1st Week, mostly

March 30, 2010

  We are just now getting into the real swing of things. My writing is choppy and changes style far too often, and I apologize. I wish I could write down everything that I experience, at the moment I experience it, as to not lose any of the juicy truth. But alas, at the end of the day when the sun has gone down and my legs are screaming, I just want to read Steinbeck and fall asleep.

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3

Rush and calm. The days change tempo, timbre and tone with the organic arm of Wagner.

We left Raleigh late and without haste, saying soft goodbyes and check and double check. When, all of a sudden, we were there, which was not here. The unfamiliar, as it were. The ride through Garner was up and down, and that first small uphill loomed ominous of things to come. We began to catch the small town cadence, a pulse of something and nothing. We stopped in Selma and ate fruit at a church. We talked to a shirtless man on a lonely by-way blessed by a shiny new subdivision. He said the litter was getting worse. “I had to carry 25 pounds of it the other day.” Gutted forests. Warm smiles. Traffic. Sunlight.

We ended up hitting highway 70, and rode on it for a bit. The sun was beginning to set and we were hungry. We stopped at a gas station for food and advice. The evening traffic was unnerving. When a semi passed it would pull us inward, magnetic. Two men, one old and proper, the other with multi-color and messy beard and hair, finishing a chili-dog. They advised staying on 70 all the way, saying there were “bad towns” on 58, our original route.

We ate and camped behind a small church.

We woke early after a rainstorm. The sun had just topped the trees and was gleaming horizontal gold. We moved slowly; I felt weighed down by what lay ahead.

70 was easier during the day. The traffic was lighter and the air warm. We passed through Goldsboro and into Kinston without trouble. I found my Uncle’s insurance office and stopped in. He was out but his brother was there. He told me that going down 58 would save us about 30 miles. We talked guardedly about our lives. I had heard earlier that many suggested routes were mostly unreliable, but he seemed more sure than the gentlemen from the day before. We headed down the road and found the turnoff.

58 was two-laned and quiet. The area was a testament to poverty, as were most of the towns we had already passed through. Derelict buildings flanked by newer prefab houses laid on the highway, and the cities seemed to be more vacant than occupied. The soil was newly tilled and most of the ride smelled like poop.

We stopped for coffee when the rain started, somewhere near Maysville, NC.  The coffee was cold. A few men stood outside of the gas station/pool hall and we talked about sore muscles and the weather. The temperature dropped 10 degrees in the next hour.

We biked 90 miles that day, until we were 15 miles from Emerald Isle. It was too cold and too wet to go on, so we camped behind another church. It felt amazing to lay down. My legs hurt.

We woke up to ride 15 miles to a Beach House. Our friends were married. I ate many many slices of cake and soaked in a hot-tub.

Day 4.

We started out leaving Emerald Isle, and checking our Google directions, found that it had us riding on a road forbidden to the public, through a Naval base. We re-routed through Jacksonville, which was frightening, and ended up on NC 53, which we took to Burgaw. We met up with some friends of mine and had catfish and hushpuppies for dinner, at a little place built over a river. We talked later about compromise and communication, and how we are going to make it all the way across together.

Day 5.

It rained. We had asked a Burgaw local if we could camp on his land, so we could at least stay until the rain stopped. We took some back roads toward Highway 211, which took us through NC swamplands and ultimately to a little ferry, where the DOT had yet to build a bridge. The openness of the road afterwards was exhilarating: no traffic to fight, sunshine and sparsely populated.

“We should just ride up and down this road for the next three months,” Tess said.

Day 6.

We woke up in a dense forest on the side of Highway 211, nestled under pines but unharmoniously close to a freight train. We both slept roughly, and both experienced shotgun-style grotesque dreams.

The wind was blowing in our faces all day, and we only made it 40 miles. Af ter a long day of struggle and little payoff, I asked Tess if she were enjoying herself. We talked about why we are doing this trip, which is something that I believe will manifest as we move on. I am learning my reasons, and I will write about them as they appear.

Learning to co-exist, in the way that we are doing now, is a gateway to understanding. To be so dependent on someone else all day, every day, in rather uncomfortable conditions, requires you to de-prioritize yourself and move organically together. To do otherwise would cause endless frustration. It may even cause some sort of tea-party antics, and really, tea is too precious and delicious for those kind of dramatics. Mmm, tea.

Anyways, I’m sure you just want some fancy photos, so here you are. (I ran out of batteries pretty early on, there will be LOTS more to come)


One Response to “1st Week, mostly”

  1. Halley said

    No more Facebook, huh?
    I was trying to send you a link. The free song of the day on Amazon is something I thought you’d like…
    Well, anyhow, hope you are well.
    Maybe-see you over x-mas time?

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