Category Archives: USA

A long overdue update!

It’s hard to believe we’ve been home for almost 3 months now. It still feels like just a few days ago we were halfway across the world. Hopefully now that things have settled down some we will be able to slowly fill you all in on our trip from Berlin onward. But before we get started on that, a little bit about being home.

The first couple days after arriving back in Atlanta were a whirlwind of seeing friends and family who we hadn’t seen in a long time. We had a little party to get people together and catch up which was really nice. We wanted to serve some of our favorite foods from the trip so we ran all over the city and managed to find an awesome Turkish-Balkan grocery store not too far away! It was really cool to see all the now familiar foods from the trip and we were able to get some fresh breads and homemade Burek! (we were pretty excited). We had a great time getting to see everyone who was able to come to our party, and not nearly enough time to catch up with everyone there.

After the first couple weeks of just getting our lives back together again things went pretty much back to normal for me (Haegan) back working and riding my bike just like I had been before. Autumn got to catch up with some of the kids she used to babysit, but pretty soon she was getting ready for the next adventure, heading off to school. In between all that we got to hang out and ride bikes some and Autumn did her first bike race! (which I failed to get a picture of…) And just like that 3 weeks flew by and she was off to school.

Autumn is up at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minniesnowduh. It’s a long way away, but luckily just two and a half weeks after she left I was able to find a $30 round trip flight and surprised her by visiting for the weekend. She was pretty shocked (and still half asleep with no contacts in) when I showed up thanks to some help keeping it a secret from her roommate. Those first few weeks were really hard for both of us, it’s a strange transition to go from not spending more than 3 hours away from someone for 5 months to not seeing them at all. I was left trying to figure out what to do day to day to keep busy and Autumn was overwhelmed with so many new things. When we originally got home and thought back, we could only think of a handful of times where we were apart for more than a few minutes (which makes me wonder how we didn’t kill each other, but we didn’t) so it has been a process adjusting to the whole long distance thing.

I was prompted to write this having just come back from spending a week visiting for fall break . The 16 hour 1100 mile drive back left me thinking about the trip and how much I miss the slow paced travel on the bikes. We are already looking forward to some future trips once we recuperate some savings from the last trip. It was great to get up to visit for more than just two days and actually get a chance to see some of the surrounding area. We got to go visit Autumn’s home town (and old house) in Northfield and see some of the Twin Cities. I was a bit late to see fall in full effect, but the trees had just turned and it was still quite pretty.

Riding around St. Paul

Goodbye Blue Monday Coffee

Stone Arch Bridge

Don’t worry, we still take goofy pictures
Hopefully one of these days we will catch up on some back-dated posts about all the other amazing things we saw and did (I have a journal detailing every day to help remind us) Thanks so much to everyone who followed along from home and everyone we met along the way, it wouldn’t have been the same without you all!

That’s all for now, we are both alive and well and back to our normal lives as we continue to plan for more extraordinary adventures as soon as possible!

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Hard Labor

Yesterday we got back from our first real loaded trip. We packed up all our gear that we’ll have for the next 5 months and rode 60 miles out to Hard Labor Creek State Park. (Autumn would like to add that it was indeed hard labor.) The first day went pretty well. After a little bit of panic in the morning of thinking we wouldn’t able to fit everything, we got everything packed up and hit the road by 11 am.

Bikes all loaded up
Bikes all loaded up

It was pretty cold at the start but once we got going the temperature was okay. As usual, the roads getting out of the city were busy, and made for less than ideal riding, but eventually the roads mellowed out and became a lot more scenic.

Gum Creek Courthouse c.1888
Gum Creek Courthouse c.1888

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With our late start and lower than anticipated speeds due to how much weight we had on the bikes, we arrived a bit after dark and had just enough time to get everything set up before the rain began.

Autumn as we near the end of the day
Autumn as we near the end of the day

The campsite was nice and very empty (I guess we’re the only ones dumb enough to go camping in late February with a forecast for rain the next day). We settled in and fell asleep to the sound of rain on the tent.

When we woke up it was wet and cold outside. It had rained all night but we were nice and dry in the tent. We broke camp and headed out. It was not raining hard, almost more of a heavy mist than rain but at 33 degrees on a bike you get cold pretty fast and within the first half hour, even with thick gloves, our hands were frozen. We had to stop somewhere to thaw out. 10 miles in we reached Social Circle and stopped to get coffee and warm up a little, unsure of how we could possibly deal with the current conditions all the way home. We texted my mom to see about meeting her in Lithonia, another 30 miles from Social Circle so as to save ourselves at least one hour of suffering. After all, 60 miles is well more than we are planning on riding on a typical day of our trip, especially with the weather we were riding in. We sat at Buckeyes restaurant for at least 30 or 40 minutes drinking coffee and eating johnny cakes  until we could feel our hands again and then headed out. It was immediately better, as if that stop was all we needed. The small town hospitality and slightly warmer temperatures turned our whole day around.

Misty fields
Misty fields

A bit after we left my mom called saying she was on her way to meet us, which we weren’t expecting at the time. She thought with the bad weather that was rolling in and the fact that we leave in 8 days, it wasn’t worth risking getting sick riding in the cold. So we only ended up riding about 22 miles total before getting picked up in Covington, but we made it through the worst of it and felt as if we certainly could have finished the day.

Despite the somewhat miserable conditions and a few challenges the test run went really well and showed us that we’re ready for this trip. Sure there will be a lot of hard days ahead of us, but we can manage just fine.

Note from Autumn:

I felt as though I had been cruelly pushed back 6 months. Back to when I had no idea what riding for extended periods of time was like, when riding 40 miles made my whole body ache. It seemed a little unfair. I didn’t train all those months simply to be back at the place I started.  I guess though, that when you add an extra 25 pounds (or possibly more) all at once, everything gets a whole lot more difficult. Then on day two, throw in some rain, near freezing temperatures, and an unwelcome visit from mother nature… I was about as miserable as I’ve ever been riding.

However, it is reassuring to know that we will never have days quite as bad as day two. We have rest days built in and we will ride longer days when it’s nice, giving us more flexibility when we need a day off. And really, after the coffee break Haegan mentioned (Folgers has never tasted so good), it really wasn’t all that bad. Here is what I have to add to my list of things I have learned:

– Hiking songs work for riding too

– Coffee actually does fix everything

– Quality coffee is completely relative

– The worst will pass eventually