Musings on my cats

The Internet was made for cat pictures, yes? Let’s add to the supply of cat pictures on the Internet.

Two black cats on a lazy boy

Nibbler and Snowball actually sitting next to each other nicely for once.

I have two rescue cats from the Humane Society. Their names are Snowball and Nibbler. After moving out from my brother and sister-in-law’s house, I just assumed that of course I would get a cat or two of my own. They have several cats, and a life without cats would seem so terribly empty. But it turned out that my roommate Eli and I kind of liked not having the worries and responsibilities of pets. No fur everywhere, no litterbox, far less puking in the corner – for a long while, it was kind of peaceful.

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So it’s been four years

The day before Thanksgiving 2015 I concluded my bike ride. That’s a little over four years ago. After I typed up my post summarizing the last leg of my trip I didn’t know what to do with this blog. Besides the obvious, which was to just walk away from it and let it skulk on the Internet, visited occasionally by myself, nostalgic family and friends, and the accidental wanderer who tumbleweeds over thanks to a nudge from Google’s algorithm.

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Thanksgiving 2019. Thanksgiving marks another year since the conclusion of my bike ride. It’s kind of bittersweet for me and makes me reflect and get all broody.

My father turned 80 last March, which inspired some celebration and reflection. My mother asked me to consider giving him a gift of my blog in book form. Sure, he could visit my blog anytime, but there’s something about having an actual book to thumb through, so my mom tried to make the case that my father secretly wanted a physical copy. I remained unconvinced that my dad desired a book of my blog.

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From New Orleans to Sunnyvale, aka Skipping Texas

Yeah, it’s been a long time. I’ve been busy. But today I’m going to catch up on sleep and do laundry, so maybe I can also include a little writing and reflection.

First of all, let’s flash back to when I got onto a train in New Orleans. The date on the ticket reminds me that it was November 11, 2015. My bicycle was stuffed into a bike box. I was happily congratulating myself on my excellent planning skills by not overbuying food the last time I restocked my panniers, so they were a little lighter and smaller than usual. That made it easier to stash them into the luggage racks! But after a few hours of sitting on the train, I started to feel a little hungry, and then realized that of course I would be sitting on this train for two days. With a dining car that charged $8 for a microwaved hot dog.

Oops.

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Mr. Lion feels a little queasy… it’s been a while since we’ve seen the world go by this fast!

Oh well, that was okay. Being in the dining car gave me lots of opportunities to mingle with the other travelers! And I have to say, these weirdos choosing to travel across the country by train instead of by plane are definitely worth talking to. Their stories and reasons for traveling by train range from the inspirational to the downright bizarre and mildly horrifying. Yes, I acknowledge that they may be saying the same thing about me. One girl I met found me such an oddity that she pulled out a camera and videoed our conversation as she subjected me to a formal interview.

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From Natchez to New Orleans, aka Get on the Sidewalk

So, it was early November, I was in Natchez, Mississippi, and it was time to start thinking about how I was getting home. Flying was not an option. I had made that promise to myself before I left, and I was standing by it. At this point, the thought of riding all the way back home to California seemed not too crazy. Clearly, I would want to stay south, given that we were rapidly marching our way to winter, but that would also mean that Texas stood in my way.


Desert gas station
A forgotten desert gas station like this haunted my imagination.

Many people I met told me stories about some famed, fearless, formidable cyclist who finally met his or her match in Texas. Snow in the Pyrenees, armed guards in Korea, obstinate passport stampers in Brazil – none of these things could stop the steady pedaling of a touring cyclist the way the vast boredom of the dry Texas desert could. Broken, exhausted, driven to lunacy by the solitude, the touring cyclist in Texas puts in that phone call. I was obsessed with imagining the receiving end of that phone call. The phone rings brightly, perhaps playing a cheerful ringtone selected for the spunky traveler. Maybe Queen’s Bicycle Race. “Oh fun! I wonder how the adventure’s going!”

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From Atlanta to Natchez, aka Now what?

Now what? It’s a question that keeps coming up. The transcontinental bike ride has been completed for a while. It seems a little wrong to keep up a blog that was designed for one purpose that has now been realized, but it also seems really sad to just let it die. Besides, who knows, maybe it can still play a role in recruiting bone marrow donors. Let’s see what happens.

So there I was, sitting in Atlanta. I had a few things I wanted to get done. First of all, relax and spend time with my sister Cindy and her family. Goof around with the niece and nephew. Enjoy not being in the rain. Take advantage of having a kitchen and easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables and running water. Write a whole lot of thank you notes. Snuggle with the cat. Eat pie.

But one can only sit around enjoying the easy life for so long. Though I did find some fun YouTube channels. What’s next? Get a job? Like, a real job? I was hoping for an epiphany while being on the road.

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From Cookeville to Atlanta, aka Already?

The ride is officially completed! The coast-to-coast portion concluded in Charleston, South Carolina, where I dipped my wheels into the Atlantic Ocean at Folly Beach, appropriately known as the Edge of America. That wasn’t the end of my journey, though, since I still wanted to ride to Atlanta and conclude at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.

Oh no! Swallowed by the ocean!

Flashback to April and the unruly waves of the Pacific.

As you can see in the above video, I received an extremely warm welcome at Emory! My sister Cindy had done a lot to spread the word of my arrival. I was humbled to be greeted by the very people I admire, the doctors, nurses, and researchers who work tirelessly at providing the best care for patients in need. As they crowded around me and thanked me for helping raise awareness for bone marrow donation, it was only too obvious to me that they are the ones truly deserving of thanks. I am honored to be able to take part and make a contribution, however small it may be, to their life saving work.

The waves on the Atlantic side were much more cooperative.

The waves on the Atlantic side were much more cooperative.

Somehow, they allowed me to take Lutz up to the bone marrow transplant unit in the hospital! I was introduced to patients and their families, and it was another humbling experience to be included in their battles to regain their health. While I am glad to have had this opportunity to raise awareness for Be the Match and the need for bone marrow donors, I am also constantly thinking about how I could have done things differently, how I could have done just a little bit more to help the cause… well, I guess that just means I’m not done yet! My bike ride may be completed, but the mission, of course, is not. Possibly, given what I’ve learned from the first attempt, I should plan another ride… what do you think?

Oops, should I have provided a spoiler alert at the beginning? Sorry. But yes, in case you haven’t guessed already, the ride is completed safely! However, not everything went to plan. Much of the route was altered along the way. I guess I’ll flashback to how I came to be in Cookeville, Tennesse, which was where I left off the last entry, and retrace my steps back to Atlanta.

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From Denver to Cookeville, aka The Soggy Edge

Post WOD at CrossFit Elizabethtown.

Post WOD at CrossFit Elizabethtown, Kentucky.

Many apologies for not writing more frequently, but such is life on the Soggy Edge.

This post will have to be a bit different from the others. I’m not going to take the time to write about everything that’s happened, so I’ll have to just pull a few select tales. Besides, the chronological travel log style is not really the kind of writing I had hoped for myself, so this will be a break from that.

Also, the heat and humidity and general rugged lifestyle is destroying my electronics. This computer is driving me nuts. I never know where my cursor is and it unexpectedly jumps to random places. And the struggle for decent wifi continues. There will be no uploading of photos, because it drives me to tears. (Update – I’ve now come back and added photos.)

But enough griping. Let’s see what I can do.

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