems.
so i got on a train in charolotte. we were almost 2 hours late in leaving due to mechanical issues. then due to having to go slower in some areas because of the effects of heat on unmaintained rails in areas, (for realz we have an infrastructure problem in this country on so many levels) and then a strange situation just as we were entering philly. people rambling on the rails outside of town. someone thought the train hit someone. we had to wait for the police to clear everything up. they told us no one was hurt. shrug. i guess i believe them?.? we were 5 hours late arriving. thankfully my friend here is super wonderful and acted unfazed by it. even ordered chinese food for us to pick up on the way “home”.
and here i am, my last day in philly! it has been a wonderful time here. i got to get intouch with another friend who moved here from portland, and they turned me on to some protests/demonstrations that i was hoping to get involved in.
tomorrow i hop on a train and begin my journey west. for some reason i just feel pulled to get there. i have some ideas of bike tours i want to do once i get there, but again, its my pals.
lots of things have fallen apart on this trip, pretty much from the start plans have shifted and changed many times kind of on a daily bases. sure this is part of pretty much any adventure. yet, there has been one thread that has not changed since i started. friends. connections both new and well established relationships, including the one i have with myself.
i am excited to spend four and half days on a train ride accross the country garenteed to have some good stories come out of it, as well as some wonderful views as i get to ride the zepher from chicago to sacramento. on this ride i hope to write about the wonderful experiences i had in the stops i’ve made so far. i have an outline of what i want to share, thoughts i’ve had, the people i’ve met, the pieces of community i’ve found inspiring, and photos…it should keep me busy while on the train.
i do apologize for not writing, but to be honest, i have had to fight the feelings of failing. myself? those who support me? the adventure it’s self? not totally sure, and i’m over those feelings now, mostly. it is all about the adventure, and for the most part i am doing just what i want to do anyway, so, there you have it.
this past month i have experienced more than i may have in the last year. much has been packed in this time frame. and i couldn’t be more grateful for any of it.