Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Final Countdown

Day 56: Stupid Bikes

Well... about 15 miles into our ride Carolyn's bike got a piece of wire stuck in the chain, causing her bicycle to stop working. We couldn't get it out, and the next town was 30 miles down the road... so we had to go backwards (where we came from) and walk our bikes. And then it started pouring down rain. 
Let's just say the struggle was as real as it gets. 
We got back to Danville in the late afternoon and met some handy man who got the wire out of her chain. The weather was horrible so we couldn't camp, and we really couldn't stay in a hotel again.. So we resorted to using a website called Warm Showers (a site for bicyclists) and contacted a woman from the area to see if we could stay with her. We hadn't used the site previously because we didn't know about it.. we we're a little nervous.. 
but there was no reason to be. We ended up staying with some of the nicest/most down to earth people we have ever met. Kristin and Ron Saunders... you guys rock. Kristin shared with us her program called "Womanly Journey" which essentially is a program to help out girls who need it. She gave us these bracelets as a gift. 

Kristin and Ron cooked us grilled salmon, washed our clothes, and even catered to our weird desire to watch a documentary on Amish people. They are true hosts.

Day 57: People Are Good
Danville- Norfolk
Ron fixing up Carolyn's bike 
Kristin and Ron loaded up our bicycles in their truck and were going to drive us to where Carolyn's bike broke down the day before, but they ended up driving us a bit further to where the weather wasn't thunder and lightning. 
Kristin left us with some words of wisdom: 
"Get busy being yourself"
"You already succeeded the second you started."

She went above and beyond anything we ever expected... Kristin, we love you!!!

After Kristin dropped us off we started down the road on our bicycles. About 50 miles in... we got pulled over. 
And I'm not kidding. Pulled over on our bikes by a cop.. (Riding dirty)

We stopped at a gas station and met this gem of a man. We ended up staying for an hour and learning all about his life, he gave us free reign of the store and let us blast our music and dance around (no shame). We were fast friends. 

Warm Showers (the bicycling website) worked so well the night before that we decided to try it out again... 
and it lived up to its reputation. We stayed with an awesome couple who made us a gourmet meal  and homemade sangria. They were also absolutely HILARIOUS... We had SO much fun with Kim and Dave!!

Day 58: WE FLIPPIN MADE IT!!!!!!
Norfolk- Virginia Beach
Some relatable quotes around the house that we were staying at. On our last day of riding it was so fitting to be surrounded by these!
last day of riding... overly excited
This is Kim, the lady we stayed with. She is a bicyclist and rode with us today! 
and......... THE ATLANTIC OCEAN!!!!!!!!! There were tears. And the biggest grins you will ever see.
This is genuinely one of the happiest moments of our lives!! 
From the Mohave dessert to the Rocky Mountains, from the Grand Canyon to the Appalachian Mountains, from the Indian Reservation to Downtown Nashville, from Huntington Beach to Virginia Beach...from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean... it was all worth it. Today was one of the happiest moments of our lives because we can confidently say that we are proud of ourselves, and that is a feeling I think every person should experience. Thank you to everyone who believed in and supported us, from the bottom of our hearts we appreciate you all. 

Checked into the hotel Joani's Grama got us! Ocean front hotel- Kyla Marcher you are amazing!!
talk about that view

Day 59: Happiness
Virginia Beach
going to get deep tissue massages that Carolyn's awesome sister Katie bought us!!! literally we were on cloud 9. Also looking like freaks walking our bikes in dresses and disgusting tan lines.

It was Joani's first massage and she had a 300 pound male man doing it.......... So that's good....... 
And then we checked into our second hotel, courtesy of Carolyn's wonderful Grandparents.. look at that view and the pool!! We were in paradise!! We love you guys! Oh, and just for the record, we got the honeymoon suite... Again.
We couldn't have asked for a better place to hit the coast- Virginia Beach is amazing and we loved our time there. 

Day 60-63: The Adventure Continues
Virginia Beach- Williamsburg

We are off towards DC!
pit stop at Busch Gardens...
with our new friend Autumn! 
The night before we checked in at the Williamsburg KOA and met an awesome group of kids our age! They are working there during the summer as apart of a Christian organization, and they upgraded our tent site to a cabin and took us out to dinner with them! 
Busch Gardens was an absolute blast- but Lord knows we couldn't afford it. Thank you SO MUCH to Dave and Jeani Stockton who made it possible... This was one of the most fun parts of the entire trip!

After Busch Gardens we headed over to another family's house that we found on Warm Showers! This is their cat Woody
And this is Barb. She and her husband, Ed, are just wonderful. We were only going to stay with her for the night and be on our way, but she invited us to stay with them for a couple days and then drive us up to DC on Saturday. Since we already hit the coast we were SOOOOO over riding the bikes.. we took her up on her offer. 
We got to go hangout with our KOA friends again..
and went to one of their birthday dinners! We spent our time in Williamsburg relaxing and watching all of the episodes of The Bachelorette with Barb. She even dealt with us doing Zumba videos in her living room.... Sorry, Barb......

Day 64-66: USA USA USA
Williamsburg- DC 

Barb's husband drove us to DC early Saturday morning..
and he dropped us off at Joani's cousins' Joe!!
Joe took us to see Arlington National Cemetery and to the area's biggest mall. 
And the rest of our time in DC was spent with these lovely ladies. Joani's best friend Kayley moved up to DC with her husband for the summer, and we stayed with them for the remainder of our time there. Jessica, a dear old friend, came out from Baltimore and we all went sight seeing around DC. Kayley also put up with us while we figured out how to get out bikes back home.... And let me tell you NEVER DO THAT. It was harder than riding our bikes across the country. 

Day 67: Until Next Time

But don't worry we figured it out. 
Then we found this guy on Craigslist to drive us and our giant bike boxes to the airport. Thanks Roy 
The final struggle
And we got to end our trip by meeting these men. They are headed overseas for 6 months, we shared our mission and they shared theirs. God bless them for their services to our country. 

We were going to title this "The End", but it's not. An "Until Next Time" is more appropriate. Maybe not another Mission:USA.... but this trip has been the spark to many more adventures in our futures, and we truly hope it has served as the same for you. 

We can't explain the gratitude we have for everyone who has helped us along the way and those who have supported us from home. Your kindness will NOT be forgotten!!! 

If you're reading this... go live out your mission. At least try. What's stopping you? 

With love- 
Joani Dahmen and Carolyn Murray

"Sometimes, you find yourself in the middle of nowhere.. and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself." 

(In about a week we will be posting a short video of the trip!) 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Barefoot And Crazy

Well this past week and a half has been interesting to say the least, we are definitely in a different part of the country. From hillbillies to mountain men and everything in between.

Day 47: No Shoes, No Shirt... No Problem
Pleasant Hill- Alcoa
the only photo from today... clearly it was a struggle. 

We woke up in sketchville and rode through some more sketchville to find ourselves in... sketchy-mcsketchville. 
At a gas station we met a man named Milton, who taught us what he said to be one of life's most important lessons: how to catch a rattlesnake. And that they're pretty tasty. So... yeah. 

We set up our tent in the pouring down rain in the middle of nowhere. Goodnight? 

Day 48: Old Glory Flying
And we woke up to this homeboy outside our tent. We couldn't really understand a word he was saying though (thick southern accent problems). 
We also woke up in a puddle. In our tent. POOL PARTY?!?!!! 

seems legit..
And we made it to Knoxville, Tennessee! We checked into a hotel courtesy of the awesome Pete Williams, Carolyn's dad's coworker, who follows our blog and wanted to give us a good nights sleep. You da man Pete! 
The hotel we stayed at had a shuttle service.. which we kindly turned into our personal taxi.. and got a tour of UT! and Starbucks...

We spent the 4th of July in downtown Knoxville enjoying the festival/fireworks
we also thought this would be a fun idea.. Joani's back didn't think it was fun though.

Day 49: Babies And A Basset hound 
Knoxville- Morristown
we're such ladies.. so clean 
It rained on us while biking today.... which is not fun. We made it to Morristown and pulled into a fruit stand, where we met the lovely Gina. Gina and her mother work the fruit stand, and after talking for a bit, they invited us to come stay the night with them. We stored our bikes in the back of their fruit truck..
And went to their lovely home out in the country for the night!

Here's Cliff.. he didn't like us. Cliff sucks.
And here's a baby, who doesn't suck. The picture's a little blurry but this was the cutest/happiest baby. 
And then there was Gina's homemade jewelry that she gave us to remember her by. 
And then there was Carolyn's sunburn... lookin pretty good!

Day 50: Thank God For Grandmas
Morristown- Johnson City

another day... another gas station. This picture was taken by our new friend Amber, the cashier at the Shell station. Amber's a homie. 

At lunch, we stopped at a Subway and decided to take a nap on the pavement outside. Well, Joani slept in the booth inside, where an old woman kindly said to her, "Excuse me sir, is that your girlfriend outside?" When Joani turned around, the woman explained how sorry she was and said that from behind, she thought Joani was a boy... That was the end of the flannel for Joani. RIP flannel. 

We made it to Johnson City.. With a lot of struggle. So. Much. Rain. 
We had flash flood warnings, so Joani's Grandma got us a hotel for the night. Turns out she literally checked us into a flippin palace.. nicest hotel either of us have ever stayed at. Thanks Grams!

Day 51: Rain Is A Good Thing
Johnson City
Outside the hotel with some lion thing.. the bellhop wanted to take our pic..
but we didn't make it too far that day! 5 miles down the road flash floods decided to be a real thing.. and we found ourselves stranded at the mall trying to wait out the storm...
well the storm didn't go away so we checked into a hotel across the street (thanks Carolyn's mom and dad). The hotel workers thought we were nuts and gave us free breakfast. 
That night for dinner we went next door to Olive Garden. The manager payed for half of our bill and the rest of the work crew went together to pay for the other half. Like what even?! I think we are the luckiest people. Shout out to Olive Garden and to their breadsticks.

Johnson City, Tennessee- Damascus, Virginia
On our ride today we stopped at a Walmart for lunch and met Kris! She showed us her bike tattoo ... So she's pretty legit.
So legit, in fact, that she gave us some Kind bars and $10. 
The last glimpse of Tennessee until...
We reached Virginia... And missed a state sign, once again. Our friends at the Bristol Starbucks made us a lovely and accurate state sign because we were so upset that we missed it. 
After a long, hard day, we stopped at a grocery store and met David, a man who owns a bed and breakfast in Damascus. He offered us his spare apartment to stay in for the night...
And it was amazing.

Day 53: God Gave Me You For The Ups And Downs 
Damascus- Independence 
Oh, did we mention that we're in the Appalachians? Aka we're biking mountains. #thestrugglenumber9millionthousandsevenhundredbillion
Pretty safe. 
Stuck in yet another storm, we chilled in McDonald's for longer than anyone should ever chill in McDonald's. This old woman overheard us talking about our trip and held this expression long enough for Joani to take out her phone and snap a pic. She thought we were actually crazy and we thought she was going into cardiac arrest. 

That night we pulled into Independence (how much more American can it get?) and a local directed us to a nearby church, where we met the pastor who put us up for the night. Thank you First United Methodist Church!!!

Day 54: Is This Real Life?
Independence- Stuart
Pouring down rain. FML. Isn't this supposed to be July? What's happening. Who am I. No one knows.
After the sketchiest day of our entire lives (we won't go into detail for the sake of our parents' mental health), we met Sarah and her husband, Kenny. 
They drove us from the grocery store to the only motel in town because it was pouring down rain. What else is new? 

Let's talk about this motel. 
Here's a wonderful review of the super amazing 5 star motel we stayed at. Carolyn's dad sent us a pic of the reviews online... Pretty legit. Also the owner didn't speak English, had no teeth, and walked around in his underpants. Also pretty legit. 

Day 55: Another Day In The Life
Good weather again! At least we're almost out of the Appalachians...
And at least we met Doris, world's cutest old lady. She literally could not have been more excited to take a photo with Joani. She may or may not have thought we were celebrities. It's cool. She gave us $20 for lunch because she wanted to be a part of our journey in some way.

Thanks to more rain, flash floods and thunder and lightning outside our window, we are currently in another motel. No really... Thanks. And thanks to Joani's grandma again!!!

And here's a sneak peak at a project we've been working on:
along the way people have told us that our journey is "inspiring", but we didn't feel inspiring just riding our bicycles, if anything we have felt inspired by the kind acts of people we have met along the way. We wanted to pay it forward, to share the inspiration. At least 20 times a day people stop and ask us where we are going and what we are doing, and after we tell them we get a response along the lines of "I wish I could do something like that". Well the thing is... you can. We started asking everyone we met, if they could do anything in the world, nothing holding them back, what would they do. We call our trip "Mission: USA". We ask people what their mission is, and we encourage them to go do it. 

With a week and a half left, our journey is coming to an end but we both know we're still bound to have more adventures. Here's to hopefully making it to Virginia Beach in the next couple of days!

"By replacing fear of the unknown with curiosity we open ourselves up to an infinite stream of possibility"