Wednesday, December 2, 2009

No Rain

A common question I've gotten from people along the way is, "What do you do when it rains?" It's hard to believe, but I didn't have an answer until Jackson, Mississippi, where it finally rained during my ride (still managed to get in 55 miles before the first drop that day). Until then, my reply was that I had rain gear, but haven't had to use it yet. "You mean that you've made it all the way here from Seattle without getting rained on?" Then, looking for some wood to knock, I would affirm the question.

The Long Drought Route

Divine providence, a new meteorological phenomena, one huge slap-happy stroke of luck - I'm not sure, probably a little bit of each from those three. I can't speak for God, or any kind of cosmic luck karma, but the summers of the northwest and fall for most other areas across the country are typically more dry than the other seasons. Also, getting full value from our vast and varied American deserts helps support a partial explanation. From the time I crested the Cascades in central Oregon until leaving the west Texas scrub and sage, that's roughly 3,000 miles through arid American land, where the people, and especially farmers know a thing or two about water management. Still, overall, a great roll of the dice.

Sunny Skies Across the Continental Divide
Sailing into Silver City

Rain, in moderation, is a refreshing rejuvenating treasure. Sometimes there's nothing better than a good shower to clean and clear the air, washing away that dust funk or clogging, polluted residue that seems to accumulate and stagnate the porous breathe of both plant and animal skin. The southeast is usually blessed with this moderate mean, but others are less fortunate. Most of the soaking qualities are obvious, but it's that slight change in the actual air that is there to test and taste with a curious sniff...

...The dryness of the desert over time gradually delivers a dull death. In Seattle, the dark, damp, vitamin D deluting drizzle proved too long and drawn out for me and my genes (personal weakness). A quick flee to Puerto Rico was pineapple sweet, but the lack of temperature-changing seasons and powerful tropical storms presented a uniquely different extreme. A few fearful moments for Katrina and I, sweltering within a shaky, plywood, Caribbean jungle shack that sat atop our small island's ridge line - swallowed by several successive September tempests.....days where the tropical air was truly tropical. This is the same air that brings inches upon inches of heavy, sporadic, ground-pounding rains. The low cumulus clouds blanket beyond all horizons and the winds swirl inside this covering so that no consistency can be found in vegetation sway. This combined flux of phenomena possesses a wild energy above and beyond the sum of each element's basic kinetic strength - it's a crazed atmospheric excitation that distinguishes this tropical character among all others...

Needless to say, I haven't missed the rain during this journey, but as the current storm has me restrained for a few extra days here in Atlanta, I'm reminded how there are times, where nature or life may seem to restrict, but in turn, often offers hidden gifts. A cliche of some sorts, one that most of us have heard or experienced before. I can say that it has been one of the most important things I've learned out here. Being exposed to the whims of the road has revealed countless incidents of how the transformation of energy and effort is unpredictable, and may not immediately bear the fruit your desires anticipate, but will almost always manifest itself in the form of delightful surprises that beat even the best Christmas presents.

Splashing Around the Southeast

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