Day 24 Tuesday, August 2 Cody to Meeteetse, WY 33 miles
When I arrived at the Oasis Motel and RV Park, it did feel a little bit like an oasis. It is interesting that shades of the conversation around pacing continue to come up. I spent the morning taking care of my wet gear. I loaded everything up from the motel room (Boy, did that bed feel good last night!) as if I was ready for the road and instead rode the mile or so to the laundromat. It felt good to not only have my gear dry, but also clean. I tend to have a sweating episode during the night after hard rides and my sleeping bag has endured numerous nights of those. Nuff said!
I usually like to get into town about 3:00 p.m. in order to set up my tent, find my host’s home, or get a motel. That gives me enough time to shower, get a feel for my surroundings (food, opening and closing times, etc.), eat, blog and plan for the next day. Today I didn’t leave Cody until almost 1:30 and it was already 90 degrees. Thermopolis, my original goal, was 84 miles away and Meeteetse about 30 miles out.
This is what I am trying to figure out about my pacing and my continual push forward. Patrick, in his comment to last night’s blog quoted Alice in Wonderland, “I’m late, I”m late for a very important date,” and then asked what I was late for. I had all kinds of reasons to simply stay put in Cody for one more night. It’s also sort of a fun town with many restaurants, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, and even a live Western shootout every evening. Thank God the mortuary is close by! It was late in the afternoon and hot. The word from many Cody residents was that there is “nothing” between Cody and Thermopolis with the exception of only one small convenience store in Meeteetse.
Even with all this evidence I still decided to push forward. My hope was that I could somehow muscle my way to Thermopolis, possibly even using bike lights late in the evening. I also decided that if my legs simply couldn’t carry me another 85 miles after two fairly demanding days that this would be one of the nights when I found a flat spot 50 yards off the road just over a hill where passing traffic couldn’t see me. As it turned out, even the short distance to Meeteetse was more difficult than I had expected. There was an elevation gain, but it came in the form of a number of rises and descents. Sort of a three steps up, two steps down series that eventually sapped what spring I still had in my legs from the Yellowstone fun.
I was pleasantly surprised as I neared Meeteetse. Yes, there is only one small convenience store, but there are also two restaurant/bars, a breakfast cafe, and two motels. I am staying at the Oasis which really did feel that way as I knew I was not going to make it into Thermopolis tonight. The motel I skipped over was “Vision Quest”. What a wonderful choice for a traveling pilgrim–Oasis or Vision Quest!
I appreciate your ongoing comments about the issue of schedule and pacing. I feel almost propelled to keep moving forward. I can’t tell yet whether it is because I scheduled ten weeks for this and I am determined to complete it in its entirety. I do think one of the elements is that I truly do love being on the bike. I was annoyed that the surprise deluge yesterday meant that I would have to amend my bike time today. On the other hand, I felt from the very beginning that this was not to be a vacation trip. Months ago I felt compelled to take this pilgrimage. One of the early mantras that came to me as I was pushing my way through Idaho was, “I am riding into my future. I am going home.” There is some connection between that mantra and Patrick’s question, “What am I running late for?” Do keep your comments coming. Whatever the answer to this pacing issue, I think it lies at the core of what this pilgrimage is about. Do I have to keep riding hard to find the answer or will the answer come when I ease up on the pedals and coast for awhile? That is the riddle I must solve! Something is not yet settled.
There is so much to share and many of my thoughts really deserve a full blog page. But, I have found that I just can’t get to all of them. I keep a litte notebook with the titles of other blogs to come and have over twenty that only need a free hour or so to flesh out. Tonight I will share briefly two experiences I have had today. I may write more on them later, but just couldn’t bury them in my notebook for the night.
The first is that I have been thinking about how little I have been connecting with the Presbyterian churches on the route. I have made some contacts, but not what might be anticipated for a Presbyterian minister coming through town. Cody has a Presbyterian Church and the best I did was to keep my eyes open for its structure while toting my laundry around. One of the reasons has to do with needing some time when I am not being treated like a minister. I think there is a whole blog topic there as well. How many times can I hear a person apologize for cussing in front of me? Damn, I hate that!
I am discovering a deeper reason, however. Churches are just not set up for traveling pilgrims. There are two exceptions to that. Dayville Presbyterian Church in Dayville, OR is a listed Bike Inn on the Transamerica Cycling Route. I stayed there during my first week and put my sleeping bag in the chancel area. John Calvin is definitely turning over in his grave! The other church is called the Wayfarer’s Church (Episcopal-sponsored) and is only open during the summer near the East Entrance to Yellowstone.
I realized that as a person on a pilgrimage I need people on the other end who are extremely flexible to my schedule and my pacing. Motels are good for this. Campsites can handle my erratic schedule. Even Warmshower hosts keep a certain amount of flexibility since they too are fellow cyclists. I stopped at a couple of churches and, of course, missed the pastor. I am a pastor myself. If you want to see the pastor you need to call ahead of time, make an appointment, and promise not to be late.
It just got me thinking that we live in a very mobile society and the more I think about it the more I think that the DNA in our structure was built on people in intact families who are putting roots down in a community. I am not advocating that we all become Bike Inn’s like Dayville Presbyterian Church has done. But, I do wonder if we need to be more accommodating to the spiritual pilgrims. We are people on the move these days. What does it mean to be a spiritual community when we might just be one stop on a long, rich and evolving journey.
Finally, I just have to share the conversation I had with Billy over a beer (it was a “Fat Tire” appropriately). Billy lives in Meeteetse and is taking care of his parent’s sizable property as they have aged. He also calls himself a “Major Burner”. This is the name people give themselves who feel like they are part of the larger Burning Man community. I have been hearing about Burning Man for about ten years. I knew that it had taken our need for ritual and done something very creative. Before I left on the pilgimage, Niko from our Movies and Meaning group, had suggested it would be a good event to visit. Not until meeting Billy did I understand how well this Burning Man event has taken what once was the church’s territory and succeeded where we have faltered in recent years.
I am simply going to share the website after saying that the original concept for Burning Man (burningman.com) came after the founder had gone through a divorce and needed a way to purge himself from his past feelings and mark a moment in his life when he acknowledged this ending and opened himself to the possibility of a new beginning. That was 25 years ago. Now over 50,000 people every year converge in the desert of Nevada to participate in a community Burning Man ceremony. Does it sound strange? It shouldn’t. We humans need rituals to mark the significant shifts in our lives. If institutional religion is not able to satisfy our need for ritual, people will create their own. Have you ever seen a cross with flowers on the side of the road? Case closed.