We leave Janka's apartment this morning, supplied with two big boxes of Polish chocolates, ham and cheese sandwiches, heartfelt hugs, and enthusiastic well wishes. As we pull away, waving wildly, Tara and I feel simultaneously overwhelmed by our good fortune, and quietly reflective.
Last night, Janka told us that we were her heroes. Heroes. Good lord.
Try as we might, she wouldn't hear us when we told her she was the inspiring one. In a few days, Janka will be embarking on an epic tour of her own, seven weeks in Norway. What's more, she is cycling into the veritable sea of unknowns alone.
Tara has been so inspired by her example that she is now talking about doing a solo tour too (some years from now, when we return home). Make no mistake, what you are doing is awe-inspiring Janka! We can't wait to see the pictures and hear the stories that go with them; please stay in touch!
We just had a great visit, and now here we are, on our way to Lithuania. Every so often, we have moments of realization about what is actually happening to us. Exited exclamations always follow, things like, "Holy crap! We're actually doing this! We're IN the map!" ("in the map" refers to our world map, stuck full of pins, hanging on the wall back home).
While Tyler drives, I take out my laptop. I'm not sure I like typing in the car, but I've never written about a day as it happens. We do so much journaling, sometimes we need to mix it up a bit! As I peck away at the keys, cars recklessly zoom by us, ceaselessly overtaking one another on our single-lane road.
While drivers narrowly escape untimely deaths, little kids eat popsicles and ice cream on the roadsides of the sleepy towns we pass. A bee is buzzing in the back seat, smacking itself stupidly against the rear window over and over and over again. If he only flew just a few inches to the left or right, he would find open windows and the taste of freedom.
In our little red car, it feels like we're just "out for a drive." Just this regular sunny day, as hazy, hot, and humid as any summer afternoon in the Midwest, driving down an ordinary highway. We are the point on our map, slowly moving eastwards. The Lithuanian border comes and goes without issue. Border buildings are deserted, no doubt abandoned since Lithuania joined the Schengen area in 2007.
The countryside here is resoundingly familiar to me. We could very well be at home, driving from Minnesota to Illinois.
Tyler pulls off the highway onto a dirt road, and we stop for awhile to scope out possible free-camps. Like home, the land is wide open and flat. If we had to, we could camp, but this particular spot doesn't feel right.
Before carrying on, we turn up the radio to find out what Lithuania sounds like. If anyone out there can identify the last song, I'd be grateful. I like it a lot!
It is late, almost eight o'clock, but we have everything we need, and could go on driving for a very long time.
It's a strange feeling, realizing we're smack dab in the middle of what we set out to do. Well, signing off; looks like it's my turn to drive!