Saturday, October 9, 2010

New England bike trip 1985, part 2

On Tues October 8, 1985 I awoke to a dew-soaked tent, unlike anything I'd ever seen in the arid country of my upbringing. I left the docks and rocks and lobster cages of the Maine coast behind. My plan was to go north off Bailey Island to Brunswick, then north and west, beyond the town of Auburn.

While in Brunswick, I had to get to a bike shop because I'd been having trouble with spokes breaking on my rear wheel. One broke back in Connecticut, and two more the day before on Bailey Island. I knew how to replace them, and had done so, the previous day borrowing a huge wrench from a Goodyear place to get my freewheel off. But a fourth spoke broke as I set off for the day. I was frustrated (that's an understatement) and uttered a few words of disgust (!). Decided it would be best to hitchhike the 15 miles up to Brunswick, rather than risk destroying my wheel further. A dude with a pickup truck kindly hauled me into town to the Yankee Pedaler bike shop. I learned a lot from the proprietor, Lorraine, about wheels and spokes. Re-reading my journal, I clearly didn't know some basic stuff… She offered the options of fixing/true-ing the existing wheel best she could vs. buying a whole new wheel. I went the cheap route (fix it), figuring I'd find other bike shops later if needed.

North of Brunswick, Maine. October 8, 1985.

(By the way: All these photos can be viewed in bigger size Right Here )

Near Auburn, Maine. October 8, 1985.

Eventually I was on the road again, enjoying the sunshine while cruising along beside the Androscoggin River. Bought some apples at a roadside stand, and had my picture taken beside a huge pile of pumpkins.

Auburn, Maine. October 8, 1985.

Worry-free wheel for now?

West of Auburn, I turned off Highway 121 and pedaled through the town of Oxford. Soon after, I turned left and labored my way up Scribner Hill Road. There I found my kind and lovely hosts for the next two nights, John and Nellie -- the grandparents of a college friend & teammate. I found John in front of their farmhouse, in the bushes picking grapes. "Hello, hello! We know about you!" said Nellie.

Their granddaughter had written them a letter asking if could stay with them, and it had arrived only a day before! How 22 of us to leave it all to the last minute and just expect it to work out! Yet they welcomed me with open arms, happy to have me -- as I'd been assured they would. As a parent of an almost-college-age daughter myself now, I have already seen friends' kids go off to college. And I'll tell ya what, I'd love to have them over any time. I aspire to the John and Nellie attitude of genuine welcoming, and hope I'll be able to pull it off even on short notice :)

Scribner Hill Road, near Otisfield, Maine. October 8, 1985.

John and Nellie, my hosts at Scribner Hill Farm. October 8, 1985.

John, a retired English professor, toured me around the house and helped lug my stuff up to "my room." We put my bike out in the barn, behind big sliding wooden doors. They sat me down for "a little luncheon," and afterwards took me on a walk higher up the road. There we had a view of Mt. Washington, barely visible in hazy clouds, 60 or so miles away in New Hampshire. A nephew came by, out on an afternoon run (I think that's him in the picture above).

Nellie later cooked an amazing dinner of roast beef, potatoes, and mixed zucchini and tomatoes. We watched baseball playoffs on TV, Toronto Blues Jays vs. Kansas City Royals.

I spent Wednesday October 9 with John and Nellie. They wanted me to stay, and I thought maybe I could help out around the house.

John cooked up eggs and bacon in the morning. Being 22 and the engine for my bicycle, I ate cereal as well. (It amazes me how much I used eat in those days, especially on a bike trip. My buddy Dave & I once polished off an entire loaf of bread with peanut butter and jelly, all in one sitting, fueling our travels across Nebraska. I believe we drank a quart of milk each, too.)

Nellie went to their church to work on some projects, while John and I ran errands. We went to a hardware store to pick up some weather stripping to winterize their windows. And having explained my lobster strike-out the day before, we went to a market that sold live lobsters. We picked out three, and they boiled 'em up right there. We refrigerated them 'til dinner time. I helped John haul their woodburning stove from the stove to the house, in pieces because it was iron and big and heavy! We installed it for the coming winter's heating. I was glad to be able to assist with this, given their generosity.

We picked up Nellie and went to have a look at their "camp," a cabin on nearby Thompson Lake. We watched loons, skipped rocks on the placid water, and sat in the rocking chairs on the porch. Nice.

Thompson Lake, Maine. October 9, 1985.

For dinner we had cold lobster, along with a cabbage-apple-walnut-mayo salad. I learned all about the techniques of getting at the meat. Nellie's great apple crisp was a fine dessert, and more baseball followed that.

A shot of me and John and three dinner guests. October 9, 1985.

Tomorrow: Bienvenue au New Hampshire!

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