Day 67 Wednesday, September 14 Eureka to Klamath, CA 77 miles
Written Wednesday, published Thursday
Well, it was one of those days. It turned out to be a more challenging day than I had expected. I never seemed to get a rhythm going today. I left a little later than usual having stayed up too late suspending my daily discipline and routine momentarily. In the first 15 miles I toured my way through two towns—Arcata and McKinleyville. Unfortunately, there were numerous detours and found myself backtracking on more than one occasion, stopping frequently to check my map, and adding miles that I hadn’t planned on. One detour caused me to overshoot the town of McKinleyville where I planned a late breakfast. Having put breakfast off earlier I had to backtrack to the town rather than risk over-depleting my reserves by shooting for the next town. After all that I had a flat tire. No big deal except that all of the smaller events eventually caused me to alter my original plans to get to the town of Crescent City. As it was, I arrived at a small pleasurable oasis (Woodland Villa Cabins and Country Market) 15 miles short of my goal at 7:00 p.m. and had to race around to get checked in to the cabin and order food before their 7:30 closing time. The owner, Sharon, has a good thing going there and is a terrific host!
I am much more tired tonight than I anticipated. I have never completely adjusted to the overcast, drizzly weather of Portland even as I love the city and feel very much at home there. Today was a prelude to getting back to Portland as the temperature never passed the 60 degree mark and most of the day was laden with a consistent blanket of fog. I rode by the ocean for a few long stretches, but rarely could see beyond the beach. Although it never really rained the fog eventually coated me with a slimy mixture of sweat and moisture that left me cold and uncomfortable (not to mention gross!). I have told friends that I am an “avid fair weather cyclist”. Today sort of confirmed that for me. I was never really able to settle into a good rhythm as I was focused on staying warm and dry. I may need to rethink my jersey/jacket options as it appeared that my jacket wasn’t breathing. Between sweating and then the weather being both chilly and moist I ended up a soppy mess. In the end, I arrived at my night’s lodging more mentally tired than physically as I just never really relaxed into the beauty of the day.
Despite the fog there was still plenty for my eyes to feast on. Eureka is on an enclosed bay so I was able to see hints of the ocean with the boats docked on the waterfront. Today I came over a hill north of McKinleyville and as dropped back down the ocean appeared before me with rocky points reaching out t the ocean beyond that I could not see. Twice I came upon a herd of elk grazing 100 yards off the side of the road. One of the delights was taking a small stretch of land between Arcata and McKinleyville because of a detour. The detour wound me through manure-covered farm roads, past tractors, cows, goats, and sheep. I am not so sure what enthralled me with it, but I could have ridden on those roads all day long. I could have a spent a day just in Arcata as well. I rode through it fairly quickly on my way to get breakfast in McKinleyville, but the town square with its shops and restaurants was very inviting and calls for a trip back some time. By the time I reached Prairie Creek State Park I was in the frame of mind to just find lodging for the night. It was nearing 6:00 p.m. and the fog was starting to turn to mist. I re-entered the redwood forest again. There were times when I was tempted to stop for a picture, but I ended up pushing past the moment unwilling to linger any longer into the evening.
I did spend a good deal of my time today discerning the breakthrough I experienced yesterday just before entering Eureka. I can see now that so much of this pilgrimage has been about discerning my call in the Church and the community. It is interesting that as I have reflected back on prior weeks, I have noticed how much anxiety I was feeling and expressing about the future of the church. After yesterday, I can see more clearly that I have been working through my own sense of call more than I have been articulating the issues of the Church. This doesn’t nullify the issues that the Church is facing or the validity of them. Those are still real issues. But the presence of the anxiety that has been revealing itself in my writing lets me know that this is really more about me and my sense of call than it is about the Church.
Since yesterday the predominate feeling has been one of relief. I am still trying to find words for what took place. I don’t know the form that the breakthrough will take or how long it will take me to discern what it means. What I do know is that I have been feeling unsettled and mildly frustrated for many years. I think I have been feeling like I am the victim of my circumstances. With the ongoing decline of many of our Presbyterian congregations I wonder if I have been feeling trapped in a system with no hope. My breakthrough yesterday wasn’t a sudden epiphany that will reverse congregational loss. The breakthrough was centered on realizing that I don’t have to feel trapped or allow myself to be trapped.
Whatever happened yesterday, I felt that that sinking feeling of being a victim of my circumstances was replaced by a feeling of empowerment. I am not sure exactly what this means yet, but at its core I think I made the psychological shift that said, “The circumstances of the Church don’t get to determine my future. My sense of call gets to determine my future.” Somewhere in there the two got confused and I can see that I have been riding hard trying to push through this psychological barrier. A dam of built up expectations and frustrations finally broke and now I’ll see where the water begins to settle.