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Jeremy and Winnie of GoCurryCracker.com retired quite young. From day one since they quit the workforce they’ve wandered the earth having adventures and writing about them. I travel too, but my adventures tend to have ME…so I’d like to tell you about one that did. What you’re reading is the first part of a guest post over at their place. Link follows afterwards.
Hear me, O My People.
Once upon a time there was a bicycle tourist—I, your humble narrator—who was riding section four of the TransAmerica Bicycle Route from West Yellowstone, Montana to the Adventure Cyclist Association headquarters in Missoula. I’d climbed all 7,241 friggedy feet of Chief Joseph Pass in a hellacious headwind on a fully-loaded bike, and I was now laboring down the steep slopes of the Bitterroot Mountains. Yes, laboring down, because that’s how bad the headwind was. Thirty MPH? At any rate, it was impossible to coast.
It was a low, low, moment in my life. I was sweat-crusted, jelly-legged, cursing plate tectonics IN A THUNDEROUS VOICE, and as physically exhausted as I’ve ever been.
I came to a random campground, so I gave up and pulled in and found the host’s RV and knocked on the door. A grandmotherly lady poked her head out. As I was registering I told her I was famished and asked her if there was a restaurant close by. There wasn’t, she said, but then she looked me up and down and with a kindly smile said I should set up camp and come back in twenty minutes for dinner. I raised my palms in polite protest—oh, it’s OK, I don’t want to be a bother—whereupon she threatened me with the Rod of Correction, literally a spanking, and reminded me that we’re all on Earth to take care of each other.
Who’s gonna argue with that?
Twenty minutes later on the dot I knocked on her RV door again and she invited me in and introduced me to her husband and ordered me to sit down at the table. Then she whisked an enormous shrimp salad out of the fridge and set it in front of me alongside a sliced baguette and a craft beer. Presently she brought me another such beer, and then another.
We sat at the table talking and laughing for hours. I told them about my life and times as a bike tourist, of course, but her husband gave me lessons on fly-fishing in Montana, she explained why Siamese cats are the best mousers, and they both got misty-eyed telling me how their son had stayed sober for three years. Before we knew it it was midnight, so we friended each other on Facebook, hugged, and I promised to check back in on them if I was ever in the neighborhood. The next day my jelly-legs were better, as was my general disposition, and I pressed on.
Haven’t seen that couple since, but I’ve certainly met others like them. And I hope as travelers we all have. Hit a town for a resupply, spark the interest of the locals, and soon they’re asking us about our trip and offering us hospitality. Devices get put away, food appears, and maybe there’s the offer of a shower or even a guest room. All we have to do in return is share our stories.
This is far from a new phenomenon. In Ye Olden Times, back before speedy travel and mass communication, people treasured visits from the wandering storyteller. You know how it worked: the greybeard tottered into the village on his walking stick, gathered everybody around the evening fire, and entertained them with myths and legends and oral history and news from afar. And in return they fed him and sheltered him and tended to his arthritis and wished him well when he split.
It’s an ancient social ceremony; one we’re hardwired for. And speaking of ceremony…I now encourage you to journey on over to GoCurryCracker.com for this one’s second half.
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