DAY 73

May 26, 1999

I got up early and went upstairs as Teresa was trying to figure out the best route to take to Billings.  This had been much of the discussion for yesterday.   She has a job interview in Billings at 2pm and it is a 6 hour drive and back.  She was wanting to find someone help her drive there and back since it is too much driving for one person in one day.  Yesterday I had offered to delay my plans for leaving and help her drive since no one else would be able to, but she decided not to attempt driving all the way back and will get a motel room.

As Teresa leaves Kristen appears in the kitchen and fixes both of us Oatmeal for breakfast.  Then I headed for the garage to finish getting everything ready to hit the road.  When I was done I helped Kristen carry her dresser out to her Pathfinder and then it was time for me to go :(  Kristen gave me a quick hug goodbye and then I pedaled off as she was leaving too, this was about 9:15 am.

I stopped at Open Road Cyclery and got another tube for my BOB since I pinched the other tube and didn't feel like trying to fix it.  Then I was off to Adventure Cycling to get those booties to go over my bike shoes.  Paul was there and he showed me both of them again and I decided on the neoprene ones for cold weather.  Although I may not see anymore cold weather like I've already been through, I decided "just in case".  Paul then took a Polaroid photo of me to ad to the wall of others they have from other cyclists passing through.  Then I met Greg Siple, the co-founder and art director, he wanted to take a large black and white professional photo of me for the archives.  The problem is that the light was wrong for the area he shoots in.  It would have to be after 12:30 for the area to be shaded form direct sunlight.  So I decided I could hang out a bit more, check my e-mail and have lunch.  It was a good excuse for me not to leave anyway, I'm really beginning to like this town, has to be the best town on my trip so far.  I rode a few blocks to Kinko's and had to pay 20 cents a minute for net access.  WOW that was expensive, needless to say I made it very quick.  First I looked at my website and found out some newspaper articles had been scanned and posted there.  After reading one in particular I was very upset!!  What a #@$^%@#$%#! where does she get off misquoting me and saying crap like that.  That stupid Q@#$%!#@$%  AHHHH  I hate it when people do crap like that, anything to make a story, it doesn't matter if any of the facts are correct.  The title was something like "Physical Therapist Fights Depression on Cross-Continent Bicycle Ride".  I think that's what it was.  First of all, I am not and have not been depressed.  I mentioned the amount of depression in the field, what I have heard from other PT's that have lost their jobs, and what is happening to the patients.  Fortunately, I don't have a lot of bills, was good at saving money so I could go a year without working, and I'm open to new choices in life.  An e-mail I just checked while sitting here highlighted the "depression" as follows:


Friends and Colleagues;
I was lucky enough to be allowed to have today off, a sort of mental health day, a day to escape the madness of work.  I awoke refreshed, grabbed a cup of coffee and decided to page through the latest Advance for PT's magazine,(April 12th edition).  For those of you who have this magazine, please refer to page 4, for those of you who don't have it, please find it.  This is a very disturbing article.  In summary, it seems a middle aged woman, a Physical Therapist, married with two children and working in the nursing home setting for Vencor (Vencare), committed suicide back in December.  The article states she may have been entering early menopause and going through hormonal imbalances, but also goes on to describe the great amount of stress she was under as a result of PPS.  While her coworkers recalled that she often spoke of the impact that this stress was having on her, nobody seemed to think it would push her over the edge. We all talk about how these stresses are affecting us daily, so what was any different here? We have all undergone seemingly daily changes; reduction in hours, pay, choices as clinicians, challenges to our morals and ethics, and we have watched as one fellow employee after another is laid off, wondering if we will be next.  We have had to drastically change our lifestyles as a result of reduced incomes of 10 to 30% over a 9 month period.  Many think that we were rolling in obscenely large salaries in the past and this is due us. We know that while there were those therapists who were earning 6 figure incomes, the majority of us simply earned a comfortable living, in exchange for our dedication to the sick and injured. Now many of us are in dire straights financially, screening the phone calls from collection agencies, taking on second jobs, cutting back on everything nonessential.

OK folks, so are we OK? Are your fellow therapists OK? I have been so mentally exhausted over the whole mess that I haven't written anything in a while. Like the last thing I wanted to do after fighting the political tigers all day was to come home and go over it all again, just trying to get the word out. But here I sit on my day off, steamed and disturbed. I want to know why our companies, those who we are still trying to turn a profit for, have not foreseen the potential danger of such stress within such a short period of time. Instead they just keep piling more on. Even the postal service conducts mandatory classes on stress management, how to identify stress in coworkers, and offers some type of rewards to their employees. Have any of  you that are still practicing even gotten a pat on the back lately? I doubt it, rather more stress piled on by the day. You must do more, in less time.  You must be 90% productive, yet still get the mounds of paperwork done. You may not stay after you clock out to finish the paperwork, nor may you take it home as that is illegal...yada yada yada...Oh yes, and we all get the;   "If you can't handle it, there's the door" innuendo, so why complain too much.

If you would please forward this letter to any therapists you know who are not included on my list I would appreciate it. Also, we must all keep fighting, although it is really not in our typically passive makeup, instead of sitting back like battered therapists, waiting for the next beating.

Well all, sorry I have rambled on so. Time for another cup of coffee and to start enjoying my day off.  Oh, by the way, Vencor donated $1500 to the lady's children's education fund.  How's that generosity from a multimillion dollar corporation. That will surely get the children far in life.


OK that pretty much sums it up!!!!   But as you can see I don't have a family or financial stress with mortgages and crap.  Of course as I've said I may be broke after this trip, I really don't care.  I could be happy delivering pizzas and going back to college :)

On a positive note I got a message from a brief encounter on the road.    Although it was just a short encounter, which was not long enough to form to much of an opinion of each other.  She read my journals and told me that she really enjoyed what I wrote and used the term "kindred spirit" to help describe the connection to what I wrote.  The more I think about it the more I realize that my writing is like the doorway into my soul, sort of a direct link.  I have opened myself up this way so that anyone can see the real me.  This is who I am without being clouded by physical appearances or anything else external that may give someone a bias as to who I am.  What I'm trying to write is how I think and how I feel, these things are not always easy to say or express to others in the real world.  Part of my trip is to explore who I am and ensure I am being honest with those around me and true to myself.  I want to be open and honest with all those I encounter, which can be difficult since many of us are afraid as to what some others may think if they new things like...  ummm...  my past use of drugs for example.  But I don't care, this is who I am!  and I am constantly changing as I learn and grow with new experiences in life.

After I finished with the net access and paid my $7.40 then went next door for lunch.  As I was parking my bike on the bike rack, I felt a tap on my butt.  What the...  I turned around to see a big lab had stuck his nose on my butt.  The owners of the dog, Floyd, were sitting at the small round table outside on the sidewalk.  Their names were Jake and Kate, and we talked a couple of minutes prior to me going inside to order my lunch.  While standing in line I got in a discussion with another guy that was asking about my bike ride.  He was by himself so I asked if he wanted to join me for lunch.   When the guy from the line inside sat down at the table, he introduced himself as Wakefield.  What a coincidence this was the guy I spoke to on the phone when I called Adventure Cycling a couple of weeks ago.  Although he no longer works there, and I guess Paul is the one that took over his position.

Back at Adventure Cycling, Greg was very busy so it was just a real quick, get my bike to the back, set up the back drop and take a couple of photos.  The consent form I signed had a spot on it that asked about my trip, where from, where to, and other things like "most unusual thing you are carrying".    Well I had nothing unusual at all.   The only thing I had that most cyclists wouldn't carry would have to be that mini dictionary I bought when I was in North Platte, the day I walked to the mall.  I decided to get one since I was getting frustrated when I would have a mental block on how to spell some of the simplest words.  Anyway, I wanted to talk to Greg some about his trip from Alaska to South America in '72 and how the whole concept for the Bike centenial began.  But he was very busy so didn't really have the time right now.   And I'm sure he sees so many cyclists that come through here that I'm just another one of the many.  It may be difficult to share my same enthusiasm with me being brand new to this whole thing and he being a veteran to it.

When I left, I accidentally turned the wrong way on Broadway and ended up on the wrong end of town.  So I turned around and headed back through town then out of town.  It was close to 1:30 by the time I left town.  Just on the outside of town I was stopped by a guy that was asking about where I was going.  He was getting ready to move from here after 6 years.  He had quite a bit of money when he came but with low wages and high cost of living he was pretty much broke.  This place was too expensive to live in and there were no decent paying jobs.  So he was moving in a couple of days and was headed for Alaska in search of work.  As I continued on, I passed the gas station where I had just met Kristen 3 days earlier and thought about how things worked out for me here in Missoula and the new friends I made. 

My route now is taking me on 200 east to 83 north.  While heading up on 83 north I followed the Blackfoot River for awhile, you know "A River Runs Through It".  Of course this wasn't the exact section but is the same river used in the movie.  There were some small little waterfalls draining the glacial melt into the river.  The smells and sound of water was very refreshing.

At the junction of 83 and 200 I stopped inside a convenient store and ate one nasty tastin' chicken sandwich and drank a SOBE "Energy" beverage.  I then used the pay phone to call and make sure all the newspaper articles were removed from my site.  I was still a little upset when I thought about it.  But those thoughts went away quickly as I rode up 83 north.  It was very scenic and I'll tell ya this is gettin' better every day!!  What a ride, what a journey , I can't say enough how awesome this is.   I passed Salmon Lake, and Placid Lake and both of which had State Park campgrounds.  I continued riding and began to notice all the yellow that was everywhere throughout the plush green setting.  The yellow flowers, the yellow "Missoulian" newspaper boxes, the yellow line on the road, and the yellow tractors I saw.  So I tried to sing, and very poorly I might add, "Bright As Yellow" by The Innocence Mission.  AHHHHH  this is so kewl  :)   what a day! what a ride!  I stopped and walked though a sparse section of the forest that was dappled with those dazzling, dancing daisies in the gentle breeze.

After I passed through the town of Seeley Lake, I found the Lolo National Forest Campground just a few miles north of town.  I found a spot and set up my tent, it was getting late by now, 7pm.  As the sun was hanging lower in the sky it began to get a bit cooler.  I went in my tent and retired into my sleeping bag.  As the sun sank behind the mountains, the dark night rose to embrace me into a restful sleep.

Wind - Calm
Temp - 75 degrees

Today - 64.98 miles
Total -  3731 miles
Avg. Speed - 10.0mph

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