At least it stayed dry inside last night. The rain and wind pounded the tent for a good eight hours, letting up maybe a half hour after I reluctantly awoke (that's the thing about staying hydrated). Slowwww start this morning too.. The carnival setting up next door started late too though so I didn't feel too bad. We each had 3 packets of half-cooked quick-cook oatmeal, pasty and sticky, for breakfast. I think this is going to be the last of the flavored packets. The more we bike, the less sugar we crave. And artificial sugar is worse.
I just started reading Old Man's War by John Scalzi. Still working through Desert Solitaire. Abbey's writing (as long as it's not about women) throws me around every time I read him, but also on this trip I just want to read and not necessarily need to digest the literature every evening. Anyways I read while Rachel attempted to install a phone bike mount. We left around noon, a little later.
My knee started up right as we pulled out, which was unusual. Generally it waits, polite, until we start a big climb. But today it ached from the get go and plateaued right below the point of no-continue. I called around to Boise knee doctors and made an appointment for tomorrow, fingers crossed nothing's too bad. I thought five days of rest in Council would do more, but it's exactly as painful as last week, except the throbbing steadier.
I listened to a great episode of This American Life. A rerun from last year, called Superpowers. Well mostly one segment stands out, on this lady named Zora (sp?) who decided to become as close to a superhero as possible when she was 13 - made a list of essential skills like explosives and piloting an airplane and hunting/gathering, etc. And she did! Her goal was to learn all those skills by the time she was 23 -- by that time she had her masters and was in the middle of a PhD program. Now she's an international private investigator. Anyways, it was interesting how much she valued herself based on her skill set -- I think I do the same to myself, it's a big part of why I'm going to graduate school. And I began thinking more seriously about what skills I want to end this trip with: bike mechanics, of course, but I really want to learn to both fish, and gut and clean a fish. And to harvest five edible plants. Dinner in the woods and such.
I also listened to the first ever episode of TAL and one of the features is a guy who rode his bike across the country. Well. He had it in his head he was going to die in six months so he rode around and visited all his siblings. He didn't die at the six month mark. It still felt significant somehow.
I just took it real real slow all day. Rachel was way ahead. It felt good to ride alone, the pavement and the red and white mountains to my left and the farmland all there to drink in. In this last year especially, I've come to really appreciate solitude. I'm definitely tour on my own after we finish the big kahuna.
Things I saw: a horse that had just been born, placenta still attached to the goal; a newly dead ginger housecat, just passed the veterinary hospital. An unexpected side of this trip, I've seen more death and decomposition on this trip than ever before. In the suburbs and the cities, the unsightly dead get scooped up. Out in the desert and along these game roads, the game die and return to the earth. The meat goes first, and most of the corpses I see are fur and bones, animal shape still distinctly outlined, but massless. Then after its just bones, bleached white or still with some marrow and I don't have the training to identify those remains. They remain unknown, intact, at peace.
Later in Emmett, an old guy with oversized sunglasses and a real bandana idled along with me on his motorcycle. He said he was going to ride from California to New Orleans and beyond but ran out of money, ended up staying in town for 10 years. We keep hearing stories like those.
The one hill to climb wasn't bad, as the day moves on, the pain was easier to ignore. I counted 11 dirty diapers. No more onion trails to follow I guess, just human trails.
Maybe the drought in California has gone on so long I can't remember, but the lawns in the suburbs outside Idaho are unreal. I'm not a huge fan of covering the ground in inedible grasses but these were works of art. Never seen lawns so green, full and trim. It was concerning. Also the communities had names like "Covenant Hill".
Stacy, Shannon and their two girls, Megan and Shelby, hosted us tonight. We met Stacy and Shannon last week at the coffee shop next to George's. Great, open people. Last summer, all four of them rode their bikes across the country. We don't meet a lot of tourists since we're not on the popular routes, so it was great to have a chance to hear their stories. Stacy and Shannon remind me physically and in spirit of two of my favorite family friends, to the point where it's difficult to separate them in my brain. We're in Boise for three more days, teaching on Friday at Neal's daughter's school.