In June 2011, I was provided the opportunity to take a month-long sabbatical during which I had an opportunity to follow Robert Pirsig's path in his book, Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and become a Pirsig Pilgrim. I'm thankful to have had my pop go with me for the first three days and my buddy Brian join me for two great nights of camping in Montana and Idaho.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Parting Ways Day
Today I parted ways with my pop in Lemmon, South Dakota (just walk a block north and you'll cross the train tracks into North Dakota). A bit bittersweet to part with him now but it has been a great experience riding with him. We haven't spent this much time together since we lived together. I'm a bit nervous about him traveling alone, he is 70 after all. But one tough mutha! I'm amazingly proud of him traveling with me, days like yesterday take a big toll on your body. It is kind of weird now that he's gone, eating alone and stopping alone, but I'm quickly getting used to it.
A bit hard to see, but dad standing in front
of the Petrified Wood Park in Lemmon
Got ready to ride this morning and as my friend Rusty used to say, "It was friggin' cold outside." The temp when we left Lemmon was 45 degrees! But it quickly warmed up to 54 and stayed there for most of the day. I kept layering until I was riding with two long-sleeved shirts, a windbreaker, and my riding coat - plus long underwear. If you believe my mother, I'll probably catch a cold since it was 90 the other day and now it's 45. Especially since I went outside today without my coat on.
I moved ahead one day today by riding past Miles, MT and on to Laurel. This way I can catch up with Brian on time in Missoula. There is another very short segment coming up on Friday and I may also combine that with tomorrow or Saturday. That would allow me to spend two days in either Bozeman or Missoula which I'm hoping are even more picturesque than what I've seen so far.
Today, the views started out the same - wide open, rather flat and no-trees along plains and some rolling hills that allow you to see forever. As I neared the border with Montana, some canyon-type rock formations started popping up which were kind of grey and brown colored. They were pretty neat to look at, especially given the three days of plains.
Ate lunch in Baker, which is a small town just inside the Montana border, at Jane's Cafe. Sat next to some real cowboys, complete with chaps and spurs. They were talkin' 'bout havin' to kill a bull this afternoon. Apparently, the bull got into a fight and broke his leg. The bull is angry so the cowboy needs to be very careful as it will certainly charge, but not to worry, he'll shoot it first with his rifle. I always thought I wanted to be a cowboy, but after hearing that conversation I'm definitely not cut out for it! The three kids of one of the cowboys came in to meet him for lunch. Didn't expect it, but it really impacted me emotionally to see them with their dad and apparently I'm missing my kids much more than I had thought. When I had to travel a lot in a previous job, I learned how to shut off to some degree my home life and focus on work. Anyone who has worked the AAFP's Annual Scientific Assembly will understand. But when I see kids it really makes me miss mine.
Jane's Cafe in Baker
On to some thoughts I had today. I was reading an article recently, I think it was in an ASAE publication, that was taking some of the current findings of neuro-science and applying them to management science. Basically, it said since each of us has such unique experiences which make up our world view, it is difficult to take advice from someone else who has a completely different world view. Instead, the way to connect and persuade is by more Socratic methods, by asking questions and letting the person find the solution themself. The reason I was thinking about this is that as I've been traveling, it is sometimes difficult for me to hold a conversation with someone for very long. I think it's because I have all these recent experiences, ideas, and thoughts floating through my head that it is difficult to relate to someone else at the time. I need time to sort things out, which is one reason this blog is so helpful.
When I arrived deeper into Montana, I got to see more of what I had hoped for. So far, what I've seen is pretty unique. I'm riding along and see nothing but very flat plains with no trees. They seem to go on forever. Then I'll pop over a small hill and all of a sudden there is a gorgeous valley with a big river running through it (sounds like a good movie title) with cows or horses mulling around. It is the epitome of what I consider Montana. Then I'll pop back over another small hill and there are flat plains again for as far as I can see. It kept the ride interesting.
Stopped tonight in the Russell Motel in Laurel, MT where Pirsig had stayed across the street from a railroad intersection. She gave me a nice end room that is well maintained.
Getting ready to go eat some Mexican food. Sounds funny to me to be eating Mexican in Laurel, Montana. But I heard it was good and it is within walking distance, then again just about everything in Laurel is within walking distance!