(The Atlantic Ocean, at last!)
I crossed into Connecticut on back roads through the edge of the Appalachian Mountains from the Hudson River valley. I got some good exercise on these hills – here in the East, where the roads date back to the 1700s, the grades are steep! I discovered that most Connecticut river valleys run north-south, so as I traveled across the state (west to east), I had to go up-and-over the ridges between these valleys.
I peddled into New Haven, the largest city I have been in since Seattle. It was so great to see my daughter, Veronica! She is working on a Ph.D. in neuroscience at Yale and seems to be thriving in the research and academic setting. I am a proud papa, for sure.
(Veronica in front of her apartment on bustling Chapel Street)
She rode with me to the harbor, where I could see Long Island Sound and thus the Atlantic Ocean. I almost fell in doing the ceremonial dip of my front tire in this Eastern salt water!
I headed north by way of University of Connecticut to visit my old Colby College friend, Michael Lynes, who is a professor there. It was a treat to catch up with this guy who shared my freshman dorm many decades ago. He was yet another Road Angel as he put me up at his house on a rainy night.
Then I worked my way through hilly country and a steady rain into Rhode Island, including a stretch of “road” that Google maps put me on that went straight ahead into an old wood lane that looked like it hadn’t had any vehicles on it in decades.
(Google says keep going straight anead.)
Luckily it worked out, as I emerged onto paved roads after a couple miles. One has to be careful with Google’s bicycle directions – I’ve had a few occasions where the computer routed me onto un- bicycleable spots and I have had to backtrack for miles.
My high school buddy, Michael White, met me inside the Rhode Island border and rode with me along beautiful rail-trails into Providence, where he teaches at Brown University. It was a treat to have a college professor as a guide as we decended along the old Pawtuxet River, passing mill after mill that had thrived 200 years ago at the dawn of America’s industrial revolution. Some of these impressive buildings have been converted into housing, while others are still empty, hoping for a new future. Very few are still engaged in commercial production – we passed one factory that was still making soaps, but that seemed more the exception.
My reputation for enjoying craft beers, especially India Pale Ales, preceded me, as Michael collected a sampling of local micro-brews from Rhode Island. He and his wife, Jane, said this was the most beer they have ever had in their house! We barely scratched the surface…
(Road angels Michael and Jane in Providence, RI)
Professor White guided me north the next day along the Blackstone River and its old canal through more 200+ year old industrial history. He turned back after seeing me across the line into Massachusetts, and I enjoyed the rolling hills on back roads to my sister Pat’s house in Concord, MA. What a great feeling it was to arrive in that familiar driveway after 4500 miles of peddling and get a big hug from my sib, the best Road Angel of them all!
My two rest days at Pat and Bob’s place included getting fit for a new suit by my old elementary and high school buddy, Bob Brennan; minor repairs of the bicycle at a local shop; kayaking on the Sudbury River with my Philadelphia friend, Doug Wechsler, who happened to be in the neighborhood; dinner with Scott Cassel, Susan Podziba, and their daughter, Sarah in the North End of Boston; and enjoying meals and conversation with Pat and Bob in Concord. Busy but relaxing to not be on the bike.
(The First Parish Church, now a U.U.congregation, a few steps away from Pat and Bob’s place in historical downtown Concord, MA.)
(Sarah, Scott and Susan in Boston’s North End.)
I then peddled north, visiting my mom’s three remaining siblings and their spouses, as well as a few of my many cousins in the area. It was wonderful to see all of these relatives, and they all tried to fatten me up.
(My Uncle George Lagasse with cousins Kathy, Elaine, Bill, Anne and Anne’s husband Brad in North Chelmsford, MA.)
(Uncle Jim and Aunt Marie Lagasse, who live in the house where my mom grew up in Haverhill, MA.)
(Uncle Ken and Aunt Joan (Lagasse) Veroneau in Plaistow, NH.)
Exeter, New Hampshire, was my next stop as I headed toward the coast and the final leg. My college friend, Byrd Allen and his wife, Linda, were gracious hosts and Road Angels indeed. Always a pleasure to see them and catch up on their lives and that of their dog, Clipper.
And then the final leg. Stay tuned as I cross the border into my thirteenth and final state, which has a very long coastline! Here is the image of my progress to date as of New Hampshire.
Thanks for your interest and support. The end is in sight!
— Dave (posted on August 8th from Cape Elizabeth, Maine)