48 States or Bust – The USA on Two Wheels
Miles Today:69 – Total Miles:631 – Daily Average:157.8 (soooo embarrassing!)
10:45am-1:45pm – 3 hours
Brookline,NH to Brattleboro,VT
(-stayed at the Hampton Inn -)
(NH,VT – 9/48)
– Rain, Rain, Rain –
So, we’re standing in the open garage at the Rountree Ford/Mercury dealership service department after just crossing the Connecticut River into Vermont. It was around 12:30pm. Cars on lifts around us. The rat-a-tat-tat of the air guns that are tightening bolts on tire rims firing off all around us like practicing machine guns. We’re making conversation with the bay boys and the management folks, all the while we’re peering out of the garage at a deluge beyond too much description – the deafening thunder, the quick flashing bolts of lightning, the rivers of rain gully-washing down along the highway outside. So, we’re standing there having to make the decision whether to go or whether to abort it short with another abysmal mileage day. Should we wait around and hope the storm slackens? Or call it a day and reorganize gear, catch up on needed sleep, and take yet another easy day? Hmmm… well, this is how we got to that point in the garage.
I awoke at around 6ish, grabbed the nearby 12-inch Apple Powerbook G4 on which these notes are being pecked out, and spent the next couple hours catching up on the last two day’s journal notes. That enjoyable time just buzzed by! Karen was up around 8am with the sun streaming down onto the parking lot outside. On our mile walk/run we passed a Segway of New England dealerships. I found it ironic that it was in an old GMC building – the letters “GMC” now smudged out to make for the newcomer. The morning was warm and the humidity was low, but we could feel it building.
When back to the room, we gathered gear together, organized things again, and Karen used the motel hairdryer to try and get some of her clothes dry. I had used our emergency length of rope to run from the ironing board holder to the top of a big mirror frame for the pieces she had washed last night. Along it were about ten items of damp clothing. Pathetically, it wasn’t until about 10am that we were approaching ready to go. We finally got out the door about 10:45am.
Out on the parking lot, talk about being nervous! After yesterday’s battery trouble, I was really worried as I pushed the starter button – just hoping the Honda would start. It was a needless worry. The skies were gray as we pulled away. And they continued gray. And grayer. And grayer and darker. As we rode, the mist rose from streams and lakes alongside the roadway. The clouds, some scowling down with seething rage, seemed remote, but none-the-less menacing. Gassed up shortly, and there was a bumper sticker on a car’s fender there that read, “I STOP FOR… OH SHIT, NO BRAKES!!!!”
At the gas station I purchased a plastic bowl of non-dairy butterscotch pudding for us – tasty! Karen noted our passing the big rocks, little lakes, and medium-sized trees, and decided that must mean we weren’t really up into the full-fledged mountains yet. At one point we rode through a small pine forest on each side of us, and the scent of pine was strong and aromatic. Karen decided that no artificially labeled ‘pine scent’ really captures that true smell. For a born shopper, Karen noted how hard it was to be passing all the specialty gift and antique shops along the section of Route 9 that we traveled this morning.
The morning miles were grand. I felt like a dog, with tongue lapping out the car window, eyes wide, and loving the breeze in my face. If my helmet weren’t covering them, I’m sure my ears would have been flapping. At one point we zoomed passed a bicycle tourist snail-crawling up the mountain, and gave him a hearty wave. I knew what he was going through. And a bit after that we noted a bearded hiker on the left with his walking stick and bushy beard. Late in the morning I commented into the little tape recorder that I couldn’t believe our luck at not catching rain. (Karen’s philosophy: we’ve been rained on before, we’ll be rained on again… and things dry out.) It was shortly after that… whoooooooshhh… The skies opened, and a flooding torrent teamed down upon us. I wanted to turn into a gas station but decided too late and didn’t want to take the sharp turn on the wet roadway. We passed a man and a woman and their motorcycle under a tree. They were changing into their raingear.
We rolled drippingly into Vermont at 12:30pm after just crossing the river that divides Vermont and New Hampshire for it’s entire border. I spied an open garage door at what appeared to be some auto place. I headed in. The bemused folks there smiled knowingly. One came up to me and said bluntly with a grin, “It ain’t gonna stop!” I jokingly said, “Well, if that’s the case, can we put our tent on your bay area floor for the night?” When he realized I was joking, we both had a laugh. Mechanic Andy said they were posting for flash flood warnings until four or five o’clock. Another guy, who I dubbed the weather expert, said that the moist humid air was coming up from the Gulf Coast, and that it would be nice by the weekend. Another fellow chirped in with, “Gotta watch these local roads, they flood wicked!” Another reported that a friend had just called him and reported that he had just seen the “most ferocious lightning he ever saw!” We met Dennis Pearce who was born in Media, not ten miles from our home in Pennsylvania. His family moved away when he was a baby, but his uncle still runs a Secane Pizza place in the nearby town of the same name. While we were talking, gigantic booming blasts of thunder would crackle loudly from the distance, or crash menacingly from what seemed the other side of the road. Well, it didn’t seem worthwhile to go on, and we figured we’d regroup at a nearby motel. And that we did. Had a good nap to catch up on sleep, got laundry all caught up and dried in a dryer, and gear reorganized. I challengingly said, “If we don’t get out by 8am tomorrow morning, we might as well cancel the trip!”
I walked next door to get some Chinese food – some vegetable fried rice and a big container of soup, and some spring rolls. We munched on that throughout the day and evening. During the evening time, and during all our activities, the half hours seemed to skip like heartbeats, time accelerating for one reason or another. Each second I would look up at the clock – ZAP! – another 30 minutes had gone by! A 69-mile day. Ugh! I’ve done way more than a score of those bicycle touring. But our outlook is good for a 500-mile day tomorrow – and that would take us over 1000 for this trip. Now, if only the weather outlook is as good, we’re sure to make it.