I woke late, at about 8:00 AM, having found deep sleep only in the early morning. As stammered out of my tent, I saw a guy taking a picture of my tent. I pretended not to have seen and he approached me.
Kyle is 28 years young. At first I thought he had Aspergers Syndrome (DSM-5 eliminated it and now calls it Autism, which I think is a terrible mistake). Turns out, he was still drunk and had not slept all night. We talked for over two hours. A beautiful and tormented young man caught in the spiral of two self reinforcing addictions, sex and alcohol. He had driven 1.5 hours in the early morning hours to hook up with a woman, he met on line, only to be beaten to it by another man. This means to me, that there were probably 3 addicts involved. Kyle is a few month away from running out of money but can not stop. I gave him all the love and understanding I had at my disposal and a glimpse of another world. A world of satisfying sex, of his thirst squelched with ease. Of all the beauty within him and the world around him visible again.
He was open and humble. Kyle, I know you will read this. If you are ready now, great, if not when you are.: You can do it. You have my love and that of many people who have healed from addictions behind you.
Kyle reached out as we parted, by giving me his phone number. A hopeful sign. I will stay in touch.
After breaking camp, shopping for food, it was after noon when I left.
More steep climbs and beautiful land. I found a special place to camp, next to the Current River, below the bridge. I was very hot and was looking forward to a swim in the morning.
Day 49, August 19, Owl Bend to Farmington, 77 miles, 5200 feet ascent
I woke up to fog. Warm fog, but no sun. No swim for me. The river was a little scary anyway.
On the road I found a beautiful large turtle. I had been run over, broken shell, mangled parts. I tried to pick it up, because it was a road hazard. When I did, the turtle's head lifted up from the road. Turtle do not have vocal cords, but I heard it's silent scream of agony. It was mortally wounded, but alive.
I apologized, twice, found a rock and ended the suffering. I have only done this one time before, in my life, in the Kalahari desert in Africa, when I was 22 years old. Some things do not get easier with age. Further down the road, I swam in the Black River, in water so clean it was like it did not exist around you.
After riding for over 2600 miles with one flat tire, I had another one. I hit some very sharp rocks, that spilled from an unpaved driveway onto the shoulder-less road. They do not pave a little ways into unpaved roads as they do in California. There are rocks on the road in many places. You come up against these rocks and you have a choice between adorning a Mack truck's hood or riding through the them. I chose the later. My tube just burst. I fixed it, and had the exact same thing happen to the same tire 2 hours later. This time though, I was out of tubes.
No option, but to stick my sexy leg out and try my best smile. It was almost dark. 10 cars later, a lady around 50, stopped and picked me up. She first asked me if I was an ax murderer (she really did).
I told her I forgot my ax and loaded my stuff. We had 30 minutes before she dropped me off. She told me that she must be crazy for picking me up, since her job was to guard sex offenders in a halfway house and she just divorced her, addicted to porn, husband. We were interrupted by an "automated prayer chain" phone call. She put the phone on her lap and continued talking. It reminded me of prayer flags or wheels in Tibet.
I heard the pain in her voice as she decried men. I chose not to defend us, or mention, that I just counseled a younger version of her ex. Nor did I point out the signs of addictions she displayed herself to the world. This was a time to listen.
She dropped me off near an old jail, the top part having been converted to a bicycle hostel. $20.- for a beautifully done space, and I was the only guest. I was able to write my last blog on the computer they provided. Kitchen, laundry, It was nice.
I had a lousy dinner, in the only open (at 8:30PM) place in down-town. Chinese, cheap and bad service.
Day 50, August 20, Farmington to St. Mary, 49 miles, 2700 feet ascent
I woke up with a headache, presumably from too much MSG. I walked over a mile to a grocery store for breakfast ingredients. My breakfast is pretty much the same every day. Oats with whatever fruit I can buy, with a backup of freeze-dried fruit in my trailer. I had to wait until the bicycle store opened, buy three new tubes. Late start of a day again.
The rest of the day was uneventful until I came to a sign: "Road closed". No detour sign. It was the only road leading over a river. The bridge was being built new. I found the local gas station. Like in many small towns in the last 4 states, they serve as grocery store, with predictable results, and often as the only place serving prepared food, with the predictable results. Anyway, I found some locals. They spoke in a strange tongue, probably stemming from English. (I still do not know what a "siaaandwitch is"). They knew of a way around on a dirt road. A little later, I found myself pushing my bicycle, dutifully followed by my trailer, up this incredible steep road, in near darkness. Large pick-up trucks loaded with locals driving up and down the narrow road with embankments 20 feet high on both sides. I had to wear my bandanna over my mouth, to mitigate the dust.
Two miles later, I was back on the road, riding it downhill in darkness, my headlight illuminating so many insects, it looked like it was snowing. I found a pretty good spot to camp behind some grain silos and made camp. A full moon coming out, quite romantic.
Day 51, August 21, St. Mary, Missouri to Little Grassy Lake, Illinois, 81 miles, 4000 feet ascent
A short ride to the Mississippi River. The town on the other side is Chester and it lies in Illinois. The river was brown and big, the bridge scary. Old and decrepit with two lanes for traffic, then the railing , then the river. I moved to the middle of my lane and started peddling, with the motto: Better them late than me dead.
Chester, the birthplace of Popeye was ugly and confusing, I got lost for a while. Had a narrow miss with a big truck, who did not see me and wanted to make room for an oversize vehicle by moving to the right while stopped at a light. Guess who was between him (or her) and the curb. Innocent Dietmar. Lightening reflexes by my muscular legs allowed this blog to be continued.
I stopped at a fruit and vegetable market and met sandbox guy's Filipino female equivalent. The whole time I was there, she gripped at her 3 year old girl, with a voice that could cut glass. What a great reminder, to not judge a book by it's cover. The mother was really cute....to look at.
For the record: I now share the opinion of the scientific community and the peoples of the East Coast, that high humidity reduces the bodies ability to cool....a lot. I was hot!
I got within 500 yards of a campground I found and had another flat tire, in front for the first time. I fixed the tire with one hand, the other was killing mosquitoes. The camp had a pay box and I lacked the $10.-, having only 20s. No place to get change and no staff. The place had a shower, very nice and I was alone. I left early in the morning, like a thief.
Day 52, August 22, Little Grassy Lake, Illinois to Marion, Kentucky, 96 miles, 7000 feet ascent
That was a long day. Up and down like all the 2 weeks before, just not as steep as the Ozarks.
I crossed the Ohio River by ferry, very cool. A man on the boat told me that Marion is: "A very nice town". This scared me because I had asked his wife to take a picture of me on the ferry, and she had to delegate to her husband who had to get out of the car and walk around. I was right about the town, very clean, nothing but fast food places to eat and in a "dry" county, no alcohol. Not that I drink much at all, its just that too much white picketfencing (I made that up) makes me uncomfortable. They had a beautiful gazebo in the town center, well lit, but you were not allowed into it after dark and loitering was forbidden. I was not sure when loitering began, so I moved.
I found the towns only motel and checked in after negotiating the price down. I do not do this ordinarily, but the guy had "Please haggle" tattooed on his forehead. The motel was empty, the room lousy. After I checked in the owner asked me a question, I had not been asked before in my life: Do you need hot water tonight? I digested the question and said: Yes. (It was still 85 degrees at 8:00PM, 97% humidity and I was wearing bicycle clothing). I did not like the guy.
Almost forgot. The last 10 miles before town, I rode in the dark. At one house, two big dogs came out and started chasing me. One on each side. I could not see them well. No time to pull out the pepper spray. They caught me off guard. I just hauled ass. I had not been this scared since I was attacked by Mormon Cavalry, supported by (American) Indian paratroopers who had landed behind my left flank. (I actually knew they were coming, but for security reasons, I can not tell you that it was the NSA (National Surveillance Agency) who had listened to their smoke signals)).
Day 53, August 23, Marion to Whitesville, 68 miles, 3300 feet ascent
Largely uneventful. I rode hard knowing Astrid would pick me up mid-afternoon. She did and we drove to Louisville for lack of any decent hotels.
Day 54, 55August 24, 25
Rest days. I landed up only sleeping 2 hours the second night. Did not feel very well.
Dietmar's Index and other tidbits.
Total miles so far: 2947 miles
Total ascent so far: 189,600 feet
Distance in miles it takes a Dietmar to figure out how to hook up his trailer correctly?
The secret is to not tighten the bracket that holds the trailer until the arm of the trailer is connected. This assures perfect alignment and I hate to admit this: No squeaking. I have been riding all this time with.....I can not even write it.