Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Steve's Journal Day 2, June 20 (Part 2 of 3)

To start with Part 1 of Day 2, click here

Day 2, Part 2-

My day warms up with the up and down rolling road, despite the continuing tailwinds, and at times my heart rate exceeds 140 beats per minute which I really wanted to avoid on what I am considering a “recovery ride” from yesterday’s workout over Snoqualmie Pass. After turning off of Hwy. 10, I end up winding past many small farms and old homes. An old rusted out Chevy pickup, maybe circa 1960, sat idle beside an equally weathered old red barn with slats missing and a few stray cats wandering about nearby.

One farm or worn home blended into the next until I came upon a home that rather than be called the “A OK ranch,” like some of its neighbors, deserved the title of “Home Sweet Home.” A drainage ditch out front had been cleaned up and appeared more as a gentle stream with a whimsical bridge walkway entrance and white wrought iron gate to a very old-fashioned looking farmhouse porch (in need of the stereotypical rocker), a white gazebo nearby and a series of weeping willows surrounding the setting gave it all an ethereal, dreamlike quality…well cared-for. Yes, home sweet home; exactly what I am leaving on this journey to Grand Rapids.

With the winds still at my back, I hurried through unincorporated Thorp, a town with a larger school than appeared necessary and larger school board meeting signs plastered in the windows, a large lumber mill or wood finishing facility and, on one street that arrived at the railroad tracks, signs reading “RR Crossing,” “Stop” and “Dead End” all right next to one another. Make your mind! Or maybe they just don’t want anyone going there.

I pulled into Ellensburg around 11:30 a.m. in time for lunch instead of the early breakfast that I missed with all of my dawdling. In Ellensburg I met up with a dear friend, Susan Foley, and her two precious daughters, Jessica and Stephanie. I hadn’t seen Susan in about ten years and managed to only “know” her daughters from the annual Christmas cards she’d sent. How does that happen that ten years can pass with such limited contact with people who mean so much?

After a veggie burger, potato salad and a small chocolate milkshake, I got to see Susan’s girls make funny faces with their tongues in vanilla and chocolate swirled ice cream cones. They shared stories of their girl scout sleep-over last night, learning ho to start a fire, eating s’mores and camping out in a tent with six other girls. Then, the topic turned to favorite sports (golf & swimming) and subjects in school (science and P.E.—“Is P.E. a subject, Jessica asked?”)

Susan and the girls followed me in their van as I rode out of town and onto my dreaded “come to Jesus” road from the Big Ride (Seattle to D.C.) that I did in 2007: the Vantage Highway. In 2007, this road filled my head and face with and soul with nasty headwinds. I grew heavy at 9 mph staring down at the white stripe at the side of the road in the heat: back then. Today, I had tailwinds that, despite my intention to smile, left me quiet and contemplative. I thought of the cancer that raged in my body in 2005-2006 and how far I’ve come.

Just then, I passed “Strange Road.” Yes, Strange Road. And, this was a perfect stop for a photo op. I am alone on the road, alone with the asphalt and growing heat of the day. I stop again to shed clothing and have little room left in my jersey pockets for anything more.

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