The Adventures Continue…
A couple of days ago Ale and I received a text from our good friend Bailey saying she was in DC until Monday (this was Friday). Ale and I were overly excited about the possibility of making it to DC in time to visit and hang out with her, so we really pushed the limits. We asked locals about different roads and bought state maps to find the shortest most efficient route from Charlottesville to DC. Our excitement and overzealousness ended up getting us into a bit of trouble in the process of getting there, but thankfully I am blogging now, so we are still alive.
We had spent a long time in Charlottesville, because, let’s be honest, it’s awesome. Absurdly overpriced, but still awesome. We were planning a birthday lunch for Hugh, but ended up being taken out to lunch by a nice couple we met on the street. Rosanne and Tom were curious about our adventure and offered us food, so of course we took them up on it. We all sat around and told stories and ate BBQ sandwiches; it was perfect. We thanked them and said our goodbyes before heading to a frozen yogurt shop for second lunch. The yogurt place was self serve (price based on weight), which was obviously dangerous… mine cost $8. whoops.
We then said our goodbyes to Hugh, who was headed towards Yorktown, and made our way towards Fredericksburg (our hopeful final destination for the night). The roads we were on were ok, not much of a shoulder, but Ale assured me they were cutting off lots of mileage, so we both decided it was worth it. The traffic existed but was not overwhelming, so it was a decent ride. At some point Ale casually mentioned a right turn on 3, which I assumed would be more of the same sort of roads. This was not the case.
By the time we got to 3 it was dark and we turned on without much thought. I soon realized that 3 was a much much bigger road and had a speed limit of 55 and two lanes that were packed full of aggressive Virginia drivers. There was a shoulder that existed for 20 feet, so I had just enough time to look back at Ale and give her the, “life in danger” look. She told me 3 was the only way to Fredericksburg, so we kept riding. The cars seemed to go faster and faster and get closer and closer to us. I was seriously worried about our lives. I was so scared that I started losing vision and my legs and arms felt numb. I told myself I was over reacting and maybe I was just bonking, so I thought some food would help the situation (usually my go to). I ripped a bar from my back pocket and furiously started eating it. I finished the whole bar (within seconds) before I realized more than half the wrapped was missing. I felt an uncomfortable object lodged in my throat and panicked. “OMG I ATE THE *&^%ING WRAPPER!” I calmly thought to myself.
I would laugh about this later, but at the time I was freaking out. I knew that if I had been terrified enough to eat a wrapper without noticing, I was probably in serious danger. I tried to think of things I was grateful for (my insanely strong bike light was number one on the list), and then I started picturing a hotel or campsite right around every corner. Eventually, my visualization technique paid off. We saw a fancy campsite place that looked very promising. We pulled up and asked the ranger if we could camp there for the night. “Yes, we have plenty of room” he replied, “that is of course if you have an elite membership?”
“Um no, we don’t have any sort of membership, we are biking and scared out of our minds on that highway, so we thought we would ask about camping here.” I said desperately. The ranger seemed nice enough and nodded understandingly about the situation. He was amazed that we had made it from California and we small talked for a while. I secretly thought we had this one in the bag and he was going to let us camp even though we weren’t members. No such luck. He ended the conversation saying, “well good luck, it’s incredibly dangerous on 3, so I hope you guys make it. i’m so sorry you don’t have a membership, we would have taken you in no problem if you did.”
what? seriously? This was the first time we had been rejected by someone who could have helped us. I guess we had been used to the southern hospitality and human kindness most people showed us.
As we road away, Ale and I talked (shouted over the traffic) about how insane it was to send us away to an almost certain death. Ale said something pretty interesting about something she had heard before, “there are two kinds of people in this world, rules based people and people based people.” So I guess this was our first interaction with the rules based, and it sucked.
About a mile down the road we spotted a battlefield tourist park area and decided to pull off and see if we could set up camp. At this point I would have camped anywhere because I thought riding on 3 was a death sentence, so I was stoked to find that our make shift camping area had lighting and even vending machines. (My standards of sleeping space has really decreased dramatically over the last 3 months). The park area was obviously closed (signs everywhere) and it was illegal for us to be there, but since our lives were in danger, those little details had no meaning to me.
We first thought about staying awake until 3am and then jumping back on the road to hopefully miss traffic, but then we saw some jurassic park bugs and decided to set up our tent and seek shelter. We were just laying down to watch an episode of “parks and recreation” (on my ipad) when we heard some laughing and voices. We both froze and just starred at each other. We also heard music, but it was the voices that made the hair on my body stand on end. It was like it was coming from very far away but all around us at the same time. We both had no idea where it was coming from and started to freak out. I think at one point we just hugged each other and kept thanking each other for being there. I definitely would have lost it if I was alone. I was scared out of my mind.
We then started talking about what each of us were thinking as we were biking along the dangerous 3. Ale said she was thinking, “woo, that was close, woo, I almost died, ok, keep up with Jaimee,” but ultimately she said she just felt very alive and it was thrilling. I had a much different dialogue going through my head. I first thought I was going to die after I had made it all the way to the east coast. I knew that thought would get me no where, so I turned to a much more positive outlook. I imagined a protective bubble surrounding me and Ale that was filled with all of our family’s and friends’ love and support. I imagined that nothing could touch us and we were safe and protected. I then started remembering all the families and friends that had prayed for our safety and I began to feel a little more calm and grateful.
Ale was impressed by my spiritual thoughts and said, “maybe thats why we have had such wonderful things happen to us on this trip; how often do you do the bubble thing? (answer is constantly) Can you do the bubble thing right now?” I promised I would and we continued to talk nervously. About 5 minutes later a cop car pulled up and Ale and I jumped out of the tent to seek help. The cop was incredibly nice and offered to drive us to the nearest hotel in Fredericksburg. We obviously accepted (we didn’t have a choice) and we were all packed within minutes. I don’t think I have ever seen Ale that excited to see a cop. She used to be terrified of them, and now here she was, running full speed to ask for help from them. haha.
We made friends with the nice cop and he told us terrifying stories of the murders and rapes that have happened in the battlefield parks. awesome. We also asked him about the laughing and voices we heard and he didn’t even hesitate before he replied, “ghosts?”
I can’t even tell you how happy I was that he happened to drive by and find us. He also called the Best Western ahead of time and made sure they had a room for us. It was definitely a new experience for me to be escorted to a hotel by a cop. Everyone in the lobby was staring and wondering what kind of criminals we were. haha. When we finally got to the hotel room, I showered and then passed out face down on the most comfortable bed in the world. My heart rate had been so high for so long that I think my body just shut down. I was fricken exhausted and so so so grateful to be in a safe hotel with my best friend. We told stories about that night for hours on the next days ride. It was definitely an experience I will never forget. yay adventures 🙂