Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bikin' along, getting to know myself, age 22... October 1985

25 years ago today at this hour I was camping in a droopy old tent, near the coast of Maine. I was traveling on a bicycle, loaded down with everything I'd need for 6 weeks or so, including the possibility of snowy weather. I was no stranger to travel by bicycle. But never before had I traveled alone, and I wasn't yet sure I would like it. I believed I would… but at that point I was basically a little freaked out.

Day-to-day uncertainties, primary among them "Where am I going to sleep tonight?" was part of it. And just sheer alone-ness, something I was not at all used to, having all my life been surrounded by schoolmates, teammates, etc. Just what in the hell was I doing, anyway?

You would think my goal of spending $10 per day would be a stress. But really, that wasn't too hard, though that figure included all the food a 22 year old would want to eat, plus "lodging." Anyhoo, on October 7, 1985, the "where will I sleep" question was answered by the good folks at The Viking Bed and Breakfast, who allowed me to pitch my tent out back of their place. See photo below. Believe it or not I still have that ol' tent!

In retrospect I think that was quite generous of them… they'd probably rather I paid for a room. But at that point in my life was not about to spend that sort of money just to sleep. (What til you read some future posts about this trip!).

So I'm going to re-live the trip a bit, in blog form, complete with pictures. Hope you'll come along for the ride! This first post is playing catch-up, because the riding started September 30, 1985... So let me run through some highlights of the first week on the road. I'll try to post daily or close to daily for the next month, trying to stay pretty much "25 years later to the day," til November 8th.

Above: Bailey Island, Maine. October 7, 1985. The bed and breakfast was a few miles up the road from here. Tried to eat my first-ever lobster at nearby Cook's Lobster House, but they were already closed for the season :(

OK, a weird sleeping spot story already. But this is an example that I hoped would happen but didn't: I was looking for an upside-down old fishing boat behind Cook's Lobster House, intending to sleep under it. It had been recommended, you see... two buddies of mine passed through there on bikes earlier in the year and found it to be a cozy sleep spot!!! But the boat was gone by the time I came around.

Bailey Island, Maine. October 7, 1985.

Bailey Island, Maine. October 7, 1985.

Near Bailey Island, Maine. October 7, 1985.

October 6, 1985 was day I felt most 1) alone, 2) scared, 3) unsure. On that day I took a bus from Worcester, Mass. to Portland, Maine. Sitting there staring out the window of the bus was kinda rough. Somehow I met a jogger as I rode along north of Portland who offered up a backyard for my campsite. Wheeew. Above is a shot of the sunset I took nearby. Falmouth, Maine.

Prior to the bus ride, I'd had the good fortune of staying with friends every night, all the way from Boston to western Connecticut. Above is my college friend Jill, who drove me to the bus. Note the disassembled bike is in a box (which we're leaning on) for the bus trip. Jill, I've lost touch with you for 25 years! If you ever read this please get in touch!

Between Litchfield and Warren, Connecticut. October 4, 1985.

Near Litchfield, Connecticut. October 4, 1985.
It rained all day. I was glad to know I'd be staying with friends that night.

Road food. Wooooo. Check out that filthy water bottle (thanks rain!).

What was I reading? The Monkey Wrench Gang!

Western Connecticut, October 4, 1985.

The above two shots are from the Glastonbury Ferry in central Connecticut. It cost me 25¢ to cross the Connecticut River on it, as a cyclist. Really cool. Oldest continuously operating ferry in the U.S. (since 1655). I was soaking wet (more rain) but having a great time. October 3rd, 1985.

West of Willimantic, Connecticut. Wet, wet, wet. October 3, 1985.

I was amused to learn that liquor stores are called "package stores" in that part of the country. Had never heard that before. Eastern Connecticut, October 2, 1985.

That would be me, standing there in downtown Moosup, Connecticut. October 2, 1985.

Western Rhode Island. October 2, 1985.

Above are two photos from Providence, Rhode Island, October 2, 1985. That's my high school classmate Eric, then a med student at Brown. He is posing behind a pile of branches downed by Hurricane Gloria about five days before. Long Island, Connecticut, and I think Rhode Island took the brunt of that storm.

Day Two of riding. Dighton, Mass., October 1, 1985. No, I didn't wipe out. I think I was fascinated by the sign, as it was unlike any out west where I'd grown up.

Scituate, Mass., morning of October 1, 1985. Had stayed there with another college friend. Hard to believe that this was the first time I'd seen the Atlantic Ocean (that I could remember, anyway).

Loaded up and ready to go! I readied for the trip in Cambridge, Mass., staying with my brother Kirk. That's us outside his dorm room at M.I.T., just before I rode off. September 30, 2010.

Sunrise along the Charles River, Cambridge, Mass. September 30, 2010.

OK, I'm caught up! More blog posts in the coming days with more pics.

Tomorrow: I git me my first lobster!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great reconstruction of the trip. I missed you in Boston at the end then.
I remember that Bell helmet too!!
D. scott Smith