Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Our Nation's Capital






Currently in Lorton Virginia, 7768 miles into the trip.

Spent the day riding from the Annapolis Maryland area through Washington DC to Mount Vernon and am on my way to Richmond Virginia. Visited the Jefferson, Lincoln and Washington Memorials today. Got some great shots of the Memorials and the Capital. While riding on the Mount Vernon bicycle trail I passed directly under the paths of flights coming into Regan National Airport.

Still having trouble getting on the internet. This is a previous post from several days ago that I was able to post.

Monday, September 29, 2008

National Treasures

Have spent the last several days getting a little R&R, visiting with friends in the Washington DC and Annapolis and getting my bike tuned up. Also toured the National Portrait Gallery and The National Museum of the American Indian. The American Indian Museum is a relatively new part of the Smithsonian Museum dedicated to preserving the life, languages, literature, history and arts of Native Americans. Fantastic exhibits!!!! Great to catch up with old friends and send time seeing some of our National Treasures.


Lastly, spent the weekend with my wife Claudia, who traveled to the East Coast to meet me. Very fortunate to have a family that has been so supportive of my journey during some very interesting and challenging times for our country.

Will leave the area tomorrow to begin the final month of the journey. Approximately 2300 miles left to complete the trip.

All the best.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Valley Forge






Quote of the Day--"It is better to build a child through education than to fix a broken adult"--bumper sticker on a pick-up in Maryland. Great insight! If you haven't considered a donation to the Panhandle Alliance for Education's early childhood literacy program please do so today. Simply go to the donation section of the website and make your pledge or donation. Thanks for your support.

Currently in Crownsville Maryland, about 7706 miles into the trip. Spent Tuesday riding from the Philadelphia area to a small Amish community outside of York Pa. Stayed at with a fellow cross-country cyclist whom I met and rode through Yellowstone in early July. Yesterday continued riding through Amish farm country into Maryland. Beautiful riding weather.

Tuesday I toured the Valley Forge National Historical Park. Valley Forge was the 1777-78 winter encampment for George Washington and the American Revolutionary War Continental Army.

Image if you will, what Washington and his men went through that winter. The British had just captured Philadelphia, the capital of the America, and they had defeated Washington in the Battle of Brandywine. In early December of 1777 the British settled in for the winter in the comfort of the captured city of Philadelphia. Washington and his men crossed the Schuylkill River and arrived at Valley Forge on December 19th and began setting up winter camp for 11,000 men.

Washington was without supplies, many of the men didn't have blankets, shoes or adequate clothing to face the winter weather and the entire army had to build shelters from the surrounding forests. Few of the men had any military training and up to 30% of the men became extremely ill, many of whom died. Things must have looked bleak for the Americans. Washington wrote to Congress that "unless some great and capital change suddenly takes place.....this army must inevitably.....starve, dissolve or disperse....."

Somehow in the face of tremendous odds, supplies started coming in, huts were built, proper training took place and the American army emerged and ultimately defeated the British several years later. One has to wonder if our leadership of today would be capable of dealing with the crisis that Washington and Congress faced in 1777-78!!!!!

Did you know that the Philadelphia area was home to a major movie studio producing more than 100 movies from 1917 to 1922???? Today the studio is home to many businesses and residents.

Planning on taking the next four days of to spend time with friends and my wife who is flying in tomorrow. After that I will embark on the final month of my journey hoping to arrive in Key West in early November.

Have a great weekend and thanks for your support and well wishes.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Delaware Water Gap







Currently in Norristown Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, approximately 7550 miles into the trip. Weather continues to be great with cool morning and sunny warm afternoons. Makes for great riding.

Spent the last two days riding through rural New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania. Yesterday I rode through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreational Area, an absolutely beautiful area that is operated by the National Park System. The Delaware River forms the border between New Jersey and Pennsylvania and millions of years of erosion have allowed the river to cut through Kittatinny Mountain in an "S" shape to form the Gap. Today's ride was through New Jersey and Pennsylvania farm country. The picture above is not from the Midwest, rather it is one of the numerous cornfields that lined the rural New Jersey roads this morning. Also rode past countless stone homes and other 17th and 18th century dwellings.

Spent last night in Belvidere, a small village in New Jersey along the Delaware River that used to be home to numerous floor and wood mills. An interesting historical tidbit is that the boats Washington and his army used to cross the Delaware River during the Revoluntionary War were built in Belvidere. Stayed in an old hotel originally constructed in the 1700's.

Tomorrow I start a new segment of the Atlantic Coast route and will ride through more of Eastern Pennsylvania on my way to the Chesapeake Bay area to visit friends and the Washington DC area.

Quote of the day--"Educating our children is about preparing them for a life of learning", posted on a school signboard.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hudson River Valley






Currently in Middleton NY, 7397 miles into the trip. Spent most of the day riding through the Hudson River Valley and along the Shawangunk Ridge (pictured above), part of the Northern Appalachian Mountains.

Another great day for touring, sunny and mid-60's temperatures. Cool early mornings with temperatures in the low 40's make for some incredible scenes as the sun burns off the early morning fog. Crossed the Hudson River in Poughkeepsie and got some great shots of the river and surrounding valleys. Rode by many apple orchards.

Will ride into New Jersey tomorrow.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Revoluntionary War History






Currently in Lakeville, Ct., 7301 miles into the trip.

The last two days have been picture perfect cycling days, albeit a little chilly in the mornings. There is definitely a Fall chill in New England. Left the Boston area yesterday and rode through rural Mass. and Ct. through many villages and towns settled in the 1600's and early 1700's, steeped in Revoluntionary War history.

Stayed at a small inn last night in Stafford Springs Ct. The inn was initially built in 1732 as an inn and tavern and was a stage coach stop between New York City and Boston. It was expanded in 1778 with an addition that functioned as a church. It was a popular meeting place for the Free Masons and was frequented by George Washington and John Adams, who used it as a meeting place to discuss overthrowing the British and framing up the U.S. constitution. In fact, all of the signers of the constitution would regularly meet there and thus Ct. became known as the "Constitution State". I stayed in a room that was used by Lafayette, the Frenchman who helped Washington defeat the British during the Revoluntionary War.

While it was a church, it contained a "wake room". Apparently the early settlers didn't trust the local water and they diluted it heavily with alcohol. After consuming much water, many would pass out and appear to be dead. Many were buried only to find out that when shallow graves would be flooded and the caskets would raise up there were claw marks from the dead when they awoke, thus the term "drop dead" drunk. Upon learning this, a wake room was placed in the church for relatives of the deceased to wait with the recently departed for a few days to insure they were in fact dead. The deceased were also buried with a rope tied to their finger and strung through a pipe to a ringer above ground so if the deceased were to awake while buried they could ring the bell, thus the term "dead ringer". Makes for a great story!!!!!

Also visited another New England institution yesterday, Hot Dog Annie's, where they have been serving New England's best hot dogs for the past 57 years. Not exactly on my cycling diet, but they sure were good!!!! And you have to love the "Thickly Settled" road sign along a rural back country Mass. road.

Another interesting Ct. fact is they were one of the first states, if not the first, to raise tobacco. Note the drying barn above.

As an added historical bonus, had a glass of wine tonight in an old iron factory that made most of the cannon balls for the Revolutionary War and also supplied the cannons for the USS Constitution, the oldest warship in service today in the world, commissioned by George Washington for the War of 1812.

I will travel to New York state tomorrow.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Prefect Riding Weather







Back in the Boston area, 7141 miles into the trip. Will get back unto my route tomorrow.

Today was another picture perfect day for riding. Mid-60's, plenty of sunshine and low humidity. Got off the beaten path today and road through some great scenic areas in Northern Connecticut and Mass. Beautiful old homes and churches as well as many small lakes and ponds.

The next several days I will be riding through some very rural parts of Conn and NY State and don't expect to have internet access. Never really expected it, but the East has some extremely remote areas once you get away from the major cities.

All the best.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Scenic Connecticut







Back in Woodstock Connecticut after riding to the Southern coast of Connecticut to visit a friend yesterday. 7063 miles into the trip.

Woke up yesterday to 70+ degree temperatures at 6:00 am. Beautiful sunshine and simply one of the best riding days on the trip. Rode through rural Connecticut on scenic route 169. The route took me past centuries old farms, cornfields, 18th century homes and rock fences. Spent last night at a friend's home in Stonington Connecticut, a beautiful seaside community steeped in whaling and shipbuilding history.

This morning, I was reflecting on yesterday's bad news on Wall Street lamenting on the situation when I came upon a group of parents and their children waiting for the school bus. Watching the kids playing, laughing, hugging their parents and waving goodbye from the school bus made me realize no matter how bad things seem, our future is bright if we choose to do something about it. The future is those young kids, eager and excited to learn and it is really up to us to get them prepared for that future. That's why your contribution to the early childhood literacy program of the Panhandle Alliance for Education is so important. Please consider donating today if you haven't already done so. 100% of your donation will go to supporting the program. Simply click on the donation section of the website and make a difference in not only our children's future but yours as well.

I head back to the Boston area tomorrow to pick up my route on my way to the Washington DC area.

Quote of the day--"If you want your children to walk in your footsteps, you better watch where you step", posted on the sign board of a local church.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Connecticut






Currently in Woodstock Connecticut, 6952 miles into the trip.

Left the Boston area this morning in a rainstorm to head South to Stonington Connecticut to visit someone who challenged me to ride to the Connecticut coast even though it is not on my route and committed to donate $1000 to the early literacy program of the Panhandle Alliance for Education. While it will add approximately 240 miles to my trip, it is well worth it given the donation. Thanks to the donor for his support of PAFE. If you haven't already donated or pledged, please consider doing so. The early literacy program will play a key role in developing young children and preparing them for a life-long learning experience. Simply go to the donation section of the website and make your pledge today. Trust me it will make a difference in someone's life.

Spent more time in Boston yesterday on the Freedom Walk. Toured Paul Revere's house as well as the Old South House, originally built in 1729 by the Puritans, it became a well known place for hosting debates and meetings of the patriots. Also visited Faneuil Hall Market Place, built in 1742 to serve as a market and meeting place, it became "the gathering place" for patriots to speak out against the British and is well known as the "cradle of freedom". It continues as a market today catering to tourists, being the 4th busiest tourist destination in the U.S. last year. It serves as a gathering place for aspiring musicians, artists and other performers. It was great to see the creativity of the young man pictured above with his homemade drum set of pales and kitchen equipment.

Woodstock, the community I am staying at tonight, was settled by 13 families in the 1760's. I am staying at a home built in 1816 by a descendant of one of the original 13 settlers. The home and family farm were owned by the same family for over 300 years and the surrounding land still serves as a farm. Much to my surprise, the part of Northern Connecticut that I am in is very rural with rolling tree covered hill sides.

After tomorrow I will ride back to the Boston area to pick up my route on my way to the Washington DC area, which I hope to reach in approximately 2 weeks.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Freedom Trail








Still in Littleton Mass. Caught the train into Boston this morning and played tourist.

First stop was the Cheers Bar in Faneuil Hall for lunch and some carbo loading. Faneuil Hall is known as the "cradle of liberty" as it was here where the discussions of the revolution took on a real meaning and spurred the colonists into action. Much of this was lead by Samuel Adams, an outspoken revolutionary who is given credit or blame for inciting much of the activities that eventually lead to the revolutionary war. And yes, he was a brewer, tavern owner and has a local Boston beer named after him--Sam Adams Lager.

Spent the rest of the day walking the Freedom Trail, a 2.5 mile U.S. National Park System walking tour through central Boston visiting historic sites. Only made it part way through the tour and plan on completing it tomorrow.

Highlights of the day included seeing the USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. The Constitution was commissioned by President Washington and much of the iron work was done by Paul Revere. The ship's cannons pictured above each weigh about the same as a standard SVU, were manned by a crew of 9 to 11 sailors, fired a 24 pound shot that could pierce up to two feet of wood at a distance of 400 yards and backfired at the rate of 40 mphs. The Constitution won all 33 battles it fight and earned the nickname "Old Ironsides" as it's wooden sides were so strong the British cannon's could not penetrate the ship even at close range. The hammocks above were the sleeping quarters of the sailors.

Climbed to the top of the Bunker Hill Memorial which was dedicated in 1843 and got some great shots of the Boston sky line. The Memorial recognizes one the bloodiest battles of the War for Independence--the Battle of Bunker Hill. Even though the British won, their losses were large compared to the patriots and it inspired the continued resistance and independence was won several years later.

The church steeple pictured above was used to hang the lanterns to signal Paul Revere that the British were advancing and he went on his midnight ride on April 18, 1775 to warn the patriots of Charleston. Lastly, the home above is Paul Revere's. It is the oldest home in downtown Boston, built in 1680.

Some other highlights of Boston--it is the birthplace of Benjamin Franklin; it is home to the first public school in the U.S.; and it is home to Boston Common, the first public park in America established in 1634.

Lastly, as some of you know, when I stop for the day, I park the bike and walk to wherever I need to go (restaurants, stores, etc.). I've probably walked 300+ miles to date on the trip. So today, I catch a ride to the train stop but didn't arrange to get picked up since I planned to get back in plenty of time to walk back to where I'm staying. After almost 7000 miles and 3 and 1/2 months on the road you would think I would be prepared for anything, especially rain which it was doing when I returned. But no, I didn't take my rain jacket, it was extremely dark, no street lights and I really didn't have a clue about directions back to the B&B. While several cars were kind enough to stop and give me directions, no one offered a ride. Needless to say, I will not be walking without my rain jacket tomorrow!!!

Back to Boston tomorrow and off to Southern Conn on Sunday to visit a friend. Have a great weekend.

Tomorrow is PAFE's initial 150 mile bicycle ride through beautiful Northern Idaho. Good luck to all the cyclists!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Reflections








Currently in Littleton Mass., approximately 6882 miles into the trip. Littleton is a suburb 25 miles West of Boston. Mostly residential, very few shops, restaurants and only one place to stay, a nice little B&B.

Spent the last two days riding through small little villages and towns in Maine, New Hampshire and Mass. Many of the communities were settled in the 1600's and 1700's. Originally fishing, logging or farming communities they are now mostly "commuter" communities. The route the last couple of days has taken me down tree lined roads, past numerous small lakes and ponds, past many small farms with stone fences and near the Ocean.

Could have used a GPS today, as the route gave new meaning to the term "back-country roads". I traveled approximately 90 miles today and rode on 49 different roads or streets. Fortunately, I never really got lost and the route maps had only a few "unsigned" roads. After so many miles of tree lined roads with numerous forks and dead-ends, one begins to get the feeling of being in a maze.

As I rode through the country the last couple of days I had an opportunity to photograph reflections on numerous small ponds and lakes, thus the title of today's blog update. And yes, the turtle sign crossing is a real roadside sign. As someone told me tonight, they take their turtles seriously in Mass.

Plan on taking the day off to play tourist in Boston tomorrow. Hope to do the Freedom Trail walking tour.

Sign of the day--"Ham and eggs special--a day's work for a chicken, a lifetime for a pig." The breakfast special at a country market in NH.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Coastal Maine








Currently in Freeport Maine, home of LL Bean, 6694 miles into the trip. Have spent the last two days riding through coastal Maine villages. Stayed in Camden Maine last night, a quaint little fishing/ship building village that has become a tourist destination.

Yesterday was a great day for riding, sunny, great temperatures and low humidity. Today was another story. Ugly day that started out with a flat tire on my trailer (to go on top of the flat tire I had yesterday morning), headwinds and thunderstorms with pouring rain. Not to mention getting lost several times during the rain trying to fine "unmarked" roads. The good news, I still managed to ride 70+ miles for the day and ride on some beautiful back country roads along the coast. Also managed to get a great shot of the sunrise framing a church steeple in Camden early this morning.

The coastal villages of Maine are full of fishing, ship building and early manufacturing history. All have great harbors and marina's and many have become tourist destinations. Numerous B&B's and inns with great restaurants that serve excellent seafood.

Tomorrow I continue my journey South down the Maine coast. Will ride more inland to avoid traffic and congested roads around Portland Maine. Weather is supposed to return to sunshine for the rest of the week.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Bar Harbor

Still in Bar Harbor Maine. Hurricane Hana blew through last night and early this morning. Up to 8 inches of rain in total and over 5 inches in an hour according to the locals. Every basement has been flooded and some of the roads in Acadia National Park were closed this morning.

Took a bus tour through Acadia National Park yesterday. Couldn't see much because of the fog thus very few pictures. After touring on a bicycle, I am not sure I will be able to get used to touring in a vehicle again. Just can't see the same things and everything goes by really fast! Found myself wanting to take pictures or stop for a view and couldn't because of traffic and the tour bus couldn't stop. Wished the weather was better so I could really enjoy the Park. When I leave tomorrow it is supposed to be sunny and I will get a chance to ride through part of the Park on my way South.

Tomorrow I begin the journey South. The next 3500 miles will likely go slower than the first 3500 since I plan on stopping more often to visit people and also to enjoy the history of the East Coast. Major planned stops include Boston and the coast of Mass., the District of Columbia area, Williamsburg, Savannah and several places in Florida including a side trip along the Southern Tier bicycle route along the Northern part of Florida into the Florida panhandle.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Coast to Coast






After 97 days and 6528 miles I have finally arrived at the Atlantic Coast in Bar Harbor Maine. Rode into Bar Harbor yesterday with three other cross-country riders whom I had been following for several days and caught up with them about 40 miles from the Coast. The ride yesterday was great, following the rugged Maine shoreline.

I am now approximately two thirds done with my trip and am looking forward to heading South. As I reflect back on the last 3+ months the trip has been everything I could have imagined and then some. Awesome scenery, great people, full of history, new and old friends, delightful food and a real sense of the sights, sounds and smells of back-roads America.

If you are wondering what's hanging on the fence in the picture above, they are lobster buoys that mark lobster traps. Everyone fishing for lobsters is required to register a unique color and designed buoy so their traps are easily identified.

Off the road today and maybe tomorrow as I wait for Hurricane Hana to make its way through the New England states. In the meantime, I am enjoying Bar Harbor, eating some great seafood and just relaxing.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Riding through Maine






Currently in Bucksport Maine, 6488 miles into the trip.

Spent Tuesday and Wednesday riding through Maine farm country and woods. Today, rode most of the day along the Maine coast. Like Vermont and New Hampshire, the rides have been challenging with steep climbs and far more hills than expected. The State is beautiful and full of quaint little villages, many of them tracing their beginnings back to the 1700's. Stayed in a home last night built in 1780 and captured some great pictures of the buildings surrounding the home in the early morning fog. Maine is full of history relating to logging, fishing and tourism. Met someone last night whose family farm was the oldest farm in the area and was originally a land grant from the King of England.

Yes, the picture of the road mileage sign above lists actual villages and towns in Maine. I checked the official Maine state map and all are located in Maine. Finally, the last picture above was taken from the 42 story tall observation deck of the new bridge across the Penobscot River with Bucksport in the background.

Tomorrow will be a short day from a riding perspective as I will travel approximately 45-50 miles to Bar Harbor Maine, currently my final Northern destination before I start to head South to Florida. Will be talking a couple of days off to enjoy the area, have my bike tuned up for the final third of the journey and eat some great Maine seafood.

Best recent quote--"It's not about the destination as much as it is about the journey." A mom describing her son's planned bicycle ride around the world to a co-worker at a wonderful little organic farm store in the Maine countryside.

Monday, September 1, 2008

New Hampshire







Currently in North Woodstock New Hampshire. Another bright sunny day, temperatures in the mid-70's, strong headwind most of the day. I have very limited access to the internet, in the lobby of a B&B only.

Completed riding through the Green Mountains of Vermont and currently in Western New Hampshire. Great scenery, steep climbs and more cornfields. Interesting placement of a flag pole in the middle of a cornfield!

Had an absolutely delightful time at the B&B I stayed at last night. Franco and Susan (pictured above) were great hosts. The food was awesome and the company was great. If you are ever in Pittsfield Vermont, you have to check out their place, the Casa Bella Inn.

Will continue riding through New Hampshire tomorrow. Highest mountain pass of the East tomorrow morning and then it's downhill to the Maine Coast.