Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Rocked the Countdown

Rocked the Countdown!

After a week of riding through rain, hail, snow, thunderstorms and a few sunny days in between, and with the help of you guys, we made it to DC in time to meet Achilles International and introduce some wounded Veterans to hand-cycles. This is what our year is all about! Seeing a vet, amputated from the waist down, get lifted from his motorized wheelchair onto a hand-cycle and take his first ride was indescribable. Here was this man, his wife looking on, his three girls at home waiting for him, who had become completely dependent on other people because of war. Sure, he needed help onto the hand-cycle, but once he was on it, he was in control! Probably for the first time since he received his wounds, it was his body that was moving him forward, turning, stopping, and giving him freedom. As Adam, his brother, Damon and I looked on, we wished their other brother, Chris was here to experience this.

Chris was an Air Force surgeon and served two tours in Iraq over the past few years. He had to leave his wife and three boys in order to take care of those wounded by the war. He has seen an ugliness of war too horrible to describe. He has had to make that important decision whether or not to amputate in order to save a life. He knew his decisions would change the life of that soldier forever, but his decision would also give that soldier life. If you're interested in reading more, Chris wrote a book about his experience in Iraq called Coppola, a Pediatric Surgeon in Iraq.

And here we were, seeing the effect of his decisions. I'm sure Adam would agree with me saying that as we looked on and watched a United States Veteran find a place where he was in control, we were in awe of what Achilles International is doing for people with disabilities and felt proud that we were helping them to achieve their goal. Though the fast pace we had to keep was grueling at times, we were happy we had pushed so hard to get here in time.

8 days, 555 miles to Go:

Leaving my dad for the second time was no easier than the first. The hills seemed that much steeper knowing no one was waiting on the other side for us. As the day went on, the clouds got darker, and we got more and more scared of the possibility of a thunderstorm. What is it with us riding in this crazy weather? We were told once the storm hits, we'd better hunker down for the night, so instead of making it to the park to camp, we took a motel room in KY. This was not just any hotel room, it was the smallest hotel room ever! It had awesome orange furniture, and an 80's bed cover. But it was clean and warm, and dry. We ended the day behind schedule, but still hopeful of making it to D.C.

7 days, 511 miles to Go:

We started the next morning in good spirits and we were quickly tested. The uphill was long and steep, just like everyone said we'd find in the Appalachians. But we've learned that for every uphill, there eventually comes a downhill. We sweat as we climbed up, and our bodies froze as we made the descents.

Lucky for us, every time the sky opened up and poured rain, hail, or snow, we had a place to take cover. A post office was our first stop, a gas station our second, and our third stop was the nail salon! This was the first time I actually wanted it to rain a little longer. I probably could have gotten a pedicure!

In the nail salon, we had heard there was one more big hill and then it flattened out for a bit. So we climbed that last big hill and when we reached the top, we reached West Virginia. We did our little dance, then headed down the mountain. We even video-taped the descent, it was that good!

At the bottom, we ran into a store to get dinner food, when Adam looked at me and asked where his phone was. Sure enough, I knew exactly where it was. Back at the top of the hill. I had put it down on a fence after posting the pic to Facebook. Oops.

As Adam went to hitchhike back up the mountain, I asked a woman if she was heading up. She wasn't but she offered to take me up and back down, anyway. As we drove up, I could see the sky was about to pour again and hoped I could at least save the iPhone from the storm. Sure enough, we saw the phone exactly where I left it and I grabbed it as the first drops of hail started falling from the sky!

I was good with drama for the rest of the night, but it didn't seem like we were getting off that easy.

The hotel was dark. Everything in the town was dark. The little coal mining town of War, West Virginia had lost power and here we were paying $30 for a room in the only motel in town.

It wasn't supposed to be like this. We were supposed to be outside camping, cuddled up in our tent at the lovely Berwin Lake Park. We traveled sixty miles to War, West Virginia today through rain, hail, and snow, and thought we'd at least ask how much a room was. When Wanda, the owner gave us the no-power discount of $30, instead of the regular $35 rate, we asked how to get to the camp site, instead, and the group of people outside the hotel were more than happy to explain.

Adam and I started the last few miles of our day tired and hungry, but we were happy to go camping. On our way to the camp site, the houses became more and more depressed, until there were none left. It was then that we noticed the car. It had passed by us once already and came back. Not an issue, except that another minute down the road, and the car passed us for the third time. Our guard immediately went up. We continued down the road a bit further and passed the car parked on the side of the road. The man in the car looked away as we passed.

As we continued on, we saw only one other house when another car passed us, then drove slowly ahead of us. Maybe it was because our guard was already up, but that scared us enough to turn us around. At that point, we would never have felt comfortable in the campsite so as soon as the car was out of site, we turned around and headed back.

The hotel was warm at least, they have coal heat here in the coal mining towns. Wanda went to set up a room for us while we waited in the dark entrance hall where numerous people were hanging around and coming in and out. None of it made sense. Did these people live here? Work here? What were they doing here? It reminded me of the movie, Clue, where all the guests were staying in a hotel where a murder took place.

Our room was sad. Warm, but sad. With our headlamps we could see the ceiling tiles were all peeled, there were rust stains in the sink and tub, there was a broken light bulb swept into a corner in the bathroom, and there was at least one crushed bug on the floor. I stopped examining too closely after that but it was hard to ignore the brownness of the water when Adam turned on sink.

At least we had a door with a lock and that night, that was good enough.

6 days, 446 miles to Go:

With the pressure of the miles we had left, and the uncertain feeling we got from the hotel, we were out the door by 7:00 and on our way up our first climb of the day. We even had a little friend join us. He was a little black dog that we named Warrior, and he climbed five miles up that hill with us. We were huffing and puffing but he simply trotted his little legs all the way up the hill next to us. This is not the first dog I've contemplated scooping up, putting on the back of my bike, and taking home, but Juneau would probably be a little jealous if I was riding with another dog and not him!

We lost Warrior on the descent and continued the rest of the morning with long hills up then down. The precipitation from the day before gave way, the sun was out, and we were hoping for some good miles.

70 miles in, we felt good and found a host who was about 15 miles away so we went for it. Little did we know these last few miles would lead us to our most difficult ascent of the trip. We crossed the country, rode over 4,000 miles from San Diego and here we were in Pearisburg, VA and I was pushing my bike up the hill. Adam made it and even tried yelling encouragement my way, but I couldn't do it. It was only the last few yards, but my legs and lungs couldn't get me up the hill and so, I got off and pushed.

When we made it to Paul's house, I congratulated him on having the hill that beat me, and we celebrated with my favorite beer, Sierra Nevada. We made chicken, and rice, and sweet potatoes that night for dinner, then burned a Christmas tree. That's right. I wasn't as excited as Adam, but believe me when I tell you, it was Awesome! I couldn't believe how quickly the entire thing lite up. We had to back up because of the intense heat. Of course we were safe and I would not recommend you try this at home. We were with a trained professional and the fire dept was next door in case something went wrong.

That's just another thing I can add to my list and cross it off. Who knew I ever even wanted to burn a Christmas tree?

5 days, 363 miles to go:

Though the riding was tough, this had to be one of our favorite days of the trip. The long hills from before turned into quick ups and downs in between farms, surrounded by mountains on all sides. It was tiring work, but Paul made sure our route was beautiful.

We made it to Daleville , a town where the Appalachian Trail passes through so it wasn't hard to find a place to sleep. We talked to a few people who gave us directions to a place hikers camp, not too far into the woods for our bikes. The only problem? It was way too muddy and we found out way too late. Our bikes were caked with the muck to the point where Adam couldn't move his back tire. It was so close to being perfect, but so far.

We hiked the bikes back into town and found a hotel with a hose to clean up. By this point, it was 9:00 and we were beyond trying to find another place to camp, so we settled nicely into the Howard Johnson's and got a great rate for a room and a hot continental breakfast!

4 days, 290 miles to go:

It was cloudy, but we were hoping the rain would stay away for the day. The entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway was only a few miles away and we wanted to get some good shots. Unfortunately, the sun stayed away all day, but it made for some beautiful photo opportunities with blue and gray mountains in the distance.

On our last big climb of the day, an 8 mile ascent to the highest spot on the Blue Ridge in Virginia, another cyclist, Phil, came up behind us. His bike weighed only 16 pounds compared to our 80-100 pound bikes and he could have easily flown by us. Instead, Phil stayed with us the entire away up the hill. Most of the time I was lagging behind, trying to keep up with Adam and Phil, but they would wait for me from time to time, give me a chance to catch up and get in a word or two before I couldn't breath anymore and fell back behind.

By the time we reached the top, Phil was thoroughly informed of our tour and mission and impressed enough by what we were doing that he offered to find us the following morning and bring us breakfast. We had a vague idea of where we would be spending the night, and with that, we parted ways. Phil, back to the lodge. Us, down the 12 mile descent.

This downhill was the only saving grace for us making any sort of mileage that day. The Parkway is tough. The hills were grueling and we had another few days of it! We got a lot of advice from people telling us making it to the Parkway was tough, but believe me, once you're on it, it is no easier and our pace was hurting.

But down we went and as we hit the flat at the bottom, we pulled into the closed visitors center and heard our first rumble of thunder. The visitors center had a nice overhang, just big enough for us to fit our tent. We had found our home for the night.

3 days, 239 miles to go:

Fog. Nothing but fog.

Somehow, Phil managed to find us and brought us such a great treat for breakfast. We got Starbucks breakfast sandwiches, croissants, coffee, OJ, and the New York Times! What a great way to start our day. There are certainly some people that just blow your mind. Phil must have gotten up at the crack of dawn in order to drive the 40 miles through the thick fog into town and back.

After breakfast and some great conversation, this time without gasping for breath in between, he told us to be safe and he disappeared into the fog.

At first, it was pretty cool, but the longer the fog lasted, the more it played with our heads. By afternoon we were so frustrated with climbing into thicker and thicker fog all day, that we started to lose it. We even started hating the downhills because. We started thinking, what goes down, must come back up. It was during one of these climbs that we agreed we could not make it to D.C. in time and decided to take that pressure off. It was a big defeat, but here we were on the Blue Ridge Parkway and instead of feeling pressure to get to DC, we wanted to enjoy what we could, even if we couldn't see anything.

By the end of the day, we were so cold and discouraged that we needed a hotel room with a shower and some heat. We came to the end of the Parkway and the beginning of Shenandoah Nation Park without having a clue where to stay. It didn't help that we couldn't see five feet in front of us and we had to look at our iPhone map to find the hotel that was about 200 feet away from us.

I was worried a hotel here would cost way too much and be too fancy for us, but it was quite the opposite. At least the shower worked. I can't say the same for the heat. We curled up in our sleeping bags on the bed, and fell fast asleep.

2 days, 174 miles to Go:

We looked outside the next morning and couldn't see any further than we had the day before. But soon enough, the fog cleared and I've never seen Adam get ready so fast! He actually had to wait a minute or two for me! So we rushed out the door and up the mountain.

At the entrance to Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park we met Dave, a tie-die shirted touring cyclist who had started his tour in Seattle in July. He was riding simply to ride and gave himself through the summer to get back to Seattle. We rode a few miles with him, met some Appalachian hikers, shared some good conversation, but before long his bike started rattling and he had to stop to fix it. We figured we'd meet up with him later on, but never did. He did get some video of us, though, and we made a guest appearance on his You Tube video. Check it out!

The rest of the day was spent on the hilly drive, plunging in and out of fog, and enjoying the sunny moments.

Dave let us in on a secret about attaining a back country pass instead of paying for the campground. So when we reached the campground, we asked a confused ranger for a back country permit. He couldn't figure out why we didn't just want to stay in the campground, but gave us the permit anyway. He could tell we were just winging it, so he gave us directions to a legal place we could camp off the drive about 10 miles up. We thanked him and went on our way.

Of course, it would have been too easy to follow his directions to this camp site, so instead, when filling our water at the Skyland Lodge, we met Andrew who bought us a drink. One drink turned into two, and even though Adam and I knew this sacrifice would keep us from finding camp in the light, we enjoyed the beers anyway.

When it was sufficiently dark, we got on our bikes to find a place to camp. We found an out of the way path and ended up camping on a slope and hanging our food in a tree far away. The ranger we met did manage to scare us by telling us bears were out and there wasn't much food for them yet so they were hungry. We laid our heads to a sleepless night after a 65 mile day.

1 day, 106 miles to go:

I'm not sure if we ever actually slept that night to be able to call it waking up the next morning, but at 5:45 we mustered up the energy to get up and on the road before someone came by to give us a ticket for camping in a non-designated camping spot.

We pushed the bikes up the rocky hill we had ridden down the night before and were on the road before 7. We were excited to take the day to relax and enjoy the last 43 miles of Skyline drive and that's exactly what we did. At the first spot with a view we stopped and had breakfast and coffee, enjoying the morning sun peeking through the clouds.

Around each bend, Adam stopped to take a picture of the mountains in the distance, the clouds below us creating a sea of clouds, or me riding around the curve. We couldn't resist to set up some flashes and get some fun shots with lighting!

At noon, we were done with climbing and the rest of the ride was almost all downhill. As beautiful as Shenandoah National Park had been, it was rewarding to be taking the decent into Front Royal and being one step closer to D.C.

Before the big descent, Adam rigged up the Go Pro camera upside down to get some fun shots. Now we just have to figure out how to flip the video right-side up on the computer.

We found the first restaurant in Front Royal, an over priced burger joint where just adding lettuce to your burger cost you $0.25. We started looking at places to stay that night in between there and D.C. When we received a call from Damon just checking in on us. He was bummed we weren't going to make it that day, and was trying to find a friend's place we could crash at that night to avoid the thunderstorms.

Thunderstorms? We hadn't planned on them, but didn't want to go out of our way to spend the night inside.

When Adam hung up the phone, we looked at each other. Here was our conversation:

Christy: How many more miles to Damon's?
Adam: 60

Christy: What time is it?
Adam: 1:45

Christy: You wanna go for it?
Adam: Yup

And off we went knowing full well that if we did make it, this would be our longest day of riding.

The first half hour was discouraging. The high winds blowing the flags in the opposite direction of us kept us going slower than 10 miles per hour and we needed to keep a pace of 14 or so. But our luck changed when the wind shifted slightly and our course took a more northward turn. We were on a mission. The roads were actually pretty cool, but we didn't pay much attention. We just rode.

At 8:15, Damon was greeted by two sweaty, dirt-covered, smelly cyclists at his door, covered in 106 miles of 85 degree weather.

So we made it to DC and have a lot of people to thank. Each person who has written on our wall, emailed us, brought us a New York Times, took a minute out of their day for a conversation with us, or simply "liked" one of our comments is part of the reason we're here. While on the phone with a reporter the other day, Adam said it right. It may just be the two of us riding our bikes, but there have been hundreds of people who have helped us with our mission. (Check out the awesome article written here!)

Thank you!

Here's our our latest state line video!!!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Lesson learned: Take a Break!

I'm still not sure what got into us. Maybe it was the fact that we didn't have any events to keep us in a town for longer than a day, but we pushed ourselves to the limit these past few weeks. When talking to people about bicycle touring, they warned about getting 'mile hungry' so we made our schedule with 50 mile days in mind. But these past few weeks we have just been feeling so good, and soon enough, a 70 mile day was becoming routine.

Like we had been warned, we burnt ourselves out. Everything was about being on the bike, getting up early, taking short breaks, and getting to camp as the sun set. We pushed and pushed and forgot to enjoy ourselves by writing and taking photos. I was getting to the point of being annoyed by people coming to talk to us because it was interfering with our riding time. Needless to say, we were taking the fun out of the tour and instead, we were stressing.

Bicycle City, SC was within our reach and we became obsessed with getting there. To give you a little background, Bicycle City is a concept that was developed in the 80's and is now approaching a reality. It is exactly what it sounds like, and will be a city that totally revolves around bike riding. As I understand, there will be a parking lot on the outskirts of the city for those who still own cars to get around outside of the city, but once you park your car there, you're biking the rest of the way. The first bicycle city will be in South Carolina, and will be called Velo Village. Back in October, we found out about the city, and contacted a man named Joe about stopping by on our way through. He was more than happy to have us come by, and offered us a place in the only cabin they had built there so far. Finally, after an 87 mile day to Bicycle City, SC, we could take a day of rest.

So there are huge plans for bicycle city, but currently, the city is one log cabin on a lake. And in order for us to get to that cabin, we had to push our bikes in the dark(this part was out fault), through a mile of dirt and gravel road. I sure hope they make the road into bicycle city a little more bicycle friendly!

But what a haven it was when we got to the cabin. We unlocked the door and there in the main room, was a model of what Bicycle City will be. It was a conceptual model, but you really got a sense of what they were going to do! Unfortunately, Joe was in Cincinnati and we didn't get to pick his brain about what Bicycle City will be, but we were so happy to have a cabin in the middle of the woods all to ourselves for two nights and a day. We bought steaks and hamburgers for our dinners, and played house while we were there.

I think our bodies knew we were on break because the next day we had to pry ourselves off of the couches to get outside for twenty minutes. For the rest of the day, we got as much rest as possible and we just lazied around, catching up on some work, reading, and playing Gin Rummy, something we haven't had time for in almost a month. Just in case you were wondering, Adam won again. I think that makes it 5 to 1 so far on this trip. I should just give up.

We sadly left Bicycle City the next morning and headed towards Charlotte where my cousin, Theresa, and her husband, Freddie, were expecting us. We decided these 75 mile days have been just nuts, and after 55 miles, we stopped at a campground. Our bodies were still so tired, that even the 55 miles that day felt like torture. While riding around looking for a site, we met Walt and Laine, who invited us to set our tent up next to theirs to save the $16 fee. They even had us into their RV for dinner since the couple who was supposed to have dinner with them couldn't make it. Chicken & Dumplings was a new experience for us and I loved both of my bowl fills!

One more day to Charlotte and, again, we felt drained. We just couldn't get our bodies back into the groove. The road conditions didn't help and we were thinking how much we wanted to get off this interstate-like road when we saw these.

The white bikes signify when a cyclist gets killed on the road and reminds people to hopefully drive and ride safely. After we saw this, we took a nice hour-long lunch at this little gas station restaurant and met some characters! Larry made us feel right at home, told us to order the Friday Special, and even got up and did a little skit. Maybe one of the oddest things we've seen on this trip.

A few more miles, a state line dance, and we made it to Charlotte, and we couldn't have felt more at home! Theresa and Freddie had a sign outside their front door welcoming us, we met Bruno, their sweet puppy dog, and we ate a great Thai food dinner that night. Not a bad way to start the weekend!

When we first mentioned to people that we were going to do this trip, Theresa wrote immediately to me saying she wanted to set something up in Charlotte when we come through and we jumped on the offer! Out of all of the places we plotted on our map, Charlotte was the one definite! And a few months later, here we were! Theresa, with the help of Lifestyle Family Fitness in Matthews, NC, set up a spinning event at their club. They had three sessions of spin class, and people came to spin with us and dropped a donation in the jar. After spinning for two hours, Adam, Theresa, Freddie, and I hobbled out of the club with enough donations for a bike and then some! We were pumped, tired, and hungry. A burrito at Chipotle was exactly the pick-me-up we needed.

It seemed like our only motivator that weekend to get up and do anything else was food. We met friends from home, Laura & Greg, and some of their friends out for dinner that night, then didn't go out again until the meet & greet at Ri Ra's Irish Pub where we raised enough money for another bike, plus we had a surprise visitor! My dad, on his way to Nashville for the week, came down a day early to see us! What a great way to end our Charlotte visit!

When we sadly took off from Charlotte, I thought the lazy weekend would have given me tons of energy, but it just made me lazier and by the end of the 50 miles riding, followed by the two mile hike to the back country camping spot, I was done. We saw the sign that said no bikes allowed on the trail, but weighed that against the sign that said $160 fine for camping in non-designated spots, and chose to walk the bikes the two miles in. I barely had the energy to eat dinner and my candy bar before I passed out in the tent.

On our way out the next morning, we rode down the service road and right into a Park Ranger. He got out of his truck, not too happy about the bikes, but we gave him our pity story of how we've been biking since San Diego and we didn't choose to camp in a non-designated spot closer to the trail-head. I don't know how impressed he was, but he let us off without a ticket! This is him yelling at me to get my bike off the trail (I can't believe he agreed to take this photo!!)

We got back into the swing of things the following two days, joked about the town names of Rutherfordton and Hendersonville (wondered when we were going to pass Winchestertonfieldville) and enjoyed the scenery changes as the terrain became more and more hilly.

Chris, a former employee of World Bicycle Relief, greeted us in Hendersonville and set up a bike shop presentation at Sycamore Cycles. While we gave our talk, the audience enjoyed pizza and beer donated by West First, and our bikes enjoyed a tune-up and installation of new Armadillo tires. Chris graciously offered us a place to stay that night, and we were off the next day after meeting his wife, Kim, and two year-old daughter, Kate. Chris gave us thorough directions out of town and we were off, but Hendersonville wasn't done with us yet.

Adam and I had stopped by a newspaper on our way into Hendersonville. They had already heard of us because both Chris and Megan, our PR intern, had emailed them about our coming. The stop proved to be worthwhile because on our way out of Hendersonville, George from Park Ridge Health, stopped us and told us he had read about us in the newspaper that morning. Our first visit of the trip to the hospital, but it was all good! George and his co-worker, Jodi, introduced us to Beth Davey who worked for Park Ridge Health Foundation and right there, they gave us a $100 donation to our charities. Later on down the street, a couple pulled over and gave us another $20 donation. It's amazing the power of a newspaper!

Though the donations gave us some sunshine in the morning, the rest of the day remained cold and wet. We made it the 45 miles to Marshall, a cool little town northwest of Asheville, soaked and ready to get warm. Little did we realize, the cafe we walked into would host Thursday night bluegrass headed by Bobby Hicks. I guess I have to admit here that I had to look up who Bobby Hicks was, but he is a legendary bluegrass fiddler. We got to talking with him and he played his fiddle for us and even let me try it out!

Unfortunately, we couldn't stay for the bluegrass because we had made plans with a couple we met in the bike shop who invited us to dinner and to spend the night at their place. So we left the cafe with a hint of the bluegrass music playing as we rode five more miles uphill to Carson and Lindsay's beautiful home.

Carson and Lindsay were a great couple. Carson had recently opened up Pace Cycles, the bicycle shop in town and Lindsay is a teacher in Asheville. They introduced us to Kombucha,(looked like a science experiment in a jar) made us a great dinner, and played E.T. for a little blast from the past. We felt right at ease in their comfy home. Their wood stove kept us warm and dried our clothes, and their dog, Sylvie, even curled up on the couch next to us for a little bit during the movie.

The next morning, the sun started to peak out as we descended their driveway and headed into what we've been hearing would be some of the hardest climbs of our trip. I was nervous and let that get the best of me. Before we really started the day, I needed some time with Adam to talk things through and get myself pumped. While eating our second breakfast at Momma's Country Kitchen, we talked through the nerves with the help of a mom and her teenage son and we were ready to conquer the mountains. We rode steadily up, and up, and up. We got hot when pushing hard, and froze when the mountains dipped before climbing back up. The four mile decent once we hit Tennessee and came out of the mountains was the coldest roller coaster we've been on, and our smiles froze to our faces. What fun!

The 50 mile day ended as we rode with the sun still high into Davey Crockett Birthplace State Park. We could have pushed another 12 miles to stay in a home, but we learned our lesson of riding too much and settled in for the night.

We should have biked further. At midnight exactly, I woke up from a long rumble of thunder and quickly checked my iPhone for the weather report. Looking back, I guess this was an odd thing to do since I already knew there was a thunderstorm coming outside. But the radar confirmed a T-storm with hail was coming towards us and I saw a tiny little red patch on the radar headed for us! Adam and I pondered whether or not it was safe to stay in the tent when the lightning started, and boy was it was close. We froze, not knowing what to do. Should we stay in the tent which was surrounded by trees, or make a run through an open field for the bathroom to wait out the storm? As we pondered, a lightning strike crashed within what felt like 50 feet from our tent. Our hearts jumped, our hair stood up, and yet we still didn't know what to do. After debating for another few minutes, we got out of the tent and ran for the bathrooms where we waited out the rest of the storm. Scariest hour of our lives.

When we came out from the bathrooms 30 minutes later, the sky was clear and the stars were shining bright. If it weren't for our hearts pounding out of our chests and our wet feet, I may have thought it was all a dream. Probably not the best nights sleep we've gotten in a while, and the next morning, instead of hanging at the campsite, we packed up quick and left to enjoy breakfast inside.

We found Johnny's Market & Deli at the gas station and walked in hoping they had more than donuts and coffee. They sure did! It was a Bacon, Egg, and Cheese morning! Along with the food, they had customers coming in and out non-stop. That's what happens when you're the only store around. We first noticed Frank, wearing his Korea Veteran hat and once we started up conversation with him, there was no stopping the influx of customers from asking us about our trip. We had come here to get a little work done on the computers after we spent our time at the campsite fixing flats instead of writing and editing pictures. But it seemed like the locals wouldn't let us do much work and kept us pretty much engaged in conversation the whole time. After his coffee, one man gave us $6 to help pay for our breakfast and then when we went to pay, the restaurant wouldn't let us. It sure helped set everything right after the night we had.

We left the restaurant with full bellies, to enjoy rolling hills all day long. It's tough work, but so nice to see lush, green farms around ever corner, and the special treat at the top of a hill when, beyond the farms, you could see the layers of the Appalachian Mountains in the distance, each layer fading more and more until we could barely see the tallest snow-capped mountains.

To end the week, my dad came out to meet us on his way back home from his mini-music- tour in Nashville. After a week of resting, good conversation, and good people, Mind, Body, and Soul are ready for the climbing this week.