Day 49. Sunday, August 4 Brattleboro, VT to Manchester, NH. 77 miles
We left the hotel this morning, heading east across the Connecticut River and into New Hampshire. For most of the first 10 miles or so, we headed uphill, climbing from 300 feet above sea level to 1000 feet above sea level. A the bottom of the hill, we passed through Keene, NH and then for the next mile and a half to two miles, climbed an 8 to 10% grade hill. We certainly had to work the first part of the day!
After the first SAG stop at mile 32, we left some of the mountains behind and the road became undulating most of the rest of the day. There were lots,of ups and downs, but they were mostly very enjoyable. (Hard to believe that I actually liked a lot of these hills!) I still had to,work,to get over several of them, but the harder ones were a bit shorter. The route today had us going through a number of quaint little New England towns like Antrim, Bennington, Greenfield, Francisville and Gofftown. The homes were Federalist and Victorian styles and stereotypically New England looking. For several miles, we followed the very scenic Piscataquog River. The road was lined with a canopy of lush green trees that were so thick, it was hard for the sunlight to reach the road. Simply beautiful!
In one of the towns I pulled into a parking lot to ask directions of a guy parked on a motorcycle. He was very interested in the trip we were taking and asked if I was doing it for a cause. When I told him that I had just retired from Catholic Social Services, Dave told me that his,parents adopted him in Nebraska through Catholic Charities. I can't tell you how many people I've met through the years who have been adopted through Catholic Charities agencies. Amazing.
Today, I wore my special tuxedo jersey. When I walked into breakfast, I got a lot of stares, some compliments and even an ovation from several people. riders were snapping my picture all day.
I got to to Comfort Inn hotel about 12:45 and the rooms weren't ready, so a few of us and Tam crossed the street to go to the local Applebee's. My riding shirt was a big hit there as well.
Our waitress was Larissa and she was very interested that we were just about finished with a cross country bike tour. Her mother, Margie, and 11 year old daughter, Lydia, just happened to be there as well. You could sure tell that these three pretty ladies were all related. they each had the same beautiful smile. Lydia was fascinated with all these bikers in strange clothing and wanted to hear about our bike trip. We learned that Margie had retired just yesterday from a 33 year career in the military. She retired as a Master Sargeant and had served overseas as an assistant to the chaplain. Her husband is a former Navy SEAL, having served in Vietnam. He currently works for a contractor in the Middle East. This is certainly a patriotic family that we all owe our gratitude.
Larissa has been waiting tables and tending bar for 16 years because she meets a lot of fascinating people and enjoys hearing their stories. This trip has certainly taught me that. Everyone has a story and most are willing to share it. I've met a lot of great people these last seven weeks, including Larissa, Margie and Lydia. My regret has been that I've not had more time to listen about their lives.
Hard to believe that tomorrow will be the last ride of this trip, completing our trek across America. It will be a bit difficult saying good-bye to these folks that 50 days ago were strangers but who are now friends. We've shared an experience that few get to do. Incredible.
Be well. Do good.