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June 4- Day 28

I got up just as Elaine left. Got butterflies in my stomach. You get used to it. Sort of.

Expect me when you see me.

Do you bury me when I'm gone?

Do you teach me while I'm here?

Just as soon as I belong,

Then it's time I disappear...

I Disappear - Metallica

(best guess at chorus lyrics, I'll fix it later)

I'm in Medicine Hat (or The Hat, as the locals call it). Both my legs hurt, just enough to be very painful without being crippling. There really wasn't much to see before The Hat, just a gas station, a public rest stop, and a broken down wagon with an empty cable spool that I took a break by.

The Hat got its name from an local myth. There was a very harsh winter and food was short, a man his woman and their dog were searching for food for their people, when out of the ice a great serpent appeared and said if he threw the woman into the water he would give him a "medicine bonnet" with which he could find all the food his people needed. The man at first threw the dog in hoping to trick the serpent, but it didn't work. He then threw his woman in, the serpent returned and told him where to find his Medicine Hat. With the hat, food was found and the people saved.

My take on what really happened? In search of food, the woman nagged and nagged, until the dog fell through the ice. Then she's all "Now look what you've done!" and "I can't believed I married you!", to which the man retorts simply by throwing her in after the dog. The guy then stumbles across a herd of animals and makes up the Medicine Hat story to cover his butt.

Terrible headwinds today. I don't think this is going to change. Why me?

I am starting to understand agoraphobia. Under the right conditions, I could have become agoraphobic quite easily. All there is here is wide open spaces, every hill looks the same, and you see something on the horizon and spend two hours cycling without quite reaching it. How would I handle space???

Had lunch/dinner with Elaine at Earl's in The Hat. She is here on business, doing some medical testing for an insurance company. I haven't been hungry all day (nevertheless I forced myself to down a few handfuls of GORP and an orange), just somewhat thirsty (drank about 6 glasses worth of Gatoraid before I reached town), so I only had a Caesar Salad.

For reasons I could list, but not explain, my psyche has been growing weaker lately. At Earl's, I excused myself from the table, went into the washroom, and cried. It's something that had been bottled up for the past week, but to hold it back any longer would only allow more of these feelings to fill up. Some of it is self-pity. Some of it is loss. Some of it is doubt of my ability. A lot of things had to do with it. Losing my friends, the bad weather and headwinds, the increasing injury to my legs, the letters from mom, having to leave Elaine after getting reacquainted with her so well. The thought of being alone again. It was too much to keep in. Any one or two or even three of these things I could handle, but this is just getting to be too much.

I know it will sound like rationalization after what I just said, but I don't know if I'm physically ready to continue yet. The knee problem does have me worried. I only biked about 120K up to this point today, over a five and a half hour period (about 21kph average). If this supposed to mean I should take it easy how am I ever going to get across the country? I was hoping to make up for lost time by doing 200K or so a day! So much for that.

Viaticus Rex is in need of a tune up, but it's Sunday, and the Cyclepath is closed. Swell.

Time spent cycling: 6:21:52

Distance traveled: 130.64 km

Total distance: 1672 km

Average Speed: 20.5 kph

Maximum speed: 62.6 kph

Current Location: Truck weigh station, 1K past Dunmore

I'll be honest. I am really starting to hate this trip. Just who was I kidding? It's all well and good to read or watch hardship and perseverance and admire those who do it. It's easy enough to think "I'd like to do that." Sure you would. For a week. Try twelve.

When Elaine and I parted company at Earl's in The Hat, it was with tears. I must be sounding like a total crybaby to you all now, but she cried as well. This was the first time we really got to know each other since I was a child. Distance sucks. It was worse than leaving my traveling companions. Much worse.

Before she left Elaine told me she saw a couple of cyclists passing through Brooks geared out for a long trip. I wonder if I'll run into them (or them into me)? It might make this bloody prairie stretch less tedious.

I tried to find a backyard to stay in, meeting people and all that junk, but the first house was empty and the second rejected me. This is not a farm community, but a distant suburb. The man who said "no", however, told me there was a truck weighing station about a mile away that allowed people to camp there.

When I got here, nobody was home. My tent was still wet from the farmer's place, I forgot to dry it out. So I set it up, and hope that nobody kicks me out. These places are rarely occupied if I'm not mistaken. I was tempted to press onward for a farm, but I want to rest my knee, and, well, I've never stayed in a place like this before. So it's novel.

Speaking of which, I think I'll start Around The World In 80 Days tonight. Or read the analysis of the Odyssey.

God, I hope I'm doing the right thing on this trip... I'm scared, I'm alone, and I'm 1600 Km from home! Somebody didn't think ahead on this one...

A cyclist stopped to say hello. Not a traveler, mind you, just a guy on a race bike and full race gear, gone for a run from The Hat to the border and back. We chatted a bit, which made me feel a little better, and I asked him to keep an eye out for the other travelers and direct them my way if he saw them. I doubt he'll see them, my money is on them staying in or near The Hat. But maybe I'll get lucky...

I read the analysis of the Odyssey. Nothing special, but it was interesting to find that much of the story of the Odyssey can be found in bits and pieces as myth around the world. I also understood the chronology a bit better. Now, onto Verne...

Onto Day 29...