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Friday, June 27, 2008

After England 2008


That's what the place is called that people continually return to after any outing. Home after vacation, funeral, shopping, hospital, or a walk in the park is there waiting to give comfort. I've had several "Homes" in my life which causes me to wonder if they are still my home? The house lived in growing up was in Wyandanch NY, the house my kids came home to after birth was in Ronkonkoma NY, then the house of healing in Lake Havasu AZ, there were several houses in Kingman AZ, sort of a house in Clairmont CA during the divorce, then Phoenix AZ during my second career, lastly the current one in Flagstaff AZ. Actually there were several house in these towns, but there seems one that was really "home." There were a few that were shared with girlfriends that were called "home," but never felt like it.
Salisbury in England feels like home even though the "Home" it self is currently in the next room waiting to be used again; a tent. Walking down the streets of Salisbury is a comforting as returning to the building called home. That brings us to the present. After spending a week in Phoenix at my children's homes I'm back in Flagstaff. Work that creates the money for my journeys to England are calling. This home needs some fixing up and cleaning up so it complies with the rules of the community. Why it is in such disrepair is a whole story in itself, which maybe I'll write about some time.
So the demands of come crowing around after six weeks of doing only things thought of. Now the goals thought about for this last trip were not reached. Some might consider that failure, some just the way life is. For me it is personal growth and learning that not completed goals represent. Next year the goals will still be there if I chose to chase them, or maybe a new one will come along. One semi new goal that is circling around is riding from one end of England to the other, like Paul did. Maybe a trip of only riding, no trains, would certainly be interesting. Or, who knows maybe someone will step up to ride with me which would be a completely new experience.
Upon returning home questions are asked about the trip which at times are hard to answer.
"Did you have fun?"
This is a difficult question because of the person asking context abound the word "fun." Is it fun to ride 77 miles on a bike in the rain fearful of falling into a canal? Is it fun to ride up a steep hill on a bike weighting about 100 pounds? Is it fun to ride with cars flying by only a few feet from you? Now I don't consider these things fun in the context of something that brings on a smile or laughter. However on completion there may be a sense of accomplishment, or a beautiful view, or some new insight in one's self which does bring on a smile of laughter. I have never defined doing physically strenuous things as "fun," or rewarding in the doing. The end result was usually relief that it was done and over with.
There are times when the views or insights become over shadowed by the volume of physical output. Those are the times when the question "What the hell am I doing this for?" would not be asked if it were "fun." The answer to that question is hard to find during those times. So it is left in the recesses of the mind to mull over. Then when it is time to go home there is a review of the whole trip which gives the answer. It was rewarding at so many levels and that is why I continue to ride in England and now Europe year after year. How could it ever become boring?
"What did you get, learn or experience on this trip?"

This is asked in connection to what was gotten, learned or experience on previous trips. Some of which was quite unexpected. The first trip allowed for a revival of my spirit and spiritual self back. The second trip revived my sence of a physical self back. This trip difficultly connected those two trips to give me the belief in self back. Each year all the decisions of what will be done next are made solely by me.

Friday, June 20, 2008

England 2008 Final

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Heading home tomorrow, yep that’s it for this year. Yesterday I received an email from my former wife that talked about a cousin of mine in one sentence, then in the next a sentence that said, “Vic died last week.” I go into shock because I only know one Vic and that’s my brother-in-law. It is 9 am here that would make it about 2 am in Arizona. Who can I call, why hadn’t anyone called me. I have pictures of my sister grieving along with her daughters. I need to get home now, so I call the airline and change my departure to tomorrow.

I go to a church to sit and think there a lady comes over and tells me there is going to a funeral in about half an hour “Your welcome to stay” says she. She tells me it is sad because he as a popular fellow in town driving home from work. Someone pulled out to pass and hit him head on. Having seen the way people drive on these narrow two lane roads I wonder why there aren’t more head on collisions. I’m killing time until I can get hold of someone in the states to tell them I’ll be home on Sunday. I watch the Hearst, which is reminiscent the old horse drawn Hearst of the 1800’s, pull up. It has large windows in the back allowing for full view of the coffin. The coffin is certainly of that time period as it appears to be made of gloss lacquered white wood narrow at the top then expanding for the shoulders, then feathering down to be narrow at the feet just like some of the coffins seen in period movies.

I’m amazed at the simplicity of it quite unlike the hermetically sealed 100-pound monsters the dead received in America. The procession is the minister, then the undertaker complete with silver topped walking stick and then six pole bears who lift the coffin onto their shoulders fold their hands in front of them, all walking in cadence into the church. All except for the minister are in long back coats with tails and top hats. As I was leaving the church I got to see a picture of the gentleman who was being carried in and he was quite a happy looking stout fellow with a large red nose.

Finally about four hours later I get hold of my son and my mother. No one has died, all are well, and Carol and Vic are still in California. Relief floods over me, as my brother-in-law is a pretty important person in my life. My daughter calls I tell her about the email her mother sent. She tells me I need to reread the email, only this time read it. I say I read it and it say’s something about a cousin I have on idea who she is talking about, and then it says, “Vic died last week.” I hear my former wife saying something in the background. My daughter tells me that the Vic who died is my cousin’s husband. I’m racking my brain trying to figure out who the hell Vic is. Finally they explain who this Vic is related to using the correct name of my cousin. He is someone I met maybe two or three times thirty years ago married to a cousin I’ve not seen in that number of years.

The night before I had figured out how much I would save if I went home on Sunday, so the wheels were in motion, the email just gave it a push. So today I packed up my stuff and headed back to the YHA where I’ll spend the evening then go down to the train station, where my bike is already tethered, to head to Gatwick. My bag was still in its hiding place in the bike shed and in packing it I find that I can’t get everything into it. I’m confused; I have less stuff then when I got here, but can’t get it in the bag. Well I had planned to have two bags anyway based on the advice received from the Phoenix check in guy. On my way one of the streets usually used was blocked with a trailer advertising “Free Bike Check.” I smile.

A fellow comes over whom, after some conversation, is a police office named Will. We have a pleasant chat about riding to the “Stones” for the equinox, how I fell in love with Salisbury from the first, and that Salisbury along with Wiltshire “county” are the second safest places in England. There was a murder here about a week before I arrived, which I think he said was the first one in three years. I though of Flagstaff where there are sometime three or four murders a year, or Phoenix where there are god knows how many. Salisbury is about the same population as Flagstaff. We talk about the youth and their “Antisocial behaviors” that’s what is called over here which I think is a darn good description.

I’ve had a lot of nice conversations with people this year. Some I remembered to get names, some who’s names I forgot before I could get them written down, like last evening standing an talking with one of the caretakers of the campground who lives up north. He tells me of campground over here that have more then one hundred vans, hikers and cars waiting to be let in when the gates open at noon. Or, Carol who when I arrived two nights ago promptly brought me over a hot cup of tea while I put up my tent, then came over this morning to say goodbye. The fellow who has only had six flats tells me of the wonderful life going from campground to campground then riding around the area. We talk a little as I’m making breakfast then he wishes me luck hoping we meet again next year. I hope we do to, so as Jimmy Durantie used to sing at the end of his TV show “…Till we meet again…” or Roy Rogers “Happy trails to you until we meet again…”

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

On Sunday, June 15, 2008 I’m up at 5 am, arrive at the train station at 6 am boarding the train at 6:30 am. I meet a mother and daughter from California who were staying at the YHA also and are on their way to London. Alexia is the daughter who is enrolled in a program here in England studying psychology and Neurology. When she is finished off to Yale to complete the program. Mother’s name was Pamela visiting England and hanging out with her daughter. We spend time talking about the mental health system in Arizona and California. The train station is right to the terminal at Gatwick and in less then a half hour I’m through customs relaxing at the gate with coffee in hand.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

There are no birds singing! For six weeks the sound of birds singing would greet me when I woke. For six weeks the sound of birds singing would lull me to sleep. They are there in my mind singing away, but not in reality. Waking up with a cool breeze causing the tent to rustle, stepping out of the tent on to grass damp with dew, all the beautiful greens and flowers, riding along the road with no need to hurry, meeting new people daily are just of the few of the things that I look forward to doing again next year.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

England Eight 2008

Sunday, June 08, 2008

When to the service at the Cathedral this morning and was blessed by a sermon from Archbishop Desmon Tu Tu. The Cathedral was packed to overflowing which is a lot of people as this is one big place. The sermon was a simple one the message of God’s love for the human race, unconditional. Given by him, coming for a background of Apartheid, it was as if it were a new message that issued forth from his love for all people. Then he was installed as a Cannon of Salisbury Cathedral. He told of a person refusing a Cannonicy because of his last name, which was Ball. Then explained that the bishop had to fire Cannon Ball some time later. During the service the choir that was made up of the church’s choir and the high school choir from Cape Town South Africa. It was quite a moving experience. Spent the rest of the day getting ready for tomorrow I ride a new ride with new hills and scenery.

Speaking of hills yesterday, Saturday May 7, I decided to go for a ride that ended up connecting my first trip here to the present along with my interactions with hills. The other day I had written to my friend Mark that there was magic in riding over a hill. My bike was purchased in Amesbury, the next town north of Salisbury, on the first visit here. After purchasing the bike it had to be ridden back to Salisbury. My mind had a picture of me jumping on the bike and riding back as I rode when younger. Well that picture quickly disappeared and you can read about it in the prior post. However, today’s ride was a recreation of that first ride plus more. The more was that is in order to recreate the ride there was a need to get to the starting point Amesbury.

So this morning I rode non-stop to Amesbury via a different route then the one I’d use coming back. Riding through Amesbury I noticed the changes to the town beginning my copy of the original ride. This time my mind did not lie to me, no stopping, no huffing and puffing, just riding from start to finish passing the places where on the original ride I had to stop and catch my breath. Up the hills not in the lowest of low gears on the bike, down the hills, sometimes breathing hard, but no huffing and puffing. Sometimes it takes peddling just fast enough to not fall over, but it gets it done. People still pass me by and that’s O.K. cause that’s not my ride this is my ride. The magic of looking up and seeing the top of the hill is near, knowing you did it on your own and the way you wanted to.

This is magic that gives renewal to the spirit, and the knowledge that you can ride up most of the hills, sometimes you have to walk up, and some times it is OK to just go around them, and sometimes you take the train, if that doesn’t work you just don’t go. It is not failure; it may be just taking the road less traveled, or a road different from the one you said you were going to take, or knowing I gave it a good shot.

After my ride it was time to go to the Salisbury Festival and watch the town folks have a smashing good time. Carpets out, tables up covered with food and wine, relaxing in their chairs. They have little shopping cart things that they wheel it all in on. People dancing and laughing all around me, kids running and playing without fear. The entertainer’s this year were all from Africa so the music had a very different flavor. No matter what was played the town’s people danced. Then I looked over to a group of people walking along in front to the cathedral.

It was Archbishop Desmon Tu Tu not many realized it was him. I placed myself in the path just as he came by and shook his small, warm hand after giving me his blessing he walked on. It was a very moving moment; he touched my heart with his few words. African children hand in hand with Salisbury children roam, danced, and laughed. Ending with a traditional fireworks display over this 750-year-old cathedral; only the stones could talk what tails they could tell.

Friday, May 6, 2008, having been able to purchase one of the last tickets I entered the cathedral for a performance of the Rainbow Choir. There was no way to see the choir from my seat, yet I did not have to see, just to hear was enough. The beautiful voices of the young people from Cape Town blended with the choir from the cathedral, supported by the local orchestra filled the ears, no need for eyes. The beauty of the sound brought tears to my eyes along with peace to my spirit.

This turned out to be a weekend of renewal of inner strength and spirit. As my friend Gary says, “Allow the day to happen in its own way and what gifts can come if you are present to them.” This really rang true as opening my eyes each morning knowing something was going to happen all I had to do is be present, aware of the here and now. Such blessing would come my way totally given by free for the witnessing.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Writing in a Library in Gillingham not on my list of places to go. Then why am I here you ask? Well on Monday June 9, 2008 after vacating the campground at 9am down the road less traveled rode I. Back roads are the best bet to getting where you want to go on bike. However, after about a ten minutes the riding was stopped by a 12% grade going up a hill about 190 ft. That’s a pretty steep grade let me tell you. Yet there were more to come up and up as if I were going to peddle up into the sky. I was a beautiful day with the tempters finally getting about 80 degrees.

Having ridden up through a beautiful forest breaking out from the trees with a view that seemed like you could see all of England. There below me were villages, towns, rivers, fields, greens, reds, violets, blues, and the sweet smell of fresh cut grass. From this height it look like an HO railroad diorama. How it must have looked when you could see the white puffs of a steam engine working its way through the glen. Yet there was more up to go, much more at time doubling back on myself to get to the top.

Around 3 pm and 31 miles later I was about a three-quarters of the way through my ride. Ridding into Mere another cyclist pulls up along side me to ask were I’m headed. After telling him he informs me that he just got back from riding from Lands End to Johnogoats a trip of 980 miles. He tells me it took him 15 days going about 10 miles an hour, which he was quite happy with, covering about 40 miles a day. He rides with me for awhile telling me that he understands the difficulty of riding hills as he was riding a bike much like mine with as much stuff on it.

We ride together into Mere where he points me the direction to ride to Wincanton. As he is about to ride off he tells that that Gillingham has a great bike shop. I thank him thinking “I’m not going anywhere near Gillingham.” About five minuets after we part company my ears here two sounds I wish did not happen. Pop Psssssssssh, another flat, no, not a just a flat a blowout. No problem, unload the bike off come the wheel I’ll just fix this sucker, and if it doesn’t hold I’ve got another tube with the right stem. Looking down I see green stuff that is slime on the wheel and chain “this can’t be good.”

Not only do I have a flat the tire has a crack in it about half an inch long. I look around to see if Paul is hiding somewhere laughing, or is he the Witch Doctor for the bike store. I patch the tube, put a patch in the tire, oh by the way there are strips of plastic in my tires that are suppose to prevent this kind of thing. Put it all back together whip out my $40 tire inflator that is a combination of Co2 and hand pump. One Co2 cartridge in the tire is about half full. No problem I have another cartridge, put it in, nothing it’s empty, not problem I’ll just pump it up. Pump is not working, nothing is happening; I thought I had another Co2 cartridge around, nope. Try to ride, way too much weight now a choice.

Attempt to walk to Wincanton, don’t know if there is a bike shop there, but there is a campground, or walk to Gillingham, which according to the may has no campground, both are at least an hour or hour and a half walk away; Gillingham here I come. It’s over 80 the sun is beating down I pass an older fellow who says “Beautiful day it’s it?” “Yep, sure is.” I answer. However, the reason I choose Gillingham is not because is has a “wonderful bike shop,” but because it has a railroad station. “I’m done with this, I’ll get on the train back to Salisbury, get a night at the YHA, pack up my stuff, lock the bike a the train station and go home” are my thoughts

Upon reaching Gillingham there is a sign pointing to a campground where there is none on the map. Arriving at the campground has been a five-mile walk mostly, thankfully, flat. At the entrance to the campground is a sign announcing this is Osho Leela. Attempting to find the office by asking someone who is camping there. “The office in the main house you’ll have to sort it out with them” she says. Approaching the main house there is a man walking who asks, “Are you lost?” “No looking to check in.” “Through the door, we’re eating dinner now so you have to look around” as if I had the nerve to come at this time. Both these encounters are with people who are not very friendly.

Entering the large main house the reception desk is empty. Walking on there is a large dinning room, a lady sitting at one of the tables smiles asks if she can help. “I would like to check in to the campground.” She tells me to go to the Kitchen where they can help. Here is another smiling face asking if they can help. Both these people have has smiles on their face’s, yet the look that went with it seemed to say I was someplace I did not belong. The gentleman who finally helped me was somewhat more friendly as me “sorted things out.” Seeing food, kitchen, and dinning room I’m wondering if they sell meals here? I ask him if this is also a hotel/hostel? “No we are a community, a family here,” he states. I smile. Now I look around to see if Gary is hiding somewhere. I hear him say “You never know what the universe has in store for you. Tomorrow I think I’ll see what this community/family is all about, who knows maybe I’ll join.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Back in Salisbury library charging my phone and writing. Both the library here and in Gillingham have made a table and electrical hookup available to me while I write.

Tuesday, May 10, 2008: After purchasing a tire and putting the bike back together I head back into town to get my work checked out. Oh you may want to know how air got in my tire? Well there, hiding, in the bottom of my front pouch was the Co2 cartridge I was unable to fine yesterday. The bike shop tells me all is well so I head to the library, which has an area museum, attached to write. Upon returning to the campground I’ve decided to spend another night so, entering the Main house while looking at all the flyers about upcoming events a woman comes in who introduces herself as Kailash who want to know if I need help? “I would like to pay for one more day. I can’t see the posters very well do you have one that I can read?” She takes my money and finds a brochure for me to take away.

The Osho Leela Community reports it self to be friendly, open and loving where everyone is welcome. They have something called a Humaniveristy training and the Nine Month Personal Growth Course. There are a few training weekend coming up one of which is how to shake yourself. In addition they would like people to join their community and offer a weeklong program of introduction. It cost’s 70 pounds a week for food and a room. Along with that you get to work 6 hours a day part of which is doing dishes once a day, there is a day off. There are morning meditations that are advertised to be “mini versions of the Humaniversity Aum.” There is a part time, 3 hour a day, experience available for only 23 pounds a week. Great reading material while I eat my dinner.

Wednesday, May 11, 2008: Thinking to my self what the hell a new experience, meet new people, and it would cost me less the camping and buying food for a week. Returning to the Main house I ask to talk to someone about the weeklong experience. It is Kailash who is the Manage of these experiences. She gets me a print out of what to expect. She seems very guarded as we talk about my taking part in a week. She tells me it is not possible to join on Wednesday. “That was clear in the brochure,” I state. “What about tomorrow?” To which I get a non-answer “It is possible, but you can’t join today.”

OK got it no joining to day. “I’m going to Castle Cary to see a church today, if I stayed there over night and come back tomorrow can I join?” The look is that’s more information then I need. “You could call tomorrow to see.” “I’m only here a short time I’m not wanting to ride all the way back if I can’t get in.” A shrug of the shoulders “You can’t join today, do you want to stay another night an see about tomorrow.” “Thank you very much I’ll ride to Castle Cary and call you tomorrow.” During this conversation there is very little eye contact, along with body language that seems to indicate mistrust about why I’d want to do this, but not asked.

Leaving Osho Leela the sky is turning dark, the sun is blocked by large steel gray clouds from horizon to horizon. “Maybe I should stay one more night” are my thoughts riding down the drive. Riding along a group of riders come up along side me the leader asking how I’m doing. “Doing great since I just started out” is my answer. He tells me they are riding from Istanbul to Ireland. “Your almost there” I quip. “Your American” he asks? “Yep” I say. He nods his head to the back of the group “couple of American back there. Good luck.” Off he rides. Five other pass me the last being the two Americans. We don’t get a chance to chat. There is not a pannier or bag on them, no tent, not nothing; strange. They grow small as they pull away from me. The sun is now out along with the hills, some I walk, some I ride. Paul and I were laughing yesterday about using a low gear to get up a hill going slower then the people walking.

First will be Wincanton and the campground that was supposed to serve me last night. It takes about an hour to get to the turnoff where the campground should be. Riding down the road I notice the bike steering is getting sluggish. Looking down at a tire that is half deflated “You got to be kidding.” Stopping and using the last of my Co2 to fill the tire back up it is time for a redirection. Having bypassed Wincanton in search of the campground I use back roads that head me back to the town. Upon arriving my question about a bike shop is answered with a “no.”

The hardware store is closed from 12 pm to 2 pm, once it does open there is no hand pump or C02 cartages to be had, maybe a garage could help. The garage person fills my tire with air, we talk a bit, he does not know of a campground around here. Off to Castle Cary “I’ll make a decision on what to do there.” I’ve been to Castle Cary twice before and know there is no bike shop there, but there is a train station that I have used on both previous visits, also a campground close by that I have stayed at. Arriving at Castle Cary the front tire is again sluggish meaning my quest for the church is over time to head to the train station and back to Salisbury.

My tent was pelted all night with rain and wind. In the morning the sun was semi-out giving me time to fix my flats pumping the up with the new hand pump purchased last evening after arriving. The fellow camping across from me for some reason asks how many far I’ve ridden. “I think a little over 600 miles” is my answer. Then he asks how many flats I’ve had. “Best as I can figure out about 10.” He then tells me he has ridden 4000 miles over the years on his bike and has had 6 flats. I smile.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

England 2008 Six

Monday, June 02, 2008

Friday, May 30: The campground is behind the Pub, very quiet and friendly. Peter was very attentive during my visit. Introduced me to a couple of community members, who of whom was also in the RAF, hanging out there. Leaving the Pub the road crosses the Kennent and Avon Canal that is what I want to ride along to get to Bath. The path down to it is steep, narrow and wet I’ll pass and pick it up somewhere else. According to the story Marlborough is where Neive trapped Merlin in a cave under a rock. He fell in love with her and gave her all his secrets with out hesitation. She then used the magic to entrap him in a cave, which she covered with a rock. What a metaphor for some of the places people find themselves due to relationships. As luck would have it most of the time we have enough magic left to free ourselves, or sometimes with the help of other’s magic.

The campground which is up a killer hill has no showers, but they do have is a lot of families. There is also a back way down to the village, which, I am told; I can ride my bike down. This trail is steep, narrow, covered with grass and rocks, ride down I think not. It is a bit less steep then the road I rode up, and there are no trucks so walking the bike down in to the town is not so bad. The keeper of the park informed me that there was a Leisure Center where I could buy a shower; she also gave me directions to a Laundromat. These are two tasks that need to be accomplished before moving on to ride the canal.

Saturday, May 31: Still here relaxing away riding around the village I find a bike shop in on a side street. Here is the chain guard that has eluded me since purchasing the bike. Also is a new cable lock to keep my possessions safe. My cooking skills are increasing with time. In addition to making chicken, rice and mushrooms have been added to the menu.

Sunday, June 1: Today it is off to Avebury to see the largest ring of stone’s in England. A seven km ride not a hard, hills are not to bad, and then it starts to rain. Stopping at a Long Bourgh that is a mass burial site that is 5,500 years old. Just be for reaching it a swarm of bees come over the next hill heading right at me. No not bees’ bike riders’ lots of them. We wave as they zip by, some giving me the thumbs up. Several people on the journey have asked if I have the kitchen sink on my bike?

It is now time to head to Devizes and my next campground. Another easy, not to hilly seven-mile ride, not to many cars since it is Sunday. Upon arriving in Devizes I’m able to get online at Costa Coffee house. After a search for local campgrounds leaves me with a decision to make. There are two campgrounds, in opposite directions from each other, and not in the direction needed. Well I’ll just follow the canal and see if something turns up along the way. No time to do more searches as the coffee shop is about to close so off in search of the canal.

Riding along the canal a thought come to my mind, “Am I going in the right direction?” After stopping and checking my handy dandy compass, low and behold this direction will not get me there. Time to turn around and head in the other direction, without the sun my sense of direction deteriorates. On my right are a series of 28 locks that bring a boat down 290 ft. This canal gets more interesting zipping along it. Now it starts to rain, lots of rain coming down out of the steel gray clouds. After riding for what I figure is about 24 miles Bath is in sight.

This has been one of the scariest rides to date. Visions of the wheels slipping out from under me and off the wet bank, which in places is less the foot from me, taking me into the canal. Wet branches are slapping me in the face filling my eyes with water causing me to lose sight of the path. Stopping is not easy as the surface is wet and slippery. Riding as close as possible to the wet shrubbery, yet not to close so as not to run into it and be bounced into the canal. Bridges come over the canal must be walked under as the narrow walk way has slippery mud on the paving stones. If the bike gets out of balance it will throw me into the canal. With the heavy backpack and the bike I’m sure, if it were possible to see through the muck, I’d get to see the bottom of the canal.

The rain stops the path widens, I’m going up hill and so is the canal. There is an aqueduct this goes over the highway and the rail, then there is one that goes over a river. Now down the hill that curves downward. The ground is still wet but the path is wider, there are more people about. Boats are putt putting down the river; I am actually going faster then something. The canal is now on the side of a hill looking down about seventy or eighty feet to the river below. There are not boats on the river, only on the canal.

I left Avebury around Noon, as I round a bend Bath comes in to view; it is 8:15 pm. I am not there yet, but at least on familiar ground. This is part of the canal that I rode last year on my way to Castle Comb. Riding on the canal path runs out leaving me on city streets. “I’ve been on this street before.” I think to myself. “Yes I rode up the hill last year.” Reaching an intersection that should lead to the campground. Around another bend and there is the campground; it is 9:30 pm. There is a note on the door “After hours find a pitch and pay in the morning.” I pretend not to see the other sign that say’s “No Tents,” I’m soaking wet from head to toe, I sleep.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Up at 5 am to make good my escape from the camp. Riding around Bath until a coffee house opens to attempt to get on the Internet, there across the river is a Labyrinth. Finding away to get there it is a Labyrinth laid out in the ground; I begin to walk it. Finial the coffee houses are open, time to get some coffee in my system. I ride to the train station to find out about a ticket to Liverpool, which costs 48 pounds, a ticket to Salisbury is only 8, Liverpool with have to wait.

Getting on the Internet has been a real hassle this trip, unlike the past two years when it was no problem at all. So cut off from my bank accounts how much money is left is an unknown. So it’s 8 pm time to head to the campground for the evening maybe I’ll have better luck tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

It is 4 pm. I woke to rain on the roof about 1 am when back to sleep. My Eyes open, it is 8 am there is rain coming down on my roof, close them. My eyes open, it is 10 am the rain is still falling on my roof, time for a little breakfast, then back to sleep. My eyes open it is 1 pm the rain is still coming down on my roof, close them. At 1:30 pm it is time of a shower and then head into town in the rain.

I begin thinking about the fact that I have forgotten what rain is. What we normally get in Arizona is down pours that last may three or four hours and it is called rain. This is rain, hours and hours of it. It has now been raining about 10 hours, not hard, not big drops, just a nice wonderful rain. The roads have puddles to ride through, a rare treat in Arizona. The little creek next to the bike path is overflowing its banks and people are tiptoeing through it. Splash I ride right through making sure not to get water on anyone.

Comes to mind that from the fifth grade on into high school a bike was my mode of transportation. Everyday, like the mailman of back then, through sleet, snow, rain, or shine my bike got me to school and back. It also got me pretty much everywhere else during that time. In high school I began driving whatever car was available and started. It did not matter if it was mine or not as long as it would start off we would go. Showing up at school with so many different cars caused one teacher to ask whether my dad owned a used car business the year was 1960.

There was a time I had five bikes. Yep five of them all sitting in the garage ready to use. Some I hardly used at all others were used daily until replaced by a newer model about every other year or so. I still had the two original bikes, yep I got two one Christmas, one from my parents and one from my grandparents. Of course the bike my parents could afford was no match for the sleek green English racer my grandparents had purchased. However I really did not like the racer and mostly rode the bake my parents had given me.

They I go my J. C Higgins a Sears brand at the time, which was a tank. It was Big, brown, with a built in horn, handlebars that seemed to be a mile wide, and huge balloon tires. It came with Saddlebags that would be used to hold my books for quite a few years. I rode that bike for years until it was replaced by the newest idea of the time. Swhin came out with a thing called a middleweight which was I tire that was thinner then the Balloon, yet not as thin as the English racer. It was Candy Apple red with three speeds, hand brakes, built in horn, and a stoplight that worked when you put on the brake. A small ball bearing would roll forward causing a contact to be made and the red light came on, now how cool was that.

In 1974 a new bike was purchased for me as a bonus at work. It was another English Racer that I think was silver. It was moved to Arizona where it picked up every thorn in the road. Don’t even know what happened to it during all the moves made in the 70’s. So it was not until 2006 with the purchase of my Hybrid in England that riding a bike was part of my life again. Now there is a bike in England and a bike in Flagstaff don’t think there will be five again. Fifty-six years of, for all intensive purposes, no bike riding. Then I get on a bike in 2006 and expect to ride as I did in the 40’s and 50’s. Ah well dreams are what the world is made of right?

Equipment check: LOVE my tent. Yes indeed, just love it. Lots of room, goes up quick, comes down quick, keeps all my stuff and me dry. This is the second Sr Designs Electron 2 person tent that is a keeper. I have decided that my sleeping bag is to big, taking up to much room so I’ll be looking for a new one. My Big Agnes air mattress is a full size one, rather then the mummy that came with me last year. There was noting wrong with the mummy, but I found this Thermorest cover which converts your air mattress to a lounge or a chair. This has been a great addition to my gear as it allows me to sit over my cooking stove not kneel by it much more comfortable.

The stove is O.K. I’m not thrilled with it at this point. It has a hose that connects to the stove and keeps them about 12 inches apart. The hose is a bit unwieldy making it difficult to get the stove to sit even. Now that I have a set of stabilizers for the gas can I may go back to a stove that sits on top. Other then the hose thing it works just great, but does take a bit of getting use to for cooking since it really cooks things fast. My “front” panniers are made my Maddox a company which no longer makes panniers. I cannot even remember when I purchased them, maybe the seventies? They work just great, lightweight, however not waterproof.

So I line them with a plastic trash bag and the water stays off my stuff. My friend Mark and I spent a good deal of the summer and fall looking for a set that goes on the back. We settled on a pair of Axion Champagne touring bags. They have a lot of room, a lot. Once packed I thought it would be a problematic getting them through the train doors in order to get off and on. Since I have four panniers with the load evenly distributed as possible this has not been a problem. They have rain covers that are working quite well at keeping things dry. I purchased a set of Titanium cookware that is working out just great. In addition is a Teflon frying pan that is not working out.

I have managed to get rid of some stuff along the way so there will be not $80 extra bag charge. Anything close to being charged that much and stuff will be going in the nearest garbage pail.,-0.174751&spn=0.130969,0.354309&z=12

Sunday, June 1, 2008

England Five

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Depending on your beliefs there are times when you have to wonder if things that happen are a message from Universe, or just things that happen. However, the message that seems to be coming through does not completely agree with what your intuition seems to be saying so it can make things somewhat confusing. Is there such a thing as a Universal consciousness that send out messages to everyone in the Universe? Some may call this consciousness God, whether it is male or female depends on a series of life events that have led to a specific belief.

Yesterday it was raining so after leaving the hotel it was time to check in to the YHA again. “Welcome back.” The clerk says. Now isn’t that nice? So after checking in what to do? It is time for Tea and Scones with Clotted Cream and Jam good stuff. Then study some maps, maybe go to the movie again, no not interested is seeing Sex in the City. Picking up a paperback I head back to the Y to have a little dinner and read.

In the common room I meet Bernice and Bill who are from the Yukon in Canada. They are also Community College professors she teaches history didn’t get what Bill taught. We talk about the Yukon, politics, Flagstaff, Canada and the U.S. Soon they are off to bed leaving me to my book for a while them I’m off to bed. The room is empty prior to falling asleep. Full when the stiffing heat of four bodies awakens me. After opening the window sleep comes back for me.

After breakfast I head to the hotel to use up the last of my purchased Internet minuets. Then it is time to ride north the first stop being Amesbury where I had originally purchased my bike. Half way there, switching gears going up a hill the de-railer, de-rails jamming into the spokes, bent out of shape the chain ceases to turn. “Well as least $150 worth of damage.” I think. I twist and pull finally getting it back into useable shape. That is the chain now turns so I can ride the bike, but the only gears that can be changes are the three front ones.

I decide that I’ll ride the bike to the shop where I purchased it and give it back to them, take the bus back to Salisbury, call Delta and go home. Enough is enough with the flats and now mechanical problems. Arriving at the bike shop the owner comes out ‘I remember this bike.” He states. “Lets see the damage.” He gives me a long explanation of why the event happened, and then tells me it’s about 25 pounds to fix. “Only 25 pounds?” He answers affirmatively and adds, “We are really busy, but we’ll fit you in and get you off unload the bike and bring it in.”

Twenty minuets later I’m reloading the bike and a gentleman with a three wheeled bike pulls up. After some conversation he gives me directions to the bike route to stay off the busy roads. It is a beautiful ride with lots of wonderful hills to ride up and coast down. All these wonderfully steep hills to ride up and coast down for the next four hours. I’m reminded of what the fellow from the Ferry told me. “After awhile you won’t ever notice the hills when you get in shape.” So I’m waiting not to notice the hills, maybe tomorrow.

The sign points around the corner for the information center in Pewsey. Stopping to ask to ask local residents where the center is I’m embroiled in conversation with the lady while the man get the yellow pages to look for campgrounds. She identifies her self as a neighbor and as we talk he goes down the road to talk to someone else. He comes back “Your in luck. There’s a Pub in Wolcott that lets you pitch no more the 10 minutes from here.” I’m invited in for coffee as he calls the pubs, telling them of my plight.

Martin is a former office with the RAF who has just moved here from Scotland. He owns a home in Ft. Meyers Florida in addition to this one. He gives me directions to the Pub as we finish our coffee. “Best get going it looks like rain is coming fast.” I’m off to the Pub, up hill, that takes me about 25 minuets to get there after making one wrong turn. It is raining and the pub owner, Peter, is waiting at the door. We talk while waiting for the rain to let up. After putting up the tent I have a wonderful dinner, even with a bunch of screening kids in the next room. I’ve ridden about 30 miles to day that makes a grand total of 310 miles ridden so far. It is a good day if I let it be.