Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Polly's Manchester to Portsmouth - Day 50

At last, Wallis Sands Beach and day 50 done! Although there was no police escort it felt pretty great to see Dennis, my friends from the ride, Deb and Bob, along with my long time friend Taffy and her grand daughter, Katherine holding a great Pacific to Atlantic sign, all waiting for me. My dear friend Penny, wife of my friend and riding companion of the last three days, Bruns, arrived a few minutes after us with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers. Everyone was taking pictures and I felt as close to a celebrity as I ever will.

The day was a relatively easy ride so Dennis, Bruns and I had breakfast at the famous Red Arrow Diner in Manchester before heading off. Bruns sat in the very same seat that Ty Pennington! (Remind me, who is he?) Dennis and my seats were un-labeled, oh well.

After breakfast Dennis took our stuff and Bruns and I enjoyed the perfect weather and the last of the gorgeous deciduous forests, winding NH back roads and small ponds, before heading down Sea St. in Rye toward the Atlantic. We headed early to Ocean Ave. that follows the coast all the way to Wallis Sands State Park, which meant we got to enjoy the seashore from a bike for a little longer than my fellow ABB riders who detoured to the Rye High School.

Just seeing the ocean and having Bruns pull over and give me the lead, choked me up as the enormity of the whole adventure and the relief of reaching the coast washed over me - wow, the end of the road and my roughly 3,700 mile ride across the US was almost over.

The beach was crowded with people, but I took my bike and headed down for the ceremonial wheel dip wearing my ABB shirt in honor of all my ABB pals. As we approached the water a woman came running over saying, "What happened to you? You're three weeks late!" She had been there when everyone else came through and wondered why I was so slow - I told her I had a lot of flats and was really a slow rider!

I missed Mimi and being part of the ABB group arrival, but I am so happy I went to Triona's wedding and still got to finish. Plus, I had a great welcoming committee.

I think I will be processing this for a long time, but right off the bat I know
I will carry with me the friends I made, the variety and beauty of our country and that you can do pretty much anything you set your mind to. I will also remember always all the support and encouragement I got from so many family and friends and how blessed I am. Thanks everyone!

Photos - out of order, but...
1. Happy to have arrived
2 . With Taffy at the beach
3. With my main squeeze
4. With Mimi at the beach!
5. With Bob and Deb
6. With Bruns
7. Old friends - Penny and Polly
8. Arriving at Wallis Sands Beach
9. Celebrity photo op
10. Good friend and fans Taffy & Katherine waiting
11. Madeira girls: Penny, Polly, Taffy
12. Dipping my wheel - don't want Salt water on more than the rubber
13. A body dip in the Atlantic
14. I made it!
15. Bruns, Polly, Deb and Bob

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Polly's Brattleboro to Manchester, Day 49 redux

Today is special for several reasons but first on the list is that today Dennis and I are celebrating 33 years of a great marriage! It is also special because I crossed over into the last state, NH! Can't really believe it. Only one more day.

Another epically beautiful day starting with fog that burned off. With the help of my good friend, Sue, who lives in the area, we went a bit renegade and departed from the ABB route. It was a good steer as it got us off Rte 9, a very good but busy road, earlier. It headed us on a beautiful little road through the lovely little town of Hancock, where we stopped, again at Sue's suggestion at a great cafe, the Fiddlehead for a snack. Dennis surprised us and joined us there. On our way from there to Greenfield we rode over a covered bridge. An iconic NH/VT experience.

I love these little towns with their white clapboard houses with black shutters, or stately brick houses, and nicely maintained yards. They line the main streets of these towns, and, of course there is always at least one white church.

We passed several graveyards that are also so "New England" - old slate headstones with hand carved names and epithets. Of course there are the beautiful old barns too. And, the green forest surrounds everything. It feels so familiar.

So, if my sore bottom and sore legs hold up, I should make it to the Atlantic tomorrow - dip the wheel take a swim. Thank goodness for Bruns who is helping me find my way and keeping me safe in Mimi's absence.

Pics are pretty self explanatory I think.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Polly's Latham-Brattleboro, Day 48 redux

Had another great day on the road! Perfect weather and gorgeous Vt. scenery.

My friend, Bruns, a newly minted antique, and the husband of my dear friend, Penny, has joined me for the last 3 days. He is a very experienced and strong rider who is nicely going slow for a real antique. He pulled me and entertained me with one story after another all day, and it was wonderful.

We had perfect weather all day - not too hot or windy, sunny skies and little wind, or it was at our backs.

We entered a new state today, Vermont - state #10. We rode through charming small towns and had a great stop in Bennington at the Crazy Russian Girls Bakery. Bennington has painted sculptured life-sized moose all over town and one was right outside the restaurant. Sorry, no photo. After looking for a bike shop and finding a great one which was only open from noon to 5:30 (!!), we checked in with Dennis back at the bakery and continued on. Dennis was on his own craft tour finding interesting woodworkers and museums.

A highlight of the day was having my friend, Emily meet us several times along the way.

We were on the Molly Stark byway, so after a biggish climb and fun descent into Wilmington we stopped to see who she actually was. Turns out she stood for the importance of family and helped sustain women who's husbands were off fighting in the French & Indian war and the revolution. She also inspired her husband, General Stark in his victory over the British in the battle of Bennington in 1777.

She was also featured at the summit of Hogback mountain where we had views of the green, tree covered rolling hills of VT, NH, and MA. The photo of Bruns and me was taken at that summit by Em who met us there.
So great of her. After a brief break we had a wonderful descent into Brattleboro, where my Em met us again for lunch at a great deli.

Fun dinner at the Marina with Em, Bruns, Sue, who came over from Peterborough and my main and best squeeze, Den - all in all life is grand!

Photos - out of order again! Parenthesis outline order
1. Gotta love the sign (2)
2. Downtown Brattleboro (5)
3. Antique & newly minted Antique atop Hogback (4)
4. Polly and Molly (3)
5. State # 10 - Vermont! (1)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Polly's Little Falls to Latham - day 47 redux

The day started cool and with fog which was so beautiful. After strting in it, we rode up out of it, into the sun, then down into it again. It was magical, but it quickly burned off and we had a perfect day! Temps were in the 70's for the most part, the roads were good AND the wind was at our backs - no complaints here.

The whole day was spent close to the Erie Canal and the end of it on a beautiful paved bike path right alongside it - much of which was likely funded by GE as it wound for miles through and around GE research facilities.

A highlight was watching a boat go through at lock 8. (We started riding around lock 15.) It was something to see the whole procedure from start to finish. Who thought this up?! Really an amazing process.

Deb and Bob were fantastic companions - they brought great food for sag stops and cheerily moved our stuff. Bob would drive ahead, park at the sag stop, then pedal back toward Deb and me. We'd meet up and all head back to the sag, and repeat. They were both so sweet to support me this way and I am so appreciative. I think they have to be inducted as honorary antiques.

And speaking of Antiques, I sure do miss my fellow original antique Mimi. What a great adventure we had! She loaned me all her route sheets, so I feel like she is with me, and I know she is in spirit.

Dennis and Bruns should arrive any minute. Looking forward to inducting
Bruns as an antique as he will ride the last 3 days with me.

Below are the photos to give an idea of the day. I can't seem to get them to load to the blog from my iPad the way I want, or to label them, so I will try to just go in order as I see them.
1. Our sag stop where I tried to get soft serve at 9:30 am, but it wasn't turned on yet!
2. Last antique photo of the day on the lovely bike trail.
3. Honorary antiques canal-side
4. Trail along the canal
5. Boat going into lock 8
6. Morning fog burning off
7. The antique with the empty lock behind
8. Deb road side in the early morning fog
9. Boat in lock with water rising
10. Boat leaving the lock
11. Cool boat on the canal
12. PTD canal-side
13. Early morning fog

Monday, August 20, 2012

Polly's Little Falls - day 46 redux

Well here I am back at it to finish the last five days I missed for Triona and Nick's wonderful wedding. After two plus weeks off I am a little rusty, and it feels great to be back on the bike. My friends Deb and Bob, who were on the ride, and completed it, have come out of retirement to join me for the first two days and I am thrilled! Lots of other riders have sent encouraging emails and I can feel everyone with me.

Dennis dropped me off yesterday in Deerfield, MA, where Deb and Bob live, and the three of us drove to Liverpool, NY last night. We had a great dinner at an Italian restaurant - ah, no buffet - then off to bed to be ready for the day. It was almost odd to eat breakfast without our 50 other riding pals. And, we didn't have to get to the breakfast room early to get food. We could just get there when it opened!

The day was perfect - 70's for the most part, lovely roads and nice scenery. We are in the Erie Canal area so it is fun to see it appear and disappear a we navigate basically along side it. All I can think of is the old song I learned in grade school "I've got a mule her name is Sal, 15 miles on the Erie Canal... And you never know your neighbors, you never know your pals if you've never navigated on the Erie Canal"

Tonight we are in Little Falls, which is in Herkimer County and was the cheese capital of the country for a while. It also had lots of mills and
manufacturing related to the dairy industry and the mills. Herkimer is named after General Herkimer who was a famous revolutionary war leader. He was responsible for winning battle near hear that turned the tide in the war. The highlight so far, however, has been Ole Sal's Cafe and Creamery, which Ward made me go to, and where we got the most delicious ice cream at the end of our ride!

Photos from below are an assortment from the day and out of order, but they include Deb & Bob ready to ride in the am, the scenery, our sag man extraordinaire, Bob, and our scenic sag, Little Falls, me by the Erie Canal - and a little history re cheese and Herkimer, if you can read it. Enjoy!