How Do I Say “Goodbye” to The Best Family I’ve Ever Known?
August 12, 2017
A few days ago Tyler and I acquired two paying positions as Litter Pickers at the Oregon Eclipse Gathering (http://oregoneclipse2017.com/). We will be working with Lucy Legan and her Green Team to make sure the grounds are kept clean and that everything is sorted properly (woo hoo there will be composting!). While this opportunity will provide us with a super rich and unforgettable experience, leaving the group was not easy. Required to arrive on site on August 15th, there would be no way for us to finish the Green Riders Tour all the way in Seattle on August 18th. Going to this festival was actually my original plan, but ending with the Green Riders and being with Tyler for the solar eclipse took precedent over leaving the group early. However, getting paid to go to a festival that I have been looking forward to for over half a year and with my sweetie is too good of an opportunity to pass up. Apparently, it was too good of an opportunity for nine other riders to pass up as well! Most of them also have work opportunities or are volunteering.
Our final volunteer and two-day stop as a “full” group (whatever that means as Green Riders, haha) was fulfilling both in service and in our tummies! We stayed at a beautifully crafted (and quite large) straw bale house with Mary Ann and Larry and helped the blueberry farm across the street pick the last of one of their crops. There were ten rows that each required two riders to pick for about two hours. That’s a lot of hours… I think we helped them significantly. And we could eat the whole time while picking! Score.
At the house, we were treated to an in-law suite with a bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom, a hot tub outside, two horses, and a sweet meow-y kitty. 🙂 It was really one of the best settngs to end our journey. Leaf, a cyclist from China who has been dubbed as a resident Green Rider, was generous enough to offer to cook us an eight dish traditional Chinese meal. He knew the group would be departing in two separate ways the next morning, so he wanted to make sure we all had a memorable dinner on our last night. I think it was also his way of thanking us for taking him in as part of the group (we kept running into him on the road and in different towns, so he eventually just joined us). Different Green Riders went to the grocery store to check off items on Leaf’s grocery list and others helped in the kitchen. We all sat together outside and ate a deliciously diverse meal that was made in a true Green Rider style.
The next morning Josh made his signature banana apple sweet potato pancakes… Enough for all of us to eat four! Also made Green Rider style with most ingredients saved from dumpsters. 🙂 The feeling from everyone during the morning was slightly poignant, but understanding and relaxed. No one seemed to be in a hurry probably because saying good bye sucks. The incessant music that draped over the inside and all of the outside of the house was tuned to a sad and slow station, and it honestly made me cry more than once. It seemed like the hugs kept coming in, and often more than once for one person. Juli reassured me that we were not saying goodbye, only see you later. And I know I will see every single Green Rider that I came to know and love so deeply in the future.
The future came pretty soon as many of us found our way to the local organic grocery store, but there we took our final departure.
If you want to keep this blog reading short, you can probably stop reading here, but I am going to continue to lay out what our next couple of days have looked like.
Many of us started to make way to Spokane, WA and then further south. Most of the group going to the festival are biking the whole way there, but Tyler and I have to be there early so we planned to start finding rides in Spokane. A Craiglist ad had a ride for August 11th, and we started biking down on the 9th. It was only about 75 miles from where we stayed in Sandpoint, so we had noooo problem splitting that ride in two days. Conveniently, a Warm Showers hosts was just 47 miles south and we found another one in Spokane for the next night. Today, August 11th, the Craigslist poster responded to me after had stocked up on bulk food and a sweeeet dumpster score from an organic market in Spokane.
We were kind of unsure about what our future looked like, but we were pretty sure cardboard, a sharpie, and the word “south” would be involved, so when her text came through, a feeling of relief showered over us. We are currently in Pasco, WA which is about 130 miles south of where we were only a few short hours ago (crazy how fast a motor can move you…). She also conveniently is traveling in a motorhome so has more than enough room to accommodate our bikes inside!
We took a swim in the Columbia River, ate a picnic dinner in the park, and now we are lounging in first class chairs outside of the RV waiting until her friend arrives at the train station. I made my own post on Craigslist seeking a ride to the Mitchell, OR area and things are looking up. I received a text from a woman with a pick up truck headed that way in the morning, so we will stay in Mia’s motorhome tonight and meet up with our next ride in the morning.
It honestly feels good to not be on the bike. My knees were hurting, my spirit was definitely not as high as it was in the beginning (but also certainly not at the lowest it has been), and it seemed like traveling started to feel like work; I have been feeling all of those things for quite some time as well. I have no doubt in my mind I could make it all the way to Seattle, just ten more days of our 82 day journey, but I am proud of our decision to follow what feels right for us. I am most bummed about missing the final project in Seattle (oooo what will it be?? I know the secrets!), but I cannot fail to recognize the immense change we have created as group this whole way. Being a part of this tour makes me prouder than any other accomplishment in my life.
It seems I have just confirmed a ride almost all the way to the festival tomorrow. We will probably be riding our bikes about 40-70 more miles to get into the fest. I am really looking forward to all that I will experience and learn there, and to connecting with beautiful, world-changing people.
I hope I am able to write a very reflective blog on this whole experience, both the ride and the fest, but I feel my best and purest writing comes when I am actually writing. Expect a few posts on where we’ve slept, what we’ve eaten, and a catalogue of all the beautiful kitty souls I met along the way.