Day 10 – to Pittsburgh, PA
Teresa makes us piles of French toast, which is like having dessert for breakfast. Again. What a great country! It rains so my tent gets rolled up wet for 10 out of 10 days. Jess is still feeling unwell & Vanessa has a bad case of saddle sore so it’s hitching again for us. We get a short lift to a better place to hitch. The woman who picks us up is another diary farmer; she has ‘only’ 60 cows. She bought a robot last year which milks the cows automatically – the cows go into a special booth when they want to be milked. I picture an odd kind mix of doctor’s waiting room & hairdressers. In my mind the cows are wearing straw hats.
We have trouble getting another ride & cycle a bit before my pedals stop fast & refuse to move. We walk along a treacherously shallow shoulder next to lots of traffic until we find an Italian Deli. We have lunch & hang out chatting to passers by. A sweet elderly lady asks if our bikes will fit in the boot so she can give us a ride. The car is small & the bikes are large. One of the staff at the deli steals chats with us between collecting trolleys & clearing up. She is a trail cyclist & excited about our trip. She offers to give us a ride to a better hitching spot when her shift ends & she does, 1 bike by 1.
We try for another ride for over 45 minutes. It is dire. One of the staff comes out of the nearby Domino’s pizza & graces us with unhelpful suggestions such as ‘why don’t you just walk 7 hours to Pittsburgh’. Eventually a man in pick up truck conveniently stops for a pizza & Vanessa chats him up. He is a police officer who spends all his free time kyacking. He comes from California & doesn’t think much of the area.
He drops us off past ‘the dodgy bit of town’ & we stop at a bar next to a huge Google building for a much needed beer & Wifi connection. We frantically contact hosts on Warm Showers – basically Couchsurfing for cyclists – & look uncertainly at the lack of cover at the local park. Our waitress, Cierra, offers us a place to stay – she says we need to prepare ourselves for the messiest house we’ve ever visited. Lifesaver! We immediately relax & enjoy a few more beers as we wait for Cierra’s shift to end. She sends us over pitta with delicious cheese dip & chicken wings which makes us realise that we are actually quite hungry. In the end, Cierra gives us her address as she’ll be staying late. She works 2 jobs & seems to be itching for an adventure. She is apologetic & open & closed & awkward & confident & wonderful. I’d like to get to know her better. We arrive to her house where her dog Kenya just stares out at us before Cierra’s brother, Nathan, welcomes us to make ourselves at home.