Monday, July 2, 2012

'Have a Magical Day'

Today was a surreal day. It was the first day we didn't ride our bikes, let alone look at our bikes. Last night after spending a wonderful afternoon with my family and friends, my mom took our bikes in her van as we stayed in Gainesville. Unlike every other morning, we showered! Then, instead of getting on our bikes and riding, we got into a car. We drove the equivalent of 2 biking days. Brian, Robyn, and I all car pooled to Disney World, something else that was surreal. We end this amazing journey of self-inspired, self-powered, and self-challenging feats at a place that is almost the polar opposite of what we did for the past month. Robyn loves Disney, so her excitement grew on me, and Brian helped fuel the final 'rest day' (or bonus day). We spent the day buzzing around people, waiting in line, getting 'fast passes' and taking part in what the amusement park had to offer.

Throughout the day, I couldn't help to think, 'I am going back to Seattle tomorrow.' How bizarre.

So, here we are. This adventure, that evoked many emotions, is now coming to an end. We are going to start new adventures in Seattle, with different perspectives, different views on life. Personally, I am left in this state of awe. I am so grateful to have a friend (Robyn) who stuck it out through the end, who let me plan a map and never questioned it -and never complained when we had to bike extra miles because of a wrong turn, who supported me when I had low moments, and saw my excitement and helped build upon that. There was a moment, when I was within earshot, that Robyn was explaining what I do for a living (repair musical instruments). Hearing her, it reminded me that, yes I have an awesome career that makes and impact in others' lives. So often I would get wrapped up with a day-to-day routine, that I forget those aspects. I am also so, so thankful for the friends and strangers we met along the way, that went out of their way to treat us to a drink, meal, place to crash, so our journey would be a little easier. I know I said it before, but I am humbled from the kindness of others. That has been a huge impact on me from this trip.

I also want to take a second to thank our parents for being so supportive - this had to have been a journey that hopefully excited you all, but ultimately I'm sure it worried you as well. Thanks for listening to our stories of triumph, as well as our blurbs of whines. Hopefully, you relish in the fact that you raised two girls that had an idea, planned, had bumps in the road (literally and figuratively!), and completed a journey that we will take with us for the rest of our lives.

A special thanks to my mom for being so, SO helpful. You went out of your way so much to get us where we needed to be, feed us, house us (plus two more!). I probably don't say it enough, but I love ya!

I leave you all with a few photos of our last biking day and our day at Disney. Another thanks to Brian for going out of his way to bring us a feast while camping, take us to Disney, and spend your time hanging out with two people who can only talk about what went down in the past month.

"Forward, not backward."

Day thirty-one: funny thing about the end sneaks up on you.
With conceiving and planning included, we have been thinking about this trip for almost a year. For the longest time it felt too far to really be happening, once we got started it seemed like it would last forever. We are flying back to Seattle tomorrow but even now it feels like we are just going to wake up at the crack of dawn and ride all day long to a place I have never been before. Where and when does this "real life" occur?
We rode 1465 miles, went to fourteen states, took five ferries and three trains, I got four flats, Marie broke her chain, went through three bottles of sunscreen, eight strangers took us in off the street, we made new friends, saw old friends, made our way into other peoples vacations, survived! To anyone who thinks they cannot go on a bike tour, that they don't have the time, make the time. You can do it. And it is totally worth it.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

100 and what degrees?

Wheeeeeew! It was a hot one, the south really knows how to turn on the heat! Walking outside at 7am I broke a sweat. We said our goodbyes to my family, who were wonderful and great to catch up with, and got on our way.

Today can be summed up in, REST STOPS. It was so, so hot. We got about 30 miles under our belt, and then we started to feel the warm, southern sun. At that point, it was 'get through the next 7 miles to the next air conditioned cafe so we can rest.' There were not a lot of substantial towns after we left Brunswick, thus 'little' biking goals became essential. Another aspect for our breaks now involved AIR CONDITIONING. Stopping in the New England states, we could rest in the shade and feel refreshed. Now, stopping outside and, though being in the shade, we are not gaining much from it. On top of that, any extra water we carry instantly becomes warm.

We did a 'leap frog'/'yo-yo' with Hannah and Ning throughout the day, until Yulee, where the serious rest stops happened. After going about 7 miles between each stop, we finally arrived at Fort Clinch SP, where a dismal cloud tried to form over us. The ranger informed us he only had 3 sites left, that had been previously turned down bc they were, 'blistering hot and offered no shade.' Well, we had to 'check it out before we could commit,' so we biked the 2 miles out to it. With the setting sun and some playing time on the beach, we took it. Perfect! (I by the way biked the extra 4 miles to go back, register and pay for the site, and head to the water, please add that to my overall tally).

The spot is beautiful. Breezy now that the sun is down. Brian, a friend from Gainesville, drove down to splash in the water and camp with us. He also brought a feast. So many foods we haven't eaten! Yum!

Now, we are just relaxing and getting ready for the big day. Our last day! I cannot believe this journey is coming to an end. Kevin gave us a great quote, 'The days are long, but the years are short.' So true.

Cheers to family and friends,

Friday, June 29, 2012

Day twenty-eight: long, hot day

Austin and Deirdre were excellent warm showers hosts for us yesterday! Delicious pasta dinner topped off with limoncello then waffles in the morning, yes.
Got out early and after finding our way out of the neighborhood we were in, had a smooth and efficient start to our ride. Then it got hot. Really hot! We ended up doing about 90 miles in 100 degree heat. Took us about 12 hours including all of the oh so necessary breaks along the way. Hannah and Ning ended up deciding to come all the way to Brunswick, Georgia where we are now all camped out in Marie's grandparent's living room. Wonder how they feel about covering all those miles... but there wasn't much between Savannah and here and we are glad they caught up to us. (Hannah was saying that if we sent postcards from all of the places we actually went they would all be from Starbucks and gas stations.) She and I both got flats in rapid succession when it was finally cooling down and we were finally getting closer. Rolled in just after 8:00 right before the sun went down, whew! Plenty of food waiting for us and the perfect temperature pool to rinse the day off. Thanks so much for the great southern hospitality, excellent cookies.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

...And Then A Wreck Happened Next To Me

Last night, after being on some sort of 'life high' from meeting new people, I put my head down on the pillow, and for the first time, I could not get to sleep. Can loud cicadas really keep a person up after 85 mi of biking? I guess so.

We awoke this morning with our usual routine - Robyn packs the tent while I cook the grub. Our swanky campsite had a 'coffee shop,' so though I was out of coffee beans, I could still get my fix. We got on the road, with our new friends, Hannah and Ning. Pretty easy biking for the most part today - though they bike a little faster than us.

Highlights of the biking: beautiful southern swamps and rivers. The others saw an alligator, but I was focused on not getting pummeled by a semi on a bridge, that I was not looking for it. We also had a double-rear-end-collision happen right next to us (it was about 2 feet to my left, it was so close, I thought I was the one going to get hit), but all four of us survived, 10 fingers - 10 toes!

Now, Robyn and I are having our usual flight at the local brewery. Seriously, breweries have popped up in the south/east. I like it!

1 week and I have to be back at work?!? Crazy!
Ps - we made it to Georgia! Aaaaannnddd we saw a first Jacksonville sign, tear.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day twenty-six: dirt roads and boiled peanuts

Downtown Charleston is beautiful! There are some amazing old buildings. Yesterday Doug and Alyshia showed us around the waterfront and we each enjoyed a tasty flight at the Southend Brewery. Then on home so Alyshia could make a delicious veggie casserole and we could wait for Jason, Ashley, Bailey and Perry. So awesome that Bailey and Perry were passing through town at the same time as us! We had a pretty much perfect little college reunion complete with too many photos and even some beer pong. Why can't all of our friends just live in the same plaaaaaaaace??????
Woke up far too early considering when I went to bed so we could beat the heat. Worth it.

Longest day yet today at 85 miles. We were making good time and feeling fine when suddenly the road google maps had us on turned to dirt. The dirt road became pretty much a mountain bike path and then we hit a gate, by this time there was no going back for us and over the gate we went. Now, on some private land belonging to a hunting club, we rode as quick as we could trying to make to the paved safety of 17. Of course when we got to the next gate, we had to wade through a muddy puddle to get to the other side... where there was more dirt road. We were glad that it rained yesterday, on our rest day, so we were not on our bikes. It also had a cooling effect on the humidity today, but unfortunately a mud effect on the ground in places. The dirt road lasted for MILES, it was totally secluded and we weren't sure if animals, hunters, technical difficulties or deep south horror movie locals were going to get us, but we were certainly not at ease. The Deliverance banjo riff was playing pretty much on repeat in my head the whole time. When according to google we were finally getting close to the end of the sketchy, sketchy route it had put us on, the road became so muddy that, as a bonus, we got to walk out bikes the last mile or so. Our poor, dirty, non-mountain bikes! We were so excited to be on paved roads again that we turned the wrong way, went three miles out of our way and got to backtrack! Like I said, 85 miles.

Not too much else happened apart from a (drunk?) creepy guy following us around when we stopped for a snack. Highlight: about Marie, "if she was alone, I would totally have her." No we do not want to come camp out on your property. Had my first ever boiled peanuts- delicious! I tried fried green tomatoes yesterday, it's true, anything is good if you bread and deep fry it.
Some of the people we had stayed with on warm showers had told us about Hannah and Ning, who were touring on our same route only a few days ahead of us. Our schedules finally synced up, and we are sharing a KOA campsite with them tonight and warm showers host tomorrow in Savanna. If you have never stayed at a KOA, they are swanky campgrounds. We had a refreshing dip in the pool, a hot shower and then even delivered a pizza to our site!
Linking up bike tours is my new favorite thing, even if only for a moment. It is great to get some new stories and mix up the pace. In true fashion with every bike tourer I have met so far, these two are rad. Looking forward to a lighter day tomorrow with some good company.

I'm only going to add a bit, as I was asleep when Robyn entered the tent. Though we had a rest day yesterday, and I slept till 8, I was exhausted by 2pm. But, I had an absolute blast seeing my momma, it was nice to roam around a new city with her. I also had a good time meeting Robyn's friends from Bard, who were all really nice and a lot of fun (then I fell asleep waaaay early at 11pm).

Things I learned today: go with my gut (I cannot tell you how many times I've had to relearn this), if something does not seems like a great idea - it's probably not. Just when I start to think, 'okay, that was out of my comfort zone' and assume nothing else thrown at me will be odd or throw me off, I corrected - someone else will happen.

Other random thoughts:
Not using the fly on our tent? Brilliant.
Little frogs? Cute!
Exoskeletons from cicadas? Not cute.
Cicadas are SO LOUD.
Being a vegetarian on convenient store diet? Hard, bad idea. Stop in a grocery when you have he opportunity (don't be hasty Marie!).

Until tomorrow,


Had a very, very happy reunion with my Bard chums Alyshia, Doug, Bailey and Perry. More on that later, Marie and I are getting ready to head out for the day. Aiming for a campsite closer to Savannah than Charleston today, wish us luck!