When is a journey over? When I arrive at the destination? Or when I found what I was looking for when I set out on a journey.
It was very hot yesterday 87 degree Fahrenheit with 80% humitidity. Only 47 unshaded miles with a mere elevation gain of 1,941 feet.One of the mildest gains throughout the entire trip so far. We have been averaging 50 miles on of 3,800ft gain what is a lot with even an unloaded bike.
I ran out of water at mile 30 without a water source insight: no gas station, the random houses that appeared each other mile looked deserted for Memorial Day. The few times when I stopped, hoping to approach the front door to ask for water, a dog came running around the corner, stopped and waited for my next action. Ready to charge at me if I dared to come closer to the house door.
Slight panic spread over me knowing that heat exhaustion and collapse might become a reality if I would not secure water fast. There sun was buring, my back blistered from the heat. I saw the heavy equipment of a coal mine in the distant. A big wheel towering over piles of different colored coal looking like small little skyscrapers against the bright horizon. There were 4 trucks parked against the long metal offices. The *DO NOT ENTER SIGN* was at the driveway leading down to where the trucks where parked. I ignored, and cycled down and parked my bicycle. Climbed into the office area and saw an open door. I yelled: "Hello." No response. I peeked into the door, and saw a computer turned on. Someone must be here. There seemed to be a bathroom. Should I sneak in and get water without permission? There was a water bowl for the dog. I stopped, looked at the water bowl, and then my bottle.
I finally sat down on the stairs leading to the office, and hoped that the unknown person was at the plant. At one point he or she would return. I would have just to wait in the shade and not expend more of my energy.
A few minutes passed when to coal workers came driving down from the plant throwing the loose gravel into the air and smiled at me. They asked me if I also wanted ice for my water.
I arrived in Chester later that day with a huge headache. Rich and Bianca where at the bar. I joined for a gin&tonic. The others were pitching tents, or reading in the *Pavillion* that was our overnight quarters and convieniently located behind the bar.
After dinner I went to shower in a moldy stall with rusty faucets. Too tired to care, yet, awake enough to realize how disgusting the shower was I carefully hanged everything hoping not to collect more disgustingness on my body.
It will always be hard for me what was the final straw: Whitney who again gave me a hard time for being the weakest rider, the heat exhaustion and knowing Missouri and Kansas will be even hotter, the shower that was disgusting or the prospect of another "fried catfish dinner" and "instant rice" as only food sources. It might also the constant lack of quality sleep, enough rest days or rest days where I could actually rest than running nonstop errunds.
Why was I torturing myself each day? Would I have a richer life experience when I arrive in Oregon? Why did I set out on this journey? And what would it mean if I called it quits?