Life on the road has literally been up and down (especially here in Ohio) and of course always up and down metaphorically. For the first week or so, I cried every single day. Not sure why. I think my psyche was just getting used to such a nomadic, tiring lifestyle. But now I'm feeling excited to be on the road, honored and grateful for all the diverse places and people we're interacting with. When else would we spend the night in Myersdale, PA or East Palestine, OH? Let me tell you: these towns are interesting!
So far, we're like celeberties everywhere we go. Sometimes we're approached with kind curiosity, other times with crude mistrust. Yesterday morning, in the East Palestine McDonald's, a circle of older gentlemen were enjoying a morning cup of joe together. Jokes and gossip and quiet sips filled the room. Then we walked in and all eyeballs were glued on us. I got all of 10 steps toward the bathroom before a larger man walked up to me, smug look on his face, and sternly asked, "Where are you from?" as if his question was the gate between me and the bathroom, and my answer was the password that would get me in or keep me out. In the sweetest southern accent I could muster, I responded, "Maryland." *Big smile*. He looked me up and down for a good 10 seconds. "What are you doing here?" (His voice implying that visitors are few and far between in this town that has zero lodging accomodations). "Well, my husband and I are riding our bicycles across the country." Looking out the window at our overflowing bikes he asked, "How heavy is that thing?" With his mood beginning to soften, I answer, "About 60 pounds...but 60 pounds isn't that bad when it's on your bike." And finally, his smile broke and eyes widened, "Well, golly, you must be mighty strong!!!"
Phew! For a minute there I thought I was going to piss my pants for more than one reason. The bathroom was near, so after a few more friendly exchanges, I took care of business, then proceeded to endulge in some very fancy McCafe fixings. At this point, word had spread that the outsiders--once suspected as potential thefts, rapists, murderers or simply stated, weird-o's--we're actually two young kids smitten with love and that adventureous American spirit that these men respected. One by one, round wrinkled men approached our little table asking the usual questions about our route, finances, time and accommodations, then offering their connections to our journey. "I hear you're headed to Seattle! I lived there for a few years--would catch my own clams in the morning! Beautiful place!" ... "My brother and sister-in-law live in Gathersburg... I've been visiting them every year for 60 years!" We smiled and made small talk, like any wise semi-celebrity-outsiders would, then finally, a half hour later, ventured out into the sunlit morning for the endless hills of eastern Ohio.
Oh, those hills. I have a whole post to share with you about those hills. But for now, I'm just writing to report how thankful I'm feeling and how amazed I am that we have the opportunity to really be with this country in a way I never imagined possible.
Today we're sitting out a nasty storm in a fancy Marriott hotel (thank you wedding gift cards!) and watching plenty of television. (Never before have I appreciated television as much as I do now--with my brain and body t-i-r-e-d!) What's life like where you are? We'd love love love to know...
Big hugs and kisses from the semi-celebrity-weird-o's ;)