"Rollers," as the locals like to call them.
Riding out the storm at McDonald’s. Again. McDonald’s rest-stops have become a regularly scheduled event in our lives. As vegetarians and self confessed health nuts, who would have thought we’d scan the horizon for the golden arches, but nothing surprises me on this trip.
Turns out, the milkshakes are great, and Ronald supplies free wifi, air conditioning and ice water. (But, Puleeeeze, don’t think I’m endorsing McDonald’s outside the context of an insane trek across the country on a bicycle. To be clear, I’m not). But, in bicycle touring world, what more could two sweaty, ravenous, and internet deprived bike tourists want? So, check out this storm.
We dodged storms like this all day, and I was at the end of my rope with it. Yeah, it’s exciting the first time, but once you notice that you are forever scanning the horizon examining the clouds in a way you’ve never done before while pedaling through the middle of nowhere, it starts to become a little unnerving. Is that a Cumulonimbus in the making on the horizon? It looks so big and fluffy in the distance, but what havoc will it bring as it approaches? What’s the worst that can happen? I ask myself. It’s sort of rhetorical, so there’s no need to actually answer.
So, we outran the aforementioned monster and ended up in the safe zone of McDonald’s. We ordered our milkshakes, and sat around pondering where we would stay for the night. It wasn’t looking good. Our original plan was to free camp at the town’s park, but the rain was coming down in sheets, and there was lightening and thunder going off like a bomb. I ease-dropped on a teenager’s cell phone call and heard her utter in between her slurps of milkshake the phrase “like yeah, dude, severe thunderstorm with possible freaking rotation, OMG!!!!!”. Eeeeek. I was worried.
But, just then, in walk Rhonda and Terry, halos and all, for some smoothies. Turns out, they are cyclists and we began to chit-chat about our tour and before you know it, Rhonda invited us to come back to her place, which was three miles away, for the night. She gave us her number and address, and promptly headed out the door for, you guessed it . . . church.
Initially, we were not planning to take her up on her offer, because the town had a park that allowed free camping for the night and the Born-Again from the previous night was a little too pushy with the questions, and a little too persistent about wanting to “save” us right there on the spot. But, the storm just wouldn’t let up. So, we sat and checked for hotels close by. Even if we wanted to stay with Rhonda, who seemed nice enough, riding to her house in this weather would have been impossible.
Just when I was really starting to get worried, in walks Rhonda, bare-foot and soaked with an inverted, wind-blown umbrella in her hand ...and surely you know how this story ends. Rescued again by Christians! And, it’s such a mixed bag. Rhonda was sweet, she was nice, she boisterously exclaimed that she was so happy we were still at McD’s, because she would have driven to all the parks in the area looking for us. Who would have done that? I mean, a Christian would-- and that is kindness, pure and simple.
She had brought her tiny pickup truck, and we were able to squeeze everything into the truck, and she drove us to her place for the night. But, not long after we arrived, the questions started. Questions like, “how do you two know each other?” and “you’re both single, right?” and, “No husbands or kids?” followed by a inquisitive look. And, then I’m put into a position that is so uncomfortable. I have to lie. Brooke and I literally sat there and said that we were indeed single! How awful is that? Again, rhetorical, so no need to answer. Sometimes I feel like Homer Simpson taking advantage of all of the Ned Flanders of the world. It’s hard. It’s like I’m some buffoon sinner, going about my business taking advantage of the Christian next door. Sure I’ll eat your fried fish, and Yes, I’d love a free place to sleep tonight! I feel manipulative because I can’t be truthful. I honestly don’t know what Terry would have said had I replied that Brooke and I have been in a relationship together for over two years. Would he have thrown me out into the storm, where surely I would have been struck by lightening for my beliefs. And, it’s not like I’m anti-Christian, as I said before, the Christians have been so accommodating and kind and I’ve felt their message of love and kindness many times on this trip. But, I wonder what will happen when I tell them the truth about me? But, for now i feel like i’m a total cop out for keeping my mouth shut. Thoughts?
So, before the round of storms, I was pedaling along happily humming a Lady Gaga song and spotted this little guy! Pretty cool. (Yes, I moved him off the road to the safety of the ditch.)I also got some photos of some butterflies and the sky before it turned crazy.