“Don’t get a B.U.I.” A faint voice to my left cautioned me. It was about 10 pm under a full moon in Virginia. “Excuse me?” I asked the silhouette at the end of the driveway. “There’s a checkpoint up the road. Make sure you’re not drinking and biking”. I approached her. Brandi was her name. We got to talking and her boyfriend Adam came over. It was the usual conversation. What the hell was I doing, where was I heading, etc., etc., etc. They kindly invited me into their home to continue our conversation. I sat in a recliner in their living room and answered all their questions with such excitement. Lately I have grown rather jaded in telling my story, but now as the trip is nearing its end, I jump at the opportunity to share the story. So after some of the preliminary questions were answered, I asked a few of my own. Adam and Brandi are avid fisherman who also kayak. They expressed an interest in kayaking down the entire east coast and into the Gulf of Mexico. I told them they could. I told them they could because I know if they really want to, they will. I expressed my newfound understanding of the capabilities a person possesses when they wholeheartedly pursue a desire.
Adam’s father Rick came home, and I shared with him the same story. As the night drew late, Adam and Brandi invited me to set up my tent in their backyard. I happily accepted. Rick promised some homemade buttermilk biscuits for breakfast. I slept with the thought of them on my mind.
The sun rose. Rick made those biscuits. They were heavenly. As I sat there with them, swapping stories and sharing biscuits, I reminded myself just how lucky I was to be experiencing this moment. Although this trip is coming to a close, I do not fear the finish line, because I know that it will not mean the end of the journey. I could have ignored Brandi. I could have just ridden past her and carried on my way. Had I done that, I would have missed out on making some new friends. And learning! Gah, I’ve learned so damn much in the past 10 months that I think I have in the past 10 years.
I left Adam and Brandi’s driveway with a smile ear to ear. Rick sent me off with some biscuits and a question that stopped me in my tracks. “What have you learned?” Man, what loaded question. I didn’t really know how to answer. I don’t really remember what I stammered out. Something about experiencing people and opening myself up to new theories, routes, and schools of thought. There was probably an applicable anecdote backing up that statement immediately afterward. If I could go back in time, I know I’d give him a much simpler and concise answer: “To Live. I learned to live.”
Total Ascent: 2083 ft.