Monday, February 8, 2010


Anicha (change), this is the universal law of nature and has played so true in the last few days in many ways. The day I wrote my last post was the worst day I'd had in a long time. This was mainly due to the weather; it rained 36 hours straight and was in the mid-low forties during the day. This was the first day of this trip where it's rained all day long. I know, I'm still a total fair-weather rider, but it was miserable. This was also the first day that the weather has actually affected my riding, I got so cold that I only made it 30 miles. My tent was soaked from the night before and I was determined to get under shelter that night. Fortunately, I reached a small town and found a shelter between a church and a graveyard. Finding no one to ask permission from, I was desperate to change into dry clothes and get some food, so set up. This was the first time I've camped right in a town so it was a little strange and all night I had dreams of people coming and messing with my gear; but it all turned out well and I was so happy to have been under cover.

With only light rain the next morning, I rode ten miles to the next town in my long underwear so that I could find a dryer. I couldn't bare putting my soaking wet clothes back on knowing I'd be miserable again all day. Although my gloves and shoes were still drenched, the rest was thankfully warm and dry. The rain stopped, and although it was still cold, this was one of the best days I'd had in a long time! I got into the Ouchita National Forest: nice hills, forests, and tons of creeks and rivers all over. Arkansas is actually really pretty! I know I sound crazy, but it kind of reminds me of Vermont.

Happy to be in Arkansas.

Days like this seem to come right when I really need them. I can't help but think that such a turn around in a day was at least partially due to the benefits mediation. It didn't have to be a good day, could have just been mediocre or even bad due to the cold, wet feet, and first flat tire in many days. Usually my mood doesn't flip so drastically in such a short time, maybe this idea of constant change is really starting to sink in. Whatever the reason, I like it!

I also saw another armadillo riding that evening! It was the first live one (lots of road kill only) that I've seen since the day I saw my first ones. They still just crack me up and I laughed a through the last few miles of the day. I felt great riding all day and even felt fast for the first time in awhile, I didn't want to stop for the evening I felt so good. That night I camped up a Forest Service road and enjoyed the quietest night and darkest sky I've had in a very long time. It was a good day.

Looking back at the hills.

The next day my legs were tested by hills like I haven't been in since West Texas. Arkansas has some big, long hills. The ride flattened out in the afternoon and I made it to Felicia and the Heifer Ranch! The ranch is really neat, they have a huge area, all sorts of animals, and lots of young people working on various aspects of the ranch: farm, livestock, education, and maintenance. It's group housing, so very busy; yesterday everyone was cooking/baking for fun and for a Superbowl party in the evening, but everyone seems to share everything they make which is fantastic, such a neat group of people. Dumpster-diving at the Whole Foods in Little Rock seems common place here and the other day people brought back three huge crates of fruits and veggies. Felicia and I decided to make applesauce with a bunch of the apples, then made applesauce and oat muffins which were fantastic! It's so good to be around such a great cooking environment.

On our walk around the farm, we found the goats had broken through three fences and were running around the farm.

Rasha, the male camel here, his slobbering means that he likes us, a lot!

Visiting the pigs.

Felicia is working for the farm part of the ranch. They do a 70 person CSA in the summer/fall and grow much of the food for the ranch's dinning hall. Most people here work in education. This is a big destination for school groups, church groups and such. They have ropes courses and two "global villages" where groups spend one to three nights. The villages represent different areas of the world, mostly where Heifer does work, such as Thailand, an urban slum, Arkansas (where you stay in a school bus), etc. The kids spend their time learning about how people live in those different areas, tending to stock and preparing their food.

On the ranch

The view this morning, snow! These next few days are looking to have some very cold riding, and more snow later in the week.

So, the other big change is a change of plans. After initially passing off the idea of flying back to the Northwest to go to the Olympics, I realized that was silly, I really wanted to go. Setting out on this trip I had a number of goals/objectives that I wanted to live by, one of which was that I didn't want this year to be all about riding, it's about having fun and giving myself a year to do the things that I really want to do. It's about learning to be flexible, trying new things, and fulfilling dreams. As a kid I'd always dreamt of going to watch the Olympics, when I found out they'd be in Vancouver I thought for sure I'd be there. With my sister racing there is no better time to fulfill this dream. This does push things back a bit along my route, but I'm realizing that that's fine, there's a reason that I don't have a set route or timetable. So, I'm headed to Memphis and flying back to Seattle to spend two weeks up at Whistler going to Olympic events, not too shabby!

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