Once again, we waited out the rain this morning. When the alarm went off we promptly turned it off and rolled over, the sound of the raindrops in our ears. Tyler was fed up and decided that if it kept raining, we could stay another night at the campground and he would spend the whole wet day working. Seeing as how we didn't have any cash for another night at the campground, and it didn't seem as rainy as yesterday, I said we should make a run for it next time it cleared up. Tyler consented and next time there was a break in the rain, we packed up camp and headed off.
The first downpour hit us after a few miles. It felt like what I would imagine being in a carwash would be like. It wasn't so bad, and I pretended I had paid good money for that carwash. We biked along the tops of ridges—we had done most of our climbing yesterday and were rewarded with (relatively) flat terrain, overlooking fields on one side and the ocean far off in the distance on the other. After the carwash came brilliant sun for few precious minutes or maybe even a half an hour and we were able to dry out a little bit.
When we saw the second front of black clouds rolling our way, Tyler had the fantastic idea of moving ourselves, bikes and all, under the shelter of a small tin-roofed outbuilding in a pasture right off the road. Waiting out this batch of rain with a rusty old tractor and a warped rubber tire, we were thrilled to be dry as we watched the rest of the world be inundated water. [We slow danced under the shelter, too!]
There may have been another hour or so of light rain, but then the clouds parted and out came the sun, for good this time. For the rest of the day, we were treated to spirit-lifting gloriously beautiful sunny weather. There are not words to describe the magnitude of my relief, joy, and gratitude. As we cycled nearer to the ocean we were both reminded of last summer when we rode to the beach in North Carolina on a motorcycle. We spent some time reminiscing as we pedaled, and then coasted all the way from the high ridges we had been on, down, down, down to the quaint oceanside town of Woolacombe. (I briefly noted a practically vertical road on the other end of town, that we would most likely have to climb up, up, up again, but no matter, the sun was shining, and we were taking a break by the ocean!)
The first place we came to in town was a perfect place to stop—a nice restaurant/bar where we could leave our bikes outside and take seats in the sun. The friendly waitress let us plug our laptop in (the cord went through the window) and we were able to use their free, very fast wireless internet! We had local ciders and an order of "chips & aioli" which turned out to be the best fries I have ever eaten. Tyler even ate the aioli (though he hates mayonnaise) when I told him it was "garlic dip." We ended up ordering a second plate of "chips & aioli" because they were seriously amazing. If you ever go to Bar Electric in Woolacombe, order the chips!
While Tyler got some work done and uploaded a few journal entries and photos, I walked down to the beach, relishing the warm rays of the sun. It was divine walking on the sand, snapping photos and feeling my clothes slowly dry.
When I returned, Tyler and I packed up and headed off in the direction of a campsite five miles away. It was already late(ish) and we were looking forward to a nice DRY evening in camp as we started the slow ascent up the steep hill I had seen earlier. Halfway to the top, Tyler went through a pasture gate and scouted for a free-camp while I stayed behind and took photos of the incredible scenery.
After quite a while, Tyler came running back and told me he had found the perfect spot to free-camp and that I would love it. I was slightly concerned about the fact that only half of our water bottles were full, but I trusted his judgment. We pushed our bikes about a quarter of a mile off the road, through a pasture, down a valley, and up a hill to a secluded spot overlooking the ocean.
Surrounded and hidden on three sides by flowering shrubs (the fourth side being a view of the ocean) we set about making our home for the night. The ground was covered in rocks so we moved them out of the way to make a soft, flat space for our tent, and proceeded to create a little patio out of them in front of the vestibule. We hung up our damp socks and rags to dry over some tree branches, and Tyler started digging a hole for the very first campfire on our trip! I placed some more rocks around the hole, and began assembling a tinder ball and various sizes of kindling. We had an amazing time literally creating a home out of our surroundings. We made different "rooms"—the tent & the patio, the laundry area, the bike area, the fire pit, the "backyard" overlooking the sea, etc.
I made a quick noodle dinner using a couple packets of ramen we had hand, and Tyler changed our rear brake pads. With our bikes fixed and with food in our tummies, we put the finishing touches on our campsite and then went out for a brief walk to watch the sun set over the ocean.
As we watched the sky grow darker we were reminded of why we are out here. All the memories of rough times we've endured these past few days quickly faded and were replaced with ocean waves and clear blue sky. Just this morning we were drenched, buffeted about by the wind and rain, and yet it seemed like days or years ago, or maybe even part of a bad dream.
We returned to our "home" and Tyler lit up our campfire, lighting the tinderball with our firesteel. He added tiny little sticks at first, then bigger ones, and soon we had a proper campfire crackling away in our little circle of stones.
We ate chocolate and drank more of Arthur's wine while staring at the flames. It was heaven on earth. I'm realizing how much this trip really is the quintessential exercise in "living in the moment." One moment we are standing in a shed hoping the rain will let up, and the next we are in front of the ocean with a roaring fire. There is no time to look back and I scarcely remember what happened this morning, let alone yesterday. Tomorrow, this perfect day will fade as well, being replaced by new adventures and challenges. All we have is right now, this very moment. Right now, all our needs are met, and all is right in the world.
Tyler put soil over the last embers of the fire, and we went to bed to the sound of the waves, very happy and content at a day well-spent.