Monday, May 25, 2009

Beaver Dam, KY to St. Mary, MO: Appreciating What's Right in Front of You

Miles Per Day: Day 20=REST; Day 21=44.11; Day 22=54.72; Day 23=33.32; Day 24=59.45; Day 26=52.95

Total So Far: 1,165.53

Inspiration: the silence of empty roads; Rescue Me; the owl right outside my tent in Eddyville, Il; Sepultura; sending myself Netflix DVDs to post offices via General Delivery; Counting Crows; hushpuppies;

Spirits: HOT; exalted; happy; determined; friendly.

Things Seen On the Road: gorgeous marshes on the banks of the Mississippi; a baby deer; curious road crews; 4 to 5 miles of road in the distance in a particularly flat area of Illinois.

Favorite Quotes: (1) Dwight talking about his 12 year-old son at a Murphysboro bar: “[paraphrasing] he wrote in his class essay that if he ever had to deal with Nazis he would use his AK-47. And suddenly they call me and tell me to that I had to go and talk to the principal...can you believe that!?...I mean, all he owns is a shotgun;” (2) someone at a breakfast joint in Beaver Dam, KY: “I wish I was young enough to get on a bike and head out there with you...sounds like a grand adventure.”

For the first time since I started this trip I have allowed myself to fully comprehend how far I've come. In just 26 days I have biked over 1,000 miles and have crossed three states. I am now on Central time. That really blows me away.

But I can't let myself think beyond that. The way I have approached this trip is to break up the mileage into smaller, more manageable segments. Not knowing where I will be more than 3 days out forces me to focus on what's right in front of me and to live in the moment.

This is probably the most valuable lesson so far: forget about what's over the next hill...have the patience and the courage to realize that the most valuable things in life might actually be right in front of you.

The stories keep on piling up:

*Mud Play: After riding out of the ferry at Cave in Rock, Il, I got busy looking for a campsite. Taking a wrong turn, I found myself stuck in the mud right on the banks of the Ohio River. I got off my bike and started walking it out of the area but within minutes I could barely move it. The mud was starting to harden in the hot sun and I had no choice but to dig the stuff out with my bare hands. I then had to walk the bike up to the Cave-in-Rock state park for 45 minutes. Not fun.

*iphone GPS Can Suck: So, I'm still relying quite a bit on the iphone GPS application. I would say that 85% of the time it is golden. However, three days out of Beaver Dam, I was heading down a pretty steep hill when I spotted a beautiful pond towards the bottom. I counted myself lucky because I was totally off the established trail and my iphone had found something beautiful and unexpected. And then I realized that the pond was actually water that had completely flooded the road. I immediately hit the breaks and missed a dunk in the water by a couple of feet.

*Solitude is Awesome: Stopping to take a sip of water and partake in yet another Trail Mix bar I looked around and realized that I was completely alone. The road I was on was particularly deserted and I hadn't seen a car or a house in over half an hour. I put my bike near a tree and took my sunglasses off. With a smile on my face I yelled at the top of my lungs for a good 10 seconds. Solitude can sometimes be the most amazing thing in the world.


Crossing the Ohio River into Illinois:




Todd said...

I lived in southern Ill (Lebanon) for 7 yrs. It is a nice quiet place.

I'm still impressed at your daily mileage totals. how much weight have you lost on the trip so far?

I just left a job in FL to take one in TX. The drive out was fabulous because I had no reponsibility other than being safe for my wife and kids.

It sounds like you are enjoying the same feeling...time a 1000 :-)


J Quaglia said...

Nice post. It's funny the things you can notice on foot or by by that you wouldn't notice if you were just driving by.

And, oh yes! Have you ever heard of this guy?

I was fortunate enough to meet him randomly on his stop through Ohio a few years ago. Really quite inspiring.

Julia said...

I'm more than a little jealous of the amazing scenery and fresh air you are enjoying! Simplicity at it's finest.

Jerry Critter said...

Hi Jack,

I know about those flat areas of Illinois. I went to school in east central IL. The biggest hill around the area was behind my apartment, and it was the dirt they dug up when the University built a center of performing arts with underground parking.

Debbi said...

Is that Joe Don Baker sitting next to you in the second photo down? :)

microwave said...

Hmm...I'm not sold on the iPhone GPS.

Once upon a time, in a small town in Arkansas, I was looking for a BBQ joint called Fat Daddys. Instead, the iPhone led me to a dead end gravel road where I'm sure a serial killer named Fat Daddy lived.

Although technically, if that is the case, the iPhone would have been sorta right on. In another dimension.

PS: Dwight and his son sound awesome.

Nicole said...

Oh Jack, you think Illinois is flat. Wait, till you make it to western Kansas. Instead of seeing 4 to 5 miles of road in the distance, it will feel like 20.

Safe travels!

Laurie said...

thanks so much for sharing your journey with us. I'm really enjoying reading this!

Laurie from New Hampshire

Christine said...

Sorry to know you got stuck in mud. But then, I guess that is all part of the adventure. I can't image that much alone time. How grand it must be!

donna said...

love those quotes, LOL especially the 1st one!

ah solitude.... if only , i'm soooo jealous, enjoy every minute of it, do you think you'll ever want to return to civilisation again?

Jack said...


A bit, but not too much. I sort of lost some of my muscle bulk, which is kind of annoying me, but I have zero fat which I guess is good. How is Texas treating you?

@J Quaglia,

I think I heard about him. I seem to remember seeing a picture of his bike somewhere in Europe on someone's blog. Cool that you met him.


Couldn't have said it better myself.

Jack said...


Yeah, all I could think about in those areas was what is waiting for me out in Kansas.


Why, how perceptive of you!


Yeah, sounds like it crapped out on you as well. And yes, Dwight and co were awesome.

Jack said...

@MIss Scorpio,

Can't wait. Is Eastern Kansas hilly at all?


No problem. Don't be a stranger.


It is already the biggest adventure of my life. In some ways, I don't want it to end.

Nicole said...

Yep, eastern Kansas is home to the Flint Hills. I grew up near Milford Lake and miss those Hills. Once you get past Abilene on I-70, it will be flat until Colorado.

I have a friend who is an avid bike rider. He found western Kansas to be more painful than a ride up Pike's Peak.

Jack said...


Just this week I've been thinking about how much I will want to be back on the road once I am done.

@Miss Scorpio,

I will need to see if I will hit those on my current trajectories. That's actually a good bit of info.

Circus Life said...

Don't those wide open spaces just make you want to plop down a little cabin right in the middle...raise sheep...and call it a day?

Nicole said...

More info than you wanted...

Email me when you figure out your path and I can put you in touch with family if you're close.

Jack said...

@Circus life,

No kidding. Though might prefer a place that gets less hot and humid in the summer.

@Miss Scorpio,

BTW, your link was super useful. Plotted my current course using some of the info in it. I'll email you some of the destinations in a sec.

Jill M said...

I really appreciate your perspective about living in the moment and not looking out beyond the next hill. It is really great to see your journey is teaching or re-inforcing lessons about how to simply approach life and it results in a more rich and fulfilling day to day existence.

Thanks for sharing your journey!

Jack said...

Jill M,

I appreciate your comments. It means a great deal coming from you. Take care.