Success Here Will Allow Me To Endure Mediocrity

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Jeddediah Smith Campground

June 8, ‘80

We’ve been traveling short distances. Presently, Lisa, Jade, and I are camped at Jeddediah Smith campground, some ten miles northeast of Crescent City. We’re off our route’ so this state park in the northern hills of California, with its beautiful river running through it, is all ours. I tried fishing this morning, but no luck. Tonight I’ll try again, this time with salmon eggs for bait. So far it has been good. I just hope it stays that way. My knee feels good, probably because I haven’t used it much. When we leave this campground, either today or tomorrow, my knee will get tested. Right now, Lisa and Jade are in town picking up the money they sent for. It’s been really good traveling with them. We shared a bottle of wine last night.

This whole trip has been good, mainly because of no pressure. When my knee got bad, I wanted to call it quits. I didn’t, but having made that decision, I could then really enjoy my Pacific coast down time—something I could never have done on previous bicycle trips. Since I no longer had to worry about getting my eighty miles a day in, I worried instead about what I was going to do with the rest of my life.

Yes, I’m getting older. Yes, I’m noticing it a lot more, and yes, I acknowledge that age is going to be a determining factor in my future plans. This is not totally negative, a limitation, yes, but not totally negative. A long time ago, I realized that learning and increased understanding were the only things that made me happy. Now I’m beginning to see where that kind of thinking has brought me. If all you want to do in life is “drink from the well,” it’s a pretty safe bet that not much is going to get accomplished. I might gain enough understanding to allow me some happiness and freedom, but I now know that however much understanding I acquire, it won’t be totally satisfying.

Change is constant, and in terms of age, irreversible. Growth demands flexibility, and the aging process does not accommodate that kind of change very well. I hope things get better. I hope I continue to expand my horizons, but a personal horizon, when viewed objectively—bares no fruit. Few comforts will surround my twilight hours. With no money, prestige, or honor—the stuff of a “good eulogy,” a “gentle passing into the night,” if indeed that is even possible, will not be easy. (For the life of me, I don’t know why Dylan Thomas preferred rage.) So, here’s the question, when faced with all these discouraging and disappointing scenarios, what am I to do? I must “retool.” I must relearn the value of personal success. I must relearn how to appreciate the “small stuff.” I must learn how to stay in tune with realizable dreams, with friends I have not yet met, and with music I have not yet heard. Success here, I believe, will allow me to endure mediocrity, as it allows me to savior the “small stuff.” Age has a way of shoving reality down your throat. I guess that’s why growing old is so difficult.

June 11

I’m sitting on a big piece of driftwood on the Oregon coast, eating Oreo cookies, and listening to the surf break off shore. A foghorn is making intermittent sounds off in the distance, and fifty yards out in the ocean, clatters a buoy anchored by a rock island. About a half-mile away is a town, but there’s nobody ‘cept me sitting here on the beach. Lisa and Jade are probably up in town doing the same thing that I’m doing. I was hoping they would follow the signs down to this beach, but I guess its no big deal, we’ll get back together soon enough. If every stop along the way was this nice it would be heaven, but it would also be impossible because there would be people everywhere.

Here I sit, wondering if my knee will make it. I’m walking up the big hills, and the elastic knee support I bought back in Brookings is helping. My knee is sore, but I think its getting better. The three of us had set for today’s goal, a fifty-mile jog to another hiker-biker campground.

Last night was great! We camped at Harris Beach State Park with four bicyclers from New York, two from Oregon, and one from Holland— we all shared the same two picnic tables that were set aside for the hiker-biker.

One conciliatory note: ever since my last journal entry, I’ve been depressed. The idea of growing old is not a happy one. I think the beautiful coastline of Oregon is good medicine, though. Things seem to be getting a little better. It looks like I had better batten down the hatches. Those dark clouds moving in my direction are motivators. All things considered, I have no complaints.

You Appreciate The Good Stuff–The In-Between Stuff Takes Care Of Itself

Humbug Mountain Campground

June 15, ‘80

The rain didn’t start until we got back together at our agreed upon meeting place. The rain continued throughout the night. In the morning, I put together a rain fire, and made coffee. Lisa and Jade enjoyed the coffee, but except to go to the bathroom, they stayed in their tent until the sun broke through in the afternoon. (I guess appreciating a rain fire takes time). Around 3 p.m. everybody had dried out enough to bicycle, and thirty-five miles down the highway we arrived at Humbug Mountain Campground. Once again there was little time to set up camp before it started to rain. After another night of constant showers, Lisa and Jade had had enough. In the morning, they packed up and went looking for a motel. I stayed at the campsite and built another rain fire.

There was nothing to do except sit by the fire and read my book. All day long I was half wet and half dry. It was all I could do just to keep my book from drowning in the rain. I went tent side early that night. Actually, as long as it doesn’t happen all the time, its kind of fun sitting solitary by a rain fire–reading a good book. It was late afternoon the next day before I dried out enough to ride my bicycle.

Before Lisa and Jade left the campground, we made plans to meet, and, as luck would have it, I ran into them just six miles from the campground we had picked out as our rendezvous spot. That night would be our last campsite together because we were approaching that fork in the road that would send us in different directions. I would continue north, Lisa and Jade would head east. You can’t plan to meet people like Lisa and Jade. It’s all luck, lots of it. Appreciation, that’s all it amounts to; you just learn to appreciate the good experiences. The “in-betweens” have to take care of themselves. As I look up, I see Lisa and Jade bicycling up right now. That’s the way it’s been all week long, and now it’s time to stop writing, so as to savior the last moments of an excellent friendship.

Lincoln City

In the afternoon, after Lisa and Jade headed for Eugene, I stayed the course, and pedaled into the evening. My knee felt good, and I was really enjoying myself. I just wanted to bike until I felt like quitting. I didn’t even have a destination planned. I finally pulled into a national forest and set up my tent. It had been a good day, but the nighttime weather hadn’t changed. It rained into the morning. Yesterday, I bought a pair of rubbers in anticipation of more wet bicycling conditions. Actually, it wasn’t really my decision; I was responding to a work stoppage—my feet had had enough. They were rebelling against their prune like existence.

When I pulled into Lincoln City, and inquired into the whereabouts of a hiker-biker campground, I found out I was already in one. Just across the street was a patch of ground littered with broken glass and other bits of debris. No facilities were available, not even campfires were allowed, but for fifty-cents I could pitch my tent. I was tired and wet, so the place still looked good to me. (I was pissed about the no campfire rule, though.) I had long since realized that the hiker-biker concept was more about separating undesirables from the “respectable camper” than it was about giving a break to those who couldn’t afford the fees. But hey, didn’t somebody once say, “It’s all about lemons! You put them together and out pops lemonade”–well my lemonade was a nearby park and, after dinner, it was a pub conveniently placed between the park and my tent.

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2 Responses to “Success Here Will Allow Me To Endure Mediocrity”

  1. sue s Says:

    Thank goodness its Saturday and you have written a blog……something to actually read and enjoy……

  2. subra Says:

    The journey of lifecan get wearisome and bumpy at times , but good company can make the trip more plesant . By extending the hand of friendship to our fellow passengers , I think we can overcome all hurdles. age will never be a problem .

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