SUMMER DAYS OF REST: Days 59, 60, and 61

06/17 (Day 59)

Today was a simple day. I slept in and spent the morning at my grandpa’s house relaxing and resting. I’ve considered this place a home for a long time and I take great comfort in being here. Of course I had a lot on my list of things to do but I made sure to lead a relaxing day.

The most important thing on my agenda was to wash my clothes. I’d wanted to do this for so long. Some of the clothes I haven’t washed since I got them in Boulder, Colorado over a month ago. I rode my bike five miles to Lake Michigan where I waded in the clear cold water as I washed my clothes by hand with a Dr. Bronner’s bar of soap. It took me about an hour and a half to wash all of my clothes but it was enjoyable as I was soaking up the natural water of Lake Michigan and the rays from the sun at the same time. 

On my way home I stopped in at a large chain grocery store dumpster and stocked up on food for the rest of my stay in Chicago. I got 12 Naked juice drinks, two loaves of top quality wheat bread, a half dozen prepared organic salads full of walnuts and cranberries, apples, nectarines, peaches, plums, and bananas. That along with the local organic food that my aunt bought me at the farmers market would provide plenty of nutrients and calories for my rapid metabolism. A security guy approached me as I was packing the food into my trailer and told me that it was cool if I took the food but that I shouldn’t come back. He explained that the store got a citation for rats and they think it’s because homeless take stuff out of the dumpster and scatter it all over the place. 

Back at the house I squeezed my dripping wet clothes over the tomato plants to reuse the water and then hung them all out to dry on the power line that runs through my grandpas yard. As I did this I looked up and saw a plane flying overhead and for the first time in a long time I imagined what it would be like to be on one. I thought about what it would be like to get on a plane and be across the country in a matter of hours when it is taking me 100 days. This brought feelings of excitement to me for the day when I will return to a somewhat normal lifestyle. It also brought me excitement because I have very fond memories of flying to Chicago in the summer but here I am in Chicago already with no need to get on a plane. I have everything I need; I’m in the presence of a warm Midwest summer, I’ve got food to feed me, family and friends to laugh with, clean air to breathe, and a bike to get me where I need to be. I don’t need money, electricity, showers, or any of those daily things that we as humans take for granted. I am complete.

The sun was hidden behind the garage and all sorts of people showed up at the house for a get together. I spent the evening among friends and family and it was extremely enjoyable. My aunt did an excellent job of purchasing mostly locally produced and organic food. People were excited to learn about my adventure and learn about ways to create a happier healthier planet. Every day I find more hope that our planet will regain its health. 

06/18 (Day 60)

The intentions of today were to rest and recuperate, to get caught up on things I’ve been trying to do for weeks, to spend time with my aunt, and to visit friends in the city.

I woke up around 7:30 and spent the entire morning and afternoon at the house. I alternated between the comfortable couch and the soft grassy yard that I’ve been enjoying since I was in elementary school. Much of my time was spent on the computer and I also spent time going through my gear to get rid of weight and bulk. I know as well as anyone the more possessions you have the less freedom you have. It takes time to maintain, clean, organize, and keep track of all of your stuff. I have a lot of stuff on this trip in order to demonstrate the usage of different products that can be used to reduce consumption but I find that much of this stuff consumes my time. So I consolidated and packed a box full of stuff to send back to San Diego. My trailer is substantially lighter and substantially less full. This I am excited for.

Louise came home at 3:00 and we went for a bike ride together on the trails nearby. This was her first bike ride in over ten years and I was very happy to be on it with her. She used a bike that I purchased when I was here last summer and left behind for her to use or myself when I am here. It was a fun 6-mile ride through the Harms Woods trails and I was very happy to be riding side by side with my aunt. 

Around 7:00 I pedaled into the city to visit some friends in Rogers Park. I left the trailer at home and enjoyed riding my bamboo bike without lugging the big trailer behind. I rode down Devon Street, which is basically the Little India of Chicago. If I wasn’t living mostly off the grid I probably would have stopped into a restaurant and gotten some of my favorite ethnic food but I was content with just taking in my surroundings. For fun I slowly weaved on and off the sidewalks playing in the streets like a little boy. 

I arrived at Maggie and Katie’s house just before 9:00 and the two of them and their roommates warmed my heart as they always do. I spend a night at their house nearly every time I visit Chicago and it is always a joyous night. We sat around in the living room sharing knowledge and catching up over the last couple of months. It was just a wonderful night with people that I love. Both Maggie and Katie are beaming rays of sunshine full of talent and intelligence. Maggie cut my beard and hair too! This was without a doubt the most enjoyable haircut I’ve ever received in my life. I often think of it as a chore but this was quite the opposite. We stayed up until 1:00 and I spent the night on the couch in the living room falling asleep within minutes of putting my head on the pillow.

06/19 (Day 61)

I awoke after seven hours of sleep in the brightly lit living room. A yoga mat lay on the floor so I took some time to stretch out as the rays of sunshine beamed into the house reflecting off the hard wood floor. Another beautiful day in Chicago lay before me. I hung out for a bit at the house nibbling on fresh greens from their garden and CSA as I tried to turn my computer on. I had to call in to Apple to get help in doing so and with their aid I did get it turned on to my relief. 

I walked a block down Devon and spent part of the morning in a café typing up my blog for the leg of the journey between Milwaukee and Chicago. It was very pleasant to take my time sitting in the coffee shop surrounded by the daily activities of fellow humans. Then I had to meet up with Brent, who is staying with a friend in the city, to pick up the hard drive so that I could transfer photos to it. Even though it was a chore and out of the way I was happy to be cycling the streets of Chicago. Then I was off to the beach near Loyola Park where I spent a few hours in the sun stretching, swimming, and relaxing. It was quite blissful to be soaking in the sun and giving my body the attention it needed which I have not been doing a lot of on this trip. 

As I lay in the sun feeling content with no desire to be doing anything else I thought about Maggie and how wonderful of a human being she is. I’ve been drawn to her since the moment I laid my eyes on her in the summer of 2007. She’s a ray of sunshine and every time I see her my heart flutters. It has been so amazing to see her growth between the occasions that we spend together. Last night she told me that she had recently sold her car and now rides her bike and takes public transportation everywhere she goes. She has incorporated exercise into her daily routine the way it should be. Not going to a gym to run on a treadmill but making physical activity a part of daily tasks and routine and as a part of living. Her diet has evolved into a much healthier form as well. Hearing all of this put a grin on my face from ear to ear. 

Thinking of my love for Maggie brought forward memories all of my past loves. I thought of the experiences I have had with them and how each of them has led me to where I am today. All of my past loves were at one time my future loves and this started up my imagination thinking about who I would meet and who I would love next. I imagined a strong woman. A woman who would challenge me to be my best both mentally and physically. A woman who makes things happen and has a cheery positive outlook on life. A woman with intelligence that could compliment mine so we could create great things together. A woman with similar interests but different areas of expertise in order to grow together. I imaged a thin dark skinned woman with long flowing brown hair but this was trivial compared to the mental aspect of who this woman would be. Wonderful images flowed through my head and I wondered where and when would I meet this woman and will I know when I do. Life is unpredictable and this excited me for I have no idea when and in what fashion this woman will appear. I do know however that she will. 

In the mid afternoon I continued north towards my grandpas to Evanston and ran a few errands including getting some work done on my bike. After nearly 3,000 miles it was time to replace my rear tire. I walked around Evanston soaking in the city and the people around me. Then I headed back to my grandpas for another relaxing night. I retired early to ensure a good nights rest.

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This adventure is now a book! Dude Making a Difference is the exciting and inspirational story of my bike ride across the USA on a bamboo bike. Go to www.RobGreenfield.tv/Dude to get a copy or learn more about it. 100% of my proceeds are donated to environmental grassroots nonprofits!