The Secret Dimension

When I was about 14 and struggling with some teenage angst that was absolutely and completely ruining my life, my dad told me, “twenty years from now, this won’t matter.” Clearly he was correct because I have long forgotten what the “this” even was.

I think of this often when I need Perspective. It might help in the moment to think we or what we are doing is SO important and SO urgent because yes — it can mess with our head to realize how little it actually does matter — but it also means we layer stress upon stress over and over, and that also messes with our heads.

This is the kind of thing I ponder as I use my bike as a means to literally and figuratively transition between work and home.

There is a bike path from campus to about 1/2 mile of home — about 30 miles. I watched with anticipation as the sections of the bike path were completed over a period of years, excited about the prospect of being able to do some of my commute on a bike. My Sabbatical allowed me to prepare to achieve that goal.

Normally I drive halfway and leave the van at a Park and Ride lot, biking the rest of the way in (and back). However, yesterday Dear Husband dropped me off at campus following a meeting in Missoula with the contractor. This meant I got to ride all the way home, and yes — I consider it is a gift to be able to do such things.

I stopped to take photos along the way because I wanted to share this — a goal achieved, and a secret Montana world.

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The bike path is filled with hidden places known only to those of us who get out of our cars and take the road less traveled.

When I was a child my dad honked the car horn in tunnels, much to our gleeful happiness. I continued that tradition with my own children. Therefore, I always ring the bell in that tunnel, and think of my dad and my children — and Carol, who sent me that bell.

When I was a child my dad honked the car horn in tunnels, much to our gleeful happiness. I continued that tradition with my own children. Therefore, I always ring the bell in that tunnel, and think of my dad and my children — and Carol, who sent me that bell.

One day I met the guy who heads all things biking for the City of Missoula, which was extremely useful as I was unsure exactly which path to take. He rode with me all the way to campus, showing me the route while telling me about the ways that Missoula supports biking. It was amazing. Who knew they plow the bike paths before the city streets?!

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He also told me all about the study they did to make sure this little green box worked safely at the busy intersection by the mall. By waiting in the box, a special bike signal is triggered — it is very cool.

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The path takes me to places I would have not otherwise see — it is like an invitation to a new dimension.

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Missoula has done a great job allowing cars and bikes to coexist in safe ways, including this bike/pedestrian overpass that spans busy Reserve Street.

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The path heads south into the Bitterroot Valley, following Highway 93 and the Bitterroot River.

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When I show up at work with my bike and in my bike clothes, my Dear Colleague likes to note that it is Mary-Ann in her natural habitat. So true. And also, my Happy Place.

Yes, it was raining. I am committed to not being a fair weather bike commuter! Winter should be interesting.

Yes, it was raining. I am committed to not being a fair weather bike commuter! Winter should be interesting.

You can do so much thinking on a bike. And there is just SO much to think about — always.

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I hope your day is filled with happy, secret things.