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A wave crashed into the boat sending a rumbling shudder as spray flew across the deck.  The swell wasn’t large but it was powerful from the long fetch and the wind was building.  I looked out the window of the ferry at a beautiful little Dana 24 and was envious.

Dana 24

Hard on the wind in a steady 20 knots and gusting much higher these guys were working too hard, if they would have tucked a reef in the main the boat would have much better balance, still I wanted to trade places with them.  I was supposed to be sailing this weekend but life and Emily had different plans for me.  Sunday was my 4, 5 or 6 year anniversary with going car-less.  Its been so long I can’t remember but I can still remember handing my last set of car keys to the new owner, I was petrified.  Not only was I going car-less but I had also just moved aboard for my first winter in the Pacific Northwest.  Now older and wiser I have no fear of either.  Emily on the other hand is growing into her first winter aboard and trading her car for a bike.  She looked so cute heading off to work today in her new fluffy fleece warmies and Xtratufs.

bike touring the san juans

When I lived on the North Sore of Oahu the big wave surfers would go into a sort of depression when there were no monster waves to frolic in.  I think Emily was the first to notice my downhill slide.  A change in plans and a very tender knee facilitated the sale of my bike and with it went a part of me.  Like a perfect storm I have hit the exact place in life where everything has started to fall apart, my parents aren’t as young as they used to be and their health is a constant concern.  Emily came down to the boat in tears, she had just spoken to the Vet and was very shaken.  Chloe is looking and doing better than she had been all summer but more tests and more bad news has us all a bit down.  Everywhere I look I’m reminded of my own mortality.  The best way to cheat death is to live life, simple shit here folks.

Kona Paddy Wagon

Selling my bike hurt but it was far too nice to spend the winter sitting in the perpetual rain and now that my bike tour has been postponed far too expensive to be a simple Island bike.  That bike was my outlet for everything not perfect in my tiny world, I would just jump on her and pedal my troubles away.  First Emily suggested I get a new bike for the winter, then she insisted.  I love spring and summer rides through the sunny countryside but its the winter storms I love most, fighting headwinds, the swoosh of snow separating as my paper thin tires slice through it and the wide open roads as the last of the tourists have all gone back to work.

Kona Paddy Wagon

Sunday was as perfect as any day I can imagine.  I woke up early and could hear Chloe breathing softly in her quarter berth.  Emily slowly wiggled to life quietly chirping that she needed more sleep.  I slipped out of our v-berth, fed the dog, made a cup of coffee and packed my pack for an Island Adventure.  Boarding the Ferry alone was the first time I have ever gone on a journey without Chloe, I missed Emily but the excitement of my new bike kept my mind occupied.  I was reminded how small my world is when the first person I saw on the mainland Was Chris, I hadn’t seen him since the spring.  The wind must have been up to thirty knots by the time I got my new bike but it was warm and balmy.  I had a few hours to kill so I dialed the bike in right there in the parking lot, changed out the flat bars for drop bars, changed the brakes and switched from fixed gear to freewheel.  My days of riding a fixie aren’t over but I have to take it easy for now.  I forgot to bring my patch kit and spare tube, not wanting to chance missing my ride back to the Islands due to a flat I did a hundred laps around the ferry landing.  When I re-boarded the Ferry this new little steel bike felt like I had been riding her my whole life.  Fast, light and and simple she will get me through the winter and the storms that are sure to come.

San Juan Islands in the Fall

When I arrived home I found Emily and Chloe waiting for me in the park and had to smile, home is a word I haven’t known in a very long time…

An aging master grew tired of his apprentice’s complaints. One morning, he sent him to get some salt. When the apprentice returned, the master told him to mix a handful of salt in a glass of water and then drink it.

“How does it taste?” the master asked.

“Bitter,” said the apprentice.

The master chuckled and then asked the young man to take the same handful of salt and put it in the lake. The two walked in silence to the nearby lake and once the apprentice swirled his handful of salt in the water, the old man said, “Now drink from the lake.”

As the water dripped down the young man’s chin, the master asked, “How does it taste?”

“Fresh,” remarked the apprentice.

“Do you taste the salt?” asked the master.

“No,” said the young man. At this the master sat beside this serious young man, and explained softly,

“The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains exactly the same. However, the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things. Stop being a glass. Become a lake.”

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