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Thursday, May 29, 2008

What I did on summer vacation

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What I did on my trip to France, by Carl Cooke. Remember those essay’s we had to do every summer in grade school? Maybe they did away with them by the time you got to school. However, every summer it was expected, sometimes having to be ready on the first day of class. Which leads me to talking about living in the past, and what exactly does that mean? Now to me living in the past mean allowing all those nasty things that happened to you while you were growing up to affect the way you live today.

But, just maybe it has to do with the nice things that happened, or maybe just attempting to fine some connection to something or someone. Going to Austria is an attempt to connect with my grandparents, the people who raised me, my mother’s parents. Going to Liverpool is an attempt to connect with my father’s parents whom shared a very small part of my life. So what would visiting these places accomplish? Is it at all productive for people search for their “roots” for so many different reasons?

What will touching the past do for them today? Maybe nothing or will it help give them a better sense of self. For me it is not, I don’t think at this point, holding on to the pass. At this point Austria will have to wait, which my trip over to France made clear. I will move on to Liverpool this year to see if I can see what that connection will bring.

Wednesday, May 21: After a night at sea the Ferry arrived at La Havre on time at 8 am. Being the first to the deck that held my bike I rode confidently in to France. Having found that the Information center was not yet open, east along the Seine was my direction of travel. Soon the flat gave way to a small slop, which just kept going up. This was not right; looking to my right I see flat level land. After a bit I’m back on the level riding along just fine.

Arriving at the first town I head to the “Information” center. It took a bit to figure out and unmarked building was the “Information” center. Upon entering I asked “English?” The answer was “Little.” After asking for a map I request that she show me where I am. “Only that far?” My answer to the question of a railroad station was answered with “Le Havre.” She puffs “But of course.” It is clear that I’m not going to get a lot of information here. So riding east is what I do. Most of the ride was along the Seine, looking up at the high chalk cliffs glad of not having to ride up them. Finally it is time to find the campground listed on the map. Stopping again at the Information center directions are drawn to the campground.

Arriving I find that no one is in the office, or the house. Finally after about an hour a car pulls up with the campground owner, she wants francs, I only have Euros. After setting up, off to the bathroom. Low and behold the toile has no toilet paper, or toilet seat, must have run out. The show has a pay box in it, so I put 10 cents in and nothing happens back to the office. She speaks no English so through hand signals I want a Douche. No don’t think so I motion washing myself. “Lava.” She says, “Follow” we walk to the buildings that hold the showers, and she points “Douche.” I smile.

Thursday, May 22: After having breakfast in a local café I ask the owner the best way to get to my next destination. She stands next to me, very close; I smell her perfume, which is very light. I inhale deeply looking at her not the map she is pointing to. She smiles, as do I, then off to the next stop. This will be one of the longest rides to date. The map tells me that it is a 66 km to Rouen where I’ll hook up to the railroad. Riding along smoothly until the bike become sluggish. This is the tell tail sigh of a flat in the making. Get off and pump up the tire then ride on which lasts about 20 minutes. Each town passed through is searched for a bike shop; there are none to be found.

Finally it is time to unload the bike and fix the flat. This takes about an hour to complete the unpacking, taking apart, putting back together, and packing. The tire is holding air that is a good sign. Ahead I see, sticking out of the treetops, the tip’s of a bridge’s towers miles away. Sticking to the flat land is for me, beginning to fear I’ll have to go over it. Traveling through traffic circle has become old hat, this one is no different, however choosing the wrong road sends me riding up hill. The hill is steep the road shoulder is narrow I’m on the way to the bridge.

As Indy would say “I don’t like this.” Looking over my shoulder a road sign tells me I’m heading the wrong way. Managing to cross four busy lanes with trucks flying by and getting back on tack is a bit harrowing. “Ah that’s better.” But it is time to pump up the tire again. Under the bridge is much better then going over it, yet still no bike shop? Now I’m heading up hill again mmm which would mean another wrong turn somewhere did shorten the ride my 20km. After a long ride Rouen comes into view, along with a bike shop where I have a new tube put on. After reaching the campground and settling in it is time to relax.

Friday, May 23: Time to spend some time exploring Rouen and getting information on the train I’ll need to take from here. There is a 9th century catherdral, which was bombed by during the war. You can see where it has been rebuilt. Rouen is where Joan of Arc was held captive, tortured, tried, and then burned at the stake. It is interesting to me that someone who was burned as a heretic, was later made into a Saint. A meal sitting at a café is so relaxing. A stop at the railroad information center for more being told, “You can’t do that.” Silly people should not be telling me that something is impossible. I am looking for a way to get to Strasbourg by train without having to box up my bike. I plan for a trip by train to Paris tomorrow to see if there is a way to do such a trip. Now back to the campground for a long nights sleep.

Saturday, May 24: Like London trains to Paris stop at one station then you have to get across town, so there are different stations to get to different parts of France. After purchasing my ticket to Parris it is time to stand and wait for the railroad to decide the arrival platform for my train. Now you may be use to knowing ahead of time what platform to go to if you are taking a train somewhere, not France. Five minuets before the train is ready to board they post the platform number then everyone have to make a mad dash for the train.

After asking where the bike car is the conductor gives me a shrug of the shoulders. “If you don’t know, who the hell does?” I think to myself. I hold a second-class ticket to they shoo me to the back of the train. The conductor blows the whistle, yells something that clearly means get on the train, so I do, but not in the bike car. After a bit an older woman comes out of car, there are automatic doors with compartment at the end of each car where the bathroom is, puffing away. She begins to tell me in French about the rider across the aisle from her who is “Blab, blab blabbing on the cell phone. She put hand in the shape of a mouth taking. She goes back to her seat; I watch her sit for a while then yell at the guy using the cell phone. Now he comes out in the compartment I’m standing.

Now this compartment I’m in is not that big, maybe 6’ by 10’ and I’m taking up most of it. This guy now stalks around like an animal in a cage back and forth, back and forth all the while attempting to call someone on his cell phone. He talks, the train enters a tunnel, and he loses his signal, back and forth, back and forth. The tunnel ends back on the phone it seems he can hear the person he is talking to. I wonder if anyone would miss him if I threw him off the train. Finally he goes back to his seat smiles at the lady who yelled at him, puts his phone away, takes it out, fidgets around. I’ve seen addicts go through withdrawal behaviors over the years; his were up there with the worst.

A nicer lady conductor manages to convey that I should sit the bike will be fine. She even gets me a seat right next to Mr. Wired. I sit he says something in French, I smile back and say “English.” He smiles and goes back to fidgeting with the phone not daring to make a call. The train arrives at St. Lazars station, after getting a map along with some brief directions, jumping on the bike to ride to the next station, mushy ride. “What the ----.” Looking down at the flat tire. Pushing a bike through Paris is not great fun let me tell you. Nor does my travels take me past any bike shop.

My destination reached, the information needed gathered that tells me the guy in Rouen did not tell me the truth. It is quite possible to travel by bike from Rouen to Paris, and then get a train from Paris all the way to Innsbook in Austria. Don’t tell me it can’t be done, there is always a way around. Wasn’t that the spirit that created America? Doing what people said could not be done. Now it is time to walk back to the other station. Without the flat I had enough time to do a little tourist stuff now I just had enough time to make the train back to Rouen.

As I’m walking this guy comes along side me and starts talking to me, just what I’m in the mood to do is chat. So he starts in French, I say “English.” “Oh” he says, “I’m German, but I speak English.” “How wonderful for you.” I think as I smile. He begins to tell this long sob story about how his car is broken down, his business is closed, and so is his bank. I look at him “You got to be kidding me. I was born and raised in New York, and your going to try to hit me up for money. This is tooooo funny.” I listen to his speech trying not to laugh. The he tells me somewhere they have him 20 pounds, which he shows me. I’m nodding my head, smiling “Really tell me more.” His smile broadens as tell me he doesn’t like to beg, but could I give him 200 euros. I stop walking turn and look him in the eyes “I’m from New York.” His smile disappears and he walks away. “Gimme a break.”

Walk all the way from the train station to the campground that is about 3km. Have dinner and fix the flat, no I’ll use the second tube I bough in England. “Oh yes, that’s right wrong stem, so that will not work.” Back to fixing the flat that when done holds air, take a little ride, yep holds air. Time to Sleep.

Sunday, May 25: Should I get to Austria or return to England. The sort of timetable was to be in Austria by now. The plan was to spend most of May traveling to Austria, however procrastination has now put me close to June which I had planned riding in the north of England. After mulling over the information gathered to this point I decide it is a great day for a ride. There is a way to ride along the Seine for quite away upon reaching the furthest point the bike becomes sluggish. “You got to be fucking kidding me.” Yep another flat, no problem I’ll just fix it, no problem at all.

Finding a nice place to sit and work well out of the way I begin to work. While working cars begin to pull up and park all around me. Put on the patch and pump up the tire. While pumping away the tire pops like a balloon. Looking up at all the faces now turned in my direction. “Oops.” “I’ll just fix another flat, what the hell.” While removing the pump from the valve, the valve breaks off. “Guess I’m not fixing the flat.” It is another nice walk back to the campground only 5km today. Tomorrow I’ll get two new tubes from the bike shop then head back to England. This year my ass isn’t killing me it is my feet.

Monday, May 26: By 9am the bike is packed up ready to be pushed back to Rouen only 3 km away. “My the town is quiet. Is it a holiday or just weird French working habits?” My plan was to reach the bike shop when it opened hopefully at 9 am. So much for plans, as it is now 10 am with no signs this place is going to open anytime soon nor where any of the other stores around. The train station is uphill on a cobble stone street, how quaint; it is also 2 km more. Purchasing a ticket to Le Havre I ask if it is a holiday. The ticket agent looks at me with a frown like what a stupid question. “No” “just asking.” I smile saying nothing.

This train is different for the one that was used to go to Paris it has bike signs on a few doors so there is no need to ask. The train reaches Le Havre in an hour and a half, it had taken me two days to ride the distance and the train did not get a flat. From the train station it is about 5 km to the dock and the Ferry. My feet are in bad shape at this point having developed some really nice blisters. Finding the dock and purchasing the ticket allows me just enough time to get something to eat at the terminal. My bike is in line nine with about nine motorcycles and two other bikers.

Returning from the terminal there are now about thirty motorcycles and about twenty bikers, mine is the only one with a flat. The Ferry begins to load, the man points to the bikes to go on. Hobbling toward the Ferry the bike riders’ wiz by me. They are held up so are still waiting to board when I reach the ship. We all have to walk the bikes on anyway so no rush. The bikes a stowed in a small area I head to, as this is the same Ferry that brought me over, to the same seat.

The Ferry arrives an hour late back in Portsmouth so it is now 10:30 pm, and about 11:00 pm when I finally limp on to the streets of Portsmouth. It is at least 7 km to the campground, 4 to the railroad terminal. On the Ferry I have doctored up my feet so it is a bit easier to walk, but very slowly. Shall I stay or shall I go back to Salisbury? I reach the platform and ask if it is possible to get a train to Salisbury, he checks. ”With two changes you’ll get there at 1:20 am. If you miss a connection there are no more until morning. Both connections give me about 10 minuets to change trains if the connecting trains are at stations without tunnels or lifts I spending the night there.

Arriving in Salisbury at 2 am with out being charged for the ride it is time to walk to the campground, which is now closed and I’ll have to tent outside until morning, or walk to the YHA. Both are about 4 km from the train station in opposite directions and it is now raining. I’ll take a chance on the Y that they will have a bed for me. Walking down the deserted street a fellow on the other side calls to me. “Are you OK buddy?” Answering in the affirmative I wait to get hit up for more money. “You looking for a place to stay?” He asks. I explain that I’ll try the Y, then the campground if necessary. He offers to give me his telephone number so I can stay at his house if there is not room at the Y. He suggests one of the hotels might be open, but that would be about it.

Trudging on through the disserted streets. “Hotel? The Y is probably not gong to let me in this late, setting up the tent in the rain is not that appealing either. Hotel?” My knock on the door of the Red Lion, an inn built in 1250, brings the night person who tells me they have no rooms. He suggests The White Heart around the corner and up the block. Another knock brings me an answer of “Yes we can accommodate you.” I point to the bike. “Bring it around back we’ll lock it in the garage.” Twenty minutes later I’m in a room with a bed, TV, shower, all those wonderful things. After soaking my feet in hot water I sleep until 10 am the next morning. .

Tuesday, May 27: My friend Mark would be proud of me. I think “What the hell.” and spend a second night in the hotel. Then I’m off for breakfast and to buy a tube for my bike. After both my travels lead me pass the movie, which is a building built in 1300 as a theater, now renovated. Entering for the heck of it I’m informed that Indian Jones starts in five minuets; it was meant to be. Back at the hotel I check out the dinner menu. “Should I?” I do and have a wonderful three-course meal. Back in my room another hot shower, more soaking of the feet, a little nosh, I sleep

This morning with a firm decision made I inform the clerk that I’ll stay yet another night. The man has gone wild his lost his marbles! He informs me there is no room at the inn I must vacate. He calls down the street to another hotel that can accommodate me, but the spell is broken, my sanity is back, thanking him as I head for the Y. The whole hotel thing is going to set me back close to $450, something I’d never, ever done before, but it was worth it. Tomorrow it is time to ride north.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Off to France

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

It is 11:19pm on a day that started at 7:00am. Heading to the harbor, after packing up my camp, and a quick trip to the Post Office again, to buy my ticket to France. Upon arriving the nice young lady behind the desk tells me it is 17 pounds to get across. The she states that the Ferry leaves at 11:00pm getting into La Havre at 8:00am the next morning, check in is at 6:00pm. I smile.

Now what to do for the next 12 hours? The bike is fully loaded, I’ve lost my bike lock, so the bike has to stay with me. What a conundrum! Cruising the town again in hope’s of finding a shop that sells locks. Looking for a coffee house that has an outside place to sit. Well here is Danny’s Espresso Coffee Cart. I do have a kryptonite “U” lock, but lost my cable lock. After Locking the bike behind the cart I’m ordering my coffee when Danny asks me if I’m from down under?

We talk while I drink my coffee. He tells my he once worked for IBM as a tech then bought this coffee business seven years ago, has never looked back. We talk about biking through France, which he has done several times. Now, however he and the misses jump on the motorcycle, on quiet weekends, and go to Paris. “Couldn’t do that working for IBM” he says. He then tells me about how he teaches his help how to make the best cup of coffee possible. Also he collects old electric appliances and repairs them. His collection make’s his home look like at antique store. By the way it really was one of the best cups of coffee I’ve had in a long time.

After purchasing another book to read I head back to the harbor. Burying my head it the book keeps my mind at bay. The reason it has taken me so long is that I’m afraid to get on the boat. As the time gets nearer, the more nervous I am getting. The Ship is now pulling out and I am scared and my stomach is in my throat, vertigo is already setting in. “Breath, keep breathing it going to be OK” I think to myself. “We are not going to sink.”

Before boarding I meet a fellow from Devon who is also going to ride his bike in the south of France. He tells me that he has wanted to do this since retiring five years ago. Things just kept coming up, but this year he is going to do it. I smile, then tell his that I happy he is doing it not waiting any longer. It is time to board and I’m thinking, “I’ll just forget about this and head home.” Then I look at this fellow; no we’re getting on this darn ship together. Our bikes are tied up and we part company as he has a sleeping compartment, while I get chair like in a airplane, only with a lot more room.

This Ferry has seven decks, four for cars, trucks, motorcycles, bikes, motor homes, Lorries, and just about any other vehicle you can think of. It is one big sucker, we are not gliding out of Portsmouth Harbor, and just passing the campground I stayed the past three days because I just did not want to get on the ship. My hope new it that I can fine my bike tomorrow morning as it is five decks below me. Then find the strength to get off the ship in a country that does not speak English.

Monday, May 19, 2008

England 2008, Four

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sunday it’s off to the Continental Docks to see about the price of a Ferry to get myself to France. Following the map takes me down main roads, which are now ridden as a local. Other riders are still passing me by, but hey I’m on vacation. Following the map does not get me there, so time is spent talking to a fellow cyclist, and getting directions. He tells me he just gave directions to another bloke, who is heading to the continent on his bike for two months.

Upon arriving at the ports the security office tells me where to put the bike while inside the terminal. There are at least twenty lanes for car, trucks etc. to line up on. Only ten seem to be in used today. Inside the terminal there is only one counter open. “You need to go to the LD counter, which will open at 3pm,” the clerk tells me it is Noon. At the counter I find a flyer stating there is only one trip a day to La Havre, which leaves at 3pm, arriving at 8pm. “It will be night when I get there, how will I find the campground?” I think. Then remind myself that I still have three hours of light left when I arrive.

Heading back to the campground I allow myself to become a tourist. Yep! Now in previous trips here being a tourist was the last thing on the agenda. Since buying the book to read has put to rest one silly thought process it was time to put another one down. I stop at the birthplace of Charles Dickens, cruse High St concourse, then go to the old dock. Kind of like Mystic Sea Port, but much older. They were building ships here before Mystic Connecticut was a gleam in anyone’s eye.

Here is the first Iron Clad the British build, which was the fastest, and most heavily armed in the world at the time. Then comes to Admiral Lord Nelson’s HMS Victory. This is the ship he won the battle of Trafalgar with, which also got him killed. The tour shows you exactly where he died of wounds from a wood splinters that were created by a French cannon ball, but the French fleet was defeated. They have this huge room where the sail used in the battle, or what is left of it is displayed. Unlike the US Constitution, HMS Victory is in a dry dock, so the much of this ship would be under water it is amazing.

On my way back to the campground a huge crowd of people all in Blue and White blocks my way. Blue and white flags are being waived, people are standing on mailboxes, lampposts, ladders, and pointing at something down the street. There must be 2000, to 3000 if not more people here. They are shouting, blowing horns, screaming slogans and singing a thyme song. When I arrived on Saturday Portsmouth Football (Soccer to you) has just won some big game. Evidently, they were now home and I had stumbled into a parade for them. I keep walking through the crown and am amazed at the backing this team has.

Cars play some tune on their horns, which sets off screams, thumbs up, and any number of displays. Walking, there is no way I can ride in this, from behind me band drums begin to play, I turn heading toward the sound. I watch as the people begin to part like the Red Sea before Moses. To my amazement motorcycle police, then police cars, then the band, and then double Decker buses, all no more then three feet from me, bearing the team go by. I am caught up in the cheering which has become contagious. There they are holding out the silver cup, you can see the pride in their faces.

I have never been so caught up in the moment, nor witnessed an event like this before. As the busses pass people begin to run after them. They are shouting, yelling, screaming, laughing, bounding up and down, skipping, you name it they are doing it to show how happy they are. I am tempted to run with them, just be swept along. However, the bike is now doing well in the throng of people I now find myself in. People are running into it, there is not pushing or shoving, most apologize for hitting it. It is a defining moment for this trip. I am glad to be here, glad to have been part of this, maybe even on the news again as the TV cameras in the first bus was pointed right at me as it passed.

Further along there is a large screen TV set up, the team is on stage being introduced one by one. The crowd is going absolutely nuts, yet there is not looting, no cars being set on fire, no killings that I’ve heard of. These people are proud of their team and are showing it with out violence. Just a great big party, all are happy, many are intoxicated; police keep a low profile the whole thing is just wonderful to watch. I have some Fish and Chips to celebrate attempting to say out of wind as I eat.

It is cold today, to me any way, but not to those who live there. I remember this weather from Long Island, when I thought this was warm. Living in Arizona has certainly changed my internal temperature gage. Since the operation I have been less able to find anything under 70 warm, when it was once hot for me. It is about 50 in the mornings here, not getting above 65 during the day. It is time for warmer climes.

Today I attempted to send home some stuff I have not used since I got here. Bought a nice little box to hold it, packed it up, taped up the box, look how nice that looks. Bring it to the Post Office, stand on line, hand it to the nice lady behind the counter. She looks at me and says “Oh my. This is very expensive. The cheapest way will cost you 38 pounds.” I smile. That’s $76, remembering it cost me an extra $80 to get this stuff I just had to have here. “If you make two packages out of it, it will cost less, 11 pound a package.” I’m still smiling. Let see $44 to send home about $15 dollars worth of stuff.

Tomorrow I am packing up, heading to the dock to wait until 3 pm so I can get to France. I think I have procrastinated enough.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

England 2008, Three

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Saturday, May 17, 2008

It is Saturday! No way! What happen to Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday? Lets see Wednesday was spent riding around town, picking up some last things for the trip, then sitting in a Pub checking on line. Left Salisbury on Thursday heading toward Winchester, of Winchester Cathedral fame; never made it. Some how ended up south of Winchester, almost to Southampton, on the edge of the New Forest. Spent the night on a working farm that also doubles as a caravan park; campground. While cooking my dinner my thoughts wandered around the reasons for this third trip. Find family roots in Austria and England are the reasons found, along with the possibility that there may be some deep new inner understanding of me to find.

Well O.K. that’s a reason to do this; I guess. However, there is not deep burning need to do this that matches the flame of the prior two years. Riding with cars and trucks zipping by with in a couple of feet of me my mind thinks what if something happened. How much would I miss? How much would I be missed? There are other ways to accomplish the ends with out risking live and limb. For what this is costing I could fly to Austria, take a bus to the town my grandparents grew up in. Same thing with Liverpool, however, why?

The question is why? Will that bring me any closer to my grandparents? I lived with them, they are still with me, so why? As I sit in Portsmouth I come up with no answers. I could be on a Dice trip, or a camping trip with my son, or going to S. Dakota with my Daughter, or doing nothing at all. Yeah I could be just doing nothing, depending on your definition of nothing. One of the saying we used in therapy was the doing nothing was doing something.

Anyhow, about a mile from the farm the bungee cord from my pannier gets wrapped around the gears. After about an hour its fixed and off we go, what, a flat tire. After all I had done to the bike to prevent this? Was not a flat the valve broke? No problem that’s why I dragged an extra inner tube from America with me. I unload the bike, get the wheel off, low and behold the tube I brought with me has a hole in it. I patch it, and then find another hole, what the hell?

Inquiring, at the only store on this back road, no store for 3 kilometers, which is about 2 miles. I figured I road about 40 miles yesterday, so today I walk. Up on arriving at the Lyndhurst information center I’m informed that here is no bike shop in this town. The next town over, 4 kilometers has one, oh joy. Where is the nearest campground? You’d have to go about 2 kilometers in the opposite direction, of course, it that kind of day.

Wait the annoyed Information person says, “There’s a bike rental shop around the corner why don’t you see if he can help.” Arriving at the bike rental shop the man who runs it say’s “I don’t fix flats. Here come on in lets have a look. Here you by the tube and fix it here in the shop.” With the flat fixed I am pointed toward the “campground.” This campground is also a working farm. “We have no trimmings” which means a field with an outhouse, and a water faucet on a post.

Now it’s Saturday, down the road to catch a train to make up time. I reach the station, which is unmanned. You have to go down a set of stairs to get to the track. Unloading the panniers from the bike, down the steps we go. When the bike is down and reloaded I find an information call box. After pushing the button the nice person on the other end tells me that a train will be stopping in about 10 minutes, “but your on the wrong side of the tracks.” I smile. By the time I get every thing back up the stairs the train pulls up to the station. It will be four hours before the next train stops here. I ride on.

Riding through New Forest was not on my “bucket list” yet it was interesting. Deep, dark green woods, moors of brown, birds, and horses complete with horseshit everywhere. Cars are flying down this road with horses wandering about. When passing the horses raise there heads looking at me as if to say “I’d get you there faster with a lot less effort.” Yeah but I can’t take you on the train.

Upon reaching (town) I head directly to the train station. “You going on the train with your bike? After answering in the affirmative the gentleman who asked say’s “You have to go up the stairs and over to the next platform.” “Up the stairs? I ask. “yes, I’ll help you. You take the front I’ll take the rear.” So up we go, half way. He says “I have to go take care of this train wait here.” Like I’m going to anywhere. He leaves two other people come along and up we go. It takes three people to get the bike up the stairs.

Now this train person comes back. He tells me that when he was 61 he rode all over Spain “Tuned me right up it did. The first couple of days I thought I’d die, but them up and down the hills with no problem. I had a trailer on the back of my bike, aluminum one nice and light. How long you going to be here? After I tell him he said “You could borrow it if you want. I’ll give you my number and when you get back this way you can use it for the rest of your trip.” He gives me a paper with his name and number I give him mine.

So that’s it, that pretty much what happened and what I’ve been thinking. I sitting in a pub again, to get on the internet. In the background are American oldies blaring, with some girl, who should not give up her day job, howling, like a dog at the moon, to them. Time to sleep.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Monday, May 12, 2008

First night in tent went fairly well. Got a bit chilly, but sleeping bag took care of that. Went to sleep listening to the birds singing, when I woke this morning they were singing again, surround sound birds. Bike is getting its tune up, while I attempt to again find a hotspot that this computer will hook up to.

I think I’ll head south tomorrow to look for a ferry to France. Spent some time chatting with a fellow this morning. He told me camping in France is great, that the weather there is a bit more stable then England. “Head to the South if you can, warm by the Mediterranean. Back to the bookstore to check out some more maps.

The weather has been beautiful so far. Sunny, warm, light breeze, people in the parks laying in the grass. Green, green green abounds along with flowers of every color. All weekend the parks were littered with bodies, kids running, jumping and playing.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hung out here one more day, just riding around town, doing some adjusting to my bikes equipment. Ice seems to be working keeping things cold, however it was a bit cool today. Went to the town market again, nice fresh fruit, see picture, fresh cheese, and bread. I just noticed something to day. There are no school buses in Salisbury! Have not seen a one. I’ll have to check this out as I ride around. All the children here ware school uniforms. Even the little kids going to day school have a uniform.

Bought a book to read. For the past two years while here not book. You have things to do, places go don’t need no stinking book. Well that changed today; since I’m on vacation I can have a book if I want one. Silly how we create rules for our lives like we don’t have enough of them already. So I am going to sit in my lounge chair, sleeping mattress, chair cushion thing and ready my book.

Cooked my first breakfast today, glad I wrote this need to go to the store, which turned out fairly well. Needs a little adjustment, like butter to keep things from sticking. Made a cup of coffee also to go with my breakfast. You’re probably wondering why I would write about making breakfast? Well cause it’s a big event, cooking on my new stove, with my new pots. There is an ooops here. Open my pots to find a gas canister neatly tucked inside. Not a good thing to bring on the airplane.

So far I’ve lightened my load my about 10lbs, more to go. Sent home some stuff today, with more to follow before I leave England. I think I have accumulated about 5lbs of nuts and bolts for my bike. Am I a pack rat or what? Now my friend Gary said things go away as you travel, and only what you need comes to you. I must be pretty needy, like a freaking magnet. So everything I don’t use in the next two days is going to Goodwill.

France has a shit load of waterways. This is wonderful! The train is not far from the waterways. So I can ride the towpaths, jump on a train and get to where I’m going. Sure sound easy doesn’t it? We’ll see in a couple of days. I have also found campgrounds all over France, some look like amusement parks. The first campground in France will be etretat about 15 miles from the Ferry terminal. So I think I will stay here one more day, Wednesday, then head to Portsmouth on Thursday. Really I am.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Part II

Sunday, May 11, 2008

So what did you do today? Well for starters I moved from the YHA to the campground. Up on arriving out comes the tent, carefully laid it out over the ground cloth, then the poles; no poles. NO POLES? Casually looking around, keeping panic at bay, my head already thinking Time to go home, no poles. Well I guess I’ll just have to buy another tent to keep my tent in.

Maybe they were left in my bag that is now so nicely hidden in the bike shed at the YHA. Back to the YHA to find that the office just closed and will reopen in two hours. I’m smiling, yes I am. A figure whizzes by the window. Does the “Bee Line” ring a bell? After catching him in mid-step I explain that I think I dropped something in the bike shed. What did I drop you ask? . . . . KEYS, yep keys droppedem. “No problem mate.”

I unlock the bike shed, as I pull out my suitcase from it’s hiding place a voice asks “Did you find your keys?” Caught red handed standing there with suitcase in hand. “No still looking” is my response. “I’ll be upstairs just put the keys on the counter when your done.” Upon opening the suitcase my hand reaches in to find the tent poles hiding there. They are keeping company with a couple of belts. You ain’t seen happy like this I’ll tell you that.

Why the stealth you may wonder? Well I was hiding the suitcase there so I don’t have to drag it all over Europe. Everything has been transferred in to the panniers so I needed a place to stow the suitcase till I’m ready to go home. The young man asks no questions about the bag as I thank him for helping me out. So now is back to the campground for the tent raising.

I am happy that I have kept the monster of fear from planting doom and gloom in my mind. I am getting better at not catastrophizing events that are just a dot in time.

Like now being able to connect to the Internet at Starbucks, as I have been in the last two years. So I can connect in a Pub instead, however the pub connection costs me $20 for an hour. My air card will cost me 99 cents per minute, so right now getting on the Internet is an expensive adventure. T-mobile only costs $40 per month for unlimited access from a hotspot. Starbucks is a t-mobile hotspot that this computer appears not to like.

This is the third laptop I’ve owned, and the second one that is a real Junker. Upon my return I am purchasing a Compaq, then sending this Junker back to Acer. I am reducing aggravation in my life, which includes not getting frustrated by a computer. The Compaq I had worked every time (commercial with some soap boxing)

Monday, May 12, 2008

First night in tent went fairly well. Got a bit chilly, but sleeping bag took care of that. Went to sleep listening to the birds singing, when I woke this morning they were singing again, surround sound birds. Bike is getting its tune up, while I attempt to again find a hotspot that this computer will hook up to.

I think I’ll head south tomorrow to look for a ferry to France. Spent some time chatting with a fellow this morning. He told me camping in France is great, that the weather there is a bit more stable then England. “Head to the South if you can, warm by the Mediterranean. Back to the bookstore to check out some more maps.

The weather has been beautiful so far. Sunny, warm, light breeze, people in the parks laying in the grass. Green, green green abounds along with flowers of every color. All weekend the parks were littered with bodies, kids running, jumping and playing.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

England 2008

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Catching up while sitting in a Pub on the Internet having a Lamb and Mint burger.

Sometimes you just have to smile, going with the flow, wondering why there is a need to get excited over an event that is over and gone in a few minuets.

So the plane takes off on time, arrives on time, I get to the next plane just as it is beginning to load, take off on time, land on time. New terminal South instead of North, confused, grrrrrr, get through customs, get bag all is well.

Delta is great, roomy planes, good food, and nice people. I sit next to Diane on the way to England. She is semi-retired, lives around Tampa, and is headed to Italy for a week, then to NY, then to somewhere else. One noisy kid a few seats up who screams for no reason apparent other then she can, grrrr. This year I use the bus which is less expensive and ends up close to the YHA in Salisbury. Large man gets on the bus, sits next to me, grrrrrrr, he gets a seat and a half, I get a half. Bright side he doesn’t smell!

Arriving in Salisbury I’m reminded of the first time I arrived at this bus station spending about an hour wandering around. Now off I go with out a wink, happy to be back in this town. My suitcase has a pull out handle, which promptly falls apart, grrrrrrrrrr. The manufacture must have expected this, as there is a back up handle sown on. On the trip two zippers have broken, a piece of cardboard has poked two holes in the material, grrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

After procuring a bed at the YHA its off to the train station to see if my bike is still there. Here is a picture of it still tied to the bike rack, nothing missing, not even a flat tire. However it is covered with what I think is diesel grit from the train. My pants will get dirty riding it, Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Heading out of the train station, my phone rings there is no chance this is anyone but my daughter yep it’s her. Back to the YHA, but first a stop at Pound Land for some stuff to clean up the bike. Oh, a quick stop at the bookstore to check out the maps I’ll need.

My clean bike stands beside me as I have dinner, sitting on a bench along side the river Avon. Beautiful day, soothing water, the birds are singing, all is well.

MMMMMMM this is Saturday, I arrived on Thursday what did I do with Friday? I did nothing, well almost nothing. I spent the better part of the day sewing another trunk for my bike. Mark had bought me a front pannier mount that fits this bike just great. So there is now a trunk front and back. Also watched T.V. and took a nap in the sun, yep I did. Today was town market day that is great fun to wander through.

Riding down one street there was need to do a double take. Low and behold walking down the street was Ainhoa. She is the woman from Spain that I met here last year. We make plans to hang out tomorrow. This year I have met Christina from Germany. She is on a “walkabout” to decide what to do with her law degree.

Today lunch is under a tree while pursuing a rail map of Europe. I’m picking a route to Austria. So pretty much I have not accomplished a whole lot by most peoples standards.

However, I think I have accomplished a great deal.

Oh yes then there are the cows. My ride today takes me past a herd of cows, like I don’t get to see cows in Arizona. I stop. The whole freaking herd comes over to the fence to stare at me. Slowly some approach the fence, I move, they jump back. I am inspected, like some alien from outer space by a herd of cows! As I move along the cows behind me move up to the fence. I stop; I back up, and they move away from the fence. I move toward the fence they back up, I step back from the fence they move toward it. Their noses are working overtime trying to smell me. One is brave enough to sniff my extended fingers. It jumps back shaking its head as if to be rid of the smell. Screw you cow I smell better then you do. They follow me up and down the fence.

I say no more, make of it what you will, but I had a darn good time with the cows.

Tomorrow the bike will be fully loaded as it is ridden to the campground. Time to try out the new tent and cook stove. Monday I’m having the bike overhauled in an attempt to prevent a break down. So I’m thinking I’ll hit the road my Tuesday for more adventures.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

$80.00 Somethings got to go!

So Mark drops me off at Skyharbor. My bag is a tad heavy, just a tad, can't figure out why? Lots of time spent thinking about what is in it, where did all this extra weight come from? At the check in counter low and behold the freakin bag weights 72lbs. WHAT? NO WAY!
Yep way. The attendant smiles, holds out his hand "Eighty dollars" please. Smiling I hand him my debit card. After he collects the money he says "You know your allowed two bags. If both bags were more then 50lbs it would only cost you $25." My smile covers what I am thinking.
We arrived at the airport around 8am, and by 8:15am I have been through security, and now am seated with my Wendy's breakfast. While eating I'm still trying to figure out how my bag has grown since my first trip two years ago. It seems like the bag should be smaller not larger. After buying lighter cookware, smaller stove, plus other changes it supposed to be smaller, yet it is not.
Well I guarantee it will be when I head home, yet somethings got to go!
See you in Atlanta.