Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Revelations From the Saddle, Part 1: Creativity

As promised, I'm going to share with you some of the interesting things I thought about/realized/were revelated upon me. Part of the awesomeness of the trip was getting into a focused rhythm and having very few distractions. For instance, I did not once get onto a computer. I normally check my email/facebook/myspace about 5 times a day, plus read blogs, news articles and the like. I also am a music monger. At some points in my life, I've listened to music averaging over 10 hours a day. That's when I was an accountant. I didn't bring any music with me whatsoever. All I had was what was in my head or playing at whatever diner we were at.

As a result, my imagination/creativity was going nuts, in a good way. Every night, I had at least 3 or 4 vivid dreams that I remembered in detail when I woke up. It was awesome! I was so intrigued by it that I wrote them down every day. One dream in particular, I felt like God was speaking to me through. That may be another post altogether.

Besides crazy dreams, my musical creativity was piqued. In those 3 weeks, I began writing 4 songs without even having a guitar as an aid. I've been writing songs since my junior year in college, and I usually don't even write 4 songs a year!

I came to the realization that my habit of passively taking in so much stimuli via Internet and music (I don't really watch much TV, but that fits, too), was essentially numbing my brain and stunting my creativity. That's a pretty big deal for me, because I feel like exercising my creativity, through music or other means, is a very real calling on my life and one of the ways that I reflect the image of God. Now that I'm aware of this consequence, you better believe I've cut back on Internet and music. It's been great. Not only have I been about %1000 more productive in songwriting, but when I do listen to music, I notice everything that's going on. I hear all the lyrics, what the drums, bass, and guitars are doing, etc.

If you hadn't picked up on it, I'm pretty excited about this and I'll hopefully have some of my music for y'all to listen to in the not so distant future. If I keep going like this, I'll finish an entire album's worth of songs during this year. Get excited.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Overview of the Bike Trip

Man, I've had a really hard time putting the bike trip into words, especially story form. It's weird, because nothing exciting happened on the trip, in an event sense, yet the trip was amazing and most enjoyable. I'm going to try and tell you more than, "we rode from here to here in this many days and averaged this many miles" without going into every detail of where we slept, what we ate, who I talked to, what I felt, what I dreamed about, etc, because that would be pretty boring after about 3 days (like I said, it wasn't exciting as far as stuff happening). So I'm going to keep it to an overview for this blog and fill you in on important thoughts/dreams/revelations/themes in later blogs. Now that I've sufficiently danced around without actually writing about anything yet, here it goes...

Well, before I really get started, you can see pictures from the trip on my Facebook albums here and here. I pared it down from 350 pictures to 100.

OK. We left from DFW airport on the morning of September 4th. United airlines charged us $120 to fly our bikes! That's just immoral. On the way to Vancouver, we had a planned, 4 hour layover in Chicago, because I realized I could go see my friends, Mark and Katrina, for free! It was good to see them, as always. We and our bikes successfully made it to Canada in working order. After eating massive amounts of continental breakfastses, we assembled our bikes and hit the road the next morning from our hotel.
We had maps made by Adventure Cycling that we mostly followed on the trip. We had some trouble getting on route in Vancouver, especially with the construction and faulty directions from a stop sign holding guy. But, once we made it out of Vancouver it was smooth sailing. We didn't really didn't hit any big cities after that until San Francisco, 2 1/2 states later. It was quickly apparent I had aquired a nice little poison ivy allergic reaction the day before we left. That'll teach me to weed eat in shorts. It was also quickly apparent that my dad is a beast. I already knew this to be true, but it was reinforced after a couple days of biking, and every day henceforth.

The weather for the first few days in Washington was amazing. It was sunny and beautiful, but not too hot. The natives thought it was burning up, but it felt quite pleasant compared to the upper 90's in Texas. On day five, my left knee started hurting a little. We adjusted the left pedal position which seemed to help... for about half a day. My knee would end up being a problem the rest of the trip, but it didn't keep me from enjoying the trip.On day 7, we made it to Oregon and decided to take a day off in Astoria. I think it's safe to say that the Oregon coast trumps the Washington coast. The rocky cliffs and beaches are so beautiful, like this:

We met my friend Dan, in Newport on the 14th. He's a totally rad guy that I know from my time in Alaska who's down in Oregon for seminary. Towards southern Oregon, we got into some chilly/foggy weather. We were disappointed, because we couldn't see the ocean most of the day. On the 18th, we made it to California. Northern California lived up to our expectations. Both of our favorite days of the trip were going through the redwood forrest along the Ave of Giants. There will definitely be an entire blog about this day in the future.

I'll sum it up for now by saying that there are awesome, massive trees and an ease for connecting with God. That day changed my life and the way I see the Creation.

The best day of the trip was followed by the hardest day of the trip. We started around a couple hundred feet above sea level and went up and down until we made it to 2000 ft. above sea level. This was followed by 5 or so miles of racing downhill riding the brakes half the time to keep from flying off the road. It was nuts. We ended the day with 5400 ft. of vertical climbing over 70 miles. So tired. We had a couple 87 mile/day days after that which were just gorgeous.

After 11 days of straight riding, we took a day off in Corte Madera (which means something like "cut wood" in Spanish). On my day off, I realized I was just about out of money. Whoa. The next morning, I talked over with my dad whether I should borrow from him and keep going or rent a car in San Francisco and call it good. After praying about it, we both felt pretty good about stopping a week early, so that's exactly what we did. We had pretty much accomplished what we had set out to do. So we rented a car and drove the 1800 miles back to Arlington straight through the night in 30 hours.

Funny story. When we decided to come back early, we played with the idea of not telling people we were back yet, so that we could be sneaky and stuff. So we told my mom to not tell anyone. She told my brother and sister, not thinking to tell them not to not tell anyone. I mean, it's not like my brother was hanging out with a bunch of my friends in Abilene that next day or my sister was hanging out with some of my friends in Dallas the day after that. Oh ya, no one's going to find out. So ya, a lot of my friends knew I was coming back early before we hit Texas. Good times.