Growing up with my dad for a father has affected me in unexpected and varied ways. For example, I have inherited an undying and troubling love for coffee products of all types. I tell the same jokes and stories over and over and over. I tear up watching/listening to/reading anything with the slightest nostalgia or sentiment attached to it. I also cry uncontrollably when laughing (to the awe and horror of my Korean students when first they saw this natural disaster). But perhaps the most obvious connection between my pastor-for-a-father and myself is the sermon-fodder-goggles. My dad can find a sermon illustration anywhere: an episode of Star Trek the Next Generation, a vacuum cleaner, even an Evanescence song (Thanks be to heaven I did NOT receive his taste in music), etc. This guy draws thematic parallels like a drawbridge draws a bridge (which is to say, inherently).
And so, when I recently spent a week in the saddle of a bicycle with little more than the roar of wind for distraction, I had a lot of time to see my journey through the sermon-fodder-goggles. Here are some lessons learned as Luke and I biked and camped for 250 miles around Lake Champlain:
1. People living in New York and Vermont ADORE cyclists: whether for their sense of adventure or their sexy lycra shorts, I have not yet determined. But motorists of ALL sorts will honk cheerily, wave, and flip you the thumbs up (which differs greatly from the finger that they flip you around these parts). In many places tax money even goes toward widening roads and creating a nice bike lane on the shoulder so that the biker will not be menaced by motor vehicles, nor be a menace toward pedestrians. Lovely.
2. Local foods from local markets are a delicious way to feed yourself along the way, in addition to the beef jerky your manager might buy over the internet for you.
3. Vehicles kill more animals and wildlife than I ever wanted to consider. Snakes, raccoons, skunks, even puppies and cats. Most disturbing and spooky to me was the carcass of a large doe whose eyes were fixed on me as I pedaled by. I suppose I felt a proximity to these animals when I wasn't sequestered away in my speeding metal box, and I felt nearly as vulnerable on my bike as they were crossing the roadways.
4. The clicking of a bike chain that is stuck between gears is reminiscent of the percussion in the Avett Brothers' song "Talk on Indolence" (especially at minute 2:39 in this video). This means "Talk on
Indolence" might get stuck in your head for the greater part of the week.
5. If a big, strange insect bites your forehead during a water break, you will likely wake up the next morning with swollen eyes, forehead and nose, causing you to look like an Avatar.
6. Similarly, if you decide to sit in the shallow shore of a lake alongside your beloved to watch the sunset, there is a high likelihood you will stand up and find small lake leeches sucking to your legs, thighs and hind quarters.
7. You will want to move to Vermont.
8. Victory photos are rarely flattering.
9. But, you'll probably want to do it again.