Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Day 49 - Brattleboro, VT to Manchester NH - Sullivan's Hill


Sunday, August 8.

Day 49 of our trip across America.

I cross the bridge over the Connecticutt River into our last state.

New Hampshire.

I'm greeted by my first New Hampshirean...

A bright orange salamander stretched out to catch the morning sun.

As I lie on the ground focusing my camera on this critter I see my first biker coming up the hill behind me.

Ian is out early today.

And he seems to climb this hill with ease.

Not so for me.

I seem to have burned out my legs yesterday.

They don't seem to want to give me anything today.

And I'm in a bit of a hurry.

You see, my husband Tom is getting on an airplane this very minute to fly to New Hampshire.

He will be at our hotel in Manchester at the end of this ride.

So I'm pretty darned mad at my legs for being so slumpy today.

I try to enjoy the scenery.

The old cemeteries hidden behind the trees...

The trees themselves.

My legs don't like the hills today.

But where we have hills, we have forests.

And my heart loves a forest.

The smell of the pine reminds me of Camp Honeyrock from my childhood days.

But danged this hill is steep!

Old Concord Road they call it.

Luckily I have my camera so if someone sees me walking my bike I can just say I'm taking pictures.

I get to the top - out of breath - and find a wishing well.

I wish I was already in Manchester....

Didn't work.

As I pause for a picture of this modest driveway I hear whirring bikers behind me.

It's the Swiss boys.

Old Concord is nothing to them!

New Hampshire is a hard state... many ways.

Where Vermont was gentle and green,

New Hampshire strikes me as stoney.

Even the people are rather flint-like.

Isn't New Hampshire called the Granite State?

I pass the sign for Sullivan's Hill.

I wonder if Alex will succeed at climbing Sullivan.

I hear it's impossibly steep.

But she's ready to give it a try.

Good luck, Al!

I don't even think of trying for Sullivan.

But I have my own challenges.

A dirt road will slow me down!

As will any town that has two bakeries!

Now more bikers start spinning past me...

I could try to keep up...

...but I'm so excited to see little bluestem growing here.

I'm surprised to see my favorite prairie grass this far east.

And there's blue gentian!

I didn't think that would be blooming yet!

I'll never get to Manchester at this rate!

Luckily we have downhills leading us to the first SAG of the day....

And look who shows up at  the SAG...

It's Super-Al...

photo by Jeff

...with stories about how she and Katie conquered Mt Sullivan!

Photo by Al

...but then the sad tale of how Katie got her first flat - Day 49 of a 50 day ride!

In New Hampshire even the churches are stone.

Beautiful delicate stained glass framed by solid rock.

I try to go in, but the door is locked...

...on  Sunday?

I love the old bell tower.

"Something there is that doesn't love a wall."

These hand-mended fences remind me of the New Hampshire poet, Robert Frost.

He's one of my favorites.

"Good fences make good neighbors" runs in my head as I see neighborly chat by a shared stone wall.

This old church is open.

I have to go in!

The dark peaceful pews.

Waiting for parishoners.

A choir begins their harmony in a back room.

I know I need to leave this heavenly rest.

The door is open...

...back out into the harsh sun and loud world.

Luckily I have friends...

Renny is wearing his special shirt today.

He and wife Sara argue whether friends gave it to him for his 50th birthday or 60th.

Can't wait to get to Manchester and my Old Goat.

A logging operation.

Piles and piles of logs filling the stockyard.

To a tree lover like me, this is like seeing the bodies of old friends stacked on the dirt.

I want to go home and plant a new tree for every log I see.

But how can I replace the soil that was ripped up when these trees were dragged away?

...the nests that were crushed on the ground?

Another church.

I pray that I can make it to Manchester.

My legs are toast.

And I still have 30 miles to go...

And Joe English Hill!

I pray for a SAG van...

...and there it is!

Right at the base of Joe English!

Please Jim - Give me a bump up so I can go see my husband!

I really never appreciated the miracle of the motorized vehicle before this trip.

House for sale -

Beautiful old historic home...

I'd like to check it out...

But I've got to get to Manchester.

Nearing town...

A Skate Park!

I tried to get one built in New Castle.

I love to see the kids at play.

But I gotta go.

One mile from the hotel and there are The Thoroughbreds.

They pose for a picture...

Then they let me lead them into the Comfort Inn.

Tom is in the doorway and gets to see me leading in the troops.

Al gets to him first...

Then it's my turn!

And look!

We have my sister, Cally, too!

She has flown here from Chicago to cheer us on for our last day of biking.

What a great sister!

They get to be there to hear our last route rap.

The ABB staff is all decked out in matching shirts...

...except for Jim.

But this is serious business.

Tomorrow we bike to the ocean.

We want to do it right!

Then it's time for a party!

The final banquet!

The last time we will sit down with 50 of the best friends in the world and raise a glass to the trip of a lifetime.

We have skits.

Michael does his imitation of Mike Munk, our chiseled bike leader.

And Katie matches with her rendition of Karen giving the daily rap.

Ian is a star with his original poem about Biking in the Back.

The words are a riot...

... but the delivery - in his dry Scottish brogue  -is what has us peeling with laughter.

Sandy and Toronto Mark regale us with their creation - The ABBY awards.

Everyone gets recognized...

Canada Jeff for his mechanical skills on the road.

Me - for The Blog as Visual Art.

Andrew got the Chocolate Mustache award.

Photo  by Katie

And my Al won the Mom's Sherpa award.

There was even a fashion award to Todd for wearing his bike shorts inside out!

(I'm too modest to print the whole picture).

Great laughter.

Great fun.

Can you believe 50 days ago we were all strangers?

And tomorrow is the end...

The last time on the road as a family.

Tomorrow we bike the final miles to the Atlantic Ocean....

...if we make it.
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