Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Most of the people I reconnect with will tell me, "Atlanta has changed since you left," but I find that much of it has stayed the same.
Some things Never Change
If anything, I think the folks who say that most wish that it had changed more than it really has in my eyes. But truthfully, the Buckhead Betties are still out there.
Change can be a Good Thing
As for the food scene (which may be what folks are referring to, when they speak to me), I think that if Atlanta has changed "drastically" it's that it has finally embraced "ethnic" foods--and by ethnic I mean, anything other than "Chinatown-style" Chinese or Taco-stand-style Mexican (both of which hold their place in the food industry).
Change Can Add Spice To Your Life!
While shopping with my lovely one yesterday, I was excited to see the Atlanta Magazine give an Indian restaurant some colorful ink! For years, I have loved the interplay of powdery spices from the East and the subdued flavors of coconut milk, meats, salt and rice.
Born on a Caribbean island where traditional Indian foods, styles and techniques have adapted to what's available locally, my lovely one has always had a penchant for food that "tap dances on my tongue." That's not to say she likes her food to be too spicy (compared to some West Indian diners, her ability to "take the heat" keeps her out of the Caribbean kitchen), but it does mean that she enjoys dabbing into a "cool breeze" from a mint chutney when dining on a creamy curry, or the perfume of clove in a plain Basmati rice.
This type of experience is what makes me crazy for "tasting" and "grazing". To me, it's not about the food, it's about the experience, memories, thoughts and creativity that biting into a dish evokes. With my lovely one and me, the experience that spice evoked was love.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
I finally made it. Actually, I arrived last night, with my lovely one, and we went to her family's home south of Atlanta.
It was not easy. The highways are much busier than in the other states that we went through and ... well, my lovely one thinks the word "Spaghetti junction" explains best the planning that went into Georgia roads.
It felt good to visit Atlanta for the first time today. Of course, I had to take my lovely one to the Four Seasons, which was kind enough to host a book promo party for kids (and kids-at-heart) this Saturday (Oct. 3, 2009)
Also, I had the chance to talk to a lovely young lady at www.AtlantaLatino.com, who will be writing an article about Luna Needs a Miracle and this journey.
Monday, September 28, 2009
My lovely one and I have been looking at the map. We're thinking 24 East to 41. But who knows? Getting into Atlanta looks like it'll be dangerous.
We're so close.
We're so happy for great weather.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Over the past couple days, Luna cycled through Arkansas and Mississippi. Now that I'm getting used to the pace, I find myself getting much more used to the brief moments of meditation I have as I wait for Luna to zip by on his bike.
What's interesting about this phenomenon is that I can see a direct relationship between a lack of NPR programming, an abundance of conservative talk radio, and a preference for me to turn off the radio altogether. The result: lots of quiet time. (And also a lot of alone time with mosquitoes, thus the ankle-protecting socks in the photos.)
Even though I initially had lots of time to think. My mind started straying into lots of time to "not think" and I gather that's where the meditation came into play.
The second-half of that sentence is oddly phrased is because I don't know I've meditated until my mind sort of returns to consciousness and realizes that I've been in a thoughtless state for an undefined period of time. I realize that I've had my eyes gazing into the rear-view mirror, but I haven't actually seen a thing. I wonder, "Did I miss Luna?" and somehow, moments later, a tiny black speck would appear in the rear-view mirror's horizon and begin approaching the car.
(Below is a video of the view in Arkansas...)
I think from that "nothingness" state, creativity is born. One of the things that happened, while recently "out" of an open-eyed meditation was how I calculated our proximity to Nashville, Tenn. Luna and I already completed nearly a hundred miles through AR and MS, and we were just five miles south of Memphis. Traffic was unpleasant and heavy (for a bike) and I calculated that we were less than eight days away from Atlanta. We could take a day and a half off! And we could visit our friend in Nashville.
We called her up, and she told us to join her. So, we strapped Luna's bike to the back of the car and muscled our way north to Nashville.
We're now off our originally planned trajectory, and I (a stickler for plans and itineraries) am surprisingly okay with this.
It feels great to be in a house, with a kitchen, and good home-cooking (prepared by a chef, of course). So, how are we heading into Atlanta? What does tomorrow look like? We haven't mapped it out yet. We may not map it out until we hit the road again tomorrow morning. Or we may not hit the road...
All I know is that things are luxuriously normal and comfortable today.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
So, I thought it was time to address the issue of this creature comfort: food.
At the very moment that I write this, there was a PSA on the Arkansas channel that said, "Savor the flavors of Arkansas," and featured a beautiful, shiny close-up of... fried chicken.
I share this to illustrate some of the points that I would like to make:
1) We actually enjoy most the foods we brought along with us. Prior to leaving California, Luna set out by making a ton of pasta, a garbanzo bean salad, a little bit of tuna salad. He also roasted several bell peppers and made a pico de gallo with tomatoes. We have a bag of apples and clementines, raisins/etc. and we just polished off a container of mixed nuts. We lasted on this for almost a week--in some cases, almost two.
(The following video was taken two days ago at a rest-stop in Arkansas. For whatever reason, Luna was a little camera shy this time. I made a quick showing of the food.)
2) But I think the physicality of cycling an average of 100 miles a day gets a person hungry for grease. I can't speak for myself, because I fulfill the roles of "scout" and "sweep" vehicle--and the most physicality involved in that is waiting, waiting, waiting; but after about a week of consuming his own healthy meals, as well as Advocare's energy-enhancing vitamins and products, he started hanckering for "fat". (Of course, I had to oblige.)
4) In my humble opinion, restaurants and food communicate the bulk of any community's culture. It's one way we learn about where we are and what literally fuels the people in it. So, we have found we enjoy going into places that seem as authentically local to the neighborhood we're in. (Trust us, in some of these towns, a diner is it! (On another--more disturbing note--we haved asked folks for their recommendations and we literally have been sent to some chains: disappointments like, "Taco Casa" or "Taco Bueno". ))
5) Last, when you travel with a chef, he still has to bring his kitchen with him---even when he's traveling by bicycle. Luna was embarassed that I took this picture, but I think it drives home our main point, which is: once we've had our fix with grease, we're more than ready to settle back into good hotel-cooking. Hot pasta is always awesome and just too easy to make. (The only trick: try NOT to set off the fire alarm and sprinkler system. Hotels tend to frown on that.)
We actually left Texas two days ago and headed into the state where former President Bill Clinton was born. In fact, we even passed by his birthplace, Hope. (I kid you not. (Could that have been the miracle we're looking for?))
But first some thoughts about Texas:
1) Gorgeous countryside. An immense greenery. Land further beyond the eye can see.
2) Overwhelming smell of manure, which meant...
3) Lots of cows. Lots and lots of cows.
4) Restaurants (we only went to two, actually), which pretty much only offered beef. Very difficult for a porkatarian.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Here's a small clip.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
I don't think Luna is thinking about the trip in such stark, numerical terms, but I have a lot of time to sit on the shoulder and reflect on such things. As breakfast was being served, I posed the question to Luna about his thoughts on the trip (see video below).
I'm realizing how our experiences are almost necessarily different because his "thoughts" are focused on the moment. He has described to me his field of vision remaining only a few feet ahead of his bicycle, whereas, I have been monitoring the map, correlating it to our destination. How many more miles closer to our destination? What does our time look like? That sort of thing.
Then, as I wait, when the "strategery" portion of our segment is over, I lean back in my car seat and I think about all sorts of things. Big things that don't necessarily have an immediate impact on me or my survival.
In contrast, I realize that Luna's zeroing in on the pavement. I was never aware of how many different types of pavement and paved roads there are out there! Sometimes, he'll flag me down and say, "Didn't you see me waving? I'll break my neck cycling on that shoulder!"
Truth is, I hadn't even noticed--not until this trip. Not until he had just told me. But for him, a pebble out of place can be a huge catastrophe. So, for me, looking at these video clips and interviews is actually kind of amusing, because I realize I'm asking him lofty questions, like: "Have your thoughts changed since we left San Jose?" and his response is more like, "There's a little rain today... I keep my eye on the pavement..."
What was I thinking? That he'd find God? (More on that later... I had the hardest time tuning into NPR on our route through Texas (I caught only 5 mins of it). My guess is that the equator of the bible belt is actually Rt. 82---but more on that on another blog.) But I digress....
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Driving on Rt. 66 up ahead of Luna on our way to Amarillo, I come across a lot of things, usually dead skunks and various forms of road kill. This time, I ended up slowing down for one of the creepiest creatures I have ever seen!
I will call it a Tarantula, because (if flattened) it was bigger than a tennis ball and it was... furry! I thought Tarantulas existed only in Brazil, but I could totally be wrong.
Anyway, things like this make cross-country trips exciting. I have been driving through a new place, but in a moment, I was transported in my mind to the Amazon jungles.
Perhaps the Tarantula was an omen for what was to occur only 5 miles later? We were happily chugging along on Rt. 66, when all of a sudden a beautifully paved road turned into a dirt road. Luna hopped into the car with me. We were going to cross the dirt road in the car and drop him off on the other side--the thin wheels on his racing bike can't handle the gravelly conditions). Well, the road just kind of kept going and going and going. After about 5 or 6 miles, we turned the car around and headed back to catch I-40.
That was the last we saw of Rt. 66. It was on our way to Amarillo.
Funny thing: If I had been asked to predict where I would see such a such a large creepy crawly, I probably would have guessed the Mojave desert.
The town of Santa Rosa is best described as quaint. It's a beautiful town that deserves more traffic on the Historic Rt. 66, but somehow comes a little short of delivering to tourists. We ended up eating at a highly-recommended place whose name we can't remember because the food and the atmosphere did not leave much of a mark.
One day, I may return and set up something nice here. Or maybe not.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
As kids, we never thought about whether our clothes were dirty or hair was messed. We put so much emphasis on the rain as adults, that it really takes away from the beauty of its gifts. One of which is getting wet. I don't care if you have an Armani suit---you can always take it to the cleaner.
But do you have to protect yourself from the rain?
We have so many concerns in our lives that the things we do come with a question mark. And that question leads you to fear---fear of the unknown, fear of that which hasn't yet been experienced.
Today's cycling trip in the rain, getting completely soaked---getting cold to the bone---all those things gave me clarity. I realized that we don't have options. The moment you make a decision to do something, the other thought of "not doing" does not exist. So, there is no option or choice.
Life is a gift. Live it.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
This trip has taught me that even though I am the one cycling, and losing X-amount of calories, the thought of hunger at any given moment would come without a question.
I ask my lovely one, "Are you hungry?"
And her lovely response is, "No, but you can continue to cycle. You have another five more miles to go."
Now, I have been known not to have patience, but how do you continue to go on cycling, starved, until she decides when it's time to eat?
Mind you, this is also an opportunity for both of us to eat together when clearly we're not cycling together.
I have often asked, "Love, would you like to do just one mile on the bike, and I'll drive?"
And the reply is: "This is your cycling journey, not mine."
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Check it out:
Oh, and by the way, in case you didn't know, I'm a vegetarian. A vegetarian who eats pork.
It was really good. But I couldn't finish it all. And I confess: "I'm a pork-atarian"
As I sit here on yet another car-length stretch of shoulder on I-40, I can't help but to notice how uncomfortably sticky and dirty my hands are. How my rear is hot in its jeans, how my back aches...
I'm testing my patience. That's what's happening to me---the queen of patience having her patience tested. Like she has to prove something to sombody, probably herself---since she has to maintain the title!
Who'd have thought? I'm squeezed in my chair, legs pressed up against the steering wheel. Waiting.
But there's this disturbance in my thoughts. Something that wants me to do, rather than to wait.
(Here's a funny video I forgot I recorded while waiting for Luna in the Mojave desert! Ha!)
I tried calling my brother and my dad. Something to pass the time. Conveniently, neither of them were there to hear what patient waiting really sounds like... boredom.
I admit it. Today, I'm bored. Thank goodness for NPR! (And yet, one can only get so smart in one day.)
Much of my day is spent looking through the rear-view mirror to see a black speck in the distance.
What are we doing?
What are we headed into?
Why are we doing this again?
My ire swells a little when I realize how hot it is, what time it is, how much my butt aches.
And then I see the black speck.
Maybe he's hungrey. Or maybe he wants to quit---for today, at least. I could handle that. I'm bored.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Our struggles are not outside of us, they are in us. Our struggle with our spouses, jobs, kids, they are all within us. And it's not that you choose that you want to be one thing or the other--it's already been decided for you.
Pessimistic view, pessimistic thought, pessimistic outcome.
If you can't cheer yourself up, who will? If you don't love yourself, who will? If you don't understand yourself, who will?
Solitude on this cycling journey, being alone, being on a mountain, and moving forward, I don't see cars, trucks, anything. I realize how alone one is.
Alone is not lonely. Alone is just you with yourself.
When you learn--and it can only be for a moment--when you learn that you are vulnerable, that you are not in control, you will be able to see the images of you.
One of the things that I have seen are these trucks. Not one, but many trucks, pass by. I have two feet pedaling, and I realize that I am not in charge. If it ends for me there, it ends for me there.
And so, in whose hands am I? In those of the men and women who drive these trucks and cars? Because clearly I am not in control.
This is the solitude that I'm talking about.
You can't live remembering everything, or putting things into practice. It's just not the way life is lived. The moment it enters your mind, it's already recorded. Why do you want to live life practicing something you already know? Why not live what you don't know? Or what's unknown? Let yourself go, live, be free of fear.
And move closer to yourself--to knowing me, the ego.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Today, even though we're still in desert climes, I'm thankful for the wind, so Luna can pump his legs across Rte. 40 to Flagstaff.
We're both awed by the relentless peace, the beauty of the landscape, and how close the fluffy, white and silver cloud puffs float above the trees. They travel slowly, too. Like us.
There is a certain pace to living, isn't there?
And when we're not in synch with that pace, then we call it life, because we don't really feel like we're living. Seems like we're either rushing to get ready for it, rushing to get ahead of it, or waiting to get ready for it, or waiting because we think we got ahead of it.
Indeed, hitting the road has taken an entirely different tone than I originally thought it would. I had page-turning thoughts of Kerouac and Hesse, but instead, there's less anticipation for the future and more of ... just settling into the present moment. (It sounds obvious as an observation to me now, as I write it, but it just wasn't so obvious to me in anticipation of this trip.)
In one of the videos I posted to this blog, I muse that I'm "cool" for a crazy cross-country cyclist like my sweetheart, because I'm like a traveling rest stop.
In our car, I drive the highway for five or 10 miles, and then I wait.
Our white Ford Escape is fully stocked with such foods as bananas, salt, bread, crackers, spaghetti with Nutella, roasted bell peppers and tomato salsa (the latter two made possible by our Gilroy friends.)
This white "bus", as we lovingly call it, also contains bandaids, butt butter and body lotion for all of those emergency body care needs.
So, I'm needed. And it's surprising how much comfort that thought gives me in this big expansive world that we live in.
Perhaps that was the miracle I was supposed to find. (I suspect that even if I do find the miracle, it will somehow elude me as that defining bell rings. But in this moment now, it's kind of nice for me to find some purpose--any purpose--for the right here, right now.)
Ironically, I'm finding my raison d'etre by sitting, in the car, on the shoulder of the highway, in the heat, along a winding ribbon of asphalt.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
A word to cross country cyclists, Rte. 66 is ideal for biking. There was practically zero traffic on this two-lane highway. Luna traveled on it for about 20 miles, except the desert heat was unbearable. Temperatures climbed to 110' F.
We stopped at a diner in Needles, where the waitress told us that this was "nothing," usually this time of year temperatures still would rise to about 120 or 125 degrees.
Again, I interfered, and drove chef Luna from Needles to Kingman (a bit beyond our route, so he could cycle from Kingman to Flagstaff directly. We still needed to purchase sunscreen and get ice, so it turned out to be the best decision for him.)
We started the ride to Needles, Calif., and Kingman, Ariz., in Tehachapi, Calif., at about 4:00 a.m. It started off really well down the mountain. Truck traffic was light. By the time the sun rose, we had already entered the Mojave desert.
Luna got his first flat early in the morning--around 5:00 a.m., maybe 5:30. I thought something was up when he took longer than usual to meet me at our agreed upon 5 mile mark. (We've been "leap-frogging" our way across the highway, where I'll go ahead by 5 or 10 miles and he'll either pass me by, or stop and grab a bottle of water, a bite to eat or relieve himself on the side of the road.)
Unfortunately, I was unable to turn around on the highway, so I had to wait for him to switch out the inner tube in the dark and cycle over to the car. I was waiting in the desert and had the opportunity to enjoy the sunrise.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Obviously, I do a lot of waiting. Especially, when I wait for him at the top of a hill, or after several hills. It slows down his pace. Overall, he's averaging 20 mph though.
So, in the following video clip, I'm talking to myself on camera, because I was getting bored. We had probably cleared about 50 miles, so I had already spent several hours on my own, in the heat, waiting...
During this wait period, I discover that actually, "I'm really cool [, because] I'm a traveling rest stop."
The next video sort of shows some of the dynamic. Truth is, after several quarter hours (and hours) of waiting, I have to be cognizant of the fact that Luna isn't necessarily ready to chat, hang out, reflect, discuss, etc. It was a hot day. A really hot day. He just wanted shade, drink, and cool water on his head.
Seems appropriate that such a hot day was dedicated to his friends from Maui. All in all, the day treated him well.
Here's the continutation of the video clip:
Witness Luna cycling through San Joaquin Valley on Rte. 65.
We're still in California, and we've been checking out of our hotel at 3/4:00 a.m., so far. It's the best way to get mostly traffic-free cycling into the day. Of course, there are folks who drive all through the night, like truckers.
Trucks are a bit of a challenge for Luna, because as they pass, they create this pocket of wind that has him swerving around in the shoulder. I understand that this is a bit of a strain for him, and he's been riding with his regular cross-trainer sneakers, rather than his riding cleats. (Cleats lock the cyclist on to his bike, so if he's about to fall, he'll go down with his bike, feet trapped in the pedals. (I'm not really sure why these cleats are popular.))
So here'a video clip of Luna cycling by night, and me following closely behind. At first, this was the way for us to handle it because there were frequent turns and Luna has a way of keeping his eyes on the road, rather than looking out for street signs for critical, directional turns.
I referred to this way of cycling/driving as a sort of screen saver, because it has a hypnotic feel to it. Here's the long-awaited "Night Rider" video...
The following clip is of Luna dedicating this trip to all his friends on Maui. We recorded this before recording the other video clip above. He woke up feeling great after a looooong first day (sleepless, if you recall) on the road, so we were ready to "tear it up" while pacing ourselves. The trip on Day 2 was from Dinuba to Bakersfield.
Driving conditions from Bakersfield to Tehachapi turned out to be too dangerous--particularly as we approached most of the mountain climb. Trucks whizzing by at 70-plus mph speeds and a gravelly shoulder hugging a cliff!! (I insisted in driving him up to Tehachapi. Luna was not happy with me, but I'd prefer a LIVE Luna over road kill anyday!)
Instead, I've been taking snippets of moments, which I think you might find entertaining.
The following clip was on the Pacheco Pass. I had been accompanying Luna since our 2:30 am departure, and that had followed a no-sleep night of packing and getting a move on. The exhaustion is evident.
And here's the long-awaited video clip of Luna pedaling up the Pacheco Pass...
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Watching Luna pedaling on his bike with boundless energy down Monterey Rd to Gilroy, and on the shoulder of Pacheco Pass Hwy as trucks were barreling past him at 50-, 60- and 65-mph speeds, my heart really went out in admiration for this scrappy cook, motivated by... love, actually.
At first when we started talking about this plan (about two weeks ago, I kid you not), we would giggle with excitement about the blog and finding out if sponsors would be interested in helping out. As we started talking to folks, we have been surprised about and increasingly grateful for the assistance people have offered.
I'll admit that I have told people that I've appreciated their call--which I have--but I haven't ever meant it as much as I meant it today. I received a text from a friend, wishing us well, a call from my brother, and another from my high school friend. And for all of them, I am so grateful.
Driving behind Luna at 10 to 15 mph, I get to watch his tireless legs pumping up and down in the beam of our car's headlights. I have ample time to contemplate the simplicity with which he expresses his motivation for doing this.
"I do it for love," he says.
And, today, I realize how vast the meaning of his statement is.
So, it's only been one day on the road. We have cleared 170-plus miles on the road, and it took us about 14 hours.
Right now, I'm so appreciative of so many things...
- a simple and clean hotel room-- We're staying at the Holiday Inn Express at Dinuba, which is very clean, organized and provides some nice amenities, like washers and dryers for guest use.
- the bed -- Like coccoons, as soon as you wrap yourself up in one, you are instantly protected from everything else. It's like instant immunity, or something!
- Shut-eye -- After 14 hours of driving on a "nuit blanche" nothing feels better.
- food -- Golly, I'm so appreciative that Luna prepared 2 or 3 lbs of pasta, another pound of chick-pea salad, tuna salad, roasted peppers, pico de gallo and a ton of other snacks and stuff. We've been eating like mad, and we haven't even hit Day 2 yet.
- the information super-highway -- The ability to remain in touch with the world is immeasurably
- friends and family and others is immeasurable, really. I hope to continue to enjoy great wireless along this journey, but I think we'll have some down time too.
- love, from the intimate tenderness exchanged between two people, to the universal acceptance and appreciation for all of creation.
We truly live in a world of infinite possibility. And I am so grateful to Luna for showing me that today with his courage, strength and ... endless love.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
I just told my lovely one that Mercury's supposed to be in retrograde all month. She seemed to be relieved and annoyed. Basically, we're having technical difficulties with our webcam and microphone and laptop--or something. My computer skills are not very good.
- Even though the audio is not very good, today we talked a little bit about:
- Our plan to continue packing today and going to Costco.
- Mercury in retrograde.
- The fact that I'm a little nervous. My heartbeat is up there.
- We also thanked Max & Juanita for their hospitality in Gilroy yesterday; and we talked about Officer Ted who offered us some sage cycling advice, and Laura for coordinating with us on her http://www.bububooks.com/ project.
More on all that later. I don't think the video picked up very much today.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
- You'll get to hear what we're up to today,
- A hilarious email written by my brother to his buddies. (It's a riot and there's some... colorful language too. Sensitive ears, be warned!)
- And a few corrections on some of his exaggerations.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Watch Luna and Cyn talk about:
- Why and how they decided to take a cross-country bike trip.
- Some of the questions they expect to explore while taking the 20-plus day trip.
- And also share some of the experiences they had since coming to terms with their decision.
It may make me feel good, happy, content when I help another human being. I think it is a natural thing to do. Helping another human being who may or may not need help is what nature intended for me.
Life does not offer answers, it offers questions. Living does not not offer misery, it offers hope, dreams, and miracles. When you live questioning yourself, you'll come to an understanding that in order to help others, you must first help yourself. And my question remains. Am I selfish for thinking of others like me? Life is a risk. You are not in control. For me, personally, if life were not a risk, what would be the point of living?
So, in answer to some people's question about why I'm doing this cross-country bike tour. I guess it's for the risk, and the hope to help others. But truly, the destination is in every moment. And every moment is question.
Both of us are crazy busy. I have a list of friends I need to contact to tell about this trip. A lot of my peeps still don't know.
Luna has plans to train again today. Yesterday, he spent almost three hours on a stationary bike at the gym. I'm surprised that he did pretty darn well. I mean, he wasn't winded in the least bit. He reminded me afterward that the gym conditions aren't nearly comparable to real-life conditions. Cyclists are either confronted with riding into the wind or with the wind, when they are riding uphill their bike tilts with them and they are carrying their weight while balancing on a two-centimeter wheel--your whole body is involved in the process.
Nevertheless, he seemed to appreciate the workout, getting his calves and thighs used to the motion, so different from walking (my preferred mode of athletic transportation.)
Strangely enough, I'm really nervous and excited for this trip myself. Obviously, being in the car, it's not so much a matter of the physical test, but rather, because I think this will test my mental ... moxie.
I'll have a lot of time to myself on this journey.
A friend asked me, "Are you sure you're doing this for yourself? Are you sure you want to do this?"
And my response was simply, "What else would I do if I didn't?" Isn't life just a succession of events that you either take part in, or you witness? I guess I'm glad to be able to take part in this event in a way that I can take part in it. I really don't think I have the physical wherewithal to endure 2,500 miles of cross-country cycling.
I do have a lot of awareness about the personal challenges that supporting a friend who does have that physical ability will present.
Already I have posed to myself countless questions about what it means to be a woman, what it means for me to be the "passenger" on this trip "driven" by my (male) partner, and I can say that I do experience a little bit of conflict over it--if only because I was brought up on somewhat contradictory values that I have incorporated and embodied.
On the one hand, I feel so great to be useful and important to play this role of support crew to an amazing person who is about to take on an amazing challenge. On the other hand, I am aware that I am (and have been for a while) digressing from the path charted for me. That path was safe and perfect: I'd get married, live in a house with a white picket fence, I'd be raising beautiful children and taking them to soccer practice, while seamlessly advancing in my career. Over the past five years or so, I have gotten divorced, eschewed the white picket fence for less permanent abodes across a 6,000-mile span from Washington D.C. to Maui and back to the mainland, begun a PR business of my own, and put a hold on the child-rearing lifestyle.
Living my life off the itinerary gives my Moon in Virgo a bit of a head-ache. While the travel feeds my soul, I do find comfort in settling too.
Yeah, I'll have a lot of time to think about this stuff when we hit the road. Today, I have letters to write. Phone calls to make. Stuff to pack. But, first, shower!!
Friday, September 4, 2009
A 12-hour shift consists of one half hour break for breakfast. Half hour for lunch and forty five minutes for dinner. That is, if I keep cycling after dinner.
The shift begins at 3 a.m. ends at 3 p.m.
My lovely one and I will take siestas 1 or 2 hours. I'll prepare some tapas before going to bed. At 7:30 p.m. my lovely one should be asleep. Wake up time 2:30 a.m. She sleeps around 7 to 8 hours a day: perfect. I do not sleep. I am conscious when I sleep. I rest my body.
A dear friend of mine, Clint, was in the military. He said, "Man, those are the hours I had when I was a drill sergeant."
"Great," said my lovely one. "By the way, are you the drill sergeant?"
Laughing to myself, "Of course not, love, you are."
Thursday, September 3, 2009
A cross-country bike trip across the United States? I know I couldn't do it, that's for sure--but Luna's got moxie, perseverance, and a whole huge dose of positivity.
So, when he came to me with a big smile and a huge, bright lightbulb floating above his head, I knew that he had hit a big idea: I know! I'll cycle from California to Atlanta! I'll do it in search of a miracle--it's what we're all looking for these days, isn't it?
And I said, "Why not? If anyone could do it, it's you..." or something like that.
And that was that.
One of my girlfriends from way back in the day was a little--shall we say--nonplussed. "That doesn't sound like fun at all." She told a story about her uncle, I believe. They reported miles upon miles upon miles of nothingness--and even worse, bad food. This was something I hadn't thought about, even though food is very important to me. (It's why I ended up with a chef in the first place.)
My brother, meanwhile, seemed a bit more supportive, even though I think he exploded in laughter and suggested we netflix a German documentary called, "Hell on Wheels" ("HoellenTour"). Luna and I watched it together. His resolve has been hardened. Mine is ... well, mine continues to be ambivalent. To me, this trip looks like the journey of a lifetime. By the same time, there are so many variables and they all point to the unknown, it's sort of spooky.
What will be most fun, I think, is the process of documenting our thoughts leading up to the event, and our thoughts, reactions, or realities after the event. I'm still looking into connecting with UStream to capture some of the experience. For me, this whole trip is all firsts.
An unorthodox way of living, at times seems inappropriate. You live, learn, and teach yourself. Perhaps the impossible is possible.
In the world today, in America, people have lost a lot of hope. Their jobs, their homes, have been taken away. But it is not the end. It is the beginning.
On Friday, my cushy job with an Italian restaurant group ended. And over the weekend, I decided to do this cross-country trip. My lovely one, though she was not excited about the sudden change, couldn't find a reason to object.
Life's journey is not measured by what you accomplish. Success is not material wealth. Success is not measured by what you have done in life. Rather, success is a word with no value or worth.
I ride for those who have lost hope
I ride for those who have given up. I ride for kids with cancer. I ride for the children whose parents are addicted to drugs, or incarcerated. I ride for the kids with no parents, no friends. I ride for the love of humanity--a love without fear. I ride with a love strong enough to connect people together.
As a chef, I have worked for 10-14 hours a day. I am looking at this trip in sort of the same way... in shifts. We will see.
The mind is capable of the impossible (which to me, is possible).
Take this journey with me. You, wherever you are, will motivate me. You and I can finish and begin anew.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
I am a chef of 25 years. I just published a bilingual kids' book, Luna Needs a Miracle! Luna Necesita un Milagro! I love smoking cigars and enjoy wine with dinner. I cook for my lovely one, who is taking this journey with me--though not on a bike. When we met, she made it clear that she would not cook. That was not a problem.
Training will take place on the road. I'll admit, I'll start training tomorrow. I'll go to the gym and spend about half an hour on a stationary bike on the most difficult setting.
If there's specific thought I live by, it's that life is a gift. You are a gift. Breathing is a gift. The meaning of "gifted" is a present gift. When you wake up in the morning, look at yourself. Realize the gift of life looking back at you is you. You do not need to look outside of yourself to see the gift.
The equipment necessary for this journey...
- A bike, of course. In my case, it's a Bianchi, about 17 lbs, and maybe about 9-10 years old. I took the bike to the shop for a tune-up yesterday.
- New tires and plenty of spare tubes--four. Maybe that's enough. If not, walking to another bike shop will be in order.
- My training consists of drinking wine, smoking cigars while I cycle... Just kidding. But I won't rule it out. Truth is, I am not on a mission to break any records. I just need to do this.
My mission is to ride on a miracle. I want to raise awareness about fearlessness and realizing that the possibilities (and miracles) are everywhere. (I might even go so far as to say that they are exactly where you are looking, except you just can't see it.)
Age is unimportant.
The physical challenges are there. The only thought in my mind will be "ride, Luna, ride". In order for an establishment to hire you, all you need is to be willing to learn. Experience you get when you are at work--or doing. (You just graduated in your field. Why is the interviewer asking about job experience?) I am entering into this journey with no experience.
The unknown to me is known: I just need to make it to Atlanta.