Saturday, July 2, 2011

In Praise Of Unnecessary Errands

The edge of the world
is just across the threshold
the unknown that close

When I was 18 and working as a cook at Old faithful Lodge in Yellowstone Park, I once rode my bike  - a red Montgomery Wards 10-speed - to the town of West Yellowstone for a burger and a milkshake. That was 62 miles round trip, and a couple thousand feet of elevation gain coming back. I was so tired after the climb past Firehole Cascades that I pulled over at a riverside picnic spot and took a nap on a table. But it was a really good burger, and probably one of the most memorably scenic rides of my life.

This last Tuesday I rode 25 miles round trip to buy the new Gillian Welch CD (which I highly recommend, btw). It's not that I needed to ride 25 miles to get it; I could have given my money to the faceless BigAppleiTunesStoreCorporation without leaving my seat. Or I could have done what I normally do and take a short ride in support of my Local Independent Record Store. But I had a gift card from my mom and no pressing business, so I went for a ride. I got some fresh air, saw some good scenery, explored a new trail, supported some artists who I think make the world a better place, and came home with two really fine collections of music (I also picked up Pat Metheny's new CD, What's It All AboutBonus points - name the 60's song he covers that contains the title line, the actor who starred in the original version of the movie, and the actor who starred in the recent remake.)

I don't much like driving, and despise having to run errands by car. But running unnecessary errands by bike, like picking up some great new music, or finding out if the pour-over coffee at Coava really is better than french press (I think it is), or checking out the new food cart pod on the Springwater Trail - those kinds of errands feel more like a blessing, like something that makes my day richer. I am thankful for unnecessary errands that get me out the door and into the world, and that add to my community rather than subtract from it.

Read, Ride, Repeat.

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