Taylor Ho Bynum

*Photo by Peter Gannushkin

Bike Tour

Day 5 – 9/1, 11:00pm, Lake Stevens WA

My cousin Piper and his son Theo came across the bay from Port Townsend to meet up with me in Bellingham, and we camped out in a friend’s backyard. So great to see them, and they joined me for the first twenty miles of my ride today (a beautiful run through some lush forest, almost primordial with the ferns and moss and trees). I was particularly impressed by Theo’s endurance, I’m not sure I could have pulled off that long a ride at age twelve. One of our hosts joined us on the bike, the other hooked me up with a very hip t-shirt.

A benefit of this tour is, like the musical colleagues I’ve got sprinkled throughout, I’ve got family up and down the coast. An uncle in Vancouver, these cousins meeting me in Bellingham, a brother-in-law in Seattle, an uncle in San Francisco, and my sister and her family in LA. I’m getting an impromptu family reunion spread out across the trip.

This got me thinking about two elders my family lost in the past few years – my two Uncle Bobs; my mother’s eldest brother and my father’s first cousin/quasi big brother (Piper’s dad). While very different in temperament, beyond their name and relations they shared a remarkable number of biographic coincidences. Above all, whether by bike or by boat, whether in China or in the Caribbean, they were both true adventurers, demonstrating a willingness to jump into the unknown throughout their lives. I like to think they would have gotten a kick out of my present journey, and seen it as a tribute to their example.

Tonight I’m staying at the Mansion Inn, a sprawling B&B overlooking the lake that puts the House of Seven Gables to shame with its architectural outgrowths. I had a very pleasant evening sitting on the porch with my hosts and some of their neighbors, including a family from Chile, chatting and me playing as the sun set. Then I grabbed some moussaka at a friendly local Greek restaurant. I’m struck by two things. First, a reminder of how international this country can be at its best, a tiny lakeside town in Washington State enlivened by residents from various parts of the globe. Second, if nothing else, how this musical bike tour works as a great conversation starter with strangers. Like I wrote yesterday, it challenges me out of my artistic comfort zone. I realize it pushes me past my social comfort zone as well, in a way that reminds this cheerful misanthrope of the basic congeniality of our species.

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