We actually got up reasonably early today—the alarm went off at 7:00 and we were up by 7:30. We're getting better at packing up camp, but all the time we save is now used to make delicious breakfasts! This morning I made thick crepes with the caramel apple filling Tyler made last night.
It is generally very cold in the morning and at night here this time of year. I've discovered that I love having something warm to wrap my hands around and nice mug of hot water with lemon and honey is my favorite (taking after my grandpa). I'm working on incorporating that into life as much as possible.
After breakfast, Tyler and I washed dishes at the nice washing station. Hot, soapy water and dishes that are actually clean—amazing! When we free-camp, dish washing is a pain: the water is freezing, our fingers feel like they're going to fall off, and until recently we didn't have anything scrubby to get the gunk off. Dish washing in a hot sudsy basin with the sun streaming down on me is one of my new favorite activities.
We packed up fairly quickly and cycled down to Hexham in search of wireless internet to upload our photos and journal posts. After trying the library and a few cafes, we finally found a pub with free wifi. We each had a half-pint of cider (by this time it was 11:30) and Tyler got to work on our journals. The internet connection was not very good so the uploading process was long and frustrating.
While Tyler was busy, I wandered around the bustling market town in search of a few items. I bought a scrub brush (with a long handle) and some funny looking waterproof gloves to protect our hands from freezing-cold dishwater. We needed more bread, and I bought us a couple of chicken pies from the bakery. A spork from the outdoors store, some jam and cookies, and a couple of wooden cooking utensils (our collapsible MSR spatula actually melts into our food, and we're not worried so much about space these days). When I was through, Tyler was still at work so I packed up our stuff and got us ready to go. Finally done, we headed to Hadrian's Cycleway at the late hour of 3:00 PM! Oy vey.
It feels that 1) leaving a place, and 2) arriving at a place, take infinitely longer than they should. We looked in vain for the "right road" for a good 30 minutes. There is often a lot of searching, asking the locals and backtracking involved and it all just takes time. It can be very annoying when we just want to get on the road and we can't find it!
After we found the cycle route we stopped shortly thereafter for some reason or another, and we both busted up laughing when Tyler said "surely we can bike *9* miles in *4* hours". Immediately after that comment, as I was hopping on my bike, a very small hole in my pants between my zipper and belt loop became a massive rip all the way down to my knee. By this time, all of the inefficiency and troubles of actually LEAVING (or making any progress whatsoever) became hilariously funny. We both laughed deliriously as I changed into my cycling capris (thank god it was warm enough).
Now (for real) we left. Two miles later we lost the poorly marked trail (I suggested we take the road that split off to the right from the rocky ditch, but Tyler wanted to see "what's up there"). We went left, continuing on, up the gravelly potholey forested path. We pedaled and pushed through some beautiful scenery until we emerged on a normal road. The normal rode however, was a highway. This actually turned out to be our saving grace as we covered ten miles in 35 minutes.
At last we felt we made some progress—one of these days we might actually make it out of Northumbria! After a difficult series of hill-climbs, we finally cycled up to the visitor's center for Hadrian's Wall and the nice park ranger told us where we could camp for the night. Another quarter of a mile and we'd be there!
Our camp for the night was in the front yard of a farming family's house. We made camp and I calmed my nerves by cutting potatoes into very small pieces for dinner. It had been a difficult day.
After we were done setting up, Tyler practiced Arnis, and two girls from the house came running out to see what he was doing. He jumped at the chance to teach them; it was so nice to see them enjoying themselves while I prepared dinner! I took loads of pictures and the girls had lots of fun learning the basic techniques.
We scarfed down the mashed potatoes and gravy I had prepared, then washed the dishes (with our new dish washing equipment!). Time to cozy up for the night, write another entry, and figure out where we are going in the morning.
This biking around the world business can be really difficult. Sometimes my mood changes every hour depending on my outlook and the terrain we're riding. All of the changes that this trip requires have been somewhat stressful, and it takes enormous amounts of communication every day to make life happen happily. We're getting better, but it will definitely take some time to adjust. I miss my family, I miss Tyler's family, and I miss things most people take for granted, like hot water (showers, bathroom/kitchen faucets, baths), cars, and fuzzy blankets. Every day really is a new adventure, though, and we're going to be talking about this trip for the rest of our lives!