Sharon Hawley has finished her bicycle trip in Canada for this summer. She hopes to complete the adventure in another year. Please follow her winter adventure at

Route Map

Route Map

Monday, June 15, 2009

Creatures Beneath Me

It was a hard climb out of Drumheller. Halfway up, I saw above me the green edge of prairie rolling into the abyss, falling toward me like flowing water (see picture). Even the name, Drumheller, bespeaks hot rhythms—drumming ancient cycles of birth and extinction. I was rising from a gash in the smooth prairie, an excavation revealing its dead, corpses in a cemetery. Like near-death trauma, I returned onto the grassy surface pondering what I had seen, that beneath these immense fields of winter wheat lie myriad gone creatures, who, like me and these scattered farmers, also hoped for another day’s food. I wonder what creatures will occupy the layers of rock that may one day rest above us.

The old prairie with its little houses and horse-plowed fields is fading into a layer of geology like dinosaurs.

I kept thinking about the shifter as kilometers passed under my tires today. (If you are starting your reading here, you need to go down the page, back in time, to understand this.) I try to be a character with some form of success, proud, ingenious, and setting my heels against society’s pull. I like to think that I attack problems in sensible ways, avoiding emotional pitfalls and nonsensical deductions. But when the trip seemed doomed by that array of parts, laid out before me in a motel room, that would not go together, I had to admit that I was trying ideas that made no sense. And I was trying anything in near panic. In the end, it was only when I backed away from the problem and sat down to a good meal that the solution appeared. Today, the shifter worked as smoothly as I could expect with one of its parts broken and removed, not quite like Terry Fox, the famous Canadian a runner who continued running after losing a leg to cancer, but that idea. And I think it can make it to Saskatoon where a bike shop should provide me with a new part.


  1. Being both a percussionist and an artist the surreal description of you climbing out the hellish drum-abyss with the whole prairie falling in after you like a big wave, invites both Dali-esque visions and drum circle delirium, especially when you include the dinosaur cemetery, that gradually trasforms into you and the rest of us under layers of rock far into the future, mixing and matching with the dinosaur bones...whew... I can just hear the shifter-gearbox brain turning (and rattling!)and now happy with a good meal, and a refreshing drink! Now what do you yen for... oh yes?
    no, no (and this is priviledged information) you're going to "Oyen" tomorrow... and if not, you'll settle for "Cereal". Anyone will think I am very silly by now, but it is really true, she told me she would settle for "Cereal", with internet. Hehe. Well, I think even yuppie bagels are better, no? Maybe not. Well whatever you have for lunch, may it be with internet. Or else we will miss you too much. Thank you for your fantastic visions and stories! May your shifter shift only in the right direction! And sing along sassy tune, no no I mean... to Saskatoon!

  2. Hi Sharon,
    I'm just tuning in after many weeks of being too busy. Greg and I escaped last week for 3 days - to celebrate our 40th anniversary and my 60th Bday at Big Bear Lake. A full moon hung over the Lake, maybe you enjoyed it too? I'm thankful for your journal. Your writing makes your adventure tangible for me, and a memorial to cherish. Thank you for sharing your days and life with me/us. Warmly, Joyce and Greg Millikan

  3. Yes, Kath, I might have settled for cereal in Cereal if it had internet, but it had only one shabby hotel and a café where at least I found a meal, the only meal today. So I sailed on like a ship in a trade wind, pedaling easily to Oyen. If it were not for favorable wind, Columbus might not have made it either.

    Thanks for joining me here, Joyce. You know Kath from when you came to her place for my talk and slide show a year ago. I am happy that your Big Bear treated you more friendly than mine did.

  4. I am reading a book about Annie Londonderry, who rode a bicycle around the world in 1894. Here's an 1894 poem from the book:

    Away on the road where the dusty clouds whirl
    Away with a spirit ecstatic
    goes the cool-as-an-icicle, bicycle girl
    Bestriding the latest pneumatic;
    She heeds not the scoffers who scorn,
    Though knickers her kickers adorn,
    The cool-as-an-icicle, bicycle, tricycle maiden by no means forlorn.
    - Judy London, 7/29/1894

  5. Sharon, I have been out of commission for almost a week -- sorry about that, but I had a bad cold which I am now almost recovered. So I updated the map today and read your complete blog postings from the past week or so... The prairie is magical as well -- just like in life different from where we came from... Keep me posted on the small towns along the way in your blog and I will add them into the map. All the best, Michael

  6. Steven, You disgrace me.
    I complain when my gears don't work
    but she did not have gears.
    I complain when the pavement is rough
    but she did not have pavement.
    I write of deep personal change
    she seems to have all that done already
    Thank you, Steven

    Michael, good to have you back

  7. Bah! She's got nothing on you! Turns out after reading the book I learned that her trip around the world was mostly WITH a bike - not so much ON the bike. In other words, it was more a hoax than anything.