In my imagination, we’d all sit around swapping stories of our bike tour, we’d drink beer and share our secrets with perfect strangers we knew we would never see again. It would validate the trip for me, reassure me that I’d made the right decision to drop my life in Columbus and embark on this crazy unpredictable adventure. And, in many ways, that’s exactly what happened in Lander. And, it was great, perfect in a millions of different ways.
Brooke and I scrounged our asses off, we drank beer for free, we camped for free, we sat around in the grass eating free pizza generously purchased by the credit card of a fellow bicycle tourist’s grandparents. We talked about exes, love, heartbreak, and families with the other campers well into the night. Brooke and I even dabbled in a little innocent B&E of the local middle school to sneak a shower. It was all I ever wanted as far as bonding with perfect strangers goes, but here’s the thing, it also made me feel really old. Too old for this type of thing. It made me crave a routine, a job, the same bed and shower every night and morning. It made me miss my non-disposable friends, the ones who know and love me. And, I missed my family more than I ever have in my life. I was so sleepy by 10 p.m., while others were raring to go well on into the night. I felt ancient.
It didn’t help matters that three of the guys we were hanging out with that night were constantly one small step from being arrested or injured. One of the guys had been arrested already, and as the night progressed he got more and more drunk. He ended up being hit by a car later that night, and that’s the last I’d heard of him. In hindsight, maybe the recklessness of that particular group was mostly responsible for causing me to feel too old for this particular form of freedom.
On a positive note, I’ll say again that people are so generous. My new friend Amanda, a girl we met bicycle touring ended her tour in Lander, and she gave me her ipod. Who does that? Who gives away a perfectly good ipod to someone they barely know? A bicycle tourist does. Because, as a fellow bicycle tourist, they know what you’ve seen, they know the freedom, the loneliness, the amazing conversations with strangers, they get it.
The Lander city park.
Our last breakfast with Amanda, who we miss terribly.