Evie Weber of Arlington Heights and her sister, Norma Witherbee, are familiar to Daily Herald readers who followed their bicycle travels on the Lewis and Clark Trail and the Underground Railroad.
On Aug. 19, the sisters (Norma, 76, and Evie, 72) embarked on another adventure, the 2,700 miles from Bar Harbor, Maine to Miami, Fla.
Stay with dailyherald and the Daily Herald through October for Evie's dispatches from the "M&M" ride.
Throughout our journey friends of ours will be joining us for a few days to a couple of weeks of riding.
Right before I left home I receive a phone call from Karen Ottenweller. Karen is going to start the journey with us.
"Hi Evie. I was just wondering what we'll be doing for manicures or pedicures while we're biking?"
It took me quiet a while to stop laughing before I could answer her question.
Throughout our journeys Norma and I are frequently interviewed. Inevitably the question comes up about concern for our safety.
"Do you carry a weapon for protection?" Our answer is always NO. One of the scariest sights however, is how we look at the end of a day's ride or a week or a month or two of being on the road. That is enough to keep most people at arms length.
My nails look like I've been using them in place of screwdrivers. They are chipped and uneven with a generous portion of grease and grime embedded under them. My right calf sports permanent "tattoos" of my large chain ring.
My perfume is a mixture of "Ode" to suntan lotion and bug spray. My body will have an assortment of bug/spider bites and/or poison ivy.
Hat hair is nothing compared to "helmet hair." When I remove my helmet my hair will be plastered to my head and wherever there is an opening in the helmet my hair is sun bleached. Sort of like getting my hair highlighted without having to pay the big bucks.
Often I will take a scissors and - much to my hairdresser's displeasure - I'll give myself a "trim." I have been riding in 90-100 degree heat with 100 percent humidity. By the end of the day my body resembles a salt lick. And let's not forget that there are times when showers are nonexistent.
Get the picture? It's a good thing that this "City Girl" can cope with such inconveniences!
"Bend and stretch, reach for the stars, here come Jupiter there goes Mars." Remember that song from a TV show for children way back when? Well let me tell you, getting in and out of a tent does wonders for flexibility.
One thing I have noticed is that when we do stay in a motel I am a lot stiffer in the morning. So my advice to all you seniors out there is, "Put up a tent in your bedroom and start crawling in and out of it." It will do wonders for you!
We have had some unique camping sites. Riding to some of them required the skills of a mountain goat just so we could get to them. Others were absolutely beautiful with views overlooking the Atlantic, mostly in the fog, which adds a lot of "Down Eastern" charm as the locals say.
One morning while we were still in Maine, Norma made arrangements for the evening for us to stay at a cabin in the woods. When we arrived all we could do is stand there with our mouths hanging open.
First of all we had to cycle DOWN a steep, gravel, pot -holed road for a quarter of a mile. The cabin was built on stilts and to reach the front door you literally had to climb up a ramp. Once inside you were knocked over by the smell, and it wasn't the smell of a pine forest, nope, it was mold and mildew.
The windows had to be propped open with a stick in order to stay up and the screens had huge holes in them. That's so all the bugs could come inside and keep us company!
There was one light bulb hanging down from the ceiling, a hot plate for cooking and no running water, meaning no showers tonight. The beds were saggy, baggy and most likely hosted uninvited visitors.
But the real kicker was that the port-a-potty was back up that gravel road! All of this luxury could be ours for a mere $54 per night! Thank goodness we did not give our credit card to hold this "Holiday Inn" because we all elected to go into town and get a real Holiday Inn. I guess this "City Girl" wants her creature comforts after all.
We have been quite fortunate weather-wise. Even though it has been hot, it's almost like we have been cycling with this bubble over us. To the West of us they have had tornadoes, south of us they had driving rainstorms and from whence we came, Bar Harbor, they have had high winds.
The day's ride was a short one, camp was set up and we were lounging in our chairs by the water just enjoying a picture postcard view of a blue sky sprinkled with lazy puff clouds. The kayaks and sail boats drifting by in the bay added that perfect touch of serenity.
It was a hot, muggy afternoon, just like the ones we get in Illinois right before severe weather strikes.
I stood, stretched and turned to go get another drink - and BANG, our "bubble" burst. To our back side were these towering, inky black clouds loaded with rain and just like that, "along came Bill" - Hurricane Bill, that is.
It rained so hard that our tent could not keep the water out. It leaked from the top, bottom and sides. Norma's air mattress turned into her private boat and would have floated out the door if it hadn't been zipped up. We had to evacuate and go find a motel leaving everything to the mercy of the elements.
And now there is rumor of "tropical depression Danny" coming our way. Honestly! Men! They're always stirring up trouble!
Good night from two soggy but undaunted cyclists.
Happy trails, Evie