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By Frosty Wooldridge
8, 2014

Part 8: Choosing the road forward toward life

“As a kid I had a dream - I wanted to own my own bicycle. When I got the bike I must have been the happiest boy in Liverpool, maybe the world. I lived for that bike. Most kids left their bike in the backyard at night. Not me. I insisted on taking mine indoors and the first night I even kept it in my bed.” ~ John Lennon The Beatles

(Stopping by a roadside attraction of a miniture western town with miniture buildings.)

Something special occurs each morning on a bicycle ride. You awaken to birds chirping in the trees just before light creeps over the horizon. You come to consciousness. Your body inhales the fresh, clean wonder of wilderness air. You roll over in the sleeping bag for one last quiet wink before you hear, “Time to rise and shine boys.”

“Anybody cooking my oatmeal?” Howard asked.

“Sure,” said Wayne. “I’ll make that my first priority.”

Quickly, we released the air from the mattresses. It hissed into the morning sunshine. Second, we rolled up the sleeping bags to stuff them into nylon containers. Same with the air mattresses. We pulled the packs out of the tent. Everything goes into a neat pile. Out of the tents, we pulled the stakes, poles and cords. We rolled everything up into a tidy bundle. We stuffed the tents into the sacks.

We pulled out the tri-legged camp chairs, lit the stove burners, poured water into pans, dumped in oatmeal, cut up bananas, strawberries and blue berries. Then, brought the oatmeal to boiling and let cool. Dump on the fruits.

Quickly gobbled all the food while it’s still hot!

We packed everything into the panniers. Packed tent, sleeping bag and air mattress into pack on top of rear panniers. Locked them all onto the bikes. Checked the area totally before leaving. Left the area, and then, walked back to make one last visual inspection.

We rolled east on Route 26 through towering Ponderosa pines. The road wove through farmland in a wide valley until it began climbing along a small stream. It soothed, gurgled, cooled and refreshed. When we took curves along the river, it blew cool air into our faces. We continued climbing all morning until we reached Ochocho Pass at 4,720 feet.

From the top, seven miles down and mostly an easy ride into Mitchell to the Little Pine Bar. We walked into the joint. Red and white gingham clothes covered the square tables around the room. On the walls, pictures of Clint Eastwood, Willie Nelson, John Wayne, Clint Black, Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell and Jane Mansfield. Folks tacked dollar bills up on the walls around the pictures. One wall showed a picture of Wyatt Earp, Morgan and Virgil Earp along with Doc Holladay. “Support the Troops” signs scattered around the room.

Near the back, a famous picture showed Elvis Presley, James Dean, Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe standing at an American Diner. Marilyn wore a skimpy pink outfit with her long legs stretched across the bar stools. The four male movie legends looked toward her. It’s titled, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” that features some of the most famous people in American history that lived tragic lives.

While pedaling, I enjoy lots of “mind wandering” and contemplation. It’s quite a “trip” mentally, emotionally and spiritually. When you watch the millions of girls screaming at the Beatles or other rock groups, you must wonder what makes them think that the rock stars possess all the happiness in the world. Do movie stars corner the happiness market? Obviously, history shows us that the richest, most famous and most adored people may be the most unhappy even miserable people in the world.

“It often happens that the real tragedies of life occur in such an inartistic manner that they hurt us by their crude violence, their absolute incoherence, their absurd want of meaning, their entire lack of style. They affect us just as vulgarity affects us. They give us an impression of sheer brute force, and we revolt against that. Sometimes, however, a tragedy that possesses artistic elements of beauty crosses our lives. If these elements of beauty are real, the whole thing simply appeals to our sense of dramatic effect. Suddenly we find that we are no longer the actors, but the spectators of the play. Or rather we are both. We watch ourselves, and the mere wonder of the spectacle enthralls us.” (Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray)

The major aspect of long distance bicycle touring gets down to peace and tranquility via a renewed connection with the Natural World.

As we walked into the grill, one poster featuring a cowboy who said, “Lots of ways to make a living, but no better way to live.”

We ordered breakfast. Quite a number of folks asked where we started and where we were headed. When we said, “Washington DC”, they looked stunned.

They said, “I could never do that.”

Pedaling out of Mitchell, we climbed once again up a long curving road to Keys Creek Summit at 4,372 feet. I feel a unique sensation when cresting a pass. I push hard for hours. The road curves upward seemingly without end. Until suddenly, the road flattens. It tilts downward. From there, my emotions change. “Glee” enters all my cells along with bliss, freedom and fun.

We pedaled along a road called “Journey through time” at the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

“Sure is a lot of rock strata in wild configurations,” said Howard.

“Can’t help but think this place must have been a wild region with volcanoes exploding in this Ring of Fire,” said Wayne.

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“The changes in the rock blew my mind,” I said. “We’ve got volcanoes, rock strata and lava showing this area once settled at the bottom of the ocean.”

We coasted down along a mountain creek to a flat terrain dotted with farms, cows and sheep. We reached Dayville where we camped in a state park with unlimited hot showers.

After a long day of pedaling and sweating, a shower washes away not only the dirt, but also a good portion more. The warm water soothes my muscles, my mind and skin. It washes my mind clean. I live in the moment. The effort of pushing the pedals turns into ecstasy of the sensual moment. The water relaxes every cell in my body.

After a hot dinner over the one-burner stoves, we fell asleep in seconds.

© 2014 Frosty Wooldridge - All Rights Reserved

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Frosty Wooldridge possesses a unique view of the world, cultures and families in that he has bicycled around the globe 100,000 miles, on six continents and six times across the United States in the past 30 years. His published books include: "HANDBOOK FOR TOURING BICYCLISTS"; “STRIKE THREE! TAKE YOUR BASE”; “IMMIGRATION’S UNARMED INVASION: DEADLY CONSEQUENCES”; “MOTORCYCLE ADVENTURE TO ALASKA: INTO THE WIND—A TEEN NOVEL”; “BICYCLING AROUND THE WORLD: TIRE TRACKS FOR YOUR IMAGINATION”; “AN EXTREME ENCOUNTER: ANTARCTICA.” His next book: “TILTING THE STATUE OF LIBERTY INTO A SWAMP.” He lives in Denver, Colorado.






We pulled out the tri-legged camp chairs, lit the stove burners, poured water into pans, dumped in oatmeal, cut up bananas, strawberries and blue berries. Then, brought the oatmeal to boiling and let cool. Dump on the fruits.