17 hours ago
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Inspiration: Metallica; Music from the Hearts of Space (NPR); This American Life (NPR)
Spirits: Excited; Relaxed
Seen on the road: Two vultures devouring a dead deer; turtle crossing the road
This morning I awoke to a sunrise like no other. I can't quite remember the last time I saw a sunrise, let alone one that tossed sparkling shades and hues over a clear, calm ocean. The things you start to notice when you don't have to make it to the office for those early morning conference calls:
After a quick shower and some improvised packing, I rolled my bike downstairs to check out of the hotel. That's where I met up with Catherine Sayle, a regular reader who graciously kept me company as I pushed my rig across the sand and dipped my tires onto the surf.
Catherine and I chatted for a bit, said our goodbyes and suddenly it was just me and the road.
Now, as someone who has never toured before I can honestly say that today was a total breeze. The weather turned hot pretty quickly, but I had done most of my riding by the time it got uncomfortable. It also helped that somewhere north of Jamestown, I met up with Sean, another bike tourist with his eye on St. Louis:
We chatted most of the rest of the way to Charles City where we parted ways. I'm hopeful I can meet up with him somewhere ahead.
The biggest realization so far on this trip is how much I have to learn about human kindness. Seriously. This is the kind of trip where a person is forced to rely on the kindness of strangers, where my safety and very survival is tied to how the “Other” perceives you as a person.
Case in point, yesterday afternoon I started to feel pretty uncomfortable because I just didn't know where I was going to be staying in Charles City. Desperate, I did a quick google map of the city and found a couple of churches in the area. Out of the blue, I called a Baptist church on Route 5 and explained that I was going to be coming in on a bike and that it would be fantastic if they could allow me to pitch a tent on their grounds. Without missing a beat, they said I could absolutely stay. And when I got to Charles City I entered a Citgo convenience store and mentioned that I was hoping to camp in the area. The owner immediately offered me the grass in the back of the store and a restroom in the back. This is precisely where I am currently writing this blog entry:
Now, I know that for some of you the fact that people have the grace and decency to be kind to a complete stranger is not a revelation. But as a recovering law firm lawyer with a history of being a materialistic, consumerist, elitist asshole, this was nothing short of that: a revelation. Getting off the phone with that Baptist pastor yesterday I got a bit choked up. I won't deny it. There was something so essential, so beautiful, so perfectly HUMAN, about a person doing something nice for someone else...it made me want to capture that moment, bottle it up and spread it every which way. Maybe that's what I will end up doing with the rest of my life in one way or another.