One pair of shoes lost, one Nalgene bottle busted, one sense of adventure slightly dented and dismantled: the essential spirit and substance of my ride today. These are my thoughts as the chill air creeps into a poorly erected tent on a sloping ground. And silence. Silence of the mind. Nothing-to-do-ness. The sounds of automobiles intermittent, not regular; a dog barking somewhere, lost in space; crickets, etc.; the mad chatter of frogs. These are the sounds of rural North Carolina. Altogether peaceful and lulling. And yet, I’m wary. I’m not completely comfortable. Perhaps because this is my first night alone in a tent, all over again. Perhaps because I have stated reasons for wanting to do this but then have little interest in doing what I say I want to do, or accomplish. Does that make sense? I should stop this nonsense. The thing will come of itself at the end of the journey, not before. And if it doesn’t? Well, that question must wait. It can only be answered then, at the appointed time, as with all things. Day by day, hour by hour, pedal stroke by pedal stroke.
I chatted briefly with a kid at a gas station, in the community of Seminole. I was standing outside by my rig when he walked over to me and asked about my trip, about which I explained, pointing out that I carry certain things in my trailer, and other certain things in my panniers, which he referred to as “saddle bags.” He then went on to explain that he rides horses, and sometimes he and a buddy would pack their saddle bags and go off on short camping expeditions with provisions of food; and beer, whiskey or both. “Nothing like Brokeback Mountain, though,” he says as he stands there, a cigarette dangling from his fingers by his side, cowboy boots on his feet. He gave me a handshake and wished me well on my trip before driving off with what was presumably his brother and mother. I hopped back on my bike and continued on to find a place to camp for the night. The conversation, handshake, and well wishes were nice gestures, I thought.
In the past I used to poo-poo the encouragement of others (with regard to me), but I always felt my life to be easy, and so the encouragement unnecessary. This life now, so far, isn’t so easy.