It was really nice to have my own little tent last night, not gonna lie. It rained on us and I didn't even notice till I woke up. Basically it's rained every night since we started.
I wake up because everyone else is moving about; it's 7 o'clock when I finally emerge from my dewy cocoon. Breakfast is boiled eggs and cold sausage. Garry, the Irishman, awakens with us and we chat as everyone packs up their things and gets ready to go. Rolling start at 9. Garry joins us for the time being, and it's fun to travel with him.
There are butterflies everywhere, and dragonflies. The hills roll a little steeper every day. It's overcast for the 30 miles until lunch, which we spend in Palmyra, grabbing food at the EW Thomas grocery store. We told a deli clerk in there that we we cycling from ocean to ocean and she didn't seem to know how to take it. I never really liked soda before but now I can't stop drinking it. My body wants calories; my muscles ache for sugar-water. The sun gets super hot and we take extra time to decide what to do next, dividing up phone calls trying to find the cheapest place to stay the night. Ultimately we decide on a KOA campsite, which offers us a price of $50 for one night's plot; divided 7 ways (Garry's with us tonight) it's not so bad per person.
It's 20 more miles to the campsite and we use phone directions to get there since it's not exactly along the TransAm route. It rains on us while we're going along--the first time it's rained on us *as* we cycled. Morgan had texted us to prepare for coming thunderstorms so we panic a bit and race to cover all electronics and throw on rain coats, but it's not so bad and passes quickly. The road begins steaming from the moisture on it, shrouding the way in fog. Puddles in the road reveal a black underworld of trees and sky.
We go up and down some nice hills and sparse country neighborhoods and when we break thru the treeline about 5 miles out from the campsite we get our first proper view of the Appalachian Mountains. It's gorgeous. The clouds above are perfectly defined, as if painted onto the sky mere hours before. That's where we're headed. That's where we're going.
When we reach the campsite we pitch our tents immediately, and cook under the threat of rain, showers hitting us from time to time. We have a whole pot of sausage, rice, black-eyed peas, red bell peppers, and kale. Before it's done cooking, we boil some cicadas up in a pot since Travis says he heard they taste like shrimp when boiled. I'm the first brave enough to try one. I pull the wings off and pop the rest of the boiled bug in my mouth--it tastes surprisingly good, actually. Ben tries one too, then Travis (who gags on it), then Jenn. Ben and I decide they taste like buttered spinach. Garry comes back from doing something on the wi-fi in a common room and he tries one too. I actually like them a lot. Travis manages to eat one with rice and beans when we finally eat our full supper.
Jenn, Ben, Anna, and I then decide to go swimming because hey, why not, there's a pool here. It feels really good to be in the water after spending so much of the day slick with sweat and grime. Travis joins us later and we have a breath-holding contest and Ben (the smoker!) wins and Travis comes in a close second. When we get too cold we go take hot showers and come back to the campsite and build a fire in the fire pit (all the wood nearby is wet so we have to buy some) and make s'mores--me eating the roasted marshmallows by themselves. Garry has never had a s'more before so we introduce him to them and he loves it.
By now the sun has set and tho' the fire is warm and nice we can hear some serious thunder gearing up so we brush our teeth and Jenn and I go bathroom one last time and we get back and get in our tents no more than 10 seconds before the rain and lightning begins in earnest. We're pretty sheltered from the wind here in our lot because it's dug out of a hillside so that's good at least. It is really nice to have a tent, I have to say. It can keep all my stuff dry in the vestibule and I can use the military poncho my dad gave me as a tarp to keep the mud away. It's my own little room. I didn't realize it was going to rain SO much on this trip... it was a blessing in disguise, the nightmare night, getting this setup for me when I really needed it.
It's time to sleep now. It's pitch dark and raining and my phone battery is dying.
distance: 51 miles
riding time: 4 hrs 41 minutes
average speed: 10.8 mph
maximum speed: 38.1 mph
Here is your featured cyclist for today: Travis!
Scout riding Fred