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My Journey - September 2009

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My Journey - September 2009

Post  ChasingSanity on Sun Apr 11, 2010 7:57 pm

FIRST LEAP INTO THE ABYSS September 1
I asked Carole to drive me to the REI next to Green Valley Station Casino because I was running late. My bike and all my stuff got unloaded into the REI bike shop, I shopped then packed everything onto the bike. Packing the bike took 4 hours and I could barely push the bike.

I went looking for a church to donate my excess stuff. I found a police station 1 block from REI. I asked the young police officer with the broken hand sitting behind the desk for help: “Excuse me, where is the nearest church? I am not picky which as long as there is a live person there or a donation box.” The Later Day Saints church was just down the street – take the first two lefts. I got lost and had to ask again. It was .5 to 1 mile away and took me about an hour to push my burden of sins (junk on my bicycle) there. Steve, the Boy Scout Troop Leader, was deep inside with a cohort supervising a prepubescent boy in the art of crayon drawing. Steve listened to my story and said he would take me to Deseret Industries after he was finished... an hour. The boy said something about Mom and 10 minutes, OK, 10 minutes. Smile I went outside and collapsed. Steve gave me sagely boy scout wisdom: The rule of 3 – you can survive 3 hours of exposure, 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food. Under what exact conditions this applies I am not sure but the general idea is very clear. He drove me to the Deseret Industries and we unloaded all my stuff onto the packing lot near the donation drop off area.

A small, slender dark tan skinned older man soon came up to me as I was sorting through my burden of sins. He was sincerely curious what I was doing. He was the second shift manager of that big building?! I told him my story and asked if I could use a few shopping carts to sort things out. He also asked if there was anything he could help me with. We discussed my hopes and plans but there was nothing either the man or the manager could do for me other than the use of these two shopping carts and the parking lot to sort my things out. I donated half my things, many of which I bought at Deseret Industries in the first place. I could ride my bike, barely. I slept way in the back of the vacant lot next to Deseret Industries. My 'modular sleep system' that I paid $40 for and $20 for repairs really worked! I even felt well-rested after about 6 hours sleep on hard, rocky ground near a busy, noisy road.

I knew some of the things I had were things Carole would want back if I was not going to use them, like that really heavy big laptop computer. So I did not sacrifice them into the mouth of the Deseret beast and in the morning I called Carole and asked he to come take back her things. She drove me back home, I unpacked the things for her, took a shower, ate as much as I could find as fast as I could, took a nap, slept, repacked and tried again. This time I left after sundown instead of noon.

SECOND TRY September 3
I juggled and stumbled my load north on Nellis (the house is on Nellis) to Las Vegas boulevard and stopped at the McDonald's, my last stop before venturing into the wild desert and the open road. They did not have free WIFI?! Well! I got free water for my CamelBak RimRunner and ran out of procrastinations.

I rode north-east on Las Vegas boulevard for along time. Look at the pretty afterburners on that load fighter jet as it takes off. Keep the bike on the road while looking elsewhere. Nellis Air Force base is a lot bigger than I thought. Is there an end to this?! Gate 9? They put Air Force base gates on either side of the Las Vegas Speedway?!

Wow, it is dark out here and quiet too and empty. I feel emotionally exhausted, I need to sleep. Take my bike off the road, out of sight from cars, keep going to find a place of sight from people in the desert. Set up camp, lay there watching stars, some of them are fast moving and some of them are spinning around a common center?? Optical illusion; fingertip next to fast moving star and the star looks like it is still moving but stays next to my finger. I am not drifting off, as a matter of fact I am eager to move on. Pack up and go on.

Which way am I supposed to go? The map does not look like what I am seeing. There is a man walking Way out here?! His directions confuse me because I am thinking and feeling in too many directions at once. I take the road that looks most like what I want; highway 93 going north. It is smooth then bumpy then gravel then dirt then a fence then a highway. Yes! Highway 93 continues on! No, this is interstate 15 freeway! The first turnoff was to the Valley of Fire Moapa Indian truck stop and tourist trap.

I asked the employees there how to get to highway 93 on my bicycle. They came up with several ways. They were great people. Daniel said he knew a lot of the truckers and I could probably get a ride with one of the truckers all the way to Salt Lake City. We tried but that did not happen. They let me stay in the truckers lounge and talk with whoever came in. I slept a lot.

Just before sunset I rode north on Interstate 15 to Glendale, took the very hilly Highway 168 to Highway 93 at a place called Coyote Springs. I got to Glendale at about 9PM, stopped in the mobile home sized grocery store and bought a gourmet buffet; two apples, a lemon, some homemade beef jerky and she gave me the last of the days coffee for free!

Highway 168 soon left Glendale behind. It was very dark out there even with a full moon. I eventually passed some very big houses out in the middle of nowhere. A big black dog chased after me to make sure I knew who was boss. I struggled to get my pepper spray out and found I had no idea how to get it to spray. Finally the old dog fell behind full of righteous victory. What was a PGA golf club doing out in the middle of nowhere?! That was Coyote Springs and there really were coyotes out there, many of them, too many by far for my sensibilities. I rode north about 10 miles and gave up for the night. I was exhausted and almost out of water with no place to get more. I scouted out the best place to sleep and waited for dawn.

When there was enough light to see by I strategically placed my bicycle and bags to best display what I had and the space required, my sincerity (what crook is going to carry all that around?), and general harmlessness. I stood by my stuff and thumbed a ride. That did not work. I sat down and rested with my thumb out.

Sunday, September13
I awoke in a field in American Fork. I feel sad to see so many farmlands become suburbs. I got all my gear together and got back on the road. My legs were cramping from the long ride the night before and the cold and there was brief rainfall – a motivation to get packed quickly. The wind was so strong I had trouble pedaling and staying upright. Then I saw the miles of orange barrels used for roadwork. I was halfway to Payson, Utah where Utah Trikes http://www.utahtrikes.com/ is and I was so tired and sore from the long ride getting this far. I thumbed a ride. In just a few minutes a gray passenger pulled up with hazard lights flashing. A 20ish man offerd to give me a lift but was not sure when he would have to turn back. Juan and I started talking and had a fine time discussing everyday philosophy and spiritual beliefs. I suspect we drove a lot further than he originally intended; our talk was good. Smile He dropped me off in Peyson at the Walmart. I went in and negotiated the exchange of my defective tire for a new tire, without the receipt. Larry the bike builder, also taught me how to patch inner tubes, it 's been so long I forgot how. Well, he did it, I watched and will not forget. I also asked a few of the people I interacted with where was the closest place for me to camp for the night. Most of them said Payson Canyon with directions to get there.

I asked for directions to downtown Payson from a family walking into Walmart. The woman said up the hill to main and then left. The man said just past the baseball field, left to Utah street then right – you avoid the hill. Avoiding the hill sounded good to me. Smile I found Utah Trikes, I felt like dancing, peered in and soaked in the ambiance. I arrived! After an hour I rode on to the Payson Canyon camp site.

It soon became so much of an uphill slope that I had to push my burdened bike uphill. I pushed for a long time. One of the guys giving directions told me it was a couple miles to the camp sites but this was more than a couple miles! It started raining just a little then stopped, a little while later it rained harder and longer, then the downpour came and stayed for a while. I wanted to call my ex-wife, Carole, give her an update and tell her I was still alive and healthy. I got as close to under some bushes by the side of the road as I could manage and waited for a quiet moment during the storm. After a minute of talking to her a car pulled up and asked if I needed help. “Love you too, got to go, someone is here to help.” I asked how far up were the camp sites - a few more miles?! Well, now that you mention it, could I get a ride up to the camp sites? We struggled my bike into their... Subaru Outback? I was very grateful for the ride; there were a lot more hills and choices than I wanted to take. The rain stopped on the way, naturally. Smile If I had known how far it was to the camp sites I would have camped off the side of the road long ago. They gave me their phone number in case I needed help and drove off.

The campground had a picnic bench, water faucet, fire pit and a golf cart. “HELLO?” no response. I walked back down the road a bit looking for a “hot spot” to call Carole back. Not quite enough reception, oh well, tomorrow. I put the big 8' x 10' tarp I bought from REI in Salt Lake City over the picnic table and unpacked my gear under the picnic table and tarp in case the rain came back. I ate some granola, an apple and seaweed (for the minerals and it is a vegetable) I bought in Salt Lake City while I added more to this, the story of of my adventures until I was not able to find the keys on the keyboard anymore and slid under the tarp and picnic table into my sleeping bag.

Monday, September 14
I woke up several times during the night and went back to sleep. When there was daylight I got up, packed and got back on the road, downhill this time. It was a scary rush down but a lot easier. Smile I met two bicyclists,Jim and his sister, on their way up. We talked and laughed for a long time. He offered me the use of his camper if the rain got REALLY bad. It did, I was glad for the shelter. A few days later I asked if I could use his camper to store my gear while I rode around looking for work. He agreed on that too. I planned to find housing first then work. I talked with the Mormons about work and housing. Ideally I wanted to live in a place where my being there would benefit the owner, someone who was elderly or disabled. I went to Utah Trikes and talked with Ashley Guy, the owner. I got measured for a Greenspeed GTE and he talked me into a Cattrike Expedition for half the price of the GTE. I went to the public library and sent/received my email. But the library blocked Facebook access because of problems with pornography. I went looking for the Payson Chamber of Commerce. It was in the back of a small realtors office with nothing I could see on the front of the building to suggest they were inside. I got a phone book with listings of a ll the churches in the area. “Almost one on every corner.” It started raining, I rode over to the camper, unpacked and hid for the night.

I don't remember what went on Tuesday, September 15th.

Wednesday, September 16th
Jim suggested I find work first and bike clothes would not work – I needed blue jeans and a t-shirt. I asked around for something like a soup kitchen where I could get a snack for the ride back and went to the Food something which had wonderful food, a meal! But I was sitting across from a young man who had just got out of prison and bragging he had beaten up his cellmate, the famous one who killed his own uncle. I rode to the nearest Deseret Industries Thrift Store looking for used clothing in my price range. It was 20 miles to Provo on a bicycle plus a bit more for not really knowing how to get there. The thrift store was huge, I got two sets of jeans and t-shirts. Now, where would I store them when on the road? I needed these clothes to fit in and find work elsewhere and I had discarded enough good stuff that I could pack these. :/

When I was done at the thrift store and unlocking my bike I got a phone call from the people that gave me a ride up the canyon to the campsite. They were inviting me to dinner! But I was 2 hours away in Provo. They would save some for me when I got back. I dropped off my Deseret clothing at the camper, picked out the black jeans and my pretty black and red dragon shirt with gold highlights for this special occasion. I felt I was taking a first step to acceptance within the community. I called them as agreed upon, we met and went to their home. I asked if I could take a shower to make myself presentable, what a luxury! I shaved! Then I changed into the fancy clothes and went to meet and greet. I wolfed down the home cooked food even though it was cold. I would not part with it long enough to heat it up in the microwave, I ate cold food for days, this tasted lots better. We talked about my plans, to work and live in Payson for the winter. They gave me several leads on companies looking for people. They called several friends and arranged for me to spend the night in a motel, “to get a good nights sleep then spend the day looking for work.” I don't understand that part – sleeping in the woods is good and I need food and money or work clothing. Where is the magic in sleeping in a bed? But I was grateful for the effort and good intent.

Thursday, September 17th
I called every job lead I could using the hotel phone book. Most of the places did not have a full time human resources person and they were not even on a schedule for when they would be in! Were they family of the owner of the company? This did not look good. The people I did get to talk with said they were not looking for workers, even the fruit pickers in the orchards. I took a shower changed clothes to jeans and t-shirt, dropped off everything at the camper that I did not need and checked my laptop for my resumes, I left them at home?! I rode out looking for work. I went looking for Wendy's Fast food Drive-in, a landmark where three of the job sites were near. There was an industrial park nearby. I went to every company and talked with the boss or filled out an application at every one. Most of the people handing me applications had the look of not wanting to crush my hopes. Two of the companies handed me a card from a temporary agency – apply through them. I called three temp agencies and they all said not this week, maybe next week, maybe in a few months.

I rethought my bright future at Payson. There was very little work to be had, Utah Trikes might have some work for me in 3 weeks to a month but how would I survive until then? What were my chances, as a stranger in town, of getting a job instead of a local; someone's relative who had a home, car, family and pressing bills before Christmas?

I went to the camper to eat and think. Jim came in and said “This is not going to work, You have to leave.” I agreed. He was worried about his wife, a phobic, and the neighbors. I had been as discreet and respectful as possible but he was right, it was only a matter of time before my presence became a problem. I told him I was appreciative of what he had offered. I asked what advice he had on what routes to take getting south. He pulled out a map and we talked for a long time. South through a long string of small towns through Arizona to New Mexico and ask the locals along the way, pray for rides through the rough parts, that was the plan.

Saturday, September 19th
I rode east to highway 6 and rode south. I had to stop on the south side of Spanish Forks, just south of the huge wind turbines. The wind there was too much for riding my bicycle, who would have guessed? Smile Each of the three blades on the wind turbines were 45 feet long. The fierce winds there are focused by a canyon and one would think the turbines would rotate at a blur but they are quite leisurely, at about 3 seconds per rotation. They make an interesting and calming sound, each blade passing by sounds like a giant bird's wing then there is a brief silence before the next passing blade.

I stopped there for the night beneath these murmuring giants and got out my sleeping bag, a few feet from the highway. I laid my bike down, unfurled my tarp, put my backpack on the tarp to keep it from blowing away then took my packs off and displayed them neatly behind my bike. Hopefully someone would give me a ride out of here, someplace where I could sleep. It began to rain, I folded the tarp over my gear so it could still be seen by the oncoming drivers. No luck getting a ride in the rain, at night. Between raindrops I got into the sleeping bag and slept fitfully.

Sunday, September 20th
In the morning I got a ride fairly quickly. This guy had one of those big Dodge Sprinter vans with a trailer and an off-road golf-cart vehicle called a Polaris. He drove me just north of Price, Utah. Everything was downhill! Paradise found! I stopped in Price and splurged on a small chili at Wendy's drive-thru for one whole dollar. I found another Albertson's grocery store across the street and scavenged the store for inexpensive, filling and nutritious all in one package. I bought coleslaw; the kind with carrots too, kefir – drinkable yogurt, Good Earth herbal tea, and granola in a resealable plastic bag, all for a grand total of $9.03.

I took my treasures across the street to a gas station convenience store in search of a microwave. I microwaved the coleslaw until it just turned soft and added my coconut oil, some kefir, and my spices – garlic to fight off bugs, sea salt for electrolytes and curry for fun. All I could taste was the kefir, it was a sweet yogurt flavored coleslaw. I added lots more curry. I thought of what Carole, my ex-wife would think of this combination. You probably have the same reaction, such a funny facial expression. Smile

This Wendy's had free WIFI, Paradise indeed. A Wendy's employee came out to smoke a cigarette on break and asked me where I came from. A chance to plant another seed of my story. Smile He told me I could work in Price and live in Helper, the town next to Price, at the mission until I could afford to settle down. “But that would not be living my dream of riding around the world.” We parted ways with smiles. I thanked everybody working in Wendy's for the amenities. They were proud of their week old WIFI. I passed through Wellington, stopping to get all the water I could carry, three CamelBak water bladders, each 3 liters and perched the two extra bladders precariously on my bike. I got hot water for my tea there too. Ah, the sweet, spicy heart-warming sensation of my tea. Cool

I rode past the Emery county border as sunset came and went, I kept on going. It was dark out here, no house lights in sight, I better call Carole before cellphone civilization ends. Sure enough, I was on that border too... No cellphone reception, WOW, now I have full strength?! We talked for a long time; she had no responsibilities this night and I was on an empty road with my ear-bud plugged in at both ends. We talked until I had little battery power left. I turned off my cellphone to conserve the energy for an emergency, as if someone could find me in time to rescue me.

I walked when it was too dark to ride. That reminds me, I need new batteries for my bike lights. I searched for a dirt or gravel road leading off the highway like so many I had passed. They would be good to camp at for the night. With my fading bike light all I found was what looked like a spot cleared of brush barely big enough for me and my gear. I laid my bike down like a cowboy getting his horse to lay down on it's side, took out my sleeping bag and covered my gear with the tarp, tucking the tarp under the gear. I backed my sleeping bag into the blue tarp mound of gear and hid from the loud and bright occasionally passing 18 wheeler trucks.

Monday, September 21st
This morning I resolved to crawl out of my warmth when I could see and not wait for the sun's warmth. I scrambled into clean clothes; a luxury I perform every other day. For warmth, I put blue jeans on over my lightweight lounge pants and a lightweight jacket over my bike shirt. I drank the last of the kefir and ate some granola too. I rode on, soon I had to shed my jacket and blue jeans, I waited until the cars coming either way were far off. No need to risk distracting drivers into hitting me with what looked like a free show.

I rode on. Woodside, Utah was the next town on my map. What Woodside? I do not see any wood, not enough to name a town after anyways. Ah, there it is and there are enough cars, trucks and camper vehicles there for it to be open. I want a homemade hamburger, not one of those drive-thru things that just make me hungrier. And I want it with a baked potato, and a big salad, and a bowl of soup. Wait, I can not eat that much. I want a big salad with lots of vegetables and made with lettuce other than iceberg lettuce. And I want... They are not in business anymore?! The whole thing is fenced off!! All those vehicles are just a junk yard! Those jerks bought cars and stuff until their business collapsed. Sad -Grumbles-

I rode on, uphill, into the wind. I had enough water to survive and granola too but riding was no longer fun, just work. Memories would do not contain drudgery, keep pedaling, uphill. The wind became a strong crosswind and the 18 wheelers added to that when they passed by. I stopped trying to ride and pushed my bike for a mile or two. I took a break and ate more granola, it was not easing my hunger. I need to eat something else, what nutrients am I lacking? I stuck out my thumb and waited for a ride.

The man that picked me up thought I had mechanical difficulties until he got out of his small pickup truck. I said “too windy”. He agreed when he got out, “that wind is brutal.” He was going past my immediate goal, Moab, Utah, back to his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The big wooden boxes in the truck bed were beehives.

Moab is very interesting. I was looking at the people in the library, my most radical clothing is quite tame in comparison. I will search for good coffee.

Monday, September 28th
I spent a couple days in Moab. My sleeping spot was awesome; it was free, close to town and very secluded. The coffee I found was pricey and average but the WIFI and electricity were free, I set up my office at a table and recharged my laptop and cellphone. I spent the last of my money on a burger from this “greasy spoon” - Milt's. WEBSITE It was made from organic, free range, locally raised cattle and the fries were also locally grown and had the skins on. It was a dream come true and money well spent. One of the librarians ran one of the organic farms in the area. She told me they were done for the season but happy to consider me in the spring. I figured the same was true of the other farm. I used the library's WIFI to find another organic farm near Hanksville, Utah looking for longterm workers. I emailed him about my working there, he replied back then we talked over the phone.

He was noncommittal until I went there and talked face to face. So, that did not work out either. He gave me 2 loaves of dark, multi-grain bread and a few big apples, I ate my fill, drank some of their dark coffee and filled up my Camelbak with water before I went. I was disappointed, the goat cheese and bread he makes are good food and very tasty, he raises goats and grows a wide variety of food crops in his garden.

I rode back to Hanksville, bought the cheapest cellphone earbud I could find to replace the one I left behind on my helmet getting into Hanksville. I rode south for a while, getting out of town and making my intended direction of travel known. I got a ride to XXXXXXX and from there to Mexican Hat. The couple that picked me up were really nice people. He is an architect and was driving a big truck with a boat trailer in tow. She is a geologist specializing in gemology and followed behind in a small car. Their boat engine broke while on Lake Powell and they had to rent a car to drive back to their truck and now they were driving back around to get the boat. Utah. Mexican Hat has this really interesting restaurant called XXXXXXXXX. It is attached to a motel but the restaurant is entirely outside, like a porch. They have this interesting grill to cook food on; the fire is stationary but the cooking surface swings over the fire, towards and away from the chef. Their selection of food was very basic; prime rib dinner, steak dinner, hamburger dinner and chicken dinner. They all came with a salad and refried beans. The coffee was good and had grounds in the bottom. I felt like I was an urban cowboy. Smile

I slept behind the gas station. At first light I packed up and rode to Gooseneck State Park. It was about 15 miles of up and down short, steep hills. The river was a mile down in a series of canyons that wound around like rope casually dropped on the ground. I procrastinated on leaving, I did not want to push my way through those hills again. When I did leave the state park I found it was all downhill! I went all the way past Valley of the Gods without pedaling hardly at all.

From Valley of the Gods it was all uphill, there was just enough of a slope that I could not ride my burdened bike. Each hilltop was the beginning of another hill. I looked back to see miles of hillside leading down into a broad valley. No wonder I was so tired. I smelled smoke, sulfur or gunpowder but I did not hear any gunshots. How odd. I saw a road that passed between two steep but small cliffs and there was enough shade for me and my bike! The rocks I sat down on at the base of the cliffs were oddly discolored and had large, regular grooves in them... The discolorations were blasting powder... The grooves were where they put the blasting powder and the fact I smelled it meant the blasting was recent. It was time to end my break and get out from under that cliff before something worked loose and fell on me. I took pictures of my foolish resting place.

I finally got to the top of a mesa and rode for a while then the road went downhill, very steeply downhill. I got to Comb Ridge, 6 miles outside of Bluff and got off my bike. I stumbled around and could not think clearly. I eyed the hill up to Bluff and decided I had enough hills for the day. I stuck my thumb out and waited. A young man with a family finally gave me a ride in the back of his pickup truck to Bluff. I bought an orange juice and felt as good as new! I asked about which road would lead me in the right direction and were there any thrift shops along he way? The woman running the store said Cortez had Thrift shops I rode past Montezuma Creek.

A few miles outside of Montezuma Creek a pickup truck pulled off the road right in front of me. Oh, oh... Do the locals eat bicyclists? “Heard in town you were going into Cortez, hop in.” He also had a family inside the truck so I sat in the truck bed and kept my bike secure. He drove fast but well. I got to Cortez just as the shops were all closing. 7PM at night. I asked where was safe and accepted to sleep. Some people said the parks, some said not the parks. Some people said ask the police and told me where the police station was, others said the police were not friendly. I spent over an hour trying ti find the police station. It was a small town and who would hide a police station anyways?! It was late at night when I finally found the police station, they were very hospitable and informative. Seeing as you are only going to be in town overnight, sleep on the school grounds.

In the morning I rode to each of the thrift shops and other stores I wanted a peek at, found out which opened their doors when and then I waited. I got my replacement bicycle helmet, a $60 value for $1! I noticed my cellphone battery charger was missing and bought a replacement for $.25! I bought some clothing that might work for bicycling and was read to travel on. A woman that looked like an active, healthy grandmother asked me “uhm, I, will you do an interview with me?”
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