In the interim I am going to
Now, let's back up. I said I was part of a bicycle trip that was nearly from coast to coast. Don't start congratulating me yet. There were 11 of us but I did not pedal for the 4000+ miles of the trip. Are you kidding me? Do I look sick in the head to you? Wait, don't answer that. No, I was the driver of the support vehicle (a Chevy Citation). It was my job to pack the belongings of 11 people into the car every day. I managed to do it well enough to still see out the back window, thank you very much. I also did all the cooking and laundering for said group as well as find lodging for us each night. May I just say, 9 people pedalling for 70 miles a day can eat like you wouldn't believe. They can also make some tremendously ripe laundry.
I was the youngest person in the group, age 18. The oldest was Pete, 28. He had done such a trip one time before and so was a very valuable member of the group. There were 6 of us from the same college in central Pennsylvania and 5 folks that we hooked up with through one of our local group members. The other 5 were from Texas, Iowa, New York, England, and Colorado. I still have no idea how they all connected. In our local group we had a fellow from Paraguay who was my co-driver of the Little Citation That Could. Mr. Lime was also among the local group. We were 4 women and 7 men. It was quite the collection of personalities I might add and living together in such unusual circumstances made for some very interesting dynamics from time to time. The only person among us who never seemed to get annoyed by living in close quarters with such a big and diverse crew was Del. I suspect it had something to do with him being the 11th of 17 children in his family of Iowa hog farmers. He was absolutely the most easygoing fellow you could ever hope to meet.
Since we all had agreed on this harebrained idea of pedalling bicycles for over 4000 miles we also agreed to do it for some purpose bigger than the sheer entertainment value of wedging one's own seat onto a tiny bit of metal, vinyl and alleged padding materials. We decided to use it as a fundraiser for charitable causes. Each of us found as many sponsors as we could to donate anywhere between 1/4 cent and $.01 per mile. Doing so, we were able to raise about $6000 for an aid group that worked with widows and orphans in Bangladesh after a series of floods devastated that country and for a couple training to go work among the needy. Every cent went to those causes and we funded our own travel expenses.
It did, however become apparent that expenses were somewhat underestimated and in addition to being the chief cook,bottle washer, driver and laundress extraordinaire I was now assigned the task of begging for lodging each night. This generally entailed finding a phone book or the first church entering a town and requesting to camp in their yard or sleep in their building. I protested this arrangement since I had budgeted for campgrounds myself since that was my understanding. The group poopooed that. I pleaded to have them allow me find public parks and such. No, go beg to the churches. I was nonplussed by this arrangement, to say the least. It would not be the last time I got assigned an unpleasant task against my wishes. I had lots of opportunities to learn a lot of flexibility and hone my pathetic soul facial expression. I think if I had known I'd be knocking on doors and asking for housing each night I never would have said yes to the driver's job but if I had said no I would have missed out on a tremendous chance to see so much of my own country and get a heck of an education on human nature and group dynamics.