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One man's mission to free some cogs
 
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Overdose of abstraction. Sorry about that. I'm meeting people everywhere I stop and only moments into our conversation, their heads turn into cogs and begin rotating. "Oh no, they've gotten to you too!" -- "What's the matter?" -- "Can't you see?! Can't you see!?!?" I'm drawing the attention of everyone sitting down inside the rest stop. Their heads cock sideways as they peer at me. Faces turn to cogs and I lose grip. "Are you okay, boy?" His giant cog-head is talking to me. "Oh no. No! NOOOO!! IT'S THE COGS! THE COGS!!! THEY'RE EVERYWHERE!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!"

THWACK! "Get a hold of yourself, man!! It's a god damn analogy!" Chuck is standing before me, brushing off the dirt and straightening my jacket. He continues, "Holy crap, dude. If it wasn't for me, who knows where you'd wander off to." -- "It's real. Man, it's real. I've seen it with my own two eyes." -- "Your own two eyes, eh? Last I checked, I was the one with the eyes." -- "Your eyes are blind to all but the literal. I've seen them. I've seen them all! I've seen it! The great machine! It's here!!" THWACK! "Listen. I'm not about to deal with this figurative bullshit of yours. Either you quit jabbering right now or I'll do it for you." His words fall upon deaf ears as I begin to survey space. "What are you even doing out here anyway?", asks Chuck. "Chump, I go where I want. You don't own me!" -- "Oh Yea??" -- "YEA!"

CHOMP!

He's eaten me.
Trapped inside his head.

"Welcome back home. Do you like what I've done with the place?" He hops on his horse just as I begin to assimilate with my more physical self. "Get comfortable if you can, we're going places today!"

The wide world, an open road and an open soul. I love it.


My old friend, route 101, presses ever onward. This road leads to Oregon. It can take me to Portland and with every passing moment, I am closer and closer to the end and another beginning. When I left Arcata, the end came into focus and I've taken on a different attitude. Liken it to that feeling when you're at work on a Wednesday and know that all next week you're going to be on vacation. I'm taking less photographs, I'm making less voice recordings and my pace has the kind of intention it hasn't had in months. I'm on a mission to achieve. The roads I've been traveling go by a thousand names but their path goes by one. It's the way. In my mind I begin to understand. Every street, every cracked piece of pavement, cobblestone, city block, grated bridge, trail, lonely strip of highway and country road has led me here. They twist and turn in all directions as unintentional segments to a greater path I both planned and accidentally discovered. Each one is necessary and only when collectively configured can they give rise to the next. You wouldn't know it at the time, but all along they've been leading me here. We're almost there.

The way.



Wandering the world.



It's no longer just a dream. It's real. Never has 381 miles seemed so close.


It rains every day. Days pass without setting eyes on the sun and even when it's not raining, the fog is so heavy that moisture clings to everything. Cotton was a bad choice, but I've grown used to the feeling -- I only feel wet when part of me is dry. To objective eyes, I exist in just short patches of time emerging from one cloud and vanishing into another. If you want to find me, just follow the tunnel I'm mining deep into the mist.

Blinking become a means of defense. Airborne water molecules collide with my body and the faster I go, the more it stings. I can only stand to quickly glance down the road ahead before having to put forth the helmet and shield my eyes. But it's no use, it comes up from the road all the same. Shadowfax gallops onward splashing about while his hooves carry and coat both him and I in nature's soaking debris. We press on with our eyes pointed towards the ground and watch the pavement slide beneath us in a sort of blur. Occasionally I'll focus upon one particular spot and follow it backwards and out of sight. It's come and gone... and I'll never see it again. Just as I'm getting lost in my thoughts, a droplet of mud shoots off the horse's hoof and strikes me in the eye. Instinctively I pull my left hand towards my face to sort of squeegee the mess, but quickly learn that my gloves are even dirtier than my bike. I have to stop.

Everything changes when you're forced to halt. On the bike, I'm chugging along half aware and half withdrawn, wandering where I might, but suddenly on two feet rubbing my eyes and vigorously blinking, I'm entirely in the act. I can see clearly again. An absolute mess -- the horse and I are covered in a maroon shade of damp earth. The beard has gained in considerable weight. Water sits in a pool atop my bags and already I know that their contents are soaked as well, but there's no point in worrying about it now. Walking around the bike to grab a towel, my shoes sink deep into a murky puddle of mud and now my socks, too, have found a way to gain weight. Really, it's become a kind of freedom. The want to stay dry or even washed broke long ago and if convenience trumps cleanliness, go ahead, sit upon the earth or sing in the rain! Aim for the puddles! Hope the cars splash you! It doesn't really matter, in fact, it never did.

Back on board, we're scooting along and taking bites out of the sky. Just off the left side of the road lies the Pacific but I wouldn't know it if I couldn't hear it. A gathering of water particles takes place upon my helmet and they soon come together as one to slide towards the front. From my perspective, a drop of water hangs on the brim as a sort of pendulum, swinging back and forth before my eyes as I shift my weight between each pedal. My surroundings have seized his attention and another chapter is written. Another memory, another time and another place. A scene to revisit in my dreams. Material for my next deja vu.




It's been an interesting night to say the least.

The last thing I want to do is pitch my tent in the rain upon soaked ground waiting for water to pool around me. Long before night falls, I'm looking for some kind of overhang or dugout to utilize. "It'll work out, Chuck. You know this. It always does. A bridge would work nicely. Maybe a shed, or under the an awning behind a secluded church." I spent a few minutes pacing back and forth under a bridge trying to decide whether or not it was a winner. "If it doesn't strike you right away, there's your answer -- it's not a winner." I left the bridge and hopped a left onto 101 and continued to cycle through the rain. With an overcast that never goes away, I can't tell if the clouds are simply eating up my light or if the sun is setting, and as a result, I have no idea how much time I have to find a place to sleep. I'm guessing that I have about twenty minutes before nightfall, so I keep a watchful eye, cycle down side streets, look for fire stations and hope for baseball fields. No dice -- nothing comes about and I continue to trek into the oncoming dark. Five miles later, I pass a road sign and immediately hit the brakes. "Avalon Way? Why does that sound familiar?" It's still pouring and though I can't see the rain, I can hear it bouncing off my hooded poncho. "Did I...?" I opened up a pannier and dug for the compass. It points to 'S'. "Oh. Well what do you know, I've been going home!"

So now I'm in the rain, out of light and the five miles we're recycling aren't going to lend a helping hand to keep me dry. It's less a feeling of despair and more of a "sha la la la who really cares what happens" kind of mood as I keep moving along. When I make it back to where I went wrong, I cross that bridge I was inspecting earlier and enter a small town. "They've got to have a fire station somewhere around here." A lot of touring cyclists have told me that they've had good luck finding hospitality at fire stations, but this night marked the fourth time I've been turned away without an ounce of charity. The guy wouldn't even make eye-contact with me. Well whatever, I'll just make myself at home inside the abandoned store across the street. Moments later, I've found myself inside the building with just the turn of a door knob. "Well, that was easy. What's that beeping sound?" Upon further inspection, it turns out to be a security system. "Oh. Oh, it's an alarm." I take a few more steps inside the building before it hits me. "OH! OH SHIT! IT'S AN ALARM!" Out the door back on the bike and away we go!!

The rest is from my voice recorder:

"Anyone need a spreader? How 'bout some hoses? Riding mower? You name it, I've got it all right here. It's a 90% off liquidation sale! All home and lawn items must go! Ehem, excuse me. So yes, I'm in a shed right now. It's kind of wet outside and I didn't feel like pitching the tent. How did I get in here? Oh, well, that's for me to know and for you to find out -- tricks of the trade... tricks of the trade. You are young. Maybe one day you can become my apprentice... if you're lucky! HA! Anyhoo, I've been trying some tricky things all night. I almost slept under a bridge, went five miles in the wrong direction, did the fire station thing, set off an alarm (which I must admit was pretty exhilarating), tried a few more little storage huts and now I'm sleeping with garden tools. Oh, and we have plenty of shovels and rakes! Bring the whole family! Yes... Yes... I've locked myself in here. There's this guy who keeps walking around outside with his dog yelling, "POOP! GO POOPIES! IT'S TIME TO POOP!" and I'm having a real hard time not cracking up. Can you hear him? [I'm now chewing loudly into the microphone.] Heh, I'll be honest with you, I never saw this moment coming when I hopped on my bike back in P.A. It's been an interesting night to say the least."

I can't bring myself to post a photo of the bike and I inside that fantastic shed. If you're dying to see it, write me a letter and I'll lead you on a treasure hunt to the real thing :-P


"GO FASTERRRR!!" A little girl standing outside a library yells at me as I cycle passed her. She's waiting for the bus to pick her up. In my head I'm thinking to myself, "I'm going at exactly the right speed." Immediately I have an urge to pull over and start a dialog with her. I'll promptly ask, "Why? Why should I go faster??" and attempt to deconstruct her thinking.

"WOAH!! Woah! Easy there, killer. She's six... maybe seven. Easy on the cog-talk, dude." Suddenly I realize the absurdity of what I am both thinking and considering. "Right, let me make sure I have this straight. So, as the apparent and very dirty street person rides his home-on-wheels through the rain, he's going to dismount and start a philosophical debate with a little girl about society's subliminal influences. Yes? Is that accurate? Good, good. You do that. Walk over there with your disgusting beard and muddy poncho. See how long it takes for someone call the police. Maybe you can set a record if you raise your voice and start throwing around your arms." -- "But, but..." -- "For Christ sakes, man! Her backpack is bigger than she is!" -- "But she must know! Who has put those thoughts in her head?! 'Faster, bigger, stronger' is not a natural tendency, is it? We're not 1-dimensional, neural impulsive freaks, are we?! Are we?!?!" -- "Dude. Seriously. Shut up and ride your damn bike."

[-- "The Heads" --]
Is it just me or do these rocks have absolutely no resemblance to heads? You know what they look like to me? They look like rocks. Not just ordinary rocks, but "THE Rocks".


Wet. Dark. Cold. Again I find myself riding north on 101 and looking for a dry place to pass the night. Again nothing seems to present itself. I'm riding around an RV park trying to find a slab of concrete out of the way so I can both avoid the water and go undetected, but I'm having no luck. Up the side roads, down the trails, chase some chickens, bark back at the dogs... but nothing. "Something will come up, Chuck. You know this. It always does." I'm exhausted and drenched with rainwater. If nobody would care, I'd just collapse in the mud right here and call it a night. But it's not going to be that easy, I have to keep riding. It's the kind of dark outside where the road is just beginning to fade and a large, black storm cloud looms above to cast its mood into the air. The sky's deep shade of blue turns slowly to black and the rain comes down in streaks upon my vision. I can't help but yawn as my eyelids grow heavy. "Something will come up. It always does." Just as I'm about to take my turn at a stop sign, a lady walks from her porch, into the rain and waves me down.

Two minutes later I'm inside the heated guest house of Robin and Jim, showering, doing my laundry, charging the phone and camera, drinking coffee, washing my bike and shooting pool. "See, what did I tell you? It always works out one way or another."

-Charlie

I made this video whist inside the guest house. We were very, very tired... and pretty damn fuzzy.

Click PLAY to watch video.


AQUA!!








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