TDA Reports From The Field: Life Under Lockdown In Rural Vermont
Mark Lutz has worked with TDA Global Cycling as a Chef on the Tour d’Afrique, South American Epic, Silk Route & Trans-Oceania Cycling Expeditions.
If there is one thing I have gained while working for TDA, it is an appreciation for uncertainty. We try and keep it under wraps of course, but we crew members do a whole lot of shooting from the hip. Usually we have our camps sorted before we get the dinner truck there, usually I have a vague idea of what I might be cooking, usually Doug or Jordan or one of our other fine mechanics know what they are doing as they fix something, but certainly not always.
We adapt, we improvise, we change directions, we put zip-ties where there were not any before. A lot of people like things planned, mapped, sorted, and tied up neatly – a happy TDA staff member is the kind of person who flourishes in controlled chaos. It’s a bit of a twisted existence, but it is the kind of thing that makes moments like now much more bearable.
I was intending to be in Alaska by now, where I’ve spent my summers working the last few years. My girlfriend Dominga and I had spent that previous 4 months driving our Sprinter van from Alaska to Mexico, and we were eager to get back up North, to work. We had made it north to Arizona by about mid-March, when things started to really go downhill. We spent a week camping in the mountains outside Flagstaff, trying to make a decision about our next step, when they closed the US- Canada border.
So eastward we went, back to our homeland in the Northeast US. We’ve been quarantined in rural Vermont with my cousin and his family, and it has been wonderful. Living the nomadic lifestyle is a joy, but there are sacrifices needed to make it happen. I haven’t seen my family much the past few years, and the re-connection is something I didn’t know I needed so badly. My cousin’s children are 5 and 2, and I wasn’t a part of their lives at all – now I most certainly am.
I’ve been able to reconnect with my home – the forest and rivers and lakes and smells I grew up with, that I’ve taken for granted for so long, that I almost forgot after so many years of exploring what else there is – and see it with new eyes, older eyes, and find a new beauty in it. I’ve been able to cook – not that I didn’t before – but cook what I want, and share it with people I love, and actually sit down for a meal now and then. And I’ve learned to slow down, that as much as I want to improvise, and adapt, that sometimes you can’t, sometimes you need to just throw your hands in the air and enjoy the ride as best you can.
The next few months, at a minimum, are going to be challenging. My job falls into two sectors, hospitality and tourism, and needless to say, it doesn’t look like either will be particularly busy for a bit. But in a sense, there is a wonderful mystery in all of this. Things have changed, the paradigm has shifted. The horizon is not as clear as it was just a few short months ago – but that’s just the way I like it.
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