The highway was lonlier this morning since it's the weekend, and I was thankful for it! It was another chilly morning and I had goosebumps for the first 30 minutes. The road was not much better than yesterday, although for the first 30 miles there was no rumble strip, and with the light traffic the riding was more peaceful.
Second breakfast was gas station biscuits, gravy, potatoes, and bacon, and with the extra fuel I felt strong! Mid-morning Seth's mom surprised us on the road, and then at lunch time, my parents found us. They had homemade pepperoni rolls, brownies, apples, and cold drinks. It was wonderful! We still had 25 more miles, but they weren't difficult, and we reached Damascus just before 4 for a 62-mile day.
Damascus is a town on the Appalachian Trail; in fact, the trail goes right along the sidewalk on the main street. I felt very nostalgic as I rolled into Damascus on my bicycle today. The first time I was here, I had hiked a 26 mile day to find that the town had no power due to a tornado the night before. I had been in my tent that night during the storm and had woken up in a literal puddle inside my tent. I had not had a real shower or done laundry for 10 days (I had only washed in the river). The family who owned the cottage where my friends and I were planning to stay offered to drive us to the next town to try to find a hotel; we got a room at the Marriott and I had the best shower I've ever taken. Seth and I came back to Damascus a year later on a short hiking trip, and we stayed at one of the hostels in town. Also at the hostel were two young guys who were biking across the country, from San Francisco to Yorktown. We stayed up that night talking to them about their trip for hours, and I remember commenting to Seth, "We should do that and your dad should come along." Three years later here we are doing just that, and to ride into Damascus today felt like a huge accomplishment. We talked about Damascus all the way back in Nevada, and being here now feels almost unreal.
My parents rented a cottage here in town, and my sister and niece came as well. It's a cozy place that will be great for a zero. :) Josh and Claudia made it here too and they are camping with Josh's family outside of town. As Josh puts it, we're taking the big "Z" in the big "D"!