Saturday, November 27, 2010

Home to Ithaca, Greetings and Thanks!

Well, here I am, again at the very site that I departed on August 23rd.  It was about 100 yds down the hill from the co-op house on Elm Street that I realized, "wait, this is where the trip started.  this must be the end of my trip!!"  I pulled in, soaking wet, after dark, to be greeted by the smell of dinner being prepared, and more familiar faces than I'd seen in months.  Turned into quite the welcome celebration, and it really felt like coming home.

I'll summarize the end of the trip, but my main hope for this entry is to give some gracious energy to every living being and situation that contributed to the goodness of my bicycle journey!

So, after almost a week in Clinton and some good visiting, I packed my bags again and hit the road.  Actually I packed the bags a little too much.  It would seem that the only thing I added was a full backpack to my packs, but I'm guessing I had about 60 lbs (up from ~35).  Poor decision #1.  Poor decision #2 was to choose Monday to travel (there were things to be done on sunny Sunday, but still ...) - when I knew there would be rain.  Sure enough, I hadn't even gotten out of Clinton before it began to sprinkle ... got the plastic bags out as the sun came up, and I realized I had set myself up for the most challenging day of travel yet - 85-90 miles with twice the normal weight, finger lakes hills, and chilly rain.  It took until about 30 miles before I finally got into a groove where I could feel good about what was going on.
Knowing Ithaca was at the end of the ride made the whole day quite possible.  Stopped at both Greenstar food co-ops in town, already seeing friends and familiar faces!  I was rather spent when I finally made the top of the hill, and ready to rest for a good long time.

My goal had been to get to Ithaca for Thanksgiving at my aunt Barb's house in Erin.  Turned out I helped to move a friend's piano to her house on the way!  Barb's is the quaintest home imaginable, with an A-frame cabin, wood stove, loft bedrooms, stone counters, delicious food and herb smells, chicken and turkey raising, woods, Tarzan the cat, Chauncey the dog, and one Jasz (storyteller and hunter/trapper extraordinaire).  The addition of a warm-sounding piano to the mix was just perfect.  Thanksgiving was as swell as ever, 34 people this year, darned good food, but of course all too short a time.

Now I'm staying in the guest room of the Elm St Co-op, where I had lived for almost 2 years.  2 nights here and 2 fantastic feasts/celebrations!  I'm of course confronted with actually deciding what happens with my life from here ....  To put it briefly, I have some traveling left in me, but my Achilles(es ... plural) need(s) some serious resting, and there are many people to catch up with here, exciting interests to explore, and it's just a nice place to hibernate/dream for the winter.  Looking into getting to the Pacific Northwest, and also some time in "the south."  Maybe with bike, maybe on foot, with some help from trains.  I'll put any traveling plans in the blog here ... even if it won't be bicycling.

But more importantly, onto the giving of thanks!!  This is in the form of a roughly chronological/geographical list, with some time/place-unspecific gratitude thrown in.  I imagine a map/timeline of my full route would make this easier to follow, so that may be in a forthcoming entry.  Here goes:

- first and foremost, I need to thank every single person who wished me safety.  that means you who are reading this, because I felt total support and blessings from all around.  most everyone I talked to, briefly or longer, looked me in the eye and said "Be Safe," or "Safe Travels."  I just had way too much positive support to even imagine that there could have been an accident.  In fact, the worst/only fall I had was on Day 2 in a parking lot, when, with my first push of the pedal, I got jammed up in the front fender and fell exactly sideways onto the gravel.  Must've looked pretty funny!  So thank you for wishings of safety.

- along similar lines, thank you to every single driver who passed me and did not hit me.  Most of you were indeed quite gentle and amazingly considerate of my presence on the road!  I send thanks also to those of you who passed more closely and quickly, because you knew your abilities and kept us all safe in the end.

- thank you to everyone who empowered me to get on the bike and dive into the wild paved yonder - John R and Aaron M for initial encouragement; Glenn S for the bike/gear and loads of advice; fellow down at Cayuga Cycles for his advice; Dan T for the helmet, riding bibs, and sleeping pad, plus coffee and advice; Brad and Monica for encouragement, stories, advice, tire irons, and a pair of gloves (which I lost more promptly than I can even admit); Ellen for keeping Dancing Turtle alive; members of "That House," who tended the home fire, and in fact tended its brilliant growth; Nathan and Julie for the filter and support; Mom and Dad for encouragement, minimal worrying, and keeping me honest about checking in; Barb for her protection; Everybody who came to my sendoff celebration (PM and AM) - talk about making a guy feel loved!

- Into the first days of the trip, thank you to Kelly and Frank for housing and feeding me in Weedsport after Day 1!; to George and Diane for the bed, food, entertainment, maps, and full moon in Caz; Mom  and Dad again, for helping me charge up and heal for a few days; Dad for the pump, and the gloves (this pair lasted a little longer); John C for pedaling/fit assistance

- Thanks to the railroad volunteer who guided me to a camp site just before the Adirondacks; to the friendly folks at the Inlet bike shop for air, conversation, advice, and well-wishings; Henry for some swift riding companionship, inspiration, plus a nice tenting setup; Blue Mtn Museum for letting me play the piano in the lobby; forked lake campsite attendant for suggestion on where to find a lean-to

- Thanks to all the bears and hungry creatures who left my food to me, all trip long.  To whatever powers heard and honored my requests for safety and peace every single night.

- Thank you to Phil and Heidi for stopping to visit at the Wild Center (and for the map, though I didn't end up using it!);  to the Wild Center for teaching such important ecology, etc, in such a relevant and fun way;

- Many thanks to everybody who offered directions and suggestions along the way!  I didn't necessarily use all of them, but I was set more on track with options, and uplifted by everyone's willingness to help.

At this point, I need to get to sleep ....  Part 2 of this Thanksgiving will be soon to come.

In another upcoming entry, I'll give some stats for the trip and assess whether some goals were met (I had goals, believe it or not!!)

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