Day 12: 878 Miles. Mary Mary Had a Little Land

Sometimes when I’m drop dead exhausted, I stop to rest and just lay down in some shady grass. I end up using my helmet as a makeshift pillow of sorts. It’s an exhilarating high just laying still and looking up into the sky. The exhaustion many times sends me into fits of delirium, yelling out: This is my helmet-pillow, there are many like it but this one is mine.

Check your stupid Facebook memories for that time that I fucking jinxed myself by telling Daniel that I’d been sleeping like a baby the entire trip. I toss and turn and deal with excruciating knee pain and get pretty much zero sleep. Plus I somehow lose yesterday’s entry and have to do it all over again – what you’re reading now is so much shittier than the original. I pull myself out of the tent. It’s soaked from humidity and morning dew. My sleeping bag is wet from condensation. It’s literally raining inside my tent but sunny outside. I fling no less than seven slugs off my tent.

Veloccino. It’s part bike shop, part coffee shop and one hundred percent my thang. It’s next to our campsite. We wait for it to open. There’s an outdoor shower so I get naked in front of strangers and wash up. There’s outlets so I charge up. I buy a bike light and a coffee. We leave much later than normal, content to get about 10 miles outside of DC and find another rogue campsite.

We’ve struck out approximately thirteen times trying to find somewhere to stay the night in DC. I want a day off. Maybe tighten up some of the minor issues on my bike. Maybe get a souvenir tattoo. Maybe show the fine permanent art on my ass to the puppet occupying the White House… I feel like he’d like it – if he’s not busy playing golf or suntanning or dying his hair. But nothing. No warmshowers hosts available. Hostels are closed. Neither of my friends down there are able to let us crash with them. Some other friends who biked down from Pittsburgh tell me DC is a heavily policed right now and that illegally camping on public land is gonna be tough. Apparently Seattle, Washington is not Washington, DC. Nonetheless, I work up the energy and we hit the Maryland hills westward toward Reistertown.

We arrive the 15 miles and partake in what has become a daily ritual: the thick Italian-Argentinian accented “egg and cheesy”, or what I call a “breakfast sammich”. That helps. Then, a friend of Daniels just a couple miles outside DC offers his backyard to us! Heaven yes. A cushy landing spot is exactly what the good Dr. Strangelove ordered. (That’s the second Kubrick reference today if you’re counting from an undisclosed location.) We divert off the ACA route and hit some heavy traffic highways, all in the interest of a solid sleeping arrangement.

We come into our second Columbia in as many days. Columbia PA yesterday and Columbia MD today. Apparently Cristobal Colon’s genocidal ways really left an impression on the folks who name cities, states and counties. Go ahead and file this under the “no shit Sherlock” part of today’s entry. Chill at a park, nap, head south on some trails and then BAM, the worst thing everrrrrrr:

Fucking suburbs.

I hate them. More and more each time. We deal with three lanes of screaming traffic and zero shoulder. The massive death machines want to see us splattered and I know it because I’ve seen all the road kill. Two lanes is not enough, we have to die so they can have three lanes. We stop for a break. And another. It’a hot. And now it’s rush hour. What’s the rush for anyway? I hate this but having a landing pad is crucial for us. I feel like closing my eyes and riding no-hands in this traffic… focusing the entirety of my being and energy into the sentiment that dinner and a shower and some sort of minimal comfort will provide is worth all this vehicular madness. The kids call it harvesting my chi. Or harnessing my chi. I dunno. But that shit is interrupted by some cunt beeping her horn at us. Bitch, please. I can hear your car’s engine, you don’t need to beep. When is the last time you actually got out of your car and gave a listen to anything the real world has to offer? A little bit of me dies here on that highway somewhere in this suburb squished between Baltimore and Washington. But I survive it. Though you can see that I didn’t take photos of any of that crap.

Pat is part of the world famous Buffalo diaspora. It takes about three minutes for him and I to pinpoint the 1.3 degrees of separation that manifests throughout western New York. This means we know all the same people and even vaguely recognize each other from years of hanging in similar circles. Theres a vend diagram somewhere for that. Pat’s backyard is 4 miles outside of downtown Washington, and my tent is up as he’s cooking some wings on the grill. Homemade baba ganoush alongside some kale and cucumbers also occupy the picnic table in tonight’s kingdom. Mint juleps and cigar smoke circulate amongst our post dinner conversations, all under a wonderful and almost-full moon. Daniel is talking about “floating on water, but then floating on air” as we joke about our 50 mph downhills. Pat is bemoaning the Buffalo winters and I nerd out about homogeneous vs truly culturally unique cities. We’re chatting on such a wide range of intelligent yet whimsical subjects that for a moment I forget how tough the last week and a half has been leading up to this tranquil yet exhilarating evening. Then I shift around in my plastic Adirondack chair and am greeted with a subtle yet jarring reminder of it all. Familiar pain. And by every account I know I am ready for a good nights sleep.

About tonycaferro

Entrepreneur, Citizen, Marketeer, Fire Fighter / EMT, Bicycle-Tourist, Booking Agent, Youth Mentor, Activist, Agitator, Coffee Addict, Foodie, Social Media Nerd, Amateur Film Critic, Son, Brother, Uncle & Rust Belt Representative. Follow me on Twitter @dtr45
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