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  • Writer's pictureGerald Tindal

Day 61: Journeys and blue highways


The picture is from two years ago on a bicycle trip with Tom Bob across the country: three thousand miles in a month. A journey well planned with each day a surprise. On blue highways, less traveled. Intersecting with cities as seldom as possible.

The journey with Tom Bob was all about cycling. Up the Willamette Valley, east along the Columbia Gorge, up the Clearwater and Lochsa rivers, over Lolo Pass and then the Rocky Mountains and the Continental Divide at Flesher Pass, 6,131 feet elevation. A thousand miles of plains: The Great Plains with endless flat and thousand acre fields of grains. Tiny villages placed in the middle of nowhere with a marginal thread of social life. Cafes with locals opening the day, breaking the day, telling each other “It’s OK. Could be better, but can’t complain.” Farms of the Midwest, across the Mississippi, Lake Michigan and the state of Michigan moving to urban density. The bustle of Ohio transitioning to the Appalachian mountains of Pennsylvania. Finally, a rails-to-trails into DC. The journey’s end.

Each day began early in the morning. Best to catch the road before the heat of the day brought winds, avoid the sun if present, and put some miles on for insurance against the unexpected.

This journey with you is all about your spirit. To make meaning of your life with us and carry it forward. But the way markers are not clear. The terrain is uneven with long patches of dull disbelief. At least a relief from the screaming disbelief of two months ago. The way markers have no names. The mountain climbs are present but Lolo Pass isn’t named and the mountains don’t have summits but appear as endless climbs into an abyss. The continental divide replaced by a social divide. With close family, friends, yours and ours, the talk is respectful, supportive, soulful, and ever so needed. With people not aware of your death, the conversations have strange beginnings, awkward moments, and uncertain endings. Topics to be avoided. Not embraced. The plains are present and equally endless but don’t stop at a strong river, the Mississippi. The transition to bustle, urban environs not easy. Unwelcome.

Each day begins early in the morning. Best to keep you in our soul before the traffic of the day takes over with activities assigned and ascribed. Get done and move on.

The journey with you was not planned, but each day has a surprise. On blue highways because they’re less traveled. Intersecting with unknowns because we don’t know. We love you and will keep you with us on this journey with no end.


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