We planned an epic adventure of nearly two months. Traveling by bicycle, we would gather material for short stories, visiting Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. The adventure was certainly epic, but it lasted only one week.
We planned weeks before the trip. We planned our route. We planned our camping spots. We planned our wardrobe. We planned our menu. We had all the gear we needed and nothing more than that (or so we thought). We were ready.
We were not ready. Our route was filled with monster hills. There were long stretches of no shade from the August sun. The camping spots did not align with our rate of travel. We had plenty of clothes — far too many clothes. Our food consisted of heavy and unappetizing peanut butter and seeds. We had a shovel big enough to dig our own graves. Our “just the essentials” gear was all loaded into a trailer, pulled by Thomas. The old guy. The old guy who kept stopping with heat exhaustion. (Someone pass the shovel. We might need it.)
Day One was riding through bucolic hills. Bucolic hills of doom. You know, the kind that leave you feeling like a washed out noodle. A hard ride, but we were fortunate to find a nice place to sleep for the night.
Day Two was the marathon. The marathon with too little water. The marathon with no place to stop. No worries, though. We saw two mysterious cats with glowing eyes. Under cover of darkness, they pointed the way to a deserted park. That’s where we took shelter the second night.
Day Three was fairly pleasant. A nice long ride on a rail trail led to a bona fide campground. We did have some hammock issues, and we were attacked by some strange owlbear creature in the early morning, but who ever expects camping to go perfectly?
Day Four brought the rain. Passing through quiet countryside and quaint towns, we missed the ominous dark clouds rolling in overhead. By evening the clouds were over us and the sky opened up. After a mad dash to a couple of derelict buildings, we hastily set up our tent on the side of the busy road.
Day Five was a hot ride uphill and through the city. We managed to find a nice library and park to take a break from the August sun. Later that afternoon, things took a turn for the worse. The rains of Day Four returned with a vengeance. The sky cracked open with loud peals of thunder and torrential rains threatened to drown us. The only shelter we could find was the drive-through of an abandoned bank. Our little patch of dry ground was less than ten square feet — just enough to cook some pasta. With full bellies, and during a lull in the rain, we made a mad dash a few miles up the road and took shelter in a proper hotel.
By Day Six we knew better than to ride during the heat of the day. We road early, spent the midday in a pleasant park, and hit the road in the afternoon, just in time for some more rain. Another mad dash ensued, this time leading us to a proper campsite at a county park. Unfortunately, the campsite required a permit, which we failed to secure during the rain. Fortunately, some nice park rangers woke us up that night and helpfully reminded us that we needed a permit.
Day Seven was a day of rest. Spending a second day at the county park, we roamed the trails a little and lazed around a lot.
Our adventure may have been only one week, and we may have covered what a car could do in two hours, but it provided us with plenty of fodder for stories. Given our new knowledge and experience, we will be heading out on a (hopefully) longer trip once the weather cools some. In the meantime, we plan to take short day trips to search for more story ideas.