Make America Bike Again – Day 2
Our first full day on the road, the earth seemed to reach out and welcome us. By mid-morning a hazy sun presided over a deep blue sky. It was the right temperature for bicycling, never getting hot and staying in the 70’s. Before it ended we would leave Astoria behind, travel about 40 miles and camp at a flyspeck of a campground called Gnat Creek. Twice that day eagles soared aloft. We could see them easily: two over a wetland area at mid-day, and two more over our campsite that evening. What an omen! What a day!
It is a short ride from Fort Stevens to Fort Clatsup, a national park commemorating the completion of the Lewis & Clark expedition. There are some statues and historical reconstructions. Lewis and Clark spent a full winter in this area, with Sacajawea’s connections and guidance, before returning to St Louis.
At the park we met two very curious and friendly volunteers. They wanted Robert to complete a survey. They wanted to know who we were and where we were going. He explained that he was a writer, always looking for characters and scenes for his next book. They wanted his card. (His latest book is an acclaimed work of historical fiction set in ancient Greece.) One host replied that she loved history and was an avid reader. This was just the first day! Already, we were connecting with others along the way, sharing our stories, and growing the network of readers.
Eagles are chief among the winged creatures. They soar, not just in the highest reaches of the sky, but nearest to the gods. In Greek mythology eagles are the bird of choice for carrying messages and directives from Zeus. With their help the King of the Gods gained control over thunder and lightening. He used an eagle to carry out the punishment of Prometheus. And, he used a pair of them to determine the proper location for the Oracle at Delphi.
In so many traditions and cultures, the eagle has been used to represent strength, leadership, and vision. I believe that today’s eagles are messengers. To encounter them at the beginning of an adventure or journey such as this one, is both invitation and blessing. (My ancestor was a demigod. I know these things.) I believe that Robert and each of his friends is being offered a wellspring of courage and vision from the natural world, to empower both their individual dreams and the collective quest of this bicycle tour. The energy will follow them, whether the path is an asphalt road or goes deep within.