Monday, July 16, 2012

Turning around

Tomorrow, I head west!

Having reached the farthest eastern point of my travels here in Bar Harbor Maine (next door to Acadia National Park), I am turning around and beginning the journey "home."  My trip will end soon, and my mind has already wandered off to the next great adventure.

Upon passing through New Hampshire and Vermont, I will ride through the Adirondacks of upstate New York, and say goodbye to my bicycle in Watertown, NY.  I will ship it back to California, jump on a bus and visit a few more people and places on my way to Minnesota. There, I will work once again for Thistledew Programs on a canoe trip in the Boundary Waters Wilderness area or Voyageurs National Park for 3 weeks, followed by Burning Man, followed by a return to California for the fall season at Naturalists At Large.  Next year, I am planning on hiking the Pacific Crest Trail!

My original plan entailed biking all the way back to California as well, which may still happen at some point in the future, but not at this time.  Having accomplished nearly all of the goals that I set out to, I feel fairly complete, even though I have not yet been to Michigan, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma or Texas.  And I will not accept that there is nothing to see in those places, for I have learned that there are wonderful people and beautiful things in every place.  I will be most disappointed to have missed Michigan, which I hear is beautiful, and also has many long bike paths, and also Colorado and the southwest, where I have done a fair bit of travel, but was hoping to see several old friends who I will not make it to.

The last couple of days, I spent in Bar Harbor and in Acadia National Park, being hosted and shown a great time by Chris Strout, with whom I used to work at Redcliff Ascent in Utah.  Chris is now running his own paddle-boarding business here, and is doing quite well in his first summer as a business owner.  We paddled and hiked together, and he took me out for a fantastic lobster dinner - my first whole lobster ever.

On the way here, I stayed in Portland Maine with a wonderful French/American couple who fed me rhubarb crisp, and then called her parents further up the road and arranged a place for me to camp the next night.

I stopped at a rest area on one particularly hot day, and was headed to the restroom to fill up my water bottles when I was flagged down by a group of middle-aged folks who told me the water was no good for drinking.  There were signs up which proved them right, and they offered me 2 bottles of water, a gatorade and a sandwich, all of which I accepted, and sat down to have a meal with them.  They were a group of friends traveling by Harley and car to go see some music in a nearby town.  They had been to Acadia recently, and told me of its beauty.  They applauded my bicycle trip, and told me over and over, "do it while you're young!  No sense looking back and saying "I wish I had...""  They were a bit rough and raunchy and very entertaining and kind.


Martha's Vineyard: I went out to visit Winonah, a friend from high school, whom I had not seen since high school. We were surprisingly on the same plane of thought. She revealed to me that she became obsessed with buddhism and psychology at the age of 12, told me about her daughter and her daughter's daddy, and shared lots of life philosophy. She seemed confident, mature, capable and content. Still the same person, but so much more grown-up.

Martha's vineyard is someplace I never thought I'd go. Where presidents and other rich old white people go to get away from it all. Beyond the multimillion dollar homes and yachts, the clean-as-a-whistle artificial fishing villages and everyone thundering around in their SUVs, Martha's Vineyard still has a quiet side. With trees everywhere, cute old houses tucked into the the hearts of actual towns, sunsets on the beach and the serenity of the ocean, I can see why it has been a haven for so many. The birth place of Carly Simon, James Taylor and other artists, it still holds that peaceful, creative inspiration, and I'm glad I got to see and feel it.

Boston, home of 2 world-class Universities (Harvard and MIT), and probably a dozen others of very high quality, is a town of new and old. Skyscrapers loom over downtown, while ancient ships sit in harbors waiting for tourists to board. Bricks are everywhere, as are Americans. Boston strikes me somehow as attracting more Americans that internationals. It is not quite the melting pot that LA and NYC have become, and has a long history of very American attributes. It was not as easy to bike through as DC, but easier than NYC. I stayed with graduate students, who talked about what it was like to be a graduate student in Boston, where everyone they talked to didn't have a Boston accent. Connor, from Wisconsin, felt that he would be looked down on for talking in a Wisconsin accent.

I jumped into the ocean today, just after crossing from Massachusetts into New Hampshire. It was cool and clear and extremely refreshing. The Atlantic is warm so much higher in latitude than the Pacific. There is no way I'd be jumping into the ocean in Humboldt country right now.

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