Day 99 (11.22.10): We made it!

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. 

QUICK STATS

Start End Lodging Miles $$ Spent Weather
Hatteras, NC Raleigh, NC House (Eric & Jamie's House) 35.3 $31 Sunny

 

First of all, I would like to point out that this is ACTUALLY day 100, not day 99.  If you'll check, you'll see that we started our trip on day 0, not day 1…so today is actually day 100.  (This is a big deal to me, because 100 is SUCH a cooler number than 99.  Come on.)

And now back to the blog…

We were up and at 'em at 6:45 this morning.  After showers, we ate the last of our oatmeal and granola bars.  Then we split a poptart and had ice cream sandwiches.  After this nutritious breakfast, I tried calling my parents to tell them it was our last day, but there was no answer.  So we called Nathan's parents and talked for a bit.  They were proud of us.  Nathan was proud, and I was proud too…but already I could feel a bit of sadness creeping into my mood.  Just a week ago, I might've paid money to end the trip (I was really, really tired of mountains)…but now I'm feeling sad that it's over.  Part of me thinks this is normal, part of me is just glad that Nathan loves me despite my roller coaster emotions.

We changed, packed up, and met Eric and Jamie outside around 9am like we'd planned.  After Eric and Nathan checked us out of our rooms, we had a little surprise for them.  It was a "real biker" initiation of sorts…

And, just like that, we showed Eric and Jamie how to eat 10 ice cream sandwiches between dinner and breakfast the next day.  And they were worried we couldn't do it…  Pah.  🙂

Then we started off towards Rodanthe where their cars were waiting for us. (They had brought two cars so we had enough room to pack all four of our bikes away for the ride back to Raleigh where they live).  Rodanthe was about 35 miles away, and our only stop on the way was to see the Cape Hatteras lighthouse.  This is what we looked like most of the way – photos courtesy of our engine and caboose riders, Nathan and Jamie. 

  

Eric and Jamie were doing pretty good considering that this was their third day living out of two small bags and neither of them had padded bike shorts (ouch).  Speaking of their bags, they had jury rigged a pretty impressive pannier system out of non-pannier bags.  Then Jamie told us a funny story about them.  Apparently, on their first day, Eric had told her that since her bike was so much heavier than his was, he would be happy to put both of their bags on his bike so she wouldn't have to carry any more weight.  Jamie, proud of her hubby for having offered to bear the extra burden, agreed.  Eric was happy to do it…like, really, really happy to do it.  Turns out, in addition to being a great husband, Eric wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to have both bags on his bike, because then they would look like 'real panniers', and if they looked like real panniers, then he would look like a 'real biker'.  (Psssst…see Eric's "panniers" in the pictures above? :-)).  

When Jamie told us this story, we thought it was pretty funny!  We say bags on their bikes or not, they're totally real bikers.  They've been biking for years, they took lots of long day trips around North Carolina to prepare to meet us, and by the end of today, they will have lived off of nothing but what they brought in their two bags and biked over 100 miles in just 3 days!  Most people haven't done anything like that.  Way to go, guys!  But maybe next time you go for a multi-day trek, you might want to invest in some padded bike shorts, huh? 🙂

We were busy enjoying being with our friends when all of the sudden…..

That was weird. 

We got to the lighthouse and all went straight for the gift shop.  After looking around a bit, we decided to go look at the real thing.  I left the gift shop first, but no one followed me (or so I thought), so I sat down outside and met a man who had some playful dogs.  We started talking.  Next thing I know, I'm meeting the man's family, he's telling them our story…and Nathan, Eric, and Jamie come walking my way from the direction of the lighthouse, NOT the gift shop.  I had gotten so wrapped up in talking with that man, I'd missed ALL of them walking out of the gift shop and going towards the lighthouse!

So, I said "goodbye" to the man, and Nathan and I went to look at the lighthouse.  Turns out they'd all been waiting for me for a while.  Oops.

  

Even though we were running a little late, Nathan and I wanted to take time to thank another one of our sponsors: my amazing brother, 1st Lieutenant Evan Peck!  He is currently in Afghanistan with the Army, but when he came home for his mid-term leave, he visited Nathan and I with his then-girlfriend, now-fiancee.  Congrats guys, and thanks for your support, Evan!

Then we had a snack, I apologized for holding everyone up, and we got back on the road.

After a little while, we stopped for a bathroom break at a Subway.  Eric and I went in, and he went for the bathrooms first.  There was only one door for the bathroom, so I started talking to one of the customers while I waited for Eric to come back.  The guy was in the middle of a story about another guy doing down in a plane crash when Eric came out.  Eric gave me kind-of a funny look, but didn't say anything.  I said "goodbye" to the man and headed for the bathroom.  When I opened the door, to my surprise there was not the bathroom I expected, but a hallway with two doors – one for the guys' bathroom, one for girls' bathroom!  Ah!  I did it again!  I held everyone up by talking to the guy when I could've been going to the bathroom, and that's why Eric had given me the look!  I peed as fast as I possibly could, came back, and blurted out, "I didn't know there were separate bathrooms!"  Everyone just looked at me, kind-of confused.  I explained, they laughed (phew!), and we rode on. 

The rest of the ride went off without a hitch.  Eric and Jamie spit water at each other, I teased Nathan with my birdie and my duckie (see this video from 10/15/10 if you don't know what I'm talking about), and we generally had a great time. It was a beautiful day, we were less than 20 miles from the end.  I was excited, and I was sad, and I was lost in memories.  Waves of emotion came over me as we rode. 

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. 

We took some pictures (Nathan tried to humor me in a sad-face picture, but I don't think he was really feeling it) and made a video documenting the occasion and thanking some more of our great supporters: Susan and Calvin Cook!  Thanks so much Susan and Calvin – the coroplast held up great and really helped!  

  

Then Nathan started disassembling his bike and motioned for me to do the same.  And just like that..all our stuff came off our bikes.  And just like that, the panniers were loaded into the cars and our bikes were put on a rack on the back.  And just like that, they were no longer our mode of transportation.  It was weird.  Our bikes looked naked to me, like how your ring finger might look if you take off your wedding ring.  It's just weird, and it feels wrong.

  

I tried to suck it up, but all I could really do was stand there.  Then it was time to get in the cars and go get lunch before heading back to Raleigh (a 4 hour drive).  Nathan was excited to have a big engine he could boss around now.

After we were all in our cars, I got in a better mood, rolled down my window, and said to Eric and Jamie, "Sorry if Nathan wrecks the car…he hasn't driven in a while!"  And then we pulled out and headed for The Hot Tuna (the restaurant Nathan and I had eaten at with Allesandro the other day).  When we got there, I couldn't get my car door to open.  Geez – I guess it's been a while!   

When we walked into the restaurant, my first thought was, "Last time I was here, we were still on the trip. It wasn't over yet."  And the sadness came back.  After we ordered, I went into the bathroom to change into my non-bike clothes.  As I changed, I thought to myself, "I don't know when I'll wear these bike clothes again.  I can't believe it's really, really over."

Our food came, and Eric prayed before we ate.  He thanked God for His faithfulness and for giving all four of us such a great adventure, and then I lost it.  God has been so good to us, and I have felt so loved, so cared for, and so in love with Him.  I started crying.  I couldn't stop.  It wasn't sobbing, snotty crying or anything…but it was real, with big tears, and it surprised even me a little.  Nathan put his arm around me, until I stopped.  Then someone scolded Eric for making me cry, and we all lightened up and started eating.

Except for The Hot Tuna being all out of tuna, and nearly everyone needing to revise their orders, the food was really good.  After the meal, I put a box of pop-tarts in the front seat so Nathan and I could snack, and Jamie laughed and said, "It's only a 4-hour drive!".  Her comment caught me off guard, and I thought to myself, "The only time we EVER go for four hours without eating is when we're SLEEPING!"  Oh boy…acclimating back to the 'real world' might be interesting…  

The drive went ok.  Nathan only drove over one curb!  It felt weird to be in a car for so long though, and it felt weird to go so fast.  The car seat wasn't comfortable.  Our seat belts felt really restrictive.  But I do have to admit that it was nice to be sheltered from the weather.  Not that it was bad outside, but at least we had the option now!  

We called our parents, talked with each other, decompressed…or tried at least.  Nathan summed up our thoughts (or inability to have any) best when he said, "At the beginning, our trip was so big that it was hard to comprehend what we were about to do.  Now that it's over, our trip was so big that it's hard to comprehend what we just did!"  I suppose our only conclusions right now are that 1) we loved the trip, 2) we love adventure, and 3) we don't want to wait until we're ready to 'kick the bucket' to do more of our 'bucket list' items!  They rock!

We finally got to Raleigh, unloaded all the bikes and bags and stuff from the cars, and then salivated as Jamie made meatball subs, pasta, and broccoli for dinner.  I was really hungry, and by the time we ate, I was starting to feel woozy and light-headed from the lack of calories.  I think I might have actually attacked my food.  Dinner was AWESOME!!  Eric and Jamie thought they were going to have leftovers, but nope – we ate everything up!  Jamie, you are a great cook!

After dinner, we all hit the hay!  Nathan and I are going to be staying in their office on an air mattress with all the soft, cozy blankets we want and two, big, fluffy pillows.  Woo-hoo!!   (This picture is pre-air mattress…but you probably knew that.)

We are so thankful for so many things: first to God for His abundant faithfulness and for the amazing world He has given us to enjoy, explore, and care for.  We are also incredibly thankful for all of you – our family, friends, and blog readers – for your support, for your care packages, and for encouraging us to live our dreams.  And, of course, we are thankful to Eric and Jamie for riding the last few days of the trip with us and now letting us spend Thanksgiving with them.  Thank you, thank you everyone!

As we got ready for bed tonight, we both talked about how we just can't believe we did it.  We can't believe we're here.  We can't believe the trip's over.  …Then we decided that maybe we'll ride around Raleigh a bit on our bikes this week.  🙂


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *