Saturday, July 3, 2010

Day 3- Part 3

Steve’s Just Ride-

Day 3, Vantage, WA to Wilbur, WA; 98.2 miles

PLEASE NOTE: due to limited Internet access in many of the Western states that I have biked thus far, this blog is being updated as access allows. Sorry for the delay.

Part 3

I rise slowly in the heat from the valley floor to the top of Dry Falls where there is a scenic overlook. I am told by an older gentleman while I scan the terrain that the area was once a waterfall that was more than twice the size of Niagara Falls and that some geologist theorized that it was formed in the Ice Age when an enormous ice dam broke near what is now Missoula, Montana, flooding this area all the way down to Moses Lake and beyond. “Everyone thought he was crazy but it was just proven recently that he was right. You should buy the book,” he said. Somehow I think that he may have worked at the Visitor’s Center.

At any rate, I take the time to take photos and a bathroom break after the long climb. I’m off to Coulee City where I stop to try and make a call ahead to my hosts for the evening, Gil and Gerri Hanson. No cell service. I go into the only local restaurant that appears to be open, Grandpa Joe’s, and am greeted by Darilyn, who gives me some cold water for the last 28 miles to Wilbur where I’ll stop for the evening.

Darilyn and I get to talking. She asks me where I’m headed and why I’m doing the ride. Then she tells me that her husbandis from Tegucigalpa, Honduras. I tell her about our failed attempt at adopting Carmen but how Carmen is still our “daughter” and her baby, Jasmin, our granddaughter. Darilyn tells me of how they are in the process of trying to adopt her husband’s niece and nephew from Honduras. Of all of the places that I could have chosen to stop for water??? And, she wanted my information sheet on AJS. I handed her one and she said that they’ll be sure to donate online. We parted with a handshake but it felt like a hug. Thanks, Darilyn.

I rode on through Hartline then Almira—two towns that are hardly towns except, I am sure, to their inhabitants. Both spots had no cell phone coverage and my hosts for the evening, my wife and my SAG wagon (mom and dad Bohn in the 5th Wheel) don’t know my status here on highway 2, trodding towards Wilbur.

Mile 70. Mile 71. Hill over rolling hill, then flat, but always in each direction fields and fields of wheat. This is where my bread comes from. Here, and God above. I stop because my bum hurts, because I am exhausted, because my neck and shoulders hurt and simply because the “wall” that I normally hit in a 100 mile ride is at about mile 75 or 80.

Mile 80, will you just arrive? I shift in the saddle and stand on the pedals to break the monotony. I stop again to take photos of the panorama of wheat and sky. I am at sea and I am delirious. It is finally mile 90 and up a cresting hill I slow to about 8.5 mph. The shoulder has narrowed the past few miles or maybe that’s my imagination but in my delirium, my skinny front tire catches the edges of the gravel and slips into cinder and sand and I go down, hitting my left shoulder, knee and calf. Just what I needed. Reinjuring my already multiple-injured shoulder, a nice case of road rash with gravel in the wounds on my leg, which I scrape out to the best of my ability—and the blood flows down and across my left leg.

I am determined now, with about six miles to go and I pedal faster on my mission. Nothing looked so good today as the “Entering Wilbur” sign. I coast up to our friends’ real estate/insurance office and who is walking out the door at that exact moment but no one other than Gerri, my host. I am welcomed with a warm hug (despite my scent of sweat) and follow her to Gil’s father’s home where I am told a few have gathered.

After a hot shower, I rejoin the living and see a spread of food on the kitchen island—fresh fruit, chips and dip, cookies, cheese and crackers—the works—and, I am greeted by about 15 people. Gil and Gerri’s friends are amazing people: incredible reflections of the generosity and kindness and warmth of my hosts.

We have a great party together and Imeet Anita, newly diagnosed with what appears to be cancer that is being further tested by doctors, I see the fear in her eyes and the silence but also hear the faith that she has. I tell her about my stage IV tonsil cancer journey and how I recognized early in my case that it was all about something bigger than me. This is no consolation in times like this, I know, but I remind her that we must never forget to live each day and to love fully. It is all that we truly have.

And, Anita is surrounded by this amazing “extended family” of about 20 dear friends, the same friends who adopted me tonight. I promised her that I would pray for her and put it out to the rest of you who are reading this to pray for healing as well. I am reminded of the bible verse my mom repeated to me so many times during my trials in life: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13)

We went to dinner at the Alibi afterwards and I had some great chicken fettucini alfredo; carbs for the ride tomorrow. Sleep came easily after that. A grueling day with a blessing throughout.

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