The people of the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia area) were very good to me.
Monday, October 16th (cont.)
I wasn’t sure what the rest of the day held. Part of me was ready to move on, but there were still a couple of people I was hoping to connect with. First, a guy named Erik who had messaged me on ADVrider. Second, a gal named Rachel who had contacted me on instagram.
I decided to take some time at Arlington National Cemetery. I am glad that I did. It is an impactful place.
As the day progressed, it appeared that I was not going to be able to meet up with the DC people who had contacted me. Our schedules just weren’t aligning.
I had one other piece of business that I wanted to do in DC. Brazil will be the only country of my trip that requires a visa. All of the instructions I could find online apply to people who are arriving by airplane. I decided to go by the Brazilian Consulate to see if I could get some clarification.
“Nothing to see here. I’m just a normal motorcycle.” -Annie
I got there at 1:10pm. They closed at 1pm. Really?
I decided to end my time in DC and begin heading west. I stopped at a library in Arlington to do some work.
As I worked there, both Erik and Rachel messaged me within minutes of each other. I guess I’m not leaving DC yet. 🙂 We agreed to rendezvous at Timgad cafe at 4pm.
As I wondered into the area, Erik picked me out. He greeted me warmly and bought me a sandwich to snack on. He works for the EPA, whose building is basically in the same “square.” He has a BMW R1150GS, which is the same bike used in the motorcycle documentary “Long Way Round.” He is a really neat guy. I enjoyed talking to him about his work and general DC things.
Rachel, who is an EMT/Student, showed up a little later. From our messages, I was unclear as to whether she had a motorcycle. This was one of my first questions for her. She responded that she had recently purchased a Honda NC700X, the same make as Annie! She is the first rider I’ve met on the same model as me.
As she did her research in deciding on her first bike, she searched the various instagram hashtags (ask your kids/grandkids) associated with different models. The hashtag “#nc700x” is pretty saturated with my adventure, which is how she stumbled upon it. Though the NC700X basically sells itself, I would like to think that I at least was a small part of that decision. 🙂
Towards the end of our time there, we were joined by another ADVrider, Charles, who is friends with Erik. He also rides a BMW R1150GS, with around 100K on the clock! From what I had observed with my other hosts, my first question to Charles was an odd one: How many phones do you have?
Though the sample size is not definitive, it appears that carrying multiple wireless devices is commonplace in the DMV. 🙂
We walked over to where Annie was parked for some signings and pictures.
Charles offered to buy me a cigar from the shop across the street. What a treat!
Rachel brought her NC700X over. It is tentatively named “Serena.” It was so clean and shiny! I also felt honored to teach her the word “frunk.”
Daylight was waning, but we went for a short ride.
What great people! I was so glad that I made my way back into the DMV.
….but it was after dark. How was I going to find a campsite? Thankfully, I already had lodging arranged. Another ADVrider, Larry, from Warrenton, VA, had invited me to stay the night. Hooray for roofs!
The ride was over an hour, not ideal in the dark, but the road was busy and well lit. My hosts Larry and Doug, share a really nice house on the edge of town. I was welcomed warmly and fed well. They are both riders as well, so we had lots to talk about.
I was needing to do some laundry and felt like having a day off, so I asked if I could stay for a couple of nights. They seemed glad to have me. Despite the Norwegian flag hanging above my bed, I slept very soundly.
Tuesday, October 17th
Pretty much a work day. I’m trying to be more intentional about including days like this. They help me to feel less stressed and allow me to be more “in the moment” as my adventures transpire.
I also played some games on my phone for the first time in quite awhile and watched some shows on my computer. Ahhhh…the sweet nectar of normalcy. 🙂
Another guest was arriving that day too, Larry’s girlfriend Peggy. She took a red eye from California and went right to bed upon arrival. The house was really quiet during the day which was great for getting tasks accomplished.
Larry and Lisbeth:
We had a lavish steak dinner.
All of them were so encouraging to me and so much wonderful feedback about my trip. They seemed privileged to get to be a part of it and I felt honored that they felt that way. Tattoo time took place by phone light.
Doug’s daughter, Emma, signed too.
Peggy even invited me to stay with her once I reach California. I can’t wait to be there!
Wednesday, October 18th
I got to make a hurried batch of egg coffee for Larry and Peggy, while Larry fixed some eggs. It’s always nice to hit the road with an ample amount of protein.
I was eager for this day. Having been “stuck” in such populous locales for over a week made me crave the open road. Pittsburgh, PA was the next place in my list, so I found a way to take mostly backroads through VA, WV, MA and PA. Indeed, I was never quite sure what state I was in.
Sonic enjoyed himself.
As did I.
Doug had suggested that I stop at the site of the Flight 93 memorial, near Shanksville, PA. During the attacks of September 11, three planes hit their intended targets. The fourth however, was thwarted. Normal people displayed astonishing bravery in deciding to fight back against the hijackers. The plane was most likely destined to destroy the capitol building. Instead, it crashed at this field in Pennsylvania.
The site is now a National Park. It features exhibits that tell the story of that fateful day and the stories of the people who became heroes.
One of the biggest things that struck me was the time frame. Less than a half an hour passed between the hijacking and the decision to fight back. I often spend longer than that just deciding what I am going to have for dinner.
These people knew that fighting back would put their own lives in greater peril. The hijackers told them that they were merely returning to the airport. The “safe” decision was to not antagonize their captors.
Their selfless actions saved the lives of countless strangers.
It is impossible to come to this site and not leave changed.
As I was returning to Annie, a couple of people were looking intently at her. That’s how I met Rory and his sister Caroline. Rory is a long time rider and they were both interested in my trip.
I also learned that Rory was a pilot for United. After the crash here, he had worked with the FBI to help identify pieces of the wreckage. What an honor to meet him!
I found a great free campsite near Smithton, PA, equipped with pit toilets, a water spigot and some lean-to’s. What luxury!
Though it was forecasted to be a chilly night, I decided to start the night in my hammock. It was just too good of a spot to pass up.
Fortunately, I also set up my tent. At 3am I opted to change my sleeping plans, as I was having difficulty maintaining warmth in the hammock. It’s always good to learn the tolerances of one’s gear, so I’m glad I got some more data on the subject.
Phew! What a wonderful few days! I continue to be overcome with gratitude for those who are helping me on my way. I didn’t feel like I really needed any more friends at the outset of this journey, but I seem to be acquiring quite a collection so far. 🙂 Next time we will get a couple of ‘burgs!
Stay courageous, everyone!
Realtime update: I’m in Columbus, OH, heading towards Dayton…well not currently…it’s difficult to ride and blog at the same time….you know what I mean. I’ve made some decisions recently which I may make a special post about. As always, thanks for coming along!