Now, before I start writing the actual blog part of this post I want to admit that I hate writing my own thoughts down for other people to read. Even if that person is me, I hate it. It takes approximately half an hour post-finishing what I’ve written for me to recoil in disgust when I read something back. This includes (but is not limited to) diaries, essays, text messages, MySpace profiles and Facebook statuses. If I wrote it, I don’t want to read it.
So, it seems pretty stupid of me to commit to writing something for our blog. The original deal was Henry does the writing, I do the photos. While I type this I don’t believe I’ll actually post this. A futile exercise in writing something only I will read, that I know I will hate. This is sadomasochism for millennials.
And still…. when you’re riding your bike for 4 to 5 hours a day you think a lot about stuff and I think a lot about what I would write a blog post about if I was daring enough to actually write a blog post. I kept thinking about this fictional blog post that would be wittily written and would perfectly distill the essence of cycle touring into 500 words so much that I can no longer bear it. I’m going for it. So…
My First Blog Post.
The subject of my first blog post is: What it feels like to cycle for 200 miles and see nothing but Trump signs.
I miss Canada and I miss Canadians. Sure their stupid big trucks pissed me off, but they had wide shoulders for us to bike in, beautiful well equipped campsites, a vehement love of nature and the outdoors, ridiculously good selections of cheap beer at the liquor store and heaps of friendly people. When we left I wasn’t ready, we had just spent a great couple of days in Victoria (I wanna move there!) and I felt nervous about going to another country that was unfamiliar. Every Canadian we met did that thing that people do when you tell them you’re heading for certain death but they don’t want to tell you that so they just smile shiftily and look sideways. The ones that did voice an opinion mentioned three big concerns: guns, Trump and guns (the kind of $5 footlong you’d get if Satan opened up a Subway franchise). And I shared these exact fears. What if I got shot? Worse, what if I met someone who supported Trump?
I haven’t yet been shot however, I definitely have come across a lot of support for Trump and have no doubt spoken to people who will vote for him (although I really have tried to do my best to avoid them).
It’s an alienating feeling cycling for miles and miles through huge, dense fir tree forest not seeing another soul (I don’t believe logging trucks have souls) and then when you do see a house it has a great ‘Trump: make America great again’ slapped across the front of it. When I see a Trump sign I pedal faster, wanting to escape the neighbourhood I’m in. Trump supporters are statistically more likely to knock me off my bike so I secretly throw scorn onto every bumper sticker I see and ride defensively in the lane. Trump supporters are the people who drive the fucking massive Winnebagos that cause so much back draft I wobble into the gutter, they also take the last spots at campsites and leave all their smashed glass in the hard shoulder for us to ride over. They’ve single handily caused all 5 of my punctures.
Being faced with all the Trump support I’ve been through all the 4 stages that liberals go through when faced with small-c(ock) conservatism; disbelief, sadness, anger, resolution.
First comes disbelief. It’s the same hollow feeling I got when the Tories won the last election and when Brexit happened, also when I didn’t get into NSB and when I lost my ‘blankie’ outside Northampton Library when I was 6. I simply could not believe it was true. How can any other being who lives on the same planet as I do support him? He spits hate and talks nothing but profits and borders, essentially the two of the three main things that have caused all war – the other being religion. He’s self-centred, deluded and sexist. How can these (mostly) working-class supporters not see that he’s made his billions through inheritance and exploitation of people just like them – he shares none of their base concerns and nor will he be fighting their corner if he becomes president.
Second comes sadness. This feeling is familiar, I felt it after Brexit too. It’s so sad that there are large groups of people who want to move away from a borderless and more integrated world. Why do people see strong borders as a sign of their country’s success and not a barrier to cooperation and greater love between communities? What is it about us that makes us tend to believe the worst in the unfamiliar more easily than we’ll believe in the good we have to gain from it.
Third comes anger. Yep, also familiar – I stick two fingers up to Jeremy Hunt and Micheal Gove whenever they’re on the radio/TV. I cannot give voice to the sheer hot anger that simmers away in me for certain people and what they represent. Namely, Mick Hucknell (I really don’t know why, this one is perhaps unfair), Ben Horn from Twin Peaks and Rupert Murdoch. I guess a lot of people feel this for Trump too. It’s a good feeling for a short while but you can’t let it hang around for too long or it poisons you.
Finally comes resolution. I have Mark to thank for this. We met Mark in Hoh Rainforest campground in Washington and we spent an evening talking to him about camping, Arizona and guns. Mark was a really friendly guy who had loads of questions about our trip and how we carried all our stuff. When we told him that we were going to Portland he told us we shouldn’t go because it was full of tree-huggers and Democrats. We put 2 and 2 together. Although Mark was Republican I have no idea if he supported Trump and I really wouldn’t want to say either way, he gave no clues. Trump was only brought up for a second and then quickly dropped as a subject. We talked about more broad Republican issues such as gun control and er.. guns. It was interesting to talk to Mark because it made me face my own prejudice that had been building hardier and hardier since arriving in the states. I thought I would have nothing in common with Republicans, I thought any conversation with them would end in argument and that (probably) all republicans hated cyclists. But, IT JUST ISN’T TRUE! Some of his fundamental views differed to mine, like his right to own a gun, but talking to him about why he feels he should be able to carry a weapon allowed me to see his side and then respectfully disagree instead of rudely assuming that he was an idiot.
After talking to Mark I decided to try and ignore all the Trumpshite I’ve been seeing around the place and instead focus on the super friendly, sometimes weird and in your face, but always kind hospitality we’ve received in every town we’ve been too. Every American we’ve met has been interested in our journey and even the 75ft Winnebago driver Henry shouted at to give us more room on the shoulder sweetly replied “I’ll sure try!”.
We have more in common with each other than we believe and even someone with bloody stupid political opinions can be alright. PEACE.