December, 2002
Forest City, Iowa

These days I have to watch myself. I start thinking of “The Trip”, and suddenly my mind is flooded with images. The towering Rockies east of Butte, the rolling Black Hills of Northeast Wyoming and, hauntingly, the windswept loneliness of South Dakota.

It almost overwhelms me.

There was one final ride for me and my hardy Sequoia bicycle, this one to Pilot Knob State Park east of town. There’s a four mile paved trail that starts north of our house (near the Pamida) and runs along the shoulder of Highway 9 out to the park turnoff. Another short mile brings you to the entrance. Not the least bit winded after those short jaunts, I followed a twisting road up “the knob”, stopping a couple times to take in the late fall colors. For November, the day was unusually warm.

There’s a forty foot tower situated at the high point of the park, the top of which offers a panoramic view of the countryside. Although Iowa lacks majestic mountains or raging rivers, one can still take in the groves of graceful wind turbines, skeletal water towers and mighty grain elevators that dot the landscape. For me it was both familiar and comforting.

When I returned home, I stored my faithful companion in back of the house and took a final picture. The official end of the trip.


A couple days later, I loaded the bike into the back of the family SUV and drove over to Mason City to have it disassembled, then packed into a long, narrow bike box to be shipped to Seattle. I will follow it after the holidays. In the meantime, the family is talking about taking a trip this month to Las Vegas, where we might hook up with one of my brothers. (We are trying to get in these special events while mom and dad’s health still permits it.) 

Now, one might think that having ridden a bicycle halfway across the country, I’d be ready to return to my job and settle down. But with my furniture still in storage and bank account not yet drained, I might as well attempt another adventure. What should it be? Well, I’ve always wanted to improve my clumsy Japanese. When I worked in Kobe a decade ago, I could not devote enough time to it. So, I’ve enrolled in a language school south of Nagoya and will begin classes the first week of January. It will be three, maybe six months of intense study. I might also do some IT job hunting while I’m there, though at my age (forty-five) I’d be considered a bit long in the tooth. However it turns out, it will be exciting to be back in that country again.


                        Leonid Meteor Shower

I wrapped myself in a warm cocoon of blankets and sipped hot cocoa.

Watching my fellow travelers on their fiery journeys.

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