The warmth and manic weather (repeated bouts of sun alternating with downpours) of the past few days have passed, leaving a distinct drop in temperature and crisp, clear skies. It is the quintessential example of what my grandmother calls "October's bright blue weather," and it happens to be perfect for cycling. As we shivered and laughed, layering on our warm riding gear this morning, we both felt rejuvenated and eager to get on the road.
The weather isn't the only thing changing. Endless flat beaches and scrubby wooded areas have slowly been giving way to dramatic, craggy coastlines reminiscent of the French Riviera or Lago di Como. In a car the terrain can change a lot within the space of an hour or two, but for us, the transitions happen much more gradually. Hills were a welcome change of pace after days of flat ground; we were willing to do some climbing if only to enjoy the carefree feeling of smooth, downhill coasting once again.
Our first stop of the day was a roadside market/garage-sale that made us feel like we were in an Oregon Trail checkpoint to purchase supplies. Though we didn't really need anything in particular, we stopped to peruse the antiques and assorted odds and ends. Spread out on several long tables were a multitude of random items ranging from walking sticks to screwdrivers to brass spittoons. We had a lot of fun joking about all the things we could strap to our bicycles if need be; it was difficult to forgo the antique wooden spinning wheel or this GIANT typewriter.
A few kilometers later, we were halted in our tracks by the site of an intensely beautiful coastline. We decided to eat our lunch and enjoy the gorgeous view to the sound of crashing waves. I sliced the crusty, chewy loaves called "panini" (just bread, not what we'd call a panini back home) that I had purchased on a grocery run this morning, and filled them with fresh salami and a smear of butter.
The sandwiches were so good we seriously began to consider the idea of buying a deli slicer when we get home and keeping a parma ham and a giant tube of salami milano in our pantry. We'll have to see about that in a year or two :-)
Despite the early morning chill, the day turned out to be pretty mild and we removed various layers of clothing throughout the course of our ride. Warmed even more from sitting in the sun, we decided we would go for a swim. It was freezing at first, but our bodies acclimated in no time. As we hopped around and played in the waves, we made a point to enjoy every last exhilarating minute, knowing it would perhaps be our last swim in the sea for quite some time.
A couple dozen easy kilometers later, we began to look for a free-camp. Within a few minutes of starting our search, I spotted the perfect place just off the highway. There was a narrow path in between some trees that opened into a wide, flat clearing overlooking a lovely fenced-off field. Hidden enough to set up right away at 4:00, but not so out of the way that it involved lots of maneuvering to get there, we were thrilled!
I was even more excited when Tyler announced that he was going to treat me to EVERYTHING: I could sit on my laurels and knit or read to my heart's content, and he would not only set up our entire camp by himself, but he would also cook dinner and clean up. What a guy! I felt like I was on vacation! Thanks, honey!
While Tyler was making dinner he became enthralled with the excellent engineering of these long corkscrew noodles- two of the noodles could be twisted together to form a single unit! Besides enjoying this awesome pasta precision, Tyler was also impressed that each noodle was actually a very thin tube and was in fact hollow. What an excellent specimen of pasta design! Also, when Tyler cooked them, added tomato sauce, and served garlic bread on the side, they tasted amazing!
All cozied up in our tent, we almost fell asleep when the sun went down at 7:30, but instead forced ourselves to stay awake just long enough to catch up with our families and watch an episode of The Sopranos. Around 10:00, we finally let ourselves fall asleep to a cacophony of animal noises in our delightfully secluded but spacious free-camp. Wonderful days like today really do make the hard ones worthwhile.