Day 66 Tuesday, September 13 Garberville to Eureka, CA 70 miles
What a day! I continue to be asto
unded by the process of pilgrimage and what seem like coincidences. At some point a pattern of coincidences becomes a contradiction of terms. I will get to that shortly. I don’t know how many times I can say that I rode through some of the most beautiful scenery of the trip thus far. I realize that I can look back at the Sawtooths of Idaho, Yellowstone Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, and even some of the desert stretches of Nevada and say the same thing. Today’s scenery was wholly different in that I wasn’t gazing at whole mountain ranges but at the mystical forests of the redwoods.
I was unaware of the special route through the redwoods that parallels Hwy. 101. I had not looked at my map that closely, but when I came upon the 30-mile alternate route that only added about 5 miles to the ride it was an easy decision: stay on a Hwy. 101 and compete with the logging trucks or veer off into the Avenue of the Giants and wind my way through these remarkable ancient trees. The ride through the forest was truly magical. There was very little traffic and the road wove its way through the forest with the redwoods often straddling both sides of the road. It is obviously a favorite of cyclists as I passed at least 20 other cyclists going the opposite direction touring down the Oregon coast and likely to San Francisco and beyond. I have heard repeatedly that I am going the wrong direction. The wind flows down the coast from north to south and most cyclists choose that alternative. I, on the other hand, have to just be different! And you all know how much I like wind!
It was also a strange day. As I begin to make my way back to Portland I can feel myself emerging from the deep reflective space I have lived in for so many weeks. I began to think about and project what all needs to be attended to when I return. I was thinking about the coming months and my work at Eastminster. I was reflecting on reconnecting with friends and family and how my new priorities would take shape in coming weeks and months. Quite honestly, I was working myself into a place of anxiety. Repeatedly, I had to remind myself to stay present in the moment. With the beauty of the redwoods around me it didn’t take much effort to get my focus back. But, I fluctuated most of the day between feeling anxious about putting life back together in Portland and staying with what was real right in front of me. It actually was a good reminder that even when I do return I don’t have to take everything on all at once; I can handle one conversation, one issue, and one moment at a time. That’s always been good advice, but I had to repeat it to myself a number of times today.
And then something happened. This is the part that still leaves me a little baffled by what seems like a pattern of coincidences. My destination today was Eureka, CA. I didn’t think much about the name as I have become used to simply thinking of it as a city name without much meaning. (sort of like saying Los Angeles without ever thinking about its literal meaning as the “city of angels”). Eureka literal means “I have found it!”
It wasn’t but maybe two miles before reaching the city limits that this strange day of emotion suddenly clicked. I am not sure what caused it, but it happened all at once. Something broke loose. All the pushing through the miles day after day made sense to me. I have been trying to push through and break through some mental and emotional block. Despite trying to slow down I found my legs and my will propelling me forward more days than not. I have written before that I have spent the last five years financially and emotionally surviving my sudden divorce in 2006. Surviving is good, but I had begun to feel that all my energy was focused on surviving something from the past rather than building for the future.
It is too early to draw too many conclusions about what this means and looks like right now, but I did recognize the feeling. There have been a few times in my life when I could tell in my gut that something felt absolutely right. I felt that kind of a breakthrough and clarity today. I had just experienced the breakthrough and had allowed it to settle for just a bit when I rode by the city limits sign to Eureka. I just shook my head at the uncanny timing of having ridden 3500 miles vaguely aware that something was nagging me and driving me and the start of the breakthrough happens as I enter the town of “I have found it!” Eureka, indeed.
I am going to spend the next couple of days making sure that this wasn’t just over-exertion or exercise induced euphoria. What form this takes I don’t yet know. What I do know is that my work of the past few years all seemed to make sense. My role as a spiritual leader and my involvement in the community (I am the interim designee for one of our county commissioners and on various city committees) came together as one coherent whole. I suddenly felt like I wasn’t just clawing and scratching to survive, but that all this hard work of recent years was leading me into my future. Despite the uncertainty of life as a minister in this time I could feel my future actually drawing me forward. I have not felt this for years and it was great relief. If I feel the same way tomorrow and the tomorrow after that I think I might be on to something.
I passed through Eureka, Utah and nothing happened. I stayed the night in Eureka, Nevada and just got rained on. I rode into Eureka, CA and something seemed to break loose. Third time is a charm, I guess!