Well, this is certainly not how we envisioned the beginning of our adventure, but we can be flexible, and that's what we have to be when the other two boys come down with the stomach bug a couple of days after the first one has recovered. But there are so many blessings in this, too! Although illness is not what we would desire, the boys' illnesses have given us the chance to slow down, spend more time with people that we had not planned to spend time with, and reevaluate our bike gear. Spending time with our gracious hosts at Westover (the Erda's and Fisher's) was such fun and a great chance to reconnect with a dear high school friend and her family. Having the chance to walk around Westover and explore was also great fun- it was like staying at a beautiful history and nature museum, complete with gorgeous gardens, a cool bamboo forest, homemade tree forts, and the opportunity to take in some farming skills. (The boys were able to collect eggs, feed the horses, and eat fresh kale and spinach from their lush garden. Andrea- our host- noted how appropriate all of that was, considering the focus that ECHO has on teaching folks to farm- as a method for helping to reduce world hunger.) So, that was during Avery's illness.
Fast forward- but not much- to a few days later in Ashland. We were able to camp out at the Patrick Henry YMCA (not a common practice for the Y, but they were happy to accommodate us). The next morning the other two boys woke up feeling ill. Thankfully, Jerry's parents were able to come and pick us up (along with all of our gear) and bring us home for the boys to recoup. It has felt a little bit strange being in our house, as if we just don't belong here- like we're cheating or something- since, alas, we are supposed to be gone on our bike adventure right now. However, we have had some sweet time with Jerry's parents, and the boys have been able to rest in the comfort of our home while healing. We have also done some serious analysis of our gear that we have to haul on our bikes. The hills have been particularly challenging to Jerry because he has control of the triple- the heavier bike (not only because the bike itself is heavy, but also because half of our gear is on it, plus 3 bodies with varying levels of pedal power, shall we say...). Controlling the double is a challenge, too, but I (LisaPage) am carrying the other half of the gear, plus our 2 bodies, both of which can contribute significantly to the pedaling, so the hills are less of an issue, although still difficult. Nevertheless, we have felt the need to reevaluate our gear and eliminate anything that is unnecessary. Being the practical pack-rat, "what-if-er" that I am, I was quite resistant to trying to cull our things. But, Jerry, being more level-headed and perhaps having a better idea of what is realistic, systematically went through our things together with me, and we were able to eliminate several items here and there, not the least of which is one of our tents (!). The result is that we may only have to use one trailer, instead of two!! This may be the difference that we need. So, stay tuned, as we hope to be back on the road again in the next couple of days to try out our new and improved (and lighter) set-up.