Operation Sisyphus and Ivory Tower

As of 6/15, I have been on the road for an entire week. Now, I am in the comfortable and welcoming home of a college friend in Ithaca, NY.

The parents treated me so kindly: they even made real rice, cooked the right way! Such thoughtful and cultured people. You can always tell by the way people cook rice. They offered me the guest room, with a king-sized bed and its own bathroom. Haven't slept on a bed for a week. Didn't want to get up. The mother Wendy showed me around Cornell, and the town of Ithaca. What a different world compared to its surrounding area!

The past two or three days could be code-named "Operation Sisyphus." Every day, I push my bike uphill, only to cruise it downhill, and then have to push it uphill again. Like this one below. It's quite psychologically draining, when you know all the ups and downs will cancel itself. At least I am moving West with each up and down. 

Knowing that there is another uphill ahead always kills the thrill of flying down hill (highest speed 42 mph!). I tried to look on the brighter side of life by telling myself that uphills are fine because you get the pleasure to cruising downhill. But downhills are ten times shorter than uphills. It's like life in general. Still trying to learn to embrace and enjoy the sweaty uphills. But good time to meditate.

Ran into (or walked into, as I was pushing my bike uphill) Pat, who was biking to Florida, revisiting a similar bike tour he did almost 30 years ago. Good for him! His blog here

He was traveling very light, with only two panniers. I had a whole trailer and two panniers. Beginners usually brings way too much stuff =)

As I came closer to Ithaca, NY, where Cornell University is located, I can smell the intellect and wealth in the air. After being passed by pick-up trucks and old bulky cars for three days, I started to be passed by Prius, BMW, etc. Well, the Cornell professors are living the life =)

The Ivory Tower creates such a strange ecosystem, with enormous concentration of capital (human, financial, and physical) in one place, trickling down to the surrounding areas. Locals serve as the security guards, staff and workers at Cornell, dependent on this world-famous institution for employment and much of the local economy. There is a distorted reality within the bubble. It's nice when you can afford to live in it, or to afford not bothering with the world outside of it. 

People outside of the bubble worries about their dairy farm going bankrupt because of industrial farms. People inside of the bubble worries about how to solve the world's hunger problem on the other side of the Earth. But we all worry.


eoin said...

"Don't worry - Be Happy" You take great pictures, what kind of camera do you have ? eoin

Patrick Milroy said...

Hey Z,
Great blog man! Safe travels.

Zilong Wang said...

Hi Eoin, I used the camera from my phone =)

eoin said...

Z, I have a dumb question but here goes,
when you eat rice do U put anything on it ? Salt, Butter or Soy sauce ?

I have loved Rice all my life.....the real stuff, not the "instant" or any of the variations with additives. I like spanish rice too with green peppers etc in it (although that has fat in it.)

Years ago I was a NY city cop and worked in Manhattan (China town) is near the criminal court district.....I always ate in the authentic Chinese restaurants when I could.....I knew they were authentic when I often was the only Caucasian in the place.

Sue A said...

I've been following your travels from Greece - you have definitely hit your stride! All those little hills in Massachusetts and New York are good preparation for the mighty Rockies! But first you'll have the Great Plains to cross. I'm glad you didn't cheat and hitch a truck to Wyomiing Wyoming! Sue