Day 21: Leaving Bandon; 856 Miles to LA; Random Reflections; Zen; Gratitude.

Day 21: Leaving Bandon; 856 Miles to LA; Random Reflections.

The good thing for me is that these 865 miles are all on the same road – Hwy 101 in Oregon and 1, The Pacific Coast Highway in California. Staying on the same road significantly decreases my chances of getting lost!

I like Sunday mornings. Especially rides on Sunday mornings. It’s often the church of choice that I visit. Not that I have anything against regular churches – I’ve attended many different kinds: Catholic, Episcopalian, Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Anglican, ecumenical, etc and others that were non-Christian. My thought is that if they help make you a better person in the church and out of it, then more power to you. I always liked it that the Dalia Lama said something like: I don’t want you to become a Buddhist. I want you to take what anything you find useful from Buddhism to help you become a better whatever you are. That’s what I try to do. Anything that helps me become less judgmental and more compassionate I’m all for. Mother Theresa nailed it when she said that if you’re busy judging people you can’t be busy loving them.

My church is the open road where you meet people that need help (sometimes just a smile) or ones that have a message for you. Buddha spent a lot of time on the road. Jesus also ran up a lot of miles. If he could have, I know Jesus would have ridden a Harley Road King, like Big Red. Buddha I see cruising around more on a Fat Boy.

This morning’s ride was holy, full of grace and gratitude. I rode along the magnificent coast of Oregon and stared out at the Pacific, its roiling waves, whitecaps, and the huge determined stones that jut out from it. It reminded me a lot of the coast of Ireland, except in Ireland everything was greener and windier and wetter.

I thought about Robert Pirsig’s line (which others had said in various forms before him) that the only Zen you find at the top of the mountain is the Zen that you brought with you. I agree to an extent. But certain places help bring out the Zen more in me. A peaceful, silent ride like this morning’s has me sinking into the present, letting go of the past and not worrying about the future. A deep sense of gratitude comes over me and I shout: Thank you God! Much like Kerouac did. Zen is a tool. It is not a religion, it’s a philosophy, a method to use to help reach a sense of completeness, peacefulness, love, compassion and gratitude. Whether you’re at the mountain top, riding along the coast or just washing dishes, it helps you see that at every moment you have everything that you need to be happy. You don’t need more, better, faster, prettier, thinner…you need awareness, self-acceptance and compassion (including compassion for yourself as you are). Rub these things together like sticks, and you get the sacred fire of gratitude.

May you ride down whatever road you are on today with the fire of gratitude in your heart.

Day 20 Continued: Seaside, Oregon to Bandon, Oregon; 240 miles. Mo’s restaurant; Kerouac; Your Vision.

Day 20 Continued: Seaside, Oregon to Bandon, Oregon; 240 miles. Mo’s restaurant; Kerouac. Your Vision.


Jack Kerouac:

And I said, “God, I love you” and looked to the sky and really meant it. “I have fallen in love with you, God. Take care of us all, one way or the other.” To the children and the innocent it’s all the same. – Dharma Bums

I feel this so often when I’m driving down many of the roads in this USA. Especially today, while Big Red and I made our way down the coast of Oregon. Last night, before leaving Seaside, I had a walk around the town, a drink at the Irish pub and went by the beach. I spotted at least 17 small fires flickering in the sand and the rolling waves illuminated by the moon. Then there was the scent of the sea and the fantastic aroma from the wood burning fires. All of this made it hard to leave this morning.

The ride down the coast was filled with small towns like Rockabay and Garibaldi, views of the Pacific and white beaches, and curvy roads through fir scented forests. It was fun to lean and slalom into the curves. I stopped at Newport and ate at Mo’s, a rightly famous seafood restaurant. I had the chowder, and steamed oysters which were the biggest I’d ever eaten.

Back on the road I started checking out motels. For some reason in Oregon on Memorial Day weekend everyone goes to the beaches. Everywhere had a no vacancy sign. I finally rolled into Bandon and saw a vacancy sign at the Lamplighter Motel. I’m really not going to say anything bad about the motel because (lowering my voice) I think the room is listening.

Kerouac wrote about traveling the USA in his books Dharma Bums and On the Road; Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I’m not a Kerouac, nor a Robert Pirsig by a long shot; neither are you. But I am here to tell you that the roads can be discovered again by anyone; their beauty, wackiness, and their healing powers. You just have to trust, believe that your vision, though unclear, is as good as anyone’s, and let go.

Map update: