I stopped at a roadside mom and pop motel left over from the days when the secondary road was the main road carrying traffic north and south. The motel was on the outskirts of a small town called Chester in South Carolina.
My plan was to make the trip on less than $500 a week. The campground had cost me $7 but the motel was $38 for a shower and a comfortable bed. I’m pretty sure it was worth it.
With any luck at all day three would end with me at least in Georgia, I thought. I left on day three in a clean new tee shirt from the five tee shirts. Each had a different colors but were the exact same design. They came in a bundle from Walmart. I had also purchased two, three packs of panties, so I had one extra of those. Yes I could have brought my old ones and save the ten bucks, but I was just in a starting over mood. The trip was supposed to clear my mind.
I stopped for breakfast in one of those small town restaurants just one step above a greasy spoon. I parked the Sprint outside in the gravel parking lot, near the front door, before I entered the building which was covered with house siding. I chose it because I saw two pedal bikes out front. They were both painted with what looked like a racing team’s design. There was also a small Toyota with the same color scheme in the parking lot.
I carried my helmet in to prevent it being stolen, but also to help introduce me to the bike riders. I nodded as I passed their booth. I slipping into the booth behind them.
The waitress was younger than any other I had seen on my trip thus far. “What you having today?” she asked cheerfully.
“I think I would like a bacon egg and cheese biscuit and lots of black coffee,” I replied.
After she had gone the older pedal biker asked, “You from around here?”
“No, and I don’t think you are either,” I suggested.
“No, we are from New Jersey,” the younger of the two riders said.
“You guys have pedaled a long way,” I commented.
“Yes and my legs know it,” the younger one continued.
“I could never handle that. I am on a Sprint Moped,” I said.
“Oh it must be rough to be hated by everyone on the road,” The female Toyota driver said. She was obviously the older man’s wife. “Damn that didn’t sound right. I meant the car driver hate us and we hear a lot of them cursing us. Bicycle riders think Moped riders are even farther down the hierarchy of road users.”
“That didn’t sound much better,” I said laughing. “I’m a lawyer, so I’m used to everybody hating me, till they get to know me. When they do, they still pretty much hate me.”
“She didn’t mean anything,” the older man said. “Marg, had no filters. She just says whatever she is thinking at that moment.”
“I like that,” I said. “Makes it easier to use her words against her, if I ever need to.” I did smile to lighten the load.
“So where you headed?” the younger one asked to break the tension.
“Eventually I plan to make it to California, but it’s along ride on the Tomos. I have only been about two hundred miles so far,” I admitted. “I have no idea when or if I will finish the trip.”
“You all alone?” Marg asked.
“Yeah, just me,” I replied.
“Are you camping along the way?” the younger man asked.
“Some, the plan is to camp a couple of nights, then stay in a motel one night.”
“So how in the world do you manage without anybody to bring your equipment?” the older man asked.
“I have a trailer with a milk crate full of stuff,” I replied.
“How in the world do you get enough supplies in a milk crate,” Marge continued. She had obviously decided to put me in my place. She shouldn’t have bothered. I already knew that I was an ill prepared rookie at this sort of thing.
“By a pros standards, I don’t have enough I’m sure. I’m just out to have some fun and clear my mind. I’m not working on any records or trying to prove anything. It’s all about the sights, sounds, and the people I meet along the way.
“Well we need to get on the road,” the older guy said to break the tension again. I watched as he pulled something from his pocket. On closer inspection I saw that it was a driver’s license, a credit card, and a few bills all held together by an couple of inch wide loop of bicycle inner tube. Now that sure as hell beat my wallet. Even though the wallet was purchased especially for the trip it was headed for the trash as soon as I found some bicycle inner tube.
“I really like your money clip,” I said with a laugh. “You don’t sell those do you?”
“Hell no, but I’m sure we have a piece of an old inner tube you can have. I’ll bring you a piece before we leave,” the younger of the two riders said smiling. Marge looked rather unhappy at the thought. “We use them for everything. Bits of inner tubes are like big ass rubber bands,” he added.
“I really would appreciate it. Anything to make my life easier would be appreciated,” I said.
My food came as they walked to the register. I was half finished when the young man came in with the three inch wide piece of tube. You are going to have to cut it yourself Mom is insisting we get moving.”
“Well good luck to you guys,” I said. “And thanks.”
He smiled and nodded as he headed for the door. I watched the two bikes head off in the direction I planned to go myself. After I finished my food, I sat at the table and cleaned out my wallet. I put the five twenty dollar bills and the wad of ones into a pile on the table. Then I went through the junk in my wallet. I didn’t need the insurance cards in my pocket or the other bits and pieces of my old life. I put them in storage both mentally and physically. I planned to put them into the trailers somewhere.
I paid the bill and returned the change to my pile of money which I had transfered to my pocket. I needed to cut the tube to about half the width of a credit card.
“Sweetie, since you guys aren’t busy, do you have scissors I can borrow to cut this?” I held the inner tube up for her to see. How big you need? We have kitchen shears that will do that no problem,” she suggested.
Cut it in half for me please, I sure will appreciate it.” I said. When she came back I assembled the packet just like the biker had his.
The waitress watched me do it and said, “What a great idea. You can just stick that in your jeans pocket and go for a run, or to a kid’s ballgame and then out for pizza and have your money and ID.”
“That’s what I thought when I saw that biker with his,” I agreed. “Here since you helped me out, why don’t you take this other half.” I handed her the second bit of bike inner tube then I headed out.
The sprint fired right up and I took off following the trail of the bikes. I passed them within fifteen minutes. I was doing about twenty five miles and hour when I passed them and they were moving right along as well.
I found a campground in a town a few miles from Athens Georgia to spend that third night. I was very pleased with my progress. It wasn’t dark when I found my little space. I was surrounded by campers and even a tent or two so I didn’t think security would be a problem. All the spaces had an electrical outlet, which meant, for a change. I would have coffee that didn’t taste like dirt.
In my little trailer I had a twenty foot roll of heavy nylon cord. It wasn’t anywhere near a rope, but I thought it might do to make a tent of sorts if it decided to rain on me. If not, my plan was to sleep on the ground again.
I left the trailer on my space to mark my intention to return, then I rode the Sprint out to find food. I love fast food. It is my one great weakness. That being the case I was thrilled to find the Taco Take Out restaurant in the small shopping area on the very edge of Athens.
I passed it so that I could fill up my gas tank first. That came from a convenience store, where I also purchased a cold Coke in a can. Then it was Taco Take Out. Back at the park I sat at my picnic table to enjoy the food. It was a little disconcerting to have neighbors close enough to watch me eat, but I could ignore them I decided.
“I love that bike,” the man next door said. He was in a motor home of course.
“Thanks, so far I do as well,” I agreed.
“So where are you going to sleep tonight?” he asked quickly adding, “If you don’t mind me asking.”
“On the ground probably under the picnic table.” I said.
“What if it rains?” he asked. He appeared to be a nice man who was just trying to do a good deed. Even as a lawyer I believed in Santa sometimes.
“Then it will be a miserable night,” I admitted with a smile.
“If it rains you can come knock on my door. Since the family decided to skip the fishing, I have enough room for one more.” he suggested.
“I’ll keep it in mind,” I agreed.
“My name is Edward,” he said.
“Nice to meet you Edward. They call me Amber,” I said making the name up on the spot. I decided right then that I would never give anyone I met on the trip my real name. I hadn’t decided who I was going to be when I got home anyway.
“It nice to meet you Amber,” he said. “You are welcome to come over anytime.”
“Like I said, I’ll keep that in mind, if it rains,” I replied.
I surfed the web then went to bed on my plastic tarp covered by a thin cotton blanket and the other half of the tarp. I slept well until, you guessed it, it started to rain in the middle of the night. I heard the storm before I felt the first drop of water. I managed to get awake enough to be ready for the water. When it began, I had my plan ready. I quickly and not so carefully folded the blanket. I put it inside the trailer, then covered the while thing with half of the tarp. I was trying to decide whether I could sit under the other half of the tarp and wait for morning, when the downpour started. I was soaked and chilled in less than five minutes.
I knocked on the door of the motor home where Edward was sleeping. “Hi is that offer of shelter me from the rain still good?” I asked.
“Of course, come on in,” he said. I was surprised that he looked younger than I had remembered. He was also very handsome in a redneck kind of way. He was the kind of guy I had grown up around. He was certainly not the kind of man I had known since college.
“You are soaked, why don’t you get a towel and dry off while I try to find you something dry to wear,” he suggested.
It sounded like a really good idea. I know that in movies the soaking wet girl, once she is dry and half naked, is all grateful and ready to get laid, but not me. I was all about getting back to sleep. I put on the tee shirt he handed me through the half open door. He most likely got a glimpse of my soft old body. I hung my wet clothes over the shower rod to dry. They weren’t going to dry much but at least they would dry some maybe.
I walked out of the bathroom in just his tee shirt which covered me pretty well. “You go on back to sleep, I’ll just lay on the sofa till morning,” I suggested.
“You know there is room in my bed for two,” he said.