Posts Tagged With: bicyling

Cycling from Yakima WA to San Diego CA 4

I lost track of time as I biked on and eventually I came upon that winery and vineyard that Jody told me about. I pulled to the right, my tires grinding over loose gravel and made my way passed a few tall metal buildings towards a large house in the back. When I got close enough 8 different dogs approached me barking loudly. Dismounting my bike I walked past the dogs, up to the house and knocked on the door. No one answered. I looked in the window; no one seemed to be home.

For a second I didn’t know if this ‘Tim’ would be here, or even if I was in the right place. I Continue reading

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Cycling from Yakima WA to San Diego CA 3.

Off in the distance, the endless road stretched out and then sharply climbed toward the sky. Great, I thought, a steep climb up. I approached the climb with thirst and fatigue, but I just kept pedaling. Up and up I went over this hill and when I reached the top I looked out and what should I see but salvation, a lone house on the side of the road. I thanked many different spiritual entities, because Jesus and Krishna will quench my thirst as easily as will Buddha and Zeus, so I just blanket thanked them all.

I made my way to the farm house’s driveway wondering if anyone was home. Three dogs began barking and trying to climb over the fence as I walked past. These were big dogs too, I didn’t take that as a good sign these dogs and I hesitantly knocked on the screen door of the farmhouse with trepidation.

I heard a thundering inside as footsteps bounded down what sounded like wooden stairs and when the inside door suddenly swung open, I was startled. “Yes, what can I do for you?” said a tall, festively plump, middle-aged man.

“Excuse me sir, might I refill my water bottles here?” I asked not showing how nervous I was.

The farmer let out a hearty laugh, “Sure you can, come on in. Where you from? Where you goin’? Heavy load you’re carryin’ there.” And with that all my nervousness dissipated. Seek and ye shall find, knock and the door will be opened, quite literally it seems.

I entered and shouldering my pack up the wooden stairs I made my way into his kitchen. “I’m from Yakima actually, bicycling down to San Diego.”

“San Diego! That’s quite a trip. You know I did somethin’ a lot like this when I was your age.” The man roared, his whole body moving with the energy of his voice.

“You don’t say, what kind of trip did you take?” I asked as I began filling my body before filling my water bottles.

“Oh hell, I’ve hitchhiked all over the USA, seen all them States. Name’s Jody by the way.” He said as he extended a handshake.

“I’m Bryan,” we shook hands as I relaxed even more. “Got a favorite place?”

“Naw I like’em all.” Jody paused. “‘Cept that there L.A. Got robbed in broad daylight by 8 colored fellas. I stepped off the Greyhound bus and before I knew it 3 black boys told me to give’em my money. I laughed at’em cause surely I’m not gonna get robbed during the day in a public place. I told’em to fuck off and started walkin’. They stepped in my way, motioned to sum buddies behind me and next thang I know, I’as surrounded by these black kids tryin’ ta rob me. Seein’ as how I’as outnumberd, an’ no one in the area gave a damn, I opened my wallet and give’em the 20 bucks I had in there.”

Jody paused for a bit, seeing me distracted by grabbing a bottle to fill. When he had my attention again, he continued. “But I ain’t that dumb, ya see? I had the bulk’a my money duct taped to my inner thigh under my clothes where no one can get it, ‘less they wanna get real personal.”

I laughed at his entertaining stories and we exchanged travel experiences for about 45 minutes before he asked where I was going tonight. It was only 12:30 pm at this point, so I wanted to continue biking and gain what ground I could, so I told him I was going to continue south and just improvise lodging as I went.

“Well buddy, I hate to tell ya, but yer headin’ East right now.” Jody laughed that deep laugh of his. “You ain’t been goin’ south for 25 miles, ya missed yer turn in Toppenish. Didja see the big ole’ casino? That’s where the road curves south.”

“Dammit! I knew something was weird when I passed that casino. I figured if I just kept going straight I’d be heading on the right road.” I felt worried and confused. I didn’t know where I was and I didn’t want to back track 25 miles unless I really had too.

“Don’t worry friend. Keep headin’ down this road. This here’s the 15; heads straight on in to a tiny town called Mabton. When ya get to the edge’a town, look on yer right. You’ll see a winery and grape vineyard. Its ran by a guy named Tim, tell’em Jody sent ya ands he’ll help you out.

Knowing where I was and where I was going did little to calm my nerves. Living in Yakima for a year and a half had wound me up tighter than a box spring and I still felt a need to solve my problems as soon as they happened. Not being on my ‘planned course’ was a problem to me and I hadn’t yet learned to just take things as they came.

Fear pushed me out his door as I packed my water bottles and thanked him hastily. He wished me luck and then I tore out of his drive way with full speed. I biked down the road my mind a jumble of fear and self-destructive thoughts. I cursed myself for not trusting my gut when I passed Toppenish and for being so angry in the first place that my mind was distracted and not able to focus on where I was and what I was doing.

It was only about 1pm now and I still had plenty of daylight to ride, surely I could make it to Mabton soon and find this Tim. Fear made me wonder what would happen if I failed to reach the small town in time and soon I was racing way faster than was healthy. I was unable to simply enjoy my journey due to the fear of an unknown and unlikely failure. It would be a long time before I would sit down and reflect on my emotions and how unhealthy my mind was. The greatest benefit of the road ahead, was the opportunity to put my mind in order and clean my emotional house.

The sun bore down on me, and as fear drove my mind and body, I raced towards Mabton.

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Cycling from Yakima WA to San Diego 2.

I continued south for what seemed like forever with only Bon Jovi and Billy Idol to keep me company. The Yakima Valley is a kind of desert valley, not the kind with sand and rocks everywhere, but rather the barren, wind swept plains kind. The kind where all you see are endless fields, mountains in the distance, and a lone farmhouse every so often. The bike ride was difficult. I was never much of a bike rider before this trip, and it was about now that I wondered if this was really such a good idea. I didn’t know where I was going, what I was doing, and my body already hurt from just the short 20 miles I had gone. Cycling for 6 hours didn’t help my mental state much; it gave me a lot of time to dwell on these facts.

At length I came upon Toppenish, home to the trashy looking indian reservations where people lived and one big ass glamorous Casino where they all worked. Interesting dynamic… I fought my urge to play a little Black Jack and continued down the road for many more miles all the while trying to forget that what I was doing was technically insane. Many cars passed me, more than a few comming dangerously close to clipping me with their mirrors. Each near collision aroused this intense anger within me and it wasn’t long before I began shouting at cars and drivers that couldn’t hear me. Each burst of anger brought on a sharp pain in my chest; my personal reminder that my anger, the anger that I’d held in for almost 2 years, was literally going to kill me if I couldn’t calm myself down.

It took some work and a lot of mental gymnastics, but I managed to convince myself to forget about the cars that came within 2 inches of running me over and instead focus on where I was. I was still on the 97 South right? I looked around for a sign that I was on the right road still, but I found none. Whatever, though I had been stuck inside my head for a bit while battling my demons, I definitely knew that I hadn’t made a turn. So I was still on the same road I was on before. Good.

The day was long, the sun was hot, and I was pounding water like never before. On my bike I carried two 1.5 liter water bottles and a 1 liter water bottle in the cage underneathe my bike. Four liters of water and yet, it wasn’t long before I found myself empty. I slowed my speed as I looked around for a place to refill my water. Endless fields surrounded me and a dry, dusty, barren road stretched out before me. Damn.

I had no choice but to keep moving. I certainly couldn’t refill my water out here in the middle of nowhere and it would do no good to complain about it, so I took 1000mg of suck-it-the-fuck-up and pedaled faster. At this point I had not discovered the benefit of shifting gears correctly so I’m sure riding in my highest gear at all times was counter productive as it placed a strain on my body that could have been alieviated by simply switching to a lower gear. Ah, the things I didn’t know.

I pedaled on and on, thirsty as hell, hoping that I would come across a house or a small town or a pond… something, anything that had water. An hour and half passed by and I was sure that I was fast becomming dehydrated…

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 On to Part 3

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Cycling down from Yakima WA to San Diego CA.

Using Facebook I posted a series of videos and pictures that I took during my travels down America’s Pacific coast. Having reached my destination I have decided that I’d like to write about the experience post travel.

I began my frugal travels following a serious bout of depresseion. Life in Yakima WA, working in a mental health nursing home, and living in a drug infested gang ridden area of town; it all had me feeling pretty down. My second winter in Yakima was drawing near and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to endure it once again. I had the palpable feeling that I needed to leave Yakima and go travel again. When I reflect on some of my worst times, I find that theres never been a problem I can’t solve by going for a really long walk… or bike ride.

On September 14th 2011, I packed a few bags full of essentials, attached them to the back rack of a low end Raleigh mountain bike, and hit the road south on the 97. I’d never rode more than 12 miles before on bike, and I wasn’t very sure where I was going. As I rode south through Union Gap I fought a very malicious fear. A fear that meant to undermine my vagabonding efforts before they’d really began. Fear that I would end up broke and homeless. Fear that I would get lost; get mugged.

These fears persisted despite my attempts to rationalize my emotions. ‘Of course these things wouldn’t happen,’ I told myself. ‘These things didn’t happen when I hitchhiked to Yakima in the first place. Nor did they happen during my adventures in Germany.’

But fear is subtle and it found a way to work itself into my own logic and memories. ‘Yeah, but you DID get pickpocketed in Germany,” my fear whispered to me as I entered Wapato. “And you DID return to KY penniless. And you technically WILL be homeless if you do this.”

I’d stopped in Wapato to meet a friend on the way out. It would be the last time I’d see her for quite a while, so I’d wanted to say, ‘see ya later’ properly. As Tiff and I talked, the fear torrented underneath in my subconcious. But I wouldn’t let it show. I wouldn’t let her know how terrified I was of what I was about to do. Most of my friends think I’m crazy, because I actually do things that no sane man would even contemplate. I’m the kind of guy that quits his job, sells or gives away everything he owns, hops on a bike and heads ‘south’ with no real destination in mind. I’m the kind of guy who buys a plane ticket to a country I’ve never been to, with a language I can’t speak, lands on a continent where I don’t know a soul, and lives there for a month on next to no finances.

People who know me would swear I needed medication for these impromptu traveling tendancies, and their worry is compounded by the seeming fact that I have no qualms about doing it, no hesitation. But what they don’t know is that I do have that fear, I do have those worries, and for a moment I do have some internal hesitation. Unlike them however, I don’t let fear stop me. Ever. My Will is strong and if I seem like someone who can be stopped, then just try and stop me.

Meeting with Tiff in Wapato, I put on a brave front and talked a big game about how awesome this trip was going to be. Truth was I didn’t know anymore about this than she did, but my facade did have the added bonus of bolstering my confidence and strengthening my resolve. Fake it till you make it. We made idle chit chat till she had to leave and then I was back on the road.

Continue to part 2.

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