Friday, September 05, 2008

find me in the river

find me in the river
Originally uploaded by rod lewis
August 13, 2008
To Rapid City, South Dakota
410 miles (7,119)

Today’s ride was an unexpected gift. I had no idea what would await me from Cody, to Sheridan, except that route 14 on the map says, “closed in winter.” The 140 miles through the Big Horn National Forest was breathtaking. Frankly, more breathtaking than Yellowstone itself, though that could be due to my state of mind and circumstance in the park.
I woke very early and showered, did my laundry, wrote some thoughts, and stuffed myself with all you can eat pancakes. During my walk-around, I saw that I was dripping fluid. It was dripping from the side-stand bolt. The only fluids are oil, gasoline, and coolant, and this was too clear to be the fresh oil I had just changed. I guessed that it was coolant and worried myself all the way to a fuel stop, keeping an eye on the temperature. At the fuel stop, it was no longer dripping, and didn’t for the rest of the day. Apparently, it was just condensation from the cool night whose path of least resistance flowed over the side-stand bolt.

After a short jaunt on fairly straight, valley road, I turned off to the closed-in-winter road. This road wound, and banked on wide, high-speed fun up to 9,500 feet where I had to stop and put on more clothes.
When I reached the junction with I-90, I couldn’t bear to think about interstate, so I caught route 14 and stayed in the backwoods for another 108 miles, before a storm rumbled in, and I dressed and took to the I-state.
This storm and I raced for the rest of the evening. All the way to Rapid City, I would catch up with the storm, stop and wait awhile and take off again until I caught up. Also, because I was riding east, and the sun was setting in the west, between the storm and me, for the entirety of the ride was a glorious rainbow, stretched end to end across the road in front of me. As the road twisted and turned, the rainbow perspective changed, and it seemed as if I was starting to ride through it. Then, as suddenly, the other end would move and I chased that rainbow until it finally disappeared into the strange, sunset/storm riddled sky of twilight.

When I arrived in Rapid City, just behind the storm, the sky was tremendous. I texted to Allison that it was the strangest, scariest, most beautiful storm sky I’d ever seen.
I set up the tent, built a fire and settled into a short mental moment before drifting off to sleep.
I’ve been thinking of the fact that I considered the ride through the Big Horn National Forest to be more beautiful than Yellowstone. It strikes me that there is really too much beauty to be understood. We tend to take for granted, the beauty that is around us, so that we have to look elsewhere to find it. It only makes sense that beauty would be found in a designated beautiful place. A place to which you travel in order to see it. A place to which you could fly, and there would be the promised beauty. A place, set aside, to be beautiful. A place quarantined from the ugly world, preserved as an oasis midst a dry and thirsty land.

But beautiful places don’t tend to exist like that. Actually, beauty tends to exist in the midst of beauty. We tend to notice a particular because the beauty around it increased right up to its edge. The increasing beauty began at the edge of another beauty.
I traveled from the beautiful Mojave Desert, northward into the Eastern Sierras. I was awestruck that there were no beauty boundaries. What I saw was a brilliant morphing of beauty to beauty. There was not gate-to-beauty that one passed through to view the wonders of Yosemite. I traveled from Oregon desert into Hell’s Canyon and across the Idaho lava fields into the Tetons and each beauty morphed into the other.
If one decides to travel the country, he finds that he merely travels from one beauty to another, via beauty. If he meets people along the way, he finds the same to be true. Beauty to beauty. One beautiful person to another. One is wearing a cowboy hat, another, a John Deere cap. One holds a Stop sign while you wait on construction traffic, another works at the feed yard and a short conversation teaches you that we’re all the same. One worries about deadlines, and the other about hailstorms. One celebrates seeds planted and one celebrates seeds harvested.