We stayed with Eric and Jamie all week (Mon - Sun), and it was just the low-key environment we needed! We had a great time slowing down, recharging our batteries, and transitioning out of life on the road. We both agree that it still hasn't sunk in yet that the trip is over, though. This whole week has felt more like an extended rest day than the end of the trip. We think it won't really sink in until we get back home to Texas. But what am I talking about? We have two and a half weeks of traveling and visiting family and friends before we're back to Texas...so I guess, in a sense, it's not really TOTALLY over yet. :-)
So, back to our time with Eric and Jamie, here's what we've been up to:
On Monday, we went grocery shopping, like I mentioned in the previous post. What I DIDN'T tell you is what we bought. Nathan and I got whipped cream, cherry pie filling, and brownie mix. Then, the next morning, we had pancakes with cherry pie filling and whipped cream on top! They were AWESOME! We figured we've got to ride our ability to eat whatever we want for as long as we can - so we're doin' it!
Nathan estimates that our metabolisms will wind down and be almost back to normal by Wednesday. Wednesday!? That's so soon! Boo.
So, continuing in the name of eating whatever we want for as long as we can, we all went out to Eric and Jamie's favorite pizza place on Tuesday night, Lilly's. They wanted to take us to Lilly's because of something Eric remembered us saying on our blog wwaayy back when we were in West Yellowstone, MT. In West Yellowstone, we went to the Wild West Pizzeria, and we thought it was the best non-Chicago-style pizza we'd ever had! Apparently them were fightin' words, and, ever since, Eric and Jamie were bent on proving that "Nu uh! Lilly's is the best!" (yeah...they really said that ;-)). Turns out Lilly's gave Wild West a pretty good run for it's money. Check out the toppings on these pies!
On Tuesday, we also went to the thrift store where we got some t-shirts, and I got another pair of sweat pants. Now we have more than one set of clothes - yay!
Then, on Wednesday...it happened. That's right. I couldn't finish my dinner. Can you believe it?! Some say the reason I couldn't finish was because I had brownies and ice cream (and whipped cream) before dinner. But I think Nathan might have been right about my super metabolism only lasting until Wednesday. Who can know for sure, but I really don't like the thought of my metabolism begin normal again. I liked it more when it was turbo powered. :-(
Thursday was Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving is a GREAT holiday for touring cyclists!! I made the turkey, and besides it taking several hours longer than I thought it would to cook, it turned out pretty good! We also had mashed potatoes, sweet potato and apple casserole, green bean casserole, gravy, rolls, and super-amazing homemade banana pudding with whipped cream! The banana pudding recipe has been in Eric's family for who knows how long. Eric made it himself, and it was SO good! Since the turkey took longer than expected to cook, we were all really hungry by the time everything was ready. I made everyone wait another minute though so we could get a quick video (you'll all thank me later)...
After our feast, we attacked the dirty dishes with vigor (and maybe each other - Nathan's making a gun with his hand and Eric looks like he's defending himself...).
Friday we played games (boys are Mad Gab masters, girls are card game champions) and went hunting for some real, North Carolina BBQ. We didn't find it at the local place we thought we would. Instead, we found it at a Dickie's, a chain restaurant with all-you-can-eat ice cream (win!). If you didn't know, North Carolina BBQ is very different than other BBQ. Most BBQ sauce is thick because it's tomato based, but North Carolina BBQ sauce is actually vinegar based, so it's thin, clear, and has the consistency of water! And, surprisingly, it's really good! After dinner, we headed home and got excited for Saturday - the day we were all going to ride our bikes to Raleigh's outdoor farmer's market!
But when Saturday morning got here, the temperature had dropped and it was only in the mid 30's. Brr! So, we decided to drive instead. We were a little bummed, but still excited just to have the OPTION to drive instead of bike, so we happily got in the car. The market was amazing, and Jamie bought ingredients to make delicious and authentic Mexican fajitas. They even made tortillas - homemade, Mexican, MONKEY tortillas! (See its ears?)
While we were eating, I learned that I'd been eating my tortillas all wrong...
The Mexican way to eat tortillas (which is the REAL way, by the way) is not to roll your food up in them and eat them burrito style, but to tear off one piece at a time and use it to scoop up some food, kind-of like how you eat chips and dip. It was weird, and I made a bit of a mess, but I came to the conclusion that eating tortillas the real way is a bit like eating BBQ the real way - when done right, you should need lots of napkins and maybe a wet washcloth to clean up with afterwards. Thanks for the culture, Eric and Jamie! :-)
Sunday was another day we had been looking forward to all week, and Eric and Jamie had been looking forward to it since before the trip began: the day we went to Eric and Jamie's church. They have a fresh look at many biblical teachings, and it was great to be able to go to church together. Nathan and I hardly ever went to a church service during our trip, and I have been missing it so much. It's not God that we've been missing while we weren't at church - we've been with Him all along - it was all the people. To be surrounded by other people all worshiping and wanting to live for God - THAT is what I have been missing. It was a powerful experience to be surrounded like that again, and reminds me again that we can never do all this on our own. We need each other.
Later that evening Nathan finished a huge book he had bought earlier this week at the thrift store. I don't know how many pages it was, probably over 500 - it was a monster. Impressive, Hubby!
Then, inevitably, Monday arrived and it was time for us to head on. We rented a car and prepared to travel up North to visit our families. We were both shocked that the week was over. After we packed up, we thought this was a good time to talk about the week and thank some more of our sponsors, Bill and Pat from Hood River, OR. It was great to meet you guys; thank you for your support and your encouragement!
Then came goodbyes and hugs. Eric and Jamie, it was great. You are great friends, and we value your friendship deeply. Thank you for your kindness, your generosity, your sense of adventure, and your love for us.