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The Herald, Friday, March 2, 1990
Views from the road
Here are some thoughts and observations on various subjects:
During my ride from Rock Hill to Utah, I stopped for the night in a small Tennessee town after a 60-mile struggle in a headwind. I checked into the local motel, cleaned up and walked a block down the street to a restaurant.
The waitress there was friendly and outgoing, and she instantly pegged me as not being one of the regulars. I told her I was on a vacation, just passing through. She put one hand on her hip and grinned, "You should be ashamed of yourself. There you are, on vacation and being lazy, while all of us are in here working."
Lazy. Under the circumstances, that really hurt. I begged to differ with her assessment and said that in fact I had ridden a bicycle all the way from South Carolina. She looked me over and decided that I was nowhere near man enough to accomplish such a feat. She matter-of-factly said, "No way."
Without thinking, I told her she was welcome to come to the motel and see my bicycle for herself. She gave me an angry look and said, "Right. I've heard some outrageous opening lines, but that beats 'em all."
Tastes just like...
I saw my very first live buffalo in downtown Buffalo, Mo. It must have been the town mascot, because it was inside a fenced backyard and it was the only buffalo around. Further down the street I pulled into the Buffalo Burger, and had, yes, a buffalo burger. Funny, it tasted just like ground beef to me ...
Wouldn't gas be better?
Somewhere in Georgia, a man strolled from his air-conditioned service station to examine my bike in the steaming heat. He asked my destination and whistled when I told him. He walked a full circle around my bike and stroked his chin. Finally he said, "If I was going as far as you, I'd have me some kind of vehicle that burned gas."
It seems ironic
In the Florida Panhandle, I rode through a little town called Prosperity. On its outskirts was a tall ornamental wrought iron gate inscribed with, "Prosperity Cemetery" - what a strange contradiction of terms.
Watch those skies
On a training ride last year, I was run off the road by an airplane.
Actually, it was a man driving a pickup truck and pulling a Piper Cub fuselage on a very wide trailer. He stormed me from behind at 55 mph and he either didn't see me or didn't care that his trailer forced me into somebody's front yard.
I waited as long as I could, thinking the truck would slow down and move over for the pass. An instant after I swerved off the pavement, the trailer's wheels flashed through the spot where I had been.
My helmet-mounted mirror saved my life, and I figure it's a good thing. I imagined trying to explain to St. Peter how I got to the Pearly Gates. "Well, I was riding my bike, see, and there was this airplane, ..."
Really roughing it
Camping has gone high-tech. During my Florida ride, I saw the complete range of RV equipment, from pop-up campers to 50-foot land yachts with satellite dishes. In the rear window of a fairly classy motor home, I saw a tag that summed it all up --
"Spending Our Children's Inheritance."
View from another angle
At a rest stop in Tennessee, I encountered a family from Canada. When the mom and dad opened the doors on their overloaded station wagon, kids poured out. There were five, aged 3 to 9. The parents and the kids lined up to admire my bike and ask me about my trip.
I asked them about their vacation trip as well. They were headed from Vancouver to Orlando. "What a trek," I said. "You sure are brave to go that far with all those kids in the car."
The woman glanced at her brood and then corrected me with her creamy Canadian accent. "Lucky," she said. "We are extremely lucky to have such beautiful and healthy children. We are lucky to have them along."
What a profound thing for a mother of five to say after thousands of miles in a cramped station wagon. It was not at all the reaction I expected, but it was one I'll never forget.
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