Saturday, October 31, 2015

To Cross the Northern Tier - The Appalachians East

Carol Myers bikes across America, May 31 - August 22, 2015
5. Port Ontario, New York to Orr’s Island, Maine

If heaven resembles the Swift House Inn
as haven for wayfaring bicycle souls,
then I’ll savor the dwindling stage

of my life. My final days are preordained,
set on where I’ll sleep each night, locked
in to how I will get there:

ride, rest, hydrate, eat,
pedal, shift, pedal, coast,
do it over, again


by lakes and mountains, pastures, forest,
field and farm to camps and inns
until at last the epic …

Should we speak of scenery?

              How clouds nestle
                                  the creases
                      of mountains.

How dark
green tunnels
wind the interior
of Adirondack Park
to moody lakes
lined with fir,
in the evening

How the intimate vistas of old Vermont
hold a tangible sweetness filling the air
with August heat and fresh-mown hay.

How the steep
ascent of Kancamagus,
up the slopes to Beaver Lake
unveils another most wonderful view

of my trip. But what of my journey, plunging
through memory and rumination, my summer
of moving meditation? How I passed through

the dreamland of Iroquois Nation carrying
my incarnations inside, from the awkward
silence of pre-teen me to the confident cyclist

crossing the land. I too am multitudes —
daughter, sister, mother, wife; student,
teacher, mentor, friend. Emerging

from this transient world into another
next new life, I’m the nervous girl
on her first day of school. Have I played

at being a vagabond? Or woman on a hero’s
quest (with credit cards and cozy home,
a life to which I could always return)?

It was not by courage
but showing up, I cycled
a sixth of the earth.

The tide was up when I dipped a tire
into the cold of Casco Bay. Family
rejoined, my ride is done.

The world pours in.

First: The Mountain West
Previous: The Great Lakes
Carol's YouTube slide show: "Almost There The Northeast"

To Cross the Northern Tier - The Great Lakes

Carol Myers bikes across America, May 31 - August 22, 2015
4. Gladstone, Michigan to Port Ontario, New York

From the pine-scented northern shores,
sprinkled with seasonal hunting motels
where AC is an oscillating fan arranged
by a wedged open window;

to an idle day in Saint Ignace
and Main Street on Mackinac Island
immersed in tourists and tidy shops,
clean as a Disney theme-scape;

past Harbor Springs and Charlevoix,
reeling from excessive wealth,
to an evening dip in the shallows at dark
in the peace of Petoskey Park —

I love the big waters of Michigan
with orchards of cherries by
Grand Traverse Bay, but I leave
for the homes of old Huron,

the currents and eddies of River
St. Clair, which carry the freighters
to docks in Detroit and ferries
across into Chatham. I would

loiter once more through my time
in Ontario, idling past the pleasant
farms where shiny windmills slowly
spin an indolent summer breeze.

I’d embrace again the horizons
of Erie, lingering in a beach cafe
to watch an old couple watching
the waves, just passing their days

in the sun. I mark my hours by moving
on, by gray bluffs and hardy flowers
along an unassuming coast, where
weeds secure the shoreline. I glide

the shadows on Erie’s expanse as
meditation moves me east, shedding
thoughts with shifting views. The mist
precedes the thunder approaching Niagara

Falls where wonder is wrapped
in a rainbow, reflected in people
the world brings to me. I treasure
this stage of delightful days, each

in peaceful succession, each more
precious as they dwindle. Now I
move through a world of internal
cues and I move at my own deliberate

pace by Rochester up to Selkirk Shore
where I contemplate the evening glow
as purple drains through deepening
hues until at last the darkness soothes

and all is mere external. Now I go
with the peace of the fresh water seas
as my journey turns to interior hills
and hollows of old Appalachia.

next: The Appalachians East
previous: Lake Country
Carol's YouTube slide show: "Great Lakes & More"

To Cross the Northern Tier - Lake Country

Carol Myers bikes across America, May 31 - August 22, 2015
3. Pelican Rapids, Minnesota to Gladstone, Michigan

There is a land set halfway home,
the sculpture of sunlight and storm,

a rolling canvas molded from prairies
and painted with pastures, copses, and corn.

There’s a Psalm of abundance sung
by the earth in the voice of wind and rain

on shaded lanes by silver lakes
as summer daylight … wanes.


The vale is a place of parting,
where road companions peel away

true to their own imperative. I steer
my bike the northern way, straight

into angst of daily toils, beset
by head winds, heat, and storms.

My roads climb unending swells
closed in by corn row monotony.

Plagues of black flies rise from bogs
and evening mosquitos sequester my tent.

My spirit is mired in the daily must
as midnight morphs into dawn.


But surely the wind will shift again,
the hills will flatten, skies shall blue,

and I will sit by still waters. There is rest
on the shores of Big Sand Lake, renewal

birthed in a kindness. This is the quiet
of my trip, when adventure becomes

ordinary and pleasure is taken in maps
and meals, in quenching sips and soaking

baths, in rotating pedals and finding my
pace, easing across the countryside.


There is a land set halfway home,
a gentle land — I shall return …

another day. But now is the time to be
gone. To encounter the empty timberland

as I enter the East outside Escanaba
and camp by the bay of a sweet water sea.

next: The Great Lakes
previous: The Great Plains
Carol's YouTube slide show: "NT The Middle, Minn & Wisc"

To Cross the Northern Tier - The Great Plains

Carol Myers bikes across America, May 31 - August 22, 2015. 
2. Logan Pass, Montana to Fargo, North Dakota

Down, down the long descent
down from the snows of Logan Pass
to land-of-the-wind where the wide
empty opens onto arid steppes
and descendants of nomadic tribes
inhabit the shadow of grandeur.

I sail east on a tailwind and fly
by pastures and pea fields, by sleek
turbines lining dry ridges. I wave
to the west-bound Amtrak and roll
through lonely towns with sad taverns
where food is forlorn afterthought.

From Rudyard to Hingham, from Havre
on, faith is a friendly bar in an alien land;
hope is a bathroom around the next bend.
Perhaps the next pantry has lattes and scones,
beef jerky, cheese bits, and trail gorp to go.
And always I go. Day by day I take the road

through open fields of shifting hues that shimmer
in the morning air, then trudge the miles of muted
tones that anchor the afternoon sky-drama.
I go by the goodness of people and swear
by the kindness of strangers. Angels
wander grocery aisles and blessings

leaven the road. An old man hurries
from his home to offer the grace
of water as I pedal through his
reservation, onto rolling green
ridges, into relentless headwinds
and heat. I hew to the backroads

but hop the shoulder of an empty Interstate
when crumbling asphalt of Highway 10
lodges the treads of my tires. I push
by the oil derricks of Dickinson
and manicured lawns of Taylor
to pause in retreat at Assumption Abbey.

As I tack the shifting winds I dream
of shaded oases with lakes and trees —
Minnesota pulls me on. It pulls me
past tall grain towers and beyond
long trains towing tank cars of oil.
It pulls me through the traffic of Bismarck.

The land greens by degrees and earth
unveils her sensuous curves. White
daisies line the roadside. Green
hay carpets the horizon. Distant
depressions tucked in ponds are tiny
puddles in the intimate empty.

You cross the plains by persistence,
pedal stroke by pedal stroke, fueled
by a root beer float, lifted by lattes,
pushed by pretzels and Kit-Kat bars,
stoked by fast food bacon burgers.
You cross a continent meal to meal.

Where did the prairie end?
Was it the cafe in Kindred conjuring
the ways of Lake Wobegon?

It was gone by Fargo. I slept
at a HoJo with hot tub and pool

then slipped away into soft morning rain.

next: Lake Country
previous: The Mountain West
Carol's YouTube slide show: "A Trip through the Great Plains"

To Cross the Northern Tier - The Mountain West

Carol Myers bikes across America, May 31 - August 22, 2015. 
1. Anacortes, Washington through Logan Pass, Montana

Is it vision, dream, or deja-vu?
I’m sipping espresso at Moka Joe’s
three miles east of Anacortes, first stop
down a summer road that ends in the cold

Atlantic. I savor the morning shadows
of my next new life. A continent calls.
Its mountain ranges rise before me,
mile-high passes carve the heights,

constraining my path to the Plains.
Washington caps the North Cascades,
Sherman cuts the Kettle Range,
and Logan tops the Rockies.

The charismatic elevations loom.
But more than heights — the hills
and heat, the toils and snares, what
lies between. Unknowns await,

yet I bring what I need. I will move
by my own instinct and keep up
with no one. I will stretch out on rocks
and ponder. I’ll pare down

and live each day by the sun.
I will work up a sweaty grime
and bathe in cold lakes. I will go
lightly across the land.

I may feast on fresh eggs
or dine on days-old bags of food,
drink huckleberry shakes
or stanch thirst with stale water.

There will be days dogged by heat
when I arrive in a red daze
coated in a salty sheen and think
how sweet it feels to be alive.

For in the end, not heights nor heat
nor trials between, but what we find
that lies within. Soon I will be gone
from here. We travel alone together.

next: The Great Plains
Carol's YouTube slide show: "NT The Northwest"