Last night I looked down and realized that my coat's entire front had become crusted with white ice.
I stopped under an overpass and beat the coat against the wall for a bit, but the ice wouldn't break off. So I bivouacked under a pine tree a short distance from there, not too far west of Alexandria, Ohio.
There was too much ice on my boots to easily get them off, so I scraped off what I could with a knife and slept with them on until they started to thaw (dangerous business that). Once they loosened up, I removed them, threw them into a plastic bag, then took off my cotton jeans and used them to soak up the little bit of moisture that had leaked off the boots into the bivvy (turns out cotton is good for something after all). I had already removed my overcoat.
The bivvy is warm enough, I was wearing enough woolen undergarments (especially on my legs), and I timed it right so that I didn't get soaked or cold, and my bedroll stayed more or less dry all night. I was warm and cozy, but still, dangerous business that.
I put the bag with my boots in them back into the sack so they wouldn't freeze.
This morning my red overcoat was frozen as stiff as old rawhide. The bike's brakes still work, but the shifters are caked with ice and unresponsive. The bike path through Granville towards Newark and Newcomers is choked with snow.
So I took the slushy roads fifteen miles as the crow flies (but closer to 20 or 25 as the biker rides) to the town square in Newark.
Winter has been nipping at my heels state by state since I left Idaho. There was a dusting of snow on my tires on Halloween, but I outran it. Well, it has finally caught me. Perhaps I could press on. Home is less than 300 miles from here, even biking; Pittsburgh and my mother's school apartment only about half that far.
But it's Thanksgiving tomorrow, and a few snow sodden days of biking seem poor trade compared to a holiday with the clan.
So it is, with a surprisingly light heart and in my last set of dry clothes, that I hereby declare my journey over.
Katelynn is meeting me here in Newark at the "Simply Rising" cafe and bakery where I am treating her to lunch. I will be riding home with her this evening.
It may seem a shame to come so far only to fail on the last leg before home. The funny thing is, though, I don't feel like I've failed at all. Quite the opposite, in fact, though I'm not sure exactly why. Sorry to let you all down one last time, but in the end this was something I was doing for me (wasn't it?).
I don't know how many thousands of miles I've travelled. My phone won't tell me (It's fritzing again), so I will have to tally that up later. I need to tally up the donations as well, send out a few personalized thank-yous, and see that I donate an equal amount, myself, to nonprofits as promised. I'm still thinking Chestnuts and maybe Rails-to-Trails. I'm giving myself six months to make said donation(s), but I should be able to afford them much earlier than that if the tutoring in early 2014 goes well. So there will be one or two more posts sometime in the future just to complete things.
I don't know what else to say. I'm going home friends. It's not far. The thought of it makes my heart swell. Thank you all for following with me. Be well; be warm.
Peace, I had done.