Brian and I had big plans unfolding...a surprise!
We also had much provisioning to do while in Beaufort, NC because we plan to make big jumps, on the ocean side, down the remainder of the coast. We had a list of necessities which was really a list of "good to have lots of before leaving the country." And so we rented a car in order to complete our checklists and successfully execute our surprise.
On Friday morning we picked up Matt & Jess in our stylish Chevy Impala; which by the way stank of cigarette smoke. Our first stop was Fish Town to fill propane tanks. Not sure why a fish shop would also sell propane, and vice versa, but the price was right and the man helping us was friendly so it was a pleasant stop for one task completed. Then we went to the Piggly Wiggly for groceries. In the meat department among the various pig parts that you just don't see in grocery stores up north, Brian and I discovered traditionally cured hams. The heavenly smell of smoky/salty alone was enough to have us sold that a ham was now a necessity aboard Rode Trip. We read through the directions and learned that the cured ham would last several months without refrigeration while chipping away sections as needed for meals. This will be a delicious experiment!
After errands, we gave Matt & Jess a tour of the marina (highlighting the shower area) before bringing them back to Serendipity. It was time for us to get on the road toward Richmond, VA where Brian's dad, Bruce, and Mark S. were running the Richmond Marathon on Saturday morning. Kathy would be with them as well and we hoped that none of them had suspected we were close enough to visit. We were excited to surprise them all and to cheer for Bruce and Mark S. We used our iPad to navigate us along the 4-hour route to Richmond. We whizzed by cotton fields instead of beaches and farms instead of marinas. It was a beautiful sunny day and we enjoyed seeing the sights from a warm, dry view!
We didn't know the specifics of Bruce & Kathy's and Mark S.'s travel plans. But we do have this handy app on the iPad called Find My Friends. This app enables us to see the locations of approved friends (using Apple devices) and they can in-turn see our location. We switched into stealth mode by turning off the location services on our iPad so that Bruce and Mark S. would not be able to view our location in case they were checking. We also knew via the marathon website the location for registered runners to pick-up their race packets. So we headed toward the Arthur Ashe Athletic Center where we knew Bruce would have to stop on his way from Pennsylvania.
Parked at the athletic center, we checked our Find My Friends app to see where our marathoners were. Bruce & Kathy had slowed significantly and were about 1-hour away. Mark S. was parked at a nearby campground with his camper. And then...a text from Bruce's phone: "How was your day? I am in the car in TRAFFIC. Where are you?" Yipes! They were onto us! Ok, calm down. We replied: "Our day was good, lots of provisioning checked off" pause Then the response: "Chocolate?" Brian realized quickly that Kathy was texting and our surprise was not blown. Since they were caught in traffic, we drove to Mark S. at the nearby campground. This was much more fun than sitting for 1-hour in the parking lot!
Thanks to Find My Friends we were able to locate Mark S.'s camper among the mix. We knocked on the door and he hesitantly opened wondering who could be interrupting his dinner...SURPRISE!! We totally surprised Mark S. We chatted while he ate dinner and we continued to watch Bruce & Kathy's location. When they were nearing, Mark S. suggested they stop at the campground for a few minutes since they had to pass right by. They agreed.
When Bruce & Kathy arrived at the campground, Mark S. met them at the entrance. Brian and I hid ourselves just behind the office building. After "hellos" and hugs were exchanged, we scooted out into the light...SURPRISE!! We totally surprised Bruce & Kathy. What fun! Now everyone was really ready for a marathon!
Brian and I went with Bruce & Kathy to the athletic center for Bruce to get his race packet. We then joined them at their hotel, uh well here was the only minor detail in our plan. We figured we'd just stay on the floor of their hotel. For this trip, all the hotels were booked and so they were instead staying in a Bed and Breakfast. So Kathy, making friends with their B&B host for the evening, asked if we could stay in their room. The host told us we could not stay because of some ridiculous town ordinance. "We'll figure it out," we said.
We had a late dinner at a nearby ale house. The food was great but service was slow and we had a runner to put to bed. Brian called some hotels and found they were all booked. All but the Budget Inn where he spoke to an Indian man who in very broken English said, "you come anytime we have room." Great! After dinner we said goodnight to Bruce & Kathy as they retired to their suite. We had still only visited the lobby of the B&B and by the looks of the lobby their room would likely be quite luxurious.
No wonder the Budget Inn had rooms anytime, it was a scene straight out of a horror movie! There were clearly people living at the hotel; a scene familiar to me from my outreach counseling days actually meeting with people in these places. Brian got our room key through a draw under the secured office window. The door to our assigned room 113 looked as though it had been kicked-in recently. We thought the odor in the car was bad, but the cigarette smell in the hotel room was enough to dry our throats. Yuck! And it had all the amenities of home; rusted microwave, broken fridge, etc. I don't know why we didn't just leave and sneak ourselves into the posh B&B, but we didn't. We peeled back the comforter dotted with cigarette hole burns and in full clothing and our own pillows lay down to sleep. We were out of there first thing in the morning to get Bruce to the starting line!