Back and forth on my bike on the unpaved private road is .7 miles. I do it twice every day. A mile and a half. I turn onto the paved road for just a short while but then always turn around because it’s curvy and there’s no shoulder and it feels dangerous.

A mile down that road would take me to another dead-end road that’s 3.5 miles long. I could then cobble together a 10-mile ride but I can’t get there. Lish says we’ll pile the bikes in the truck and go there one day with her and her 10-year-old son, who says he’d like to ride. But there never seems to be a time to do this, and rides are something I need every day. It’s why I’m hauling a folding bike via buses and trains across 7,000 miles of the United States.

It’s 14 miles to the nearest town. It’s an artsy place named Hillsborough with lots of history, built on a grid that looks on online maps to be ride-able. We stopped at a very lovely market there when Lish originally picked me up at my friend Judy’s house in Chapel Hill. There are essentials like bread-making ingredients and groceries but also scented candles and chocolate and both of those sound really attractive to me right now. It’s a distance easily ride-able for me and my tires would welcome a paved road after all the gravel, but I can’t get there from here. The roads are too dangerous for my bike. There’s no bus.

I thought of Uber-ing there with my folding bike in the trunk and then riding around for awhile and Uber-ing back. I popped the coordinates into the app and discovered it would cost more than $50 round-trip. Clearly wayyyy out of my budget for this trip, which is the same budget I used in 1985 when I traipsed around 10 European countries (before the Euro and when the Berlin Wall was still up). I like the challenge of this, but it requires I have as many zero-spend days as possible when at farms during the Round America with a Duck journey so that I have money for the handful of cities where I’m stopping, as well as transportation throughout. There is no affordable Eurail Pass here.

Today is my tenth zero-spend day since I left home. The only penny I’ve spent is $30 for a space heater for my unheated trailer after my first frigid night here (it also has a fan setting for hot days, which we’ve had as well). His name is Smiley, for obvious reasons (see photo above). Already the best $30 I’ve ever spent. And the fact that Amazon offered same-day delivery here in rural North Carolina was the cherry on top.

So no twee little shop for me. No history on the banks of the Eno River. No three-mile hike to the summit with the gorgeous view at the Occoneechee Mountains State Natural Area. Just a nice little ride on a short gravel road next to swaying golden grasses, a dog named Peanut who likes to run beside me, and an apple tree whose full blossoming I got to witness up close and personal.

It’s an exercise in restraint. In appreciating simple pleasures. In being fully present where I am. In letting what I have be enough.

And, you know what? For today, that’s priceless.

One Comment Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s