Friday, 25 October 2013

Rest day 2 - Life can be beautiful sometimes

Part 1
Second rest day and it was a bit wierd waking up ... (without alarm at 0600) with the knowledge that I didnt have to pack up and get on the road. What the hell was i going to do all day? Well I had some ideas but I wanted to wander around williams, pick up some more presents,  find an atm, sort out my stuff,  catch up with facebook and then see how much time I had left in the day. There was no breakfast offered at this place as far as I could see so I pulled on my shorts, which are on their death bed and wandered down to the diner ....
Sitting at the diner, listening to 60s classic rock and roll hits, drinking coffee, was when I felt myself relax into the day. I had thought of finding something big to do, maybe go to the bear park a few miles out of town, but as I sat here, it was quiet and I felt the need to rush around dissolve into the ether... why not take it a bit easy?

Before I relate about my walk around town, I feel the need to write an obituary...

In memory of black shorts: served their purpose well, eventually worn down untill all that was left was a waistband and pockets.. protected modesty for as long as able and new venting system worked well in the heat of the day...

So long, you may be thrown away but never forgotten

Replacement arrives tomorrow!

Having had a great breakfast I wandered up the main street. Williams is a small town and it was pretty quiet this morning, the sun was already shining brightly and I felt so pleased to be here, already beginning to feel the excitement of what tomorrow will bring. The main street of williams is split into 2 one way streets, next to the railway line that transports people to the Grand canyon. I toyed briefly with the idea of hopping on the train but dismissed the thought as soon as I had it... I really wanted to see the Grand Canyon for the first time with friends and felt it might spoil tomorrow if I went there now, besides all good things come to those who wait, right?
I went into the information centre to ask about where I could comfortably cycle within a few miles of here, to keep the legs going round . I was very glad I did. I saw a t shirt, with the following written on it...

Advice from a canyon
Carve out a place for yourself
Aspire to new plateaus
Stand the test of time
Dont get boxed in
Listen to the voice of the wind
Its ok to be a little off the wall
Reach deep!

It struck a chord with me.. it kinda sums up this journey... needless to say I bought it, which set the tone for the rest of the morning lol.

I also met a lovely lady called Jan, who was very helpful in advice about where I could cycle, some stuff on the route coming up and suggested I head over to williams newspaper office to tell them about my bike ride and Love Hope Strength Foundation!
I duly did this and spent 15 minutes chatting to a reporter about how I became involved with LHS, what the charity does and about the bike ride... fingers crossed it will help spread the word!

I continued my wanderings, in and out of souvenir shops... by the end of the morning I think I will need some more panniers, every shop I went in I saw a good present for someone! I was even more happy with how the day was turning out after a visit to Addicted to Route 66, where I met several nice gentlemen.  Jeremy (hope I have his name right) the shop manager, was very interested in the ride and the charity and we were joined in chat by Al, who had some great insights! When I told him that my friends were worried about me getting killed by an axe murder he said that they neednt worry because around these parts, 'we just shoot them'!

Now in Tulsa I was somewhat surprised to learn that people just walk around with guns, here they most definately do, because al pointed out that he was carrying his gun.
On learning how cold I had been on the texas panhandle he said that people said 'the only thing between the panhandle and the north pole is a barbed wire fence and sometimes even that has been knocked down'!
He was a real character and provided insight into americans and permits to carry weapons, for example here in Arizona, you dont need a permit as long as you dont plan to do any crime with it... it was very wierd for me to try and understand the gun culture that exists here but trying!

Meeting these two people once again made my day... I spent at least half an hour chatting and it was a pleasure to meet them. They also told me that there is a lot of downhill (once id climbed up out of Williams of course) which further fuelled the belief that I might actually make it.  In some ways it feels as though I have, as Williams and the Grand Canyon have been such a big aiming point for me, I have now definately crossed the highest point, and have reached a big target actually on schedule.
I have to keep reminding myself that I still have over 500 miles still to go until I reach santa monica pier.

Also in this shop was a picture of James Dean with the quote
Dream as if you'll live forever
Live as if you'll die today...

Finally from this shop, ive seen the world's largest rocking chair, and now ive seen the world's largest Route 66 sign lol... another to add to my collection.

I spent the rest of the morning wandering round, in and out of souvenir shops, as you do, stopped myself from buying the John Wayne loo roll - its rough, its tough, it doesnt take the crap off of anyone! But added to the weight of the next 500 miles - its all downhill from here, more weight is a good thing..... ?
One of the shops I walked into, Native America, had some beautiful handicrafts made by native americans and it was here that I met 'Sam, I am' who was clearly passionate about the art and crafts in the shop. It was lovely to meet you Sam and I definately will be back one day!

Eventually I ran back to my motel, mainly in order to avoid spending more dollars. I wrote this half of the blog now, while eating hersheys (not tired of it yet) and deliberating what to do with the rest of the day. My choices, a short cycle to the Kaibab national forest,  to keep the legs going round and stave off the restlesness I am starting to feel, or to the bear park, or just download a film and chill out.. what do you reckon?

Part 2

i was sitting writing the first part of the blog , when there was a knock at the door and a message to phone Sam at the Native American store, i had left something behind.. cursing myself for being careless, i rang the number she had left, spoke to sam and arranged to drop by on my way out on my bike ride... yup thats right, on my day off i had decided to get back on my bike, mainly to keep my legs in tune for sunday and not sieze up. So about half an hour later, i pulled back up to the store and went in, asking sam what i had been stupid enough to leave behind. Her response surprised me... 'you havent forgotten anything but I wasnt sure you would come back and I wanted to give you something'. With that she pulled out several beautifully made necklace/wristchains and asked me to pick one. She explained that they were ghost beads, traditionally given to Navajo children to provide protection from evil spirits. I was so touched by this gesture, yet again a complete stranger had shown generosity and kindness of spirit. This journey has reinforced my faith in human nature, my belief that most people are good and Sams gesture epitomised that in full. I immediately had them wound round my wrist, which is where they will stay (until i go back to work), hopefully serving their purpose.

once i had said thank you and goodbye to Sam, i set off to 4th street, where Jan had suggested i go on a cycle ride. My bike was unencumbered by paniers and my rucksack was light. I felt freer than i have on this ride yet, with possibilities opening up as the road stretched out (and of course up) in front of me.
once i had cleared the houses, a lake with a dam came into view with mountains towering above. The evening sunlight poured down onto the surface of the water, but i kept going, keen to at least put a few miles in today. The road wound up through a pine forest and i was mainly alone on the road. The only sound was my wheels whirring round, the crickets and the birds singing in the evening warmth. I could smell the pine trees which flanked the road and felt somewhat like an intruder on this peaceful scene, like i was disturbing the air through which i rode.  I kept onwards and upwards until a couple of miles later, the forest opened out into a golden coloured meadow, shining in the rays of the sun. I stopped still and stood there, breathing in the clean, fresh air, letting it invade my senses.  
Eventually i turned round for 2 miles of freewheeling back down to the lake, where I hopped off my bike and set myself down on the shore. The sun was starting to dip behind the mountains and the water was dazzling and rippled  in the slight breeze. I had found yet another place on this journey where i could have set myself down forever, it was that enchanting. I sat here, reading my book and watching the sun go down until i got slightly cold, so set off back to town. Before long i found myself in a pizza house, yes Chris Summerrill, a pizza house and eyes bigger than stomach ordered a medium size pizza... once again i was unable to finish so boxed it up and went back to the motel... one stop at the fudge shop (sorry mum, couldnt bring any back!) and then sitting writing this.

tomorrow i get to see the Grand Canyon.. by all acounts it will take my breath away... but surely even this sight will not compare to the kindness and friendship shown by strangers that i have been lucky enough to receive today.

Life is definately beautiful