I’ve been training for my around the world trip for more than a year, but this past weekend was the first time I’ve toured with all the stuff I plan to take on the big adventure. And you know what? It really got to me.
My cycling buddy, T-Bone, and I spent the first night of a three-day, two-night outing on Shaw Island. We left Seattle around noon and departed the ferry at Shaw at 4:30 or so. It’s only a two-mile ride to the park and there’s just one small hill, so that first evening of riding with the heavy load wasn’t a true test of how I would do. The second day on Orcas Island, though, was to be a different story.
My Daughter, Brittney, and her husband, Marty, met us on the inter-island ferry for the short sailing across the straight from Shaw to Orcas the next morning. It was a beautiful day and we decided to take the scenic route via Crow Valley Road to Eastsound. T-Bone and I have toured together many times and I’ve come to depend on him for his always-cheerful approach to even the most challenging terrain. And believe me, on this trip I needed it more than ever.
I was creeping up hills at a speed that barely kept me upright and T-Bone, Brittney and Marty were kind enough to hang back, keep me company and give encouragement. “Boy, Dad,” Brittney, said at the crux of one particularly steep section, “you sure are carrying a lot of stuff!”
“Thanks for reminding me,” I muttered between wheezes. But the sun was out, the valley verdant, and the company without equal so I huffed and puffed happily along. When we reached Eastsound, we stopped for lunch. After, Brittney and Marty rode with us a bit further then turned around and headed back to catch an afternoon ferry at Orcas. We said our goodbyes along the side of the road and T-Bone and I tackled the next hill.
By the time we reached Moran State Park, the rain and hail had been coming down in earnest for over half an hour. I was dressed in all my foul weather gear, but when I got off my bike at the visitor center, I was shivering and my face and hands were numb with cold.
Whether it was the chill or the two beers I’d had at lunch, or just fatigue from hauling all that extra weight uphill, I was aware that my mind was moving slowly. Hmm, I thought, need to get warm. I looked around and spotted the community picnic shelter. At one end, a group sat around a blazing fire. I shuffled in. “M..m..mind if I j..j..join you?” I stuttered through chattering teeth.
The fire felt great and after fifteen minutes, both T-Bone and I were ready to ride. It hailed and rained a few more times before we reached Doe Bay, and man, were we cold, but the general store had a big electric heater that cured our ills. We checked in, set up camp, hit the hot tubs to soak out the day’s soreness, and had a fine dinner at the restaurant.
That night, instead of sitting around camp playing cards or backgammon, I felt strangely down and went straight to bed. I wasn’t depressed, but instead was possessed by a sense of ennui; somehow detached and a little sad. There’s only a few months left, I thought while lying in my sleeping bag, then, it’ll be a long time before I see my kids again... all my friends, my snug little house in Shoreline... I looked around the tent that now seemed suddenly very small and dark and insubstantial. Got to shake these blues.
I turned on the small shortwave and AM/FM radio that I carry and listened to some oldies. It made me feel a little better, but there remained at the back of my mind the nagging thought; can I really do this trip around the world? Do I really want to?
Mick Jagger was singing something about "Take a bite out of the big apple, don't mind the worms..."
Maybe I'll feel better in the morning, I thought, and drifted off to a troubled sleep.