We slept well last night. We even slept in a little bit! Since we had pushed so hard yesterday, there are now only 67 miles between us and Hatteras where we were meeting up with Eric and Jamie Reyes, our awesome friends who are going to bike the last few days with us.
In an effort to give the Reyi (it's the plural form of their name, see their blog for details) the "full experience," we had left the planning of the our time together up to them. They had discussed it and worked out that we would meet in Hatteras on Sunday afternoon and spend whatever was left of the day exploring around town. Then Monday morning, we would get up and take a ferry to Ocracoke Island, ride to the other end of the island, and take a ferry from there to Swan Quarter, where their cars would be waiting for us. From there we would drive to Raleigh and their apartment, bringing our bike trip to a close.
Since the plan was to meet up Sunday afternoon, that gave us two full days to cover 67 miles. And that meant we could take it easy and enjoy the Outer Banks and give our knees, and legs, and butts a much-needed break! Hooray!
So, April read some stories with the girls, or rather was read to by the girls, and I talked some more with Scott and Kendra. Scott said that it was good thing we hadn't been there the week before because the part of the Outer Banks we were headed to was closed due to high surf from a bad storm washing across the road! It seems that throughout this whole trip, the weather has been perfect for us, and it's not uncommon to hear that the week before or after we were there, a big storm of some kind has moved through the area. Just another way God has been watching over us I guess!
Breakfast was cinnamon rolls and milk. Yum! Since we weren't really in a hurry, I got out the laptop and showed the girls pictures and videos from our trip. They especially liked the video of the bison walking down the road in Yellowstone National Park!
We took a family picture and the girls presented us with pictures they drew. Alliza, the oldest, helped the other two write our names. It was really interesting to see the girls' personalities come out in their drawings and as they explained them to us.
Alliza had drawn us a picture of her family, complete with names and a photo of herself on it. It was a very good picture.
Next Emma, the youngest, presented us with her picture. She had also drawn her family, but without her in it. Then she pointed to the blue thing with lots of legs and said "That's a spider." And then at the scribbly circle, "That's a dust ball." Haha!
Finally Lilly gave us her picture. She had drawn us a dinosaur scene! "That's a leafy tree, and that's a long neck," she explained, using the names from The Land Before Time cartoons. "And that's a pteranodon." Huh? Where did that come from!? What happened to The Land Before Time? Shouldn't that have been a "flyer"? Haha - we loved it!
Then we got online to figure out our route for the day. I wanted to go north a little ways to visit Duck, a place I had been on vacation with my family while growing up. Since today was going to be such a relaxed day, I figured we had the time to go the five or so miles out of our way to visit Duck. We also wanted to be sure to take some time to visit the Wright Brothers Memorial, which we knew was somewhere in the Kitty Hawk area. And of course, we wanted to dip our tires in the real Atlantic Ocean!
Feeling good about our plans, I checked my email. We had a new note from Eric that he'd sent the previous night. "Quick Change" was the subject. Wondering what had changed, I opened it and read:
Nathan & April,
Based on your latest tweets, it looks like you most likely made it to the OBX today!!! So, we imagine that you are headed for Hatteras tomorrow (Saturday). After talking it over with Jamie, she suggested we alter our plans a bit to get more out of our time with you and to allow a little more flexibility. As such, here is what we are currently planning:
We will leave Raleigh on Saturday morning and drive to Rodanthe (about half way between Nag's Head and Hatteras). We made arrangements with a church to leave our cars there. Depending on the time, we might actually pass you guys. If so, we can stop and take anything off your bikes that you want. Either way, we will wait for you in Rodanthe. Then, we can finish the ride with you to Hatteras. Then, we will have all day Sunday to explore Ocracoke and hopefully Portsmouth. Similarly, we will no longer be constrained about a ferry time on Monday. We can just ride up to Rodanthe whenever and drive from there (about 4+ hours to Raleigh).
Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow...stay safe!
Ahh! What!? What happened to nice, relaxing times in the Outer Banks? Thanks to our "lazy" morning, if we were going to make the 67 miles to Hatteras, we would have to leave right now and ride pretty hard to get there. To be fair to Eric, he did say it would be fine if we didn't meet up until Sunday (you can read his account of our trip here). But now arriving Sunday afternoon wouldn't work very well because that wouldn't give us a chance to explore Ocracoke!
After yesterday's stunt of riding 93.5 miles at 15.3mph, we really, really didn't want another long day of riding. I showed April, and she just kept saying, "What?! What?!"
We called Eric and said we'd check in in about an hour at 11:00 and let him know where we were. After quickly packing up our stuff and thanking our hosts, we scratched our plans to visit Duck and headed south. As we pedaled on, we began to feel like we were taking the enjoyment out of the last few days of our trip and replacing it with stress. This was no fun! Our legs were tired, our minds were tired, and we really didn't want another full day of riding.
When we called Eric at 11:00 to check in, we were sitting in a little coffee house in Duck, enjoying a latte. After realizing we weren't having fun, we had decided to revert to our original plans for the day. So we reversed course and headed north to Duck!
On the way to Duck we stopped to take a picture by the Duck town limit sign. April wondered why I wanted it by the boring green metal highway sign instead of the nicely carved wooden sign, but I had a very similar picture with my sister from my family vacation years ago, so I wanted it by the metal sign.
After we finished our coffee and told Eric and Jamie we'd most likely get to Hatteras tomorrow, we headed to Kitty Hawk and the Wright Brothers Memorial. After riding all the way through Kitty Hawk without coming to the memorial, we began to wonder if we'd missed it. Thankfully, a nice man informed us that it was actually just down the road in Kill Devil Hills.
Finding it right where he said it would be, we headed into the park. According to the signs, there was supposed to be an entrance fee, but there was no one there and the note taped to the window said to go ahead and go in. Sweet!
It was really neat to see the full scale replica of the Flyer and Glider in the museum and to be able to walk out in the field and see just how far the first flights were. They had little stone pillars in the field that showed where each flight had landed, so it was easy to compare the first few flights to each other. Did you know that the Wright brothers each made two flights that day and the longest flight was less than a minute?
While we pause for some lunch, we wanted to take a moment to thank another sponsor: Jere and Judy Anderson! Thanks so much for your support guys!
The weather today was perfect. It was sunny and the temperature was just right. Plus, having decided to take it easy, we were feeling great as well! Rather than picking a goal for the day, we decided to just ride toward Hatteras until we felt like stopping, then get up early the next day and complete the ride. We'd already gone almost 30 miles, so we figured there were just over 45 to go. We thought we might even end up making it all the way to Hatteras tonight after all!
As we entered the town of Nags Head, we saw a board walk going through the dunes to the ocean. Remembering our fiasco going through the dunes on the Pacific Coast, we thought the board walk looked like a pretty good option!
There was still a bit of sand that we had to push through, but it wasn't too bad. After setting up the camera, we finally dipped our tires in the Atlantic! Woo-hoo!!
And we took a celebratory picture. We just made it coast to coast!!
Feeling energized by having dipped our tires in the ocean, the beautiful weather, and the thought that we might be able to make it to Hatteras, we pedaled on. By mile 50 dusk was approaching and we had reached the Oregon Inlet bridge. We thought it had kind of a nice closure feeling. We'd started our ride 3.5 months ago in Oregon, and now we were bringing it to a close riding over the Oregon Inlet.
Before going over the bridge, we stopped to calculate how far we had to go. We figured that we had about an hour of light left and we wanted to see if we could make it all the way! Boy were we in for a bad surprise!
I added up the miles on the map once, and then again, just to be sure. We still had 40 miles to go! I don't know how it went from a 67 mile trip to a 90 mile trip, but now there was no way we could make it to Hatteras! And tomorrow would probably have to be a really hard morning in order to get to spend time on Ocracoke. We weren't sure what to do. All we knew was the wind had been sucked from our sails. April took it harder than I did and she really started dragging.
We decided to go on to Rodanthe, about 15 miles away, and have some dinner. After dinner we would decide whether to push on or camp there.
It was just getting dark when we rolled into Rodanthe. Though it had been a beautiful ride, April was feeling totally beat and starting to get grumpy. I was getting frustrated and grumpy about her being grumpy. So we stopped to eat at the first place we came to, The Hot Tuna. Little did we know, everything was about to change. Again.
Almost as soon as we sat down, another cyclist rolled in. He didn't have any bags or anything, but it's always nice to see another biker. He leaned his bike just ahead of ours and stopped to check them out. As he walked in the door he turned to us and said "Adventure Cycling route?"
Surprised, we said yes and told him we'd started in Oregon and we were now riding down the coast to Hatteras. He was pretty excited for us and said that his name was Allesandro and he was about halfway through his trip on the Atlantic Coast route (another route from Adventure Cycling Association that runs all the way down the USA)! Cool!
We invited him to join us for dinner and had a great time sharing stories. April, being the extrovert that she is, was soon feeling energetic and cheery again. The delicious burgers and fries that we ate didn't hurt either! Even better, Allesandro bought our dinner as celebration of us almost being done with our trip!! Yay! April then interrogated...I mean interviewed him...for our blog:
By now it was totally dark, and despite our bad experiences with night riding before, we decided to press on to the town of Avon, about 15 miles away. Now I know you think we're crazy, but we decided to do this primarily because 1)it was a beautiful night with no clouds and a full moon, 2)the road was about as straight and flat as a road could be, 3)there was very little traffic, and 4)we wanted our ride the next morning to be as short as possible.
This turned out to be a fabulous decision and one of my favorite parts of the whole trip. In fact, it was almost like God had planned it. The moon was so bright that we could literally see our shadows and the road between Rodanthe and Avon had just been paved so it was perfectly smooth and black. The moon even appeared to make the newly painted white lines on the road and the fresh hay beside the road look like they were glowing (the hay was to help grass grow)! With great, glowing lane guidance and a nice, wide shoulder to ride on, we were good to go!
As we pedaled along, we could hear the hum of our tires on the road and the waves crashing on the beach. It was great! It was so great that when we arrived at Avon, we debated going on, but I decided that we needed the sleep and so we should stop.
When we arrived at the campground, the office was closed. There weren't really any directions for self check-in, so we figured we'd just sort it out in the morning.
We picked a spot and set up our tent. Because it was such a nice night, we decided to leave the rain-fly off and enjoy the fresh ocean breeze. This will likely be our last night in the tent. I've got to admit, the thought makes me a little sad. It's been a great tent, and we've gotten a lot of use out of it. (Note: The picture is from the next morning because it was too dark to see the tent when we arrived)
All-in-all, today ended up being a great day and we're in good position to arrive at Hatteras pretty early in the morning. We're really excited to see Eric and Jamie to and see what adventures we'll have with them!