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10/03/2007 Entry: "Barre to the Big Salty"

Barre to Wilmington
As we were waiting outside the library where Seager did the last update, Venerable, a Buddhist Monk who lived in the area, came back with several grocery bags of food to push us through to the end. We then biked off towards our farmhouse yard, hoping not to get lost on the way because it was already getting dark. We did make it, but it turned out to be 5 miles away instead of 3. To you car drivers, that makes no difference, but to you bikers who have ever been really hungry and ended up biking 5 miles off your route to get to your place to sleep, it does... but just a little bit. We ate dinner in the dark, but enjoyed warm showers and a blowdryer (!) so that we could sleep in the Massachussetts cold with dry hair. I got the best sleep I can remember, not even sticking to my sleeping bag. Our hostess gave us some fruit and a bar of dark chocolate, and we were content. Seager figured out a route for the next morning so we wouldn't have to backtrack those five miles, and it actually added some distance but removed a 3 mile hill and the sad feeling of biking a road we had just come down the night before. Mass continued to be quite scenic and lovely until the last 30 miles of the day...when it became one unending suburb along a busy road that we just happened to be riding at rush hour. None-the-less, we made it to our proposed ending point in the suburban mess, Wilmington. We had never had to find a place to stay in such suburbia, and were worried that our last night on the road would be a very difficult one. We asked locals if they knew of parks, and they encouraged us that the police would be very helpful and probably let us stay anywhere, then come and check on us and bring us treats and pillows and maybe let us sleep inside. On the contrary, the police said we couldn't stay anywhere public in town and we'd have to ship out. After 30 miles in the suburbs, we didn't want to ride into the dark on that busy road, so we divided to conquer. MinWah and I went to ask at the local Methodist Church if we could sleep under their stairway (they didn't have a yard, only an enormous parking lot) and Seager went to call phone numbers on the side of the Masons Temple. As MinWah and I discussed out trip with Reverand Travis, Seager rode up to hear him say that he had only been there for a month, and he didn't know what the police or the congregation would have to say, and he thought we wouldn't be safe under the stairs... Seager then mentioned that he had gotten a yard offer. Rev. Travis sounded relieved, and said that if the yard didn't work out, we should come back and he would try to make some phone calls for us. We biked two miles down the road (on our route!) to Ed and Sally's house and were welcomed very warmly. We spent a good part of the evening socializing with our hosts and their neighbors, as well as cooking our last roadmeal on a real stovetop and eating it out of bowls with forks. It was extremely civilized. Ed told us that when he got off the phone with Seager and had already offered his yard, he told Sally and she replied, "you did what?" He started thinking about the fact that he had just gotten a call from a strange man, and had invited him to stay at his house with his two friends who could have been his gang of thugs...but they didn't regret it (or at least they didn't show us!) We were very fortunate to have such wonderful hosts before our last 20 mile stretch to the ocean.

Wilmington to Beverly/Boston
Sally made us breakfast in the morning, and we used their internet and phone to work out details of where we would box and send our bikes and how to get to the commuter rail, etc. After our surreal morning, we pedalled away from Wilmington and didn't stop until we were a mile from the water, the air filled with seagulls and salt-smell. We managed to get lost in that last one mile, but eventually made it to the beach where Seager joined MinWah and I in manhandling our bikes across the sand to the water (first time he's dipped a tire even after two cross-country trips!). We took our pictures, sat around on the beach for a little while feeling I-still-don't-know-what about our accomplishment, and what was coming next.
We rode back to the nearest bike shop, grabbed some boxes and strapped them onto Seager's bike like biplane wings. It was 2 miles ride through quite a bit of heavy traffic to FedEx, where Seager and I spread our last three months lives across the entire sidwalk, dismantling our trusty steeds and packing our stinky clothes and tents and such away until another day when we'll open them up at home and smell that ripe smell again. I'm sure it will make me cry. We walked 3 miles, with MinWah walking her bike, to the commuter rail station in Salem, singing and acting like we had been on the road too long the entire way. Walking is really slow. After the commuter rail and a short subway ride we arrived at WILG, the Coop house where MinWah lived while she was at MIT. Our evening celebration included enormous burgers at Bartleys, Icecream at Toscaninis, and Seager's Boston microbrew at the pub across the street from WILG. Sadly, Karen did not make it back to Boston to celebrate with us.
MinWah and I made breakfast this morning, and sent Seager off to the airport in good style. We then went to Haymarket to buy some fruit, with which we will make some celebratory pies (one of which will use Mommy Marchi's recipe for the best pie in Montana). With Seager gone it is starting to hit us that this might really be over. We spent three months together, almost every hour in each other's presence, and now, we may not see each other for year(s). How very strange.

So, to all of you who have been following along with us, left us messages, encouraged us, and helped us out along the way, thank you for doing what you do. This summer has been one unending adventure full of magnificent strangers, wonderful places, and difficult and very rewarding experiences. We didn't once have any run-ins with the people we were constantly warned about, and only had fixable bike problems and injuries. We've had astounding luck all around. I have laughed enough to extend my life several years, throughout which I'm sure I will think often of these last three months. It has been great. Thank you Seager and MinWah and Karen for being wonderful riding partners, and thank you world for being so freakin' awesome.

Oh, and one last thing:




Replies: Leave us a note! (4)

I was just thinking about you and how ambitious you all are. Not many people would go so far with so little and enjoy it so much. I met Ariel and the friends with her this summer in Port Allegany. Oh, to be young again and dare to have an adventure like yours.

Posted by Linda Wright @ 10/03/2007 05:34 PM CST

Dear Seager,

I saw the Ocean today, the Ocean not in a bay. I wanted to take a picture for you, but camera broken.


Posted by admiral mw @ 08/27/2007 08:36 AM CST

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF YOU. I've thought of you so many times on your wonderful long trip. Many times I have prayed for your safety and I see prayers have been answered. I'm so glad you all made it. Quite an accomplishment for sure. A summer you will never forget as long as you live. God Bless. Congratulations again.
Jant Branson, Hartley, IA

Posted by Janet Branson @ 08/24/2007 11:19 PM CST

Hey ho! Glad to hear that 3 of the 4 Mousse-kateers made it to the Right Coast with minimal stress and strain to the equipment both flesh and ferrous. Now comes the contemplative part of the journey, right? Don't spend a great deal of time on that... get out there and live like you had for the last three months; with great amounts of laughter, trust and vision! Yours in cycling and life, The Bike Whisperer.

Posted by Shawn TBW @ 08/24/2007 01:33 PM CST

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