Daily Blog of the Bike Ride

Torrey Pines Rotary Foundation
Bike Ride Across America
September 12, 2012 - October 22, 2012
Wheel You Help?


Epiblogue - October 31, 2012

I got home yesterday and Carol went Ballistic. That’s Tobin James’ 2009 Zinfandel, Ballistic. It was her way to celebrate the end of the trip and my chance to avow to her never do this again. She’s tricky. No, it was not how I thought the last ride would end. But, all in all, it was a wonderful ride.  I think that driving five to six days in a row was “harder” than being in the saddle. Consider the trip home: North Port, FL  to Pensacola to Houston to El Paso (we should get double credit for driving across West Texas) to Yuma and then, home. We went from the desert (San Diego) with no trees (Has anyone seen a tree in the Cleveland National Forest?)or water to Maine with nothing but trees to Florida where half the roads are on causeways over water back to San Diego. By the way, ALL roads in ALL states are under construction. Ed and I agreed that if this ride had been the first of the four legs it might have ended after one. Looking back, though, we had a great, safe time. I crashed early on, into grass fortunately, where I lost my odometer. We came back later and found it. I only had one flat. Ed had no flats or injuries… riding. When we stopped to get gas he shredded his shin stepping over the gas hose. Go figure.

I am so glad that I took notes on all four rides. I went through them before sitting down to wrap things up. So many people, places and things that reminded me of once-in-a- lifetime experiences that I had forgotten. I have ridden 8,783 miles around a country that still leaves me in awe. When you are moving around you meet so many people and find that underneath we’re all pretty much the same. A few like some pretty awful food like scrapple (which says it all) but I can live with that. We could not have done this without some super support. Our drivers for all four legs you can count one hand…if it had six fingers. Thanks to Ed Martin, Harvey Stewart, Bob Templeton, Sandy Estes, Art Curran, Bill Freund and Carol and Beth (token additions because we were going through wine country). Thanks to Sandy Marschman and Dennis Brewster for keeping the office covered. Thanks to OMBAC for their financial and literary support (they donated cases of OTL programs that we foisted on anyone that had even a hint-sometimes not- of  mischief in them) . Thanks to all of the old and new friends made en route that helped us along the way. We really appreciate your efforts more than we can say. Thanks to all of you have donated to my Rotary club’s foundation. At this writing, we are over $6,000. Be assured that your money will go to worthwhile causes. And, most of all, thanks to my riding partner and good pal, Ed Ott. It was his idea back in 2002, his trip planning (although we’ll have to talk about the first 600 miles of number one), his truck and his friendship that made this odyssey possible.

So, with a healing butt and a hankering to  find another “something” to equal these rides, I sign off for now. I hope you have enjoyed the rides as much I have enjoyed trying to take you along with me.


C'est fini! - October 26, 2012


Well, it’s over but it didn’t end like I had it pictured. See the picture of my Rotary remains… and Carol. The other picture is me with Carol’s sister and brother-in-law, Shirley  and Tom Barnes, where we stayed for the last two days in North Port. A total of 1,594 miles and a rough landing but we timed it well. As we left this morning the newspapers had already called the weather coming into Miami the “Halloween Hurricane” and the “Frankenstorm”. Give me  a break! One of the great benefits of this trip is getting a break from the media. More on the “landing” later.

When last I checked in we had just left Daytona Beach and 30,000 motorcycles. We were going to stay with a friend of mine there but our start and stop points weren’t nearby. I did take a look at Joe’s place on the inland waterway en route as he was away on business. That’s where Ed proved he can still catch fish (left pic). On Friday, the 19th we are in Titusville and are directed to Durango’s for a free appetizer if we show our room key. Here we meet Auggie (right pic), bartender of the trip. We asked for three beers and she says, “Shoo-ah” So I ask if she is from New York and she’s off  with the jokes. Her husband had taken her to a Comedy Club and the comedian picked her. Big mistake. He probably has a whole new shtick since she was in the act. Saturday, the wind is behind us. The bike gods are smiling on us. It lasts to the end! We’re doing 40 before lunch. Sunday finds us in North Palm Beach with still another high school pal. Dave and Bonnie Adams (and their two beautiful Golden retrievers, Bentley and Cruiser) host us for the night including dinner and a ride on the Intercostal Waterway on his boat the “Courtship”. Dave is a retired judge. I could tell the end of the trip was near as Bentley ate part of our map and had  one of my gloves in his mouth the next morning.

Monday it is 80 at 8:00 am. We end in Pompano Beach and should have called it quits there. We ate at Aruba’s right on the beach compliments of Ed. The next day we pick up where we left off, got into Miami Beach and could not get to the water!!!!! Carol and her sister are in Coral Gables nearby and are waiting for me to call to tell them where we are going to put our wheel in the water as tradition dictates. Lots of water but more concrete high rises. Out of desperation and Miami congestion we agree to meet at the airport. I guess I’ll pour a beer over my front wheel and call it good.

More details when I see y’all. Thanks for your interest, donations and good cheer.

HALLOWEEN EDITION - October 18, 2012

Since ghouls and goblins are everywhere I thought that I would list some of the strange, eerie, inexplicable things that have been happening lately on the road (or at home if you were the Chargers Monday night). Take this morning. I had plenty of time to do all four puzzles in the USA Today as we were lost again going from Jacksonville to Jacksonville Beach. I know, hard to believe. Since we have been lost more days than not this phenomenon ranks high on the list. Anyhow, as I inked in the last letter of the crossword puzzle my pen went dry. Eerie. Yesterday “Big Green”, my Trek 520 went over 25,000 miles. Not so eerie. Being in Jacksonville means that we have completed the boxing of the country. We will, however, ride on to Miami. In Florida the “fart strips” (grooves along the side of the road that presumably are there to wake up dozing motorist with “that” noise) have given way to “whistle strips”. On the center lines and the white line at the shoulder are tiny grooves every half inch. It gives off a whistle that is strange. Starting out on Wednesday I felt something very strange on my back at a light where I had stopped. A tail wind. Not since Texas in ’10. One day after lunch I was coming into a town. You try to read the signs of different businesses along the way. I look up and read, “Cremation Services. Walk-ins Welcome” What! Now, granted, there have been times when I might have taken advantage of just such a service, but…? So I click my eyeballs off the white whistler to look again. I missed the first word, “Pet”. That night at Murray’s for dinner a green worm crawls out of my napkin on to my hand. It’s getting weirder.

Now let me introduce you to some now dear friends. When we get into Jax we are met by George and Mary Beth Cassady and Carol Vavrek. George and Carol’s late husband served with Ed in the Army. After putting us up in the Hampton Inn Carol insisted on taking and treating us to Checker BBQ & Seafood. Remember, now, this is the Halloween edition. If someone didn’t take you to Checker’s you wouldn’t find it. All the way there she is raving about the shrimp. We get there and the waiter says we don’t have much of anything left. Why don’t I bring out what is left in the kitchen? So green fried tomatoes, white fish, fries, made it in mounds to our table. Sitting nearby is a couple who hears our plight and insists that we have some of their shrimp. We become fast friends and are pictured with the group. I am embarrassed to say that I did not introduce myself or get their names. (So, friends, if you are reading this please forgive my poor manners and call 619-692-9650 and leave your names so I can complete this chapter.) In the picture of six from the left is George, Art (owner and chef), our two nameless friends, Carol and Mary Beth. There is also a pic of us with Art. Check out his chapeau.

After a tour of Jacksonville and a visit to the Cassady’s lavish Southern home on Black Creek (Some “creek”. It is 25 miles long, 40’ deep and 50 yards wide and dumps into the St. Johns river that is 225 miles long) we went for a boat ride before we went to dinner at Clark’s Fish Camp. Remember, Halloween. See the pix. On the river (what isn’t?) the place was huge and had more stuffed animals and Halloween decorations than I have ever seen. Oh, and a live six foot gator as you walk in. George ordered an plate of alligator tail before dinner. Not bad. Also on the menu was yak, ostrich, crocodile, python and kangaroo. I had seafood gumbo with none of the above. George and Mary Beth were our hosts. Our hats are off to y’all and thanks. I hope we can return the favor in San Diego someday soon.

We are out 1,300 miles and north of Daytona Beach. Getting close.

October 15, 2012

Hello Gene Autry and good bye Mrs. Calabash. Georgia has shoulders! Georgia has shoulders! After cooling our heels in Charleston for four days and riding a total of 51 miles in the state of SC the only shoulders that could feel better than today’s are Carol’s. (Miami, seven days, who’s counting?). We rode 56 miles south on US 17 stopping for lunch in the “second Darien”. It seems like it was years ago that we pedaled through Darien, CT. Gator/croc  watch (I don’t  know what they have down here) is on as the ditches on the side of the roads are full of water. A deer pranced (too small for Santa’s) right alongside of me for a while this morning. He seemed to be in a lot better shape than me after five days off. We are south of Darien, GA not too far from FL.

But, let’s go back and get caught up. Art Curran had just joined us as our third driver. Look where we took him for his first beer. As we walked in, the bartendress (who had an undergraduate degree in molecular biology) saw the camera and said, “His name’s Art, isn’t it?” Later we dined at the Okra Grill. Nothing too good for our drivers. Actually, we went back again to eat as it was great. Ed’s Army friends were much fun. Tut and Debbie McCracken, Tom and Mary Murden and Dick Rhyne made nine for dinner at the Fleet Landing Restaurant. I even ironed my shorts for this soiree. There I learned another new word, bushhoggin’. Know what it means? So on Saturday we gassed up at $3.55 and took Harvey to the airport (after getting lost again).We drove down to Savannah never finding shoulders.

Thanks to Nancy Stoke in my Rotary club we were welcomed for two days by Gloria and Dean Horstman (see pic) who live right in the heart of Savannah…in a ”library” built in 1860. Gloria is a book critic and their house is wall  to wall books. I was in the kitchen and noticed a book on tea. Mentioning that I liked tea she pointed out, had I looked closer, there were 140 books on tea in front of me. There was even a section where we could take some paperbacks with us. She also had the entire works of Agatha Christie. Savannah is 1.1 miles square. We took a trolley tour having to change trolleys mid tour as our coach quit. Ironically it was the Old Town Trolley company that we chose. Savannah is home to Johnny Mercer, Coca-Cola, “Forrest Gump” ( and many other movies), tabby paving, Leopold’s Iced Cream, the Jingle Bell church and so much more. Every home had a story. Cotton was king. Now Savannah is the second largest port in the country. We saw enormous ships coming and going on the river… from the roof of the Bohemian Hotel. Saturday night Dean treated us to dinner at the Crystal Beer Parlor, a city favorite. I should mention here that when Oglethorpe founded Savannah, he insisted on four prohibitions: no slaves, no Catholic worship (they could speak Spanish and it was feared they would help the Spaniards in time of war), no alcohol and ….wait for this…. no…. attorneys. He reasoned that the judge new the law so why does one need an attorney? Replies welcome.

Well, we were fed great meals, though Gloria, ever the critic, swore everything she touched was horrible. There was not a morsel left on any plate. Thanks Gloria and Dean and Nancy.

October 11, 2012

Those of you who have so generously donated to the ride and Rotary on a per mile basis may be saving a load of money. I have ridden only 39 miles since entering SC and this marks the third day that we are here in Charleston. We left Georgetown Tuesday morning after seeing sightseers in an open cart the night before in parkas with their hoods up. Still no shoulders and we only  got a few miles around the motel because we were having with drawl symptoms. Then the truck had a “stroke”. Seems the left side of the truck lost its electrical. Harvey couldn’t open the drivers’ door, work the windows, etc. Ed took it the next morning and the “doctor” bill was north of $300. Wednesday we did get in 22 miles on the tip of a bike tour guide staying here. He, too, confirmed the lack of shoulders but sent us out to Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms to ride in a very upscale beach community. It didn’t have shoulders either but it was like riding through the back streets of La Jolla. I call it our field trip as we saw Fort Moultrie along the way.

Today we took a tour of the Charleston area. Quite a city with a matching history. Falling from first place it is still the second largest seaport on the east coast and fourth in the USA. Tourism is their number one industry followed by port activity and medical research and hospitals. There are over 100 churches in Charleston and only four are Catholic. In the days it was not cotton, but, rice and indigo that were the big businesses on the plantations. Wait until I tell you how they processed the indigo! We saw what the money from that wrought in the way of town houses the plantation owners built in town. One owner had 13 children so built modest little abode of 13,000 square feet. The city has been hit by hurricanes and a devastating earthquake years ago. We were told that the city will flood without a storm if there are extremely high tides. It is called Low Country down here. Afterwards we extended the tour by ferrying out to Fort Sumter. Quite a history lesson (although I am still getting over Jimmy Durante). I shot many pictures but may save them to put together sometime after I get back.

Art Curran is in now as our third driver. So are Ed’s Army buddies. Tomorrow he has a whole host of them here (to tell lies about their days in the Army) and finally, Saturday, we will be on the road to Savannah. Now, I’m not saying how, but we’re going. Tomorrow before his festivities begin we are going to try route 60 going west just to get in some miles… if rideable. Taxes are low here (TOT is 3%) and they don’t spend much on wide roads. Also want to move on as I took a swat at a cockroach in Harvey’s (and Art’s) room earlier today. I missed. We’re not telling Art just quite yet.

October 9, 2012

A week or so  back I awoke to the sound of a fog horn. A day later the howl of an approaching train and leaving Jacksonville it was the sound of machine gun fire and heavy ordinance booms from Camp Lejeune. Down through the barrier reefs (the concrete kind used during road repair) to Wilmington. There, thanks again to Gordon we enjoyed staying with Jack and Sue  Homestead. Golfers sit down. Their home is an a lovely community, Landfall, built around two golf courses; a 27 hole Nicklaus and an 18 hole Dye. Please meet them in the pix. Also, what is the name of their “dog”? Look carefully. While we have seen much en route we have missed the outer banks and the inland waterway. Jack took us on a short tour and we got a glimpse, at  least. Gordon and the Homesteads are high school friends of Gordon. I have places, dates, names, pictures from the yearbook. Gordon, be very scared. Also staying with the Homesteads are Lucy, Agnes and Horace. Carol, since I am not sure what went on with you and King Neptune from Virginia Beach you notice Lucy and I were close. Actually I was thinking of you the entire time because I know you are doing nothing but cleaning and scrubbing while I am away. HAH!

Sunday we rode down to the state line between NC and SC at Calabash. Spent the night with an OCS friend of Ed in Shallotte NC. At lunch we ate in Calabash, the seafood capitol of SC. All three of us us at one point brought up Jimmy Durante. Remember how he ended every show? This will date you. Well, that night Lamont Jordon, our host, takes us back to Calabash for dinner. Look on the wall behind the picture of the group. Rumor has it that in 1954 Durante stopped at this restaurant, Ella’s Café, was taken with the waitress (related to the owner) and said he was going to make her famous. He left that night saying, “Good night, Mrs. Calabash.” The person in question would never agree to be interviewed and took the story to her grave. After dinner, back to Lamont’s for homemade strawberry cobbler. The next morning he was up early making biscuits and gravy. As it turned out we didn’t need the breakfast.

Over the night there was a huge lightning and thunder storm. I got  of bed, stood by the window and watched for a while. Finishing the day before in 80 degrees 55 was a shock the next morning. A bigger shock still awaited us. All dressed and ready to ride we go back to state line. I’m first out. I put my foot in the pedal,  start to leg over and I put on my brakes and get off. There are no, none, zip, nada shoulders in SC. We drove 100 miles yesterday looking for any road that had anything we could ride. We even went inland to pick up the Adventure Cycling route. Worse. The shoulder is the space between the white line and where the pavement ends. Grass was growing over the white line on a one lane each way, 55 mph road loaded with logging trucks. (Mostly for paper. Furniture has gone to China). So we ended up in Georgetown SC without a pedal. Actually, Ed rode around the neighborhood while took an online compliance requirement. So he is 10 miles ahead of me. He’s more. I had the cable to my derailier replaced but not adjusted. When Ed breaks a spoke I get it adjusted and the guy says he’ll redo my repair of my odometer pick-up. He does a great job, but puts it further up the fork. It quits working. Long and short, I was losing one mile for every 20 pedaled. I fixed but have yet to test it. Soon I hope. We had lunch where a table of SC police and Highway Patrol dined. They said there are no shoulders in the state. We’re dressed to ride, but… One last observation. We drove through Myrtle Beach yesterday. It looked like it wanted to be Las Vegas but didn’t even get to Laughlin. Disneyland a la Chuck E. Cheese.

October 5, 2012

When last I wrote it was, so it seemed, one of those days. Lost, broken bikes, dog poop…. Well, all clouds have that lining. Across the street from the bike shop was a diner owned by Pat and her husband where we had a nice lunch. A small diner, a fellow comes in, looks for a table to no avail  and leaves. Pat chases him out the door, seats him outside, brings his food and moves him inside once a table is free. And Pat and her husband who are re-enactors (I have never met  one of those before) also own the wine bar next door. Since we’re there for at least three more hours waiting on the bike repairs, we sat on the veranda overlooking the Roanoake River sipping a fine Merlot. Then I ask Pat about Plymouth. She tells us that it used to be the third largest seaport on the Atlantic, which battles were fought there and who won. Included was who and what was happening to her town from the ‘60s forward. This may be a stretch, but I really think she was pushing us to consider retiring there. This town is small. How small? The “welcome to” and the “you are now leaving” signs are on the same pole. We asked about dinner. She sends us to a place down the street that has to be entered by the back door (only if someone has told you). See Pic. We had a beer there but didn’t eat. But I felt like I should knock on the door and wait for someone to open a little window to check us out. Classic.

Do you know what Ruritan Clubs are? Their signs along the road welcome you. I’m told the are rural Rotary-like organizations. A lot! of logging trucks zooming by. I think it is for furniture. Ethan Allen and other outlets always brag about their furniture being made in NC. Could be pulp for paper to print bibles. We’re way south of the Mason-Dixon line but maybe. I will find out tomorrow when we will spend a night with Jack and Sue Homestead in Wilmington, NC,  thanks to Gordon Shurtleff. Knowing Gordon, I will come home with info about more than furniture and bibles. See the picture of the smallest bar in the world. We ate Mexican last night for only the second time. Que bueno!

Stand up for this next paragraph. We are in Jacksonville, NC, home of Camp Lejeune. Ooo-rah! My Marines are everywhere. I probably won’t tell any Marine here that I was a Hollywood Marine. Ask a Marine (Don Yeckel) what that is. BTW, the ID and password to get on line here are Super8 and Marine. Weather is nice, humid and a little wind in our face. I have us 15 miles short of 1G.


October 3, 2012

The  last three days have been the strangest string of days so far. Monday we go back to the sage diner and the head out for the Chesapeak Bay Bridge Tunnel only 20 miles away. It was 17.6 miles across and really was something. Once in Norfolk we go to find a friend of a friend, Jim Spruance, in Virginia Beach. There is a new Spruance class ship coming to home port in San  Diego. Jim has a four star Admiral somewhere in the family tree. It starts to rain so we have a beer with Jim and shove off. While there we took a tour of the beach, had lunch and worked our way back to the bike route only to get rained out: 19 miles. Oh, hon, while at the beach I met a guy that said he knew you when you lived in Old Mission Beach. (See pic). I’ll get your side of the story from you later. And I forgot to mention that Harvey slammed the truck door on his finger and needed four stitches to close it. Then the next morning he cut his forearm on the motel door. And, while we’re talking alert the media, Ed, the knife man ( a collection of around 200 knives) had to borrow one from me!!!! Seems he needed my Swiss Army to open the beer while we waited for Harvey to return from urgent care. Spaghetti Eddie’s was our dinner choice in Chesapeake.

Tuesday Harvey gassed up at $3.38 and off we go into the wind and rain. Because we are going to be staying with friends of Dave and Carla Herkner, whom you have met earlier, I am biking in my Rotary uniform. Wait till you hear the story of Nancy and Rolfe Schroeder of Edenton, NC. The corn and soy beans are gradually giving way to cotton fields. We rode 55 miles with the wind in our face the entire way. Oh, yeah, it was raining, too. We crawl off our bikes to eat at Andy’s after being directed to Larry’s. But that’s another story. We meet up with Nancy and Rolfe at their beautiful home right on the water-built in 1775! The had two dogs but I had to sleep next door at the neighbor’s home and put up with, oh, woe is me, Bella. The Schroeders hosted us at the Bistro. In a town of 5000 I guess it is normal to ask the waitress which dessert was made by whom. Two of us had the carrot cake after which she came out and erased it from the dessert board. Thanks again to Dave and Carla for putting us in touch with Nancy and Rolfe. Nancy, “break a leg” this weekend at your show. I was hesitant to use this wish ….but good luck.  For the first time in the 43 years I have been I Rotary I was ashamed of what the Schroeders went through in Edenton. Both past Rotarians. LA and Houston, Nancy has four Paul Harris Fellows, glowing recommendations for transfer from Houston and they would not let her in. Rolfe, of course, said no, too and three other members resigned in protest. Hard to believe the “good ol’ boy” network is still around.

Quickly, today. First (and only) 19 were great. Then we lose Harvey. Then Ed breaks a spoke. We go to closest bike shop in Plymouth (and I don’t know where that is) where we are now. Ed gets out of the car and steps in dog poop, the odometer pickup has fallen down the fork. One of those days. More to the story, but the boys are hungry.

October 1, 2012

So I look out the window this morning to clear skies and no wind. Perfect after three days with the wind  in our faces. Unfortunately I was looking north. We’re going south and it is raining there and when I step outside I get wet. So since I am stuck here in this bargain motel ($49.95 Sunday to Thursday. Like the four dollar bottle of wine-worth every penny of it. More on this later.) I will bring you up to date. Checked out of the Holiday Inn Express in Pokomoke (three syllables) after biscuits and gravy, eggs, juice and coffee. We are now 20 miles north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Pix tomorrow. Ed tells me that we have ridden in 31 states so far. Yesterday we stopped for lunch in Exmore (do you notice that a lot of names with the letter x? French influence?) at the Sage Diner. I declared us to officially be in the South since  it was the first time a waitress has said, “What can I get y’all?” We looked in Exmore for a place to eat but the town was virtually closed up. There was nothing open but the church.

Last night we found  a wash-o-mat where you could do your clothes or your car or your semi-tractor. All three were there.  Then, since pickings were slim we ate at the only place close. It was a classic. The great Machipongo Clam Shack in Nassawadox, VA. Food was good especially when I topped it off with a piece of The Big Blitz with Snickers Bar Pie. Good thing it’s raining. They had a sign on the door  that fit right in with our lodgings, “$5.00 bottle of wine”…and it was Tisdale from CA. Chocolate red was their special. VA wines included Two Shilling Red, Blue Crab  red and Bloxom Red Kiss. Sorry Torrey Pines Wine Club. On that note I’ll sign off.

September 29, 2012

Well, we are off the beaten track today. We biked east over to Bethany Beach (the quiet resort) to get my bike repaired. While there ED unsuccessfully hunted for his “I Love MD” shirt. He’s decided that only NY has brag shirts. Then down the coast route until it turned into high rises and traffic. Then back west to pick up 113. We are now about five miles north of VA in Pokomoke City. I have us out 791 miles. I was fooling with some numbers the other day. If we average 12 mph that means we go a mile every five minutes. Times 1900, divided by 60, divided by 12… means we could do the ride in about 20 days riding 8 hours (96 miles) a day. We scheduled 38 days.

In a few days we will be crossing (in the truck) the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Google this site. It is 17.6 miles long, hitting four islands, tunnels?, an engineering marvel.  One note in the brochure says that if you are afraid of heights and call in advance they can arrange to have a police officer drive your car over for you. And   one other fun story. Yesterday we stopped and there was a fellow that pulled in, got out with his very little dog with three sweaters. Today at Bethany Beach there he was sitting on a bench. We’re now close friends.

September 28, 2012

Sitting in the lobby of the Atlantic Inn in Millsboro, DE (the chicken farm capitol)  getting ready to get under way… to a bike shop over on the beach. Two days ago my mirror was about to fall off. Fixed better than new. Yesterday I was tooling along and go by a mortuary that has a sign,” Worries leave when faith enters”. How true I am thinking when my back tire goes flat. Last night I washed and lubed my bike only to discover that I have a cable fraying. All part of the adventure.

Thursday, because of rain, I had to wait until 10:30 until I could be Gene Autry. Friday, 9:30. It poured like crazy but is  clear now. We had dinner with David and Carla Herkner in PA Thursday night. We had a wonderful time in what used to be an old barn called The Gables at Chadds Ford. ..in the middle of the mushroom capitol of the country. Great time. Thanks. The Garmin is getting better. It got us within four miles of the EXACT ADDRESS. Been forced to see some sports. My Browns are losing. Northwestern is 4-0 going into this weekend. And, evidently we are in NASCAR country. Something is going on this week.

Riding has been enjoyable. The roads are perfect. So good that Ed is looking for a T-shirt the reads “I love DE” to which he is going to add “roads” when he gets home. We will be in MD today so we’re two days ahead of schedule. We moved over to US 113 and we have been through acres of farming (corn all  over the shoulders), homes with horses (one with a Shetland pony) and charming small towns. Pumpkins everywhere. So let me introduce you to the “Camera Boys”. Ed has been on Harvey to take pictures along the way. First time Harvey goes to use his camera, he lines everything up, pushes the button. It reads, “no photo card”. So, Ed gives him his camera muttering something about idiots. So Harv climbs down to get a picture of a waterfall. Pushes the button. “Battery Dead” Please see my pictures.

September 26, 2012

To quote Gene Autry, “I’m back in the saddle again…” We left the city of huddled masses, high prices and horn-y drivers today. We drove  out and through Newark, NJ to route 130. Gordon, you were right. There is no way we could have gotten through the 1-9 corridor. But, you and Bob should be proud of the rest of the Garden State. I went through beautiful little towns like Bordentown ( I didn’t see Elsie or Lizzie), Cranbury, Burlington and Trenton. Route 130 was a find. Wide with four foot shoulders, many newly paved…until Camden where we stopped. Actually we’ll be sleepin’ in a Sleep Inn in Cinnaminson. Anyone want to guess where the accent is? We’re out 540 miles and will be down in Delaware tomorrow. After which we will come back toward Philadelphia to have dinner with the Herkners.

The trip today was one of firsts. First butterfly, White Castle (Ohio guys have to eat there or perish and I haven’t yet), groundhog (alive) on the roadside, Wall Street Journal in the motel, and Yuengling beer on tap at our restaurant tonight (that was in its third day of operation). It was 81 degrees at 6:00 as we entered. Humidity was probably the same. Signs along the road: “gas $3.57”, “Payless Monuments” (across from the cemetery) and a billboard promoting an Irish bar/restaurant that read, “9 to 5. The eight hours before dinner and drinks”.

Supposed to rain on and off over the next four days but we’re heading south and should ride out from under it. The wind was in our face all day today and we’re hoping that as the center passes over us we’ll get a tail wind tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

September 25, 2012

A short update while stuck in Queens. We are off tomorrow after picking up Harvey Stewart tonight. We are still trying to hunt for a route for the next two days. No problem after that.

Yesterday we went to Manhattan to a meeting of the Rotary club  of NYC. The ride in on the MTA was an experience. I think I saw Charlie still trying to get off that train. No one talked, most had ear buds in and the stops were not called out. We met DGE Dave Delmonte at the Harvard Club, 35 W. 44th St,  thanks to Gordon Shurtleff of my club. Thank goodness I had long pants although I was considerably under dressed. I am going to put on a tie when I get home….for a luncheon. Dave treated both Ed and me to lunch and gave us a nice introduction (after handing  out reprints of our webpage). Dave also gave us a tip for dinner which we followed. After walking 26 blocks to a store where Ed could buy a knife for his collection of 200+ we rested at Union Square Park. Then we headed back up Park Avenue to Grand Central Station. En route we had dinner and drinks at The Hillstone on Park Ave. Wine club at Torrey Pines, find a La Mancha (Spain) Tempranillo and have it waiting, please. How nice was The Hillstone?   Their napkins had a button hole.

What is a “tag sale”? Signs all along the coast. I’m guessing yard sale. Went through Port Chester a few days back. I’m told it is the home of Ed Sullivan, but it was not reeeealy that big. On the bikes tomorrow.

September 23, 2012

Cheers from the Flight Path Red Roof Inn in Flushing, NY near La Guardia where we will say good bye to Ed Martin tomorrow morning and welcome in  Harvey Stewart Tuesday night. We’ll then be on our way again on Wednesday. The route for the ensuing three days seems to up in the air. Just found out we can’t ride on US 1 out of NYC. I have high  school classmate Dave Herkner from the Wilmington area and Rotarian Gordon Shurtleff (Did I tell you I am from New Jersey?) both working on a solution. Once into Delaware it should be a different ballgame. With two days off maybe I can make a Rotary meeting and see the city.

When I last checked in we were at a Days Inn where I scored big in a smokey (not a typo) bar called Chuck’s Steak House. The restaurant was non-smoking but it played a loop of Smokey Robinson hits. Sounds better without the explanation. After the dos Eduardos charmed the guy bartending along with gifting him an OTL program we were seated in the dining room. By the way, T, that bartender, picked up our drink tab. We sat next to a group of four mothers out for dinner and  one irresistible little four year old (five in May), Jake. I happened to be nearest and we became fast friends. When I got up to leave I gave him a high five and admonished him to be in bed soon. I had taken a few steps when he called out, “Kiss?” A hug and a kiss to the aahs of the moms (and the rolling eyes of my pals) made my day.

The ride on  Saturday found Ed and I losing our driver…twice. Lots of lights in the cities that seemed to run into each other. Some good roads and some almost impassable The weather was bonus! The last time we got separated in Stamford it was at a municipal golf course. It had a 19th hole so when Ed finally found us we were able to take the edge off before looking for the motel. But, that’s another story. Today’s short ride into the Bronx was only 19 miles. You notice we’re in Flushing, but that’s another story. Probably check in again on Wednesday night from….you’ll be the fourth to know.

September 21, 2012

I think we have raised as much in free meals as we  have dollars for charity. Last night Joe Schillings drove 100 miles to take us to dinner. Joe  is an Army pal of Ed Ott and provided not only a meal (and, of course, the requisite beer) but stories into the night. Joe would make a great Rotary program. Thanks, Joe. And speaking of Rotary, every town seems to have a club with their sign at the edge of town unlike the towns on our other trips. I haven’t made a meeting  yet, but still trying.

We rode 50 today ending in Guilford, CT and at day’s end we are in a Day’s Inn. Breakfast at Café on the Commons. Lunch at Goldy’s where Ed M. and a waitress discussed which bars are still open. Ed lived here while in the Navy. He lived in Mystic. I looked for Julia Roberts but, to no avail. Tomorrow is Emancipation Day for Ed M. It was three months ago that he had very serious back surgery (is there any other  kind?). The doctors say he should be able to resume normal activities starting tomorrow. Of course, all he wants to know is if he can get back on the golf course. By the end of today’s ride it was 75 and we were passing golf courses. He was drooling.

We are out 468 miles, about 25% of planned. The towns here are story book. A note of the difference between states. In MA we saw this fellow come out of a little hut at a railroad crossing. The arm with the flashing lights were down. He stood there with a flag, didn’t even waive it and retreated back into his hut when the train passed. It was like a cuckoo clock. When we biked past, the smell of pot was overwhelming. Look up “featherbedding” in the dictionary and this guy’s story is probably there. Today in CT a crew was paving a bridge and had one of the two lanes blocked off. A sign said “three cars at a time” No flagman. Worked perfectly.

You know that I miss Carol so much. But, I also miss Lucy. I am always looking for a dog  to pet. The Eds make fun of it. Well, see the jackpot today. In closing, the roads today have been good, but…. It seems that when they put asphalt down here they leave it a little mounded thinking that traffic will flatten it out over time. On a bike this is teeth jarring. I hope my butt and bike have done their small part to help.


September 20, 2012

We left off yesterday recalculating and waiting for Dick Bosworth to take us to Boston for the day. We did both. First stop, Cheers. I tried to call Gordon before he left for Rotary (what was I thinking) to say hi to everyone at the club. The next thing I hear is this bell ringing and everyone laughing in Cheers. It wasn’t the Rotary gong. The dos Eduardos had bellied up to the bar and proceed to ask for three (the magic number) beers they don’t carry. I thought this is going to cost us a bunch, but no, just some hee-haws from the rest of the bar. Christine, the gal behind the bar was perfect for her job. She definitely did not have to work on her personality. She would have put Carla to shame. One of the group (not me) had to buy a Cheers hat. Guesses accepted. From there we followed the Freedom Trail and ended eating lunch at Durgin Park where below the name on the menu appeared, “Established before you were born”

Today was almost a three-stater again. We rode 57 stopping just short of CT. Granted we drove through Boston and around Providence but we’ll make it up down south. We also recalculated our route and stayed on US 1 which was the hypotenuse of the two legs we had planned. Passed the Patriots’ stadium in Foxboro. Saw places that sold automatic car starters. NOW they invent that. That was my job every morning in Cleveland. I  had to start the car, let it run and de-ice the windows. I think I can feel the weather changing. We think some of the trees are changing color, but????

September 19, 2012

If I had a Garmin on my bike yesterday it would have been in the “recalculating” mode all day. We got lost driving back to where we left off yesterday. Then we changed the route to be more scenic and less dangerous. 97 to 1A down the coast to north of Boston. OK for a while then the worst. It was good we quit early as a huge storm was approaching. A lot of wind, rain over night and it is sunny out now. Dick Bosworth is on his way to give us a tour of Boston. After a stop at the bike shop in Cambridge we were told not to even think about riding the coast. Too many small towns that are not like CA beach communities. So we are “recalculating”.

Last night we went to a reception at the ALS headquarters downtown. Got lost there, too. Ed is raising money for them via a connection with old Army pals. Quite a facility, fine folks and a nice function to send off a team to bike 100 mile race in Napa. While looking around I noticed way over on the window sill a framed certificate acknowledging a $50,000 grant from the San Diego Foundation.

September 17, 2012

Dick, Jeanne and their daughter, Jessie, really put on the dog for us last night. And they had the cutest dog, Maddie, for me to play with. Dick also had US 1 paved for us coming into Kennebunk. Well, it was lobster (two) again. Jeanne said the market was having a baker’s dozen sale.  She paid $55.00. You’re doing the math, aren’t you? We also had whoopee pies for dessert. Then his morning Dick picked us at 7:00 to tour Kennebunk Port. We had our picture taken in front of the Bush home on Walker’s Point. We had breakfast at Squaretoes and then were on our way. Also passed a coffee shop called Brewed Awakenings and a bakery named When Pigs Fly. A few miles down the road I rode by a Rotary meeting that was today at 7:30. It was 9:00. I’m getting closer. Maybe in Boston.

Three state day. Never saw a state line sign. You cross a river and you  are in the next state. We’re out 343 miles, about 18% of the way. Thanks to a tip from Dennis Brewster we cut over to 1A and followed a flat scenic route right on the beach. Back on 1 it was hills again. Winter was nipping at our heels as we left at 50 degrees but finished at 80. There is a watering ban in MA.

Scheduled to go to some ALS party tomorrow for a team going to Napa to ride their bikes. Smells like wine to me.



In Kennebunk, September 16, 2012

So yesterday I am riding along trying to stay on the road because even the white line has crumbled away. When I look a few feet ahead and there are a couple of turkey vultures. Beautiful birds but their tiny red heads and their hooked beak can give you pause. I am mesmerized by them and as I go to pass they start to run alongside of me for about twenty yards. So I am thinking to myself, what do these birds know that I don’t? Anyway, they stopped and I went on. I understand they are always in pairs up here because Maine has a limit of two carrions. (That is two thirds of a pun—p u) I thought of what the vultures might signify this morning as we started out from our hotel in Brunswick. Ed Martin, who I am sure has driving at Indy on his bucket list, took a corner so sharp that I am surprised we survived it without G-suits. When the inside two wheels finally banged down to earth the truck developed emphesyma.  It was wheezing. Turns out we were out of power steering fluid.

We have left Down East, we are through Mid Coast Maine and now in Southern Maine. Will be through NH and into MA tomorrow .Riding today was in cool but beautiful clear fall weather. You notice things on the road that normally you would not see. Lots of acorn tops (or very short Brownies), no animals today and a million more antique stores. Adams avenue East. Went through Freeport, the home  of LL Bean. It was like an outlet town. Every store was there:  Bass to The Gap. Shaker this and Shaker that.

Breakfast was all I could think about waiting for lunch. Big thing on Sunday at home. We stopped at a diner that apologized on the door that no lunch served today-only breakfast. I think I found a better sausage gravy than Old Townhouse in OB. Do Garmins lie? We lost Ed M. and I stopped to take a picture. Ed followed the Garmin and was four miles past the motel. Here in Kennebunk. Our hosts tonight, Dick and Jeanne Bosworth, just stopped by to say they were on the way to  pick up the lobsters for dinner. I was going to tell them not to, but somebody has to help with lobster glut here. Being Sunday I remarked that I have not seen a Presbyterian church yet. They said, “Yeah. Further south”.

Riding Days, September 13, 14 and 15, 2012

They call this  territory Up North. I call it Up and Down North. We’re out 242 miles and there hasn’t been a mile of it flat. The only thing flat is my rear end. We’re averaging around 12 mph with my fastest speed at 31mph. No wonder that Adventure Cycling didn’t include topo maps. The page would have to have been four feet wide. Thursday and Friday we left in dense fog. I had my “heart light” flashing red on the back of my saddle. After a few yards we both stopped to remove our glasses because we couldn’t see with them on. The roads are strewn with porcupines having lost battles with much faster cars. They look like magnificent animals. So sad. Also along the road, every mile it seems, are antique stores. Lots of ice cream shops, too. Best name was “Udder Heaven” on the road to Bar Harbor. Many of the towns we went through post card picturesque. Camden, Belfast, Wiscasset.

I have not made a Rotary meeting yet. We  left Machias Tuesday morning and they met at noon. Arriving in Ellsworth they met  the night before. Our host last belonged to the Belfast Rotary but they were a Wednesday club. Ed Martin is doing the best job arranging for bed, board and beer. He has our peddling legs down to the minute. If we’re 10 minutes over he comes looking for us. He’s got it down to a gnat’s hoo-hoo. Speaking of gnats (Were we?) I have, after all this biking, come up with the “gnat number” This the speed at which you must peddle to keep from getting bitten by gnats, mosquitos and their pals. That number is 8.7508432 mph. Let’s call it 9. I’m feeling very Einsteinish cranking along at 12 mph when a swarm bugs show up in my face. I forgot to factor in tail winds. Back to the drawing board. Have not seen too many other riders. One going the other way yesterday was  wearing a coonskin hat.

We’re going to have a problem riding soon. Our heads will be too big to fit in our helmets. The Bangor Daily News did a story on us in their Thursday paper and last night our pal, Duke Marston, arranged an interview with Ben Holbrook of The Republican Journal, a weekly. That’s not all Duke did. He took us to Young’s Lobster Pound for dinner. A pound is an outlet that supplies lobster to retailers but has a  license to sell to the public. Ready? I had two 1-1/4# lobsters for…..$15.95. Duke said I should have a pound of steamers. I thought expensive but what the heck. $3.97. And while we are on food. While in Machias I had a chance to display my ability to pick wine. Not wanting a blueberry beer that Ed Martin said should have a scoop of ice cream in it, I said I would pick a bottle of fine wine. A 2008  Merlot from Woodbridge CA. Ready again? # Blind Moose. And the cork read, “no shades necessary”. To contrast, Bill and Lynn Kronberger treated us to a 2007 Icosoles from Justin.  It really makes a difference the next day in the saddle.

Before I go too far I want to thank some people. The Phillips and Freunds for lodging and feasts en route to ME. Bill and Lynn Kronberger for dinner and wine on Thursday. Dick Ainsworth, Lee Chilcoate and their wives for a half of a beer (good story here) the same night. Dick  and Lee are high school classmates with whom I have stayed friends since…. And last night Duke, his gal, Linda, and Duke’s sister Martha  for the the tour  of Belfast, and unbelievable accommodations. See pics Hope I haven’t missed anyone. Will be staying with friends tomorrow night, too, in Kennebunk. They all have certainly made the trip nicer.

September 12, 2012

I think the bad weather on the drive here was us chasing hurricane Isaac out to the Atlantic. Today was a perfect New England day. It was Garrison Keeler, Norman Rockwell and “Grumpy Old Men” all rolled into one. Sounds of roosters and crows. Babbling brooks, the smell of new mown hay. Eggs for sale by the side of the road…on the honor system. And the only place there is not a tree in Maine is where there is a river or one has been cut down.

Today we rode 53 miles which took us 16 miles past Machias where we are staying tonight. Ed Martin got us a suite on the river. Yesterday we lunched in the city of chocolate and today in Machias, the blueberry city. We will eat again tonight at Helen’s restaurant. We can’t smell the orange blossoms yet but we must be getting down toward civilization because our waitress was tattooed. Tomorrow we will ride on to Ellsworth and hopefully a little past. We are coming back to Bar Harbor to meet with the Kronbergers who are touring the US in their motorhome (which is bigger than Rhode Island). They have promised us steak and martinis. See why we want to stay ahead of schedule. Also, I have two very close Cleveland friends from high school who just happen to be in Bar Harbor, too. Promises to be quite a night. Reports to follow. Please allow three days.

The ride was tough today. We have not seen a flat stretch of road yet. The wind was fickle. With us and against us. But bikes and butts holding up so far. Your homework for tomorrow is to find out (without Google) what a shedder is up this way. I had to ask but I know.

Thanks to Philippe for getting our site going. Bye til tomorrow.

September 11, 2012

Exiting the motel in Springfield for our last day of driving to Calais, ME I grabbed a flier in the lobby boasting of a map of the New England states-2012. The eastern part of Maine wasn’t even included. On to Bangor to break our “food rule”—again. We ate at Quiznos after hitting Outback the night before. We made up for it that night by dining at the Townhouse Restaurant in Calais. Ed had his first (of many, I’m sure) lobster. I don’t want to say this guy was into his bug, but the next thing I notice is him pointing to a huge glob claw stuck on his glasses. We made friends in the bar with a John Childs and his wife and pal. Next thing we know they have picked up our bill. It was probably the OTL program we gave them. Then as we left we gave John a shirt from the tournament and asked him to explain that to his friends.

Upon entering Calais I saw the most beautiful thing in six days; a sign that read route 1 SOUTH. After being in the T zone (trees and tolls) since PA it was good to finally arrive and start DOWN. After agreeing that the pedals went on the bottom and the bars were on top we headed south for 15 miles. The day could not have been more perfect. The shoulders weren’t that bad considering they have been the victims of years of freezing and thawing. There were all these trucks with strange curly things on their front. No. Don’t tell me. It’s coming. 25 years in Cleveland. Got it. Snow plows. You can take the boy out of... At 15 we turned around  to head back to Calais. Our driver, Ed martin, doesn’t arrive until tonight so we had to pedal back. No wonder we felt so good. There was a 15 mph wind behind us which was now in our face. And there were plenty of hills. Anyway it felt good to ride. We start in earnest tomorrow.

For lunch we walked over to Canada. (Rob, I told Ed the story and that if I was detained by the authorities he was to have them contact you for a prisoner exchange). It is the Town of St. Stephen, Canada’s chocolate city. We ate at the Bistro on the Boulevard in the Chocolate factory. The waitress, Ada, was a kick. She was from Cuba but married a Canadian. She told everyone in the place what we were doing. On the way out after saying our adioses, I told the owner, “We drive 3,400 miles from San Diego, come to Canada and get a Spanish speaking server. Go figure.” Lots of empty stores but the price of chocolate (and food) was sky high. I got three tiny pieces @ $36.00/pound. Over a dollar each.

Talked with a reporter in Bangor via Ed named Eastland (her mother said it was from a fairy tale story). She may write something about us. We await Ed Martin’s bus. After asking the motel where the bus depot was located, I was told there isn’t one. The driver will stop at Joe’s Pizza, but tell your friend to have the driver drop him here. I love small towns.

Until tomorrow.


Day 5 driving - September 9, 2012

I wasn’t going to write until we started biking but the trip has been  so interesting that I want to share. I am in Springfield, MA after five days, 13 states and 3,002 miles in the truck. We have been from 103 degrees to 53. Baking sun to pouring rain, low lying deserts to 11,500’ going through the Eisenhower Tunnel in the Rockies (exiting from which I was sure I could see Cleveland). By the way, if you go through to the west, it is the Johnson Tunnel. Which Johnson, I don’t know.

We started by getting on  I-15 with our next stop in Beaver UT. We couldn’t get a beer at the Timberline restaurant because we guessed it was too close to Salt Lake City. Just as well as we pushed on east to Green River, UT at night. The bugs came out. Through the windshield it looked like snow and sounded like rain. Ed tells me that Green River is where John Wesley Powell started his exploration of the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon. (Any relation Pastor John?) If you have not driven through the Virgin River Gorge  it is worth the drive to see it. Words can’t describe it.

Thursday on through Grand Junction, CO seeing mesas and buttes that I know had injuns hiding on them because I’m sure I remember these rocks from the Lone Ranger and Hoppy. I won’t mention our “dining” to this point because we weren’t. The traffic consisted of many two and three section semis (mostly Fed Ex and UPS). I figure everyone shops on line as there are very few large cities. I saw a sign announcing an upcoming city where you could look forever and not see a building. It read: Ovid 9. I asked Ed if that was the distance or the population. And speaking of jokes, the one about there being only two seasons when driving; road repair and other. Not funny. You know the orange barrel markers? I wish I had the concession. We drove through hundreds of miles of these in every state. If all these markers were stored together in a field somewhere I am sure they would be visible to the naked eye from the moon. Gas never above $4.00, but close.

Day three on to Coralville IA to stay with Bill and Nancy Phillips (left). Many big things being hauled on the road. See the picture (above) of the windmill blade behind Ed at the Super 8 in Lexington, NE. Also, many silo sections taking up a lane and a half. We saw a dozen more of each on the road coming west. The blade was the better part of a football field. Also signs that say ” Emergency Stopping Only---Two Hour Maximum”  Rotary pals. There is a Rock Bottom Café in Omaha. I wonder if they have a buffet (as in Warren). Phillips put on the dog for us. Steaks and wine. So did Bill and Betty Freund (below) the next night in Cleveland. I won’t be healthy again until somewhere in North Carolina. The only exercise I have gotten so far is walking Annie, the Freund dog. We were warned that Obama was in Iowa City as was the crowd for the Iowa- Iowa State game the next day. We avoided both. While we are not on politics, is it a coincidence that of the 13 states we have driven through so far, only Mass. has a highway system with the mile markers on the left?

Well, on to Calais tomorrow. Possible problem. It might be so small that there are no motels. Calling C of C at daybreak. Will finally get on our bikes on Tuesday morning after picking up Ed Martin.