Alex is a bit more detail oriented than me. My original plan for this trip was to fly west and bicycle east-ish following bird migratory patterns and the next county-wide notorious diner. But Alex insisted we write a budget and an itinerary. Accordingly, he thinks I'm following his pattern of writing about our travels in chronological order and getting readers caught up to our current whereabouts. Instead, I've come up with a list of attention grabbing blog post titles and other scintillating thoughts during our last ten days that should sum up the adventure thus far.
1. All the rain. All of it. No one notices how badly I miss my mouth when drinking! (This was only for the first days of our trip. Now, despite sunscreen, I resemble a delicious crisp turkey leg.)
2. My secret belief that I can eat an entire pot of garlic and butter noodle pasta by myself is affirmed.
2a. I am hungry near constantly and our food delights me. I discover that pictures of food do not delight Alex. Here he is telling me “Stephanie, Don’t be that person.” But I can’t help it. Even convenience store orange chicken is gorgeous on tour. This is not the first time he’ll tell me this.
3. I enter all public spaces by first apologizing for our smell.
4. Alex is a riotously-colored flippin' rockstar in red camo leggings. I mean come on...
..5. We crossed 5 mountain passes- Rainy (4,875 ft), Washington (5,476 ft), Loup Loup (4,020 ft), Waconda (4,310 ft), Sherman (5,574 ft). On Bikes. This still floors me.
5a. Crossing a pass makes me believe in the perpetual awesomeness and goodwill of the entire world. No bushel for this bright candle...
6. Every pass is different and hard in its own right. Waconda was one of the hardest, even though it was less steep with less elevation, because it was a hot hot day and the road was unshaded. Also, while in need of water, the only thing to greet us at the top were two old men smoking hand-rolled cigarettes outside the defunct general store. When we asked about water, they laughed "Nearest town is only 17 miles away." I only felt slightly murderous at that point. Fortunately, after some banter, they pointed us to a spigot about a 1/4 mile away.
7. One of the men later found us on the road and introduced us to Dog Man. "This dog is a Buddhist Monk."
8. I say this with love. Never trust a non-bicyclist to tell you whether the upcoming roads are flat or if a pass will be difficult. One lovely man told us the pass should be easy, he could get to the top in 20 minutes going 60 miles an hour. We’re averaging 3-4 mph up passes, fully loaded. Another super friendly road advisor said “Don’t worry. After this the road flattens up and you don’t have to worry about
hills.” I tried not to hear her sweetly saying this in my mind as I used my granny gear seemingly unendingly for the next 35 miles.
9. The world is full of people who want to be part of your good juju. Strangers who answered texts from mystery travelers looking for places to stay, strangers who stopped us in parking lots offering riverside cottages, strangers who fed us bountifully out of their beautiful gardens. All now adopted into our road family. Thanks road family.