Friday, August 21, 2009

Dang Those Ice Cream Ladies!

Wednesday August 19

A restful evening was enjoyed by all as we went to bed with full stomachs and no thoughts of who sleeps where in the tent. This is a nightly ritual that we undergo whenever the tent is utilized. I prefer to be on the edge with Donna in the middle. Donna prefers to be on the edge with me in the middle. Lewis prefers to be in the middle. Here is the reasoning. Both Donna and I have discovered that when Lewis is sleeping, he often throws his arms around. He occasionally turns sideways. He never stays on his mattress all night. He’s a what I would refer to as a “wild sleeper”. Lewis prefers the middle so that he has the opportunity to disturb both our sleep! But this night he has not only his own bed but his own room. What a luxury!

We set the alarm for 6:15 and by 7:00 were all packed and ready to go eat in the dorm cafeteria again. The breakfast was better than the dinner. And once again, there was no one there collecting money. We ended up staying in the guest house, being fed dinner last night and breakfast today and it didn’t cost us a penny. We received extra special treatment due to Lewis’ but it still wouldn’t have cost us anything if we had been forced to pitch our tent like the other cyclists do. We returned the key to the Presidents Secretary and then we headed off from our favorite college that we’ve visited during this trip.

The thunderstorms that had been predicted for yesterday never materialized yesterday, and likewise were absent overnight. Today the rain began within 15 minutes of our departure. The showers lasted most of the day and occasionally there was the rumbling of distant thunder but no lightning visited us this day. No matter. The rain was enough to dampen our spirits. But with milder temperatures (80 degrees) the humidity didn’t seem so oppressive. And being wet all day provided plenty of cooling. So I saved money on Gatorade this day too as we didn’t perspire nearly as much as we normally would have. What a good thing rain is! But after riding in the warm rain for a couple hours your feet get all squishy and your hands get all wrinkly and your butt gets a really painful rash that makes sitting in the saddle extremely painful. The rain stopped for a while after noon and we had a couple hours of partly cloudy skies.

This is when the Ice Cream ladies played a cruel joke on us unsuspecting cyclists. We stopped at a dairy freeze place and had milk shakes. One of the ladies working there suggested that we take an alternate route that would be safer, fewer coal trucks, fewer dogs,and wider roads. This route would add about 7 miles to our journey but we figured that a few extra miles was a small concession to make when personal safety is the issue. So we ventured off the route that was so carefully and meticulously prepared for us by the Adventure Cycling Organization. We took the route that the ice cream lady told us about. Unfortunately, her directions and our knowledge of the area lead us to made a monumental mistake that cost us over an hour of pedaling on some of the worst roads we’ve ridden in some time. Cuz we turned the wrong way at the wrong time! When I finally realized that something was amiss, we were very nearly back to the ice cream place. We had gone in a giant circle! How could this happen to us? And then the rain that had subsided for a couple hours, once again was our companion. And the intensity had picked up some to boot. Now it’s approaching 4:00 and we have another 30 miles to get to the only legitimate place to camp for quite a while. There is no way we would ride another 30 miles before dark as we’d already ridden just over 50. This is when I got the local community involved. We stopped to ask directions from a guy outside an auto repair shop. Within minutes we had made friends with the owner and her son and a customer as well. The guy who was getting a tire repaired volunteered to drop us off back where the inncorrect turn was made. This would be after he ran an errand. I took him up on his offer. When he didn’t return after 20 minutes, I talked to the lady who owned the place and mentioned that I had $40 if somebody with a pickup truck could get us to Elkhorn City. This would be a drive of 30 miles one way. Initially I didn’t have any takers, but then she called her brother-in-law who wasn’t real busy and he agreed to help us out.

Larry drove the 3 of us to Elkhorn city in a pouring rain. Our plan from here was to have dinner at a local restaurnant and then ride the 6 miles that it took to get to our next state (Virginia) and also the interstate park know as the Breaks where we could officially pitch a tent. We unloaded outside a restaurant in the pouring rain. I think Larry felt bad leaving us here as he offered to help me load the bikes back on his truck and he’d take us the additional 6 miles to get to the Breaks. I was able to convince him that we knew what we were doing and thanked him nonetheless. Donna and Lewis were smarter than I and had dried off in the restaurant while I was taking care of the bikes. I was wetter than I’d been all day at this point. This is also when I happened to meet another fellow cyclist. Kendal Sparks was also going East on the Trans-am route and was hoping to get to the town of Haysi yet this evening. I talked to him for just a couple of minutes before he pedaled away. He is the lone survivor out of a group that left Oregon way back when. His group was trying to raise money for some worthy cause. I don’t know how many he started with but they’ve all dropped out but him. He’s riding with a couple other people that he’s run into lately but they had alrleady passed by. I wished him a pleasant journey and joined my family in the restaurant. After drying off, I was able to enjoy the dinner. But then we had to go back out in the rain and ride the additional miles to the interstate park. It ended up being 11 miles instead of 6 so it took us until nearly dark before we pulled into the campground. But we managed to set up the tent, have a shower, and fall aslleep exhausted from the day that was going so well until we listened to the ice cream lady. Total miles: 61

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