Monday, August 22, 2005

The Intra-Mission Ends

11:00 p.m.

Hopeville Pond State Park, CT

What a nice name for a place!

In my tent. It has been a while! The woods here are filled with the sounds of insects, perhaps frogs as well; it’s difficult to tell, but the sound is almost deafening! Still, the highway a few miles away is remarkably audible with the roar of heavy truck traffic. We have come to accept this as normal.

This morning, Jeff woke me at 10:00. I guess I was avoiding reality. I don’t look forward to leaving the comfort of Vermont. But I start hauling my things out to the bike, hoping my spirit will follow. Jeff looked after me. Coffee was ready. He put on a Boz Scaggs CD. I paused to hear “Sierra” and “Just go”, songs that have held special meaning for me in recent years.

He doesn't want me to clean up after myself. “I’d prefer it if you don’t; you'll probably do an inadequate job."

Packed up a can of “Tim Horton’s” coffee to ship off to Jessica. I wanted to share the experience! Also boxed up a bunch of stuff for my storage unit out west. Jeff handed me bags of sour candies and peanuts to snack on. He can’t do anything until I’m safely off.

I know it has not been easy having me here. He has patiently put up with my obsession with this blog, and the resulting anti-social behavior. Now his life can return to normal. But it has been fun, and I'll miss the camaraderie (and steak dinners!)

We said our "good-byes" and I was on the road at 2:00 p.m. By my calculations, it's my 91st day on the road. 22,859 miles on the bike, 16,660 of them on this journey.

A few blocks away, I stopped at the post office to mail the parcels. When I came out, an older gentleman was gazing at the bike. I met Doug Finlay. He was once the Commanding Officer of the Los Alamitos Naval Air Station in California, retiring in 1968. I told him I probably flew into his base when he was there. He moved to Vermont, where he became Waterbury's Town Manager for five years, then manager of neighboring Moretown. He wished me well in my travels.

Around the corner from Jeff's, I stopped by "The Alchemist" to purchase a t-shirt. The two shirts I have are starting to look pretty tired! They were closed, but I went to the kitchen door and explained my situation to one of the chefs, offering him $20 for a $10 shirt. He tried to get me one, but reported back that the office where they are stored was locked. He was as disappointed as I. "I could have made an extra $10," he lamented.

A chilly ride south. The miles slow in clicking off. I had become used to kilometers. My mind was rather quiet. No chatter, no songs coming; just appreciating the rich forests of Vermont. Though Jeff said the state was completely logged long ago, the forests now look mature and varied. I saw no traces of logging. New Hampshire was less pristine, with obvious thinning being done just beyond the highway's buffer.

As I drove south on Interstate 89, I was passed by many cars from Massachusetts. They seemed in a big hurry and you could almost feel the nervous, impatient energy.

I had to stop and zip up my suit; it was becoming rather cold. But reaching the New Hampshire coast, the air warmed 15 to 20°. Now it was too warm. Everyone here was dressed for the beach. The coast cities are packed in right up to the shore; row upon row of large beach homes, squeezing in for some piece of ocean view.

Salisbury Beach State Park has a campground that I considered a possible stopping point for tonight. But it's an enormous camper city! I took a quick ride through the park, and seeing that any spot I chose would be surrounded by many other campers, I quickly moved on.

Just off the beach, the Seabrook nuclear power plant was incongruous with the landscape. Boats! I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many small boats. Every inlet, river mouth or bay is filled with them, many riding at anchor.

Riding highways 1 and 1A, "progress" was pretty slow. The northern approach to Boston was lined with some huge, bizarre restaurants. The highway carried me right into the center of the city. I could see the U.S.S. Constitution, dwarfed by the waterfront buildings. Dropped down onto the northside streets and found my way back across to Charlestown to have a closer look at the ship. It was too late though, the Navy Yard closed for the day. Followed historical markers up to Breed's Hill (Bunker Hill). It was here that the first engagement of the Revolution took place, on June 17, 1776. The British won the battle, but this action, with the famous command “don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes,” mobilized the colonists' resistance.

Charlestown, with its closely-spaced old brick homes, townhouses and apartments is clearly a highly-desirable, affluent address. And a popular jogging area! Drove back into North Boston. This area smells wonderful with the aroma of Italian food and fresh baked breads filling the air. Many, many tourists are out walking in the warm evening, lending a festive atmosphere to the neighborhoods. I actually enjoyed wandering aimlessly down narrow streets and alleys, getting around where cars could not. Turned down one alleyway and voila! There's the Old North Church. And then Paul Revere’s house.

Having the motorcycle down here was also a burden. I wasn't comfortable leaving it parked somewhere. Consequently, I kept driving: out of town, past Fenway Park, and on out the Massachusetts Turnpike, or the "Mass Pike", as those "in the know" call it. I telephoned Jeff just to say "I'm on the Mass Pike" – being “cool”. Went to "Dunkin Donuts" for a coffee and bagel. (I figure I ought to try it once in my life. Now I never have to again.)

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