Day 7: Hunt Valley to Silver Spring

The night before last night, I had camped out behind the fire station in Hunt Valley. With the wind, the cold, the intercom speaker, and the birds chirping starting at 3:30 AM, I barely slept. I went to a McDonald’s nearby but it wasn’t open until 5 AM. I ended up talking to a gentleman named Rich (whose real name is Eric) for about half an hour while we both waited to get in. I ordered a cup of coffee so that I can be more awake.

Paul, my host from York, had suggested that I take the light rail from Hunt Valley to BWI (Baltimore Washington International airport) then ride to Washington DC area. He even printed out the directions for me from BWI to Union Station in DC. So I got on the light rail at 6 AM.

My bike on the light rail

At some point on the light rail, a guy came up to me, asking to move my bike so he can sit. I told him there’s no other place to put my bike and offered him the seat next to me. As soon as he sat down I could smell the marijuana. He said his name is Tim. With his glazed eyes, he was seriously stoned. He asked for 50 cents for something to eat. I don’t know anything that costs 50 cents so I mentioned that I might buy him some food at BWI. He then asked me if I have a charger and a battery to charge his phone. I said sure. His phone was able to get from 0% to 15%. I was glad to help him and he slept for the rest of the trip to BWI.

Once I got off the light rail, Tim said I had told him that I was going to buy him breakfast. I felt uneasy helping a stoner so I said I don’t see a restaurant and I have to get going. I guess he didn’t catch my drift. He said there’s a cafe right inside the airport, not far away. Well, Tim doesn’t look like the well off type anyway. Some people make bad decisions in their life. I don’t know his situation well enough to judge, but I do give people the benefit of the doubt, so I bought him a cup of coffee and a muffin.

After leaving Tim, it took me about half an hour to figure out how to get out of the airport and onto the BWI bike trail. A fellow bicyclist helped me with directions so I can follow Paul’s route to DC. I mainly rode on local roads with the cars.

When I reached Beltsville, I stopped by a road side Mexican restaurant called El Sabor Latino. I ordered the Fajita Triple, which has shrimp, beef, and pork on top of rice with sides of beans, salad, and two pieces of bread. I ate the whole thing and felt so full. I took my time since I wasn’t in a hurry to get to DC. Actually, I planned on abandoning Paul’s directions soon so I can make my way southwest to my friend Brandi’s place in Silver Spring.

Just as I was preparing to ride on, someone from behind me asked me if I’m going across the country. I turn around and said "Yes I am, how did you know?" Well, that was the beginning of an hour and half long conversation. The highlight of my day!

His name is Aaron. But you can call him A-Ron, like the YouTube video that an idiot teacher made fun of his student’s names. Aaron is a career truck driver, but an atypical one. He told me about the routes and the weather conditions on my bicycle route across the country. He suggested that I take a slightly southern route across the US since the temperature difference is great even though it doesn’t seem like it. We talked everything from philosophy to family. I can tell that he is very kind. He said I should buy some mace pepper spray to fend myself against dogs, and I should put up a flag on my bike so people can see me from afar. He must have seen me a little hesitant about the flag idea, so he opened the trunk of his car and gave me a reflective vest. What a greatly guy!

As we sat in the sun, on the curb, he told me that even though he’s white a lot of his friends are black, and he doesn’t like people being racists and that’s why he ditched some of his white friends. Aaron then pulled out a photo of him and Tupac, the rapper. I was amazed to see that! He said Tupac died only two months after the photo was taken. He also showed me photos of his girlfriend and his two beautiful daughters. I was so glad to have met Aaron but it was already past 3 PM. I had stayed at El Sabor for over two hours but I had a great time eating and talking to Aaron. I can’t writing down everything because we had talked so much about so many different things. In the end, he reminded me two things, trust my intuition and pay attention to the little things in life. Aaron is truly an amazing human being!

Aaron and I

After parting with Aaron, I rode towards Silver Spring. I used the directions on my phone and it took me through some nice park trails. I was able to get to Brandi’s apartment building at 6:15 PM. I called my grandma, whose 88th birthday is today, and wished her a happy birthday. After buying some desserts from Tiramisu, a local bakery, so I can give to Brandi and her fiancĂ©e Judy, I waited a little bit more outside the building and finally met Brandi as she came back from work.

A section of the trail to Silver Spring

Sunset over Silver Spring

I’ve known Brandi for many years when I first moved to Allentown, PA. I was glad that she and Judy can host me even though they are busy planning their wedding in May. For dinner, we went to a dumpling and noodle place called Nai Nai’s, which actually means grandma in Chinese! After dinner, I was pretty beat, so I took a shower and went to bed at 9:30 PM.

Me, Brandi, and Judy

Last night, I had an eleven hour sleep. But I found my throat to be sore and my eyes became itchy. I hope I’m not sick. Luckily, I brought some cough drops. I took one this morning but I think the reason I’m a bit stuffy is because of seasonal allergies. I’m currently at the Bump N Grind coffee shop writing this post. I will go back to the apartment to take my allergy pills that I brought then go to DC to see if I can get a tour of the US Capitol. Today looks like a beautiful day now that the morning rain has stopped. Actually, everyday is a beautiful day!