Canal Trail vs Roadway

July 24, 2008

On Monday, Dan and Peter ended their ride for the day in Big Pool, Maryland,¬†an extremely small community with about 8 houses and no storefronts. As Dan said in his recent blog, the¬†trail this time was full of mud puddles, large and twisted sticks/branches, small and large rocks, roots of trees, and even live snakes. Upon arrival in the trails parking lot,¬†I could tell they had a hard day for they were really sweaty,¬†dirty, and thirsty,¬†hungry, and hot, and they had an overall unpleasant smell about them. ¬†In other words, they stunk. And so¬†did their bikes. They needed to get themselves and their bikes¬†to a ‘hose you down’ car wash. And I really didn’t want their odors creeping into the Bubmobile either but what choice did I have? (So sorry, Rob). Later, the decision to ride again on¬†rural roads¬†was most welcomed. I was happy.

Throughout this trip, there have been references made about the movie “Deliverance.” (Made in the 80’s, I think, and one of the first really frightening movies I had ever seen). We laughed and joked about it, knowing we’d be going through the Appalachian Mountains¬†similar to the setting of the movie. Well, let me tell you, various scenes of that movie recently flashed before my eyes¬†when I found myself driving into a deep, dark, thick¬†forest, on¬†a road one car wide, muddy, with a drop off on one side, no structures around, very desolate,¬†and with the air both steamy¬†and extremely humid; just a most frightening setting you can imagine a single woman to be in (a sexist statement, I know).¬†I was taking¬†a short cut through a national forest to a major highway and couldn’t believe this was an actual road. When my imagination got the better of me (here’s where Deliverance came in),¬†I found a place to turn around and¬†headed back¬†to a lesser desolate road¬†and drove some 20 miles out of my way¬†to a place where¬†I knew connected with the highway. This time I really thought I’d never see my loved ones again!

Driving in the mountains, on back roads, is not my favorite thing to do anyway. Dan and Peter have already termed this part of the trip ‘Jean’s panic driving mode.’ The twisting and turning¬†in the mountains confuses me more than usual (nothing perpendicular) and many of the small towns are unhealthy economically. Often,¬†the people are quite impoverished too.

Like yesterday, I mistakenly drove unto a major highway before I realized what I had done¬†and to get back to where the guys were, I had to take the next exit off and make my way back. An easy thing to do in the right circumstances.¬†However,¬†the exit I took brought me down into one of these impoverished towns and the on-ramp was closed due to road construction. Keep in mind I was still in a very hilly/mountainous area¬†where the town is about one road wide with¬†high¬†hills on one side and nothing, it seemed,¬†on the other.¬†I drove through¬†but couldn’t find¬†help.¬†It was a very unpleasant and uncomfortable place to be in. But¬†I decided I had no choice but to¬†park the car and¬†walk until I found signs of life.¬†And so¬†I did.¬†

I noticed a couple with their kids sitting in a carport¬†that was kind of attached to their house.¬†Their yard and the¬†entire carport was littered with cars, cans, toys and other stuff too numerous to mention¬†and they were sitting among all this junk just trying to keep cool, I think.¬† I¬†admit, I approached them with some trepidation (no, a lot)¬†and even though the man couldn’t see well and had a stump for a leg which was covered with¬†really dirty gauze and¬†his wife¬†only¬†nodded throughout our conversation and said nothing, and the two little kids were staring at me and were quite unkempt, it turned out¬†he was very kind and most helpful and did get me back to where I needed to go. Once again, my fears were unfounded and I learned the lesson, yet again, not to judge others by how they look or how they live their lives.

But the further east we go, the less mountains to deal with so I am happy to be their driver again. But it’s¬†experiences like this that has made this journey a fascinating one and¬†these particular¬†memories, in particular,¬†will last forever. Strangely, I cherish them.

  1. Peter A Said,

    Jean-

    Wow! You have come so far since I left! Almost there!

    I have been admiring your photographs in the gallery section a lot lately. I especially liked the one with Dan in crisp focus and the landscape behind him perfectly blurred. Nice! Happy tailwinds!

    Peter

  2. Lyss Said,

    Dear and Courageous Jean,

    Thanks for all you have done for all of us. So glad YOU seems to have enjoyed it too–some parts only in retrospect, but that is where it all is now! Happy staying-at-home.

    Love, Lyss

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