October 1, 2005

        It was a disturbing revelation and one that dawned on me as I was watching rain clog the street outside of my motel room.

        I was exactly a week away from completing this trip and coupled with the pounding thunderstorm, blackened my mood for the morning.

        With the lightening and rain not letting up, I had made the decision early in the morning to stay in Tulsa another day.

        The weather was supposed to push through to the east and be cleared up by the early afternoon, but the clouds were looking more convincing than any weatherman I watched.

        So I opened the hotel door and stared outside, watching sheets of water come down with a background of thunder and lightening.

        We must have been right under a rain cell because one lightning strike was almost instantly followed by thunder and the reverberation set off several car alarms in the parking lot.

        Thunderstorms fascinate me. I am drawn to their beauty and power. It is a ruthlessly graceful piece of nature that attracts me like the songs of the siren.

        When I finished my breakfast I was walking back to the hotel and the storm was just starting to kick. I watched lightning and waited for the thunder with no shelter between me and my 500 yard walk back to the safety of my hotel room.

        Yet there was a calmness around me, except when I would see the flash in the sky, then I would leap up and wait for the thunder.

        As exhilarating as that was, the reality was I was stuck in Oklahoma for the day.

        Tulsa is a decent enough city, but not exactly a place I would vacation to.

        The sky did clear up and I jumped on the bike and headed around the city to look around. For being a smaller city, Tulsa does have an impressive skyline. Several tall buildings make up the downtown and I spent a couple of hours touring around.

        Like most downtowns on a Saturday it was pretty empty. The only people visible were homeless, which the city has an ample supply of.

        For some reason homeless men really like the bike. The reaction I get from most people is either they are intimidated or indifferent. Some will look over and wave, but mostly they will quietly admire Libertad.

        Not the homeless. They whoop and holler and are more animated. They give me a thumbs up or signal to me to rev the bike up and when I do, they get extremely excited.

        I don’t know if it is the noise, or the break in their day, or maybe what the bike represents.

        In a way we are similar. Both of us are free, although through much more different circumstances. For some men being homeless is a sense of freedom. There are no worries and if basic needs are met, the life they have is acceptable. I still think only a small percentage represent this thinking, but it is definitely there.

        You have a guy who is grinding out a living, existing paycheck to paycheck and something goes wrong. The car breaks down or he gets evicted from his place, or he loses his job. He has no money, no back up plan. What’s he going to do? If he has no support system he is out of options. So he travels where he is allowed to camp outside and is left alone.

        Take the Amtrak into downtown Los Angeles sometime and when the train is pulling into Union Station, look over at the Los Angeles River. In this basically dry concrete river bed, are cutouts in the wall where water used to drain into the river.

        They are dry now and used by homeless men as pseudo-apartments. The residents have installed tarps as covers to keep out the sun and rainy and the living space is adequate for their needs. A home is really all a man needs.  

        I missed my home a bit and now in less than a week I would be there.