Day 9 – Fair Haven on Lake Ontario

At this moment it’s hard to believe our luck today. We found the coolest little inn on the shores of Lake Ontario. It’s run by Bonnie and her husband H and they have restored it lovingly with lots of antiques and original tin walls and ceilings and – oh I’ll just have to share pictures later – I can’t describe it. But I’m writing this blog from the 2nd floor veranda, listening to the water lap at the dock, with the sun reaching that late afternoon attitude where the shadows begin to lengthen.

Today was gorgeous- perfect riding conditions all day. Not a cloud in the sky and a high of about 68. The miles came easy as we passed farms, a few hamlets, and a few Amish buggies. I chose not to take pictures of the buggies – it felt kind of intrusive though I would have liked to share them with you. The drivers called good morning to me as I passed and we shared the sunlit road.

Our start today – big smiles for the clear skies.
Adam and I are day-glow captains of safety today.
We started out near the Salmon River – it widens here to a lake really.
A Methodist church along the way. Someday we won’t have power lines cutting up the landscape.

About two this afternoon Adam had to stop for a business call for a while. We stopped at the fairdale cemetery which seems like an interesting place to hang out for 45 minutes while he made his call.

Fairdale cemetery chapel

 

Same chapel – playing with symmetry

I’ve seen more cemeteries on this trip in the last nine days then I’ve probably seen in the last 20 years. Maybe it’s the back roads that we’re following just happen to go through them or maybe I’m noticing the more as I get older.

I’m always drawn to the older stones in particular. I’m interested in the connection between here and now and the people’s lives lived so long ago. From some of the stones you can tell little stories but sometimes they just bring up questions – like the stones that I saw in the picture of Erastus and Harriet Glover. Harriet was only 18 when she died – though she was his bride. Was it during childbirth? And who is newton he’s seems too old to be Erastus’ son but too young to be his brother.

There’s a story in all these stones – some you can get half a window into.
What happen’s to all those old plastic flowers? They land in the plastic flower graveyard I found.

On the road again

Being in the cemetery also reminds me of the conversation Megan and I had last night about yesterday’s rainy ride. We talked about  the experience of trying to work through the pain of riding in the cold and rain. I felt safe enough although the thought of hypothermia crossed my mind. The conditions yesterday were perfect for it – tired cold and wet – mix it with not taking enough water and that’s when folks get hypothermia. But I was well hydrated and thinking clearly or at least I thought (I guess if you’re not thinking clearly you don’t necessarily know it). But I decided that I basically just had to deal with the fact that my hands were so cold they hurt, and then finally went numb. And then you start to ask yourself , “well is that such a bad thing? Am I really basically OK?” Sometimes we forget that it’s OK to be uncomfortable or in pain.

So I was talking to Megan about that last night and she said it reminded her of a koan. I think the gist of it is that a few students were asking the teacher  “What do we do when it’s too hot? What do we do when it’s too cold?” The teacher said “When it’s too cold let the cold kill you. When it’s too hot let the heat kill you.” I think that’s the gist of it.

Hmmm. I’ll have to sit with that.

On the bike I was trying to just to experience the cold as the pain that it is. To move into the pain. There’s a point there where I think you move past it. Can you find a point where it loses its power over you? Pain is in the mind, not the body right? I don’t have this worked out by any stretch but I suspect I’ll have the opportunity to work on it further during this ride.

Anyway feeling no real pain today – just good scenery, good weather, and good company.

Reaching our destination. A great day.
View from the 2nd floor veranda that circles the inn.
This place is full of period details. This is original tin on the walls. Bonnie and H have done an amazing job with this building. We’re looking forward to just exploring the place. It looks expensive too but since we’re off season it’s no more than the local motel 6. Feeling very fortunate.

Day 8 – Old Forge to Redfield

Short post today – wifi isn’t available and cell coverage is poor.

Speaking of poor, or pour, that’s what it did all day. This is my first day of serious rain yet and I was wishing I’d taken today for my day off but c’est la vie.

Today my buddy Adam joins me for a couple of days and we made lodging arrangements so rain or no rain, I needed to get to Redfield.

I did about 30 or so miles before meeting up with Adam. Riding in constant downpour and about 50 degrees this morning brought new exercises in how to tolerate wind or cold. I got myself through it by deciding my new occupation was to make drivers feel warm and cozy in their cars. I know everybody that passed was glad they weren’t me.

After a while it wasn’t too bad and it warmed a little through the day. But I stopped for few pictures because every time I did, I got colder. I met Adam at Noon and we decided to finish up rather than stopping for lunch – as it was only 20+ miles to Redfield, and mostly downhill at that. So we made quick work of those miles and got to our Inn where the hot shower brought life back to my numb hands.

Tough day the but the forecast looks good for tomorrow.

My view from the handlebars this morning. Doesn’t that truck look warm and cozy?
I rode along the Moose River which is big and beautiful. Reminds me of Western Rivers.
Tryin to stay positive. In the background you can just make out the ruins of an old riverside factory. Reminds you how these rivers have been used for power and to support manufacturing for so long.

More tomorrow. And I can get some pictures of Adam and me when we’re not such a “drowned rats.”

 

Day 7 – Rest Day in Old Forge NY

I gave myself the day off to recover from the past 6 day’s 370 miles. It felt great to slow down and stay in one place for a bit. It gave me a chance to catch up on email, laundry and such, with a little left over for strolling the town and checking out the community gallery.

When’s the last time you were in a laundromat? Honestly, before today I can’t remember – probably when I was single and living in “shared housing” situations. But honestly my trip to the laundromat was probably one of the most interesting parts of the day. I’m just sorry I didn’t take my phone because I’d like to share more of the experience. But on second thought – taking photos there probably wouldn’t have felt right.

My Morning Hours at the Laundromat

No one uses a laundromat who doesn’t have too; so it’s a pretty solid way to get, at least a little bit, more in touch with what’s it’s like to not have enough money to have certain choices. Without exception, the people there were friendly and helpful – even sharing their dryer with me when it still had time left on it and their loads were done.  But even so I felt pretty “other” there in my Patagonia windbreaker and Marmot pants. More than one mom of a toddler came and went, and one woman even left her car running while she put a load in the wash, even as she brought her baby inside. She said she left it on “because I’m stupid” which hurt to hear – she was just obviously tired, run ragged, and too much going on.

I think part of why the seemingly pedestrian experience of going to the laundromat touched me emotionally was that it brings up powerful memories for me. When my folks split up when I was 5, I moved with my mom into temporary housing and we had to go to the laundromat regularly because we didn’t have a washer or dryer at home. That immediately made us feel “poor” because you’re surrounded by other folks who are poor and many because they’ve made pretty poor choices, or just weren’t that smart, had rotten luck or poor health or… Obviously there are a lot of things that can land you there that are out of your control. I didn’t have to live in that environment long but I could see how, if you did, it could change the way that you think about yourself, and what options are realistically available to you. BTW if you haven’t read J.D. Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy” yet – it touches on some of these same chords. JD was a lot worse off than I ever was but I was close enough to it, and observed enough other families, that his experience was very familiar to me.

The Local “View” Arts Center

So what do you do in Old Forge after you’ve seen the laundromat? Go to the gallery of course! They have a community building here that doubles as a gallery, and classroom space – it’s quite big actually and must be well funded. They even are LEED certified with enough solar on the roof to probably offset a quarter of their energy use.

So I probably wasn’t supposed to take photos in there but I did anyway so you get to come along. And most of what I took photos there are out of the norm for the gallery. They had tons of watercolor landscapes of mountains and fish and eagles. But these are the ones that caught my eye.

By the way – I’m linking all my photos now to the originals, so just click if you want to see the larger version. For these it’s worth it.

 

This is a watercolor. No way! Tiny tiny brush strokes!

Why the hell would you hang this lovely painting over the top of an electrical access panel, I cannot fathom. And somebody snatched it up for $275! Sheesh i love this painting and it’s worth a lot more I think.

I just loved how ridiculous this was next to all the fish, mountains, and eagles.
This is just drop dead incredible. A self portrait. If I could do that I would never do anything else.

And this wonderful quilt – reminded me of my sister Synda  who was a quilter and would have loved to see this.

This quilt looked royal with all the gold and purples.

Around Old Forge

And a few other random shots from my stroll around town.

I had to look at this for a long time. Basically it says “Beavers slept here a long time ago”. Now I love beavers but do we need a sign up every time some important beaver sleeps here for the winter? Is this memorial-worthy? Maybe I’m tired and cranky.
I felt like I was at Wally World and it was closed for repairs. It’s the entrance to the “Enchanted Forest”.
The lake in town with golden highlights.
Quiet cove across from the town art center. In the big version you can see the “boat garage”. Don’t you have one?

I wrapped up the day with a trip back to the arts center where they had a yoga class that I dropped in on. Babe, have I told you lately what a genius you are? Megan told me I should seek out yoga across the county as I go and I tried it. What do you know but the teacher is quite good (hi Carla) and even gives us some stretches geared for me and “if I was biking across the country I’d do this one every day”. Coach Matt you’d approve – she taught me how to use my own bones for a roller since I didn’t bring one along.

Tomorrow my buddy Adam joins me for the ride. I hope the forecast is as wrong as its been so far. Otherwise we get pretty wet tomorrow. We’ll see…

Day 6 -Blue Mountain to Old Forge

Don’t you love the names around here? Who wouldn’t want to go from Blue Mountain to Old Forge?

My host, Meredith, from last nights stay at the Blue Mtn Lake Inn. Her dog “Mango” is hanging around in the background.

Meredith and her folks run a charming Inn that gets visited by a lot of “bikers” meaning cyclists and motorcycle riders both. Apparently we’re the demographic that understands the values of their inn. In other words we value character over sterility. According to Meredith we’re able to tap into the emotional vibe which is very positive but not appreciated by all. Intriguing. She wants to put a sign out front with a trike, and a penny farthing, and a motorcycle and a racing cyclists. Anyway, she was a real sweetheart and coooked a lovely breakfast for me. I hope she has more guests soon – seems I’m beating the summer crowd to most places (so far).

Cloudy days can be gloomy but the lighting is awesome. Forgot this one yesterday – across the street from the Inn.

Today was an easy day; “only” 36 miles or so, and really no real climbing. Just gentle rolling hills and beautiful scenery.  It was a nice break and it wasn’t until I got to Old Forge that I realized how much I needed it. This afternoon I checked in, showered, and immediately passed out on the bed.

Thanks for the tip on “re-warming up” Coach Matt! I did that today and it helped avoid the pain. You know your stuff!

I like this side of the Adirondacks better than the eastern side. Overall it seems a little more lush (maybe gets more rain?) and the homes and towns look a bit better off. Some of the places on the eastern side looked like they’d seen better days

I passed a lot of vacation homes on the backroads that the Adventure Cycling maps took me on. They seem to try to out-do each other when it comes to pithy names for their cabins. I saw the “Loon-A-Tick Inn” (including picture of Loon and Tick), “Camp David (Summit in Session)”, and my personal favorite “Moot’s Point”.

I gotta say a word too about the great folks at Adventure Cycling. If you ever venture to do something like this, or even if you just want a map for a great local ride, look up their maps. They have routed me through beautiful roads, almost all are very bike friendly, and without going near any big towns or cities. And they also include bike shops, lodging and all the services you’d need. My bike cap’s off to the 100’s of volunteers who have taken the time to submit their comments to make these maps better. Clearly a case for the power of crowd-sourced labor for the good of all.

I saw so many shades of green by the road today. I learned once that the human eye is most sensitive in this part of the spectrum. When you see the woods like these, you know why.

 

View from the handlebars from most of today’s ride. Rolling hills through rich, green woods with new spring growth.
View through to a nearby lake. Canoeists paradise.
Looks like there are so many lakes they got tired of naming them and just started numbering them.
Love this! Dilapidated mid-mod looking for a little TLC.
I smelled these before I saw the shop. HOLD IT! David and Coach Matt, I just looked at them and left. Really.
I think this tree is an inspirational poster waiting to happen. It’s like 8 inches tall! Is that a spruce?
The local hardware store at Old Forge. Mason jars of local goodness.
Same hardware store. Muted self portrait.
View from tonight’s digs. I think I’m the only one staying here tonight.

 

I’m a sucker for mid-mod architecture and I love the 60’s vibe of this place.

Since I seem to be the only tourist around, I swung a sweet deal on this place. “What’s the best deal you’ll give me if I stay 2 nights”. I have a great spot with a view to the lake for my day off. Kinda hope it rains just to get that out of the weather system.

A great first week of cycling – beautiful scenery, friendly people along the way and best of all I still feel healthy and happy after about 370 miles. Feeling very lucky and blessed tonight. Now if the Warriors can make it 2-0 it will be the perfect end to the day.

Day 5 – Into the Adirondacks

Big day today as I left Ticonderoga for the Adirondacks. I’ve never been to the “Dacks” as they say around here so I had no idea what to expect. And for some reason, the Adventure cycling maps don’t have an elevation guide this time so I’ll take it as it comes I guess.

I started out when one long climb out of Ticonderoga. With all the pounds on board you really feel it on the hills. The added weight is no big deal on the flats but you pay for the elevation. And today I did a lot of climbing (over 5000 ft according to Strava) so my legs are pretty sore tonight.

I’m not using headphones or music while I ride. Instead I like to use my ears for hearing oncoming cars and trucks. And also there’s something about letting your brain go where it wants that feels cleansing. Today my brain went to Steely Dan’s “Reelin in the Years” for a couple of hours. If you’re going to get an “ear worm” stuck in your head it’s a good one and I didn’t mind at all. In fact I was enjoying that great fuzz guitar solo when it occurred to me “how the hell does that work?” I’m out here miles from anything and I swear I can hear ever note of that solo. The brain is an incredible thing. Or I guess I should say the body-mind, eh Megan? Somehow it seems unfair though that some other part of my body mind contains all the words to the Big Mac song (if you’re less than 40, ask someone older) and the music to Take on Me (yuck). So can I trade in some of that brain space and get more good music?

 

 

You’ll have to click to zoom in on this one. Megan, do you think this guy could benefit from some time on the couch?

 

Oh, those really come from here.
Blue Ridge Falls

 

This is the view from the handlebars for much of today’s ride.
Helloooo Newcomb
Yup, THAT Hudson River. Up here it’s just a little stream

“This is It” but you can’t have it. Zoom in.
Do not adjust your set. It really is that color
I’ve grown emotionally attached to these signs. It means, to me, that people share the thought that bikes have a place on the road. And drivers here have been almost all very polite.
I saw fiddleheads all through the Adirondacks today. The bigger ones were sweeter. These were delicate but bitter and kind of spicy.

Now I’m retired to this funky little Inn that was built in the 1780s. It’s a little worse for wear but has a lot of charm. It’s a frequent stop for folks on the Northern Tier but I’m their first cyclist this year.

I hope that means there is copper in the water.

 

Looks like I did more climbing than I thought…

 

"If I had my druthers, I'd ride a bike" Jim's low CO2 trans-am cycling trip