I sent in my final draft of the book to my editor in England over two weeks ago. I still hate to give an exact date for publishing, but the words, “just after the first of the year” are being thrown around by my small team. The “Dying to Live” title is certainly going to change as the story shifted with each edit. Here is an “unedited” excerpt from my evening east of Boise on my 2011 pilgrimage:
By early afternoon Boise was many miles behind me and the rugged mountains were staging themselves before me. After a brief late lunch in Idaho Falls I circled the town looking for a place to set up my tent for the night. There were plenty of options if I had wanted them, but I was feeling particularly choosy after my Boise accommodations. I had gotten spoiled by the luxury of a bed and my Eden-esque surroundings at Rachel and Patrick’s place.
I decided to make my way up the road a little further. I knew there were long stretches of forest along this road with virtually no towns. I was feeling a little adventurous. Would this be the night when I would just have to find a flat spot off in the trees hidden from curious drivers on the road? To my surprise I happened upon a campsite at Ten Mile Campground (exactly ten miles from Idaho City). Only one other family was camped in the area and I found an isolated spot situated next to the creek and hidden from the other campers. It was as luxurious as the home I had left in Boise, but raw and wild.
I unpacked my bike, set up my tent and prepared my sleeping quarters for the night. With an eye for order I set the picnic table as if it was my little home. I pulled out my stove, cooking utensils, and the night’s meal and set up a makeshift kitchen. At the other end of the table I opened up my laptop and placed my tiny notebook within hand’s reach as I prepared to write a blog post about the day-a ritual that had become routine. I wouldn’t have internet access, but I could at least use the juice in my computer to write that night and send the post at the first opportunity the next day.
Next came bodily hygiene. I can certainly ride from one day to the next without a shower, but after a day of sweating, heat, and blowing my nose farmer’s style (you know, shut one nostril with a finger and then blow leaving a trail of snot on the road, my sleeves and shorts), a shower is almost essential day to day. I had the perfect place. I walked over to the stream and put my feet in to feel how cold it was. Yes, it was confirmed. This was cold snowmelt coming off the peaks over 6,000 feet above me. I stripped down completely, got out a wash cloth and bar of soap, and sat on a rock just a few feet into the stream. There I deliciously enjoyed the fresh, frigid water as I doused myself with as much of it as my nerves could handle.
Afterwards, I felt clean again. But more than that, I felt alive. Really alive. More alive than I had felt in a long time. I had towering pine trees reaching up to the sky above me allowing intermittent ribbons of light to filter down. It reminded me of the same effect that one gets with stained glass windows in a glorious cathedral. I had my own makeshift home with a creek that served as a bath, a picnic table that was both kitchen and home office, and a tent to retreat to as darkness fell. At home I had a car, a fifth floor, two-bedroom apartment overlooking the city of Portland, a job where I was paid a decent salary, and a reputation as a particularly determined community leader. Yet I was in a simple campsite and I felt that I had everything I needed.