Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bicycle Tour Journal 2

total trip: 329 miles, 8 days by bicycle

Boston

Providence

Willimantic


total distance: 96.1 miles, 2 days

hi again! tuesday may 12th, i awoke to the beaming sunshine above boston. with some morning meditation, stretching, and bike tune-ups completed, i ventured out into the daylight to begin the next stretch of my journey - onward to providence! the night before, we had stitched up my guitar back-bag, which had acquired a hole from excessive weight over the previous trip from eliot. without realizing it, i was lacking dry socks and would not have socks again for a while.. to be continued..

oh yes! pants! while i had been riding around boston, i found some environment massachusetts canvassers who were on their first day on the job, which was nostalgic, i gave some best words of encouragement and a donation, and they pointed me in the direction of the nearest thrift shops in cambridge. so over the charles to find some sweet brown pants that were lifesavers. it's important to bike with pants because you can always roll up the legs if it's too hot, but overnight chills can get you into trouble, just some advice. regardless, i had pants again and was very happy and ready. i traveled on washington st. southwards out of the city. the sun was beaming heavily from above, it was midday. as i left the city, i began to feel pains in my lower back, potentially my kidneys. i had several glasses of water before departing, but this pain was nearly agonizing. i began to wonder if i was and had been carrying too much weight on my back and whether i had pulled a muscle. somewhere in jamaica plain i took a wrong turn and head been traveling on hyde park ave for a while. now i was off course, but still heading towards providence, feeling great pain in my lower back, and near one of the last (which i thought last) T-stations along the route. i had to pull off the road.

i rode into the T-station parking lot, laid my bike down behind a truck and scuttled down an embankment to urinate in the brush. yes, that happened. i had become very light-headed and dizzy, and was almost yelping in pain. it felt like 2 minutes had gone by when i was ready to sit down and contemplate things. i attempted to just focus on everything i was feeling and that was going on. gradually i felt the pain go away and a smile returned to my face. i had called my brother in consideration that i would take a train-ride to new haven and call it an end to the journey, however, i knew that i was more than ready and once again capable of completing the journey. this is why it is so important to stay constantly hydrated throughout the experience. i had probably spent too much down time without drinking water in the days in boston, and the lack of constant intake had probably gotten to me. i found my way back through main st suburbia to washington st and route 1a and stopped for lunch in dedham.

i ordered an eggplant sub and did the usual bathroom routine. when i sat down, i looked up, and was blown away. they had strategically placed a large trapezoidal mirror both directly in front of me and behind my head. this created the facade of 25+ rooms and kevin's heads in an endless pattern. i don't know how i missed it in the way in, but i smiled. after lunch, i continued along on my trip. after an hour into the trip again, i hit a small bump, but caused my first and only flat tire on the whole trip. this was bound to happen. i had never changed a flat tire before, but had seen rick do it earlier in the trip and my dad do it several times, so i felt like i could probably figure it out. i was conveniently near some trees in a candy store parking lot and spent an hour putting a new tire tube in and realigning the wheel back on the bike. major awesomeness. the tire seemed to ride okay after being filled completely with air. however, when i sat down i noticed that it seemed to be riding a little flat. oh well, i thought, it didn't slow the bike down much, and there wasn't really anything i could do about the excess weight.

the clouds started to roll in from rhode island. the appeared to be quite vicious. i pulled out my poncho again. the rain started to fall lightly along the path. the city had given almost completely away back to woodlands and marshes. the rain gently refreshed my soul, without drenching my physical being. i began to think about the tire tube. i no longer had an extra tube, as i had sent one back with rick to try to lighten some of the weight of my pack. i decided to stop at the wrentham outlets, realizing that i hadn't seen anyone biking around since probably south boston. one of the stores seemed promising, it's name was something to the degree of "active sports goods" however, when i walked into the store, it was just clothing and didn't have any bikes or bike accessories for me to ponder at. hmm, mis-representations? i met a woman from senegal in the food court who had just moved to massachusetts a year before, she was working at a fast food restaurant that actually had the term "vegan" displayed on one of the selections for the stir-fry. i wish i could speak more french better so i could've communicated with her easier..

i continued on through north attleborough, a sweet town with some cool happenings. the rain had passed, and overcast was now overhead. this was refreshing to the skin. i entered pawtucket and decided to grab a snack at a stop and shop. they have these dairy+egg free french toast stick snacks that are amazing. as i was walking out, a man who was working there asked me about my guitar. we got to talking and we shared the french toasts. i told him i was passing through and explained some of my trip. he invited me to karoake night in providence and i told him i would join. i was again rejuvenated. along this trip, each experience and the bike ride itself just constantly reassured me and rejuvenated me. zen. and hopefully rejuvenated others ;)

i stumbled upon a bike path that would lead me along the highway on a bridge to east providence. the sun was setting behind the skyline of the city. it was totally majestic. as i reached the city, painted in the road was a bike path, and i was majorly excited again for the renewed consciousness of bike existence. the neighborhood of east providence was greatly inviting. i decided to eat at the tokyo restaurant. i spent nearly two hours eating sushi, drinking green tea and talking with the chefs and my server about the city and guitars, and music. i felt and knew that my biking trip for the night was not over, it had just begun..

i received a call from matt, the friend from stop and shop. he had arrived in the city with some friends. i met them downtown and parked my bike near other bikes at as220, i have the perception that a bike is less likely to get stolen if it is with many other bikes. the karoake night was in full force. matt and his friends would scootch out of the bar to take shots in the parking lot. i won't drink. as we were outside on one of these occasions, an apparently threatening man came up to us and demanded money or he would be violent to us. one of the other guys gave him a few dollars and said that none of us had any money. he explained that the guy can get violent and that the homeless in providence can be very desperate lately. later on in the night, matt performed karoake of a marilyn manson song, which was quite intense, he was all over the bar becoming quite a front man for the time being. afterwards, it was time to leave the karoake bar because of last call.. all of us new friends said our farewells at my bike, and i was told that the safest way to leave providence is through little italy, because the mafia is said to have control during the night. just then, a huge fight broke out about 30 yards away on the corner between at least 10 people. it was time to leave, and i headed west.

the night sky was amazing. there was not a cloud in the sky. it had gotten colder. i bundled into a second sweatshirt and stopped at a gas station. i met 3 local people who were curious about what i was doing. i told them i was heading to new haven and would be traveling through the night. the advised that 'the cops around here can be assholes, but they really are nice, just make sure you have your id ready if they pull you over.. and have them give you a lift to the border, or if you are in connecticut, have them give you a lift to new haven!' they potentially offered me a place to stay, but i knew it was time to travel throughout the night. they gave me free food on the way out and wished best travels. one thing i heard repeatedly before and after the trip was that 'i could never do that, i would just die.' however, i really do feel that anyone could do this, you just have to free your mind of all obstacles.

my bare feet needed warmth. i wrapped an ace bandage around each foot to enable it to withhold body heat. it worked quite well! the roads were very dark and i would come across lakes and thick woodlands where the moon was shining and reflecting so beautifully. the roads started to become more hilly and street lights became fewer and farer in between. cars would pass by every once in a while, but it was very quiet, and the morning birds began to make sounds. the darkness of the night began to give way to some light near the horizon behind me. i was excited to see a sunrise, but the constellations above were so wonderous, i was completely content, my feet kept moving as if i know longer needed to pay attention to them, it was so natural.

the sky became much brighter. roosters began making their morning calls and i came across a lake. the sight was completely beautiful. i had to pull off to the side of the road. water vapor was rising off of all the plants, the water, and the road to greet the sun. loons and ducks took flight over the myst to fly to tiny islands in the lake. crickets and small birds talked in soft voices to each other, while the blue and light sky reflected itself off of the water's surface. i was completely amazed.

i continued on. my feet and my whole body had lost a great deal of warmth, but i was happy. it was now morning, i needed a place to warm up. i was in putnam, connecticut, and i found a dunkin donuts. i parked my bike and walked inside with my guitar on my back. a wide-awake 83-year old man asked me what kind of guitar i had as i walked into the room. we talked about guitars and taylors and then i decided that i would sit with him. i began to tell me about parts of his life, his daughters, his wife's passing and his many mistresses that followed, and his search for classic songs of the early 20th century that can't be found anywhere. his name is mo. he tells me that he is starting to have alzheimers and that his daughters are millionaires. one of his daughters isn't afraid to give people serious attitudes and 'threaten to cut co-workers balls off' if they try to give her too much work. he tells me that after his wife passed, he saw 18 different women who were either cheating on their husbands, looking for money, or both and wanted to live with him after a month of dating. what an interesting life and individual case of what falling into a lot of money can do to one's life. the conversation reaffirmed in me that the desires and pleasures that come with that lifestyle are not what i have in mind.

i left the dunkin donuts inspired and in a funny mood that can't really be described other than, i just biked through the night and met a millionaire in a dunkin donuts in rural connecticut. the sun began to get hotter again. another beautiful day lie ahead. i was again excited. however, i had acquired a sunburn and had to figure out a plan for minimizing future burning so to avoid sun sickness. i decided that willimantic would be my next stop and potential rest through the remainder of the hot sun. in the meantime, i kept my sweatshirts on as the morning warmed to block out the light rays. after some serious forest back-road action and long, long, hills, i came across a cattle farm. it was on a hilltop, and the cows were being fed outside of their plot, where they had to stick their heads through a tight fence to eat the food. i couldn't see inside of the barn where more cattle could be heard, but the whole situation gave me an eerie feeling. it was not a factory farm by any means, but i knew that these animals were being raised for our consumption, and looked like they could've had better conditions, larger fields to graze in, maybe they did, but they weren't at the moment.

several hours passed, and i arrived in willimantic. i saw a park on the side of the road with 2 really really inviting trees. i pulled off the road and undid all of my stuff and created a pillow with my sweatshirt and fell asleep immediately. the shade protected me from the sun, and it would be a few hours before i awakened.. to be continued..

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