Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Lander, Wyoming - journal

This is a sweet little cowboy town.  Quilting and rifles and taxidermy in the fashionable clothing stores.  Lovely little MiddleFork Restaurant across from the friendly bookstore.  I walked about the town before stopping for a coffee here in MiddleFork.  I've decided to have eggs benedict even though I had an express breakie at the Super8 this morning.  With the stream running through this restaurant it's a cool sanctuary from the hot sun on the street. It's only 10:30 am and it's going to be a scorcher. I've enjoyed riding through cow country remembering this is the land of stage coaches, cowboys and Indians, trapping and hunting.  There's even a one shot Antelope outfitter down the street.  I love the tumble weed and craggy layered hills chiselled out of the earth by ancient rivers and land movements.  Lots of pick up trucks on the road.  In the music store next door there were ukulele guitars and lots of fine Christian music books.  I liked seeing the Amy Grant.  I've been making time on this ride doing doing hundreds of miles a day.  Today, with my destination of Denver in range, I decided I'd ease up a little.  Subsequently I've stopped to take a picture of a little church on the way down from Dubois. Now I'm stopping here for breakfast.  I was missing Gilbert on the ride, thinking how he might well have done okay with it.  The heat isn't so bad going at 70 mph.  A dog tied outside the restaurant barked happily when his owners joined him.  Brought the little one to mind.
I was thinking about friendship on the ride down here.  Someone in the last couple of days asked if I was riding alone. When I answered, "Yes." They'd responded with a quizzical expression.
I've always had friends and done a lot with them.  Mostly though married or with a girlfriend, she has been my companion. My father was like that.  Some men have a family and a range of friends they do other things with. I've hunted and travelled some with men but like being alone too.  Guy spoke about feeling lonely after his divorce and a breakup with a girlfriend.  Much of our emotional life revolves around women.
On the road I see a lot of couples, two guys riding together, a guy and a girl on separate bikes, the occasional couple alone and the loner like me. There are a few groups 2 or 3 bikes and usually there's a girl.  I've only see a few "gangs', a half dozen bikes and they're mostly mixed.  I remember reading Jordan's book about being gay and how he said 'gay men have such difficulty being among straight men'. He hadn't realized how sensitive and deep they were but that they had a defensiveness about letting anyone 'in'.  I was surprised in a men's group how many men struggled with their sexuality, their relationships, their feelings of guilt and shame, their fears about fatherhood and being sons.  It was clear that we all share in the human dilemmas.
I enjoyed riding with Donny down to Anacortes.  Another time riding with Dr. Cho and his friend was fine.  But only a few of my friends ride motorcycle, sail or hunt for that matter. Then my schedule is always so complicated. Theirs are more often 'fixed' in a way.  It's hard enough for me with my work to keep a commitment to family plans.  I have had holidays disrupted so often.  Even on this trip I'm getting calls.  My colleague stopped taking holidays, he told me, last month, simply because the work on his return was so much greater and overwhelming.  Now he'll take a few days off but mostly is life is his work. My other clinician friends tend to use their getaways for relaxation time with a woman friend.
I'm a loner in that sense.  I'm riding along missing my dog.  I didn't shave this morning.  Quick shower and hurried getting ready, to a quick breakfast and now I'm a couple of hours down the road enjoying this break. When I'm with others I always seem to be 'waiting' or going slower or taking it easier.  Alone I drove yesterday through hellish heat, horrid downpours with rain that bit my face, then cold high altitude riding with the road covered in mist at times.  I tried to find accommodation but the lodges were full and I almost camped but that would have required going off road some and my fear was the campground would be full.  In the end I was "rescued' near midnight by the Super 8.  When this has happened when women were along they've 'blamed' me and been angry with me, as if I caused the rain, the cold, or the accommodation being full.  Other guys gets somewhat irascible or hopefully have the black humour that such miserable conditions deserve. But even they, like myself, can be ornery. Alone I figure I don't inflict myself on others and I'm freed for a space from their negativity. I deal with so much fear and negativity in my work.  Countless times I feared going off a canyon edge taking a wet corner a little too fast though I'd slowed down. I could worry or just try harder next time to get the angles and speed right with the ever changing and often dangerous road conditions.  The 'bullet has to have my name on it' though I don't want to encourage death.  The trials of adventure and expedition are part of the overall excitement that heighten prayer life and make one feel truly alive. I suppose smart people really would just lie on the beach and stay in 5 star hotels.  I learned from a woman last week that her idea of 'travel' was taking bus tours and going shopping in malls.  I have to remember that when I think of travel it's been bicycling a cross europe, hitchhiking across Canada, driving and camping north america, sailing solo to Hawaii in winter and now motorcycling across the cowboy territories of the US eventually ending up at Sturgis I hope.  It's a different sort of travel.  Most people like the 'idea' of my kind of travel but they don't do it .
I could see bringing my RV to Lander. There's lots of massage and physical therapists in the town making me think that a lot of retired folk with arthritis or rheumatism come her for the hot and dry.  I wonder what the winters are like. Probably similar to midwest Canada but more south I'd think they'd be shorter and more enjoyable as a result. Lots of snowmobile trails signs on the way down to Dubois from Yellowstone.
I wonder if I'll stay in Vancouver if I ever retire.  The cost of housing and the risk of theft is so high I wouldn't want to be living there among all the drug dealers on a fixed pension.  I'd like to retire where 'theft' is considered wrong and not a 'necessary' or 'clever' occupation. I'd like to be among peoples who shared my morality rather than considering my generosity and truthfulness stupid. I guess at some level, when I look at older age and vulnerability I don't want to be in a place where I'm not allowed a gun and must be among criminals who have guns and don't respect the laws.  But then I think of Canada fondly, my home and native land.
Lander looks like a sweet country town. Reminds me of the places I worked as a physician and psychiatrist in the country. Probably lots of gossip but all the pleasures and beauty of small town living.  I did like the man that said Denver was just too busy.  Says a lot about cities in general
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