Skid Row Whine

Sometimes a man needs to get away from it all and think.  Early this week I had the opportunity to do just that, not that it was necessarily a good thing that allowed me to have the time to get away.  Last Thursday I found out that my company was shutting its doors and I (along with the rest of the staff) was to be out of a job on Friday.  I had seen the handwriting on the wall so it wasn’t a total shock.  However, the finality of the situation sunk in as I said goodbye to coworkers, clutched my coffee mug in one hand and with the other tucked a measly box of possessions under my arm and walked out into the world as an unemployed engineer.

I haven’t had much free time over the past few years as I’m always running from here to there, to work then back home, a chicken with my head still firmly attached but disembodied from the greater world around me.  I’m certain many people can relate to that state of affairs.  Being eternally busy has become my “thing” (aside from leaning my bike against scenery and taking photos), which is why when my wife suggested to me that I go and spend a few days riding my bike and clearing my head I jumped at the chance.

Sunday night I rolled out of Bishop, CA with enough food for a few days and no real itinerary other than to pedal and to stare at mountains.  Within hours I had climbed through the moonless night to over 8000ft and was curled up in my bivy sack beneath the hulking crest of the Sierra Nevada, smiling in the 15 degree F weather as I watched shooting stars scribe tangential paths on the eternal wheel of stars overhead.  While most of them fizzled out in the sky a few disappeared over the dark ridges of the peaks, their final fate uncertain.  The next few days were sublime.

OK, enough of my words as I have more mundane things like sending out resumes to fill my time with.  I also have no reason to whine as I have a trip to Alaska next week for which I have to finish preparations.  If you’d like to begin to scratch the surface of what a few days of bikepacking through nasty sand and crusty snow in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada feels like, page through the photos and click the video to listen to Jack Kerouac’s poem “Skid Row Wine” set to music sum it all up.

Even on the highest mountain the horizon blocks your view.

I could have done a lot worse than sit
In Skid Row drinkin wine

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To know that nothing really matters after all
To know there’s no real difference
Between the rich and the poor

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To know that eternity is neither drunk
nor sober, to know it young
and to be a poet

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Coulda gone into business and ranted
And believed that God was concernedP1060608

Coulda gone into business and ranted
And believed that God was concerned

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Instead I squatted in lonesome alleys
And nobody saw me, just my bottle
And what they saw of it was empty

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Instead I squatted in lonesome alleys
And nobody saw me, just my bottle
And what they saw of it was empty

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And I did it in cornfields & graveyards

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And I did it in cornfields & graveyards

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And I did it in cornfields & graveyards

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To know that the dead don’t make noise
To know that the cornstalks talk (among
One another with raspy old arms)

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Sitting in alleys diggin the neons
And watching cathedral custodians
Wring out their rags neath the church steps

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Sitting and drinking wine
And in railyards being divine…

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To be a millionaire & yet prefer
Curlin up with a poorboy of tokay
In a warehouse door, facing long sunsets
On railroad fields of grass

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To know that the sleepers in the river
Are dreaming vain dreams, to squat
In the night and know it well

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To be dark solitary eye-nerve watcher
Of the world’s whirling diamond

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To be dark solitary eye-nerve watcher
Of the world’s whirling diamond

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2 Responses to Skid Row Whine

  1. bummer on the job thing, great to have a bike and be out in the mountains.

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