Miles Today: 133 – Total Miles:562 – Daily Average –187.3
11:30am-6:30pm – 7 hours
Brookline,NH to Concord,NH (via Kittery, Maine)
(-stayed at a Comfort Inn -)
(NH, ME) – 8/48)
– Rain and more Rain – An Important Lesson Learned by the first Misadventure of the Trip –
We went for a run around 9am, and boy, the bugs were sure out, making a beeline for us! Karen swallowed one by accident, and I said with a smile, “Well so much for your vegetarian status NOW!” When back I mentioned this to Ethel, and she explained there were some open water areas. She then said jokingly that the bugs around there were in training for South America, and that the ‘skeeters could likely pick you up and take you away.’
I had fully tested the system, method, and program before leaving, but when I went to send out the first day journal notes with picture I couldn’t because of some problems with AOL… Finally, after chatting with a couple helpful but somewhat hard to understand the AOL tech folks on the Indian sub-continent, I got the problem solved, but it was late by then, and we needed to get on the road, so figured I’d send the notes out in the evening. In chatting with Ethel and Ron, while discussing about how much people accomplish, Ethel noted, “You wake up in the morning with your own package, and sometimes you surprise yourself with what you can do!” One of the toughest things about traveling like this is leaving folks. Leaving the comfort and security of a cozy home and sound (sometimes new-found) friendship for the unknown. It can feel like a nervousness of sorts. Perhaps like an uncomfortable worrying. But in order to keep moving that feeling needs to be overcome, and at last we wrenched ourselves out and onto the road.
We left at a disgustingly late 11:30am. It was drizzling, and for the first time in the trip Karen wore her rain pants. Everyone had a good laugh at her expense as she tried to get her short leg over the big bike in those tight pants. Soon we were on our way through droplets of wet stuff, and under uncertain skies. We rode rain of varying intensity this morning for about 30 minutes. Then the sun poured out and dried us off nicely. We spent about an hour in the Rising Tide. It was a health food store par excellence in Kittering, Maine. We feasted for about $18 worth of lunch in the place sitting by a little round table by the front window. (Hummus wrap, various frozen confections, natural soda, a tofu and tomato sauce sandwich, and various chips.) By the end we were friendly with the staff. In fact, Paul had given us a frozen mango bar which he said was out of this world. When I learned he was the owner, I said, “Gees, I thought he was just a food delivery guy, and here he’s the OWNER!” The staff women got a laugh out of that! A white haired lady leaving at the same time got to talking with us about traveling. She recommended strongly that we head to Newfoundland sometime for beautiful scenery. When she realized we were on the same bike, she commented, “The ultimate in togetherness!” When the lady left and we turned our attention to the motorcycle again, I noted that I had left the key in the on position. The lights were on. And nervously I hit the ignition switch hoping the battery wasn’t dead. The bike started right up. Whew! This is almost exactly what I said to Karen: “Let’s learn this lesson now BEFORE I do this with disastrous battery-draining results in the middle of nowhere.”… (The bike has a kill switch on the handlebars. This turns off the engine but not the power to the lights or turn signals. I had gotten into the habit of just hitting that kill switch instead of turning the key off…)
We rode down a small hill on the shoulder to a gas station and then after tanking up for $5.25, we headed to the Kittery Trading Post. We were just in the extreme sports section, and that was sizeable. The main store was supposedly HUGE. We got socks and shirts, and a few other things in the store, and chatted around with the sales guys, showing them our maps, and generally talking. Then we went out into the sunshine, and darned if I hadn’t left the damn key in the wrong position again! Arghhhh… and this time, there was no powerful engine on the other end of hitting the ignition button – just a sickening dull crank thud, and then NOTHING!!! I wasn’t upset at the situation, as much as I was upset at my stupidity for allowing it to happen! We tried some feeble attempts to push start the thing down a little grade, but to no avail. While Karen gathered up our purchases, I wheeled the bike out of the parking lot, across the busy highway, and to the Mobile station there. I was sweating cascading waves of persperation! I called the AAA-type number for the Honda Club I belonged to and eventually set it up for someone to come over and give me a jumpstart. While waiting the half hour or so, I took out my PDA and studied some of the poetry I’ve been memorizing lately. Karen walked over to the main annex of the Kittery Trading Post, browsed a bit, and looked for another net bungie cord we needed.
Around 3:20pm, broad shouldered and bald headed Steve came from the shop where he worked. He was friendly and interested in the ride, but regrettably he didn’t know where the battery on the Honda was or how to get the seat or other covers off to look for it. This was surprising to me since the guy on the Honda on the phone asked all kinds of questions about what kind of bike it was, and it was a Honda motorcycle club that I called. Also, Chris, the Mobile Station fellow had said there was a Honda place not too far away. Well, I cell phoned Ken Carr Cycles, my dealer at home, and finally got ace mechanic Kevin on the line. He talked Steve through getting the side door off, and with his portable charger, he had the bike purring in a matter of seconds. Then came the realization that he couldn’t put the side door back ON without taking the key out, effectively turning the not fully charged bike off again! As we sat there slack-jawed amazed at the problem, Steve said to me, “Did you ever see an engineer you didn’t want to face slap?” After letting it run for about five minutes, we tried taking the key out, putting the door back on, and then turning the ignition on again. The engine sputtered and stopped first try. But then it began rumbling well. I asked if by the end of the day whether the battery would be fully charged, and Steve acknowledged that it probably would be okay.
We took off to cross west into New Hampshire and head toward Vermont. But it was not to be – the rain returned, and at times, with lots of bucketful intensity. The windshield became dappled with a zillion drops, and I frequently had to stand on the pegs to peer over the windshield. I followed that yellow middle line a lot, and the red tips of the tail lights from the cars ahead. It was full concentration on the road, especially when the downpour was at its hardest. We rode that rain for more than an hour. It cleared up a bit, but then returned with renewed vigor. It was around 6:30pm with only dark and grey clouds ahead to the west that we decided to stop – after puny mileage, but lessons learned and friends met.
I realized that I needed to get at least a little more organized about things when I reached into my pocket to pay the lady at the hotel’s front desk, and I pulled out a dirty sock!
A few hours later the rain let up. While drying off the bike around 8ish, I took a call from a Runner’s World writer who was doing a story on runners who run errands for their exercise. (I figure I could be a poster boy for that!) He had contacted me a few weeks ago but had some more questions. We chatted amiably for about fifteen minutes. The story should appear in the November issue. Karen washed her laundry in the shower, and I spent a couple hours working through another couple of glitches in being able to send out the journal notes with a picture. That put me behind some more so I didn’t quite get to finish the update on the journal notes. Spent some time on line through the motel wireless network. (Boy, I could get used to that!) And after some organizing and a little talk about the ambitious plans for the next day’s miles, we didn’t get to sleep until around midnight.