Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Exhale. Inhale.

I have officially left Abilene. My last few weeks there were odd. First of all, it started when I drove back from the airport, upon returning from Alaska. I think it was the first time I had ever entered Abilene with little feeling of any kind. Countless other trips down I-20 West found me feeling expectant, nervous, tired, happy, nostalgic, anxious, excited, disappointed, restless or content. This time was strangely void of any such emotion. At the moment I realized this, I pondered what it could mean. The only conclusion I could come to was that God was showing me I was completely done with a season in my life. That seemed to square with everything God has been showing me. I expected to coast through my last couple of weeks without incident. I would say goodbye to people, finish my last 2 weeks at Los Arcos and quietly transition towards the ride, all in one big exhale.

All those things did happen. I had friends over for pizza, I diligently completed 2 more weeks as a waiter, my brother and I watched the last episode of a TV series (Babylon 5) we had been working our way through for months, and I packed. In the midst of all those endings, there were unexpected beginnings. I suddenly realized how much I loved the handful of recovering addicts I worked with. While I was gone to Alaska, they hired another white guy to replace me (making him the 3rd white male to EVER work at Los Arcos (me being the 2nd)) and we became friends. On my last day, I realized I really wanted to continue friendships with those people (but not continue working there) and somehow continue to be a part of their healing and growing. My church trickled back from their summer travels, and I was excited to see them. As I heard tales of their summers and the ways God was moving in their lives, I discovered I was sad I wasn't going to get to join them on a daily basis in walking out our faith in the coming months. I also found I had a new appreciation for friends that I've had for years and valued them more now than I had back when I was, perhaps, a little more focused on myself. On top of that, I made new friends and saw potential for great things. And then I did the dishes, removed my house key, took a deep breath and left.

So now I'm in Arlington for a couple weeks, working with my dad and hanging with family and friends before I head up to Canada. My season of preparation and isolation is pretty much over. I feel satisfied that I have been obedient to God's calling for this summer. Consequently, I feel prepared for what's next. Though I don't know what I'm doing once I've trekked across the U.S., I'm at peace and feel perfectly positioned to move with God in that new direction when He gives the word. It's going to be interesting for sure.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

My First Century

I finally completed my first 100 mile ride today. Good thing, too, because that's what we're going to be riding pretty much everyday down the west coast, which is in less than 4 weeks! It looks like I'll also be riding the Hotter Than Hell Hundred in 2 weeks up in Wichita Falls with my dad. I can't be any hotter than it was today.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Bachelor Party + Kabobs - Flat Tire = Bear Chase

I'm back from Alaska and trying to get back to my routine. I'm tired now, but my trip was great. I got to see almost everyone I wanted to see. I went all over the place: Anchorage, Girdwood, Seward, Eklutna Lake, Hatcher Pass and everywhere in between. I also got to eat at all my favorite restaurants: Coast Pizza, Jack Sprat, Burger Cache, Moose's Tooth, and Gwenie's. The wedding was fun and the weather, though mostly rainy, was most enjoyable. I could bore you with all the details of my trip, but I'll just tell you a good Alaskan bachelor party tale instead and call it a day.

On a cloudy Thursday night, 6 bachelors (1 of them soon-not-to-be) gathered at the Chugiak house to do what must be done. After fiddling with an assortment of bikes, finally six were found (or made) worthy of riding, and the quest could begin. The grocery store would provide the remainder of our trip's necessities. We had in mind a simple list upon arrival, but as you may know, six men with food on the brain can quickly go astray. Somehow just hot dogs and bagels turned into hot dogs, bagels, 2 kinds of cream cheese, 12 kabobs in 4 varieties, a box of cookies, an apple pie, a summer sausage and some beverages to wash it all down. $100 later, we were again on the road to our final destination: The Eklutna Lake Cabin.

We careened up a mountainous path with tires squealing and engines a-chugging. It was getting towards 7 p.m. when we finally reached the trail head and got our packs on. We mounted our steeds of varying trustworthiness in anticipation of mounds of food cooked over a raging bonfire. It was quickly apparent that Woodsen's front tire would not last the 12 mile journey. The valve was busted and required a little prodding, poking, and fiddling, plus more air every mile or 2. He and I ended up falling far behind the rest of the food-crazed pack... and that's when the bears came... DUN, DUN, DUNNNN!!!!

As we quickly rounded a corner, trying in vain to catch the other guys, what would we behold but 3 bears: A mother and her 2 cubs! If you don't know anything about bears, you don't want to run across a momma bear with her kids. They tend to be a little protective. We quickly squeezed the brakes with force, sliding on the gravel to a complete stop. After whooping and hollering at the bears, they retreated back into the woods, much to our relief. When we could no longer hear anything romping around in the woods, we felt it safe to continue on. Not too much further down the trail, it was time for another tire fix. I would be lying if I were to say that I wasn't thinking about the bears we had just left behind and the raw meat strapped to my back.

Sure enough, after a minute or 2, here came the bears moseying down the trail towards us. We again entered another session of whooping and hollering, this time adding some rock throwing to the mix, but the bears kept coming ever so slowly. I got a tad bit nervous. When it was apparent we weren't scary enough to deter the bears, Woodsen got back to fixing the tire, while I continued putting on a show. They kept coming, and Woodsen started pumping. When the bears were still a good 40 feet away, Woodsen finished and we rode on in haste leaving our new friends behind none too soon for my taste.

We made it safely to the cabin, having to walk the last 4 miles, as the tire finally and completely gave out. Good times were indeed had by all, and mounds of food cooked over a raging (okay, mild-mannered) bonfire were indeed consumed. And then came the snoring... DUN, DUN, DUNNNN!!!!