August 28, 2012
We were up early enough to be out for a few hours in the cool morning air before the heat of the day hits, which makes riding strenuous and unpleasant.
The landscape in Maryland is similar to that of rural New Jersey, and how I’ve always imagined Virginia: rolling hills, farms with white fences and herds of peacefully grazing horses, tree-lined driveways leading to well kept, elegant houses. A pastoral setting, where people still do outdoor work and farm land hasn’t been sacrificed for development.
The weather is unbearably hot and it’s hard to be out in the glaring sun between the hours of 11:00-3:00. Before we started this trip, I dreamed of sitting or lying in shady groves, taking restful siestas during the hottest part of the day, but we can’t do this for two reasons. There’s no public property, every shady spot has signs warning trespassers to stay off and threatening prosecution if the signs are disregarded, and we have to ride all day if we ever want to get to Florida!
– How far is it to Jarrettsville?, I asked in a gift shop we saw along the road.
– You are in Jarrettsville! was the answer.
– I mean to the center of town, I said.
– What is the center of Jarrettsville? the clerk unpacking a box of quilted bags asked the owner of the shop.
– Where are you going? the shop owner asked.
We told her that we hoped to camp in Jarrettsville and asked if she knew of a campsite. She didn’t, but wanted to know where we had come from and where we were going. When I told her that we were on our way to California she said with a southern drawl:
– What in the world could possess you to do a thang like that?
Dabbing ineffectually with a tiny piece of toilet paper that had dissolved in my hand at the streams of water running down my forehead in an embarrassing manner, I answered lamely:
– Honestly? I no longer know, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
The heat of the day had been brutal, although people told us that the weather is pleasant and not the least bit hot – it was in mid 90’s – a few weeks ago there was a heat wave with temperatures of over 100 degrees. The combination of the heat and the rolling hills had thoroughly exhausted us. The shop owner glanced pityingly at my beet-red face and exclaimed:
– Why honey you look exhausted!
– I am exhausted, I agreed, where can we take a rest and have something to eat?
She recommended The Creamery which serves homemade ice cream, sandwiches and deli-style food, and was just a mile up the road. After cooling off in the air-conditioned shop, we discovered, by talking to other customers, that there was no possibility of camping in or around Jarrettsville. Continuing onto Hunt Valley, which doesn’t have a campsite but does have a number of hotels to choose from, was our only option.
We arrived in a busy Baltimorean suburb shortly before dark, and checked into a Comfort Inn located on a major intersection. We were thirsty and although we could see a 7-Eleven on the other side of the road, it was almost impossible to get across to it. There was no stoplight or pedestrian crossing. How odd to built neighborhoods exclusively for cars.