August 25, 2009

The End

I've begun the next thing: graduate school. My life will certainly include some of the above activities. (I've kind of got a dream fomenting about riding in one day to Missoula from here, Pullman. 240mi. Next Fall?) But mostly my life will be composed of studying, etc. And that's much less interesting to write about, so I'll not be posting on here any more. I really enjoyed everyone commenting and keeping in touch. Thanks so much. Cheers.

August 4, 2009

Where Did You Stay?

When I headed out on May 15, I was nervous about a lot of things. But one of my greatest concerns was, where on earth was I going to stay? I'd read somewhere, and a few other touring cyclists had confirmed it, that I would be able to find secret hideaway campsites on private and public land everywhere. "Just look for a little patch of trees or a ditch that you can conceal your tent in." "If it's not fenced or posted, it's called 'unimproved land' and most states have laws that protect travelers who camp on unimproved land." I wanted to be tight on spending, so this sounded good to me. But I was a little nervous about trespassing. I've had some sour experience with that.

Turned out I only had to do this stealth camping twice, both within the first 10 days of riding (see that last two pictures). In the end, I found it it rather nerve racking and somewhat presumptuous. I was on edge all night. I worried both about getting busted and about giving private landowners or public land protectors a bad taste about cyclists. Some riders primarily stealth camp. But there are many other ways to camp, the first of which is to ask, "may I camp here?" And this question usually leads to a nice adventure.

So here's my answer to the question that I was most frequently asked as I rode my 3000mi. Even up to the end, I felt like every night was a new experience. I didn't exactly know how to find a campsite or who to ask. I was a perpetual novice at this. Which landed me in some pretty interesting places:

in private campgrounds

on baseball diamonds

in little cozy cabins

beside Christmas lights
outside churches

inside churches

outside firehouses

inside firehouses

outside strangers' houses

inside strangers' houses
at friends' houses

in the city park

underneath mountains

beside RVs

beside playgrounds

in the water

in the wilderness

in a Winnebago

in state parks

and twice, stealthily hidden away on unimproved land

August 3, 2009


Dan and I (and Brooke, Dan's girlfriend) arrived at Windmill Point just East of Kilmarnock yesterday at 4:30pm. The end of my ride this summer.

I swam out about 100 ft into the Chesapeake just to make sure I'd really arrived at the coastline. Then Dan started yelling at me to not get the water in my eyes or ears. Or nose. Or mouth.

We'd ridden through two hard downpours that day, but we'd stayed warm.

Dan and I had a great last three days. The riding was frankly unsavory. Traffic all day, and the smells of traffic. But we enjoyed eachother's company. We stayed in Fredericksburg at a canoe rental shop on the Rappahannock River. The fellow that owned the place told us we could shower there if we wanted. It was a hose hooked up to a shower head hung over a few pieces of plywood nailed up at nearly the right height. A tree limb had fallen over the shower shed and looked like it had been there a little while.

The next night we stayed in Westmoreland State Park. There was a pool, which had aroused our suspicions, the park being on the coastline. But when we got down to the pool (100yds from the surf) it all made sense. There were signs all along the beach warning against swimming in the toxic stuff. The pool was a sight. I've never seen so many black kids crammed into a pool. Or white kids for that matter. Dan did a bunch of heroics on the diving board and a group of kids started yelling at him: "Hey, man. Do that again!" Then I got up on the diving board and did a cannon ball, and they lost interest. That night we cooked a huge meal and played cribbage while we smoked our new pipes (new for me). We both got a little sick. Neither of us are very stout smokers. But we made a lot of smoke rings.

After arriving at the coast, Dan's mom and my parents met us and took us out for a classic seafood dinner. Softshell crabs, tuna steak, crab cakes, fresh steamed veggies. It was great.

Pulling out onto Windmill Point didn't feel particularly significant. It was just the end of another day of riding. I was tired. Pedal weary. Ready to be done. But not in a, "man, I'm glad that's over," kind of way. More like graduation from college. A feeling of sadness that it's behind me. A great many wonderful memories. A bigger sense of life. And yet a readiness for what's next.

I hope I can post some pictures in the next week.