I am sooo anxious. About the climb. I procrastinate however I can: I take hours to eat my breakfast (a double one!), I stop for an hour at the visitors centre on the way out of town, I sit by the side of the road for over 45 minutes to call up my office. Anything BUT the mount.
After an eternity of agonising, I make it through and up onto the Blue Ridge Parkway however. And I’m out of water. I wave at a car. A woman stops and replies to my query with a question:
“You must be from somewhere down under, aren’t you?”
She parks on the side, pulls out a folding chair and we sit down for a chat. Sharon is 68 years old and has been on a road trip for the same amount of time I have: since mid-May. She retired some 15 years ago and has been travelling, pursuing her passions and doing whatever-the-hell she wants ever since. Girl power! Obviously, all her friends call her crazy and have been wondering whether she’s “had enough yet” and was ready to come home. To which she says:
“Nope. I’m having the best time of my life!”
We part ways for she has places to go and so do I. The ups and downs of the road are long and I’m slow and before I know it, it’s already 5 pm. And I still have 40 km to go. The race against the clock begins. It starts to rain. The road becomes slippery. I pedal as hard as I can but it’s getting dangerously dark and I will not make it to my chosen destination: the “Cookie Lady’s house.”
So what do you do when you’re stranded in a cold rainy forest at night? You cry a little, you curse a lot, you pitch your tent, you crawl in and you wait for the night to be over. Fast.