Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Blue Side Of Lonely

Today I rode 85 kilometers to Bathurst, New Brunswick and bought a ticket for the night train to Montreal.

The train didn’t leave until 8 pm, so I went downtown and ate a plate of spaghetti at Bruno’s Bistro.

Bruno’s was decorated for a birthday party.

Red balloons drifted against the ceiling and pastel strips of tinsel paper were strung from wall to wall. I sat at a corner table by the window and watched a little girl with pale blond hair blow on a pink plastic kazoo. An old song came on the stereo – a sad, slow, country twang:

“I’m just on the blue side of lonely / Across from the Heartbreak Hotel / I’m calling to tell you it’s over…


I was the only customer.

….

Yesterday I rode 94 kilometers and crossed the bridge from Quebec into New Brunswick.

When dusk fell, I turned off on a side road, lugged my bike into some cedar woods and made camp with practiced efficiency.

When everything was staked out just so, I ate dinner. First a banana, then a peanut butter sandwich, then a Snickers bar. Then some more bread. Full and unsatisfied, I burrowed into my sleeping bag and read through the Official New Brunswick Vacation Planner by headlamp.

Usually I get a kick out of the bubbly language in tourist guides, but last night’s reading just annoyed me.

“Get ready for the great outdoors and the fantastic folklore of Dalhousie, nestled on the banks of one of the 30 most Beautiful Bays in the World!

Dalhousie is a dying mill town with one of those lonely downtowns where only the Dollar Store, Chinese Restaurant and Pharmacy are still in business.

I know this because I followed signs to Main Street that led me down a steep hill. I was hoping for a grocery store, or maybe a café with free wireless, but even the Price Chopper was closed. Then I had to push my bike up an even steeper hill to get back to Rt. 134 and the Scenic Acadian Coastal Drive.

Dalhousie sucks.

Huddled in my pup tent in cedar woods outside Dalhousie, I stared at the map, wondering where I might find a bus station, how I might get home.

Later, I dreamed that I was looking at a map with a faint road…a shortcut…leading straight across Maine, dipping through New Hampshire and winding right down to Craftsbury, Vermont. I traced the route with my finger. Only 250 kilometers! Two hard days of riding and I could be….

Home.

….

This hasn’t been a bad trip.

I’m just tired and lonely, that’s all.

My thighs ache, my shirt smells and I spend a lot of time thinking about how nice it would be to wake up in my own bed and come downstairs to a full pot of good coffee on the breakfast table, Mom reading the New York Times, Dad off on his morning bike ride.

I’m tired of searching for wireless Internet to upload the articles that I edit at night in my tent. I’m tired of shaking out my stuffy sleeping bag and cramming my tent into its bag every morning. Most of all, I‘m tired of pedaling, pedaling, pedaling, uphill and down, day in and day out, without feeling like I’m really getting anywhere.

I could keep going. But I’ve gone through my spare tubes and the one in my rear tire has two patches on it. The nights are getting colder. The zipper on my rain jacket is broken. I’ve got articles to edit, editors to contact, interviews to finish and stories to write.

I need to learn some Spanish before moving to Argentina for the winter.

Excuses, excuses.

It’s time to go home.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Tim Urie said...

Tim
Sounds like you have had enough biking for one trip huh? Are you headed home now or still headed North? I hope today finds you feeling a bit better. Hope all is well and hope to see you soon. Keep up the great writing.

Tim

1:22 PM  

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