Crossing For Cancer

Posted by crossingforcancer on October 16, 2008

October 7

It’s raining hard in Clinton.  I sit waiting in the café in Clinton for hours.   I have to admit, I kind of like the rain, while I’m inside or in the tent – not really riding.  It finally lightened up enough to ride with rain gear.  I was looking for the Katy Trail, which is a 250 mile crushed limestone bike trail that used to be the old railroad.  I just kind of cycled up and ended up running into it.  I felt it was a dream.  The sound of the hard packed limestone under my tires – literally a tree lined path for bikers.  It was such a  perfect atmosphere with the intoxicating smell of wet fresh leaves under me, the changing colors, wow.  And I have only gone 17 miles on it.  They say it will get even better.  I came to a town just before dark, went for a sandwich and found camping.  The guy wanted to charge me $4 for a campsite with no showers or anything, so I just kept rolling and found a nice clearing in the woods and parked my tent there.  I was waiting to cross the main street in that last town and actually had to wait for a horse and buggy covered wagon to cross.  It was an Amish community – beautiful.  Simple, happy and pure.

I can appreciate the way the Amish live.  I noticed there were quite a few horse and buggies in town.  I got to the trail, went up a few miles and found a little clearing for the tent.  I find myself seeing the finish line and daydreaming about what I used to do before this…

Oh yeah, I live in L.A., fight traffic, congestion and angry people – including myself – it’s really incredible to reflect on my Los Angeles life, compared to what I’ve been doing day in and day out since the beginning of the Crossing.  I actually think it’s normal to bike across the country now, as if it’s what everyone does. 

Well, breakfast is done.  The suns out.  It’s a refreshing 70 degrees.  No wind, no grasshoppers, plenty of deer and I’m wearing 98 percent citronella oil to keep the mosquitos from eating me alive and carrying me away.  I honestly don’t think I have enough blood in my body to live past two miles.  This trail is out in the sticks and I love it.

Slept well in the local park after I called the sheriff to see if it was ok to camp there, Pete was his name.  Woke to another beeautfiul day in MO.  The night before I stopped at the KC general store.  They’re like the Starbucks of the mid-west.  Bought a bag of cheerios and some milk so I can have breakfast ready for the rest of the week. 

Rolling down the trail, to describe it is hard.  The trees surround the trail almost as if I’m riding through a tunnel of foliage.  The morning light slivers its way through to hit the moist leaves from last nights dew. Because of the dense air, the light-rays are almost visible as I cycle through this wonderland. I’m expecting Dorothy and the Tin Man to pop out at any time to ask if I want a bagel.

I came across one place that night, called Lucy’s Burgers, Beer & Grill and ended up sleeping in the back yard, they let me pitch my tent in the back there.  Woke up, had a tall glass of milk for the cheerios, some coffee.  The people in the town – the 50 or so – well, maybe 5 or so, are real nice.

I’m back on the trail and have had several flats on the rear tire.  I have about 16 patches on one tire.  Actually, that’s exaggerated.  It’s more like 6.  I’m on my spare tire for the spare tire, which I already patched with a dollar bill.  Good thing I had some small change and didn’t have to use a twenty.  

I ended up meeting up with this couple – Danielle and Caleb.  They’re a really nice, young couple, also just riding a couple of days on the Katy Trail.  They told me about this bunkhouse, where I arrived at a town called Pivot, for another unusual sleeping arrangement.  It is a building or bunkhouse donated by an elderly lady in the town, for the Katy Trail cyclists basically.  It’s a town of 11 people and a cool old funky bunkhouse.  It costs five dollars, you mail the payment in and the key is actually hanging on the light pole outside the building.  “The Turner Katy Trail Shelter.”  Turner is the lady’s last name.

I had a great night’s sleep.  The bar, post office and pizza place are the only establishments in this town, so I went and got a pizza and headed to the bar.  The bartender was actually sharpening a straight blade on a piece of leather when I walked in.  Asked if I needed a shave.  Yeah, probably not from that blade…

So, I chatted for a minute with the 11 people at the bar, which was the entire town.  The place was cool.  Equipped with it’s own Karaoke machine and the music was from the 30’s and 40’s.  It was pretty funny.  As I was leaving the shelter and old salt rode in.  He didn’t appear to have had a steady home for years.  He was riding an old bike held together by welding and some duct tape.  He told stories about when he’d ridden on a freight train across the country, walked across the country and has been on his bike for as long as he can remember – just a bohemian going around the world. 

So after meeting this guy, you know I’m never surprised to meet someone who has exceeded my bohemenian ways.  He was an interesting fellow but a bit jumpy, with due reason.

October 12

I rode through a small German Town called Herman.  Rolling through town, I heard rumors that it was Oktoberfest for the weekend.

Yup, it was.  Headed to the park where it was a sea of tents.  Met some very nice folks and ended up camping, unknowingly, by the couple – Danielle and Caleb again.  I wanted to thank them for putting a couple of my shirts in the wash.  They were great, very cool and helpful.  Nice people. They’re actually both army medics stationed in MO – just out for the weekend.  The last day of a very great weekend.

So, as I cycle through these mystical woods, it reminds me of the vine-filled forests of Harry Potter.  I can’t seem to capture it with film or words.  This magical place in MO, the Katy Trail.  I have to say, I’ve enjoyed this state a lot, so friendly and beautiful.  I’m now approaching a big city, St. Louis.  I’m a little freaked out about it actually, but excited to do portraits and experience the people I will meet and stay with there.

I met three other cyclists on the trail, Jeff, Dan and Mike, who were cycling the entire Katy Trail.  Jeff bought me breakfast at this little farmhouse in the morning.  I did a portrait of the owner of the farmhouse – he was waiting for our arrival and invited us for breakfast.  We rode for about 15 or 20 miles together.  IT was really nice and I wanted to thank them for their genorisity and friendship. 

I ended up staying near Jeff, Dan and Mike’s campsite.  They wanted to hear the story of the Crossing around their campfire.  The man’s portrait I did at the farmhouse – he has a history of relatives who have passed from cancer, so I decided to do two portraits of him on the spot.  It just seemed right.

        

I ended up going through a town called Augusta – a vineyard town.  I stopped for a wine tasting, it was really nice.  Lately, this trip is seeming like more of a vacation rather than such a grueling experience.  The weather is perfect, the leaves are changing – it’s beautiful.

October 13

I’m now in St. Louis and met up with Gerri, a pancreatic cancer survivor.  I’m going to save her incredible story for the next blog.  For now, so long and I’ll talk to you all soon…

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3 Responses to “”

  1. Sarah Schultz said

    Scott,
    I am in awe of you and all your accomplishments! I’m reading your story and can feel the wind and smell the pizza. So much of what you are experiencing and sharing has brought me to tears. You are the most amazing person I know! I am so proud to call you my dear friend and so envious at your awareness of who you are and what your capabable of. Stanislasky said an artist must”know oneself” and I believe that life experiences like this one teaches us about who we really are. Thank you for being so open and sharing yourself with the world. I miss you dearly.
    All my love,
    Sarah

  2. Eva Maher said

    Thank you so much, Scott. By reading your blog I just spent several precious moments in a tree lined tunnel in Missouri…and that’s SO MUCH nicer than thinking about my cancer. Hugs from New York City.
    Eva
    (Josh’s mom)

  3. Brenda said

    Hey there, I can not wait till you get here!! I miss you!!!!!!!!!!

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