Dave and I are currently sitting side by side in an air conditioned library in Great Bend, KS, the winds outside peaking, fatally, at approximately 55mph, the wind-blown dirt from the highway roads still crumming our eyes like sand on grapes, our mileage today embarassingly truncated, but, considering the bike-tipping speed of the gusts, totally satisfying.
So then: Kansas. After a day apart, our dear Gary Dey caught back up with us--Gary the Intrepid, Gare bear, our adopted Third, our resident hang-glider-cum-African-hitchhiker-cum-continental-cyclist-cum-scuba-diver with the endearing Ohio accent--and so we are once more a trio, a rambling pack; the glorious border of Colorado looms ahead, the promise of Denver and our planned two-day vacation there like honey on sweet bread. (Confidential to Danielle Slavick, aka Don-yell, aka The First! The Paver of Ways!: When we get there, we expect warm meals and freshly made beds and small talk over large beers)
But the people want lists, and so lists I provide:
Collective number of miles ridden: 2,040
Number of days on the road: 32
Most miles ridden in a single day: 102
Number of bees that have hit our eyes (like seriously: bees-on-eyeball contact)
Number of times Nick has awoken in the middle of the night to Dave swatting at his arm and saying "Shoo! Go away!" because Dave, waking and seeing Nick's arm draped across his eyes, had thought, in the haze of half-sleep, that Nick's arm was A FREAKING CAT : 1
Number of panic attacks brought on by personal crises:
Dave: 1 (had thought he'd lost his wallet, had stared at the brick wall with an open mouth for minutes, minutes)
Number of suicidal box turtles that we have rescued from the highway: 3
Number of suicidal box turtles that were so scared when we picked them up that they peed: 3
Number of motels we've stayed in to date: 2
Percentage of those motels that have given us free beer upon check-in: 100%
Chafing: very much so
Number of knees that are operating at optimal capacity:
On an index of 1-10 (10 being extremely beardy), our self-assessed beardiness as of right now:
Number of times our food has been devoured in the night by bratty woodland creatures: 3
Songs we find ourselves singing to ourselves the most:
Nick: Sufjan Stevens, "The Mistress Witch from McClure"; Death Cab for Cutie, "Photobooth"
Dave: Seals & Crofts, "Summer Breeze"; Pedro the Lion, "Big Trucks"
We have been out now for over a month; I have spent this time pumping my awkwardly tanned legs, looking over at the passing scenery (flooded farm fields, slowly-rising stalks of green, the toy-ridden lawns of paint-peeled mobile homes) and reflecting on open spaces and the cleaning of slates. I have unstuffed my bones and unwrapped my marrow. I have filled hollows and fibrous pores with kneaded clay and water. I have trailed kerosene over the hinged concrete plates of every bridge we've crossed and am waiting for that moment at trip's end when, with ten states behind us, with unfathomable hours spent thinking and waxing and singing aloud, with the palimpsest of my travels bright and burning in my mind, I will kneel and kiss the soft soil of Portland and reach quickly, gladly, tiredly, for the box of matches.
Alos: I think Gary is plotting my and Dave's deaths....