We're finally on the East Coast! We were incredibly excited because we found a Chic Fil A. I haven't seen a Chic Fil A since I left Maryland. It is incredibly difficult to go from eating Chic Fil A practically everyday on campus to no Chic Fil A at all. I didn't even realize that I missed it until I saw the sign and convinced Pacella and Jesse (who were not at all hard to convince) that breakfast at Chic Fil A was a good idea for breakfast.
The plan for coming home continues to fluctuate wildly. Initially we were to go to Yorktown, come back along the route and bike up to Baltimore.
Then we thought, why are we going all the way to Yorktown, when we can just bike up to Baltimore? Because we still need to touch the ocean to make it official.
Ok so the next plan was, we're going to bike up to Baltimore and arrive on the 5th, have our welcome home party on the 6th and then lead a mass of what I'm assuming would be only a few of our more crazy friends, but what Mike was probably assuming would be his entire network of Baltimore people, to the beach on our final day of riding.
That was all well and good, until we realized we were moving faster than planned and we'd be in Baltimore by the 3rd and why in the world would we wait around for 3 days to finish the trip? That seemed silly. And if we didn't want to wait three days to bike with everyone to the coast, why were we going to Baltimore at all?
The third plan was something along the lines of, we won't go to Yorktown, Virginia or Baltimore. Instead we were going to go up the DC/Baltimore metropolitan area, but we were going to stop in Annapolis, go across the key bridge and end at ocean city or Assateague island depending on whomever got their way. Ok, great sounds good.
Well we were looking at it, and that seemed silly because the transamerica route takes us up on roads we know we can bike on, then we could break away before Yorktown and make our way to the middle between the Bay Bridge and the Tunnel which Mike informed us had nothing but a ferry to take us across that cost 25 bucks a person and wouldn't take cars.
The moral of this story is that I have no clue what we are actually doing because it has changed so many times, but no matter what the route is, the date August third is the only one I have heard.
In conclusion, we are heading north east. We are ending in Eastern Maryland. We are taking either a bridge, a ferry or a tunnel to get from this side to that side.
I think we're taking a ferry? No wait I think I remember something about us cramming into the car for a drive across the tunnel and that'll be fine because it's only 20 bucks... and then something about wouldn't it be awesome if we got there the day they opened the bridge to bikers and walkers and then something about how the ferry puts us right where we need to be on better roads to bike on...
In conclusion I have no idea because I stopped paying attention and looked at the newest xkcd comic: http://xkcd.com/ the one about the University website. It's pretty good and completely accurate.
I apologize for the lack of blogging near the end of this trip. We didn't have internet in most of the places we've stayed and our cell service was pretty spotty for the last day or two while we were in National Forests.
I will now account for you about Kentucky.
Things I have learned:
Lincoln is from Kentucky. Who knew? I sure didn't. However, I have never claimed to be an American history major. I got to visit his boyhood home and his birth place and the town that has his museum and I'm not entirely sure what their relation to him was.
It made me realize that Lincoln is pretty much every guy I know from UMBC. Eventually I will post the picture of the exhibit of Lincoln awkwardly standing on the doorstep of the woman whom he was courting waiting for the door to open. Some of his letters were also priceless and bizarrely familiar. I wish I had taken more pictures.
Lets seeeee. Apparently Appalachia is it's own country. According to Jesse no matter where in Appalachia you are, people tend to speak pretty similarly and eat the same types of foods and have the same types of jobs and so the same types of concerns, making them rather separate from the state that they may happen to occupy.
Appalachia is thoroughly beautiful, when the forests are not cut down. It is shocking to come out of a natural forest and look beyond at the same mountains laid bare with no trees. Appalachia is also the place where we had the least cell phone reception.
The best place we have stayed. Well OK, there are two.
We stayed at this Baptist youth center with three big screen TVs, an xbox, a Wii and the complete extended edition box set of The Lord of the Rings. Luckily, when we woke up it was raining hard, the boys couldn't leave and so we watched the first movie in the trilogy while the rain cleared up.
People in Kentucky have been very kind. When I said we stayed in two best places, I meant three.
We stayed with an awesomesauce woman and her roommate in Berea. She cook us an amazing meal with everything leftover in her kitchen. I got to sleep in a real live bed! It was particularly great because I walked in and it reminded me of Alli's, Elise's and my kitchen junior year. I walked in and she gave me a hug, making me realized I haven't hugged anyone in two months and proceeded to talk like a girl and not a stinky boy about all things interesting and not biking while she cooked us an amazing dinner (completely reminding me of Alli). Then, because I am this desperate for my girlfriends, I asked her if we could watch a girly movie (I don't even like girly movies). I feel as though I haven't seen anyone but boys for two whole months.
There are very few girls on this trip. All the cyclists were guys. All the pastors, men. All the women, older than 40. This was the first time I was in a girls apartment in a long long time.
This also drove home the fact that I was going home to live at my parents house and not to Elise and Alli's kitchen. This is a bummer. I would prefer to live in poverty with 5 other girls in a crappy apartment, just so I can get that kitchen feel. You know the one. The, we like cooking and don't have time time to clean and have a ton of spices and odds and ends in our cabinets and if you cook something people will come swarming around to see what you're doing and taste things, so you have to always cook way more than you're going to eat because you end up feeding everyone who comes in with things like cheap pasta and soup and tea and all things lovely and homelike... kind of kitchens.
I was just talking about this with Pacella. In highschool, I dreaded going back to school after summer. I never wanted the summer to end. I hated school. I really did. They made you learn things you didn't care about and then you got to go home and do homework.
College. Now going back to college is not going back to school. Going to college is like going back to an entire new way of life. It's fantastic. It's live in community with many people you know and walk five minutes to class and barely sleep and walk out your front door and something is always going on. It's free museums and concerts and outdoor movies and interesting lectures and papers thrown together just so they'll let you stay. It's 2 am trips to Walmart and discussions and studying in laundry rooms or bathrooms at all hours of the night because it's the only place people aren't sleeping. It's walks at night and multiple parties to pick and choose from and traditions and gigantic dining hall tables full of only a small percentage of people you know because you know practically everyone and discussing what you'd do in a zombie apocalypse, or whether white pizza is pizza and what are the parameters the constitute a pizza? It's long arguments on morality and Christianity and Judaism and Islam and Paganism and the gods only know what else.
It's people being nerds cause it's college and everyone has a passion about something that they can talk long hours about and there are people around to be interested and talk long hours with them.
...yea sorry about that. I'm still in mourning.
So, her house was nice.
Then we stayed at this amazing free hiker/cyclist hostel on top of a mountain. It had bunks and a shower and a chair to sit in outside. I sat in that chair all day while I finished reading Dune and listened to the rain hit the tin roof as showers moved by thinking about how nice it would be to live here.
Some vague conclusions as I near the end of this trip, or more specifically, things I have learned to do better:
I can now navigate with only spotty information and a gps without worrying about it. I can even call Dave Tatum for directions and not have a single urge to yell at him while I decipher the directions he kind of gives me. In all actuality this may be because he has gotten better at giving directions now that he owns a car and drives in Atlanta.
I can now drive in places like San Fransisco and Pueblo and hopefully Baltimore.
I can walk up and knock on churches and peoples doors and ask for things, but I have learned what I already knew; I don't actually like doing this.
Perhaps I will save this for my last blog post on this website. I suppose we're obligated to post a final one. It will probably be the last after this one.
We are heading towards the beach, like I said, rather than travel up Virginia and Maryland in the mountains because we have been on every other terrain, but the coast and would like to do that for a few days, just for a change of scenery.
Not only that, but if we head towards the beach, I get to read in a new location... on a beach. Finally, a vacation.
Shelly Kessler, nearly home from her American adventure