Thursday, May 14, 2009

Day 34 - Mid Point Day!

Sandy Lake to Grand Rapids, MN
Miles biked today: 44
Total miles to date: 1715
My mantra failed me miserably today as the rain drops that fell on my sturdy tent all night turned into falling snowflakes. I had two motives to wake up: 1. If I left before the campground owner arrived on site I can escape the $30 camping fee 2. An entire fresh mango I scored at the market the evening previous (purchasing a mango in April in the mid-west was perhaps not the most environmentally sound choice because last time I checked, these do not grow locally, but I could not resist the plump $1.19 piece of fruit starring me in the face). I painfully packed up my wet tent and gear running to the nearby restroom every 15 minutes to bring life back into my numb hands. As I pedaled away I felt a small sense of victory dodging the overpriced camping fee of $30 for a site with non-potable water. As it turns out the campground owner is not a well liked man which made the escape perhaps even sweeter than the mango.
I pedaled a total of 1/8 of a mile to arrive at the gas station/convenience store/restaurant located across the street. I gleefully found hand/feet warmers and hot tea. I plopped myself down and found myself still sitting there two hours later after having an interesting chat with Ruth (the clerk), Randy (the newspaper delivery man) and Dave (who lives 1/4 of a mile away). I braved the cold and said good bye to my new friends and the feeling in my feet and toes and climbed on Charlie for some headwinds.

I know this blog entry is long enough, but I cannot resist sharing my thoughts. When most people want to hear my story they get fixated or stuck on, "Yes, but where do you call home, where do you live?" This of course comes after explaining that I do have a "home" and I have been living out of my vehicle with no true residence for 17 months. Unclear of the actual truth I think people cannot understand, cannot relate or cannot fathom this young woman in front of them to be "homeless." The answer of "I do not consider anywhere home currently" sends a rush of discomfort and they cannot find relief until I give them the name of a city in which I was born or where I last lived. When I finally offer a name of city (as arbitrary as it may be) I can feel their discomfort dissipate. This odd interaction often continues with, "When you get married and have kids where will you live?" My life story at the moment does not fit in a box and does not come with a label and so until that happens I suppose I will continue to rerun the same tape with the bewildered passerbyers.

I pushed hard for 20 miles to the next town consisting of one convenience store and one cafe (menu - hamburgers and everything fried from cheese curds, to mushrooms, to cauliflower and of course potatoes). After assessing the general feel in the cafe I kindly asked the clerk if she would mind if I ate my lunch in her establishment in an effort to warm up my bones. She generously let me eat my sack lunch inside and 45 minutes later I felt life reenter my body. I headed for the doors for another 23 miles of headwind and loss of peripheral circulation. I arrived to my destination as the temperatures had steadily increased during the afternoon and the winds died down just in time for the completion of my bike day. I happily greeted my couchsurfing hosts and their foreign exchange student and most importantly the warm shower! They cooked a lovely dinner and we had a nice chat over dinner. It turns out Nancy (my host) is also a teacher for the blind and we learned that one year ago we sat in the same room during a conference in Chicago.

Comment of the day: Stranger, "Where are you going and where did you come from?" Brook, "Maine to Washington" Stranger, "Ah ha! Then you must have crossed the bridge?" Brook, "Well, I think I have crossed over 100 bridges. Which bridge are you referring to?" Stranger, "The Mackinaw Bridge of course" ---- I am not sure why I got a kick out of this comment, but I am pretty sure there are about 100 different routes I could have taken to get from Maine to that town and for some reason, he confidently thought I MUST have crossed that one particular bridge in Michigan.

A moment of entertainment in the bathroom: As I stood in front of the old school recirculating cloth paper towel dispenser after washing my hands I began reading the installation instructions (I think this was an avoiding going out in the windy 30 degree weather mechanism). I laughed a big hearty laugh when I read this, "Inappropriate installation of this device can cause serious injury or even death." If someone died from installing a paper towel dispenser on the wall it must really be their time to go.

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