Inspiration is gushing out like Old Faithful--which was a cool geyser to see, actually. Either I got some bad info or the clockwork-like geyser decided to take an extra 45 minutes to blow when I went to see it. Oh well, still a great show. Most people were leaving before the geyser had finished its business. The waterfall at "The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone" was great, and the buffalo and elk were just sitting by the side of road people-watching. There are some pictures of the park in this set but mostly I was there to ride.
So I was having dinner (soup) on my little bunson burner-like camp stove when this hippy-ish guy comes up, sees the list of conquered states and provinces on my saddlebags. He asks about my trip and asks if he can hang out and cook his dinner. Harlo is his name, and he takes teens on overnight kayak adventures deep into the wild areas of yellowstone off the lake. He's a philosophy grad out of Bucknell, probably around 28 or 30, former pro-skier, slam poet, and kayak expert with some outfit in Jackson. We start talking about eastern philosphy, Ghandi, existentialism, anarchy, materialism, advertising and media (the institution primarily responsible, says Harlo, for turning kids into self-loathing materialistic drones instead of letting them realize their individualism and dreams), energy psychology, What the Bleep Do We Know?, Siddhartha, and forest fires. He cooks up a couscous dinner and wipes the inside of the bowl with a dirty finger. He likes my story and asks to hear some of my writing. I decline. He offers to read some of his poetry from his notebook and I encourage him. The poem was about the night before when he was kayaking and came around the bend into a small bay, and the full moon had just "tucked under a fushia blankent." This guy was a trip! He invites me to take a kayak trip the next day (his day off) and go into an area just opened up this week because of the large number of bears hanging around there. I thought it might be cool to give the bike a rest for a day and try kayaking, but a thunderstorm was due the next day. I didn't want to encounter a bear and I didn't want to leave the bike. I told him I would go, but slept on it and changed my mind in the a.m. The bike is my kayak and thus far I have had a strict rule: if the bike can't go there, I don't go there. Those handlebars are my paddle and the road is my river. I can make them rapids or I can make them a lazy float, all with a twist of the wrist. Harlo seemed to understand. I wish him well on his spiritual quest. He had locked his keys in the truck and was getting a late start after a morning of meditation.
The Tetons were grand, and I rolled into Jackson feeling quite at home. I found my aunt's house where she runs a day care center. The kids were all over me. I read them stories and showed them the bike. I tought them how to put bandanas on their heads and talk like pirates. "Argh! Where's me buried treasure matey?!" Mary gave us all popsicles.
In my last report I think I wrote about the race and today's hike. Well we went to Cascade Canyon, a long canyon perpendicular to the Teton range. It was at least 7 1/2 to 8 miles and up 2500 feet to Solitude Lake with incredible scenery and wildlife galore. At one rocky slide a marmot sentinel stood on his hind legs and gave a call. On either side of the trail for the next 100 yards marmots stood at attention. It was like Butch and Sundance riding through the valley to their hole in the wall with guards on either side of the range. Mary and I ran the marmot gauntlet without incident. She gave me a can of bear spray before we left and taught me how to use it. She wasn't foolin'. This is bear territory and we were on the "climber's boat"; the early boat that isn't advertised to the public. We would be the first people in the woods this day. Thankfully we saw no bears but plenty of deer, moose, and the aforementioned marmots--and one strange mink/marten/marmot animal we couldn't place. Again photos cannot do the hike justice. Wildflowers were everywhere, babbling brooks and streams. Absolute paradise.
So last night we went to the Silver Dollar Bar for dinner, beer, and to see Revolver, a rare rock band in a cowboy town. There are silver dollars pressed into the bar--hundreds of them. Good luck digging one out though. Anyway this couple sits down next to me at the bar and I notice the guy is wearing a Yamaha T-shirt--a fellow rider! We start talking, and it turns out he rides an R-6 (sport bike, one of the fastest around). His girlfriend is from Ross (near SF). He looks like Luke Wilson, and she looks kinda like Jennifer Garner. He's got the mustache that comes down like a goatee, but with nothing on the chin. He gives me his business card: he's the Head Wrangler at a local ranch. (Head Wrangler?!) I push my crisp new cowboy hat away on the bar. He's got a kokopelli baseball cap on. TJ is his name, and he's a real adventurer--not a faux cowboy poseur like me. He leads horse treks into the wilderness, float trips, big game hunting, winter recreation and fishing. This is all on his card. His office is the corner of a barn, apparently, with horse manure, a saddle and a hole in the wood ceiling above him. Yet he's curious about my trip and mostly how I went from the office to bike, not just how I went from SF to AK to WY. Finally, someone who gets it!
The interesting part of my story to me, at least, is not the ride, but it is how one makes up their mind and leaves everything behind. So I tell him. He nods. I won't tell you all--yet. That will be the final installment of this journal or maybe the theme of a book. We talk bikes, we talk local freeways, I tell them about the $50/day budget and how I busted it already, the planning, the rough route, the life lessons learned, Central and South America, etc. They finally get up to go and TJ shakes my hand and wishes me luck. In his handshake is the familiar feel of a wad of paper--like when my grandfather would shake my hand with a fiver in it when I was a kid. "What is this?" I ask. That's for you, he said. I look down as they go. It's money--a lot of it. I see a $20 and there is more in the roll. "I can't accept this!" "Just take it, he said, and smiled. "Safe journeys." I unfold the roll: exactly $50.
He may as well have given me a million. He--the Head Wrangler, the guy who spends half his days on a horse, and his nights on a sportbike--was inspired by my trip, and wanted to buy me an extra day. I was flabbergasted. I value my free time so much now and he just bought me another priceless day. Thank you TJ--you know I won't waste it. And I'm sorry I didn't get your girlfriend's name, but you two made a great couple. I may come back next summer and put that $50 toward a Wilderness pack trip.
My aunt and I next went to the Million Dollar Cowboy, where they have both country AND western music, where all the barstools are saddles, and my cowboy hat fit right in. I was feeling pretty good. Everyone's comments and encouragement by phone and email have been so great and to know people are even the slightest bit inspired or entertained by what I'm doing is amazing. I am living out loud now and it feels good. My friends new and old are all doing great things this year and they all inspire me too. It is a summer of change and it has a long way to go yet.Posted by James McPherson at July 25, 2005 04:43 AM GMT
Next HU Events
- Brazil: Feb 22-23
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- HUBB UK: June 19-22
- NEW! Canada Maritimes: July 4-6
- USA Colorado: July 11-13
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- Canada Ontario: Sept. 11-14
- NEW! UK - Haggs Bank: Sept. 19-21
- USA California: Sept. 25-28
- Aus Queensland: Oct 3-6
- Aus Perth: Oct 10-12
- Aus VIC: Oct 24-26
- NEW! South Africa: Nov 14-16
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