Wednesday, August 17, 2011

We left Bucksport early, even though we only had to ride 46 miles to a planned rendezvous point at the Acadia National Park Visitors Center. It was raining the entire route, so for the first time in the entire trip (YES!), we got to don full rain gear for the slog into Bar Harbor. It was kind of a get er done kind of ride where we didn't want to take any pics for fear of damaging our cameras. I'm pretty sure the rain lifted as we rode into a very crowded downtown Bar Harbor, or if it was raining, we didn't notice in all the wonderfulness of completing this big ride. More on the end of the trip to follow......
Our last map meeting in the hotel lobby at Bucksport, ME. The mood of the group seems to be a mixture of excitement that we are about to complete an incredible journey mixed with a sort of grieving that we will have to say goodbye to all of us in a few hours....

Monday, August 15, 2011

We had a perfect day of riding today, out of Bath to Bucksport, ME, our next to the last day of the tour. We had to pinch ourselves when riding along in the quiet of the beautiful Maine backwoods, chatting about the fact that we have ridden our bikes from North Dakota, how lucky we feel to be able to take part in such an amazing journey.

The weather report was bleak - rain all day essentially. Several of us elected to be 'bumped' (ie ride in the van) part of the route. We all got out in Camden, and while most of the riders elected to go off route on route 1, Elisabeth, Beth and I followed our cue sheets onto a beautiful hilly back road. The hills were easy since we were fresh, and we got in to Bucksport for lunch and with enough time to take some much needed time to get organized. I'm feeling giddy and sentimental about tomorrow, the end of this weird lifestyle of living out of a suitcase and just getting up and having the entire day to go for a bike ride with an incredible group of women and our two very gifted guides. Tomorrow's ride is reported to be hilly, so we'll be leaving early I imagine - will find out at our last map meeting after dinner tonight. I plan to wear my parent's cross country jersey and dip my front wheel into the Atlantic. More to come....

The ride into Bath was long and hilly, which seems to be the order of the day in Maine. We're passing lots of beautiful lakes, seeing new varieties of shore birds and there has been cloud cover, a summer bikers dream. That's a field of sunflowers that stopped us up on a ridge - wow! Bath is right on the Kennebec river, and we got arrived in time to have a lobster roll at a riverside restaurant across the street from our hotel. I had a message waiting for me from good Camp Hill High School buddy and now Portland local Alice Mazurie, saying that she was on her way up. It was wonderful to see her - anyone who knows Alice will appreciate that much guffaw took place in our short time together. These long time friendships are really prescious.

Here's our luggage outside of the hotel in Bridgton, ME. We were really happy to see another Southern Tierer, Marcie and her husband Michael there. Then, as icing on the cake, my friends Janice and Sean, also en route from Acadia National Park (and our final destination...) stopped and had dinner before heading home. These visits with friends have been really fun - it's great being on your extended home turf!
Soon after a really long descent and a latte in Conway, we crossed into Maine - VERY exciting! The route got us off of the main roads - images follow....

We left Lincoln just after sunrise for the 11 mile climb up the spectacular Kancamagus Highway, and a full day that would total 69 miles. The climb was so doable - not too terrible grade and good shoulder and road surface. As you can see, the views were stupendous and we got the climb out of the way before it heated up on the road.

Laurey headed back to NC from Middlebury - it was hard to say goodbye to her, but plans are in the works for another reunion. Thanks for surprising us kiddo!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Vermont Corn - Ain't it green?

Hello from Lincoln, NH, in the heart of the White Mountains! We have NOT seen any corn here, but passed this beauty of a field on the River Road near Orford, NH on our way out of White River Junction this morning - seems like eons ago! I am well, nursing some really nasty bed bug bites - yes, and from a pretty classy establishment at that, not Ish's Super 8. I am also completely out of blog energy, so the blog will have to wait until such time as I get it back, and I'm not sure when that will be. We ride up up tomorrow, an 11 mile climb on the beautiful Kancamagus Highway. In the meantime, here is an adorable young burrow who came to check us out just above North Haverhill, NH. Later....

Crossing Lake Champlain into VT

After a short ride through Fort Ticonderoga, we boarded a small ferry for the 7 minute ride across Lake Champlain and into Vermont. Our spirits were high, especially those of Ellen and myself, the trip Vermonters - it felt so great to spy the Green Mtns as we rode down to the Lake. As we approached the VT shoreline on the ferry, a few of us saw a person waiting on the shore who had a remarkable resemblance to our fellow Southern Tier rider Laurie, who lives in NC and was originally scheduled to do this ride with us. What an incredible delight to find that it was indeed Laurie! We had a great time visiting with her for the next 2 days.

The best part of an already really great day was that my daughter Eliza drove down from her home in Burlington to have dinner with us. We got to catch up over a couple of lattes and then she got to meet the gang.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The day drew to a close with a memorable occasion, 2 years in the making. Jan Bee, an alum of our 2009 Southern Tier cross country trip, had formally requested membership in a club started by my cousin Barb Kehew in the late 50's as a way to encourage correspondence between she and I. In the last 20 years, the club has had a total makeover, but is still open only to family members by marriage or birth - VERY exclusive..... Barb, who is President for Life, had armed me with an official induction kit, complete with gold hive pin, official club tee shirt, and bee stationary. Since member by birth Eliza was visiting, as was Laurey who is writing a bee keepers cook book, we scheduled the official ceremony. It was a blast, with the President on speaker phone from Pittsburgh, lining up Laurey to be the keynote speaker at our next Bee -in. Welcome Jan Bee, the first non-Kehew EVER to be accorded membership in the Busy Bee Mail Club!

Oopps - Here is Leslie in the kitchen. She came the furthest to ride with us as she lives in Australia. We are brushing up on Aussie expressions and really enjoying HER!
From the sounds of it, I missed some primo climbing while reunioning in PA (tho I did ride a token 20 miles around some key Camp Hill memory spots....I really miss my lifetime friend Kath, who passed in May this year. The whole place feels weird without her.) Getting back into the swing of things with the tour felt odd at first, but was cured with the first day back in the saddle. Riding in the Adirondaks was awesome - the smell of the woods/pines so refreshing, and with low traffic and decent shoulders. We got soaked at the relative beginning of the day, ended up riding 60 hilly miles into Scroon Lake, NY. We stayed at the very funky Blue Mountain Motel run by a very accomodating family who had among other animals, a miniature black and white donkey who launched off into a majorly loud bray whenever he thought someone was headed his way.... he's up for adoption and a few of us wanted to ride him home. Here are a few pics of The Mother Ship, loaded with bikes, with guide Michelle looking on, and Leslie sitting in the kitchen half of the trailer. It is phenomenal what Linda our chef can cook up in this space. We are eating like queens!

The reunion was a blast - we delved into Kehew family history (3 new Salem Witches discovered! Next reunion to be in Salem to dig deeper...), had the usual costume Happy Hour and generally got to know each other a bit better. Here are Aunt Nan and her granddaughter Rebecca, and Aunt Stace, flanked by the President and Vice President of the Busy Bee Mail Club, which dates from 1959. Rebecca was inducted as the youngest member ever - what a thrill for her!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Niagara Falls is incredibly beautiful. We are staying a 10 minute walk away from the falls so have been hanging out there for much of our rest day. We're headed to another family picnic this afternoon, thrown this time by the family of our fellow rider Kit.

Spied the best line ever in the history of Rock and Roll on a wall in the otherwise not too interesting downtown.

We ride tomorrow into Brockport, NY, where Jim will be waiting to fetch me from the group in order to drive to Camp Hill, PA for our bi-annual Kehew Family Reunion. Our get togethers have been happening since the late 1940s with a few gaps over the years. We really have a good time - am especially looking forward to seeing my Aunt Stace and Aunt Nan who are fabulous role models for living well into their 90's.

Our Southern Tier 2009 friend Donna rode her bike over from near Rochester to join us for a couple of days - it is so good to have her. We've been playing, chatting, noshing and generally having a great time together. Donna is holding the yellow jacket, below.

The ride into Niagara Falls was truely a beauty - cool, no wind, blue skies and lots of interesting things to see. Crosssing the Peace Bridge into Canada was a breeze - well marked route for cyclists, including a special line through Canadian customs. We then rode along a bike trail that paralled the Niagara River to the falls (Canadian side), then traversed the Rainbow bridge back to the US.

Note to The President, Busy Bee Mail Club.....could there bee a more perfect vehicle for you? I think the club may need to do some serious fundraising so as to allow you to buzz around in style. I was destined to see this car..
On the Road notes....Although mismatched, these riding gloves are turning out to be incredibly comfortable. I note them here because my friend Ann noted that CyclePro has been out of business for a long time, leading me to believe that they were likely worn by either Es or Jim, my parents who were one of two scouting pairs for the Trans America Bike Trail, inaugurated as part of Bicentennial in 1976. They cycled across in 1974 for Bikecentennial, which has since morphed into Adventure Cycling, whose maps we are using for this very trip. Needless to say, their presence is felt every day, with tons of gratitude.
Lots more riding along Lake Erie, past many noteworthy sites. That's Buffalo off to the left in the Lake photo.