Dollywood, the Blount County library and the souvenir store

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On May 25, a collection of 19 women and 11 men dipped the rear tires of their bicycles into the Atlantic Ocean at North Carolina’s outer banks and began a 3,500-mile cross country trip to San Diego. When they arrive July 27, they’ll dip the front tires into the Pacific, and the bikes - along with the memories - are theirs to keep. Along the way, Bike and Build’s North Carolina to San Diego team, commonly referred to as NC2SD, will work in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity to heighten awareness of the need for affordable housing.

The following are excerpts from rider blogs during their stay in Maryville. You can follow their journey and read more blogs at Bikeandbuild.org.

Anita Chang
Univ. of Pittsburgh School of Med
Pittsburgh, Pa.

On her stay in Maryville: "As trivial as it may seem, one of my biggest triumphs was learning to hammer the nails that go into the porch/stairs. They were extremely pliable and would bend at the slightest off-square stroke. We ended up with a large nail graveyard on the porch, but the porch itself was beautiful ? On many evenings in Maryville, I was able to just sit outside and enjoy the sunset, the hills, the greenery, the quiet; I love the peace that I felt ?

Christopher Clark, a.k.a. "Clark the Shark"
James Madison University
Vienna, Va.

On the road sign at the bottom of the climb from Cherokee, N.C., to Newfound Gap: "This sign, at the bottom of the climb up to Tennessee, started off the demise of my soul." The sign reads: Warning! Steep, Winding Mountain Road Next 35 Miles.

Meredith Gilliam
UNC-Chapel Hill
Raleigh, N.C.

On the new library: "It’s our last day in Maryville, and I’m writing from the Blount County Public Library, which is one of the coolest libraries (nice architecture, DVD rentals, coffee shop) I’ve visited in awhile."

Emily Hodge
University of Virginia
Woodford, Va.

On reaching Memphis: "Friday we have a day off in Memphis, only 270 miles from here. And I am getting a massage! I’ve been planning this since before I left (Maryville)."

On a souvenir store near Cherokee, N.C.: "The very old man in the store (the owner) started talking to me about our trip or something when I asked where the bathroom was, and somehow he mentioned how much he loves women, and did I ever meet a man who didn’t love women?

So then of course I pushed the button, saying, ‘Well, gay men don’t love women.’

"They should be shot."

That is what he said. And I was like, All right, we’ll see you later."

Mary Olive Jones
UNC-Chapel Hill
Tampa, Fla.

On turning south at Gatlinburg: "It meant that we didn’t get to go through Pigeon Forge, the home of the one and only Dolly Parton and Dollywood! I’ll certainly come back here just to go to Dollywood, but it was heartbreaking to get so close and not even catch a glimpse of the bronze statue downtown. Instead, I confessed to the group my deep love of all things Dolly and regaled them with all sorts of Dolly facts and songs for most of the night and next day.

Caitlin vonHedemann
University of Virginia
Atlanta, Ga.

On the Habitat ReStore: "I lived my dream this morning: thrift clothes as far as the eye can see!"

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