Monday, October 14, 2013

Last Week Eastbound

Starting this next week I will no longer be traveling north east, but rather south west for the next month and a half. 

But before I get to that detail...

I started this week in Rutland, Vermont, where I stayed, first in a hotel room, then I was picked up by Stewart and Lois Griffin, who I'd met at church. They drove me to the 15 room, 3 story house they were house sitting - big enough I about got lost a couple times. In fact, the house was big enough to virtually have three separate living spaces within it. An apartment, separated by a locked door (locked from the main house side), was where I slept. 

Apologies to my readers, I completely spaced on taking a picture of the place.

The next day as I started out for the week was a little on the humid side.. I didn't get rained on particularly heavy, but I did pick up a lot of fine gravel off the road. About 20 miles out, a familiar van passed me, and stopped ahead. Apparently Griffin's had nothing really to do that day, so came to see how far I'd made it. Having a mini-van sans back and one middle seat, and since I'd been making less than wonderful time that day, we rolled my bike through the back door, and they drove me 20 miles up the road, giving me a guided tour along the way.

As we drove, I saw three toppled houses, and plenty of carved out river banks, left over from hurricane Irene in 2011. They told me most of the road was new since then..

And again I didn't get a picture. 
An old covered bridge. Actually, the only one I've seen on this trip.


After a while, they dropped me off, we said goodbye again, and I went to eat lunch and trade out my inner tube - second flat. It was good I had the ride, as it bought me enough time to take care of the tire, though I may have loitered around too long..

It rained lightly on and off for a while, then a few miles from my destination, a storm came up. I was soaked through in a matter of minutes, and the bike trail I was on became almost a river. I heard a crash, looked, and saw a tree get blown over. The trail I was on went under the Interstate, so I stopped to take shelter for a few minutes, till the storm subsided a little. 

Within an hour of the tree being blown down, it was down to a drizzle and light wind. I was surprised when I first saw another person riding a bike, then someone jogging on the same trail as myself. I guess people are tougher out here..


The next day, in attempting to take a shorter route, I took a chance and went on roads I was informed were soft gravel to begin with. Then, after some time on less than wonderful yet still not terrible roads, I turned onto a seasonally open road - the type of one lane gravel road defined by two ruts, which get perhaps as much water traffic as vehicle traffic. 

Then this hill just suddenly drops right over the side of the hill - estimated 10-14% grade. 

Now, a detail I'd left out - by this point, my front brake cable had broken, my back tire was about worn out, and my rear brake wasn't pulling at full power. 

And the road surface was both loose and wet. 
It may look like perspective, but that's really the steepness of the road. Notice the angle of difference between the road and power line.
In order to get down  I used my foot as an auxiliary brake, and would swing my bike sideways from time to time to stop. 

It was the most exciting experience of this trip.

Fortunately that night I managed to make it to a house where I found a replacement cable and housing, tightened up my brakes, and rotated my tires so the worn (threads showing) one was in front. 
The day after "The Hill". I made it through alright, however..
Now, I don't really mind camping out, but sometimes others would just as soon go out of their way to find somewhere for me to stay, and this was what happened Wednesday night. Once again, I wasn't making as good a time as I'd hoped (seems to be an on going theme). Lois Griffin, who I'd stayed with earlier in the week called the Northern New England Conference, to see if there were any church contacts where I'd be. There weren't, but soon a plan developed. Scott would come from the office, drive an hour, pick me up, take me to Portland, then I'd stay with someone in town that night.
Stone walls are to the north east what round hay bails are to the western midwest.
I was 3 miles from the Maine boarder when Scott caught up with me. While we were driving, spending most of the time talking about writing, he mentioned that in the 12 years he lived in his house, he'd never had a front door key, consequently never locking the house, as the previous owner, also never locking his door, had lost the key at some point. 
Since I was with someone else at this point, we stopped to take a picture.
It turned out to be a blessing I made it to Portland, as I needed a tire for my bike, but it had to be ordered in, meaning I have to pick it up on the way back through. Portland, Maine will be the only city on this trip I will ride through twice. 
This structure is made completely out of bicycle rims and tires. 
After some difficulty, with roads being closed and such, I eventually made it to my weekend destination - the Howe's estate. I first met Dr. and Mrs. Howe before I started on this trip, through my good friend Elwyn, who used to live up this way. When we met, they told me that if I made it to their area to stop by, so I did. 
At Land's End, Harpswell, Maine, looking south. 
Honestly, this has been perhaps my most favorite stop on this trip. I can't think of somewhere I'd rather be for the end of traveling east, and the beginning of the southward leg. I wasn't the only guest here. The first night I was one of four, the others being two girls working at a nearby restaurant, and Nellie, a 4th year French-Canadian medical student, who looks half her age. 

On Friday I rode my bike down to the end of the island, to see the Atlantic. Riding without weight must improve my efficiency by 50%.



I wonder if they had to custom make this sign..

Apparently the longest bridge of this construction in the world. 
While there, I took my first ever opportunity to go kayaking, and took some pictures of the glassy surface while I was at it. Nellie came out with a canoe, and, I didn't realize till later, never moved her paddle from the left side of the boat in half an hour.  
Kayaking with a camera, it's easy to get water on the lens..

Howe's home, with the golden windows. If you look carefully, you can see two cabins in the woods. The one I stayed in is to the far left. 


Helping in the garden on Sunday was a nice shift from the ordinary ride-eat-sleep-ride routine. It's nice to stop and do something useful, something productive, and just to stop and work along side people for a change..

In the evening, I went to help bring in the sailboat for the winter, making for the first time ever I've been on a sail boat. Unfortunately, it had already been pulled out of the water by the time I got there..

Beautiful sunset, right off the porch.
I'll have to come back here some time. The Howe's hospitality is inspiring, their food wonderful, their estate beautiful..