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Discovering greatness

I tried to deliberately record the feeling of placing my feet on the Great Wall so that I could go through it again long after I’d left it. I knew that, in the moment, I was only absorbing a fraction of the powerful impact that connecting with such a long human lineage inspires. I loved Japan and crossing Korea, I made it to China, and this ancient rumor of a structure became a solid stone entity around me.

I set out to bike around the world, and I think I’ll get there. So far, the journey has brought to surface and healed rough patches of myself that needed to come out. Pains, hesitations, confusion, self-doubt- I’ve been seeking a direct and gentle confrontation with these, for who knows how long. It brought me to Hermes, gifted an impossible set of serendipities, sent me to a safe path where I could let go of all my fears. And the bliss and wholeness that I expect on the other side of this walk with myself, that is the goal I need to pursue right now.

Until soon, my biking plans are suspended. Travel will continue. Adventure is inevitable. The internal journey rolls on in the deep rivers that have carried me this far. I’ll let you know where I must go next. It’s with the cavalry of support I feel behind me at all times that I know this is the right direction.

Tallying the numbers

Just for a quick overview of the previous two weeks, here’s how they look in quantitative form.

Biking

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Miles cycled: 566
Crashes sustained: 3
Crashes as a result of cars: 0
Tunnels survived: 32+
Times I swore at Hermes: 20
Times I covered Hermes with compliments: 15 (I have some sweet talk to do)
Rainy days on the bike: 4
Flats: 0, so far
Audiobooks completed: 4
Songs made up out loud while biking: 2 hours total

EatingIMG_6937

Bowls of ramen since Sapporo: 1, maybe
New Japanese foods tried: lots, but discernably 5
Times “I never need to eat again” uttered: 8
Times I ate again within two hours: 5
Bouts of sickness: 1 (I blame squid that too late I discovered was 2 weeks past expiration)

Caloriemate energy bars: 8
Home-cooked meals: 17 (I’m again stunned by this generosity)
Cups of tea: Many
Times said, “Birthday ______!” as reason to eat: 5

Family dinner at Shiratori farm.

Family dinner at Shiratori farm.

Takoyaki- battered octopus poppers- with the Suzuki family.

Takoyaki- battered octopus poppers- with the Suzuki family.

Chestnut ice cream in Obuse, just north of Nagano, famous for its chestnut production.

Chestnut ice cream in Obuse, just north of Nagano, famous for its chestnut production.

Sleeping

Crazy, detailed dreams: 15+
Mattresses: 3
Tatami style floor mats: 4
Sleeping in public places: 2
Times photographed sleeping in public place: 1
Times woken up to be asked to sleep elsewhere: 1
Times directions ignored without further ado: 1
Nights of restless sleep: 3
Nights of blissful rest: 11

Dawn at Shiratori farm.

Dawn at Shiratori farm.

Miscellaneous:

Snow monkeys in Monkey Park, near Nagano, grooming and hanging out.

Snow monkeys in Monkey Park, near Nagano, grooming and hanging out.

Monkeys seen: 40 at a time
Museums/parks visited: 3
Onsen visited: 2
Travel buddies found: 1

Naoto, a travelling buddy discovered in Akita, and who was good company for a few days, sleeping under the stars, talking about human truths, and finding awesome common ground. See you in Nara!

Naoto, a travelling buddy discovered in Akita, and who was good company for a few days, sleeping under the stars, talking about human truths, and finding awesome common ground. See you in Nara!

Birthdays: 1
Birthday desserts: 3
Persimmons eaten: 6
Types of vegetables harvested: 3
Children adored: 4
Buckets of phytoplankton investigated: 1
Trains taken: 5 (4 of which to get to local sites, one to avoid a typhoon)
Typhoons: 3
Laundry loads: 3
Revelations and insights: Too many to count, or even keep track of
Times said, “Watashi wa baga gaijin des” (I am a stupid, silly foreigner): Dozens
Success rate of laughter at above statement: 95%

Ferries taken: 3
Time spent feeling unbelievably blessed and grateful: Hundreds of hours
New nicknames developed: 1

Ferry crewmate en route to Sado.

Ferry crewmate en route to Sado.

Hirosaki Castle.

Hirosaki Castle.

My love for boats extends with every ride.

 
My love for boats extends with every ride.
Squid fishing boats along the coast of western Honshu.

Squid fishing boats along the coast of western Honshu.

The signature red of Japan's shrines, temples, castles, and gates, marking sacred territory.

The signature red of Japan’s shrines, temples, castles, and gates, marking sacred territory.

Hopefully this gives some summary of the last two weeks. I apologize for cramming it all in, but this is the sad reality of having such long absences from internet.

Until the next post,

Sparklepony

Taking in the Sea of Japan.

Taking in the Sea of Japan.

The First Adventure Ride

The First Adventure Ride

A few miles out of town leads to a lake, continuing east on a long road that unwinds with unusually level sidewalks through rougher parts of town out into the sparse surrounding ruralia. Hermes and I are starting to get a sense of the true dangers of the road- TRAFFIC, intimidating dogs, and drop handlebar gear shifters.

Hermes’ First Ride

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I collected Hermes from Matt’s shop on Friday, and finally got a break from sleeting weather to take it out today for our first ride.

ImageThere’s a lot to get used to on it, since it’s got a completely different shape and specs than any town bike I’ve had before.

Today’s focus was learning how to clip in. I have yet to be tested under a true adrenaline blackout, but I’m getting used to it. The gears are equally tricky, and I’ve not got those under control.

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The first of much dirt to come.

Here’s some more pictures of Hermes’ basic frame. I’m still unconvinced by the pedals (they’re so slick on both sides unless I’m clipped in), but everything else feels like it’ll do just fine.

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My new lucky charm(ander).

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