It was snowing as we left Strongsville, OH. We weren't too concerned about it though until we saw a car spin out in front of us and disappear into the median in a huge cloud of white. After the dust (snow) settled, we could see that the car was sitting upright and appeared to be ok (phew). Then we noticed some other cars that had spun out, too. We were supposed to drive 300 miles today, and this wasn't the kind of weather we were hoping for, but we were supposed to meet a friend for lunch in Columbus, another friend for dinner in Indianapolis, and spending the night with other friends (also in Indy) tonight, so we decided to press on.
Thankfully, the snow cleared up before we hit Columbus, so I think it was just a lake-effect storm. We happily met up with Deb, a friend of mine from college, and after trying multiple restaurants and finding out they were all closed, we finally found a cozy pizza place to eat and talk.
Feeling full and happy, we then headed for Indianapolis, where, little did I know, but my life was about to change.
We made it to Indy all in one piece and decided on one of our favorite places for dinner: Chick-fil-A. (Oh yeah!) We had dinner with Omar, one of Nathan's college friends. Nathan and I usually ALWAYS get a milkshake and split it (with fries and nuggets of course), but tonight I didn't really want a shake. Chick-fil-A has a new peppermint chocolate chip milk shake for the holidays, but Nathan and I have never tried it because I don't like mint-flavored things. Nathan does like mint stuff though, so he decided to try the peppermint shake tonight.
Now Chick-fil-A always puts lots of whipped cream on top of their shakes, and I happen to be NUTS about whipped cream. My wonderful hubby gave me his shake so I could eat the whipped cream off of it...BUT...while I was eating his whipped cream, and while he wasn't paying attention to me because he was busy talking with Omar, I tasted his shake...and oh my gosh!
It was AWESOME! I LOVED it! And I started drinking it. And I kept drinking it. And I think by the time we left, I had had about 1/3 (at least) of his shake. ...So much for Nathan getting to enjoy his own shake. And so much for my not liking mint things! It was so good!
After hugs and goodbyes, we headed over to see Tim and Megan, and they had some surprise plans for us! They took us out to The Cheesecake Factory for a debt-free celebration dessert! This was really special to us. Tim and Megan were the ones who originally told us about Dave Ramsey and encouraged us to check out his financial program. We both (couples) became debt free by following Dave's program, and this was the first time we'd seen each other since becoming debt free (it was also the first time we've seen Megan since she's been pregnant!). It was so cool to know that as couples, both of our futures had changed so much by our hard work on our finances over the past few years. Check out our first bites of debt-free yumminess:
After our sugar overload, we all went to bed and fell into sugar comas for the night. :-) The next morning, they showed us their new photography studio. Megan owns the studio, and Tim works with her. They are phenomenal photographers (check out their website), and we are excited to talk with them more about how to start and run a business.
After the tour, it was off to St. Louis to meet up with a friend of mine from SLT, Megan (another Megan!). On the way there, instead of saying "Saint Louis", our GPS said "Street Looey" every time. Haha! When we got there, we had a slight mix up about where meet up, and after waiting for each other at different locations for about an hour, we finally figured it out, got together, and had a good time together over lunch. I should add that this Megan is ALSO pregnant! So, yes, two pregnant Megans, and they're both due in February - crazy!
Then it was another 4 hours to Blytheville, AR to meeting up with one of Nathan's college roommates, Kyle. The trip went fine all the way until we actually got to Blytheville. I put Kyle's address on Willow Creek into our GPS, but when we got there, we couldn't find it. After traveling in circles for a little bit, then calling Kyle, and everyone being confused, we eventually figured out that Kyle lives on Willow...not Willow Creek. Oooooohhhhh.
Kyle, interestingly, recently represented his company in a world-wide 10K race in Argentina! He came in 173 out of thousands of racers! How cool is that?! After a yummy dinner and talking for a bit, Nathan started to look extra comfortable (aka: sleepy) on Kyle's big, cozy recliner. After two long days in the car, he was pooped (and I was getting sleepy myself). Kyle, a gentleman, gave us his bed to sleep in, and he got a blanket and slept in his recliner in the living room. How nice!
Oh, and, another fun fact about Kyle: The temperature in Blytheville was in the teens, and Kyle had NOT YET turned on his heater for the winter! Ever thrifty, he had just bundled up and dealt with the cold. For us though, he agreed to turn the heat on, and I think he turned it all the way up to 55 degrees! Haha.
The next morning, we had a quick breakfast and all left before 7am. Kyle went to work, and we were on our way to Nashville, TN to visit Dave Ramsey...again. We'd been by while we were on our bike trip, but didn't get to see him because was out of the country. It was quite a ways out of our way, so we emailed his office to be sure he'd be in this time. We heard he was in the office this week, so we went, but when we got there, we were greeted by Martha, the lady who bakes cookies and runs the lounge. She remembered us from before, and said, "What a bummer Dave's not here!".
Huh?! Apparently he was at a last minute meeting in another state. So we didn't get to meet him. Boo. But we did get a very cool tour of the office. It was all decorated for Christmas, and each department decorated differently to compete for prizes. It was the most spirited decorating I've seen in a long time! The picture on the left is of our tour guides - the amazing Travis and the also-amazing Kristi - in their gingerbread winter wonderland! Thanks for the tour, guys. The picture on the right should be IMMEDIATELY recognizable by anyone who has been through Dave's classes. It's us with THE gazelle (yeah, the one that was on stage when he taught!!)!! Woot!!
Next stop: home sweet home. Let me tell you, this trip has been amazing, awesome, crazy-great, super-cool, and all that stuff, but we're ready to be home now. It was great to see friends and family, but we're starting to realize just how long it's been since we've been home. For the past few months, we've biked 4,641 miles, we've driven 3,900 miles, and we've done it all with minimal changes of clothes, never staying in the same place more than 3 days (the only exception is when we stayed with the Reyes for 6 days over Thanksgiving), and sleeping in a tent many of those nights. And now, there was nothing else standing between us and home....well, except 700 miles, and about 11 hours of driving. (Ug - that's a lot of driving.)
Then I had a great idea: let's stop at Chick-fil-A and get a big peppermint chocolate chip milkshake and some fries for the road!! (That shake has been on my mind ever since Indianapolis!)
Ahhhhhh :-) Shake in hand, fries in mouth, NOW we were ready to go home!
On the ride home, we reflected, sat in silence, and made some phone calls. While on the phone with my mom, we found out that she got on the news because of massive snowfall in Ohio, and that she had talked about Nathan's and my bike trip and my brother being in Afghanistan! Neat-o!
We also made a video to pass the time and thank another sponsor who had a lot to do with our route home: Father Mike! Thanks for the map and all of your hospitality!!
We finally got home around 11:30pm on Wednesday, December 8, 116 days after we first boarded a plan for Astoria, OR. We pulled up to the curb and snuck in, trying not to wake up our roomies, Greg and Sarah. Then we promptly crashed into bed!
We feel sad and in a bit of disbelief that the trip is over, but a bigger feeling than either of those is the almost overwhelming excitement we feel about being able to start digging into our future! This trip was unbelievable, and it has given us a lot of motivation to keep on living our dreams, keep on taking risks, and keep on reaching for things we thought were beyond us. With those things in mind, we are so pumped to start figuring out what we're going to do next!
...after we unpack and wash everything three times over, that is. Ha! Goodnight, all!