Saturday, August 2, 2008

We'll Charge the Rest to Karma

Roam if you want to

Roam around the world

Roam if you want to

Without wings, without wheels

Roam if you want to

Roam around the world

Roam if you want to

Without anything but the love we feel

~ B-52s, Roam

After several days of cycling in Ontario we are now in Port Colborne staying with our wonderful Warmshowers hosts Janet and Steven Rivers. It is an amazing feeling after a long day of cycling to be welcomed into someone's house, people we have never met, like we were old friends returning after an extended absence. Janet and Steven provided us with a fantastic lasagna dinner, cold beer, good wine, and dessert. The kids had their own room (with a television to watch the Discovery Channel and no parents to nag them to turn off the TV!). Alison and I also had our own room. And what a good thing we were inside last night. Sometime in the early morning hours a huge thunder storm moved through. The lightning and thunder were intense, even indoors.

I think that sometimes in our everyday lives we forget about the kindness of others, and our potential to show kindness to strangers. For the past several days the chain on Alison's bike has been slipping off the chain ring. We were unable to adjust it adequately to fix the problem. Yesterday we stopped in a bike shop in Dunnville, Ontario. The owner, Randy, was very busy but he took time to look at the bike and adjust the chain tension (note: Alison has a recumbent tandem. The chains are at least double the length of a standard bike and adjustments are sometimes tricky). Randy took about an hour of his time to get the chain just right. As he worked we talked about our trip and some of the adventures we have had. When he finished we went back into the store so I could pay him for his time. He told me the cost was $5. I thought I misheard him. Five dollars for working on the bike for nearly an hour? "We'll charge the rest to karma," he said.

I guess I had added to my karma account earlier in the day. As we were cycling toward Dunnville I saw a man pushing his bike on the side of the road. As we slowly went by I asked him if he was OK. He said yes but that his chain came off. He was about 50 years old and it was clear that he was developmentally delayed. I stopped my bike and asked him if I could help. The chain had come off the rear cog on his single-speed bike. It was wedged between the cog and the frame. As I worked I asked him if he lived far (I wasn't sure I was going to be able to get the chain unstuck). He was about four or five miles from home. After working for about 20 minutes I was able to get the chain free and back on the cog. He thanked me and he was off. Sonia and I said goodbye to him as he pedaled back onto the road.

If I were driving in my car I might have just driven on by as he walked his wounded bike down the road. Several times when we have had problems with our bikes most drivers just went on by, either not noticing us or just too busy to stop. I am going to keep adding to the karma bank, however, and make sure to take the time to be more aware when driving by cyclists in need once we get back to our "real lives".

Speaking of that, it is hard to believe that we are nearly done with our trip. We will be in Walla Walla in just 20 days. I keep thinking about how that transition will go. I'm not so sure it will be an easy one. This trip has been intense in so many ways. The time I have spent with Sonia and Gus (all day, every day!), being able to have extended conversations with Alison and the kids with no pressure of work, school, getting the kids to some activity, the time to see people at their best, and cycling every day; those are experiences I could not have had without this adventure.

And speaking of experiences, we stayed in Port Dover two nights ago. There was no camping in the area and only a couple of options for motels. One was very expensive and probably wouldn't let us in anyway! The second was half the price and was right near the cycling route. There was one catch: it was above a bar called Angelo's. OK, still not bad. We've stayed in hostels in Ireland that were above pubs. When I checked in (at the bar of course) the bartender told me that it was karaoke night. Until 1 AM. OK, maybe the insulation was so good that we wouldn't hear it. No such luck. OK, maybe the singing would be so good that we wouldn't mind. It would be just like having the radio on in the background. Picture this: loud, mostly bad country songs sung by drunk or on their way to being drunk very bad singers. It could have been worse, I suppose. It could have rained and the roof could have leaked!

Today we are off to Niagara Falls and a well-earned rest day off the bikes tomorrow. We are getting so close to Maine now that I can almost smell and taste the lobster!

Thanks again for all the comments and words of encouragement. We do appreciate it.

~ Dan


Anonymous said...

I am so glad that you had the chance to write! I am happy to hear that you are staying with kind people, having warm showers, and enjoying good food. Esp after your night with the Angelo karaoke! I bet you are looking forward to your day off the bikes tomorrow. I am excited that you are almost finished with your adventure. Only 20 days until you are back. You have really been an inspiration. Congratulations on all you have achieved on this trip. And I will try to remember karma today. It is amazing how we all get wrapped up in our own lives. Can't wait to see you all in person soon. Chandra

Terri said...

Dear friends-

You have learned a great deal on this trip, and have gratefully shared it with us. I have learned, and been reminded, of our personal responsibilites- most of which are taken for granted. We need to keep on making a difference in our corner of the world. Thanks for being in my world!

Safe travels and hugs- Terri G.

Anonymous said...

Hey Y'All,
Things in Newton are fine and we love reading your comments and seeing the wonderful pictures.
Although I have been bad, VERY BAD, about writing, we have been keeping up with your daily adventures. You are all awesome, but then again, I always knew that. I continue to learn so much from you. Lately, it has been about having patience and accepting people for who they are. It is easy to see the bad in others, but there is always good too!! My goal today is to find someone who is in need and ask them, "What is there that I can do for you?" I may even make that my daily mission. May your next two weeks be blessed with great weather, safe riding, and moments to savor with family. Watch out LOBSTER, here we come!! Love to all!