Day 10: Cassadaga, FL to Ormond Beach, FL - Between the Ends of America - CycleBlaze

April 22, 2011

Day 10: Cassadaga, FL to Ormond Beach, FL

I wake up and all of the lights in my room are on, along with the ceiling fan and the air conditioner.

That has less to do with the spirits, and more to do with the fact that I left them on when I unexpectedly fell asleep early last night. So much for the hauntings.

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I'm up early and head out for a walk around Cassadaga. It's a clean and attractive town with less than a hundred permanent residents. Only half of the narrow streets are paved, most are lined with white-trimmed two-story buildings or modest single-family homes, and the sidewalks start and stop seemingly at random. There aren't any grocery stores, gas stations, banks, or laundromats, and no main roads cut through the place, so at this time of the morning it's completely quiet. From the outside it looks like a normal small town, but there's one important difference: Cassadaga is widely recognized as a center of psychic energy. As a result, it's been home to the Southern Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp for nearly 120 years, and more than 40 psychic mediums live or work here. If you want to know what the future holds or commune with the dead, this is the place.

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Around noon I step out into the hot sun and wheel the loaded bike across the street, past the town's tiny post office, and lock it up in front of the 6th Sense Spiritual Store. It's a small green building with a neon Open sign flashing in one of its front windows. I'm here for a reading with a psychic.

Twenty minutes later I'm introduced to Anne-Marie. She's a sweet, 50-something woman with a delightful, working-class English accent with a hint of Scottish, where but becomes boot, up becomes oop, and maybe turns into maybeh. We sit across from one another, separated by a small desk in a cramped eight-by-eight room. It's very purple. An air conditioner blocks most of the outside light trying to squeeze through the two narrow windows behind her.

She asks me to place my hands on the table, palms facing down, so I do.

"Alright, let me hold your hands now, Jeff." She starts rubbing my hands and wrists, and continues for a minute or two. Her eyes are closed. I think it's a bit strange, but hey, she's the expert. If this is what she needs to channel the future, I'm all in.

"The first thing I need to tell ya is ya need to lighten oop, Jeff. There's a very heavy energy around ya. Ya have a tendency to take everything too seriousleh. And there's no point in it, yeah? Cos yer not getting out of it alive, are ya? Ya have very, very high standards, and that's a good thing, boot not everyboody shares those same high standards."

Not exactly a psychic revelation, but true enough.

"Now I get Minnesota very strong with ya and I also get islands very strong with ya. Why am I picking up those two places very strong?"

"I don't know," I think to myself. "You're the psychic. Aren't you supposed to understand that already?" But instead I tell her that I'm on a big bike trip that started in Key West and I'm going across the country. I explain the route I'm taking up through Virginia, and how I'm heading west across Kansas and Colorado, and eventually all the way to the Pacific Ocean in Washington State.

"Boot I do get Minnesota very strong in ya. And I get islands with ya very strong. And I get the coontreh Ireland very strong, so watch where you go into Ireland, ok?"


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A few minutes later she looks at me and sighs, very seriously. My stomach gives a quick nervous twitch.

"I want ya to learn to be more at zen with yerself," she says.

"Umm, ok. So ... so what do I have to do to make that happen?" I ask.

"What do ya have to do? Just be. I want ya to focus on yer breathing a lot more and I want ya to breathe slow. What I like to do, to center meself, is to breathe in for five, hold it for five, and then let it oot slowleh. And here's the oothah thing, yer chakras are out of balance. Ya need more centrin'. Considerin' ya been doin' all that bike ridin', ya not centered, ya not one with yaself. Ya gotta focus at being at one with all people, places, and things, ya understand?"

Totally. Damn unbalanced chakras.

She spends a bit of time giving me general health advice: take a bit of lemon juice with your water, make sure to get electrolytes, eat a more balanced group of foods.

"Ya need more fat in yer diet," she tells me. "Yer joints feel like they've got all acid around them. Cos I get right into yer aura field and I know what's goin' on with ya, yeah?"

She asks me to take my palms off the table and flip them up toward the ceiling so that she can get a closer look. She studies them carefully for a few moments, her nose tilted up a little and her eyes slightly squinted.

"Ya've got surgery. Have ya had a surgery? Well there is one. I think it's something to do with yer leg or yer knee, what's going on down there?"

At first I tell her nothing, but then say that it could have something to do with an old knee injury from playing hockey. It's nothing serious and it doesn't bother me anymore, but I feel like she really needs something to grab on to, so I cave and tell her about it.

"Ahhhh!" she says with excitement. "Well keep it warm. Keep it warm. And if it bothers ya, lay oop for a couple a days, yeah? Don't be too quick to poosh on it, ok? Cos I'm getting mooscles and bones and things, yeah?"

She studies the palm of my right hand more.

"Ya've got a lot of wealth on yer pahms, Jeff," she says. "I know that's something that yer not really motivated with, boot there's an awful lot of mooney on yer pahms. What motivates you is doing the right thing, boot yer in dangeh of being the moral majoriteh, you've got to be more flexible, ok? It's like, there's this phrase in English, it goes 'Everybodeh in the world is a little queer, except for me and he, and even he's a little queer,' yeah? We're all unique, we're all individuals, there's no such thing as normal."

When she's exhausted the knowledge contained in the creases of my dirty right hand, she hands me a stack of tarot cards.

"Mix these oop for me, please, Jeff. Take yer time, just give em a mix, we're not in Vegas, they'll go where they want to go."

I mix them up and she takes a few cards off the top.

"See what we've got for ya here. Now ... oooh. Yer ladeh, the ladeh that's in yer life, ok, have you made an honest woman out of her yet?"

"No," I tell her. "Not yet."

"Get married! Cos yer going to have a babeh, yer going to be a daddeh, so ya might as well get married before you become a daddeh. Because this"—she taps the card with her index finger—"this indicates pregnancy very, very strong. Very, very strong."

She's keen on giving out relationship advice to the soon-to-be dad.

"Ya need to say once in a while, 'I thought I was right, boot I was wrooooong.' Choose yer battles, choose yer battles. I've been married 33 years, I know how to choose me battles. Ya've chosen well, yer a match made in heaven, but, um ... you know ... there's no 'I' in team, ok? There's no 'I' in team and a woman thinks one way and a man thinks anoothah. What was it my husband said, 'Men are from Mars and she stole my penis?', something like that? Ya always have the last word, as long as ya say, 'Yes, dear.' Boot like I said there's babies comin' along soon between you two. It's gonna be famleh.'

Now we're cooking with gas! But apparently that's the most that this deck of cards can offer, so she grabs a larger, different stack from the right side of the desk. I don't get to do any shuffling this time.

"Now ya dad, did he have some problems with his chest or something?" she asks. "And was it his loongs or his heart, somewhere in his chest area?"

He did, but it was five years ago. I don't mention that it happened so long in the past, because she wants very badly to be right.

"And is he still with us, yer dad?"

She should know this if she's really psychic and capable of communicating with the dead, but that's looking less and less likely, so I simply give her a yes.

"Ya just need to tell yer dad that he needs to keep fit, yeah? You don't take after him healthwise, boot ya need to tell yer dad it's a genetic thing, so he needs to sort himself out. I think he's been a bit too much of a couch potato and I think he just needs to move a little bit more, ok? Cos he needs to keep his heart healthy, he definitely needs to work on his heart and his chest health."

She shuffles this new deck of cards a second time.

"Yer moother's moother, yer grandmoother is ... in spirit. And this is who watches over ya, I think ya must have been her favorite or something. She had a bit of cancah before she passed on. Boot she's absolutely fine now. She's tellin' me to tell ya not to poosh yaself to hahd, ok? Take it in stride."

Now the train's off the rails. My grandma is definitely alive, probably sitting at her house in Bremerton, Washington, in her big recliner, drinking a can of Olympia beer.

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She shuffles the tarot cards again. Lots and lots of shuffling. These things don't give up the future all at once, you know.

"OK, let's have a look at this bike trip," she says, laying seven cards out on the table between us.

"Be careful over the next week, the next nine days. Once yer past the next nine days ya should be fine. Go a little bit slower, because I feel it's soom kind of moosculah injureh, and then don't push yaself. Get off the road. It's like, ya feel like yer driven to have do it, boot there's so much more to ya than the bike trip, no disrespect. Boot there's so much more goin' on to ya, in the grand scheme of things. It's a grand thing yer doin' right now, but in five years' time ya'll be on to something even more grandah. Less haste, more speed, yeah? And I do get Minnesota fer soom reason. Yer not goin' anywhere near Minnesota? And it might not be for this trip, it could be fer something else that coomes along."

Look out for Minnesota, some time, somewhere, at some point in the future. Very helpful advice.

And then more shuffling.

"Think about what ya want for the future," she tells me. "And then pick seven for me with yer left hand, from anywhere at all."

I do as I'm told and lay them on the table. She quickly flips them over.

"Yer gonna have a platform where yer gonna be voicin' yer concerns and airing yer opinions, and it is gonna be done in loove, it won't be done in feah. And it will bring you a lotta happiness, an awful lotta happiness. Yer going to be writin', yer goin' to be heard. Yer the man, yer the bomb, what can I tell ya?"

I don't tell her that I started the journal for this bike trip a week and a half ago, but she's pretty spot on. I guess even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

She carefully looks over the cards and asks me another question she's supposed to know the answer to.

"Ya have a friend that passed ovah to the othah side, yeah?"

I don't really say anything. I want to see where this one goes.

"A male friend that went very prematurely, very unexpectedly? It feels to me like—how can I explain it to ya—like accidentally on purpose, yeah? Do ya understand? He's ok, he didn't go to no weird place, he's in the same place as everybodeh else. Boot he just couldn't hack it. His mind became slightly unhinged and unbalanced, and it woosn't about anybodeh else, it was just about him and his own foolishness. And all around him was just problem after problem after problem. It feels like he witnessed something or experienced something that set him off down this cycle."

Although it's true that a friend of mine died in the past few months, it wasn't an unexpected passing and she was most definitely not a man. I don't mention any of this.

"Boot he wants to let ya know that he's ok," she continues. "No worries."

"Now I wanna call ya dude for some reason, why do I wanna call ya dude?" she asks.

Because you're a bit crazy?

"No worries dude, I'm fine!" she calls out in a Texas-sounding accent.

She's channeling someone who isn't dead, who never existed in the first place. I fight as hard as I can to keep a huge smile from spilling across my face. I'm not totally successful.

The last ten minutes turn into an impromptu life coaching session, full of cliches, one-liners, and vague advice.

"Look for peace within yerself," she tells me. "Be careful with yer bodeh, yer bodeh's come oop again. But quit beatin' yerself up. Let it be. Good opportunities always, stay in the moment, stay in the now. Let go resentment. If yer in the past yer not in the moment, if yer not in the moment yer not in the zone, if yer in the zone you can achieve anything, yeah? Yer a likable guy and people get you."

It's like I'm talking to David Brent in the U.K. version of the TV show The Office.

Once I'm out the door I can finally let out the big laugh I've been trying to keep inside for the past half hour. I walk over to the restaurant attached to the hotel, eat a quesadilla made with alligator meat, and think about how happy I am to have spent the last 24 hours in Cassadaga, the most entertaining town in Florida.

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Soon after leaving town I pick up Highway 44 and head east. It's a divided, four-lane road with a 65 mile-per-hour speed limit and one long line of cars after another, but the shoulder is wide and the riding comfortable. The afternoon sun shines bright and hot, although I'm late enough that it's beating down on my back, not my face, and every ten minutes or so a cloud gets in the way and cools things down. I'm also starting to adjust to the heat and humidity.

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A busy back road carries me past forests and farms, which eventually give way to more modern homes on large plots of land, and then the suburbs. Not long after I'm back on Highway 1. I've haven't gone a day without seeing this road since leaving Key West and I'm starting to think it's going to follow me all the way home to Washington State.

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With the sun starting to head down I pick up a strong tailwind and push through Daytona Beach and its strange mix of low-income neighborhoods, expensive marinas, and a motorcycle shop on every block. North of the city the road starts following the curves of the Intracoastal Waterway, with attractive homes on one side and private docks sticking out into the canal on the other. It's great riding, except for the rusted red Corvair with the skinny, old, confused driver that misses me by less than a foot as he drives past at 15 miles per hour—with no other cars around for half a mile in either direction.

I reach Tomoka State Park with daylight fading fast. It's a beautiful place, with trees lining both sides of the road, arcing together over top of it, and draping down long strings of light green moss. Soon I round a curve, pop over a tiny bridge, and the road spits me out into the tidelands, where narrow canals wind through short patches of green that stretch for miles to the north and south, and the sky glows blue, pink, and purple. It's almost dark when I ride up the driveway to the nearby home of Rick and Pat, who I connected with through Warm Showers.

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I set up my sleeping bag on a big chair and ottoman on their fenced-in back patio as the crickets sing outside, and the TV broadcasts a country music special and nightly news previews ("A mom has sex with a teenage boy. How his mother figured it out, at 11!") in the background. I head to sleep feeling exhausted. Physically I'm in good enough shape, but my mind is getting tired. I need a day off soon.

Today's ride: 59 miles (95 km)
Total: 565 miles (909 km)

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