Tuesday, October 2, 2007

High Plains Drifter

These miles come dearly, distance claimed with a currency of vain curses, grit-filled eyes, a pummeled body, mind and spirit. The road stretches out infinitely to a liquid horizon that I can never reach. Mile follows upon identical mile. I've been beaten, whipped, lashed, thrashed and wind-lynched across the high plains.

This is the most difficult part of the journey so far. I have logged my lowest daily average speed (8.5 mph), but it's the relentless nature of the landscape and wind that wear me down. Mostly, I have not faced direct headwinds. The blasts usually come from the south or north, pushing me back and forth across the road. I spend my time in the saddle getting bitch-slapped by God.

Sometimes I make progress in a rage-filled push, but I can't sustain anger for long. A few miles fall to this technique until I'm worn out and back off, drop once more into single-digit speeds, weave and wobble like a drunk punk. Many times I can look fore and aft for miles and not see another vehicle. All points of the compass speak of emptiness save for a distant silo or spinning windmill. Now and again, green locusts pop up from the road or fly across my path, caught in the gale as I am, and bounce of my legs, my chest, my face and then vanish into the vast fields of chopped corn stalks or milo or plowed earth.

This is pure, raw, animal struggle, and there's just nothing else to do but endure. I tell myself that this is why I came, to dig deep and face my own weakness and uncertainty. This is the marrow of the journey. Crack the bone and see it ooze onto your shaking hands, fool. Who are you to be out here on your own, miles from nowhere? Are you mad? Take it and like it. Choke on the bone. Rejoice in the struggle, for it is all you have.

The temperatures swing wildly. Two nights ago I awoke to a fine, chilly low 40's F. dawn. This morning, I faced the low 70's F. This happens all the time. The forecast now is for highs in the upper 80's. Summer will not lessen its iron grip. I just have to endure. About five more days and I'll be in Pueblo, poised to enter the Rocky Mountains. It can't come soon enough.

Stay centered, Scotty. Walk the path, talk the path, be the path:

Shots of classic motorcycles I saw at a Museum in central Kansas. The place had at least $1 million's worth of beautiful machines:

Classic guerrilla campsite-- I just pulled in behind a utility building:

A Rob Thomson shot (See 14degrees.org):

No comments: