Right, bare with me because I’m really hungover, so this is going to be a struggle.
its been a week since we last updated the blog, and that week has been packed full of new characters in our story. We decided that the easiest way to do this was to split the week in two, with me writing the first part and Jack the second. enjoy.
Last Saturday we stopped for the night in Corsica; there was a huge field that we could camp in, but we decided to opt for the dugout of the baseball diamond. Now dont ask me why we made this decision but im very glad that we did. we had this huge flat field, we could have pitched our tent anywhere, but we chose a patch of concrete just a little wider than our tent. Im so glad we did. After we had settled in for the evening and consumed our staple diet of Ramen noodles, we watched a few episodes of Arrested Development then started to think about going to sleep. Just as we decided to turn in for the evening the heavens opened wide. you know the kind of storm where its raining, then you get the 30 seconds of intense, huge droplets, hammering down? we had that for nearly four hours. if it hadnt been for the corrugated iron roof of the dugout i dont think our tent would have made it through the night. We’d have been sodden at the very least.
The next morning was glorious! The sun was shining, there were no clouds in the sky, the birds were singing – and i got very, very burnt. If your name is Rosemary, Dora, Marie or Siobhan, and right now youre thinking “he should have been wearing sun cream”, i was! i was wearing factor 50, a hat and a pretty long sleeved t shirt, i still got burned. I dont think that the luck of the Irish goes as far as achieving a sun tan. 24 years and i haven’t had one yet. Where was i?
We were walking towards Clarion to meet a man named John Miller. We’d got in contact with a lady on CouchSurfer who told us that she was traveling in Europe and wouldn’t be able to help us, but that she knew of a man who might be of some use. John had actually cycled across the states almost 30 years ago, so we were excited to meet him.
When we reached Clarion we made a pitstop for lunch in McDonalds, and gave John a call to let him know we were in town and to find out where we would find him. Lucky enough he was sitting in his store just a block away, so we packed up our stuff and headed in his direction. Artfunkels is a consignment store, it sells a bit of this and a bit of that. John seemed interested to meet us, but genuinely had no idea who we were or what we were doing in his store. His friend hadnt passed our information onto him, and when Jack had called there had been a pretty bad connection, so we had to go through everything again. Clarion is a university town and John told us that he owns a second home which he rents out to students during term, but as school was done for the summer, the house was empty and he told us we were welcome to the whole thing for as long as we liked. We couldn’t believe our luck.
The house was the equivalent of a normal two up, two down, except this one was fully detached, with a beautiful and huge flower garden. Johns wife is a professor at the university but her real passion is tending to the garden of the home they used to live in.
We sat and drank beer with John, his wife and their friend Joe (another incredibly interesting guy) who used to co-own the store with John.
We headed out for dinner that evening, with John and his wife telling us to order absolutely anything and insisting on paying for us. Then the three of them went through all of the things that could, should and would kill us as the journey continued. Nothing as it turned out, but apparently we might get some trouble from some over enthusiastic dogs.
After dinner, John’s wife dropped us at a local bar, and again insisted on paying for us. I chose the most disgusting dark ale, but because I’m such a handsome and charming individual, the (hot) bar lady offered to buy me another drink. We met a friend of friend of Johns who worked in the coffee house next to his store. Mackenzie (Mac’n’cheese to us) was an absolute legend, we didnt pay for a drink for the rest of the night. John is an absolute legend of a man, he told us stories of cycling across the country and the amazing people he met along the way.
Our wake up call came loud and clear at 5am. Clarion has a volunteer fire service, with a siren at either end of the town. luckily enough the siren for our end of town was just outside of the kitchen window. We had planned to head out that morning, but after a lack of sleep and with my right foot still giving me gip we took a rest day, did some washing then hung out in the coffee shop all day with the main man: Mac’n’cheese.
I completely forgot that on the last evening in Clarion I cooked our first proper meal since we started (Sausage and sweet potato mash seeing as you asked), but Jack said that the food was so amazing, and that i was such a gifted chef, that it would stupid not to include it. He said the way i maneuvered around the kitchen was so graceful. doing a thousand things at once. He hasn’t come out and said it (yet), but i can tell Jack really looks up to me. They say never meet your heros, well Jack is lucky enough to walk across a continent with his.