Day 9
May 21st, 2005
South Molton, England

We started off the day with a nice breakfast at the inn.  We shared a table with Nick, and Tim, Dot Granville.
Dot asked, 

"Did you sleep well?" 

"Don't ask." 

"Why not?" 

"My arm is sore." 

"From what?" 

"Throwing shoes at Uncle Phil."  She looked taken aback and went back to eating.  I went on to explain  my method for getting him to roll over.

I passed my eggs over to Uncle Phil as I asked Tim what he did in "civilian life."  "I'm a career counselor.'  "Hey watcha reckon I can do in my post retirement years for a second career?"  "Motorcycle safety instructor."  I was going to hit him for free advice, but I'm sure he gets that a lot.  People have a tendency to treat him like a doctor.  They want a full diagnosis at the breakfast table, no tests, no questions, no interview, just a remedy.  "Hey doc I got this pain in my tummy, what is it?"

We had to meet the others at 9am at the Blackcock.  We dressed out and fired up the bikes.  The owners were getting the horses ready for their morning workout when we opened the gate.  Glad someone is getting some exercise today.

It was cloudy again, and some really dark clouds were off in the distance.  It didn't look promising.
I took the VFR up the dirt lane in 2nd gear, and wheeled around to the campground.  It started to drizzle so everybody went to this big tent.  In America, a day like this pretty much shuts down any riding, but in the UK if you don't ride when its less than perfect, you won't ride many days.

In the staging area everybody was dogging Mike McNeil for snoring last night, and keeping everyone awake.  Bob said, " I dunno, but I slept just fine."  Fiona told me they got the camcorder out and was doing like, "Blair Witch Project."  They were capturing the sounds coming out of his tent.  I said, "Look here baby, I know y'all were in a scuffle, but I had problems of my own."

There was a big football (soccer) game today and a few of the guys wanted to get back early to watch it.  I liked that idea, if we did I might have a chance to run a few miles.  Manchester United was playing somebody for the championship, David told me it was kind of like the Super Bowl.  "Just make sure we ain't close to the stadium, I don't wanna get caught in a riot when its over.  I know how y'all get at those soccer matches."

It was drizzling rain when we left the campground, but it was our last chance to see the English countryside.  Tomorrow we take off back to London on the motorways.

Not long after leaving the campground it began to rain steady.  I watched rooster tails from the bikes in front of me as we splashed our way among the hills.  

We caught a break in the clouds, and was able to pick up the pace, the roads were the narrow and curvy type.  These lanes were probably cut by the Romans, no kidding.  The were used by horse and buggy, and when the automobile came along, they surfaced it.  It was like riding in a tunnel, high walls of ivy bordered both sides.  It was neat.
The Great Bob McNeil
​  One of the country lanes we found on Day 9
We stopped to check a few things and let everyone catch up. 
​David Whitley explains to Uncle Phil how to ride the UK.
It was Saturday morning and like the cities back home, villages were full of movement and life.  I don't know about other areas of England, but around here I didn't see any big, strapping malls or shopping centers covering hundreds of acres, with parking lots as big as the pastures I was passing by.  No, here, they walked into the village and did their shopping the old fashioned way.  You didn't buy much because you had no way to carry it all back to the car, so you streamlined as much as you could.
A common sight in the UK.  Tight fitting villages with busy
traffic.  This lane is 2 way, you move forward the best you
can, ever vigilant for a motorist wanting your space.

We came into a particular busy village and the going was slow.  Our line of bikes made many stop for a moment to see where we going.  I was at a traffic light, and a young boy was standing in a shop door, looking longingly at the bikes lined up outside.  His mother had him hung out while she shopped for something boring.  Nothing like being stuck in a dress shop on a Saturday morning when all your friends are out playing.  I know he had to be in a bad mood.
 ​We caught the attention of these 2 boys as we waited
out a traffic light.  They were stuck doing something boring
while I was out having fun.
The rain returned, this time even harder, we struggled into Dunsten, to revaluate the situation.  Peter said, "We'll get something to eat here, then head back."  Sounded good to me.  A few of the others skipped lunch and headed back to the Blackcock to watch football.  That was another thing I noticed, no big screen TVs.  Back home they are everywhere.  Like I said elsewhere, being poor in America really takes some work.  In the fire department, I worked in the area of town we would consider poor working class.  Many lived in trailers or small wood frame houses, but still on 1 acre lots.  I can't recall how many times I was in a house trailer, rendering first aid or other service, and the jokers inside had a 62 inch big screen and full surround sound system for audio.  No kidding, the entertainment system worth more then the trailer.   It took up so much room you couldn't walk.  The cable TV bill for 175+ channels runs 100 dollars a month, but if you interview the owners they would say they are poor working class, "and just barely making it," and that's a fact. 

I guess Americans just have different priorities.  "Well, I might live in this run down trailer, but I'm gonna watch TV in style."

At the pub in Dunsten I had my first scone, which is what we would call a biscuit in America.  It was pretty good.  In fact I had TWO.  And a diet Coke without ice.  Ice is something you don't get much, you have to ask for it.  

In my time in the U.K. I learned just how intertwined our to 2 countries are.  We share a common language, and for the most part the same culture.  It is no secret America is a more conservative country, and that kind of amuses the British.  I wonder if we don't offer them statehood one day, but they counter and say they're going to let us back in the Kingdom.  But I'll say this, I felt more at home in the U.K. then I do in some areas of the U.S. 
There are so many Americans in the UK at any one time, folks just accept us or have learned to tolerate.  A good thing either way.

It was still raining when we finished lunch and headed back to South Molton, but we broke out of the clouds in a few miles and had a good ride.  The highway carried us over a few hills and I recall 2 long downhill sections on a stretch of road I can't remember.  I do know it was easy to hit 100 mph going down.  Both descents had farms in the trough and I feared gong to fast or a tractor might jump out.

The road was quiet and we stopped for a photo op atop a hillside that had a great view of the Devon countryside.  It reminded me of the Palouse of East Washington state.  Pieter let me try out his BMW while we waited for around.
​A little sunshine after a long rain.  Somewhere in Devon
After taking pictures we dropped down a long descent to the campground and Inn.  It was nice riding.  We arrived back after a 65 mile day, the last 20 or so the best.

Because we were back early, I put on my running stuff and went out and logged 5 miles on nearby country lanes.  The first 2 miles were up rolling hills, with pasture land for scenery.  

It was so cool I ran in sleeves and gloves.  Something I only do in Alabama a few days a year.

Along my route I could smell fresh grass, and hay.  It was quiet, and the only sounds I could hear were my footsteps and breathing.  It felt really good to be moving again.  On the way back I topped a hill and could see the inn and campground down below, perhaps a mile and half away.

Upon my return I had the nice cool sweat you only get on day such as this one.  The hot bath I took afterwards was refreshing.  I took my time primping and then strolled down to the Blackcock Inn to join the crowd.
Inside, the place was filled with laughter and talking.  I mingled with my friends and ordered curry for supper.  Uncle Phil passed out Goo Goos, and everyone was having a good time.  Since it was our last night before heading back to London, I gave a small speech of gratitude to our gracious hosts.  I really enjoyed my time here, and was happy to meet so many fine people.

They presented Uncle Phil and I with a photo book about the Cornwall area.  Everyone signed it.  It is proudly displayed in my great room.

The weather outside had turned really nasty so I was glad to be inside.

A duet started playing and Uncle Phil borrowed their keyboard for a few songs.  He did good.

I left the Blackcock a few minutes after Uncle Phil, and made the long walk down the dirt road to the YEO.  It was cold and wet.  I thought about being back in London tomorrow, and home shortly after that.  I was already dreading the long flight back. 

Phil was getting in bed when I walked up.  We spoke for awhile before turning the lights off.  I had shoes close by.  It was after 12 when I turned off the light.  My plan was to fall asleep before him, but that was impossible.  By the time my hand returned from switching the light he was passed out. 

A few minutes later he started, but I managed to get to sleep between lulls.  A few hours later the crescendo rose, and I gave up and went to the parlor room sofa.  I figured if either of us were going to get any sleep, I was going to have to make a move.

Well, it wasn't like he didn't warn me.