Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 54 Epilogue

I started this journey alone in a lonely place, traveling unescorted through the circles of Hell. This memorial ride was not only a tribute to the glorious man I was blessed to call my son, but also a desperate attempt to sustain my sanity. I hoped to restore meaning and harmony to my life. During the two months of cycling, I have tested my physical limits, experienced much introspection, searched for the presence of my God, advocated for mindful driving, and embraced both friends and strangers.

I have shared my story innumerable times, and some modicum of good has resulted. But I bleed each time I relive Eric's senseless, mindless killing. The compassion of both strangers and friends has fortified me, I am grateful for the warmth of the human family, which reminds me to be cognizant and appreciative of the many blessings I have in my life. Clearly, I am not alone.

But I conclude this travel unrestored. My God has remained silent and elusive. Completing good works will not adjudicate Eric's killing. There can be no happy ending to this story. As the many hundreds of roadside memorials stand testament, there can never be harmony after the loss of a child.

Some injuries heal completely without residual or scar. Others heal without residual, but leave a disfiguring scar as a reminder. A few injuries aren't fatal, but linger and smolder,never to resolve completely. One must learn to live with them and not to be dominated by them. My challenge is to learn the live with this injury, but not become the injury.

Last night Eric appeared to me in a dream. Smiling, he ran up to me and then past me, neither responding to my entreaties nor looking back. He was happy and carefree. As Eric moved forward, so must I. I must strive to be a person with the compassion, acceptance, actions, and character that my children would be proud to call their father. I lack both the resilience and fortitude for the task, but cannot concede the struggle.

I want to thank all of you who shared this journey with me. Your support has helped me more than I can tell you. I look forward to sharing your comradary and fellowship as we address life's future challenges. With that, I conclude my blog.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 53 Palatka to St. Augustine

Travelling through America, one notices that even small towns all have churches, banks, and mortuaries. Generally the churches are grand, the banks stately, and the mortuaries dignified. In poor areas, this continues to hold true. Homes, schools, public buildings may be decrepit, but these other edifices seem unaffected. It must be a reflection of our values. Not intending to demean these institutions, but surely our youth, infrastructure, and living conditions deserve more merit.

Today I was favored with benign winds, clear skies, good roads, and a short 40 mile ride. What a difference from yesterday's wet, harrowing marathon. Cruising through St. Augustine, I had to search for a half an hour to find some beach to dip my front tire. And so, the deed is done. Tomorrow, I will see St. Augustine and compose an epilogue.

Dipping the front wheel in the Atlantic

Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 52 Mayo to Palatka

The trip computer on my bike went out a couple of days ago. It is surprising how more arduous it is to pedal without the guidance and feedback of the computer. It is difficult to regulate effort, assess speed and progress, and to maintain goals without the computer information. The ride requires much more effort and is much more of a struggle.
In our lives we use religious, philosophical, and moral compasses to guide our labors. Along with our relationships, these are our structural and feedback mechanisms. How we flounder when they break down or fail us. It is clearly much easier to replace my computer battery, than to rebuild a failed belief system!

Wow, what a day! Initially an easy pedal, I decided to push on for 122 miles. The pedal was great until I entered Durham County, the sign proclaiming it "bicycle friendly". Immediately the shoulder ended, leaving me on an extremely busy 2 lane road with 65 mph traffic. Searching for a sane option, I ended up on a loose packed, dirt road. In search of pavement, I side tracked many miles when an awesome thunder, lightening, and rainstorm engulfed me. The sky became so dark, I needed a light (which I did not have) to be seen by motorists. Safely tucked away in my bargain motel, I am only 40 miles from St. Augustine. The exciting (or not) conclusion tomorrow!

The Suwannee River bastardized and unvisited by Steven Foster in song.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day 51 Wakulla Springs to Mayo

Wakulla Spings is an ancient place. Humans have frequented this area for over 15,000 years, since the time of mastodons. The springs erupt from an enormous cavern, continuously ejecting 16 million gallons of 68 degree water every hour creating the Wakulla River. It is a wildlife refuge and sanctuary where I observed many alligators, turtles, birds, and even some manatees. The finely crafted and detailed 80 year old lodge stands next to a swimming area with a 20 foot tower for diving. It is a special place unlike any other I have been. During the early 60's, Walt Disney conducted negotiations to place his theme park here. Luckily, such an abomination was avoided! It is now a state park, to be preserved in it's undeveloped state for future generations.

Today I added an extra 30 miles to the 50 mile schedule to end up in Mayo. The terrain remains flat, with much standing water, natural springs, and sinkholes consistent with the Karst topography. I have no conections in the schools in Florida, and the media has had little interest in distracted driving since i left Mississippi. It is just as wwll, because i am tired of being an advocate. The road surfaces and shoulders in Florida have been the best that I have encountered, letting me focus on self reflection and the pedal. I look forward to St. Augustine and home.