Welcome to Montana

Make America Bike Again – Day 16

Climbed Lolo Pass. Next stop Missoula.

Clear skies, warmth, and a long downhill run.

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Heading Home

Make America Bike Again Tour – Day 42

There are no more miles to pedal. Robert is at the airport three hours early. He’s eager and anxious to get home. Sad to be leaving the Northern Tier Trail and the satisfactions of life astride a bicycle seat.

In the beginning there were five cyclists, all at least 60; aging men motivated toward continued growth and the experience of life to the fullest. As planned, Frank went as far as Missoula, Mt. and then, back home to California. Unplanned, my chain broke on the southeastern plains of Montana. It was the 23rd day. We were few miles west of the Musselshell River. Unable to repair the chain, Robert and I hitchhiked ahead, leaving Don, Frosty, and Gerry on the road of the Lewis and Clark Trail, and with the smoke from a prairie grass fire filling the sky ahead. Their goal, to cross the continent from west to east, ending at Bar Harbor, Maine.

From the beginning, our goal has been a more modest one. To reach Akron, Ohio with enough time to return to Denver for Lee’s wedding. Here’s some pictures of father and daughter together.

 

 

(These were taken at Norfolk, Virginia in 2007. Lee was still in the Navy. Robert, still practicing law.)

Lee’s marriage is truly a milestone and not to be missed. It is the daughters and sons who inherit the earth. They stand and blossom, while fathers age, commemorate events if they can, and pass away.

In terms of priorities, it just doesn’t get much higher than family. So, Robert’s decision to leave the bicycle trail in Minneapolis – after 2,096 miles – is the right one. So too, his decision to ride on alone after my chain replacement in Medora, North Dakota.

A coast to coast ride need not be completed in one pyrrhic effort. The trail will be there next year, and many more after that. And to my friends, Don, Frosty, and Gerry, be safe and travel well.

Thanks to everyone who has read and enjoyed this blog. Even though the bicycle journey has reached a temporary resolution, the blogging goes on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Changing Strategy

Make America Bike Again – Day 36

Last night there was another storm.     We were alongside the Paul Bunyan trail in a primitive campsite. Once again rain pounded on the rain fly of the tent. There was no sleeping through it.

IMG_1513

It was that night, when it occurred to Robert that the arithmetic of miles to go, wasn’t enough For us to get to Akron on time for Lee’s wedding. He is the father of the bride after all!

With the loving support of his partner Marceil, we choose to exit the bicycle tour for the higher priority. Akron loved ones were advised. A Thanksgiving visit scheduled.

Nothing left to do, but get to Minneapolis by Friday the 11th. How difficult could that be, after bicycling over 2,000 miles from Astoria?

 

 

 

 

“Icarus, Nice Wings!” The Art of Emancipation

Wings have the power to elevate; not just the pilot, but the reader and the onlooker too.  Writers, artists, and poets have inspired with these images since the beginnings of time and art. The ancient Greeks provided us with the archetypal story of the first flight. From high school Mythology class I knew the first flyer as Icarus,”the boy with wings who flew too close to the sun.” I could feel that the same fire within me.

artist: Frank Frazetta

That myth remains forever modern – singing its song of independence, freedom, and sometimes the tragic vigor of youth.

Icarus was fortunate in one regard. His wings were a gift from his father, a famous inventor/scientist named Daedalus. And, even if the father’s warning was ineffective…the one about not flying too high…Icarus clearly had his father’s blessing. Which brings us to the heart of this blog post.

Greek postage stamp
Greek stamp

For me, high school was in Northeastern Ohio. It was 1970, a time and place in which law and culture coalesced to pressure all young men into college, the military, or jail. On a Monday morning in May and just a few miles down the road from my high school, four students were shot and killed at Kent State University. Nine were wounded. The bullets were fired…not by Islamic extremists…but by members of our community, heavily armed and wearing US Army uniforms. It was my first mass casualty event. I would graduate in June.

Two years later the military draft became a lottery. Blessed with a high number, I dropped out of college and took to the metaphorical skies. It would be my emancipation…from dependent youth into free thinking and independent man...a year of traveling throughout Europe and the Mediterranean by thumb and backpack, falling in love, and beginning the research that would l inspire and inform my writing and my parenting. The wings that carried me aloft and into that journey were a gift; one given to myself. Selfish? Perhaps, but I assert that young men instinctively look to their elders for guidance on how best to emancipate. The window is short. Parents

artist: Frank Frazetta
Frank Frazetta

The inherent weakness of the gun model for emancipation is the one size fits all approach. Too many lonely young men foolishly mistake guns for their own budding manhood, get angry, and fire away at peers and teachers in public school settings. In my lifetime the list of mass casualty events has grown far too long. As a father with grown children, I strongly recommend the wing builder option. It’s highly individualized, much less destructive than gunfire, and time honored for empowering the heart and soul of a youth.

Wings have always been meant for flying in the light and warmth of the sun. 

For more about the story of Icarus and Daedalus, I recommend a page-turning reinterpretation  of the first flight: Icarus and the Wing Builderhttps://goo.gl/EkySso

Signed:  Daedalus     February 3, 2017