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 CafĂ©.  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…. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Day 67 - Last Pass Passed!

We have had 4 straight days of climbing as we work through the Appalachian Mountains with one more day to go.  Today we execute the latest plan to get us to Portland ME on schedule August 19th. We are spending a rest day in Conway NH while a mechanic looks at the RV.  There is a steady climb as we cross Kancamagus Pass and from there it is downhill baby, all the way to Portland ME.  I tried to keep a slow steady cadence as I went up the mountain, closely watching my heart rate.  It's a good thing there were guardrail posts as if they weren't there it would have been tough to tell if I was moving.  If my heartrate started rising too fast I found that a convenient excuse to stop and take a picture of the beautiful landscape.  It happened quite a bit I must say.   

Though we will be spending the night in Conway, it was only a 37 mile ride from our last stop so we continued another 9 miles on to Fryeburg ME which will make the home stretch to Portland only 52 miles.  52 miles!  Did you notice the ME after Fryeburg?  We actually got to Maine! That is where we will pick up the route on Thursday.  

We stopped at Hilton Truck Repair following the ride to talk with the mechanic Keith.  I gave him the background on the RV's mechanical problems and about an hour and two cups of coffee later I asked if he had any questions.  His eyes glazed over a couple times but he seemed to get it.  I'm not overly optimistic that we will have success but we'll give Keith a chance to work his magic.  I told him I'm leaving Conway at 8 am Thursday regardless.  

August 17th is a special day for both Cheryl and I.  It is my late fathers birthday (he would have been 85 today) and the day Cheryl's father passed away in 1990.  Two wonderful men we miss dearly.  We drink Gin & Tonics to honor my dad and a Budweiser to honor Cheryl's dad.  We decided to have dinner and the beers at a place called "Almost There."  We figured that was appropriate considering where we stand with the ride.  Fantastic burgers.  "The Eagle" came highly recommended so I ordered it and it did not disappoint.  1/2 pound patty with bacon, carnalized opinions and BBQ sauce.  Yum.  Please do not tell my cardiologist.  

As I mentioned, we will hang out in the metropolis that is Conway NH (population 10,266).  They do have a movie theater but Black Widow is not playing!  Damn! We'll see what we feel like doing and play it by ear.

Until then....

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Day 66 - Homemade Ice Cream!

I created this blog for a couple a reasons.  First of all, this is sort of a diary of our expereince because I've learned from other adventures we've taken that with my age and decreasing metal capacity, if I don't write it down I forget.  Secondly, it is to share my experience with family and friends.  I would certainly like you riding beside me and joining us in the RV (well, maybe not all of you) but since you can't, this is a way for us to be connected.  As you all know by now, I wear my emotions on my sleeve and lay it all out there.  Like yesterday and mentioning the possible return of the A fib.  Many of you have reached out to check on me and I can not thank you enough.  I am very grateful for all of the support I routinely receive.  Trust me, I have been in contact with my doctor and am going very slow!

That said, today's ride was through the White Mountains so there was plenty of climbing (and slow going).   Looking at the profile you can clearly see where the Connecticut River cuts through the mountains where we crossed the Vermont/New Hampshire border.  Some very beautiful terrain.   Talk about ending with a bang.  The scenery just keeps getting better and better.    

We've started to see the buildings the rural northeast is known for such as beautiful village churches and covered bridges.  The covered bridges are numbered by the state (#29 is shown below).  I can only imagine what this area looks like in the fall!

We have set up camp in the Maple Haven Campground.  It's a fun spot near Lincoln NH.  They sell delicious home made ice cream!  So after our dinner we indulged.  Cheryl getting a cup of the White Chocolate Raspberry while I got a waffle cone of the Salted Caramel.  Of course Zuri got the doggy dish.  

As we inch ever so close to the end we have started to think about LAR (Life After Ride).  The number 1 priority is to get the RV in a reliable state.  Up until now we have been locked into the route timetable and it was impossible to schedule time with a mechanic.  We always just "dropped in" hoping our puppy dog eyes and cross country story would gain us favor.  Well, it obviously hasn't been successful and we just drive with our eyes glued to the check engine light.  Since we are one day ahead of schedule, and I like the idea of finishing on the day we planned, we have scheduled an appointment with a mechanic in Conway NH to work on the RV tomorrow afternoon, into Wednesday, if necessary, so we can ride into Portland ME on Thursday.  

We have two days of riding left with less that 100 miles to the finish line.  OMG!  It's the bottom of the ninth and here's to hoping the bike gods don't throw us another curve ball.  We've seen it before so if they do, hopefully we hit it out of the park.  

Until then....

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Day 65 - MY Check Engine Light!

After a tough day in the saddle yesterday, we got a good night sleep feeling especially safe next to the

police station so I was fired up to continue to drive eastward.  A little shorter route today with only about 46 miles but still some hills with over 2700 feet of climb (this included one wrong turn).  Right out of the gate I hit an incline and I was immediately weak and tired and thought "WTF? This does not feel right."  Suddenly MY check engine light was on!  I looked at my heart rate and found that it was over 170 bpm.  This was way over the 100-110 bpm that it usually is on a ride.  As many of you know, I had A-Fib late last year and had my heart shocked back into rhythm in January.  One of the symptoms was an accelerated heart rate when I worked out.  I figured that's what it was (and explains the episode I had yesterday) and took it easy the rest of the ride closely monitoring my bpm.  After the ride I went back and looked at my watch/phone and noted that it detected two out of rhythm moments last night.  Well, time for an EKG with my handy dandy Kardia monitor and emailed the PDF to my doctor for validation.  Sheesh, great timing eh?  

Well, other than that, it was a wonderful day on the roads of Vermont.  Beautiful countryside rode through the capitol of Vermont (Montpelier) and Cheryl even stumbled on the Vermont Antique & Classic Car Show in Waterbury Village VT.  Of course we didn't stop at the Vermont capitol building but we had to stop at the car show.  Some really nice cars and conversations with the proud owners.  Whether it's listening to Steven talking about rebuilding a 65 Mustang convertible with his dad before he passed away or hearing about Russ' journey's in his 85 VW Vanagon which he bought new and has over 365K miles on it from traveling with his wife throughout the US and Canada.  We had a great time.

We set up camp at the Lazy Lions Campground and I quickly opened a can of my version of injector cleaner (complete with barley, hops and alcohol additives).  My first impression of the campground was not very good.  The owner Darryl was a little bit of a grouch on the phone this morning and when we checked in this afternoon.  Later I realized we were out of ice so I reluctantly walked up to the office to ask Darryl if they sold ice.  "No we do not." he quickly replied.  Then as I started out the door he says "I'm heading to the store, I'll pick you up a bag."  30 minutes later he delivered a bag of ice to our site.  Now I'm a huge Darryl fan!  Wow, so much for first impressions!

We actually BBQ'd tonight for the first time in a couple weeks which was a nice change of pace.  Tomorrow we continue on to Lincoln NH (our 14th state).  Should be about 50 miles or so depending on where we camp.  Then it is about 100 miles to Portland ME.  Hard to believe.  Hopefully both the RV and my engines continue to keep chugging along!  

Until then....

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Day 64 - Safe and sound at the police station.

We survived Friday the 13th so I decided to push my luck and went with the yellow Widmer jersey that I swore was bad luck and would not wear again.  Unfortunately, we haven’t done laundry in a while and not wearing stinking jersey’s outweighed superstition.  I will admit that I was a little stressed out before today’s ride for the first time the entire trip.  The reason was that the “bike route” took us into the deep dark woods of the Adirondacks where I expect to see banjo playing backwoodsmen.  With the RV not running great, I was not comfortable.  We had the route and decided to go with it but after about 2 miles we ran into gravel, so we had to regroup (actually a blessing).  Everyone knows two heads are better than one, especially when one of the heads is mine and Cheryl suggested “let’s just follow the car route.”  Brilliant.  There isn’t much traffic, no Interstate, and if there is trouble, we are in more populated areas.  

From there it was an amazing ride.  56 miles and 3221 feet of climb.  So much to see I had to add a few extra pictures.  I will admit that I did not feel well during most of the ride which made it more difficult than it should have been.  Not sure why.  Maybe Tom’s climbing routes or my anxiousness of where we were going/not going this morning.  If I didn’t “bonk” I was damn close to it.  We made it into Vermont and stopped in the fun little town of Vergennes (est 1766) and had lunch to let me gain my strength for the final 15 miles to Hinesburg VT.    

Hinesburg is a great little town (population 772).  When we arrived, we went straight to the laundromat to get those jerseys clean.  The laundromat was in a little mini-mall and while we were sitting in the RV waiting for the clothes to wash/dry we had multiple people come up to us and talk about our journey and tells us about theirs.  We learned about following NASCAR in an RV, dogs people had, work at the SS welding at the Idaho Engineering National Laboratory.  I so enjoy talking with people in these small towns. 

Once the clothes were clean, we decided to figure out where to sleep for the night so, of course, I went to the local police department for advice.  After I explained our situation, the officer (neglected to get his name) said “hmmm, why don’t you just sleep in our parking lot between the fire station and the police station?”  Sold!  No safer place than that!  As if that wasn’t good enough, the “Public House” restaurant where we wanted to have dinner was only three doors down the street.  Truth is, all businesses were no more than three doors up or down the street.  

I had the burger I didn’t get last night (they actually had hamburger in stock) and Cheryl had a salad.  It was good food, drink, and a nice atmosphere.  From there it was back to camp (aka police/fire station) to get ready for tomorrow.  

We have reservations at Groton Forest Road Campground about 64 miles away tomorrow night so no need for a call to the police station.  Still in the Appalachian Mountains which means more climbing.  Need to get my rest!

Until then……