Part III: Louisiana BBQ on the Go

I rented a cabin in Three Rivers from an old lady Juliette. Again, I got a discount. The cabin was all dolled up but the best thing was, it had a bathtub.

Juliette said, “Now you know, the water has a lot of minerals so sometimes it is a bit murky and it smells a bit of sulfur. But don’t worry, it’s good for you.” 

It was music to my ears.

I took a shower; a much longer one then I usually do. I went to have some Mexican food, came back and took a long bath. I was in bed by 8:30.  I was asleep probably by 9. I haven’t been this tired in a very, very long time; perhaps never this tired before but how easy we forget that. We have an amazing capacity to forget physical pain or exhaustion but we have such great difficulty forgetting psychological suffering. It lasts much longer and it is sometimes impossible to get rid of it. We bury it into the deepest corners of our being thinking it’s gone, then it comes up rearing it’s ugly head again. Usually in the middle of the night. Then it will churn around in your head til the morning hours.

In the morning I took a shower, practiced much needed yoga for a bit, wrote, caught up on emails and then took another hot bath to soak my sore muscles. I had to check out at 10 a.m. I milked my time in the place until the last possible minute. 

The ride started with the road leading me  around Lake Kaweah. In Lemon Cove I pulled over as I saw an out-of-place scene. 

Two black guys were cooking food on the side of the road. Spice Man and his sidekick Brian were from Louisiana. The food smelled so good and sampling it made me want to eat but it was just after breakfast. Spice Man, as he insisted I call him, was persistent and with a thick Louisiana accent worked his charms, ” Oh honey, you have to have some to take with you!” 

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“Where in the world will I put the box with food?” I repacked and rode off with what I was going to have for dinner that night. I have a rule- I have to have enough food with me for at least a day and some emergency in case I get delayed.

I took a left turn off the main road soon. It was like a child drew a  black line through golden colored hills they were learning to paint. It went up and down, left and right just enough to not be too perfect and straight. There was nothing in sight but hill after hill. The sign for Springville said 39 miles. It was 80 degrees and I had two and a half bottles of water. I already rode 12 miles. Even if there was no climbing ahead, I was afraid I didn’t have enough water. I went by a farm house just as a car pulled in. What the heck? I have nothing to lose. I pulled over.

”Hi there! You live here?”

“Yes we do” said a woman who was taking a baby out of the car seat.

“Could I bother you for some water please?

“But, of course, “ she said and turned to what looked was her daughter. “Bring her two.”

“How big is Springfield?” I ask.

“Springfield?! Oh it’s small, around 500 people live there,” she replied.

“Do you think they have a motel?” I asked, hoping. I’m going to stay in motels as long as I can…

“Well, they might, they might.” After a pause she said, ”So, you are riding all the way to Springfield? It’s a long ways” she said incredulously. “Good luck!”

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I rode off with two ice cold bottles of water. Later, as I was climbing up and up for more then 3000 feet in 84-degree heat, I was thanking the mother and her daughter profusely in my mind.

I think all in all about five cars passed me. The road was breathtakingly beautiful. Big granite boulders stacked like a giant’s play rocks and cows as black as night just grazing lazily. When I ride by them they lift their heads with grass still hanging out of their mouths and stare at me like,” What the hell is that!” Wild turkeys hang around the cows; quails dart across the road. I love quails with those things on their heads that give the impression they are always in a hurry. And the way they sound- it always reminds me of laying in my bed outdoors in Baja where I hear them every morning.

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I am more in tune with my body now. I was getting tired so I stoped under a big oak tree and had a bar and some water. “Rest, pace yourself,” I remind myself.

I have one ear piece in and I listen to Tom Hank’s book, “Uncommon Type.” I love his voice and his storytelling. So, when I meander on a lonely country road, my mind starts to wander. What if Tom Hanks and his wife (I assume he’s had one- I don’t really follow that stuff) drives by and stops to chat. He’s of course impressed and interested in what I am doing and why. Then I ask him if he wants to see what I am listening to. “Sure” he says. And when he hears his voice through my earbuds, his eyes widen. “Holy shit!” Well, I don’t know if he’d actually say that. He’s a classy guy. But anyway, I ride with that fantasy for a while. It keeps me occupied and it keeps me going up the hill. The mind wanders into funny places when you are riding your bike by yourself. Like to a place where you meet Tom Hanks.

After a while as I climb and climb, I think I see the opening between the two hills before me. Ah good, I am almost there. Then I turn to the right and, oh you’ve got to be kidding me! I see the line cut into the hill that keeps going up and up. But what choice do I have? I put the smile back on: “Bring it on! I can do this!” After an hour and a half, I am over the crest and from there, it’s all downhill to Springfield. It’s so rewarding when you’ve really earned it. It’s like that with everything in life. When you work hard to get something, you appreciate it so much more and it’s a hundred times more beautiful. And that Louisiana BBQ chopped kale salad and fried fish I carried with me all day, washed down by a cold Corona at the end of the ride!? Ahh, can you taste that? Divine!

Note to self: look for a comb. For a week now, I’ve been combing my hair with a fork. 

Alenka Vrecek