Thursday, May 26, 2011

Come what may

A decorated automobile from Sausalito

We are in Portland. This morning, Robbie got a ride to Boulder, CO or Salt Lake City. He wasn't sure where he was going to stop. Tomorrow at 3pm, I will be on a plane to Detroit. I just ate wings under a mural of Willie Nelson, and there were balls painted on his face. Here is how all this came to be...
See the ball sac?

After our stay in America's Best Value Inn with the complimentary spiders, we took a bus back into Sausalito to get to a Couchsurfing house that Robbie miraculously had found the night before. We had so much fun at that house and met such interesting people that it is hard to believe that Robbie smashing into that car in a way that only Bruce Willis and Ben Afleck could have prevented was not an act of God. Our host was also named Rob, and his house was gorgeous and comfortable. He was simultaneously hosting 5 couchsurfers: Nelson, a paramedic student from Ohio traveling by motorcycle, Josephine and Chelsea, and artsy hippie duo from Washington state, and the G unit and myself. Host Rob had three lovely dogs (one of them, a female, humped at the others in a sort of domineering way) and a stadium-seating home theater with a massive movie collection. We watched Patch Adams one night (Robin Williams grew up not far from where we stayed). The last night we were there, Rob had a hot tub installed. We chilled out in the hot tub, telling jokes and drinking milkshakes with Carolan's in them. It was an amazing time. When we all left on Wednesday morning, we all hugged good bye in the way that people who have gotten to know each other in a very short time hug goodbye.
Hot Rob and Big Rob at Host Rob's house

During our stay with Rob, we were able to sort out some other issues, and we were unable to sort out some other issues. At a local bike shop, Robbie found a replacement fork for his bike at a very reasonable price and had it installed on his bike. It's lucky that Robbie has twice found replacement parts in stock, because Robbie is an outlier on the bell-curve of people's body sizes, and it's unusual that a bike shop would stock for such a small population of humungous people. But he found a replacement, and they installed the fork on the bike that day. The Mango Sentinel was fully operational, and even looked thinner with its black fork. I am told that dark jeans make legs look thinner. The same is apparently true of bike forks and bikes. 

Sausalito Houseboat
My knee had worsened. The initial diagnosis did not hold, and it became painful to bend or unbend my right leg whether I was bearing weight or not. Biking was no longer an option for me. We had left Micaiah's house in San Francisco optimistically, locking the keys inside never to return. We had no free place to stay for an extended period of time. Part of the reason a bike trip was exciting for me was the prospect of it improving my physical health. The opposite was happening.

Robbie and I considered travel options for almost a full day. Rail passes, bus passes, or buying individual tickets would be too expensive. I considered accompanying Robbie to the east side of the mountains via ride-shares found on craigslist, but the price of traveling from Boise to Detroit was much more than the price of flying for Portland to Detroit (I found a ticket on Student Universe for $170).  After I bought the plane ticket, I cried with frustration.  If only we had not biked 90 miles in one day. If only that piece of shit would not have given us bad directions in Camp Pendellton. If only I had trained more before we left. If only, if only.

I went and ate some bacon and began to feel better. How stupid of me to allow myself to become so depressed. A bike trip was only a medium for accomplishing many things with this summer, like dirt is a medium for growing plants. Without dirt, one builds a hydroponic system. Without a bike trip, Stu will return to Michigan, rehab his knee, rehab his neck, learn to play the piano, visit his wonderful family/friends/lady, convince the town of Ludington to throw a parade for Robbie as he arrives on the Badger, and rally a large possey of cyclists to ride the last 50 miles of the bike trip behind Robbie, rolling into Blissfest in a love caravan. Robbie will end his vacation spent, rejuvenated, and satiated, ready to start his working life having done what he no longer would be able to do.  I will finish my summer having rested and regained my health and peace of mind, ready to take on my legal education with sound body and spirit and relationships. Victory.

angelic *ahhhhhh*
Robbie attempting to climb to the back of the van for conversation time
On Wednesday, we rode north to Portland in a van with Nick, a musician traveling back to Portland to play a show that night. It was a massive van. I slept for the first portion of the trip while Robbie and Nick chatted in the front. Then Robbie and I chatted in the front while Nick slept in the back. Then Robbie and I chatted in the back while Nick drove in the front.  We talked about something that I did not know about Rob Guimond, which is incredible in itself. Robbie has always been very liberal and progressive with regards to trivial social propriety. He is liberated from senseless traditional convention, although he can adhere quickly to it when pleasing those who value it is to his advantage (eg job interviews, meeting girlfriend's parents, etc). But apparently, Robbie has a beef with chewing with an open mouth. The man loves to cook, and loves to prepare a meal and eat it with others. He appreciates this the way a film director appreciates the watching of a film, and the sacredness of the whole thing to Robbie is affronted and made obscene by a person chewing with his mouth open. The worse, he said, was when people did so with either chips or bananas.
I sense an Oscar

I was eating banana chips in the seat next to him. MUAHAHAHAHA!

Portland over G's shoulder
We arrived in Portland after a long drive. The scenery was amazing. The weather was crap. We were safe and warm inside the van. Cortland could have easily run and camped in the sleet that beat against our comfy container. In Portland we ate a burrito and enchiladas from a street vendor. Robbie had to pee, and walked for a while downtown looking for a bathroom before finally walking into a strip club to urinate. He says it was a long walk, at least. He was gone a while whilst I ate my burrito on the park bench. Portland apparently has more strip clubs per capita than any other city in the U.S. Sorry, Las Vegas.

And the fallen petals parted for the lone rider
The house where we were going to stay, Chad and Amanda's, was 3.5 miles away. We were going to hop on a bus, but instead just walked. It was a better way to see Portland. Robbie carried everything but the backpack. I limped behind him and took pictures like this one on my phone.

People should not be disappointed about the changes we made to the trip. I spent a day disappointed, and it is a foolish thing to do. We are young idiots, Robbie and I, who set out to do something that was subject to many possible scenarios under which we would not be able to do that thing. It wasn't because we were confident in our biking skills that we thought we'd be able to do it; it wasn't because we were particularly used to success or that we were used to being amazingly lucky. No, it was because we were young, time had less opportunity to come in and destroy our plans in our short lives.

But broken plans should not breed disappointment. The plan was just one way to accomplish what was  important to us. There are many others. Broken plans produce wonderful stories. New plans create new excitement The sturdiest buildings would break without some flexibility. Stretchy underpants last longer.

This is not the end of the blog or the journey. I just got a text from Robbie. He will be starting the rest of the ride from Twin Falls, Idaho. Join me in joining him from a long way off.


  1. that sucks man. sorry to hear that.

  2. I still think you're having one hell of an adventure!