Let's just say Monday got off to a rocky start. Phia's "mosquito" bite was starting to look more and more like a bullseye that would make a dartboard jealous. A quick Google search pointed towards Lyme's disease, but after several text consultations with anyone in our families who had ever worked in anything remotely related to a hospital, we had gotten advice ranging everything from "put some Benadryl on it" to "you should probably be on doxycycline". So, to the minute clinic she went. Meanwhile, my grandma's condition was progressing in a less than ideal direction towards pneumonia. Since minute clinics are only so big, and I quietly wanted to take my mind off of hospitals, some of us took on the challenge of continuing to explore Philly.
Travel logistics kept up from leaving Philly until late afternoon. My thoughts bounced back and forth as I finally drove us out of Philly at 4pm. There was no way we could all bike 75 miles at that point and still stay on track to meet our host family before midnight. So for the first 65 miles, 5 riders squished into the four extra seats of my freshly rented Jeep. I cursed the Philly drivers, the torrential flash-flood threatening downpour, and the pseudomonads infection that put my grandma in the hospital on a ventilator this week. I fought with my conflicted (and hangry) thoughts for the next hour, wishing I had the aux to play some rock and metal that matched my mood and could wash away the rain.
Yet, as the city melted into farmlands, and the traffic vanished into open roads and horse and buggies, I couldn't help but let myself breathe again, and just welcome this crazy cross country adventure in whatever form it takes, if at least for the moment. I clung to that feeling when we stopped right before the last 10-mile stretch of road to our homestay so everyone else could squeeze in a bit of riding time. I reached for that feeling as I pulled one random tiny piece of city metal out of my now flat tire, and I managed to keep one eye focused on that good feeling as I watched Gabby pull an even tinier, but more painful, shiny shard out of my finger.
The last bit of my car drive to the homestay was much smoother and my mood was bouncing back. The post-rainstorm air streaming through the windows was getting cool, but our homestay welcome was beyond warm. It came in the form of warm brie cheese on toast and in excited kisses from the family dog, Tess (the 73rd I've seen so far on this trip). It came in the form of Susan offering us plates of spaghetti and showers, and in Dave helping me get a fresh tube on my bike wheel, no matter how stuck it seemed to get. It especially came in the fresh chocolate flavored Amish-made ice cream that got us through the realization that part of our route and meal planning spreadsheet was backwards.
Like I said, challenge-mode. What's an adventure without a challenge? Adventures aren't always happy in the moment, but you always get a good story in the end. And not gonna lie, I do love a good challenge, minus the family health concerns of course. So here's to Day 4 starting in less than 6 hour, and to the 56 days that follow, however happy, challenging, and hilly they'll be. And here's to riding it out, and making my Grandma proud.
Current Dog Count Total- 73