Day 85 - Goodbye Big Apple
I headed out of Manhattan via the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey,
and rode up US 9W along the Hudson River. The road stays out of cities, so
it's a pretty ride, the road lined with trees.
It's an odd transition from being a tourist to riding again. I'm happy to
be back on the bike and moving again. Away from the constant activity in the
city, I have time to think and relax. Manhattan is strange to me because no
one looks you in the eye. People who look directly at you usually want some-
thing, like a handout or a sale, and if you look back it's an opening for them
to approach you. So most people stay focused straight ahead, not looking at
anyone directly. It must be a major culture shock for New Yorkers to visit
the South, where people on the street are openly friendly.
I stopped at Nyack to check my maps and two different cars stopped to ask me
for directions. As I was nearing the campground, a van pulled up next to me
and asked if I knew where there was a gas station. These all seem odd to me
because I think I _look_ like I'm not from around here.
From Stoney Point I rode 5 miles west (uphill the whole way) to Beaver Pond
Campground in Harriman State Park. I had to walk my bike for about 20 feet in
a very steep part. This is not a fun way to finish a day on the bile. The
good point is that in the morning I start out with 5 miles of downhill. I
shouldn't have to pedal for the first 15 minutes.
A lot of cyclists use 9W for training. I was continually passing and being
passed by other cyclists.
In the campground I feel like I'm the only person who doesn't speak Spanish.
It's a very cosmopolitan place.
You hear about the rocky New England soil, but it really hits home when you
have to sleep on it. There wasn't a grassy spot on the campsite big enough
to set up a sleeping pad, much less a tent.
Today's Mileage: 43 Trip total: 2213
Day 86 - passing Poughkeepsie
The 5 mile downhill was a wonderful way to start the day. After that it was
constant up and down, because the road follows the Hudson River. The Hudson
is very wide, and I could see pleasure boaters any time the trees cleared
enough for me to see the river. Unfortunately, I could also see the factories
on the opposite bank, but they thinned out after a few miles.
The most unusual place I passed through was West Point - the military academy.
I didn't realize it was around here. It seemed more like a military base than
a college, and I was too busy fighting the hills to look around much.
Getting to Poughkeepsie, I had to cross a long bridge over the Hudson. No
problem, except that the work crew had locked an equipment box in the middle
of the path. It would be no trouble to pass if my bike didn't weigh more than
100 pounds. I had to lift the front, then the back, and then rock the bike
over without letting it fall or crush the fenders. I made it, but I decided
I need to lighten the bike or do some weight lifting!
I don't think I passed through the nicest section of Poughkeepsie. I had a
terrible time finding my way because all the street signs were missing. It
seems they were stolen. After that it was a nice ride to the campground.
(Margaret L. Norrie State Park)
Today's mileage: 62. Trip total: 2275.
Although I complain about the hills, this is very pretty country. It is
hilly and full of trees, and there are frequent breaks in the trees to allow
scenic views of the Hudson.
There are frequent convenience store/deli combinations around here. Most of
them even have bagels - my preferred breakfast and snack - so I'm not stuck
eating junk food.
Day 87 - rain and hills
This morning I woke to a light rain - just enough to get everything wet
before I could pack it away. The rain continued all day, and the temperature
stayed around 60 degrees. This is pretty good riding weather, if you don't
mind getting a little bit wet.
No one ever came to collect the fees for camping last night, so I camped for
free. I felt a little bit guilty, because I kept coming up with excuses
every time I saw a state park maintenance truck.
I passed through Rhinebeck, NY, and very near to the Omega Institute.
Rhinebeck seems like a nice small town, with clean streets and well maintained
shops. It has the feel of a town that is doing well.
The campground here at Rudd Pond in Taconic State Park is the nicest of the
three I've stayed at in New York. The campsite actually has grass on it, and
the roads are in pretty good shape. The pond is loaded with geese. It seems
that some of the Canadian geese decided this was far enough north for this
year. Unfortunately, the mosquitoes are out in force. It seems that all
New York state parks are charging $13 per night plus $1 registration fee, so
camping costs as much as a hostel.
Today's mileage: 46. Trip total: 2322
I came upon two deer in the middle of the road - a doe and a fawn, I think.
I slowed down and they just looked at me until I got too close, when they
jumped back into the woods. Then I heard and saw another on the opposite
side of the road.
Later I passed two wild turkeys in the road. They stared at me in disbelief
and hurried off the road.
Day 88 - Connecticut and another bike tourist
As soon as I reached the main road, I passed the Connecticut border. I stopped
for my usual picture, but there was no place to put the camera where I could be
in the picture. The weeds were too high to put the camera on the ground.
As I was nearing Falls Village, I met another bicycle tourist. Lindsey started
his trip in Philadelphia and is headed to Bar Harbor, Maine. We are both
headed to the same campground, so we rode together today. Lindsey is a retired
gentleman who is also from Atlanta. Oddly enough, we have the same panniers
(in different colors) and the same tent.
Connecticut seems to have a lot of nice small towns. We passed through Falls
Village, Goshen, and Litchfield, any of which could have been used for the
Andy Griffeth show. Litchfield was very busy for 3:00 pm, apparently because
a lot of people come to see its historic homes and shops. We stopped in an
upscale convenience store/deli to pick up dinner. I guess in a popular town
like Litchfield, the prices are marked up a bit.
It seems odd to ride with another person again. I haven't ridden with anyone
for a significant distance since Florida. In the constant up and down hills,
it is difficult to carry on a conversation, so it's a lot like riding alone -
except the lead person points out obstacles in the road.
We are sharing a campsite, so the cost is only $5 each.
Today's mileage: 44. Trip total: 2366.
Connecticut has better roads than New York, so far. And the park is nice,
except that the showers put out lukewarm water for 30 seconds each time you
push a button.
I made a reservation at the Hartford youth hostel with a guy for whom English
is definitely a second language. I thought I detected an Indian accent.
We had a 2 mile uphill today, but I didn't have to walk to bike and there were
nice downhills to make up for it.
Day 89 - to Hartford
Lindsey left this morning before 7:00. I made it on the road around 9:15,
which is early for me. After about a mile and a half, I passed Thomaston
and started up the hill to Plymouth. We had a nice long downhill toward
camp yesterday afternoon, and this hill was payback. I ground along in my
lowest gear for around a mile, which took 15 minutes. This is not a fun
way to start a day.
Fortunately the terrain levelled out somewhat after Plymouth, so I had a
nice ride through Terryville, Pequabuck, Forestville, and Farmington into
Hartford. As I progressed, the area became increasingly industrial, with
small workshops and factories all around.
I reached the hostel at about 12:15 and had the whole afternoon to relax.
I went to the Mark Twain House, which is where Samuel Clemens lived with
his family for about 20 years while he wrote some of his most famous books.
Admission is a bit expensive at $7.50, but the place is a beautiful example
of Victorian architecture and decorating.
Today's mileage: 27. Trip total: 2393.
When I checked into the hostel, I had the impression that I was the only
resident. Later, quite a few other people showed up, and we had a lively
discussion about budget travel across the USA. And we watched the Olympics,
in which the two German college students seemed very interested.
I met Ellen, who is on disability because computers make her physically sick,
so she can't do her job. She just came from Bar Harbor, Maine, which she said
is beautiful. I almost want to go, but it's quite a bit farther than I plan
Day 90 - rest, sort of
This morning I went to the State Capitol with Ellen. The Connecticut Capitol
is a beautiful building, with ornately carved woodwork, stencilled paint,
statues, marble floors, and carved granite pillars. We took a tour and were
very impressed with the place. There were boy scout and a girl scout troops
in the group, which didn't please Ellen; she doesn't tolerate children very
well. Fortunately, they were well behaved.
We also went to the Pump House, which was once a water pumping station and
is now a very small art museum. They had a small exhibit that challenged or
poked fun at some traditional American images.
I stopped at the carousel in the park. It is one of the oldest in the US,
built in New York in 1914 and later transported to Hartford. Ellen headed
back to the hostel and I wandered around downtown looking for bookstores and
Later in the evening, Ellen and I headed down to the city park for the jazz
festival, which didn't seem to have a large attendance. I'm used to Atlanta,
where the jazz festival is mobbed, but Atlanta is a much larger city. The
music was good, though.
I passed the Catholic cathedral and tried to go in, but the doors were locked.
I thought all Catholic churches were open during the day. It doesn't say much
for the area.
Day 91 - to Sturbridge
I started at my normal time - around 10:15 - and headed north out of Hartford.
The Adventure Cycling route doesn't go through Sturbridge, so I forged my own
trail. Riding the back roads of Connecticut is pretty nice. The only bad
spot I found was a road near Hartford that had been shaved off in preparation
I discovered that the AAA map of Hartford is not terribly accurate. There were
a couple of spots where I couldn't find roads that showed on the map - in a
park and passing under the interstate. It didn't slow me down much, but it's
frustrating when you can't trust your map.
While I was stopped to look at my maps near Stafford Springs, a woman stopped
to offer assistance. She was going the other way and saw me with my maps and
hated to think I was lost. She gave me a good tip on which road to take to
There wasn't a welcome sign when I entered Massachusetts because I was on a
very lightly travelled back road. Holland, the town at the end of the road,
was a quiet little town, but it was big enough to have a school and a city hall.
I passed through Sturbridge on my way to Wells State Park, where I am tonight
($6). Sturbridge is a touristy town with lots of shops on the main drag. They
were doing some road work, which made traffic bad. But I just rode around
it. I love being on a bike!
I met my next-door neighbors: John, Eric, and Ryan - a dad out camping for the
first time with his two boys. The boys were quite intrigued with me. They
wanted to know why I would go travelling on a bike and why I didn't have a car.
They offerred me a s'more, and I accepted to be hospitable (and because I love
s'mores). I have been staying off of candies and cookies and other sweets for
several days, but I figured a 6 year old boy wouldn't understand my reasons.
In some countries it is considered bad manners for a guest to turn down
anything that is offered him. I hope I don't get there and have someone offer
me sheep's eyes :-o.
Today's mileage: 63. Trip total: 2456.
The mosquitoes were eating me alive until I lit a portable citronella candle.
When I blew out the candle a while later, the mosquitoes were so bad that I
rushed to throw everything into the tent and jumped in. I have bites all over.
I think I haven't been eating enough salt. Lately I have been eating more junk
food (burgers and fries, mostly), and I feel better. I have fewer cramps when
I eat junk. Go figure.
Many of the houses I passed had wooden plaques showing when the house was
constructed. And every town sign had a line listing when it was settled,
established, or incorporated - usually in the 1700s or early 1800s.
Changes last made on: Wed Aug 14 06:46:03 1996