In the broad strokes of life, there is the easy way and the path less traveled. I'm not quite sure that I have had the pleasure of choosing between two paths less traveled at this point in my life, until today. I'll explain.
Last night when I was unpacking in the pavilion, I heard some faint conversation in the darkness. I saw what appeared to be a pair of bicycles; naturally I went to go investigate. It turned out to be three young guys cycling the country from Oregon to New York. They'd been on the road since April, racking up a few thousand miles on a zig-zag pattern to the Atlantic. A blog of their adventure can be found here (http://thisisvicariousness.blogspot.com). Dan, Kane, and Jeff?, have really assembled some great photos so far, although I'm not sure who's taking them.
Through conversation, they had mentioned that they had spent a couple days volunteering in Joplin, MO; they were helping Ameri-core clean up the property damage for those who could not afford to contract the work.
It got me thinking. At that point I was only two days from Joplin. What an experience that would be. I could really be of use. It would only be one off day, but a day I guarantee I would remember for a life time. Normally when these once of a lifetime random opportunities pass by, I grab ahold (see me for details).
The conflicting path less traveled is more of a selfish pursuit, but a noble one none-the-less. As I have moved West at a such steady pace, a cycling confidence has emerged. This is separate from my innate confidence as it required an affirmation that my body could match my will. With 25 days in the books, I've given myself the green light to move further into the clouds.
I want to add 600 miles to the trip; run into the Pacific at Florence, OR, and then take the 101 and eventually CA 1 to San Fransico. To accomplish this I have to skip that off day and detour to Joplin. I'm conscious of the Good Samaritan complex that lies within the choice but I must leave them by the wayside to squeeze every bit of juice out of this summer. I think I'll do a day of community service back in Athens, OH this coming school year so I can call it even.
So that whole bit was the tug-of-war that consumed today's thoughts. I've got a lot of time out there to think. Fortunately for me, today I've rode into a mental hiatus from those thoughts.
The Citizen(s) of the Day, Bill and Ellie Cork run a hunting retreat in Everton, MO. Their 300 acre farm (Running Spring Farm) provides all the country charm from the middle of the Heartland. They have a cabin available to cyclists for only $20 a night. The shower is my first in four days. The TV is the break from my thoughts, and the beer in the fridge makes this feel like I'm on vacation (more so than had it not been there).
Things are still going well. God willing I'll be sleeping in a city park in Kansas tomorrow night. Yeah, Kansas! If you've been following along you may have noticed that my sleeping habits have shifted from campgrounds to city parks. This is because the states of Missouri and Kansas have much more relaxed laws on camping in city parks. It's suits my needs and allows me to leave my wallet in my backpack.