Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Experience Part Du

It is quick & easy to record and display the mileage and the locations of our adventure, but I find myself much more interested in dancing with the details of decision making, grocery shopping, and hill climbing.

On Day 1 I was pretty oblivious to the side of the map that showed the topography for the days ride. On Day two I took a look at the route sheet and let the fear of the climbs get into my head. I was totally capable of it all, but I let the anticipation take over my thoughts. The hills were tough, the heat was tougher. As I climbed up the hills I found myself putting my anger and frustration into my travel buddy. I was continuously questioning her motives, paranoid about her dislike and distrust of my actions. By the top of the day’s hardest hill I finally came to the realization that all of these thoughts, fears, and anxieties had absolutely nothing to do with my her and they were built fully on top of my insecurities. Not only is this a very unstable place to store feelings, its pretty false. By the time I made it to the top, I sat on a rock and wrote down what was on my mind. I was able to tier my insecurities. Rachel, who has sensed some hostility, asked if she had offended me. I transformed the satisfaction of reaching the top of the hill into confidence and shared my insecurities, my flaws, and my false thoughts. I asked her to simply listen, accept, and if she had thoughts, to fully process them and then we could discuss later.

At first I felt raw. “Ew, why did I share those things? I’m so exposed.” Then, to my great delight, Rachel treated me no differently than she had before my intimate disclosure. From then I was able to feel proud of my personal processing, my strength to share, and the dissolved ill feelings and insecurities. Throughout our entire journey I felt gratitude towards the safe, supportive environment we created as a team. That was my ode to hill climbing.

Early on in the trip planning Rachel and I realized we would be grocery shopping everyday on our 20 day adventure. It was the only practical way to travel by bike, and it was predicted that we would see plenty of markets along the way. The prediction was fairly accurate. There were a wide range of markets on our journey. We saw everything from corner store to farmers market to self serve farm stands to generic large grocery stores with florescent lights. Early on we also realized that our individual talents and joys would lead us to a pleasant division of labor. Rachel took on the responsibility of setting up the tent each night, occasionally going the extra mile to lay out our therma-rests and sleeping bags! I took the role of head chef and would race to finish dinner before the final zipper zipped on our freshly assembled home. When we sat down to dinner we were both grateful to arrive to a completed meal next to a completed tent set up, the surprise and gratitude never got old. Being head chef left me quite a responsibility in supporting the grocery store mission. We scoured boxes for ingredients, always staying away from high fructose corn syrup, suspicious of yellow 5, and frustrated with the endless waste that came with a bag in a box and a 1,000 mile journey to get it to our shelf. The good days we were the ones where we found a local market serving freshly picked, spray free or organic, local goods that we could steam and mix with our perfectly portioned bag of quinoa from the bulk store. Always adding some tasty (ideally, but not always) organic cheddar cheese. I strived to make every dinner taste different than the last. With one pot, one stove, one (very small) cutting board, and a limited amount of spices, this only slightly tricky. Our meals ranged from pasta with veggies and mozzarella, to beans, rice, salsa, and cheddar, to a creamy mac cheese with a roasted chicken. We didn’t skimp on our food. Almost ¾ of the money we spent on our 20 day journey was on food.

The third thing I wanted to write about was decision making. That was such an intense and valuable experience for me that it will have to wait for another blog entry. I have many things to say about the richness, honesty, and new discoveries that came with the experience. You can look forward to that next timeJ

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