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Archive for September, 2007

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Monday, September 24th, 2007

Sailing the Chesapeake

I began heading back north after a beautiful afternoon of sailing out of Gloucester Point, Virginia with Sasha.  Perfect winds, perfect seas. I had planned to make the long haul to Philly but couldn’t get in touch with my friend there.  Good thing because I was waylaid with bike troubles.  After a lunch in a glass and debris-strewn park in southeast Maryland I suffered a flat which effectively put an end to my plans for a long day.
It was a slow leak and I didn’t notice it until I was about 20 miles or so down the road and It started to ride like I was in a sand trap. I pulled over at a school bus depot where the employees went out of their way to help me. One of the bus drivers is an avid rider and once hit all the lower 48 in a six-month trip. I was impressed.  I made a few calls and located a tube and a shop that would put it on.  Byron the bus driver gave me a lift after he got out of work at five.
By the time I got back on the road it was nearly dark. Because of my paranoia with riding at night, I got a hotel.  My first and only on the trip. I left at first light the next day to get to Brooklyn.  It was a long day.  I took the ferry across Delaware Bay and planned to ride up the Jersey Shore.  That lasted about ten miles.  Too many lights and strong winds.  I opted for the State Forests a few miles inland.  It was nice but still doesn’t touch northern Jersey for riding terrain.  I got to Brooklyn with no problems and minimal traffic. I visited with my old high-school friend Jen and was back on the road to VT in the morning. 
I always tell myself I am going to take it easy and try to enjoy CT but I am always so close to home that I just blast through it.  I was in a hurry to meet my brother Jesse who gave me a lift from Vermont to Maine after I abandoned the bike with its rightful owner,  my brother Isaac. The Merit Parkway is still nice though. 
Jesse and I had an eventful drive east to Maine that I am not even going to get into.  We made it to the Maine coast  for some fishing with my brother Asa and niece Abby.  On Saturday I drove up to the Commonground Fair in Unity, Maine with Asa and family and my sister-in-law (Isaac’s wife).  I always run into a ton of people from many different contexts of my life there. But, with Luci not around (she is still up in Montreal) I just seem to blend in with the crowd. I did run into an old COA friend, Ed, who I haven’t seen in years which was nice.
Jesse managed to land a contract on the Ice at the last minute and had to do his medical in a rush.  He found out that he is leaving on Tuesday sometime last week. So, we’ll both be in Denver and Christchurch at the same time.    

Halfway Home

Sunday, September 16th, 2007

Diner NY

Here I am at the southern most extent of my short trip down the east coast. I have made many modifications to my original travel plan. Have a look at my
Halfway Home Updated Map to see where I have been and my proposed route home.

When I left my brothers’ in Brattleboro, I rode out through the Berkshires in western Mass and across the Catskills and spent the night camping on the Delaware Water Gap. My opinion of New Jersey has changed after making this trip. I had an amazing ride down the Delaware. The towns are nothing special but the river runs are great fun on a bike. I hit the hottest weather of the trip in traffic and school bus stops in the western suburbs of Philly but I am determined to avoid Interstates as much as possible. I arrived in Baltimore in time for the weekend with some old friends from COA. It was Brice’s birthday and we had a traditional Chesapeake Crab Feast (hammers and all). They have a really dynamic group of friends who took me out for late summer good times involving music and good food.

Riding around Baltimore, the bike started to overheat (750 air-cooled engines in 90+ tend to do this) so I had to make some minor adjustments and haven’t had any problems since. My charging problems haven’t been holding me up since I put a switch on the headlight and cleaned up one of the indicator sockets.

I had a short ride to another COA friend’s in Vienna, VA and moments before arriving I had a big scare. The bike just sputtered to a stop. It was obviously electrical because none of the dummy lights were on. I quickly found that the main fuse wire had a loose connection. I had it back together in a couple of minutes and soon found my friend’s house (by memory after being there once five years ago).

Ethan also has a bike (BMW 650 GS) for which he has fabricated some very original accessories. We talked a lot about my overheating and electrical problems but performed no major surgeries. Good thing because I haven’t had any problems since. It rained most of the time I was there but we enjoyed tenderloin, king crab, and a 10-cent $150 wine provided by his lovely girlfriend.

After the weather passed, I headed west to the Shenandoah to take in the last days of summer. I met a couple of Germans on an Africa Twin and another 650 GS. They are doing a grand tour of N. America. They have been having problems with the GS (surprisingly) and seemed a bit in the dumps (but Germans don’t often wear their emotions on their sleeves).

I camped up on the skyline drive and wore all my clothes at night to stay warm. I took a detour on my way to my brother Joel’s. I went down a piece of the Blue Ridge Parkway which I enjoyed much more than the Skyline Drive. The 35mph speed limit on the Skyline drive makes it perhaps the most boring scenic drive in America. It is amazing what just 10mph can do.

I cut back eastward along the upper reaches of the James River and reached the Twin Oaks Intentional Community in the afternoon. I spend a rainy couple of days visiting my brother and meeting his new friends. Interesting place. I enjoyed my stay much more than I thought I would. I am sure I would be kicked out in a heartbeat. Here is a link to a Washington post cover story on Twin Oaks. I found it very moving but perhaps because I have been there.

After leaving Twin Oaks I continued down the James River to Historic Jamestown and along the Colonial Parkway to Yorktown and over the bridge to another friend’s in Gloucester Point. I know Sasha from Antarctica. He has done research on the Nathanial B. Palmer and been to McMurdo where we met. He is from Naples, Italy. I have a hard time understanding southern Italian accents because I learned Italian in the north so we speak English of which he has a much greater mastery of than I do of Italian anyway.

It has been really great seeing old friends I haven’t seen for years and meeting new people. On Tuesday I have to start heading back north. A week from Tuesday I will begin my fifth Antarctic adventure and hence a new blog category: Antarctica 2007-2008. Since I will be the weather observer for ITASE (among my other duties) I have the first of many trainings next week in Denver. I will meet Luci at the Denver Airport after the training and we will fly together to New Zealand.