May 19, 1999
It has been a long time since I have sat down in a chair, let alone a chair in front of anything as advanced as a computer! South Dakota offered some will fracturing challenges, but I am through, on to greener pastures. From here it is surely a downhill ride.
I am very well adapted to the raw conditions of nature, I am her loyal servant, very aware that my power and ingenuity can not stand up to her eternal providence. I have struggled against wind, rain, thunderstorms and lightning! As for my physical body, it is presenting a side that I have never experienced before. I am a traveling machine, my metabolism has broken out of its domesticated chains and opperates under its own evolutional juristiction. My legs are mechanical levers that have commited the simple motions of pedaling into biological memory. I am a corporation of independant parts, united through millions of years of evolution uniquely developed to preform such feats as this. My conciousnes stands alone, beside the autonomy of a physical body in a primitive harmony. The analytical machinery of my mind, is best kept, neatly stowed away in the caboose of experience, called into action at the appropriate times when necessary and then neatly put back on the shelf. Some times it kreeps onto the stage and gets in the way, a relative newcomer to the timeless efficiency of my veteran systems!
I arrived in Minneapolis this past tuesday (5/18) on the wave of a couple of nice days. I met up with Tom Keiser, a teacher that I have been in contact with over the internet since the very beginning of this project. He opened his house to me generously. I am still amazed by the hospitality and helpfulness of complete strangers. I feel as if I have made more friends throughout the two months of this adventure than I have in the last few years of my life. Friends from all walks of life and from all corners of experience who have come to my aid and helped me along in thier own individual ways
Tom set up a presentation at his school in Minneapolis and I spoke to 50 or so fourth graders and thier teachers. The kids were very well behaved and genuinely interested in both my time in Ghana and my bike trip across the US. Afterwards Tom took me out to the hall where he had designed a display featuring books and artifacts from West Africa (he was a PCV in Mali) as well as exerpts from my web site. The display included a map which traced my route from Corvallis east and a few pictures from my experiences in Ghana! In effect, Tom had captured with his own enthusiasm and spirit, the very essence of what I was trying to do with this trip. He took the raw and maleable experience of my efforts and moulded them into a physical representation of the ideology of this project. When I saw the display, it rung bells in the rooms of my imagination where this whole project was fashioned. This is exactly what I have been working for. So the fact that one person in America had recieved the message and interpreted it so independantly and syncronystically well, made me swell with pride and happiness. Who knows how many other people it has reached? It was obviously worth the effort.
After my presentation at the school I set out to attend to other matters. My bicycle had developed a small abnormality. The rear rim acquired a widening bulge in it's architexture which was beginning to cause all sorts of problems. The abstraction could not be fixed and threatened to one day leave me helpless on the side of a shoulderless road without a rear wheel. So I searched out a bike shop and investigated matters further. A small crack in the rim was discovered, a flaw that was certainly warenteeable, an option I fought for them to acknowledge. At first the mechanics thought that the crack was from an impact that was due to my negligence, but I showed them that there was no sign of any such impact and pleaded my innocence. Having worked in a bike shop for 5 months certainly helped. Finally I got them to warenty the rim. The guy who dealt with warentee's happened to be off that day and they told me to come back after the weekend. No can do I explained. I won the support of a fellow touring enthusiast working at the shop named Casey who identified and empathized with my perdicament. After a half an hour of haggling with the manager they took down my information and found a comparable rim with which to replace my defective one. The only thing was that the warentee covered the replacement of the rim only and it would cost $40 to have the rim relaced and rebuilt with my existing spokes and rear hub. The one mechanic who did such work was out and would return the following day. I had seen similar procedures done and decided to take on the challenge myself. I rolled up my sleves and spent the next two hours building my new rim from scratch. It is a very meticulous and involved process, and after a couple hours of mechanical focus I gave birth to a brand new rear wheel! I left the shop triumphantly owing nothing but my sincire thanks to the cooperation of the shop and my new friend who had greesed the process along so quickly. What a day! It is things like this that make this adventure so rewarding. I have a newly discovered confidence in myself which I found in Ghana, but never seemed to transfer in my return to the states.
Not far now...