Saturday, September 18, 2021

The Trip Home - Final Entry

For those looking for the posts about my ride cross country, the last post was "Day 69."  What continues here is the documentations of our trip home.  You are welcome to follow along though it likely won't be as exciting. 

A lot has happened since we left the RV Park off the highway about 150 miles outside Denver.  I just haven't taken the time to write it down so this will be a lengthy entry.  It will be the FINAL entry too as we arrived home!

We had lunch scheduled with Cheryl’s aunt Loretta, uncle Rudy, and cousins Terry and Emily at 1 pm in Golden CO (think Coors beer) near Denver so we had to get up and out early.  I got a little workout in before we left.  Peloton strength workouts are my go to as there isn’t a lot of cardio so it keeps my heart rate down (still got the A fib thing).  The challenge is finding a place to do it so I’m not on display for all the other RVers or passers by.  

We made it to Golden a little early and spent some time walking around Golden.  It is a very nice town with a beautiful walking trail along the river that goes through town.  Lunch with Cheryl’s relatives was really fun.  So much catching up to do.  We were so engrossed in the conversation we forgot to take a picture!  We couldn’t stay too long because there was rain in the forecast and apparently there are mud slides on I70 near Canyonville and they close the freeway so we needed to get through there to avoid a 2 hour detour.  The drive was beautiful.  Even with the clouds it was gorgeous.  We cut through the Rockies and were at 9500 ft.  the RV kept chugging along.  18 wheelers were passing us, but we were still moving!

Our goal was to get to Moab and Arches National Park tomorrow so we spent the night at a Walmart so we could get up and out again in the morning.  Long but easy drive to Moab.  Cheryl and I both being big Jerky fans, the highlight of the drive was the stop at a roadside Jerky store.  Unbelievable selection.  We shied away from the exotic flavors like snake and kangaroo and stayed with beef.  There was prime rib, pepper, sweet/spicy.  It was awesome.  

Arches was only 20 miles down the road and we were there before we could even get through one package of jerky.  The day was perfect to see the beauty of the Arches.  Kenzie would have been proud of us as we did quite a bit of hiking.  A little frustrating that dogs were no allowed on any trails so Zuri had to stay in the RV.

Loved Moab.  Found Canyonlands RV Park in town which was convenient.  Stumbled on Spitfire BBQ for a late lunch.  It was a really good place with excellent beer and delicious food.  I especially liked the vibe.   We met a lady who was traveling across the country with her dog.  She was from Jersey and on her way back home. We shared stories about our favorite places and experiences as we both traveled across the country.  Fun time.  

We were undecided on how we spent the last 10 days of our trip.  We heard wonderful things about Zion National Park and the beautiful drive there but it would take us further south and we felt we needed to continue heading towards home.  We decided on Sun Valley for a couple days.  As we were finalizing our plans we got a phone call that a good friend of ours had passed away from pancreatic cancer.  Such terrible news and we are so sad by her passing.  Ugh.  She lived in Richland WA and the funeral would be Friday so we altered our plans to head that direction.  

On our way to Boise we decided to stay one more night is a small town so we picked Snowville ID (pop 139).  Of course there was only one restaurant called Ranch House.  Classic small town café just like we like.  Each table had a little wooden house with a small door that just screamed to be opened and of course Cheryl could not resist the temptation.  There was a loaded mouse trap inside that was triggered when the door was open.  Boom, the house exploded.  It was hilarious!  Throughout our dinner you could hear wooden houses exploding throughout the café.  

The next morning we headed to Boise.  We had a space at Rivers Edge RV park on the Snake River just out side of town but decided to spend some time in town.  We hear about an amazing dog park and of course that was tops on Cheryl's list.  We were there about 15 minutes (of course Zuri didn't want to play) when a dog came up to me.  I'm thinking the dog wants for me to pet it or play with it and next thing you know, it's peeing on my leg.  Seriously?  I'm getting peed on at a dog park in Boise?  Well, that dampened my enthusiasm for hanging out at the dog park so we headed downtown to Guido's for some New York style pizza and a beer before heading to the RV park.

Rivers Edge RV park was located as the name suggests, right on the Snake River and our spot had a gorgeous view.  It was just outside of town with some great scenery so I decided to get up early and go for a bike ride.  Yes first time on the bike since Portland ME.  I must admit it felt great to be back in the saddle, even if it was only for a few hours.  

We made it to the Tri-Cities Wednesday so decided to go to Prosser for some wine tasting and and also catch up with some friends we have in the area.  Of course we had to have lunch with John and Vickiy.  They met us in Walla Walla early in the journey and then again at the end.  We went to Porters BBQ which was terrific.  John and I had "The Jonny Sandwich" which includes brisket, pulled pork and bacon.  Though it wasn't great for my arteries, wow it was good.  

Following a touching service for our friend, it was time to make the final leg down The Gorge back to Portland.  There were mixed emotions as we pulled into the driveway.  The end of a trip of a lifetime had arrived.  It seemed like only yesterday we were on HWY 26 driving to Fort Stevens not knowing what was to come and now we are back in the driveway with unbelievable memories that we will never forget.   88 days, 3800 miles on the bike and 10,400 total miles and 29 states.  What a summer!

What's next?

Monday, September 6, 2021

The Trip Home - Follow the Yellow Brick Road

For those looking for the posts about my ride cross country, the last post was "Day 69."  What continues here is the documentations of our trip home.  You are welcome to follow along though it likely won't be as exciting. 

We didn’t get up too early after our late night in Nashville as we were not looking forward to the drive across the middle of America.  We figured we would get on the freeway and I70 and drive about 300-350 miles and just see where we feel like stopping for the night.  The RV continues to keep rolling along though it definitely surges going up hills and while accelerating (and I get the flashing check engine light) but on the open road with the cruise control set at 65 she just purrs like a kitten.  We prefer to add 93 octane gas (still holding on to Coffman recommendation) but since we left the east coast, the best we can find is 91 so I also add some octane boost.  Couple that with the injector cleaner that we started using back in Aurora and we have quite the additive cocktail mixed up every time we fill up.  It aint cheap either!  I typically add two cans of each additive and have to run the credit card twice.  Ouch!

After about an hour, we went through St Louis and had to make a stop at the Gateway to the West monument.  It looks really cool against the St Louis skyline and is huge (630 ft high and 630 ft wide).  Parking for the RV was a little tenuous as they had us park along the tilted riverbank and I thought for sure we were going to tip over.  We made sure to all get out on the high side just in case.   From there it was a very boring ride.  All those things you hear about nothing in Kansas?  Believe it.  There is nothing in Kansas.  We decided to go to Topeka.  That would leave us a day and a half of driving to get to Denver where we will have lunch with Cheryl's Aunt, Uncle and Cousins.  We used our harvest host membership again and stopped at 4204 Main Street Brewing.  Yes that is the name (and the address).  We figured dry camping made sense as we will be on the road again first thing in the morning.  The big concern was the temperature since we didn’t have 30 amp power for AC.  The forecast was for a “cool” night of 70 so we took a chance.  4204 Main Street Brewing is a very neat place with good food and an amazing outdoor area where Cheryl and I played corn hole.  As night approached, the temperature did not drop and it was still very warm and humid.  I did my best to build an air conditioner, but it was no match for 80 degrees and 80% humidity.  

After a long, sweaty, sleepless night, we were back on the road.  After only about an hour, to our delight, we saw a billboard for the Wizard of Oz Museum in Wamego KS just 10 miles off I70.  Of course we HAD to go there.  Apparently, 15 years ago, a couple had a vast amount of Wizard of Oz memorabilia and decided to open up a museum in Wamego KS.  The rest of the town followed their lead and the town became an Oz themed destination (well, for people like us).  There is a yellow brick road, Toto’s Tacos and the Oz winery.  After our tour through the museum we did a little tasting at the Oz winery.  A charming place and the wine names that all have to do with the Wizard of Oz.  “Drunken Munchkin,” “Flying Monkey,” “Angry Trees” (you get the idea.)  It was a lot of fun.    

We had to hit the road (black, not yellow in this case) and get some miles behind us.  We all found our spots in the RV for the next few hours.  I was in the driver seat, Cheryl in the back and of course Zuri in her space in direct line of the AC.  

Cheryl found a terrific RV park (more like a gravel parking lot
with some hook ups) but it was exactly what we wanted as the electrical will allow us to run the AC and we will be here for less than 12 hours.  We only have 150 miles to Denver which feels like the West so we are getting closer!

Saturday, September 4, 2021

The Trip Home - The Grand Ole Opry

For those looking for the posts about my ride cross country, the last post was "Day 69."  What continues here is the documentations of our trip home.  You are welcome to follow along though it likely won't be as exciting. 

Saturday was August 28th and Cheryl and my 38th wedding anniversary.  38 years!  It has been truly an amazing time.  We should get an extra year for 90 days in a 24 foot RV!  We didn’t have anything special planned other than trying to get to Nashville.  After we said good-bye to Kenzie, Cheryl and I started the journey west hoping we could make it to Nashville about 300 miles away.  The drive was on HWY 40 the entire way and not especially memorable.  The RV continues to chug along and actually ran pretty well. 

We arrived in Nashville in the mid afternoon at Nashville RV Resort.  We spent some time settling in and pulling together our evening agenda.  Though there are many sights and attractions to consider, including the Country Music Hall of Fame, Johnny Cash Museum, Ryman Auditorium and many others, we decided a show at the Grand Ole Opry and a walk down Broadway Street finding a place for dinner would make for a nice anniversary. 

We were fortunate that tonight was a weekly show at the Grand Ole Opry where there are multiple stars each singing a few songs.  The show was broken up into two halves.  The 1st half was the legends John Conlee, Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press and Connie Smith.  Bobby Bones did a funny comedy routine and then the 2nd half consisted of the young big hitters.  Michael Ray, Rodney Crowell, Laine Hardy and Lauren Alaina.  According to the couple next to us, this was a great line up though I didn’t know any of them.  It was a very entertaining show and fun to be in the building where so many famous people have performed over the years. 

After the show we caught an Uber to Broadway street and I got to say, it took me a little by surprise.  It was CRAZY.  People have compared Broadway Street in Nashville to The Strip in Vegas and in my humble opinion it’s not even close.  Sure Vegas is MUCH bigger but the Nashville crowd was much wilder.  They close down the street and there are bands playing with the doors open in nearly every bar/restaurant and as you walk down the street you can hear them all playing at once.  Bachelorette parties everywhere.  Celebrating our 38th anniversary, Cheryl and I felt a little out of place.  We showed up a too late for a nice dinner and even the multi-level food court was shutting down so we settled for some Italian pasta in To Go containers.  Dessert was some not so good lemon cake for $10.  Not much of an anniversary meal.  Oh well, this entire trip has been about adjustments.  We’ll do something better when we get home. 

Tomorrow starts the looooooong road to Denver. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

The Trip Home - Asheville "Plan B"

For those looking for the posts about my ride cross country, the last post was "Day 69."  What continues here is the documentations of our trip home.  You are welcome to follow along though it likely won't be as exciting. 

It is over 461 miles to Ashville from Washington DC and since we did not leave DC until after 1 pm and we don’t like to drive more than 350 miles a day that leaves a midpoint stop somewhere.  We looked “Harvest Host” and what appeared to be a fun distillery called Old Nick Williams Distillery 326 miles away.  That would leave us a short drive to Ashville on Friday.  

The route took us through Durham NC, home of Duke University and Cameron Indoor Stadium.  We first had lunch at a fun brew pub called Grub Durham on campus.  Our attempt to get to Cameron failed miserably.  As you can imagine, parking the RV on campus so we could walk to Cameron was impossible and even a drive by was difficult because it was tucked off the road and behind the trees.  Swing and a MISS!

We continued on to the Old Nick Williams Distillery.  The distillery is currently owned by Zeb and Ashlee who are the decedents of the founder who first opened it in 1768.  It is claimed to be the oldest distillery in NC and possibly the USA.  Zeb and Ashlee were terrific and even though we showed up just before closing, they continued to serve us and talk about the history of the business and their current plans well into the evening.  Fun Fact is that this distillery was featured on the reality show Moonshiners.  When it got late, Zeb prepared one last drink for us and allowed us to stay on the distillery porch with the music playing as long as we wanted.  “Just unplug the jukebox and turn off the lights when you’re done.” He said as he got into his pickup.   It was a beautiful night, but we didn’t stay out too long as we wanted to get to Ashville early the next day.  

We made it to Asheville before noon and our original plan was to float the river then check out a few restaurants and breweries as Asheville is known for it’s restaurant and pub scene.  Unfortunately, a few days earlier the French Broad River flooded, and it was still very muddy and not good for floating.  So, Kenzie pulled together a terrific “Plan B.”  An Asheville Pub Crawl.  Perfect!

I’m a little embarrassed to say that we hit 10 different breweries/wineries/restaurants.  I will say that after the first few, we quickly decided that we could not order our own drink at each location if we expected to finish, so we started sharing beverages.  Some may call us wussies but I think intelligence won out this time.  Here is the list: Home Ground Pub, Plebb Urban Winery, Wedge Brewing, 12 Bones BBQ, Old London Road Pub, Iconic Kitchen and Drinks, Burial Brewing, Green Man Brewing, Catawba Brewing and Bhramari Brewing.  

I will admit that I had heard so many great things about Asheville that I tried to lower my expectations so as not to be disappointed, but I was very impressed.  So many unique places to go.  The food was outstanding (really liked 12 Bones BBQ) and beer and wine delicious.  Good vibe throughout.  We spent the most time at Catawba Brewing as there were a couple of fun bands playing.  There was a short interruption as the local baseball team set off some amazing fireworks after their game and the field was next to Catawba Brewing so we got a front row seat.  What a fun day/evening.

Video at Catawba Brewing

Surprisingly, I didn’t feel too bad the next morning and we got Kenzie off in time for her Saturday morning flight.  It was back to just Cheryl and I for the rest of the trip home.  We thoroughly enjoyed our few days with Kenz and were sorry she had to go.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

The Trip Home - Washington DC

For those looking for the posts about my ride cross country, the last post was "Day 69."  What continues here is the documentations of our trip home.  You are welcome to follow along though it likely won't be as exciting. 

A great night sleep following our huge day in NYC.  The plan for today was to get to DC early enough so we could see a few sights before dark and then see Arlington National Cemetery and the White House Thursday morning before continuing south toward Asheville NC.  

It was a 226 mile drive that was relatively uneventful.  We needed some more fuel additive (yes we are still in the premium gas, injector cleaner additive routine) and pulled into a Chevy dealership on the way.  The dealership we selected by chance on Google and we discovered as we pulled in that it was devastated by a tornado just a few days earlier.  It was an incredible sight.  Buildings around were relatively undamaged yet this dealership was complete leveled.  Unreal.

The nearest RV Park was 30 miles outside DC so we did an extensive search for a hotel near the National Mall where we could park the RV.  Kenzie came up big with a perfect spot.     

We quickly got settled then caught an Uber to the Lincoln Memorial.  Having never been to Washington DC, I had my own thoughts on what to expect based on movies and TV.  I was impressed by the size of the The National Mall.  Lots of little surprises.  For example, I knew the Smithsonian was in DC but not actually within The National Mall.  The monuments are all unique, impactful and in great condition.  Of course our step meter was off the charts again, and I was ready for some rest and dinner.

Kenzie has some good friends, Charlie and Bethany, who recently moved to Washington DC, who we met for dinner at a really cool food court called The Roost.  Highly recommended.  Food was good and you order all your food on-line and they deliver to your table.  

It was nice to be in a hotel for a long shower and some room to spread out.  I slept like a rock.

The next morning came quick.  I should have realized that we had a big walking day ahead of us but there was a expansive fitness center across the hall from our room and was drawn to it for a quick morning workout.   It felt good but I would pay for it later.  We hit the continental breakfast (it was surprisingly good!) and were off to Arlington National Cemetery.  Similar to The National Mall, I was again taken aback by the size.  After seeing the names on the Vietnam monument and walking the WWII and Marine monuments, the thousands of tombstones at Arlington it really hits home the sacrifices so many men and women made for this country.  What a debt of gratitude we all owe these heroes and their families.

Time was running short as we had to check out of the hotel so we attempted a "drive by" of the White House but there was a demonstration and all the roads were blocked off.  We got a distant view yesterday but missed the up close view today.  Bummer.  

I was really impressed with our Nation's Capitol and hope that our elected leaders never forget the original intent and vision of the Founding Fathers and sacrifices that have been made by so many and live up to those values and expectations.  I sometimes wonder......  

Now we have 471 miles to Ashville.  Better hit the road.    

Sunday, August 29, 2021

The Trip Home - The Big Apple - Day 2

For those looking for the posts about my ride cross country, the last post was "Day 69."  What continues here is the documentations of our trip home.  You are welcome to follow along though it likely won't be as exciting.  

I woke up Tuesday morning leery of what lies ahead.  Kenzie had that look in her eye that she wanted to see/do everything NYC had to offer.  I was happy we got a head start yesterday with the WTC and Wall Street (actually most of downtown).  NYC is a big place and that leaves a lot left to conquer today.  

Our RV Park was not far from Liberty State Park so we decided to get a coffee and take Zuri for a long walk to tire her out since she would be in the RV most of the day.  We could also see Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty (at least a little closer).  I think the plan backfired as I was the one who got tired.  "Kenz, how about an Uber back to the RV Park?"

We took the Ferry across the the Hudson.  The plan was to go North of Central Park for a NY style bagel and work our way South.  We had originally thought about Brooklyn and walking across the bridge but quickly realized that was overly ambitious.  It sort of worked as we did catch the subway and we did get north of Central Park but between the Liberty State Park beginning and where we are now, we are certainly getting our steps in.  We ended up at Absolute bagels and I must admit, the bagels were outstanding.  I had the Bacon/Cheddar Cream Cheese, Cheryl had the Vegetable Cream Cheese and Kenzie had the Chive Cream Cheese.  Yes it was more like lunch now (12:30 pm) but that was OK.  We walked to Central Park to eat and I decided to look at how far we had walked so far today.  Almost 15,000 steps, 7.3 miles before 1:00 pm!  

Next on the list was a bike ride through Central Park (yes, bike ride!).  After a little fiasco getting the CitiBank Bike App loaded and the bikes unlocked we were on our bikes.  I REALLY enjoyed riding the bike through the park.  Having seen Central Park in movies and on TV it was great to actually expereince it.  I lobbied hard to keep the bikes for the day but was overruled and we decided to walk to Time Square.  I did negotiate a beer at the half way point which was big.  What is so interesting about Manhattan is that each section is so different.  Downtown, Midtown, Uptown.  Time Square felt more like Vegas than NY.  Jenna mentioned that we have to see Chellese Market so we walked there and had a little something to eat.  We had a butchers hot dog, fries and of course a beer.  It felt good to sit for a while but before long we were back on our feet and went to The High Line greenway.  This as it is an old above the street railroad that was converted to a walking garden.  This was one walk during the day that I did enjoy.  

By now it is 6:30 pm and we have tickets to the Empire State Building at 7:10 pm.  We figured that we should probably get a move on to give us a cushion in case we take a wrong turn or our legs give out.  Surprisingly, made it in plenty of time.  The Empire State building tour was awesome.  I had been once before about 30 years ago and back then you simply bought a ticket to the observation deck, looked around and came down.  Now there is a museum and a lot of information on the history of the building.  We purposely got the tickets for sunset which was spectacular.  Definitely one of the highlights of the day.  

After the memorable visit to the Empire State Building, we decided that a nice ending to the day would be a slice of NY style pizza.  We found an authentic corner pizza place that was perfect.  Kenzie liked the idea of a "walking" slice on our way to the subway station, but this time I insisted that we SIT and eat.  After all, we had put in 28,000 steps and 14 miles for the day.  What is so ironic about all the walking we did, we still had $4 each left on our metro passes that we didn't use.  Hello!

Tomorrow we are up and at it again heading to Washington DC.


The Trip Home - The Big Apple - Day 1

For those looking for the posts about my ride cross country, the last post was "Day 69."  What continues here is the documentations of our trip home.  You are welcome to follow along though it likely won't be as exciting.  

We left fairly early Monday morning for the 4 ½ hour drive to New York.  Kenzie, who nominated herself as tour guide (which Cheryl and I thought would be awesome until we saw her itinerary!) found an RV park in Jersey City on the water looking right at the NYC skyline.  Good news is the location, bad news is the location.  I need to get the RV through downtown.  The drive was extremely stressful.  It was pouring rain most of the way (remnants of Henri) and of course I had the nasty check engine light flashing at me.  To add insult to injury, Google sent us on HWY 15 Palisades Parkway, a 74 mile stretch heading into New Jersey.  Turns out that only passenger vehicles are allowed on this road and the bridges have low clearance.  You would think there would be FLASHING signs on the ramps onto this road, but I didn’t see any.  I would see clearance signs with the right side 11' 6" (RV is 12 feet by the way) and left side 12' 8" so I would move into the left lane and hope the right side
cleared.  After 15 miles and 10 overpasses, I decided enough of this nonsense and pulled off the road. (Yes I am a slow learner).  There was no good alternative road and we had to drive through wooded neighborhoods at 25 mph adding about 45 minutes to our ETA.  Oh did I mention that the roads were really bad and with the high quality suspension of the RV, the refrigerator door flew open and the eggs broke all over the floor.  Great first road day on our journey back!

We finally rolled into the RV park at about 4:30 pm and I could not open a beer fast enough.  Was thinking about something stronger.  Kenzie, who was my co-pilot was feeling the stress and joined me.  After we got our bearings and heart rate down, we headed into Downtown Manhattan.  We went to the World Trade Center, visited Wall Street and had a terrific dinner at Watermark right on the water.  Great location with the Brooklyn Bridge as the backdrop.  I had a burger and Cheryl and Kenzie split a salad and chicken sandwich.  We rode the subway home and went to bed.  Sheesh, I thought riding my bike was tiring.  Kenzie's itinerary is way tougher.  That doesn't even touch what she has planned for tomorrow.      

Need to get my rest.  

The Trip Home - WIth the family in Maine/Boston

For those looking for the posts about my ride cross country, the last post was "Day 69."  What begins today is the documentations of our trip home.  You are welcome to follow along though it likely won't be too exciting.  Like watching Winkler home movies!

What a surprise seeing the family at the finish line.  What’s even better is that we all get to be together until Monday.  The weather was awful but that didn’t dampen our spirits and the celebration was on.  We decided to hit some local pubs (shocker) including Lone Pine, Austin (a game of “never have I ever” that got a little personal) and Rising Tide (ate a bunch of pizza here) breweries and Bastons for a nightcap and some fancy cocktails.  The combination of having the family together in an area of the country we had never been before coupled with the relief of being done with the ride made for a terrific night.  We spent the evening in Wells, ME near the beach at Lindsay’s mother’s boyfriends beach house (got that?).  There was an RV Park real close which is where we stayed.  Boy did I sleep well.  The engine in the RV is not running well but the mattress continues to deliver,

The following day was Portland ME appreciation day.  We started off with lunch at Luke’s on the
waterfront. Of course, we had to have lobster, crab and shrimp rolls.  They were out of this world!  We visited a few more breweries (including Shipyard) and the kids wanted oyster shooters at Eventide.  How anyone can eat oysters is beyond me.  They make me gag.  We finished off the evening with Paula (Lindsay’s mom) and Brian at the beach house.  

Saturday was Boston MA appreciation day.  Before we left for the city, I decided to test out my heart with some run/walk exercise careful to not let things get out of hand.  I also tried some pushups and sit ups.  Wow. A different type of exercise than the last 70 days.  After exercising exclusively on a bike for 69 days my body is saying WTF?  This is definitely going to be an adjustment.  We originally had Red Sox tickets for Sunday but with Tropical Storm Henri on the way we decided to move it up to Saturday and that was a great choice other than the Sox go blown out by the last place Rangers 10-1.  Before the game we walked the wharf and had a drink at Bell in Hand (the oldest bar in the US!).  Brian was nice enough to allow us to stay in his driveway with the RV.  Didn’t do much for his property values but we certainly appreciated it.  

With Henri hitting Boston on Sunday there wasn’t much we could do.  We had a big late breakfast at the house then visited Harvard and did a little candlestick bowling.  Skinny pins and little balls.  It was really fun!  We grabbed some clam chowder, salad and bread and called it a night.  We had a wonderful time with the family in Portland and Boston.  Many thanks for such a wonderful surprise!

Since Nike is off next week, Kenzie surprised Cheryl and I and said she will join us for a few days on the trip back.  What a fun surprise.  It is off to New York and Washington DC for the next few days.  Heading South before we head West to get home.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Day 69 - Portland to Portland - check!

After 68 days, 3800 miles, 3 tire changes and a lot of breakfast sandwiches, today is the day I dip the bike tires into the Atlantic Ocean, completing the journey I started June 12 at Fort Stevens State Park.  A lot happened today and I have a few comments for my final entry so sit down and get comfortable as you may be here a while.

Since we didn't get WiFi or cell service at the Natures Wilderness Campground we got up early and moved the RV close to the starting point where we could connect, post the blog, catch up on some messages and start the ride into Portland ME.  I included the entire team for my final daily "start" picture.  This has truly been a team effort and could not have done without Cheryl (OK, Zuri gets some credit too).  I waited until today to mention it but John Van Beek,  (most of you know him as John VB from the comment section of the blog) notified the Portland ME media and there will be two camera crews at the finish line at 2 pm today.  So much for my intimate, incognito finish at Fort Allen Park.  Thanks a lot John!

The 2 pm finish gave me plenty of time to go slow, reflect on the journey and keep my heart rate down.  The ride itself was nice.  Not a lot to see but the weather was cool, roads were OK and other than a few spots, traffic was light.  I was on Cove Beach Trail for most of the ride into town so that was nice.  As was fitting, it started to rain, so I could finish the way I started, soaking wet.  

As is my SOP, I put Fort Allen Park into Google and let Siri provide directions in my ear piece.  As also is SOP, I missed the turn where Cheryl and the TV crew were waiting.  Yep zipped right on by them.  In my defense they were on the North end of the park tucked near a boat ramp and Siri was directing me further South.  So much for my impressive first impression with the TV crews of Portland ME.

As I approached the ramp I saw a group of people holding a banner and spraying Champage.  My glasses had water all over them so it was tough to see clearly but the faces were very familiar.  It was my kids!!  They had all flown in without telling me (of course Cheryl was in on the secret that sneaking girl).  The joy I was feeling as I approached the finish line was magnified 10X to see my family there to expereince the event with me. (sadly Lexi, Greg and Karl could not be here in person but were on FaceTime). Wow, wow wow.  What a wonderful surprise.  Not only were they here for the finish, they will be staying through the weekend so we have 4 days in the northeast together before Cheryl and I start DRIVING back home (assuming we don't just dump the RV and call up Delta Airlines).

As mentioned, thanks to John, the TV crew was there and did run the story on the evening news and posted on their web site link below.  Obviously I was kidding before John, it was a fun addition to the finish. I appreciate your thoughtfulness.  

News Report

So there we were standing on the east coast in Portland ME on August 19th, just as scheduled. Quite remarkable I must say that we were able to hit the day we set out to back in June.  Certainly is wasn't as simple as the daily schedule would make it appear.  Sure I was a little concerned when Greg and I were heading to Bend OR on Day 3 but we made it!  I am very excited and a little relieved to be honest.  

For the 6 or 7 of you who have stayed with us throughout trip following the blog, you already know the cast of characters, but I would like to take a moment to reflect on those who joined me and/or provided support to help me get through this.  I am so grateful to you all!

Greg/Krissie – Only fitting that Greg partner with me to start the whole adventure.  He road with me to San Francisco 8 years ago and that trip wet my appetite to do something bigger.  What a first 4 days.  Wow.  Getting lost, huge climbs, and cold and raining weather.  Through it all Greg never flinched and was always smiling.  He is truly one in a million and I am so fortunate to have he and Krissie as friends for 35 years.  

Skip/Betty – Coordinating a trip like this to include everyone is difficult but thanks to some scheduling handsprings, Skip and Betty were able to join us for a wonderful rest day in Lincoln MT and two days on the road.  Perfect first day of riding crossing Flesher Pass and a little sheep herding.  On top of that, Skip found us a house in Helena and lent out his bike so the team could continue after he had to drop.  Just one of the many selfless acts by my amazing friends that I am so lucky to have.

Craig – nothing like driving 718 miles from Portland to Helena to ride for a day.  Unbelievable.  Sure he has family in the area but what a commitment.  After all of that, your back wheel fails 20 miles into the ride.  But as was the case throughout the trip, creative solutions allowed the trek to continue on schedule.  Thank you so much for being a part of the adventure Craig.  

Jack – Flew into Helena MT to participate in probably the most difficult leg of the ride.  Blistering heat, with long stretches of, well, not much.  Jack rode over 500 miles (not a typo) with me and it would have been painful to get through that stretch without him.  I enjoyed the conversations on the road and relaxing evenings in the RV.  Thanks so much Jack!

Kyle and Casey – Not sure where to start.  RV engine problems that led to 7 unpredictable days filled with riding, sightseeing, eating, drinking, laughing and of course, frustration.  Planning and replanning to keep to the schedule.  Though its not how we envisioned the week, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.  These two are amazing young men and I so appreciate them making the commitment to spend time with Cheryl and I on the road in the Midwest.  

Tom/Kriti – An unexpected pleasure.  Not originally scheduled, you jumped on the train near the end and provided a much-needed boost of energy.  We made it through the Adirondacks and some tough climbing.  Tom and Kriti had just moved into a new house, yet drove 4 hours to sleep in an RV with 4 adults and 2 dogs.  Wow!

John/Vickiy – Though you did not make one pedal stroke, I felt you were with us every mile.  Your consistent comments on the blog and side texts and emails were funny, insightful and always something to look forward to.  Thank you for being such active participants and sharing in this expereince with us.   This is number 3 in being a part of our adventures (1ktothebay, Amsterdam, Coast to Coast).

My family – Thanks for keeping things going at home and providing support and encouragement through texts, phone calls and the periodic group FaceTime.  The milestone boxes were a great idea and gave Cheryl and I something to look forward to.  We love you very much.  The surprise at the finish line was unforgettable and the perfect ending to the journey.   

Cheryl –  Where do I start.  The MVP of the trip.  This ride would not have happened without her.  Period.  Words can not adequately express my gratitude for supporting me both before and during this adventure.  Our time spent together in the RV for 69 days (more to come) crossing this country created everlasting memories.  I love you so very much!

Reflections - I did a lot of thinking during the 250+ hours on the bike and solved all the worlds problems many times over.  Not to be overly philosophical and say that I have fundamentally changed during this ride, I will say that I see things differently today than I did on June 12.  I only rode through the northern section of the country, but it did open my eyes to the sheer size of the US and the many wonderful people and different perspectives peppered throughout.  In many ways we live in a bubble in Portland drinking our lattes and micro brews thinking we have it all figured out.  I would simply challenge us to broaden our world view to include perspectives from all areas of the country.  Not to necessarily agree with them but seek to understand.  I know I have learned A LOT by simply talking with the everyday people in local bars and cafes as we traveled the country.

Secondly, though I am typically a pretty patient, optimistic guy, this trip reaffirmed that I need to spend less time worrying about what should happen or what I want to happen and more time dealing with and enjoying what is actually happening.  Everyday we had unexpected pleasures and confronted unexpected issues but all were equally important in creating to overall expereince and that is what this trip was all about.     

Finally, and most important, I realize what an amazing support structure I have.  Family, friends, coworkers, I am truly blessed with so many wonderful people in my life and do not take that for granted.  That includes many of you that read my crazy blog for 69 days.  Thank you so much for sharing this expereince with me.  I could feel you with me through every mile.  

And now the bike gets put on the rack for some much needed rest.  I know it's just a bike, but it played an important role, almost felt like a trusted partner underneath me.  Thank you Cannondale!

So that's it!  I will likely periodically post on this site as a historical reference for the future (that memory thing again) but I don't want to bore you with "home movies" of our trip back so this is the last "official post."  

Thanks again for following along.  Hopefully it won't be too long until we do something crazy again.

Until then.....

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Day 68 - Leeches in the Pond?

Today was a scheduled rest day to allow time for the RV to get the check engine light cleared once and for all.  Keith the mechanic starts work at 5 am every morning and suggested we “bring er in” as early as possible.  So much for sleeping in on our rest day but getting the RV ready for the trip back is the priority.  5 am was a little too early but we did wake up, disconnect, dump the tanks and have the RV at Hilton Truck Repair by 6:30 am.  Not bad!  We also asked Keith to do some general maintenance like oil change, lube, check all the tires etc so we were ready to go.  As luck would have it, the check engine light cleared last night coming back from dinner and the RV was actually running pretty well.  It’s done this before which doesn’t bode well for Keith’s diagnostics.  

Cheryl, I and Zuri now had some time to kill and the one coffee place in walking distance didn’t open until 8 am.  So we spent some time trying to teach Zuri how to fetch (waste of time) and did some LAR (Life After Ride) planning until 8 am.  We door busted at Sweet Maple Café.  It was an awesome place.  We each had coffee and shared an unbelievable pumpkin/caramel square (yep another food picture).  Since we had nothing but time we decided on breakfast as well.  I had the breakfast burrito and Cheryl had the quiche.  Everything was really delicious.  

Just as I returned with a coffee refill my phone rang.  It was Keith telling us the RV was ready.  What?  It’s only 9 am?  He changed the oil and completed the other maintenance items and since the RV is running better and the check engine light is off there isn’t much he could do.  I sort of see his point but seriously?  That’s it?  He mentioned burning good gas and fuel additives.  Come on, use your imagination Keith, Coffman already has the rights to that.    

By now it is 10:30 am.  What to do, what to do.  Quite honestly, I’m not good at just “resting” and since there wasn’t a good movie playing and we had already checked out of the RV Park, I figured we move further east.  We headed to Fryeburg to our last stopping point and I noticed a “Master Barber” sign on the building across the street.  I need a haircut, we have time and it’s a Master Barber for crying out loud!  So I went in and ask Steph the Master Barber if she had an opening.  “Walk ins only” she said.  There were two gentlemen ahead of me so I asked, “Can I put my name on a list?”  “Nope, got to wait here” was her reply.  Turns out Steph has been in this same building for 26 years cutting hair for the people of Fryeburg and never taken an appointment.  It was a no-frills affair, no TV, no pre haircut drink, no fancy gels or creams.  The old fashioned chair, clippers, scissors and comb.  That will be $21 please.  Loved it!

There was a beautiful campground 18 miles down the road, so we decided a short ride was in order making sure we ease into the finish and not over exerting “the ticker.”  This will make the final day 36 miles.  Low impact, easy last day, just the way my cardiologist likes it.  It was an uneventful ride except the road was really busy and the shoulder for 8 miles was awful.  I did manage to get what will probably the last barn picture John.  Took it for you!   Oh yeah, and the check engine light started flashing again 5 miles down the road.  This RV has an evil sense of humor.  

We rolled into the Natures Wilderness Campground and it is absolutely gorgeous.  Lots of room, a lower lake with kayaks and paddle boards and an upper pond.  Our site was next to the upper pond and it felt like being next to a painting.  Wild flowers and a mirror water reflection.  We wanted to take a dip but Kim the manager said, “I wouldn’t, there are leeches in the upper pond.”  Leeches?  When was the last time I thought about leeches?  A horror movie? It was pretty warm and humid and we were primed for a swim, so we decided on a refreshing swim in the pool instead.  Fortunately, nothing latched onto my leg and started sucking my blood.  

There was no WiFi or cell service at the campground and being it was the last night of the ride, it provided a good opportunity for Cheryl and I to reflect on the trip.  We knew we were starting with a blank canvas back in June and boy what a picture that was created.  Tomorrow is the LAST DAY!  I get a little emotional just thinking about it.

Until then….