I left from Baltimore for the second time on September 13th, 2017. The first had marked the beginning of my journey in 2013. This time the plan was to ride down through central Virginia and North Carolina, over to Asheville in western North Carolina, and then down along the South Carolina / Georgia border to Florida, ending somewhere down the coast.
The very first day began with pouring rain, so I hopped on the light rail to get to the southern end of Baltimore to get a head start. I passed through D.C. and was stopped by a pissed-off looking police officer. It just so happened that I had a front-row position to the president’s caravan on its way out of the White House. I was of course filled with rage. I had followed the election closely, and, without getting overly political here–I was deeply deeply disappointed by America’s choice. Despite what you believe, two things we can agree on: his lack of experience and negative, divisive talk have only caused more partisanship and sourness in America’s heart.
After passing the negativity, I continued onto Alexandria and camped just past it in a natural coastal park. I walked into the woods, walking over semi-soft mud. The consistency of semi-stale fudge. I put up my tent and was out by 9:30.
I rustled awake to the sound of bubbles at 3 am. I had camped on the outer reaches of a salt marsh, and the slight tidal variation led to water seeping up from the ground. It was 3 inches deep. Luckily my person and most of my sleeping bag weren’t soaked. My air mat had kept me that high, and the tent hadn’t let hardly any water in. But exactly half of my unicycle bags and gear was soaking wet. I proceeded to trudge through the mud and water, 6 inches deep in places, to the nearby grassy area. This spot sat between the jogging trail and the road, so was not a good camping place before. Now it was perfect. I took 7 trips to get all my gear and put my sleeping bag on the tarp, open-aired style, and tried to sleep. After 15 minutes, I felt rain start to trickle down. I breathed deeply and sort of rasply exhaled my body up to a seated position. I took stock of the spread out gear. The tent went up, hands methodically reconnecting the pieces. I climbed inside and stuffed my gear in the vestibule. You know. To keep it dry.
One of the following nights I found my way to what was meant to be a rail trail, which is a trail that has been creating by removing or covering unused train tracks. This one, however, I found littered with railroad sized rocks, sometimes deep.
I settled into my tent, which I had the forethought to put off the trail, no matter how disused it appeared. No sooner had I reached deep sleep an hour or two later did I hear an intense roaring. 4 ATVS zoomed by at full bore, leaving a wake of dirty fuel fumes filling my tent. The time was about 11pm.
They passed again at 2am. Must’ve been a group of friends hanging out down-trail. It scared the living bejeezus out of my sleeping self.
I ended this leg of the trip in Asheville, NC where I had the honor of doing my first two Story Time events at the major book retailer, Barnes and Noble!