To my surprise, all of the exterior doors were locked…from the inside! And not with deadbolts, but with key locks! I went into the garage and sweetly said to my dad, "Daddy, I can't get out of the house." He came over to me just as sweetly, put his arm around me, and said, "I told you that you and Nathan were welcome to come." Then he paused and continued, "but you are never allowed to leave," and he did his best impression of an evil, muah-ah-ahhh laugh.
It was weird, and I made a bit of a mess, but I came to the conclusion that eating tortillas the real way is a bit like eating BBQ the real way – when done right, you should need lots of napkins and maybe a wet washcloth to clean up with afterwards.
Eric took the lead as we got close to Rodanthe. I was in disbelief as we turned onto the driveway of the church where their cars were parked. I didn't pedal at all, just coasted. I didn't want the end to be here. I couldn't believe it. We had made it. Our total mileage was 4,641 miles. And now,…we…were…done.
The thing I was most excited to see today was the Ocracoke lighthouse. It's actually a lot smaller than other lighthouses, but it was a big deal to me because it was the first lighthouse I've ever seen in real life! They even had a mini version of it that brought out the King Kong in Jamie.
It was just getting dark when we rolled into Rodanthe. Though it had been a beautiful ride, April was feeling totally beat and starting to get grumpy. I was getting frustrated and grumpy about her being grumpy. So we stopped to eat at the first place we came to, The Hot Tuna. Little did we know, everything was about to change. Again.
Normally, road closures are inconvenient at best. We're never sure how far out of the way the detour will take us, what kind of roads we'll be on, or if they'll even be passable on a bike. Plus, since we don't have a GPS, most of our calculations are based on knowing how many miles we have to ride between point A and point B and ultimately, how far until we reach our final destination. Not to mention, we were already really, really tight for time!
It turns out our mail went to the wrong post office. Now we were faced with the fact that our mail was at a post office that was 6 miles in the wrong direction. That meant it was 12 extra miles round trip on top of the fact that we were already getting a late start because the post office didn't open until 10! Thankfully, a very nice man named Dan walked in about then. After finding out what had happened, he simply said, "Load your bikes in my truck and I'll take you to get your mail if you like." Yay!
This was it! We had done it! We had ridden over 4300 miles through 12 states from the West coast to the East coast. Even though this wasn't our final destination, we had come to the end of the TransAmerica trail and it was time to dip our tires into the Atlantic Ocean to officially mark this occasion!
Since we had so far to go and not a lot of extra time, we decided to try and eat a big meal at about mile 20, that way we could go the rest of the way without any big stops. The only problem was that the restaurant that was supposed to be at the 20 mile mark was closed. Around mile 23 we stopped at a gas station and had some hot dogs to hold us over.
Over the next 30+ miles, all the restaurants marked on our map were either out of business, closed, or the road was closed and we were detoured around them! We were both getting pretty hungry and frustrated with the lack of towns and places to eat.
As darkness fell we had no idea how far we were from Ashland. Since we'd taken a different, more direct route than the official ACA route, our maps didn't give us accurate mileage estimates. We only knew that our legs were tired, there was no shoulder, we were in the middle of nowhere, and it was dark! In fact there was no moon, no stars, and no street lamps! If it hadn't been for the near constant stream of cars from the other direction, we wouldn't have had any usable light at all! We were definitely not enjoying our second night ride any more than our first one back in Yellowstone. Maybe even a little less!