Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Riding the Pony Express trail

This was my Entry to this years adventure journal competition for Leap Local, enjoy :)
I was working in Northern Nevada when I heard the pony express trail was not far away. My heart pounded with excitement. I have dreamed of this trail since I was a child, the famous painting of a lone cowboy bent over his saddle riding hard as Indians pursued him was never far from my mind. I immediately went to find a map of the trails. I just stood and stared at the ink on the wall, dreaming of what an adventure this would be, as if I would be on assignment carrying mail through lands which once equaled that of Afghanistan. I made a plan to visit the trail after work, somehow thinking that 12 hour days working in the desert were not enough and I could magically transport myself to that trail and ride like the legend I am in my own mind. Of course it was not to be. At the end of each day I would cough up sand, spit dirt, and wash off mud; drinking my beer and eating my dinner next to the fire at my campsite I would stare into the flames making promises to spirits that soon I would ride alongside them.
Finally, I drove towards Las Vegas, my eyes scanning every intersecting roadway for the trail. I knew it was here, somewhere. Had I bothered actually reading the map instead of letting my mind tear into adventure mode, I would have known I was an easy hour from the trail. By the time I found it, I was actually surprised to see it, my mind dull from driving and my body already tired from hard weeks working under the sun. I simply almost drove past it, blinking at the sign waiting for my mind to send messages to my foot to simply STOP GENIUS!! My sister’s dogs ran ahead, sniffing about, their noses telling them a story of the area. As my sister talked to my foggy, excited brain I did not hear as I clamored to unload my bike. "You know you don’t have much time before dark" was the only sentence I heard and I replied with "yea, well, whatever", the classic male response most often used when a grunt is not so appropriate and adventure beckons.
Off I went, crap, shoe lace caught on a peddle, noo, noo this cannot be, a snag damn YOU, Indians are about!!! Off again, pausing only to take one picture, my bike leaning against a sign, like a flag from a conqueror of new land loudly proclaiming "I WAS HERE". I peddled on, observing every bush, every tree, trying to imagine what it must have been like to ride through on horseback, waiting for ambush, spurs at the ready to dig into the horses’ side and take me from danger. My ears listened intently to each bird as their chirps became drowsy. I looked at an old fire ring through the moss-covered trees and wondered if some lone mail carrier had slept in that spot over a century ago.
The shadows crept in as the sun dipped below the horizon and I knew I had to head back, but no, no I was not finished, my mind still craved adventure. Look how the road goes up and over that mountain! I promised myself I would be back. As the wind pushed against me on my quick decent home, I knew that a life-long goal had been achieved, for I had finally ridden the Pony Express trail, every boys’ dream!

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