Sometimes big highlights are found in small places. Two days ago I had never heard of Denton, Maryland. Then I literally rolled in not knowing anyone, made friends with a bartender, ate an excellent dinner, camped in the woods, and woke up without any bear or mosquito bites. Sounds like a win for Countri Bike!
Crossing the Delmarva Peninsula was cause for concern because no Warm Showers hosts are located here. Although it sounds a little kinky, Warm Showers is reciprocal hospitality network for touring cyclists. That’s how I found a porch on the Jersey Shore, a lake house in Manahawkin, a welcoming home in Cape May, and dry shelter in Lewes. I am so grateful to each of those hosts.
Trevor is a 29-year-old shift manager and bartender at Denton’s Public House. He’s also an Area Director for Young Life, a high school faith-based outreach program. He also teaches a GED program at the local jail, oh, and plans to be a substitute teacher in the high school. He has as many part-time jobs as I do, but his are about helping others. Mine are about helping myself.
With his beard and love of baseball and bikes, Trevor could be at home in Brooklyn. But last night I noticed something that makes him rise above the typical hipster: deep and genuine generosity. When he heard that I was biking across America and camping out, he invited me to shower at his place in the morning before moving on to Annapolis.
After rinsing off my campground grime, we chatted before he left for work. I asked him why he is so nice to people entering Public House, even those just asking to sit outside.
Without flinching he said, “I want you to know that I see you as a human who is alive and existing, and because you and I share the same skeletal structure we’re equal. I want you to feel value in that.”
Whoa, this conversation is treading deep for 9:00 in the morning.
Trevor’s parents divorced when he was young, and he grew up “lonely” despite being one of five children. He was also born into a restaurant family. In 1940 his great grandfather ran an all-black bar during segregation. He won the bar in a card game. He then had an opportunity to put a bid on the concessions for ferries crossing the Chesapeake Bay. He won that, too.
When the Bay Bridge was built in 1952 he bought a plot of land for a restaurant on Route 50 that feeds into the bridge. Holly’s Restaurant in Grasonville, MD operated from 1955 to 2014. Last year the family accepted a $3.5 million offer for the property, selling to a gas station. The decision was easy: it would take 30 years to make what they would in one day by signing some papers.
The restaurant closed, but the signage survived. It hangs in Trevor’s dining room that looks like a page out of a Crate & Barrel catalog, but infinitely more original.
Bikes, happiness and joy
I told Trevor that my journey wasn’t just about me biking. I was seeking happiness and wanted to know his thoughts on the subject.
Trevor finds happiness bike riding for his commute and as part of his daily life.
“I was a branch manager of a bank and was completely joyless. I went to work, worked real hard, I was very successful and had the senior vice president calling me to tell me ‘good job’ because my numbers were good, but it didn’t provide me joy,” he said.
“My joy is religious based. The only time I’m full of happiness and joy is serving something outside of myself and for my faith in Jesus Christ.”
Like Michele in Delaware, Trevor rejects the American consumerist mentality.
“I’m not just mindlessly going to work and buying new things, as Americans we’re supposed to do, but I’m going to have a quality life and work a variety of part time jobs and be able to sit here at 9:40 and talk with Jeff and give him a hot shower.”
“I don’t care to have money and be rich; I care to have deep relationships and want people to know that I care for them and want the best for them,” he said.
Much appreciated, Trevor! Alas, it was time for him to head to work and for me to hit the road to Annapolis. His wife, who works in the elementary school, had just come home from a seven-mile run. She packed me a banana, peach and two gummi fruit snack packs.
Outside, I called ahead for a taxi in anticipation of crossing the Bay Bridge where bikes are prohibited. The voice on the other end gave me reason to worry.
Next up: Running out of time—my cycling sprint to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge