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!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Woohoo! New State Day!

Today, Robyn and I woke up to see some ominous clouds lurking out the window. We ate breakfast and said goodbye to Marcy, Truman, and Mogley. Thanks Marcy for being a wonderful host!!

We got on our bikes, rode to through downtown Wilmington to the river to view the old battle ship (great suggestion!). Soon, we were on our way to South Carolina. For whatever reason (maybe bc it was our tenth day in a row riding?) I was dragging a bit today. Also, for whatever reason(s), I made it through the entire day without applying sunscreen. Smart Marie, smart - my body has not acclimated that much. Ouch.

We arrived at the South Carolina boarder and took our obligatory 'new state photo.' Then, it was off to the Myrtle Beach area. Those pesky, skin-burning clouds held out with no rain until we sat down and waited for my mom to meet us! Yay mom! She's going to spend the day with me tomorrow, while Robyn catches up with old college comrades, on our rest day. I'll re-join Robyn tomorrow and get into mischief then (ok probably no mischief, really, we're old ladies now, remember?). Actually, this will be the long distance and time I've been separated from Robyn since our tour started. Bizarre.

We fly home in a week, dang!
Ps - Kate nicknamed Robyn and I, Kanga and Roo. I felt it necessary to take a photo in front of the gas station logo, just as Robyn decided to be a goober in the SC photo.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Grab Your Kleenex

Rewind. Let's finish yesterday:
We got to the hotel, had a nice dip in the pool, showered and went exploring. Jacksonville! (NC, not Fla - this journey isn't finished yet kids). So, things to note about Jacksonville, NC: it's a military town, you cannot drive/bike/anything through the base unless you are a marine, it's a strip mall mecca. Also, there are no crosswalks for pedestrians, so no walking! Well, it's more like sprinting across 6 lanes of traffic.

After that adventure, Robyn and I relaxed until my friend Scott, from high school, came to meet us for dinner. Not only does he drive 2.5 hrs, he treats us to dinner! Seriously, he was an awesome prom date (and friend) and has continued that until adulthood. It was really nice catching up. I have to admit, I love the friends that I have, that even after not seeing one another for 4 years, you can sit down and chat as if you had been keeping up with one another daily.

Will full bellies, we said our goodbyes and promptly fell fast asleep. Funny how a 10:30pm bed time seems oh-so-late. We've turned into old ladies!

This morning we awoke with the realization that this was our last day with our 'bike convoy.' We ate yet another delicious breakfast, packed, and took some group photos. So sad. We got rolling down Hwy 17, only a 53mi day today. A few stops, then all of a sudden we were in Wilmington! CVS on 17 and Gordon ::sniff:: was were we all stopped to say goodbye. Leaving Gary (Gar-bear), Kate and Kevin was so hard. It was great having other bike tourers around to talk to/laugh with/bike with. Just as they probably saw us as 'kids,' we were grateful to have some guidance. Plus, I laughed SO HARD, so much, with them. Robyn and I had to take a moment after leaving to collect ourselves. Wwwhheeeeewwww!
Bike tour convoy? I'm completely for it.

Okay. Now that I'm re-collected, I can go on with this post. We are currently in, Wilmington, staying with Marcy, Harriet's boyfriend's mom. Super sweet and nice! We had a delicious vegetarian lasagna and now, Robyn's wish may just come true. We are going to go see Prometheus.

Today is the first day where I could count the days to the end of trip easier than the days since the beginning. I have not counted any days to the end, but now since it is less than 10 days away, it's getting harder. My 'real life' back in Seattle seems so surreal. Woof!

Cheers to another great day on bike tour!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Day twenty-two: made it to Jacksonville! ...North Carolina

Had a nice and easy day. Did about 40 miles to another fabulous hotel! Who knew bike tour could be so cushy? It was hot but we had a breeze and some rolling clouds above us. Gary broke a spoke about ten miles in this morning but we were only a couple miles from a friendly bike shop. It's all good :)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Day twenty-one???: over the hump

Some of you may have gleaned from Marie's posts that the last few days have been a little tough on me... But I am better now! The ocean swim last night was totally restorative. I washed off two days of headwind, plenty of sweat, a remarkable amount of sunscreen and the hottest day yet (no cloud cover thank you very much.) Marie has been a champ dealing with all of my whining.
Was a little bit cranky after getting up at 3:30, packing up furiously, riding 6 miles, grabbing a 5:00 ferry, then riding 13 miles to another ferry at 7:30, but I napped the whole two hour ride.
When getting off the boat we ran into a guy named Marty who is touring opposite of us from Jacksonville to Maine, he gave us some extra snacks, very nice. There were also three people on tour who had been on the boat with us who we had chatted with in passing, they were pulled into the conversation and Marie and I decided to see if we could caravan with them. Fabulous decision! Kate, Kevin and Gary proved to be great company and similarly paced, a great fit for us! Together we battled yet another day with constant headwind and no cloud cover. Be it the new blood or the realization that ibuprofen might be a good solution for my sore tush, today was so much better than the last two.
We even changed our plans from making it to a warm showers yard to camp when they invited us to stay with them in a hotel in Pine Knolls. The last ten miles were a bit dicey when traffic picked up and so did the wind. Ultimately, we made it the the Hampton Inn and snuck all of our bikes in the back. The hotel room is actually giant and perfect with a pullout couch just for me and Marie. Thanks Gary for using those timeshare points! We plan on sticking with them for the next couple days till Wilmington. Here's to staying positive.

PS - We saw 12 bunnies on Orcacoke Island. There was a group of boy scouters that kayaked 50mi that infiltrated my dreams. The 2.5 hr ferry was $3 for one plus a bike! Gelatin is lame and in so much unnecessarily! Whoever said Chicago was the windy city had not been to the NC coast. Everything I consumed today came out of my pores. AT&T is insufficient on the East Coast.

That is twelve alive bunnies, one dead one.