Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Day One Hundred Forty-nine, 090727 - Union, ME

Day One Hundred Forty-nine, Date Monday, July 27, 2009
Time in Saddle: 5:02
Distance for the Day: 49.71 miles From Brunswick, ME To Union, ME
Accumulated Trip Distance: 6926.51
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 186’/212’, Highest:391’ Accumulated: 2585’
Speeds: Avg: 9.8 mph, Max: 34.4 mph
Weather: 73° and foggy
Expenditures: $10

I got into the town of Brunswick at 9am and spent 2 hrs at DD ($4) for choc milk and bagel cream cheese, and to recharge laptop and camera batteries. Once charged, I took off at 11:15am to see the sun starting to break through the overcast skies. I came up to a bridge north of Brunswick, made a minor wrong turn to go over it, and in so doing, met Johnnie W who gave me directions and chatted with me about my trip, and a little bit about his life in Maine. Lots of snow for many months, but no worries about crime and traffic – a tradeoff he was willing to make. At 1:28pm I hit a section of the road that looked like it was uphill, but felt downhill. This has happened several times along the entire trip, and it’s very peculiar. Sometimes it looks like the road is downhill, but feels like it’s uphill. Gravitational anomalies, right here in the United States – whaddaya know? I saw my first roadkilled porcupine, poor thing. I didn’t know they were in this part of the country – I haven’t seen them anywhere else. The skies broke up and became partly cloudy; the first sunlight I’ve seen in a few days. I stopped in Wiscasset for ice cream and soda ($4), and along the way, saw a sign for a home-based welding operation (Mike’s Welding Shop), and I saw the guy in his shop, so I turned in, thinking maybe he could help me with the broken struts on my rear-wheel fender. He was working on some decorative steel gates, but said he could take a look. He had a TIG welder, and since this wouldn’t take long, he could do it – great! Those struts had been broken for a *long* time, and though I could make do without them, if the two remaining struts decided to break, I could be in for some nasty problems. I’m familiar with TIG welding, myself, so I helped him hold the pieces while he made the welds. Fixed! He was a really cool guy – immigrated from Bosnia, a self-taught martial artist, family man, and now welding shop owner/operator. We chatted long after the job was done (which he didn’t even charge me for), and sent me on my way with a couple of ice cold sodas, to boot! Yet another terrific person on this journey around America. I made Waldoboro by 4:37pm, where I bought another soda ($2). I went past some construction road workers along the way, and the flagman gave me a high-five as I passed while saying, “Glad to see ya! Glad to see ya!” And, another guy at a gas station I stopped in to check my location said, “Suicide is not the answer!” as a joking comment on my trike riding. We chatted a bit. I called my trike dealer, Steve, about what happened with the L. L. Bean cycle crew. He suggested that I lube my chain every week (I was only doing it once a month), and to wipe off the chain with a cloth to keep dirt from sticking to the oil. We figured I should find a good cycle shop he can send a new Shimano Caprio cassette to, that I can then have them install.

In the early evening, I stopped in Union at a market for a couple of apples and a soda ($4). I was just heading out around the corner of the market, when a young guy pushing his daughter in a swing saw me, and called out asking questions about my trike. We talked about my trike and trip, and I found out he was lobster fisherman (cool!) As we were talking, I noticed the sky above had turned Spielberg on me (a new term: meaning, it looked more like a Hollywood special effect than real life), with roiling black and gray clouds, and thunder getting closer and closer. I asked and got his permission to pitch my tent on his back lawn (N44 12.720’ W69 16.470’), and *just* managed to set it up and dive inside before the storm hit right at 7pm. Flashing lightning with almost instant thunder, lashing rain, and then in 18 minutes, it was over. The whole thing was like a marching band coming down the street, passing right in front of you, and then leaving down the same street. Crazy! It was still a bit early, but I had the foresight to bring my book in with me, along with trailmix and my soda, and had a nice read before getting very drowsy and falling asleep, just as it started to get dark. I was warm and dry, as the plentiful mosquitoes put their probes through my tent’s netting, vainly trying to get me. Neener, neener, nee-ee-ner!

Day One Hundred Forty-nine, 090726 - Brunswick, ME

Day One Hundred Forty-eight, Date Sunday, July 26, 2009
Time in Saddle: 7:34
Distance for the Day: 67.79 miles From York Harbor, ME To Brunswick, ME
Accumulated Trip Distance: 6876.8
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 54’/186’, Highest: 263’ Accumulated: 2313’
Speeds: Avg: 9.0 mph, Max: 29.6 mph
Weather: 65° foggy, becoming just overcast during the day
Expenditures: $5

In the wee hours of the morning (after being evicted from the church parking lot), I continued north on my route, and stopped off at a mini mart to have a *very* early breakfast of choco milk and donut ($3). I went up road some more and found a visitor center for the area that would have made a much nicer, more secure stealth camp. I decided to just snooze for a few hours there. It had mosquitoes, but I put on my rain gear which kept me warm and kept the little vampires off me, and napped for a few hours while sitting in my trike. I had a short dream about a Harry Potter-esque situation where a lizard who might have also been a wizard, that sort of also looked like an alligator approached me; I let him crawl up to my stomach before thinking he might bite me, so I brushed him off – I could actually feel his weight on me, it felt that real. I had arranged my trike to face out of the parking space I had decided to occupy, which looked out toward the visitor center. Just as I woke up at about 5:40am (it was fully light out by now), I saw a car pull in, right ahead of me about 50 feet away. I observed a woman get out of her car, and just then, she caught sight of me, gave out a short scream, hopped quickly back into her car, and took off! In my dark-colored rain suit, and my looking right at her from my low position, I must have looked like some kind of human wolf, waiting to pounce on her. Poor thing – I must have given her quite a fright. It was mostly clear during the night, but it became overcast and a bit foggy when I took off from this secondary stealth camp at 5:56am. I stopped at a mini mart at 7:26am for a soda ($2). I haven’t mentioned them, yet, but I’ve been noticing them occasionally since upper New York state, through New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine: the road slugs. In the morning, when the air and road is moist, I think they must fall out of the trees, or crawl out from the grass, but I have to dodge them, similar to the centipedes in the Florida Keys. Some roads have ‘em, most don’t – it’s weird. Sometime earlier today, I lost my trike’s flag! This time, I had no idea where it might have been, so I resigned myself to just having to find another one (great). Meanwhile, the fog would sometimes become a light rain, so I had to wear my rain gear and secure my pack bags against moisture during the middle of the day. I hit the town of Portland, ME around 12:30pm and spent 2 hours looking for a flag in half a dozen “likely” stores (Sports Authority, bike shops, Wal-Mart, even Toys R Us) without luck, Demitol. It’s an important piece of safety equipment, and I wanted to replace it ASAP. I had a lunch of trailmix and Gatorade while reading my book for about 40 minutes in the Toys R Us parking lot, and then continued north along my route further up the Maine coastal region. In Freeport, at 7:15pm, I came across the company headquarters of my computer mapping program, Delorme! They were closed, but I stopped to take some pictures of their huge Earth globe, to get out of some momentary light rain, and to charge up my laptop at the outlet by their front door. I thought about the possibility of overnighting there, but got no response from knocking. It was still a bit early, and anyways: there weren’t any good hidden spots, no cover to hide from the rain, and was still a bit skittish about getting found from my earlier experience, this morning. I continued on, and as darkness descended, I came to the downtown portion of Freeport, where I found the amazing catalog company of L. L. Bean. This was their first store, manned by Mr. Bean, himself, back in the day, and it was his tradition to be available for business to fishermen and hunters 24/7; they’ve kept that tradition to this day, so I rolled in a 9:00pm and not only found a new flag to replace the lost one for my trike, I also found a fully outfitted and manned cycling shop! I brought in my trike to have them look at a problem I’d been having with a slightly out-of-tune derailleur, and found out that my chain was “stretched” beyond their capacity to measure it, and that my “cassette” (the cluster of gears on the back wheel) was worn. They didn’t have the right cassette to replace it, so they did all they could to tweak it, and gave it back to me, no charge. One of the three guys there, Tom, liked my cycling trip story so much, he offered to call his parents who lived about 10 miles up the road to see if they’d be willing to host me overnight; they were happy to. Excellent! I’ve always liked L. L. Bean’s stuff – I still have a pipe I bought from then back in the 80s; now I love ‘em to death! Randy, also an L. L. Bean bike mechanic, offered to put my trike in his truck, and drive me to Tom’s parents, so that’s what we did. The weather that night was nasty, with heavy fog and lots of moisture, with an occasional shower. I was *very* appreciative of being hosted on the spur of the moment so late in the evening. We met Tom's parents, Tony and Marjorie, at their home, in a neighborhood south of the town of Brunswick, and they welcomed me in, let me park my trike in their garage out of the wet, and gave me a guest room with fresh sheets on the bed. Of course, following my creed to use as little of a host’s resources as possible, I just put my sleeping bag on the floor. We chatted a while before turning in for the night, and I was warm and dry as I drifted off – not what I was expecting at all.

Day One Hundred Forty-eight, 090725 - York Harbor, ME

Day One Hundred Forty-seven, Date Saturday, July 25, 2009
Time in Saddle: 6:39
Distance for the Day: 67.18 miles From Saugus, MA To York Harbor, ME
Accumulated Trip Distance: 6809.01
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 136’/54’, Highest: 238’ Accumulated: 2254’
Speeds: Avg: 10.1 mph, Max: 41.6 mph
Weather: 65° clear, becoming partly cloudy, then clear again in afternoon
Expenditures: $22

Completely clear skies, sun was already up before 6am; snoozed until 5:30am and got up; ready to roll at 5:57am stopped at DD from 6:30am to 7am $4 for choco milk small donut and bagel/cream cheese; charging the laptop will try continuing up Rte 1; see if I can get away with it; was riding along Rt 1 and passed a cop who was giving someone a ticket, a few minutes later I saw him following me for a while, I guess keeping an eye on me, making sure I wasn’t getting into or making any trouble, he pulled off after a few more minutes and left me alone; now 10:30am hit the town of Salsbury $2 for drink and $4 for food; stopped btwn 2:45 and 3:30 at Subway for meal deal ($9) heading towards Portsmouth; made Maine at 5:18pm after spending about 45 minutes around Portsmouth doing pictures and videos; crossed the smaller bridge, but noticed a “no cycles” sign after crossing it; but no one seemed to mind, and I made it across without incident; 5:19pm weather this morning was clear, as I went north, it got really cloudy, then became partly cloudy, and now in the evening, it’s almost completely clear again, and temperature/humidity is very nice, so, a good start for Maine; spent $3 for choco malt at DQ now 6:15pm and cont on; found a marginal stealth camp in a large parking lot behind a church in the town of York Harbor, ME (N43° 8.319' W70° 38.852'). I knocked on the door but no one answered. I read my book, checking for traffic or to see if anyone would show up, but nothing happened, so I set up my tent and got to sleep by 9:30pm. At 2:08am, I got awakened by the sound of a car and its lights shining on my tent. It was a cop (Demitol!) He was nice and friendly enough, but said I couldn’t stay – at least he didn’t give me a ticket. I packed up and left by 2:32am. Of course, I knew this kind of thing would happen every now and then, and am always mentally prepared for it, so it wasn’t particularly traumatic – just a minor annoyance, really.

Day One Hundred Forty-seven, 090724 - Saugus, MA

Day One Hundred Forty-six, Date Friday, July 24, 2009
Time in Saddle: 3:07
Distance for the Day: 22.23 miles From Boston, MA To Saugus, MA
Accumulated Trip Distance: 6741.83 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 324’/136’, Highest: 201’ Accumulated: 548’
Speeds: Avg: 7.8 mph, Max: 45.8 mph
Weather: 60°, overcast with periods of light rain
Expenditures: $8

Got up around 7:30am and had breakfast of cereal and banana. Carol went off to work, and I stayed to finish blogging and checking the weather (not very good – yuk!) and suddenly realized I forgot to get a picture of myself and Carol, Demitol! I found out where she worked from the web, got the address, called her up, and arranged to meet her at her office (the Boston office of GLAD) so we could do the picture. I rode into the very heart of downtown Boston, found her office, and we went out to the local park to do the picture. I also stopped in at the Radio Shack, there, to replace my watch and cyclometer batteries ($8), and Carol bought me a chocolate chip cookie as a going-away treat from Starbucks. It was yummy, Carol – thanks! She recommended my going through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard in Cambridge, so I took off from Carol’s office at 1:30pm, and found my way out of Boston up through MIT and then into Cambridge; now I can say I’ve been to MIT and Harvard! That was a bit of a side-jog off my direct route, so I made my way back to said direct route, and continued north on Route 99. At around 5pm, the road became very busy (weekend rush-hour traffic), and by 7pm, it got a bit intense, my having to do a bit of merging to stay on my route. Not much longer after that, I saw the now familiar sight of a police car with lights a-flash, with the uniformed man standing and waiting for me to reach him. “Problem, officer,” I asked. “The board’s been lighting up with 9-11 calls about you – you can’t ride on this road.” He was not a hard-ass about it, and was friendly, helpful and interested, but said I’d have to take side roads, even though this road had side streets, businesses, and stoplights along it. Hokay! I didn’t argue, but one of Carol’s cycling maps, and my computer, said this was a cycleable route. I pulled off to the side, and checked my computer maps for alternate routes, all of which went zig-zagging out of my way for miles. I decided to look for stealth camping at this point, and found one behind (another) furniture store (N42 28.570’ W71 1.348’). It was a bit exposed, and indeed, someone went back there to throw away some trash in the bin, and a car drove up to investigate, but both intrusions were short, minor, and didn’t result in any interactions or expulsions, which was fine by me. I had a fine sleep the rest of the night, and thought I’d just try that road again on early Saturday morning.

Day One Hundred Forty-five, 090723 - Boston, MA

Day One Hundred Forty-five, Date Thursday, July 23, 2009
Time in Saddle: n/a
Distance for the Day: n/a
Accumulated Trip Distance: n/a
Altitudes: n/a
Speeds: n/a
Weather: 60° overcast becoming light rain in late afternoon/evening
Expenditures: $66

Carol fixed us a breakfast of cereal and fruit, and then we took off on our cycles: she for work, and me for downtown to go see the sights. Unfortunately, I failed to secure my cable lock correctly, and the route into town was very bumpy, so it fell off without my knowing it. After having gone a fair ways, I discovered the problem, and told Carol to continue on without me, while I backtracked to try to find it. I found the Velcro strips that went with it, but the lock itself was gone, which meant that someone probably found it and took it, Demitol. I went back to Carol’s house and used my notebook and her wi-fi to locate local cycling shops around Boston, and called several of them, but none of them carried the same type of lock. Demitol, again. BUT, then I found out that Boston has an REI, which is where I got the lock in the first place. I called ‘em up, and they had them. Terrific! I then spent the rest of the morning and a bit of the afternoon navigating with difficulty (Boston is a tough place to navigate) to find that REI, which I finally did, and got the replacement cable lock ($26). Well, it was now early afternoon, and I wanted to visit the Boston MOS (Museum of Science), so I meandered around central Boston a bit more, finding and going along the beautiful Charles River (which also happened to have a fantastic cycling trail). By the time I got there, it was mid-afternoon, but I paid for entry + a planetarium show ($26), anyway, and from about 2pm to 7pm, I saw *most* of the place, plus a *very* nice, if somewhat low-tech planetarium show. They had one of the old fashioned “giant ant” star projectors, plus a twin video projector setup to show some full-color and motion images, but it was so well produced, integrated, and narrated, I found it very engaging. I stayed until closing at 7pm, and went out into the now light rain, to find my way back to Carol’s house from the center of Boston – no easy trick. I managed, and got back by around 8pm, just as it was getting dark. Carol had to go visit a friend, so she dropped me off at a local grocery store, and I picked up some food ($6), stopped by a small restaurant and got a burger ($8), and walked all my goodies the few blocks up to her house. I ate, did my laundry in the machines downstairs, and blogged, until Carol got home around 10pm, and we chatted more about cycle trips, comparing notes and stories (she’s such a good talker), and I let her know I’d be leaving tomorrow morning to continue on. She went to bed, and I stayed up until three in the morning blogging, then went to sleep.

Day One Hundred Forty-four, 090722 - Boston, MA

Day One Hundred Forty-four, Date Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Time in Saddle: 5:34
Distance for the Day: 32.6 miles From Attleboro, MA To Boston, MA
Accumulated Trip Distance: 6719.6 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 267’/324’, Highest: ?? Accumulated: ??
Speeds: Avg: 8.7 mph, Max: 26.7 mph
Weather: 67° rain in early AM, turning to drizzle in morning, becoming overcast with no rain
Expenditures: $12
The ride from Pawtucket to Boston was actually a relatively short hop of 30 or so miles, so I took my time. I stopped in at a Dunkin Donuts in Attleboro at 8:30am – 9:25am for breakfast of bagel and cream cheese with hot coco ($4), and found a bit of wi-fi from *somewhere*, so handled email for an hour or so. Along the way, there was a point where road construction on Route 1 created a narrow, one-lane passage. The police lady there was nice enough to hold the traffic a few minutes, while I rushed to get through it. I lost the route a couple of times along the way from road splits and not paying attention, but have developed an almost “spider sense,” (see the comic book, Spiderman, which describes the superhero’s uncanny precognitive ability to tell when something bad is about to happen) for when I think I’ve gone off course, such as noticing a street sign that isn’t the name of the street that I was supposed to be on. I would then stop, whip out my computer, look at the map, and even get a GPS fix, to find where I was, and what I had to do to get back on track. About halfway there, at 11:30am, I stopped in at a newly constructed business site that had no business set up in it, yet, to lay out all my wet gear to dry in the noonday warmth. It wasn’t clear enough for sun, but the clouds weren’t so thick that solar infra-red couldn’t get through. I pulled out and set up on the clean asphalt my tent, lay out the tent fly, hammock, air mattress, sleeping bag, ground tarp, and even the ropes. Then I sat in my trike, ate my sandwich, and read my book, while I waited for my stuff to dry. I only noticed him when he swung around to leave, but a state police car had come to investigate me, and probably figured out exactly what I was doing after a quick glance, and decided I wasn’t a threat, and left without comment. After 1.5 hours (11:30am to 1pm), my stuff had dried pretty good, so I packed everything back up, and continued on at 1:15pm. I picked up drinks and food items along the way ($8) as usual. I made it into Boston right around 4pm, having arranged earlier to meet my Warmshowers host in Boston, Carol M, at 5pm. Perfect! I spent the next half hour locating her house, and parked in back up a short, steep driveway to read my book and wait. She left me a couple of messages saying she’d be late, but I didn’t check my phone – no biggie. She showed up on her bike a little after 6pm, all hot and dripping with sweat – a true cyclist! Carol showed me her home, the second story of a quaint three-story house. The place was immaculately clean, beautifully furnished and appointed with vases and pictures – very homey, indeed! I set up my sleeping bag on the spare bed in the living room area, took my warm shower, and hooked into her local wi-fi to begin the blogging. It was her birthday, today, so she went out with friends to celebrate. When she got back a few hours later, we chatted for a few more hours about our experiences on the road (she did a cross-country trip 20 years ago), where we went, the things that happened, our gear, blah blah blah! I really enjoyed talking with Carol; she’s a natural conversationalist, and made it easier for me to talk, as well. It got almost late, so she retired, while I tried to continue blogging, but I was a bit tired, myself, so only made it to about 12:30am before hitting the hay. Whew! It’s nice to not have to be stealthy, every now and then.

Day One Hundred Forty-three, 090721 - Attleboro, ME

Day One Hundred Forty-three, Date Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Time in Saddle: 2:02
Distance for the Day: 15.01 miles From Providence, RI To Attleboro, MA
Accumulated Trip Distance: 6687.0 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 114’/267’, Highest: 297’ Accumulated: 545’
Speeds: Avg: 7.4 mph, Max: 49.9 mph (unlikely)
Weather: 60° light-to-heavy rain in the AM, stopping in the afternoon, but still overcast
Expenditures: $5

(No pictures today – sorry! It was pretty boring.) I slept until 5am, and noticed the steady rain of last night was beginning to lightening up, and by the time I got up at 5:30am, it was only very lightly raining (almost convenient). I secured my tent, getting it as dry as possible by flapping it to shake off the moisture. To get the dirt off my ground cloth, I lay it in a big puddle and pulled it up – that actually worked surprisingly well. I took a bit longer, about 50 minutes, to break down this morning, trying to get things as clean and “dry” as possible. I left at 6:32am to find place to recharge my notebook, camera battery, and have breakfast. I found a Burger King with an outlet I could use, so ate breakfast ($5), and wrote blog entries while it rained, hard at times, through the morning and into the early afternoon (7am to 2pm). Being this kind of day, I was in no hurry to run out to cycle in the rain, and continued processing the photos that I would include with the blog. I did as much as I could without wi-fi at BK, and then rode over to the local public library several blocks away (in the rain), to upload all this stuff to the blogsite, and handle email. I did that from 2:00-4:25pm; won’t get too far, today! I set up my laptop at a computer station near the entry so I could look through the glass doors and see my trike. To do this, I tried plugging into the power regulator for the computer station, but it didn’t work, so I had to unplug the station’s monitor. None of the staff seemed to notice, or mind, but there was no chair there, so I had to stand as I worked. As I had hoped, during the time I was uploading the blog and pictures, the rain seemed to have stopped, and the sidewalk outside started to dry; maybe it would stay stopped for the rest of the day. I left the library in the late afternoon, and stopped to take some pictures of the Rhode Island State Capital building before continuing toward Pawtucket (pronounced, puh-TUCKIT, oddly enough) on Route 1. Early along the way, I found signage for an alternate “bicycle” route to get there. Great, I’ll take the bike route. So, I went on this route, and it was ‘okay’ (the streets around Providence were pretty old and “warped”), with more signs along the way indicating I was still on the right route, but then the signs stopped showing up. Did I miss a turn? I went back a mile or two, found the last sign, and then went forward again. No more signs. Did they run out of funding? As it turns out, I had already arrived in Pawtucket! It would’ve been nice if they said, “You’re here.” I was expecting a longer ride, but it was actually pretty close to Providence. Fooled again. I stopped at a Subway and got a meal deal ($8) pretty late in the day for me; around 7pm. By the time I finished and continued on, the dim light of early evening began to descend, and I began to keep an eye out for this night’s stealth camp, when *voila* - one showed up. At about 8:15pm, just as it was starting to get a bit dark, I saw a sign for a church on a side road off the main road, so I swung up a light uphill grade for about 40 yards, and found a slightly steeper and longer driveway up to a lovely empty parking lot, surrounded by trees. How do I do it? (N41 55.453’ W71 21.304’) I set up my still-wet tent in a mostly level parking space, and rigged everything for rain, because the sky still looked threatening. I was in bed by 8:45pm, and asleep by 9pm. As it turns out, it *did* rain during the wee hours. Kind of strange to have rain and yet still have such mild temperatures (upper 60s). I guess when I think about it, it’s better than rain and cold, so, no complaints, there. No fireflies this evening, though it might have been due to the inclement weather. There *were* mosquitoes, but none of ‘em got me (heh, heh!)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Day One Hundred Forty-two, 090720 - Providence, RI

Day One Hundred Forty-two, Date Monday, July 20, 2009
Time in Saddle: 9:25
Distance for the Day: 79.24 miles From Cobalt, CT To Providence, RI
Accumulated Trip Distance: 6671.99
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 501'/114’, Highest: 863’ Accumulated: 5804’
Speeds: Avg: 8.4 mph, Max: 39.8 mph
Weather: 53° mostly clear w/high patches thin cumulous
Expenditures: $15

Getting up at 5am, I was greeted by a lovely thin crescent Moon and the bright planet Venus in the brightening early morning sky. Everything was dry, except for the condensation from my own breathing on inside of tent fly. I set it to air out while I broke down camp, and it was mostly dry by the time it was time to fold it up. I lucked out on this site: no bugs, slugs, spiders poisonous plants, or security to contend with – how nice! I went to the nearest Dunkin Donuts (which I’m finding are even more ubiquitous than even Subways) from 6-6:30am ($3) to charge up the notebook, and bought a Gatorade at the mini mart, next door ($2). I’d been noticing a bit of a squeak on my trike the last half-day, so at 7:08am I stopped to lube the chain and deraillure, and continued on towards Marlborough, CT. The countryside is, like New York State, almost uniformly pretty, with lots of trees, nice-to-beautiful homes, many with huge lawns, but still fairly hilly, and road quality of mostly-good-but-sometimes-spotty quality. I stopped to buy some drink in Willimantic ($2), and again in the town of Scotland ($4). At 11:21am I retightened the steering column (which needs retightening every now and then), and realigned the rotation of the front half of the trike with the rear, slightly, as they had become slightly un-aligned. I’d been having more trouble with “chain chattering,” and this helped to reduce it, but I still couldn’t get rid of it, completely. Wish I were a better bike mechanic!

Continuing on, after a little confusion (resulting in a few wasted miles), I think I passed into the state of RI at approx 3:30pm (no sign, Demitol!), and cont NE towards Providence, RI. I finally made the outskirts of Providence at about 7pm, and once again, my mapping program fooled me: it took me on a “road” that it said continued east, but in reality, it ended and became a short, impossibly steep (for my trike) foot trail that I could barely walk, myself, over a 12’ high burm that then continued as paved roadway on the other side. I checked the map, and found an alternate route nearby, and when I took that, the road was blocked by concrete dividers (???), which I was fortunately able to get around fairly easily. This led into a pretty nice neighborhood of homes. I stopped one woman driving home to ask if a road I had just passed was the one I was looking for, and she verified that it was, and we got to chatting, and I ended up giving her my blogsite, too. I finally made it into Providence, proper, and began to look for someplace I could sit down, recharge my notebook, and check the route, but didn’t find one. I stopped in at a Walgreens to get Gatorade and a soda ($4). It was starting to get dark, now, and I was passing through some semi-spotty looking areas for stealth camp possibilities, not finding much.
I resolved to head out towards the northeast outskirts of the city to find nicer neighborhoods, when at about 8pm, I spotted a construction equipment business with a parking lot hidden behind a humped driveway. Hmmm! I drove up into the lot, then around to the back of the building (scaring away a small crowd of feral kitties), and found what looked to be a perfect site: no graffiti or beer bottles, and mostly just flat pavement behind a building that blocked most traffic noise, and backed by what looked like nothing but trees and brush – not even any houses or apartments behind (Generalized to protect site: N41 49’ W71 26’. I found it just in time, too, as it was already too dark to read my book, so I just set up my tent and hopped inside for a quiet night’s sleep. Hah!

First, at about midnight, I was awakened by this weird kind of (not very loud) bark, “harphh, harphh!” It would come close, and I would grumble or shift noisily, and then it would happen again, but further away. I figured it was a raccoon or possum, and I was intruding on its territory. This kept happening a few more times over the course of the next half hour, and I figured I would make a stronger response to try to permanently scare off the little bugger. But, then at about 1am, I heard the crunch of gravel as a car pulled up, and a bright light swung over my tent – wuh-oh, busted! I looked outside through my tent door, and saw that it was a cop car with one of those external spotlights. (Did someone see or hear me back there? I was pretty sure no one did.) I poked my head out and waved. He asked what I was doing, and I explained I was a traveling cyclist who was camping overnight and would be gone by morning. To my happy surprise, he seemed to be more amazed and delighted to hear my story, rather than officious and stern about my minor trespass, than I was expecting. I got my shoes on and came out, and we chatted. The more I explained what I was doing and how I was doing it, the more delighted and amazed he became. I gave him my blog site address, and he looked it up on his PDA right then and there, looking at the pictures and postings, and getting more amazed by the minute! In the meantime, another squad car came to the back of the building, and the next officer joined in our chat, and a little while later, a *third* squad car joined us, and all four of us were chatting and having a great time, taking pictures of each other, me turning down offers for food or drink – even a shower at the station – it was incredible! I mentioned the funny bark I heard earlier, and they said foxes come back there. I asked what tipped them off to my presence, and they said they’ve been coming back there for years to take a break. Just my luck to find the one cubby hole in that district where the police liked to take a break, and just my luck, again, that they were human, friendly, understanding, and had a sense of humor, and of wonder – quite a switch from Mr. Pecks (Cross City, Dixie County, FL). After about 45 minutes of this, they said goodbye and good luck, and just like that, they were gone. I hopped back into my tent, and about 30 minutes later, it began to rain. I went to sleep with a smile, despite the rain.

Day One Hundred Forty-one, 090719 - Cobalt, CT

Day One Hundred Forty-one, Date Sunday, July 19, 2009
Time in Saddle: 6:31
Distance for the Day: 50.12 miles From Stevenson, CT To Cobalt, CT
Accumulated Trip Distance: 6621.87 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 313’/506”, Highest: 784’ Acumulated: 3415’
Speeds: Avg: 8.5 mph, Max: 39.2 mph
Weather: ??°
Expenditures: $

I woke up at 5am, but didn’t get up until 5:30am. I decloaked my trike, and wasn’t surprised to find a lot of insects attracted to the human scent that must be imbedded into it. This was new: I found 3 or 4 small *slugs* on my gear, along with the usual daddy long legs. I brushed them all off, and packed my gear away to prepare for the day’s journey. I notice the sun seems to be rising earlier – the sky gets brighter earlier – by 5am, it was pretty bright already. I took off at 6:03am stopped for a breakfast of bagel and cream cheese + hot cocoa at Dunkin Donuts ($3) and to charge my notebook and dictate notes on the upcoming route. I’ve taken to dictating route turn points and distances into my voice recorder so I wouldn’t have to drag my notebook out for every turnpoint verification, which because I have such a rotten short term memory, I have to do quite often. I’ve made some fairly costly errors in navigation due to my poor memory, so this was my solution to get around it. Unfortunately, I still have to drag out the computer, but I don’t need to do it nearly as often. At 11:50am, on an emergency bathroom reconnaissance mission into the Lock 12 historical park (note to self: don’t get the Subway footlong tuna fish sandwich anymore – it took 3 or 4 more such missions before it cleared the system), I met cyclists Frank and Pedana(?) and we chatted about my trike and trip. I took pictures of his ultra cool Cat in Hat shirt, gave him my blog site address, and they gave me a frozen Gatorade (how nice!) I stopped in the small town of Cheshire to get Subway sandwich (chicken breast!) at 12:07pm. The road was starting to become a little less hilly during the second half of the day, but remained very pretty, with historic buildings and cemeteries every now and then. I stopped at a mini mart for drinks and ice cream ($8) at 4:04pm, and a little later, got a donut and milk at Dunkin Donuts ($3)as an excuse to also charge my notebook and check the route. The problem with routes in the east US is: there are so many different roads and options, it takes an inordinate amount of time to navigate them, to the point where it slows me down significantly. I can barely get 40-50 miles a day, and the hilly terrain doesn’t help, either – not that I’m really complaining – it’s just the way it is. I made Middletown, CT at 5:08pm. At 7pm, I found a somewhat marginal stealth camp site in one of those “public storage” lockups that was raised fairly high above the highway (N41 33.801’ W72 32.441’). The highest set of them was isolated and not visible from the road or any habitations, but it was somewhat loud from traffic noise echoing around, and it had bright security lights in the row of lockers. I lucked-out in that the middle light was not functioning, so I had *some* dark to set up my tent in. As usual, I read my book to verify no traffic in area, and then set up the tent at 8:30pm, and was in bed by 9pm. There were no fireflies that I could see, but I suspect that in more quiet areas of the region, they were there. With earplugs firmly in place, I drifted off to sleep, and hoped no one would find me in this somewhat vulnerable site. Even if they did, though, I think I’m so completely harmless, the odds of getting into any serious trouble were remote.