First of all, I just want to clarify that I am alive and well. In fact, I am having a blast! As I explained during the New York City and Boston sections of my trip, I made a decision to dial back my blogging/processing/writing when I am with friends. When you haven’t seen someone in over two years and aren’t likely to see them again for probably just as long, I think you should make the most of the time you’ve got. For me, that meant leaving hundreds of pictures unprocessed and only taking cursory notes on my daily activities/observations whenever I am with friends. For you, this means relative silence on Chasing Cairns.
Since Shenandoah, I spent a chunk of time in my old haunt New Bern, North Carolina. From friends at CrossFit Burn, to students and colleagues at The Epiphany School of Global Studies, to lazy afternoons with my girlfriend Cami, I filled the better part of a week with relaxation, conversation, and mild productivity. Part of that saga also included some vehicle repairs… As I arrived in New Bern, I began noticing that Sam was emitting a few unfamiliar noises. Combined with decreased fuel economy and slow acceleration, I heard a oscillating rubbing noise coming from what I thought were the front brakes. After checking in with the omniscient Element Mike, I took it out for a test drive listening for a few key noises. Together, we decided it was most likely an out-of-round rotor with a sticking brake pad or caliper. To the shop I went.
Luckily, I had a few days to spare in New Bern, otherwise this could have been a far more problematic from a scheduling front. Over at Family Tire, they checked the brakes, informing me that I had been effectively braking for the last few hundred miles and that I was lucky it had been raining. I guess there was some chance that my brakes could have just burst into flame… Not cool. In the end, the calipers, rotors, and pads on the front and rear axels needed to be removed. Looks like I’ll be getting a job $1,100.00 sooner than I expected. I guess this is what rent money looks like when you are living out of your car.
By Friday, Sam was ready to roll and Cami and I headed for Florida. Tallahassee, Tampa, Marco Island, Key West, Everglades National Park, Biscayne National Park, Jacksonville, and Congaree National Park filled our week long, 2,000-mile excursion. Afterwards, I said my final goodbyes to New Bern and headed west towards Asheville, where I got to spend a few days with some of my best friends in North Carolina. I will intercut the stories and images from those experiences as I continue to process the prose and photos over the next week. I am, however, about to pop into Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which just so happens to be America’s most popular park…. So I’ve got my hands full at the moment!