We're in Wausa Nebraska, staying at Matt's grandparent's house with half of his extended family. When we first crossed into Nebraska the state sign simply announced: "Nebraska. The Good Life," Nebraska's bold, confident proclamation has proven true, from the first mile and the Cactus Palace in Venango, to our current home in Wausa. Throughout the trip, and especially in Nebraska, I've been constantly surprised by the kindness of strangers. A few days ago we got caught in a storm, there was a bit of lightning and the high winds made the rain sting as it hit our skin, forcing us to seek shelter. Luckily a woman named Tracy invited us into her home where we watched Oprah, and talked about pianos, creative writing, metabolic rates, education, and comfrontations with chickens. She also gave us candy bars. We were living the good life, even if it was pouring.
Riding a bike for sixty miles a day leaves me with a lot of time to think, and it's been surprising what sort of thoughts can float through my head. Sometimes I plan things to think about in advance, and sometimes it's a surprise. Tomorrow I will be attempting to define "The Good Life." Talking to people from big cities, the subject of small towns with "nothing there" often comes up, and I have to admit that I too was dreading the desert and the plains. What I've found, however, is not a greater appreciation for Chicago and its vastness. As we travel through the plains, I've noticed that people have an interest in what we're doing, and why we're riding. Many of these people talk with us at length, in some cases buying us dinner, trading shirts, opening bike shops to give us supplies and repairs at no cost. And yet, in Chicago, a I don't seem to meet as many people, there isn't such a sense of community. I don't know the names of the people who live in the apartment across the hall.
I don't yet have an exact definition of "The Good Life," but I know that community and kindness to strangers are a part of that. What else makes life good? We have almost 2,000 more miles to find out.
Happy Fourth of July