I am alone. It’s alright though, since it gave me more than enough time to focus on everything I wanted to do.
My work day was my own prerogative. I had time to work out, study Japanese, meditate, make my own meals, leisurely read, watch YouTube…Almost all day was free time now. I ended up pretty much becoming a squatter for the sole sake of making sure the irrigation system was running.
I decided that since I pretty much just had to turn the faucet on and then off again, I would ride the farm bike in to Solvang, one of the adjacent towns to the farm. Solvang is a dutch tourist trap and an interesting place for cultural events, but more importantly, it is where the post office and library are.
The ride would be about 20 minutes and the bike was rather uncomfortable, but I had to make do, because today I have yet to have an opportunity to do my laundry or visit the post office. I decided that I would use my Kelty bag’s detatchable top again, but this time as a laundry bag, and strap it to the back of the bike so I could more easily accomplish the tasks I needed to. After getting everything organized and stuffed in to the pack, and the pack securely fastened, I headed along on my uphill journey.
The funny thing about this ride was that it was mostly uphill both ways. It just so happened to be a very popular bike route for serious cyclists too, so I did a fair share of waving to the people heading faster than I was. Since my gear was rather invaluable and the bike was too old to be desirable, I was able to stash these things away with little worry. I set my laundry to wash, headed out to the post office to mail off a book and then to the library to begin working and research.
The public library in Solvang required either a library card or guest passes from the front desk in order to access the computers. Regardless of the method, the total usage was still limited to 90 minutes per person per day. I lucked out that I had a librarian who was flexible enough with me to allow me to extend my time a few times. Her name was Carey and she had a crisp smile that lit up her aging face. She tilted her head when she smiled, or when she knew I was making a request that was an imposition on her. She wore typical, cheetah print librarian glasses and her brown curly afro stopped just above the collar of her business casual white blouse.
When I was done at the library, I made my way to a local skateboard shop to see what it was all about. I was attracted by a widescreen TV that was hooked up to a Super Nintendo and playing Super Mario Bros 3. It may have made me biased, but this seemed like the coolest place in the world.
A few days earlier, I had decided that I wanted to get my longboard shipped out to me so I could travel without the reliance of host families, but I didn’t really know much about board maintenance myself. I went in, not knowing what I really wanted, and conveying this honestly to the clerk behind the desk. Billy was about as tall as I am, with an effeminate voice and a thin frame hidden behind a white t-shirt and skinny black pants. His hair was styled in to a tiny pompadour and he wore wide framed black glasses. I told him that I didn’t really know how to take my board apart and if he could explain to me the process and he was delighted to show me how. I watched him take the wheels off and then the bearings off the trucks and demonstrate a simple tip of how to pop them out while they are half way removed.
This galvanized my desire to learn more about board maintenance myself and perhaps a little bit about what tricks were possible on a long board. The rabbit hole turned in to a fissure, which resulted in me staying up until 4:15 AM trying to determine what style of longboarder I wanted to become.
I huffed, puffed and struggled on the steep hills on the way back to the farm. I pushed on resiliently though, decided that I could push on mind over matter and not wanting to stop and admit defeat under any circumstances. I had not rode a bike since I was a young teenager though, so my legs were burning as I kept pushing the pedals down as hard as I could and fumbling around with the awkward gear shifting. I had not remembered the ride being that long, but in an obnoxiously motivated manner, I decided that I would not give up until I had reached my destination.
There was a point in which I had to give up though, and it was an almost upward climb. I walked the bike up the hill and pedaled on a little further before I decided that something had to be wrong. My shirt was drenched, it was getting later and the skin was transitioning to its afternoon hues. It took me a while to get to a spot where my phone had good enough reception, but once I checked my GPS, I ended up discovering I had gone an extra 3.1 miles in the wrong direction. I had reached a point in which the road I was supposed to take ended and became another long stretch and I had ignorantly almost ended up in the next town over.
Lucky for me though, the ride back was almost completely downhill and I covered the brake religiously while bolting down the winding road back to the farm. By the time I got back, it wasn’t really feasible to start the sessions of two hour waterings, so I did as much as I could before settling in for the night.
Exhausted, my victory was the lenient work schedule and my zealousness was my downfall.