This morning was really, really trying. The sky looked promsing as we hauled everything out of our wooded free-camp into the field we had sneaked into last night. Things quickly took a turn for the worse as we packed, when a front of dark clouds rolled in. Soon we were drenched, yet again.
I was just beginning the process of accepting my fate of another wet day on the road when we realized that one of the pannier straps had gone missing. We tore EVERYTHING apart in the pouring rain trying to find it to no avail.
Finally, satisfied that neither of us had the strap we began our search of the woods around our campsite. It was a nightmare. We've been dealing with rain for a week straight, and it finally got the best of me as I pointlessly cursed the trip, the rain and everything about searching for a stupid strap in the stupid woods in the stupid rain, etc.
There have been many times when my job has stressed me to the point I reached this morning. It is that moment when you know exactly what you have to do but there is nothing in the world you'd rather not do, underscored by the very real knowledge that nobody in the world is going to do it for you.
I've come to realize over the years that what you choose to do at moments like these can really define the direction your life takes. Remembering the scope of what we've set out to accomplish, I began the search with Tara and in a few minutes we somehow found it buried under some brush. Phew.
As we left we both vocally fantasized about staying in a hotel until it stopped raining but quickly realized that was an awful idea. We'd never escape England! We needed to carry on, and carry on we did.
Thankfully a few miles down the road the rain broke and we were treated to another day of manic English weather. Lots of sun, lots of rain, a bit of sun, a bit more rain and some crazy winds as well. We rode 20 miles along the coast, through the quaint town of Porlock, skipping the famous (we're told) Porlock Hill in favor of a scenic toll route about 4 miles longer and 4 times less steep.
We fought our way off the scenic route with headwinds that were surely traveling twice as fast as we were, and rejoined the A road which would take us into the beautiful seaside town of Lynton. It was an exhilarating ride in via a 20% downgrade which we would later climb to leave.
After wandering around town for a bit we started the trek up and out. We pushed our bikes nearly straight up for a quarter mile while laughing together at the looks we received from the people in cars passing us by. A bit down the road we saw a campground which Tara wisely convinced me to stop at. We settled in around 5pm with plenty of time to make camp, prepare for tomorrow, shower and have dinner.
We spent a lot of time tonight talking about the trip and investigating our route. We realized that we have some major logistical issues that need to be addressed (having nothing to do with today) if our route is going to work at all.
Looking at all of our planning snapshots we show a plan of 2.5 weeks for England. I don't remember when it changed to 7 weeks but it was sometime after January, 2009 (our last posted snapshot). We've also added a few weeks to France that somehow got missed. There is absolutely no way we can make it to Eastern Europe before winter, much less arrive in Southeast Asia in time for it.
It appears we we have three options:
Somehow shave 9 weeks off the trip by straightening the heck out of our route (or taking trains) as well as rigorously sticking to the plan
Tough out winter in Eastern Europe followed by spring/summer in Southeast Asia
Relax the pace of the entire trip and do a several month loop through northern Africa during the winter months before heading for Eastern Europe/Asia
My gut says option three. Skipping a lot of what we want to see and always feeling like we are on the clock is not what I want this trip to be about. Our lives are already unraveled and we have the money to make the longer route work. We've already committed to quite a lot, a few extra months would give us a lot of breathing room and we'd see even more. The biggest thing holding us back from an immediate "yes" is missing our families.
It might seem insane looking at what we went through this morning to say, "oh yeah, tack another few months on!" but at the end of the day we're in our tent laughing together and happy as can be with lots of new stories to tell someday. There have been many hard days in the last 50 but my god have we lived them. It is amazing when we look at our journal and photos what we've seen and done. Our trip has hardly begun!