Sunday, May 17, 2009
Day 36 - Bemidji to Itasca State Park, MN
Mileage for the day: 34
Total mileage to date: 1817
I enjoyed a relaxing family style breakfast while I waited for the sun to warm up the day. While waiting for the sun to do its job, I also worked hard to find a place to stay for the evening. I wanted to stay in doors because they predicted the temperatures to settle at a balmy 30 degrees by night time. The lodge in the park was charging $130 for the night and they were booked for the night. I finally found a cabin for $40 and made a reservation with Craig (remember this name!).
This is a really funny story:
I finished my 34 miles to reach Itasca State Park (The Mississippi River headwaters!) and found the campground. I rang the bell of the grounds keeper's house and when the man stepped out I said, "Hi, Craig! My name is Brook and I am here about the cabin." The man stood slightly dumbfounded and said, "Wait just a moment." When he returns he says, "Well, come on in." I thought to myself, he sure is welcoming. As I walked into the living room I greet the man's wife (Linda) who has just completed her last round of chemo therapy and looking sick, weak and tired on the couch. The three of us chat for nearly 15 minutes and I am wondering why we are not talking about the rental cabin s0 I ask, "What about the rental cabin like we talked about on the phone." The man replies, "We didn't talk on the phone." I ask the man, "Is your name Craig?" He replies, "No, my name is Jack." I rang the doorbell to the wrong house and Linda and Jack happen to have one small cabin in which they normally allow their friends and families to use and have recently started renting the cabin on occasion. They only charged me $25 for the night for the most perfect, quaint little cabin. I then asked Jack, "Is there a bar or restaurant close by?" He responded with, "We are having a huge fish fry in the park if you would like to go with Linda and I." I agreed and we made a plan for him to pick me up at 6:30. I heard a knock at the door 15 minutes later and I open the door to a couple. The man said, "My name is Craig and this is my wife. Jack told us you would be staying here and we wanted to let you know there is no hard feelings and we are glad you are safe. We were a little worried about you." After a quick conversation Craig's wife gives me a hug and says, "I think what you are doing is great and inspirational!" I got picked up by Jack at 6:30 for the fish fry and I found myself surrounded by 50 or 60 people having a good ole' time at the fish fry. The entire group welcomed me in as one of their own. I also learned that it was Linda's birthday and she mustered the energy to join the celebration. I let myself go and had a great time - I ate fried fish, tater tots, onion rings, potato salad, cake, cookies, smore's. I even put on my "flexitarian" hat and tried deep fried venison. I spent quite a bit of time hanging out with the group of girls who all wanted photos with me as if I was a celebrity. It was an unbelievable night!
The rainbow of emotions: While riding on this day felt grateful to be riding solo as my emotions were all over the place. When I have long stretches of not listening to music, miles without crossing towns, and no people to meet I have a ample time to think. At one point while riding I felt overwhelmed with gratitude for all of the people who have supported me and thinking about all of those who will support me in the days to come. I wish I could say this emotion persisted, but the only thing persistent was the extremely strong winds! I cannot explain the uncontrollable anger that rushes over me while battling the wind. I even spent spare energy yelling and cussing at the wind. If I am not mad at the wind, I feel defeated and beyond frustrated to the point of wanting to cry. The only times on this trip when I have had the urge to give up and quit have happened during amazingly powerful windy days. Although I only accomplished 34 miles today, I spent hours on that saddle working for every mile. The miles put up on the board each day in reference to effort are quite arbitrary. Emotionally and physically this was one of my harder bike days.