I thought of myself as a traveler of sorts — until I met my wife, Lori. She likes to move, which kind of explains how we got together. At college, we had talked very briefly in an early morning Spanish class, and she occasionally frequented the college restaurant/bar where I worked. I was very interested, but then she was gone. Poof. Nowhere to be seen around campus.
A semester later, we passed each other in the student union between classes. I wasn’t going to let opportunity slip away, so I stopped her to ask where she’d been hiding. Study abroad, Spain, she told me. We had coffee. We danced around it for a few months, running into each other around campus and talking at parties. By spring, we were together and haven’t looked back.
Since then, Lori has been ready to go about anywhere at the mere mention of the opportunity, whether I was ready or not. With all three kids in tow, she could have the minivan packed and pulling out of the driveway in a couple of hours, off to camp in Florida with three little ones while I tried to start a newspaper. Or, she was making plans with the grandparents to keep the kids so we could get away for a weekend.
There is an uncertainty about travel that you either embrace or withdraw from. No matter how much planning, you come to expect the unexpected. The comfort and routine of homelife is replaced by something more unbalanced and more precarious — and more promising.
During our first few years together, Lori and I lived in six different North Carolina towns before settling in Waynesville. Her teaching jobs and my newspaper work kept us moving, and often, we were barely unpacked before we found ourselves back at the U-Haul store to arrange for another truck. We looked at other states and even other countries, but opportunities in the Tar Heel state kept landing at our feet. We learned to love small towns and all they offered.
Next week, we’ll get to take a different kind of trek across North Carolina and visit several of its small towns. Cycle North Carolina sponsors two bicycle rides every year — one during spring, one in the fall — across the state. It’s not Murphy to Manteo, which is 474 miles as the crow flies and 545 along U.S. 64, but it is 491 miles during seven days of riding.
We’ll start in Spruce Pine and overnight in Morganton, Troutman, Asheboro, Holly Springs, Goldsboro, New Bern and finally Atlantic Beach. If power — and my body — holds out in our campgrounds, I’ll be sending photos and updates to our Facebook pages and website.
I love this state, but I’m not sure that I ever imagined a fall bike ride across its breadth. This should be fun. I think.