Being and Nothingness

I’ve had writer’s block since my last post. Just can’t seem to come up with anything interesting to say. Even the title of this post caused me difficulty. Originally the title was “Nebraska, corn and manure.” But then I thought of the many long hours I peddled through the Nebraska countryside with not much to interest me and I hit upon French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre’s classic masterpiece of existentialism. I was existing, or being, and surrounded by nothingness.

Of course this is not at all what Sartre wrote in his 1943 book (I tried, but failed, to read it). Here is a description of the book from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

Sartre’s ontology is explained in his philosophical masterpiece, Being and Nothingness, where he defines two types of reality which lie beyond our conscious experience: the being of the object of consciousness and that of consciousness itself. The object of consciousness exists as “in-itself,” that is, in an independent and non-relational way. However, consciousness is always consciousness “of something,” so it is defined in relation to something else, and it is not possible to grasp it within a conscious experience: it exists as “for-itself.” An essential feature of consciousness is its negative power, by which we can experience “nothingness.” This power is also at work within the self, where it creates an intrinsic lack of self-identity. So the unity of the self is understood as a task for the for-itself rather than as a given.

Got it? Good.

So what has happened since last post? I crossed into Nebraska over the Missouri River, not far from where Lewis and Clark made their historic expedition in 1804-1806.

This bridge was not built until 1996, I believe, so it is fairly recent. Previously you had to take a ferry across the river.

Once in Nebraska, the land was a lot hillier than I expected. Lots of pasture for livestock, which meant fences to keep them where they belong. This causes problems for bike tourists who “free” camp wherever they can find a secluded spot. With few trees, lots of fences and rolling hills, finding a camp spot had become rather challenging.

One day, I got off on a terrible gravel/sand road at the end of the day to find a quiet place to camp, but because the of fences I could not easily find one. The road was bad to I had to walk my bike 3 miles before I found a small two track lane that went off in between a cornfield and a cow pasture. I walked for about 1/4 mile and found a nice flat spot 10 feet from the track near a watering hole for the cows. Pleased with myself, I set up my tent and began cooking dinner, which consisted of the usual ramen noodles. Just then, a pickup truck approached on the gravel road and to my horror it turned up the two track lane I had parked next to. “Busted!”, I thought to myself. I hate when I get discovered. It doesn’t happen often. The truck drove up to me and a young man asked “what’s going on?” I explained that I had nowhere else to camp and I was just there for one night, I won’t make a fire, etc.. He said he came to check the water level for the cows. I asked if it was ok to stay. He suggested I go to a campground a couple miles up the road. I groaned, thinking that it was already dusk and I really did not want to pack up all my gear and walk further. He said he was only renting the land, he would ask the landlord if it was ok.

Well he never returned and as it got dark I dismissed the encounter and had a good nights sleep. In the morning as I was packing up, several cows came by (they were still on the other side of the barbed wire) and looked at me suspiciously. Just then another pick up truck turned up the two track and an older guy in a much nicer truck stopped and said to me “Its time for you to go.” He said he was the landowner and I was trespassing on private property. I again explained that with all the land fenced off there were few places to camp. He was not satisfied and looked at me with a disapproving frown. I promised to leave in 20 minutes. This seemed to satisfy him so he drove off. I quickly packed up my things and rode away.

But as I got to thinking about it, I started to get a little angry. 80,000 square miles in Nebraska and all I ask for is a 10 x 10′ piece of flat ground for 12 hours and you get your panties in a bunch? What an a**hole. I mean, it’s not like I jumped a fence or anything (which I have done before many times). There was no sign saying private property, no trespassing, or anything, There was no gate, there was no fence. There were no houses around so asking permission was not an option.

So, for being douchebags about the whole thing, these guys earn my middle finger award.

Here is a google earth view of my campsite.

A shot of the cows that came by in the morning.

Otherwise the past 10 days have been long, dull rides over endless cornfields, pastures and soybean fields, occasionally punctuated by small farm towns where I stocked up on food. The weather was good so I camped out a lot. Here is one great site by Sutherland reservoir.

A cramped spot in a cornfield. Good thing I never saw the film, “Children of the Corn.”

Typical roads in Nebraska.

I stopped at a gas station and in the mens room inside the door was this sign. Talk about addressing the symptom and not the cause.

It seems most crops require irrigation in the area.

Here is my current location Just inside the Colorado border. Next stop: The Bloom household in Golden, CO.

8 thoughts on “Being and Nothingness

  1. Capt. don Sr. August 17, 2017 / 10:30 am

    Do you have the owner’s permission to camp out at the Blooms? I hear they can get a bit testy at times.

    • Kevin Koski August 21, 2017 / 5:45 pm

      Quiet, they don’t know I’m staying here.

  2. Jocelyn kilpela August 17, 2017 / 12:15 pm

    As the late, great Stan VanAntwerp would say… “people are funny folk”…. I think that’s what he said. You’d have to ask Ben. Looking forward to seeing you soon!

  3. Kevin Koski August 19, 2017 / 10:41 pm

    One thing I forgot to mention–thanks to my brother Steve for giving me an audiobook of the complete works of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I listened to the entire volume, which lasted many hours and provided entertainment during the long lonely roads.

  4. Jim Kilpela August 23, 2017 / 8:44 am

    Not much shoulder on those roads, Kev, and looks like you had some loose stuff. I noticed quite a few fences while cycling in California. You must have seen plenty of fencing in Texas.

    In California, while cycling and tent camping with the Alameda County Touring Club, I set my tent one night near a fence line. That night, I awoke several times to the snorting and pawing of cows as they came to see my tent…or the smells coming from it.

  5. Jim Kilpela August 23, 2017 / 8:48 am

    Another memory:
    In 1978, while cycling with David near Green Bay, I think, we fell asleep after lunch on side of a road near a fence. Minutes later we woke up to see 20 or so cows staring at us.

    Great memories…

    • Kevin Koski August 25, 2017 / 10:27 am

      Yes, I remember when I cycled across the US in 1991 I camped out in an empty pasture in Wyoming. But in the morning I awoke to a herd of about 20 cows surrounding my tent, just feet away. It was a little scary being so close to those huge animals.

  6. steve August 29, 2017 / 10:13 pm

    Good thing you didn’t tell him you worked for the DNR!

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