Land of the Saints.

Land of the Saints.

My last two days in St Louis – including my first day off from biking in two weeks – have been splendid, to say the least. Late September in this lovely city is balmy and filled with luscious flowers in front of nearly every brick home.
My exploration on foot yesterday began with a friendly bookstore cat…

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Moved to the marvelous free art museum and zoo in Forest Park, a beautiful urban oasis…

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A courtyard installation by Andy Goldsworthy, a favorite artist of mine.

   

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Burrowing owls! I can't get enough birds.

And ended with delicious local brews at HandleBar, a bicycle themed bar in the Grove, an up and coming neighborhood I could easily see myself living in.

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Am I ready to pack up and leave Minneapolis for warmer Midwest climes? Not quite yet. But I do hope to visit St Louis again before too long.

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Finding Enough in Galena.

Finding Enough in Galena.

Well friends, I made it to my third state. I had meant to celebrate my entry into Wisconsin (my second state) with a silly little video, but my phone wouldn’t post it. So instead here I am enjoying a delicious breakfast just across the river from Main Street in Galena.

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It’s been two weeks since Sarah drove me up to Itasca State Park, and I’m both more and less changed than I might have expected to be. No grand flashes of insight on the meaning of life – in general or my own particular existence – yet. No red carpet unfolding of my future path. But I have discovered edges in myself to lean against or push beyond as the circumstance demands. More importantly, I am beginning to believe that I am Enough.
The particular framing of Enough had not entered my mind until my breakfast at Otto’s Place this morning, a lovely little place recommended by my gracious Couch Surfing host, David. Each table at Otto’s Place has a card explaining how the restaurant came to be, and their philosophy of Enough:
“That’s a wish that has been handed down from other generations. When we said ‘I wish you enough’ we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them.”
I am Enough. I have Enough. It is Enough to ride 60 miles through the hills of Southern Wisconsin and stay at a hotel in Prairie du Chien. It is Enough to know that I have a good thing going with Sarah, and that we need some room to breathe and grow. It is Enough to witness all my chakras and layers of self, and to be in them as they are. Simply Enough.
May you find and know and be Enough, for this moment and day and terrifying, wondrous life.

Pride now, bravery someday.

I made it.  Through week one.  Through 13.2 miles of wet gravel, two straight days of unending damp and mist, finding myself the lone tent at a campsite in Palisade, and changing my first flat tire, I biked 50-70 to my destination each night to set up my little home, cook dinner on my dragonfly stove, and read at least a dozen pages of Middlesex before falling asleep to crickets.

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Surprisingly enough, in my many encounters with friendly and curious strangers along the way, the word they use to describe me and my trip isn’t ‘crazy’ or ‘adventurous’.  It’s brave.  Whether it was the Skinners with their little camper in Cass Lake, or Sandy and her family in Crow Wing, or Jane and Joe who invited me to their community pig roast, after a myriad of questions about how long my trip is going to take (just under seven weeks), how much all my bags weigh (I have no idea), and what I’m eating (lots of trail mix, dried bananas for the potassium, and a delicious quinoa/dried fruit concoction for breakfast every morning), all my new friends inevitably elucidate my bravery.

I have never particularly thought of myself as a brave person, even aside from this trip.  Open to new experiences, yes.  Outgoing, yes.  Curious, yes.  But bravery is something new, and after hours of contemplation – for what else is there to do during the miles of flat county highways but muse over life – I’m not sure that bravery is a mantle I am ready to take on just yet.  Perhaps in future weeks, when my tires have rolled through several states and I can set up my tent in minutes flat.  But not yet, not now.  There is time.

What I will acknowledge is pride.  I am enormously proud that I haven’t quit, of course, but also of my tenacity, my ability to listen to my body, to take care of myself, to begin to trust my intuition more thoroughly.  I’m proud of that tire change, despite the fact that I got another slow leak the next day.  I’m proud that I can charge my various devices with my generator hub on my front wheel.  And I’m proud that I’ve somehow found the grace to accept each day for what it is, be it hills, or rain, or a mostly closed campground or miles and miles of sunny shoulder, pulling me onward to the Gulf.

A Beginning.

A Beginning.

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Here we go! The Parrot (my valiant Bridge stone bicycle) and I are ready. Today we’re at the Mississippi headwaters in Itasca, and sooner than I can fathom we’ll be at the river’s end outside New Orleans.
What would you like to hear of along the way, dear readers and friends?