I tried to relax. I tried to breathe and un-tense my neck and shoulders and back while riding today. I tried to focus on the scenery in this beautiful state of Montana. But, in reality I kept looking down at my tire. But, it lasted. The booting material strengthened the tire enough to keep it's shape. And, I heard from the guy who built my tires. I sent him photos of the last catastrophe (the tire is breaking down from the inside) and it is an issue with the tires. Nothing I've done. Which I knew, but always feels better when confirmed. My new tires should be at my motel waiting for me tomorrow night, 93 miles away from where I am now. I wanted to avoid Jackson MT like the plague (1000's of Rainbow Family/People coming in) so I shortened my day. It's means a very long day tomorrow, but it's ok. I'll get on the road by 6.
I climbed over the Continental Divide (easy!) and worked my way down to the Big Hole National Battlefield Interpretive Center. The Battle of the Big hole occurred on August 9-19, 1877. By this location, the Nez Perce had been on an extensive journey escaping the soldiers of General Oliver O. Howard. By the time this group of about 900 Nez Perce got though the Bitterroot Valley (which I cycled through yesterday), they thought they had lost the soldiers. The soldiers found their camp in Big Hole where I was today and on August 9, there was a massacre where between 70-90 men, women and children were killed.
As I stood there looking out where the massacre occurred (it's a solemn yet stunning location), I realized what I was supposed to learn. The lesson. I am complaining about a little tire issue on a 3 month trip I get to take riding my bike across the country. And here, in this place where men, women and children were brutally killed. So many people have suffered in life (hunger, abuse, pain) and it just put my tire issue into perspective. I know it's still valid to be stressed about it, but today's visit to the National Monument gave me a different vantage point. And, the visit reminded me how much we have to take care of each other. Human to human.
I was disheartened by this quote I saw today in the interpretive center from General Oliver O. Howard to the Nez Perce in 1877, "We do not wish to interfere with your religion, but you must talk about practical things. Twenty times over you repeat that the earth is your mother... Let us hear it no more, but come to business at once." Sadly, how much of this is still going on? Ignorance. Intolerance to others' beliefs. Lack of respect to mother earth. Lack of understanding of differences.
I'm safe. I'm healthy. I'm free of pain. And I'm on an unbelievable journey. It's not going to always go smoothly. And, you know what? That's ok.