Calling it Quits

After stepping off the train in La Junta I found a place to sleep for the night. The next morning I took off East on Highway 50. I was making good time, stopping every 15-20 miles to get a cold drink and made it to Lamar, CO around 5:00 that afternoon. I had an early dinner at a park along the Arkansas River. I sat down in the ankle high water to cool off and couldn’t help but think about my plans to float the Arkansas from Colorado to Arkansas, uncertain what kind of boat I could get in this shallow water.

From being in the sun all day I could feel my stomach churning the way it does from heat stress. I had already picked out a place along the river to set up camp, but opted for a motel instead. I chose the nicest cheap motel in town. The owners were very friendly. They greeted me with cold water and fruit and when booking my room gave me $10 off the already low price, because of my handsome looks and blue eyes.

The next morning I got a late start and only made it 20 miles down the road before filling up again on water. I went to a local park to hide from the already 97 degree heat. In the back of my mind I have debated going home for a few days. The desert really did a number on me. It sucked the water and will from my body. This morning I had already decided to scratch going North and head straight back to Arkansas. It is only 700 miles away, so about 2 weeks ride. After sitting in the park for an hour, I decided I was finished.

I started looking for ways to get back home. First, the river! Could I find a canoe or kayak that would hold me and my bike? I had been searching for one on different online markets ever since boarding the train. The best I could do is an inflatable raft from Walmart. Next, jump back on Amtrak. Unfortunately I would have to wait nearly two weeks to be able to get the bike on the train. Something about all of the cargo space being taken. Next option is to ship the bike and hop the train. Closest shipping center is 100 miles away. Not too bad. Another option would be renting a car. Nearest rental service is 100 miles away and would cost about $400. Last option is buying a van.

I have been wanting a van for some time. When I first moved aboard the boat I was considering buying a van instead. When I bought my new car, I was considering buying a van instead. I could buy a van here and simply drive back. It would save me at the minimum $200.

On the train ride I finished listening to “Into the Wild”, by Jon Krakauer. Anybody who has ever gone off on their own has probably been compared to Chris Mccandless. The book, unlike the movie, is the author’s investigation into Mccandless’ life. The author compares Mccandless to himself and other adventurer types. Mccandless spent a lot of time in southern California and in the same territory that I crossed. Reading (listening) to the book as I traversed it made me feel more connected to his story. There are many paralells between Mccandless and myself. If you are familiar with the book, I will let you draw your own conclusions. However, the most important difference is our relationships with our families. It is that relationship that I think sent him over the edge. When my dad offered to come get me, a 21 hour trip, I accepted.

It is over for now. My body and mind need rest and A/C before I take off again.

6 thoughts on “Calling it Quits

  1. Lane Scott

    Good trip! When it ceases to be enjoyable, do something else. We look forward to seeing you, but it won’t be this weekend. Marcia and I are delivering our West Wight Potter 19 to a buyer in Georgia, and expect to make stops on the way back for sightseeing. I want to do something on the water when I get back!

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  2. Shannon Driggers

    Jesse. Thanks for posting your adventure! What you are doing is fascinating and few are the ones willing to follow their true passions. I appreciate your wisdom in knowing when it’s time to take a break and I’m looking forward to following your future blogs! Best regards. Shannon Driggers, Springdale, AR

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  3. David Dare

    Jesse is back home and already planning his next outing. Maybe floating the Missouri River on a makeshift canoe with outriggers from Montana to St. Louis or riding his bicycle to the family reunion in Tulsa. On the drive back he was talking about lining up jobs to help finance the next trip. I would like to say that I am proud of his accomplishments even if they didn’t conclude as planned. Mother Nature is just as formidable as ever and we tend to forget that in our AC vehicles, homes, and comfy beds. To plan and execute an adventure such as a coast to coast bicycle ride is unimaginable to most of us let along acting upon it. It’s amazing to set out on a solo attempt to cross the nation with no road crew tagging along, no pre-positioned cameras to catch the best shots of him riding by or the ability to holler medical as they do in reality shows when someone gets into trouble. Jesse is dependent on himself to propel the 30 lb. bicycle and maybe 30 lbs. of gear from one stop to the next hoping shelter, food, and water will be available to keep him going. This trip he did have to utilize hotels much more than planned due to the extreme heat, but even they weren’t always available. To think that a good Samaritan is placing water on the side of the road for the ‘cars’ that might need assistance is another indication just how tough the environment is. In the approximately 1300 mile round trip to pick him up, I saw only four other cyclists that appeared to be attempting a long range trip, that goes to show you how rare it is to attempt such a feat. Rhonda and I were proud to drive out to pick Jesse up after he made the decision not to continue. While driving I thought about how it took us half a day to get there at 70 plus mph. 70 miles in an hour equates to as much as two days ride on the bicycle. Then to give you another idea what he was up against, the headwind on the trip back resulted in a loss of 2 miles per gallon per the trip computer versus the trip out to CO.

    To help sum up how I feel about such endeavors I’ll add a favorite quote that is framed on the wall of my office. President Theodore Roosevelt: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

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  4. Patrick M

    Glad you have good support. It’s nice to have that. Reminds me of when you fixed my bike. I just signed lease in Loveland, CO, so anytime you wanna come by you have a place to stay here.

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