Wednesday, June 11
Yorktown, VA – Charles City, VA 41 miles
I woke up the morning of June 11th in the heat of the Virginia summer. I slept outside instead of in the tent which was serving more as a sauna than anything. Chancy and I had camped out just a stones throw from the Yorktown Victory Monument. On October 19, 1781 General Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington. Afterwards we ceremoniously dipped our rear tires into the mouth of the James River and started our trip.
We stopped briefly in Williamsburg to walk around and see the colonial settlement. For lunch we visited 3 restaurants before we found one willing to offer us a deal on a lunch. It was a nice restaurant with no customers. The waiter promptly told us he could give us a discount by just not ringing up one of our meals. Great! So we ordered and only paid for 1 meal. We spent most of the lunch talking to him about his career with the Air Force and about his upcoming schooling at The College of William and Mary studying English Literature. He was a nice guy and I think he was just needing some customers to mingle with.
Minor disaster struck on the way to Jamestown. I had my first flat after only 25.8 miles on the road… After a quick 10 minute tire change we were off again to visit the first settlement in the US which was settled in 1607. We had some confusion as to where to go after Jamestown and headed down the wrong road for a short spell before finally getting on the right track. It was a small, almost country road that we spent the rest of our time on. We stopped off in Charles City which is a bit of a misnomer. Despite having a courthouse and church, it has only 2 residential buildings, only 1 of which is in use. We found some people outside the church so we stopped to ask if we could stay the night there. They made some phone calls and before we knew it we had our tent up in the back. At the church that night was an AA meeting. “We’re not doing anything else,” I figured so we might as well go. I asked if it was an open meeting and they told us we were more than welcome to sit in. I’d wanted to attend an AA meeting to see what it’s like since college but have never had the courage to do so. What better time than now.
It was amazing. If you’ve never been or don’t know anything about it, it’s about letting go. About realizing that you’re powerless to control your own drinking and that God and others have to help you. It’s about wanting to make the change and putting sobriety at the highest level of importance and fighting it with every ounce of your being. It’s about confessing, very openly, your struggles and successes and failures with it. It’s about helping each other but not in a way that is pointing fingers and telling people what to do but about sharing your own life stories and struggles. It was so powerful and fresh and open. I felt like I was a part of a powerful underground society that wanted solely to shoulder one another’s burdens and realized, like only an alcoholic can, what struggles they were enduring. It was a great ending to a great first day.