Stoke Factor: 6
Miserableness Factor: 2
Snot Rockets Blown: 2
Avg Speed: 7.6mph
Once again waking up early to catch a ride with Elly and Emma into town, I was much less eager to roll out of bed. I snoozed my alarm as long as possible, leaving me with a mere 20 minutes to get ready to go. For the first time in a short while, I was back on the road and excited about it.
The ride was quieter than it was before, whether it was because the two of them were just instinctively quiet people (Emma took after her parents in more ways than one), or because my stay was longer than expected, I wasn’t sure. Elly offered to take me to the pedestrian bridge, which connected the states of Nebraska and Iowa by crossing over a river. On one side was Omaha- a bustling hub of farm-town’s finest rejects, queers, and needy. On the other was Council Bluffs- a smaller place, home to industrial workings that couldn’t be in a hilly, over populated region like Omaha. I said my goodbyes to Elly and meandered to the starting line. I had a great start. The winds were calm, the sun was just rising, and I was away from traffic.
Much like everything else in my life, the seclusion from society by way of bike path came to an end. The morning traffic squeezed past me as I dribbled and dabbled along poor road conditions and even worse, weeded sidewalks. Without breakfast or water, I popped into a gas station. It was quite busy compared to the one on the other side of the road, though they had the same provisions. I wondered about why it was the way that it was, why did people choose to follow into other crowds (only to wait in line to checkout) instead of going to the obviously less busy store across the street? A line even formed to fill their cars with gas. I couldnt grasp it, however I too went to the busy store.
After a microwave breakfast and a fill up of water, I was off. I hurried through a relatively flat town and reached the open lands after crossing a highway bridge. Thr drafts created by large trucks on narrow streets pushed me along. The temperature was mostly comfortable- I had my full gear on and was warm within it but found my hands to be frozen if I removed them to use the phone. My speaker blared and I was well on my way East. My plan was to stop about 30 miles in at a historical marker and lake in the town of Lewis, Iowa. There was no doubt that I was going to be forced to camp. I spent little time planning, and rode along a burly, endless cycle of rolling bluffs. Up and down, up and down. I wasted no time with walking, and pushed my little heart out climbing along. The shoulders came to an end in the town of Traynor- juggling myself between coming and going traffic lanes, cars beeped as they tried to pass me. Unfortunately for them, I was going the same speed as them as I went downhill.
Apparently a few people didn’t like that- a sheriff pulled alongside me with lights and sirens blaring. “Pull over,” the woman sternly said over the megaphone. I shook my head no. I had an amazing momentum going up the hill and stopping would have ruined me. I continued to push as the SUV grazed my leg and nearly forced me off the road. Once at the top of get another hill, I stopped.
“Where ya going, BUD?” She annunciated the “bud” as if I were committing a crime. Unfortunately for her, I was committing no crime and she had no right to pull me over- as if I could have been “pulled over.” I was just a kid on a skateboard.
“Boston, thanks.” I said it sarcastically, although serious. Her eyes widened and she gave me an “Oh, really?” look. At that point in my travels I was over the police. Never had I ever met so many people with god complexes, acting as if they were doing the country a favor by exerting nothing but callousness on a day to day basis. All cops are bastards, and my mind would never change. After answering, I just kept moving. That was all she was going to get out of me- I researched thr laws of each state and found nothing across all 14 of them that said I couldn’t make my way through on a skateboard. The only places I couldn’t be was the interstates. That road in particular wasn’t an interstate.
I turned my music back up as she rode alongside me, trying to get me to even look in her direction. I wasn’t going to give her any satisfaction. Moving forward, she turned her lights off and sped on. In my mind, I out-copped a cop. At no point was I required to tell anyone anything, unless thr law or others were in danger. I waved buh-bye, smiled, and kept pushing.
Thr road continued straight forever. Up and down up and down. I watched as the ascent on my watch climbed and climbed. Not too long after my cop interaction, a man in a truck with a trailer asked if I needed a ride. For the first time in a long time I said no- I wasnt planning on a huge amount of mileage for the day and was already beyond halfway before noon. However, he told me he saw the cop interaction and said I would have better luck on a route parallel to the one I was on. It had a shoulder and was significantly safer. I jumped in the car. I would never be able to remember his name, but he was a younger guy who was on his way to pick up his kid from the bus stop. He had 4 kids, worked as a crane operator, and really loved how his life was going. As far as he was concerned, he had it all figured out after moving from Omaha.
Our ride was short. He dropped me off in an ideal location after a climb and I handed him a card. He was another person I felt ashamed to say I was transgender to. I danced around telling him why I was doing my trip. Either way, he was surely going to figure it out once finding me online. I pushed on.
It was still before noon by the time I reached my camping spot. I found another location, 30 more miles away, called Lake Anita. Since I was feeling so great, I decided I could do it. I was having a blast on my skate. The road became flat after passing through Atlantic, Iowa, but had its moments of up and downhill. I still wasn’t tired, but I ran out of water as I hit the town. I saw a Taco Bell as well, and for whatever reason it seemed so delicious to me. Besides, I knew I could eat for a low cost if I went there.
At the Taco Bell, the people stared at me. Everything seemed so normal. There was a woman with a Spanish speaking accent behind the counter, a mother and her two children, and three teen boys inside. Everything appeared to be straight out of some conservative candidate’s campaign advertisement for a “better America.” I ordered a 5 buck lunch and unloaded myself. My phone was dying, but I restocked on food. I sparked a conversation with the boys to try and see if they would offer me a ride. They very much did not even consider it- by then it was 4pm and the sunlight was coming to a close. After giving them my goodbyes, I raced along at an even faster pace than before to try and push the additional 15 miles to the lake. The way I saw it, I could do 15 miles in an hour and a half, and get there as soon as it became dark.
My gps and google maps kept telling to take a backward-ass route to get there that would lengthened my day. Instead I stuck to the major artery I was already on. It was newly paved, but incomplete. The shoulders were only packed dirt and unrideable. Cars zipped by me, and I hopelessly cowered while they reached their locations way faster than I ever could. A man in a truck drove by and whatever metal shelving unit he attached to the bed came undone and scraped along the road, falling out and hitting the pavement. I turned back to go see if he needed help- he waved me off, despite my obviously nice gesture. He was an older man, gave me one look and shook me away. I just wanted to help.
The sun setting caused issue for me. Since I was riding on the oncoming lane’s pseudo shoulder, the cars passing were going straight into the western sun. I feared for my life as traffic of those getting home from work veered through. I decided to get into the east-headed lane after one car came dangerously close and forced me to run off my board and fall in a ditch. I was not surprised to learn it was two teen girls in the car, who laughed with me, because it really did look pathetic. I wasn’t angry, but told them to be careful. The sun was brutal- I couldn’t even look backwards to see cars coming my way without hurting my eyes. Those coming at me were going in blind.
The rest of my push after the evening traffic was spent worrying about whether I would make it on time to the lake. I was finally tired. I was ready for the day to end. A 60 mile day with almost 3000ft of elevation was something I never did before. Though I was proud, I was quite beaten. I strolled into the town of Anita with the sun getting its final moments in. A park ranger directed me to the lake- earlier at Taco Bell I sent the ranger a message on Facebook about the cost to camp, but since I had no phone service I never got the reply. She said she wanted to see the person skateboarding across the country, and she did.
I hurried through the lake grounds to the first campsite with electricity I could find. Deer raced off as they heard me coming in every direction. An influx of deer population meant that an equal population of coyotes or other predators were in the area as well. I wasn’t worried – by that point in my trip I was well versed in horror and might. Nothing could scare me anymore. And after such a badass day of skating, I was on top of the world. I settled into my tent and immediately fell asleep once my stuff was charging and I got cozy. It dropped to 12 degrees overnight but I was toasty warm in my space. With no cell service and no energy to write, all I could do was rest.