Wednesday, August 5, 2009


On our way to the eastern seaboard we stopped to refuel our internal tanks at a small, recently opened organic market. The store was beautiful, with pictures of farmers that had grown the produce on the walls. This is the kind of place that white folks go crazy for - it just gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling inside that can only come from buying a free-trade $50 bottle of wine (even if it is made from endangered Kenyan grapes). Clancy picked up some tasty steel cut oats and struck up conversation with one of the owners. After hearing about our trip she gave us a DELICIOUS block of sharp cheddar weighing in at over a pound - a ten dollar value! We had already bought a smaller block of cheese that day in anticipation of making grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. Nevertheless, determined not to let any food go to waste, we each consumed over ¾ lbs of cheese that night, an act that our digestive systems did not forgive us for.

Further down the road in Rockport, a woman approached us out front of the public library. She stopped herself mid-sentence, “Oh, you’re not who I thought you were - but would you be interested in doing some yard work around my house?” We thought about it for a just a second and later that evening found ourselves raking leaves and moving branches out front of Joy’s house. A little hard work helped remind us of what it’s like to earn a living. OK, maybe not, but it did allow us enough funds to enjoy a lobster lunch. Lobster was great (neither of us had tasted it before!) but I think I could have eaten about ten of the suckers. Nonetheless, we felt it was a fitting reward for having bicycled across the country.

The following night we found ourselves in a town called Bucksport, unsure of where we would spend the night. Thankfully, a helpful young lady pointed us in the direction of a church. As we sat out front the chapel she approached us again, “Are you guys looking for a place to stay for the night? I talked to my parents and we have plenty of room and spare beds if you are interested.“ Our spirits soared like hang gliders in a hurricane. Turns out that Meg, her father John Paul, and mother Melissa had just returned from a two week trip to Colorado and Utah to visit family. Not even settled back in themselves, they invited us into their home and treated us to ginger ale/sorbet floats (yum!). Delightful company and truly caring people, Melissa sent us out on the road the next day with four sandwiches for lunch and a giant jar of homemade strawberry jam. PB and Js made with this stuff tasted like heaven between two slices of bread.

The next day we reached Bar Harbor, the most northeast point of our journey and true ending point of our first coast-to-coast crossing! We dipped our tires in the Atlantic Ocean in ritualistic celebration and I took a moment to showcase my physique on the shoreline - or rather lack thereof (right). People often ask us if we feel stronger, having come over 4,500 miles thus far. We respond by mentioning that we feel kind of tired. In all seriousness, we are terribly excited that the expedition is not yet nearing its end; it would be far too early for the fun to come to a halt. At this point we are brainstorming scenarios that would allow us to continuing touring for the remainder of our lives. Anyone have the winning power ball numbers for next week?

Bar Harbor is a bustling retail center for tourists, but more importantly is home to Acadia National Park. At night, while checking out the downtown we experienced a most fortunate chain of events. We started talking to a group of gentleman that were super excited about our trip. One of the fellows by the name of George asked us if we were doing any fundraising and I filled him in on our two charity beneficiaries, Breast Cancer Research and Habitat. He promptly whipped out his wallet and handed us a $100 bill. Awestruck, I just kind of stood there with my mouth hanging agape. “You can put that toward whichever cause you‘d like, I respect what you guys are doing” said George. Yes sir, George’s generosity renewed our fundraising faith. Just about 30 seconds after this happened we found ourselves in a conversation with Hanah, a middle school science teacher that was taking a summer course at the College of the Atlantic. She had cycled cross country before and the college was one of her stopping points. As if to pass on the torch of tradition, she gave us a tour of the campus and some recommendations on where to stay. Hanah was an awesome adventurer and free spirit. She even had some suggestions concerning what to explore in Acadia Park.

The next morning we awoke anticipating a full day of fun in the park. Acadia is a gorgeous 55 square mile preserve featuring a plethora of mountains, lakes, woodlands and ocean shoreline. We started the day by riding the park loop, a scenic road that winds around the rocky coastline of the peninsula. Panoramic ocean views were the norm on this breathtaking ride, but the best view was still to come. We hopped off the bikes and onto a hiking path that headed up Beehive Mountain. The short but very steep climb afforded us a 360 degree vantage point from which to survey our surroundings. Especially notable was the view of Sand Beach (right). Some pictures of Acadia seem to depict another planet; the abundance of rock mixed with the alpine atmosphere all perched on the coastline certainly made for a distinct viewing experience (check out the photos page). After our eyeballs were full, we set about filling our bellies with copious amounts of wild blueberries found all over the mountain top. To reward ourselves for the hot, steep climb we also jumped into a mountain pond to cool off. The tadpoles didn’t seem to mind.

To round out our Acadia experience we headed over to Jordan Pond. Jordan Pond features a restaurant famous for its popovers - a hollow, muffin like creation served right out of the oven with butter and jam. Popovers lived up to the hype, though I probably could have eaten about 30 of the things. Before we left the park we checked out some carriage roads. These were paths built by Rockefeller so that he could enjoy his super sized back yard of yesteryear; there are over 40 miles of such scenic carriage roads that crisscross Acadia. Just before our departure we had the pleasure of speaking with an awesome and fascinating couple. They had hopped trains clear from San Diego, CA to the east coast with their adorable dog named “Cush.” This journey had taken them six months and they had accumulated many terrific stories and experiences along the way. The two reminded me of characters straight out of the book Harris and Me.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Mountains of White and Green

As we pedaled through the remainder of Vermont we basked in the beauty of the Green Mountains. The land is similar to the mountainous terrain of Oregon, only with smaller hills and more of them. The hillsides were as lush and as green as could be, in part due to the uncharacteristically wet summer that New England has experienced this year. During the fall we were told that the landscape ignites into a fiery sea of oranges, yellows, and browns as the deciduous trees begin to change colors and loose their leaves. This prompts an influx of what locals call “leaf peepers,” retirees that come from hundreds of miles away to pile into vans and tour the countryside at speeds nearing 5 mph.

At the end of our riding day we were lucky enough to ask the right people where to camp and were directed to a farmhouse across the road from a café. Turns out that a delightful gal named Sheila, a triathalete and bicycle tourist, owned the café and welcomed us to camp nearby! She insisted that we drop in the next morning for a homemade breakfast at her establishment free of charge. We graciously accepted and found ourselves eating some of the most delicious fresh baked bread and apple cider donuts ever created. We truly enjoyed Shiela’s company and her stories from her latest tour in New Zealand.

Once we crossed over into New Hampshire we were greeted by the White Mountains. Larger in size than their neighbors, the Green mountains, the White Mountain range contained Kancamagus pass, the last real mountain standing between us and the east coast. Affectionately called “the Kanc” by the locals, the pass reaches into the sky 2,855 feet. I suspect the name was abbreviated due to pronunciation problems for all parties involved, but it sounds a little too much like some kind of VD. “Don’t mess around with the Kanc man, you better get that checked out.” Unfortunately, the riding day was dominated by heavy, unrelenting showers. One nearby area put out flood warnings in anticipation of the four inches of forecasted rain. Nonetheless, we were determined to make the best of the day despite the conditions. Here you can see the only picture I took all day for fear that the rain might ruin my camera. It‘s a shame too - the terrain was stunning. The landscape reminded me of Hawaiian mountains found on Maui that shot directly up into the ceiling of the sky, penetrating the mist only to be lost in the clouds. In one particularly pristine place there sat a peaceful, high mountain lake with boulders jutting up like icebergs from the water’s surface. Straight out of one of these colossal stones grew a tall pine, like an object you would expect to read about in a fairy tale. Beaver dams held back placid pools of water that acted as reflecting ponds, and rivers so ran so red they look like blood. This is wilderness my friends. In one memorable instance I was pedaling into the rain with my head down when I heard a splashing calamity nearby. I quickly glanced up to see a moose trotting gracefully towards the woods. The huge beast had not been 20 feet to my right, wading in a roadside pool when I had startled her. Once each party realized the other meant no harm, we each calmly headed our separate ways, though I did so with a slightly elevated heart rate. Moose can be aggressive at times and I was thankful that I had not been perceived a threat.

As the day came to a close we rolled into the town of Conway, NH. We took time to check out Eastern Mountain Supply (EMS), a store similar to REI. Though we didn’t find the store overly impressive, we did strike up conversation with Paul and Dave, two fellows from Massachusetts that were doing some hiking in the area. Paul shared with us pieces of a cross country bicycle tour that he had taken when he was younger. After some good conversation we said our farewells and headed deeper into town to find a place to camp. We were striking out everywhere - no one was even manning the city fire station where we hoped we might find some guidance or a place to stay. We did find some people outside the station though - Paul and Dave had taken pity and came to offer us a place to stay! That night we had a terrific time staying up, talking about all sorts of adventurous activities. I was especially fascinated by Paul’s background, having owned an operated an advertising agency, he is now retired and is motorcycle safety instructor. He had a gorgeous Ducati 1198S in his stable (right) along with other awesome toys like a Porsche 911 and an Austin Healy. Paul and Dave were super nice, down to earth guys. They actually live in Massachusetts, so maybe we will meet again…