Back to Day 13

I want to begin today’s blog by apologizing for our photography. It’s like “Look at this wonderful farm” or “Aren’t these ducks cute?”, and you are all looking at the picture thinking “That’s a duck? Really? OK, if you say so.” But we will continue posting pictures because that’s what you are supposed to do on vacations. Who knows, we may actually improve our photography skills in the next 6 weeks, although I wouldn’t count on it.

So the highlight of last night’s motel – it was a really crappy motel – was that there was a Dunkin’ Donuts right across the lawn. So we started the day with croissant breakfast sandwiches, then headed back onto our route. We were only planning 30 miles for today, for a few reasons. 1) Hotels are few and far between; 2) we are in hill country; and 3) we really need a rest day, and since we aren’t getting one, we should at least do less miles per day.

We were in the heart of Menonite country today – farmland and small towns. We stopped to eat strawberries at a roadside stand,

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we saw amber waves of grain,

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and we took more pictures of awesome scenery that doesn’t look nearly as awesome in a photo.

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We stopped for lunch in Manheim, as Debra and Camilla had blogged about a 1920’s themed restaurant called the Cat’s Meow. First we stopped at a CVS to buy Gatorate (for me) and candy bars (for Dana). I just can’t get enough Gatorate lately.

Note: I know Gatorade is bad for me. I am sure Gatorade is the reason I am not losing weight climbing all these freakin’ hills. But I have an irrational aversion to lukewarm motel bathroom sink water in a slightly dirty water bottle. And since drinking Gatorade is probably better for me than dehydration, I am drinking Gatorade.

We got to The Cat’s Meow just in time. The skies opened up, drenching our bikes and  packs outside, but luckily not drenching us. At one point the entire dining room started vibrating and emitting a high pitched alarm. Everyone thought it was a fire alarm, but it was actually a local flash flood warning, beeping on every cell phone in the place. We stayed there quite a while – had some soup, shared a salad, shared a sandwich, shared dessert. Is sharing an old people thing?

We debated staying in Manheim for the rest of the day, but decided to brave the weather and continue onto Mt. Joy, which was only 9 miles further. The skies cleared, the sun came out, and it was a lovely, if somewhat hilly, ride. We stopped to have smoothies in Mt. Joy – I promised Nancy T that we would eat ice cream every day – and then went to the local post office to mail my old bike seat and some spent maps home.

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From there we rode to Marietta. Google maps showed a lot of hotels in Marietta, so we figured we’d just get here and figure it out. But the B&B we wanted was closed, and another was full, and another didn’t answer their phone, so we stopped into McCleary’s Public House to ask the locals where we should stay.

And we met Stacy, who was sitting on the porch having a beer with her friends and she asked “Where have you been biking today?”. And the conversation just sort of took off from there. I had almost 3 beers with Stacy, and we chatted with Kathy and Mike and Matt and pretty much everyone who walked onto that porch. McCleary’s is a cool Irish pub – I wish we had someplace like it at home. While we sat on the porch talking about jobs and kids and bikes and good college majors in the 1970’s, the skies opened up again. There was thunder and lightning and probably some local flooding, but it was a wonderful excuse for those extra 2 beers.

When the rain stopped, Dana rode his bike back up to the highway to the Blue Note Motor Lodge, and Stacy gave me and my bike and my beer-soaked brain a ride. Dana got here first – sigh. I must say this motel is much nicer than the one last night. We called the local pizza place for delivery, and just finished a gourmet meal: shared Italian sub, shared meatball sub, and lukewarm root beer.

There’s that sharing thing again.

Everyone at McCleary’s warned us about the upcoming hills. I guess the worst one is about a mile up the road in Chique’s. We met the woman who owns the house at the base of the hill, we will check out her garden tomorrow as we trudge up the blasted thing. But tomorrow is another short day, because there’s really only one B&B for the next 60 miles, and it’s at mile 30. I have already booked our room.

On to Day 15

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