Thursday, September 8, 2011

Phase two

Since my last update, we spent several more days with Colin's parents at the coast.  Hurricane Irene was basically a non-event in Sneads Ferry, so the day after the storm, Colin and I drove down to Shallotte to see his sister Amy and her kids, John and Judith.  Amy entrusted Colin and John with grill duty (they did an excellent job of it), and the three of us gals chatted while we examined the MRI of Amy's shoulder injury (big ouch) from last winter.  We had a great evening visiting and were sorry it had to end so soon! 

Our last week at the beach, we hunkered down and got to work, booking a guesthouse in Cape Town (the Cat and Moose on the recommendation of an overland traveler named Fishfund), contacting BA Cargo again to confirm our shipping, and measuring the bikes with the front wheel, fender, and handlebars removed in order to determine just how teensy a crate we can have built for the bikes' air travel.  While we were going round the bikes doing our ciphering, Colin noticed a broken rear spoke on his bike.  Huh.  What we thought was going to be a day of relatively simple projects suddenly evolved into a rather fretful day of pains in the arse.  Between trying to figure out why the spoke broke, how many are going to follow it, and how/where are we going to get replacements before we leave, and the realization that shipping costs are going to be more than a touch more expensive since, even though we can fit the bikes in a fairly small footprint side by side, the crate is going to weigh approximately 3/4ths the weight of both  bikes combined.  I know the crating company is building the box to airline specifications, but I had no idea that it will be made of ...lead plate and railroad ties?!?.  For a brief moment or two, we were ready to chuck the trip and build a shack on our plot in NC.  We recovered though, figured things out, and forged on with our plans.  We repacked our bags (having to remember where everything fits after three weeks of tossing stuff loose on the closet floor) and prepared to leave for a stop in Selma (with one last porcine pleasure lunch at Scott's before our departure) to say farewell to more of the family and to apply sticky numbers to our mailboxes (we're official now). 

The last sunny day of this leg of the trip
 From Selma, we rode to Raleigh to stay with our friend Matt for a couple of nights.  While much has changed since we moved from the area eleven years ago, Matt is the same as always- hustling and plotting his escape to greener pastures (it's nice to have some consistencies in life).   Over the two days we spent in Raleigh, we had a lot of laughs reminiscing with Matt, my friends Kim and Tracy from my airline biz days, and our former neighbor and old buddy Benjy (I never thought we see him again!) and caught up on the past ten years of living. 

This past Sunday, 4 September, we left Raleigh.  It was Colin's 45th birthday, and when I asked how he wanted to spend it, he said that since we're riding round the world this year, he thought it would be appropriate to spend the day riding.  So off we went toward Ohio.  The morning was warm and hazy, and my head felt vaguely the same.  I (and Colin too) was really conflicted about leaving NC.  I want to go on this super fantastic adventure of a lifetime, but it was so comfortable and enjoyable to spend time with family and old friends, and we do have this piece of land aching for something to be built on it (Colin is serious this time about building a dome)... .  Anyway, that was the tone for the day- a  bit of a funk.  The ride north out of NC and through rural Virginia was pretty, the roads were swervy and smooth, but there was a surprising amount of traffic, and people wouldn't just pass us, already!   We kept having to pull off the road to let the tailback go round, which got annoying after the first few times.  The route we took to avoid the interstate involved a multitude of state roads and lots of checking the Google maps instructions against our road atlas to make sure we were on the right road.  Unfortunately after a fuel stop somewhere in VA, I managed to lose the atlas in the wind somewhere.  Oops.  Deeper funk. 

We plodded on and made it to Front Royal, VA, planning to stop for the night.  Since it was Colin's birthday, we figured we'd spring for a hotel room instead of camping.  We found the visitors' information center, which was closed, but they did have a box of brochures outside listing hotels and campgrounds in the area.  We rode to look at rooms at several of the budget-friendly hotels and decided after touring the mildewy bathrooms and cigarette-burned carpets, that maybe camping was a better idea.  Many of the camping options were far out of town, so we nixed them from the get-go, one was $32 for a basic tent site (huh?), and two others did not answer the phone.  So we took off down a road where a couple of the campgrounds were listed to check them out.  The light was dwindling by this time, and raindrops began to plop on our face shields, so we pulled into the first likely looking place, (what turned out to be the appropriately named) Gooney Creek Campground.  It's situated between Gooney Creek and the proprietress's house.  When we pulled up to the stop sign next to the porch, we found an old, red-haired woman rocking in a chair in the midst of mounds of partial (I assume) cans of various insect killers, old board games (with some of the pieces maybe?), books, rags/clothes, and who knows what else.  Imagine an episode of Hoarders.  She needs an intervention.  And she was crazy, like cuckoo for cocopuffs crazy.  But we needed a place to stay, and the sky had already started rumbling, so we stayed.  After about 15 minutes of insanity-driven conversation with the woman, Colin set up the tent while I rode back into town in search of the makings of a birthday dinner.  I returned with a frozen pasta dinner (steak and roasted peppers with penne in gorgonzola sauce), salad, bread, fruit, two Foster's oil cans, and cheesecake.  And it didn't rain much while we fixed it.  But the stove ran out of fuel as the pasta cooked (fortunately it thawed mostly on my ride back from the store).  It all tasted good, and we cleaned up, got in the tent, and tried to sleep. 

Yes it's still raining
 It rained hard overnight, but our gear was mainly dry since we stuffed it under the rain fly.  We packed everything up, decided to forgo showers (most of you would have too), and got on the road in the rain.  The day's ride would include five states: Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.  And it rained all they way through the first four of them, and the temperature dropped as we rode.  The roads would have been terrific for riding had they been dry and had we been on bigger bikes, but it was a slog up many of the hills in third...and then occasionally second gear, struggling to keep them going 25mph.  Our Aerostich suits did a remarkably good job keeping us dry, but the Gore-tex in our boots gave up after about 8 hours of solid soaking rain, and we wrung out our gloves at each stop.  By the time we reached my parents' house, we were waterlogged, shivering, and ready for a steaming hot shower.  We made it here, safe and sound.  Since we warmed up,  we've been working on the final preparations for our departure.  Next stop...Toronto on Sunday!

1 comment:

  1. Hope you make Toronto on schedule. And, even more hope the funk has lifted.

    I loved reading about the lady at Gooney Creek. This is one case where I've glad to hear about it rather than experience it.