Saturday, May 25, 2013

Beard Two: Return to Lithuania

[Written 3-4 weeks ago.]

Last time I may or may not have described the first few days of my trip through Sweden. Oh wait, I described the entirety of my trip through Sweden. Great.

I arrived in Lithuania at nine a.m. on the ass-end of an industrial wasteland outside Klaipėda. My first introduction to the country was miles of forest and very small villages, and this, my second, was rolling off a clanging, exhaust-filled ferry while dodging many large trucks and larger potholes.

I made it to the town center, but as I am not much for city tourism I can't tell you much about it. There is a nice little canal, though.

After dawdling for a few hours (including writing the previous beard), I struck off for Kaunas with basically no preparation. I had no map, little food, and no cash. I came to regret the last, but only because it prevented me from getting ice cream a couple days later. The point is, touring in Lithuania is not a complicated activity.

I took Lithuanian highway 141 all the way from Klaipėda to Kaunas.  Every 5-15 kilometers I passed a village shop (parduotuvė) where I could get water, snacks, and the occasional vegetable.

The weather was amazing - chilly at night but +12-15 in the day. On day one (which started at 14:30) I made 70 km, still a big number for me, and felt great.

This is getting boring. Quick!

Day 2: Headwind. Glbargleflguhr. Still manage 91km in 9 hours, which may or may not have been a mistake. The incessant internal tour-dialogue picks up this day, and occasionally becomes verbal. I climb a tree.

Day 3: Finally recognize the signs of heat exhaustion (night sweats, fuzzy mind, dehydration) and decide to give the morning the big ol' middle finger. It rains until 12 or so, which is fine because I was in my cozy tent. F u, world. F u.

Day 3, cont'd: TAILWIND!

Day 3, denouement: in eight hours (14:30 to 22:30) I made 108km - my second biggest day ever.

In three days I made 270km, and on two of those days I didn't start until the mid afternoon. I am at least twice as fast as I was when I started touring Europe last year!

Of course the best part of touring is not just haulin ass. Besides the storks, the brightly colored houses, the horse-drawn ploughs, and the plethora of backyard gardens in villages that seem primarily comprised of back yards, I... okay, that sentence is already long enough. But let's not forget the little field sparrow, whose courtship display involves chirping constantly, without apparently stopping for breath, while flying straight up from the flat, damp farm fields, straight into the sky, until his body is a little speck and his song can hardly be heard. And the cats, hunting in the field - one in particuler perched intently on a miniature Pride Rock, all tendon and anticipation while the grass in front rustles with potential and opportunity. And did I mention the storks? So majestic and elegant, although let me tell you, they are brutal as hell and I've seen them do some things with their beaks I won't soon forget. (Poor little mole.)

So now I'm in Kaunas. Next time I'll write about my experiences here.  I also intend to write about more than just the raw experiences of touring -- maybe discuss some of the philosophy that is generated by this lifestyle -- but eastern Europe is still too new (again), and there are too many experiences to write about! So. Some time.