Saturday, July 23, 2011

day 23: and now, the frontier

For the first two and a half weeks of this trip, Minneapolis was sort of billed as the promised land. This was Aaron's doing, mostly, since he was pretty sure we'd spend two days there, we'd be staying with his good pal Maddy and seeing other friends of his, and he knew the city well having lived there for three years. There was much talk about getting to Minneapolis (and yes, some griping from me about how it was too far north and why were we wasting our time and energy dealing with biking into not just one city, but *twin* cities), but not a ton of specific discussion about what would happen after we left.

And now, here we are, about 160 miles southwest of the city, in Marshall, Minnesota, expecting to cross into South Dakota tomorrow morning sometime. We're within one or two hundred miles of our estimated halfway point, but I'm very weary to think about being half done. The nature of our trip will be changing greatly in the next bunch of days. In marathon running, there's a popular philosophy that 13.1 miles is not the halfway mark of the race: 20 miles is. This is because those last 6.2 miles are so mentally and physically grueling, you'll need 50% of your energy left to slog through them. I imagine something similar with this trip. Sure, west of the Sierras should be fine, but the desolate nature of these next bunch of states, along with this little thing called the Rocky Mountains will take will require a different kind of outlook, at least from me. There won't be restaurants to choose from, motels when we want them, cold Gatorade at a gas station a few miles up. We'll be carrying more food and water (and stashing the food away from our tent, you can be sure) and doing little to no camping wherever we choose. Campgrounds, town parks, people's yards. I also figure that at some point, my nightly blogging might not be possible (so don't freak out, readerfriends!) and we won't have the ease of my phone's GPS (flawed as it can be), restaurant locator, and weather app. Also, I personally feel like I need a better or different focus for the rest of the trip. My mood and attitude have been somewhat mercurial thus far. It doesn't take much sometimes - botched directions, humidity, the need to start an argument that arises from boredom (is that just me?) - for things to go downhill for me, as it were.

All that said, I hope to keep my head a bit more in the game as we proceed. In some ways, it feels like these first three weeks have just been training for what's soon to come.
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