I couldn't have been happier to spend the night in a cheap motel. The storm that ripped through overnight would have tested both the waterproof nature of my tent and my ability to properly stake out a rainfly. Also, the lightning would have probably taken me out, much like it had taken out the motel's cable and internet. This was clearly not the front desk worker's first thunderstorm.
By morning, though, both clear skies and cable television had returned, allowing me to catch up on Law & Order while I got ready for the day. I know the joke about Law & Order always being on no matter the hour is a dead horse, but all beatings aside, it really is on all the time. Hand on the bedside bible, every morning spent in a motel had a TV playing L&O in the background.
When I hit the road, the storm had, thankfully, taken some of the heat out with it. While still in the 80's, it at least felt like the lower, temperate 80's, not the high, practically 90's, 80's I had grown very tired of. My miles for the day were also going to be in the low 80s. I could handle an 80/80. Almost seemed like a vacation after all the 90/90 days.
That day, the turtle parade continued. Baby turtles and tortoises everywhere. I even moved some from the middle of the road, thwarting suicidal plots along the way. Here's one of the little reptiles I saved from itself:
After a beautiful morning of riding, with only a little light drizzle, I stopped in Keysville, VA for lunch. Motels and expensive campgrounds may have thrashed my budget, but there was always Subway for a cheap lunch. Come to think of it, that's not an exaggeration, and there always is a Subway. It's like the fast food equivalent of Law & Order. Seriously, go to even the smallest of small towns, and if they have electricity, they'll probably have a Subway. There should be a cross-market collaboration between the two of them. I'd buy a Stabler Special or a Benson Lettuce and Tomato.
I used my lunchtime downtime to give my mom a call. She is a worrier, so phone calls are requisite for the prevention of missing persons reports. Anyway, towards the end of our conversation, she asked if I wanted to stop riding yet, because she'd be happy to drive the 370 miles down to Keysville to pick me up if I wanted. I declined, assuring her that I'd much rather spend those miles on a bicycle than in a car. I'm thankful she doesn't watch Law & Order, or her worrying would be even worse.
Just few miles from Keysville, the rain began. It didn't begin as a drizzle, it began as rain. Actually, it wasn't rain. It was a million wet fingers poking me repeatedly; persistently. The rain was a sibling in the backseat of a minivan on a long drive to Ohio, and now matter how many times I yelled to the parents in the front, it couldn't be stopped. The rain was a 10-year-old with ADHD. I hated that rain so much.
And that rain would persist all damn day. All the way to Bear Creek Lake State Park. Well, just outside of the park. The rain stopped just before I started to navigate the park's winding roads on my way to finding the heavily price-gouged tent camping on the far side of the lake. The park was mostly empty of occupants and entirely empty of employees, so I found what looked to be the cheapest flat pad site (according to confusing signage) and laid claim. After unpacking and pitching, I headed to the showers. I know I was already soaked, but I wanted to be warm soaked, not cold soaked.
I got back to my tent as the rain started up again. I was happy to be done for the day, but not looking forward to breaking down in the rain in the morning. Everything I had was soaked. Everything I had was going to stay soaked for the foreseeable future. I had 300 miles standing between myself and Philadelphia. That was only three more days of rainy riding. How much mildew could develop in three days?