The rain fly is staying in the bag tonight; I want to sleep under the stars. I've just set up my tent, putting an end to a day that makes me feel very proud to be an American.
Just off the road in the Ochoco National Forest (I love the name), I found a clearing to make my home for the night. When I'm out away from real campgrounds I like to position myself so I can hear them (the traffic), but they can't see me. It feels like safest way to not be bothered. This in it's own right is very American. I'm out all alone in the Oregon wilderness; I got here on a bicycle. Life is great right now.
However, another night out in the forest is not what makes this day stand out. It's Darrell and David that made today special. I met the pair in Mitchell (a small town where I met another notable couple). They've just left Florence, on their way to New York, New York by bicycle. What makes them different is their purpose (no not cancer, I've already told you why I don't care for For a Cause Rides).
The two are firefighters in Santa Clara, California. They're riding to commemorate the tenth anniversary of September 11th and the 343 fire fighters who lost their lives. Raising awareness, they'll be a moving memorial across the country, staying in firehouses as they go. They plan to arrive on the 10th and cover 3800 miles in 39 days. They'll have a support van to help them along the way, but it's still a very tall task. Keep them in your prayers.
This country has become a place that all too often loses focus. Some lose sight of critical moments in American history because of how comfortable some of our lives can be. It's been ten years and that day has already started to fade in the minds of the American public. It's okay to forgive, but forgetting is just flat out irresponsible.
I'm so proud to have met those two guys because they represent the strength that has taken this country so far. They're not cyclists; they're just Americans like me, living like they mean it. Check out their blog as they move across the country (bay2brooklyn2011.org).
On top of meeting Darrell and David, I also met a young couple from Athens, Ohio. Making the turn into Mitchell (which is big enough to throw a rock across), I spotted a woman wearing a green shirt with a paw print (the Bobcats). As it turns out, Erin and Kurt Sykes still live in Athens, and have been using this summer to bike part of the TransAm from Colorado through Oregon. I believe Kurt went to OU and now works nearby, while Erin has just wrapped up a temporary position at the University. I was in kind if a hurry to make it out where I'm staying so after a quick chat I was gone. I'm hoping we can grab a drink in Athens to trade some of our "War Stories". There's a phrase that sums up pretty much anyone's experience with Ohio University, "OU Oh Yeah".
I'm not an astronomer, but my best description of the moon tonight is a half scoop. I'm looking up at the sky, listening to the water run by; it's just a great feeling. Oregon smells so pine fresh that you could bottle it up and sell it by the jar.
One of the things that I did not expect, but enjoy all too much, is smelling the country. I didn't think about it at first, but I'm really smelling way my across the States. Each spot in the Union has it's own way to say what fresh is, through its smell. I think it's symbolic of how each state really has it's own identity. The United States are, not the United States is, don't ever forget that!