Since figuring our train departure from Havre was still about a week away, we decided to take our time getting there seeing that it was barely 90 miles from Malta. Our plan was to bike 20-30 miles a day, so by the time we got to Havre, we’d only spend a few days there as opposed to five. But as the title of this post says, unbeknownst to even us, this would be our last day of bike travel.
The ride to Dodson was short and sweet. Upon arrival, the wind blew cotton from the trees into our oncoming path. Yes it was pretty, but my allergies didn’t think so. Reaching the gas station/cafe, my nose just kept sneezing. It was unrelenting, and not to gross you out or anything, I just want to get the severity across, but I sneezed so much I wet myself. We walked in and realized that the gas station/cafe did not contain the latter. Between sneezes I asked the counter man where we could get food in town. He pointed to the Hostess pastries and gas station sandwiches in a lonely clear glass refrigerator. I rephrased my question as to where the closest restaurant was. Oh about 20 miles west in Harlem. I gave Britt a puzzling look, because from the map, I figured Harlem was just over 30 miles from here. Oh well.
We sit out on the curb, Britt studying the maps while I sneeze my brains out. She looks to me and says we should just camp here. I, on the other hand, disagree. I want to keep biking away from the cause of my consistent nasal release. She argued that we don’t know if the trees are lined the entire way up the highway, and that could be another 30 miles, which meant at least 3 hours of biking, especially if the wind picked up in the afternoon. As we civilly discussed the matter, a young couple approached us. Sensing our predicament, and probably over hearing us bicker, they offered us a ride in their pick up. A simultaneous “yes” came out of our mouths. The young gentleman pretty much lifted our fully loaded bikes into the truck bed, so all we had to do was climb up. We found out that they were driving across Montana to visit family for the weekend, and before I even thought of Havre, Britt asked if we could be dropped off there. They were more than happy to help, and we were more than happy that it was our last day on the road.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Yes, we are somewhat disappointed that we did not make it to our intended destination on bike. We will come back to the Rockies once Britt’s knees are ready. And sometime in our life, we’d like to go on another semi-cross-country tour. We were happy because even though we cheated the last 70 miles, it felt good to be done. It’s like having senioritis your senior year, you know you can do it – you just don’t want to because you know you’ll be done in x amount of time. The end is so close, yet the time to get there seems to drag on even longer with each passing moment. I guess you can say it was elated relief mixed with a sense of “oh my god, I can’t believe I biked 1300 miles in less than 5 weeks” accomplishment. That’s why we were happy to the sudden end. But our journey is not over! We figured that the same price for a train ticket to LA (we are staying with Britt’s sister for a hot minute before train’n it back to Chicago), we could just buy rail passes and stop at all the cities we originally wanted to go to! The travelling will continue to Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and LA.
Okay, for all you teachers reading this, the final statements of this blog are dedicated to what I learned on this trip. If this were a film, the genre would obviously fall under “road movie.” The elevator pitch would go something like: Two city girls in a pre-life crisis decide to hit the open road on their bikes. They discover their country’s core simpleton population, while discovering who they really are. Yeah, not my best, but I don’t really want to make this into a film…
First off, I want to discuss my observations on this country. Native Americans and other minorities in small towns are still regarded with contempt. From what I gathered, if you are of a different culture and do not fully immerse into the general “white normality” around you, you will not be respected for your differences, but ostracized for it. I know that this is probably not coming as a shock, but for someone who has never lived in a small town, witnessing the mentality of my racist grandfather’s generation in people my own age boggles my mind. Our government places minorities in projects with very little resources to get out, and we wonder why they are hostile, and crime is higher in those areas. Minorities are not dangerous as people and the media make them out to be. If we continue to segregate ourselves from different cultures, we’ll never get over these silly, aged perceptions of one another. And for those of you who think we do live in a better society without racism or segregation, get your head out of your ass and look around you. There is always room for improvement.
As for self discovery, I realized something I always knew about myself, it’s just that I never associated it with my behavior. Negativity is part of cynicism and the way I view the world. My pessimistic attitude has a direct effect on how I execute things I want to accomplish. I already have a preconceived notion that the outcome will suck, so I don’t really try. I’m not like this in every aspect of my life, but now I know why it takes me so long to start a project, and why I procrastinate. Another way my negative view affects me is that I tend to see the bad in situations more so than what’s good about it.
For instance, a couple paragraphs back where I bitch about racism and ignorance… Well small town people aren’t all that bad. Granted that we are two white girls and are the least bit threatening, people were generally very generous. We were invited to use strangers’ showers, watch their TVs, offered food, given water and granola bars, and not to mention the rides from those in pick up trucks. Actually, I think everyone in the west owns a pick up truck, but that’s besides the point.
There’s good and bad in everything, but I still think the bad aspects of my observations outweigh the good. And that’s where my negativity is a virtue. I see the bad in situations because I want to improve on it. Now some may think that is pretentious of me, and yes, it is…
The most significant thing I will take from this trip is perseverance and discipline. With all the montages my generation has witnessed, we’ve become a lazy bunch. Our eyes see the fast cuts of elapsed time with people training for a fight, losing weight, accomplishing some goal – and it’s all done within a 2-3 minute span. We see this and think we can do it. It looks easy enough, and months that are squished into 2 minutes does not seem long. Then it comes time to actually exert yourself. Most of us say fuck it, go back to the couch, watch another montage, get inspired, and continue the cycle. For me and my generation, we are stuck in that cycle and it’s difficult to actually accomplish anything. We see a new thing, and want to try it before we’ve finished mastering what we were previously attempting because it involves WORK. I wanted to quit this trip on the second day. But I kept going, and to my amazement, it got easier! Applying myself (discipline + perseverance) is the best thing I’ve mastered on this journey. With a little bit of positivity and hard work, over time, challenges will become simple.
Britt on the other hand learned that she can put up with me at my worst. Oh, and that she prefers city life over the simple life. Britt simply likes to keep it complicated, that’s why we get along, I guess!