So on my way back from the Festival of Faith and Writing I got a phone call.
But, first I have to tell you about coming back from Grand Rapids. If you read part one of this post, I’d alluded to my fragile sense of mortality. This past winter had snowed me, the cold wore me down. What I considered part of my mental and emotional psyche had been buried under what meteorologists were calling a mini-ice age. I felt like a giant ground sloth.
|from Field Museum|
So I cooked up a plan. I was going to ride my bike back from Grand Rapids to Chicago. Of course I came up with this idea back in the warmth of December. I did research and booked tickets on Greyhound because I could bring my boxed bike, re-assemble and be good to go. Sort of. I unpacked the bike at the GR bus station to discover I’d left the front wheel back in Chicago.
One snafu behind me. I had my husband UPS the wheel and borrowed a bike to get to the conference the first day. By day 2 and 3 I was using my own wheels, literally, to get around.
Always a moving part in the mix was weather. I saw models where everything from hail to thundery downpours were predicted. Highs in the 60s but considerable wind—from the wrong direction. Then I noticed there would be a significant dip in temperatures as the week progressed. Not sure how all this would impact the ride home.
Also I had no GPS. I printed out on paltry paper Google directions.
I never felt so vulnerable as I did on Sunday a.m. after thundery downpours to mount my bike and immediately tip over from the weight. I couldn’t even ride in a straight line there was so much shimmy in the front fork. I slowed down to cross potholes—and there were millions of them! I just knew any little thing and I was going to fall into a ditch with all the fresh roadkill and not be discovered until next spring. I rode sooo sllooww.
But, the weather held in there. I got about 60 miles down the road, using the Google directions that at one pt blew out of my front bag and into the street where I had to ride in a circle and lasso them. I didn’t make it to my projected campsite and stealth camped along Lake Michigan where by 5 pm an evil wind blew in off the lake in the form of thick fog and the temp dropped 25 degrees in 10 minutes. No joke.
That night I camped in gale force winds and freezing temperatures. I made it through warm and cozy and bundled up to ride the next day in my rain pants—only instead of rain, ice pellets came out of the sky. The wind was also an issue—from the wrong direction.
The second night I almost made it out of Michigan. Again I didn’t make it to my destination and stealth camped in some woods. I heated up a can of soup, brushed my teeth, got into longjohns and crawled into my sleeping bag. Eventually I fell asleep. Around the lunar eclipse I awoke and unzipped the tent to pee by a log I’d designated—and it was a winter wonderland. That shush shush sound was snow falling. It was as if the trees had shed feathers. It was beautiful, and oh so cold.
The next morning I thought it would burn off, but it was still there. Rare glimpses of blue sky had no effect on the snow and ice. The roadways were a flashpoint of slickness. I passed an elementary school where a digital read-out/red-out flashed 30̊. The wind—from the wrong direction—was off the lake. I felt like I was riding uphill wearing 6 sweaters. I was wearing 6 sweaters.
In Michigan City (in Indiana) I called it quits—or rather my husband called me to ask if I wanted to be picked up. I said yeah. Felt bad. But didn’t change my mind. He met me at a hot chocolate shop in an hour. What would have been 70 more miles for me—or another day of riding, through Gary and Hammond and what they refer to as East Chicago, or what we recognize as those tall mountains of landfill and refineries.
So I’m BACK and still alive and writing and reading and so excited about what comes next. As I mentioned I got a phone call while riding by that stormy grey/green lake with churning waves—the call was from Carol with the Peaked Hill Trust and my application for a residency at a Dune Shack in Cap Cod had been approved!
Once I thaw out I’m going to Cap Cod in mid-May to write in my very own Dune Shack.
If by any chance you—both of my readers—feel compelled to send a donation of $20 to help with my travel expenses (I’m not biking, the woman laughed, “honey you couldn’t ride over that much sand”) e-mail me or leave a comment. I surely would appreciate it—and I’ll send you a FREE PDF of my book Freeze Frame: How to Write Flash Memoir. Thanks for considering.