The trail guide warned us that the stretch of the C & O that we were about to tackle was one of the more rough sections and that we would be well advised to brace ourselves for it.
Of course having survived the cobblestoned hell of the first 35 miles, we didn’t think much of this warning and decided to reserve judgement. As it turns out, this section of the trail wasn’t any different than yesterday, which led us to think that the people who wrote the trail guide were actually just making crap up as they went along.
Anyway, nothing at all interesting happened on this stretch of the Great Bicycle Adventure until we approached Little Orleans, MD. Little Orleans was billed as having a great place to stop and maybe get a bite to eat and a beer at a little establishment called Bill’s. Initially the main thing that recommended Bill’s to us was its proximity to the trail, but when we finally staggered into the place around dinner time, we knew that we had found someplace special.
Bill, the proprietor, was closing in on 500 years old and was on oxygen. Normally being on oxygen limits a person’s mobility because the tank is unwieldy, but Bill solved this problem by simply using a 40 foot tube which trailed him around the bar and kitchen like a tether.
To his credit, however, he had us set up with a couple of beers and a pizza in a few minutes and was regaling us with tales of fish he’s caught and bears he’s scared off. It turns out that apparently Bill was one of the first people to suggest that the C & O Canal Trail be preserved for history and he’s been running his bar/restaurant/corner store right beside the trail for 44 years since then.
Nobody really knows how Little Orleans really got its name, but it somehow seems to fit.
Anyway, at about this time a young man whom we had seen several times that day sauntered into Bill’s and ordered a beer. He introduced himself as Stefan (I’m guessing at the spelling, of course) and told us that he was recreating a trip his father took across the country. Interestingly, Stefan was hailing from Sweden and found some of our ways amusing. Apparently in Sweden it is odd for complete strangers to tell you everything about themselves before they learn your name. We assured him that the further south and west one went the more common this kind of behavior became and that he should brace himself for it. Then we learned that he is blogging about his transcontinental adventure and insisted that if were going to share our pizza with him (the poor guy looked famished and it would have been cruel not to), then he was going to take a picture of us.
After we had left Little Orleans to find our first campsite of the trip, we ran into the Asian Sensation. This kindly gentleman was apparently amazed by everything that happened to him. He was amazed that I was actually able to tow our luggage in a trailer. He was amazed that we were going to be camping in the same spot as him. He was amazed that Stefan (who is a much faster rider than us and had already passed this spot) was planning on bicycling all the way to San Francisco.
So we set up our tent, sleeping bags, and whatnot (all while the Asian Sensation watched in bewilderment) and promptly tried to fall asleep. How well did that work out? Well, you’ll have to wait until our next installment to find out.