Sunday, July 5, 2015
Day 3: Wilmington to Ellicott City
Route: Wilmington, DE to Ellicott City, MD
Mileage: 87 miles
We had a great night's sleep last night, and woke up to our alarm saying it was time to get going. Jen had some yogurt and berries before heading out, as Harry and Tammy raved about their yogurt they had. It was really that good (Greek Gods, by the way, honey salted caramel).
Our first stop of the day was only 5 miles down the road, where three families with juvenile arthritis came out to meet us. The Feeley and Gonzalez families live close by in Delaware, but the Reeds drove 2.5 hours to come meet with us! I couldn't believe it, what rockstars! It was such a lovely breakfast and a great occasion for multiple families to get to meet and share stories. We were there for almost 2 hours. Even Keegan said later in the day how moved he was by all over their stories and how shocked he was to hear that so many of them had faced physicians and policy makers continually tell them or their children that nothing was wrong and it was all in their head or no real disability existed. It was truly horrifying to hear.
After we left them, we headed to the big challenge of the day: getting across the Hatem Bridge. Tammy had called her dad, who called in a favor to have the Maryland Transportation Authority Police help us across. They said to meet them at the Royal Farms gas station. Originally we thought we were going to find them in some official office, but nope, we were to wait for them at the gas station. We had given the time estimate of arriving between 12-12:30, but since we got a later start than we had imagined after breakfast, we didn't think we'd make that. But it turns out we are super speedy and were there by 12:15. We called Tammy because we were confused and there was no sign of help. But as if by command, at 12:30 exactly, an officer pulled up in his car. Just one. In a small SUV. We were curious how we would get the tandem in there and he said, oh no, we are riding across and he will escort us from behind to protect our safe passage. YES!!! I had hoped we could ride across with an escort. We started to go, but Jen asked if we could all take a photo because it was part of our journey. She told him all about juvenile arthritis and why we were doing the ride. He said meet him a block up where there was a place to pull off and we'd do pictures there. Umm...ok. Well, he did that so that his buddy could take our photos! How awesome! Then we set off across the bridge, beaming from our cool experience.
After that, we decided to stop half way before our destination to find some Maryland crabs. We did and they were delicious, especially the "Crab Fluff"!
How would I describe today's ride? HILLS. It was constant ups and downs. But we managed. And actually, my joints hung in there quite nicely. Towards the end, we just kept going up, a low grade, but still, up and up we went. And then, Google Maps told us to turn off the main road and we immediately dove down hill into a foresty region you would never guess existed right outside of Baltimore. We zoomed down and thought, "what a great way to end the day!" But then we got to the bottom...and still had 5 or so miles left...which meant--we had to go back up. So we began to climb, and climb, and climb some more. Check out the elevation tracker and see how we ended our ride. Sheesh!
But we made it! And we arrived to our very first greeting party! Michael Ortman, the chair of the Arthritis Foundation Board of Directors, was outside his home clapping and cheering for us as we approached. And after showering and throwing laundry in, we had a wonderful dinner with Mike, Kate and Daniel--who was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis as a child. Daniel wisely tried to go rest earlier, as his body told him it was enough. It made me happy to see someone who knew their body and limits and was able to advocate for himself and what his needs are--I can learn a lot from that! And after he had rested, he came back out :) We had a great convo and the food was delicious--when the fruit salad came out I was so happy.
We finally all stowed away to bed. Keegan was trying to work but I kept looking over and his eyes were shutting. He's asleep now. I will do the same! Need to get up and finish some reports I hadn't been able to do before we left and thought I would have time to do over the weekend. Silly me!