House (Brad Dickson)
Warm, Head winds
We woke up this morning on our "pillow" mattress, and it was hard to get up. The bed was just so comfortable! But duty was calling, and we had a lot to get done this morning.
We went back to the main building/barn, and Nathan started making breakfast. Using the eggs Jeff brought in from the chicken house last night, and some potatoes from the community pantry, he made some delicious hash browns and eggs! I don't think I've ever had a really fresh egg before - they have so much flavor!
Jeff walked in to the kitchen just before we started eating, and set down a big plate of fresh, cut fruit. While we munched on the fruit, Jeff and I got into an interesting conversation about politics and money. Ultimately, we agreed to disagree, but it was a good mental work-out. My mind has certainly been getting a work-out in learning to be tough and disciplined while we bike, but it's been lacking any kind of academic challenge, so I appreciated that Jeff challenged me.
We decided to stay until lunch so we could do laundry and work a little on our web site. Our clothes were pretty rank, so it was a relief to get them cleaned! While the laundry was running, Nathan hooked up to the free wi-fi and started working on some stuff on our web site.
While he was working, I met a couple from France. They're driving all over the USA just touring. They were really nice and friendly. After we were done talking, I sat at the table with Nathan and reflected on our time at Orange Acres. It was a thought-provoking place. I think this is mostly because Jeff is trying to do something most people don't do - go really far out of his way to make his whole life and home a place that caters to others' needs, and to give everything freely as a gift. Just thinking over his passion for helping people gave me a lot to ponder, but what I was really struck by was the physical ways that his charity manifested itself.
Most things were made out of rough-cut wood and had an unfinished look to them. There were a few large piles of cut logs and discarded wooden pallets around the yard that were used for building materials or to make walkways through the wet, marshy parts of the grass. All kinds of old cars that belonged to the Orange Acres car business were parked around the property. The place Nathan and I had been given to stay in last night was a trailer out near the car lot. It had been walled off inside to make two separate living spaces with lots of windows but no curtains. The whole place was very much a work in progress.
And the people were equally as interesting. There were only about 10 people there (a slow day, from what we heard), and they were from all walks of life. There was the young, French couple who were travelling. There was a mother and her grown son who had just come back from the mountains after living in a tent for a month or so picking and selling Huckleberries (a rather famous and expensive fruit in the Northwest). There was another single mother with a young boy (maybe age 12), who were homeless and taking advantage of the 20-day stay limit at Orange Acres to have a bed and look for work. There was a man who lived there and tended the goats and the garden. He appeared to have no family was thankful to God and Jeff that he had "some animals to love and some dirt to play in". There was Nathan and I who were just stopping over for the night on our cross-country bicycle trip. Then there was Jeff who ran the place with a generous heart and a hearty dose of authority. We first met him when he got back from a night of cards and gambling. He told us he loved to play cards, but if he ever won anything, he said "I just have to give it to charity".
It made me think about how much good is in people, and equally how difficult it is to live out that good because there are so many opposing forces at work in the world. It made me want to think and dream bigger - to take on a massive and inspiring project with my whole life like Jeff was doing. It made me think hard about families and the responsibility parents have to their children not only to love them, but to teach them how to live responsibly, how to take charge of their life, and how to respond to all the things they see around them in the world. It made me want to jump in and help all the people who needed help, but then thinking of how many people that was nearly overwhelmed me and made me wonder how I could do it.
I was somewhere lost in thought when Nathan decided we should eat lunch and head out. It was almost 2pm!
So I switched gears, made peanut butter sandwiches, opened a can of applesauce, and go out some cheese sticks. Before we left, Nathan decorated a board to put on their guest wall. Then we loaded up the clean laundry, got on our bikes, and headed south towards Missoula.
Surprisingly, even after our extra-long rest that morning, we felt worn-out and tired almost immediately after we left. We didn't have much energy and ever pedal seemed to be a lot of work. We weren't sure what was going on, but we certainly weren't going to be able to make it the 60-ish miles we had planned! We decided to stop in Missoula - only about 20 miles away - because we already had a place to stay and we could visit the Adventure Cycling Association Monday morning.
We were excited at the thought of a short ride and a nice, long, relaxing evening in Missoula, so we pushed a little harder and got there quickly. We pedaled right to Carla's house - the lady we had stayed with in Missoula about a week ago. She had said we could stay again when we biked back through, but since we weren't planning to stop there today originally, I had never called her to set up sleeping arrangements again. When we got to her house, she was not home, so we sat on her patio swing and passed the time making phone calls and writing cards. About an hour and a half later, she still was not home and had not returned our phone call. Hmm...
We were starting to get a little concerned about where we were going to stay that night. Fortunately for us, Missoula has TONS of warmshowers.org houses, so we got online and started calling. Unfortunately, none of the 6 or 7 houses we called answered their phone except for one person who was currently in Tennessee for a conference. We weren't sure what to do...
We decided to eat dinner and see if anyone called back. Nathan had been craving a firehouse sub from Subway for a few days now, so we went there. While we were eating, a man named Brad Dickson returned our phone call. At first he said he could not house us, but then he called back a few minutes later and said he could - yay! It turns out he's in his last year of law school and was very busy tonight, so he would not be home until very late. But he decided to call his roommate, Bill, to see if Bill would mind taking care of us, and Bill said "sure". This is certainly another example of people's stunning generosity and willingness to go out of their way - amazing.
By the time we got to Brad and Bill's home, it was late and getting dark. So much for our restful and relaxing evening - boo.
We met Bill, and he's in his last year of law school too. Bill is a hiker and a runner. He is currently training for his 11th marathon and had run 17 miles earlier today. Woah! Brad is a huge biker, and has taken several long trips. He's never gone all the way across the country, but he's made it almost all the way. Interesting guys!
We set up our tent in their backyard, and then I went in to change out of my bike clothes. In the bathroom I found a scale and decided to weigh myself. The last time I weighed myself was a few weeks ago, and I discovered that I had lost 7 lbs! I was a little nervous, because I knew I couldn't keep up that kind of weight loss. So I had been eating a lot lately. When I stepped on the scale tonight, I found that I had gained all 7 lbs back! Eek! I can't keep up that kind of weight gain either! So..umm..apparently, I need to find a happy medium somewhere in the middle.
It's chilly outside tonight, but that's good for sleeping. Our sleeping bags are pretty warm, so cold weather is much more comfortable to sleep in that warmer weather, otherwise we'll start sweating a wake up in the night because we're too hot.
**This picture was taken the next morning behind Brad and Bill's house where we camped. That's why it's light outside.