Our constant companions, Tammy the Triumphant Tandem and Tina the Trusty Tent, have stood up (as have we) to another stretch of sweltering hot days, interrupted by the occasional thunderstorm. We have managed to avoid some of the heat and all of the rain by getting up at 4:30 am and riding till about 2 pm, before ducking under a campground pavilion or other such shelter while the storm rages (usually for less than half an hour).
In fact it's been more of the same "pros and cons" - we have met more interesting people, including a couple other touring cyclists now that we have turned onto the TransAmerica route heading west. We've seen more lovely scenery, worked our way through mood swings (though we continue to iron out kinks and are learning how to get along better and make decisions together, understanding that we are both equally likely to be wrong given that neither of us knows what's around the next bend... seems obvious, eh?)
So this post will be the usual series of photos... with the details of yesterday's festivities fleshed out below.
Sometimes our plans don't work out... but often that leads us to pleasant surprises. The bridge was closed... meaning many many miles of detour. So we walked along the lakeshore, found a lovely spot to camp and swim (below), and yes, Jane used the construction workers' portapotty (it was Friday evening)
Another time our plans didn't work - every place to stay in Washington DC was booked up for some random carnival we had no idea about. We stopped at a boat rental place in a park to borrow their phone. The staff were so helpful. They looked up motels and hostels for us until we finally found a full hostel with an overflow bed in the library where we could stay! Once we knew where we were going, we decided to rent a canoe, and in the end they didn't charge us. It was a lovely break from the bicycle (we could have rented a pedal-boat - yeah right!!)
Washington DC was fantastic for its variety of places to eat. Ethiopian food is sooooo good, and a nice break from sandwiches and hard boiled eggs!!
The "International Guest House" where we stayed in the library. Run by Mennonites, a very welcoming place where homemade cookies and tea are served at 9 every evening.
Denis also camped at the fire hall.. and rode with us to Charlottesville, helping us with a flat tire along the way.
Fourth of July!!
Jane was disappointed to learn there wouldn't be an Independence Day parade right here in Charlottesville, but the local paper listed one in a small town 10 miles away. We called the number given and were told that if we wanted to be IN the parade, meet at the church parking lot by 3:30pm! To convince Eric to ride 20 miles (2 hours) in 100 degree weather on a REST day was a feat which involved another phone call to the same number. This time Jane explained we're Canadians who rode here on a tandem and are really keen on taking part in the festivities, but was there any chance that they knew of someone with a truck who would be driving back to Charlottesville after the parade and could give us a ride. She (Ronna) said no, she didn't know of anyone, but if we wanted a cool place to rest and have a cold drink, we could hang out at her place for a while before riding back to the city.
After some pleading on Jane's part, off we went, and soon noticed it was all downhill, and dreaded the way back even more. But when we got there and met Ronna, dressed as a clown offering wheelbarrow rides to kids watching the parade, she told us she had decided she would drive us back herself in her station wagon!
Zigzagging our way along the road between a police van with siren blaring and a pair of clowns was a blast and a half (maybe the half for Eric and the blast for Jane ;-), especially when people saw the 2 flags on our backpacks and shouted "Canada!?" "WELCOME!!" Later Eric gave a delighted Ronna a ride on the tandem. (And, he has a new shirt!)
The festivities continued in the city, where we sung along to Minnie the Moocher with the "Manufacturers of Swing" who played for a wound up crowd, many of whom were breaking out the jive and the Charleston (we tried to join in but felt extraordinarily clumsy on our stiff cycling legs).
The fireworks were wonderfully honeymoon-romantic, lying back on the grass together as the sky exploded and the hushed crowd ooohed and aahhed... for the first 10 minutes or so. It just kept going, for a full half hour, on and on. Finally 5, 6, 7, 8 balls of light flew into the sky all at once and exploded their shower of sparks - the grand finale, everyone starts to get up... but no! There's more! 10, 11, 12 blasts together light up the sky! THAT was the finale. No... look, at least 20 thrown up, so that all the sparks and smoke seemed to form a solid wall of light, and all we can think is, Isn't this a recession? Throwing dollars into the sky and exploding them, while people are actually getting a wee bit bored?? We had to laugh. All in all it was a great night of American culture, pride, and a bit of extravagance.