Thursday, July 1, 2010

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

To read from the begining of day 2, start with Part 1 and Part 2 of Day 2

Part 3
It’s amazing how the topography has changed out here: some new ranches and small housing developments where land had stood barren a few years ago. But as I approach a curve in this long ribbon of highway, I notice one windmill after another standing as modern energy sentinels, whirling away and guarding the entry to the Columbia River. My brain tells me as heat waves rise from the pavement, that my destination, Vantage, can’t be far off, maybe 15-16 miles. But I have a long climb ahead before the 11-mile descent is possible. In this climb I am truly aware of my aloneness. Even though I was out in front of the team here in 2007, there was a team on the same road with me then. There is no team behind me on the open road, no sign of animal life except occasional road kill or a tiny bird flitting here or there.

The devil talks to long distance cyclists at these times. One hand hurts. Focus there. Then, the other hand or foot hurts. Shift attention. Then, it’s the shoulder, the neck stiffness or bum that hurts most. I look more intensely for signs of life at the side of the road and see only shades of brown and even red sage brush. Nothing. Your neck really hurts, doesn’t it?” the devil says.

I am patient. And, I am rewarded. I notice a hawk alighting upon a telephone pole with a mouse in its talons; dinner for the hawk and its young. It hovers and blends into the horizon, and so do I. The descent arrives and my day’s journey winds down, literally, to the Columbia River where I see mom, dad and the RV. Home away from home, despite the day’s voices. And, I learn that they blew the transmission on the truck traveling over the mountains this afternoon. What will tomorrow bring?

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