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
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.