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Old 06-21-2008, 03:55 AM   #21
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Day 5
Wednesday April 30

The original plan had me landing in New Jersey at my sister's place for the night, but that was many miles an states away from Durham, NC. I have to stick to interstates if I'm going to make it there before my nephews' bedtime.

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Spank, you ready to hold on tight? This is going to be a high speed day!

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Headed north up 85 and got my Virginia welcome sign on a cool, shaded shoulder.

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Stopped just shy of Richmond for a quick lunch and refueling.

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Old 06-21-2008, 03:55 AM   #22
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Made it to DC by early afternoon.

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I decided that if I was this close to national monuments, I might as well take the time to stop and get some proper pictures with my bike.

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After struggling with tourists on foot, in cars, and in caravans of busses I hit the highway to head north again. DC doesn't feel the need to put up signs, so I guess nobody is welcome here.

Now I had to fight my way towards Baltimore with mass commuters trying to make it home for the night.

I'd made it into Maryland but without a Welcome sign letting me know when it happened.

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Bridges

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And tunnels

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And bridges

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Old 06-21-2008, 03:56 AM   #23
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And then there was Delaware. Tiny state, big sign.

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Then more bridges.

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Welcome to New Jersey!

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It was the homestretch. I was in the state, all I needed to do was make it north to Hackettstown before it was pitch black.

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I was losing the race with the sun.

Off the interstate and northbound on 206, all I wanted was a hug when I arrived.

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I got more than a hug. I got to read him not one, but TWO bedtime stories!

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North Carolina, Virginia, DC, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey
516 miles

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Old 06-21-2008, 03:57 AM   #24
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Day 6
May 1

My riding boots will collect dust for a few days as I step into a pair of sneakers and enjoy some down time with my family.

Cereal and fruit for breakfast. Noah's choice - a combination of Rice Krispies, Kix, and Special K.

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He wanted to know how I got here from Texas on my "bicycle", so he commandeered my GPS to figure out the mystery.

288294547 oSDTA O

His brother Ethan wasn't quite bright-eyed yet this morning.

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After breakfast, we had some play time before getting ready to go out and enjoy the day.

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"I'm gonna play my rock star guitar!"

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Spank made a new friend that was also a guitar player.

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Goofin' with my gear

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Old 06-21-2008, 03:58 AM   #25
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We got everyone dressed (not a simple task) and loaded up the mini van.

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We headed for Easton, PA - home of Crayola, known to my nephew as the "color factory". I don't know if it was my sister's driving or the fact that I hadn't been in a car for over a week, but I got very nauseous on the way there. We opted for lunch before heading into the hands-on museum and factory.

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Also located in the building is a museum dedicated to canals. Noah and Ethan loved playing in the water, learning how the locks work to get the ships across.

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To prevent additional car sickness, I drove us all home, but just in case I didn't know where I was going my sister had the GPS up on the dash.

GPS: Turn left in point five miles
Noah: Becca, you gotta turn left to go to our house. Mommy, which way is left?
Melinda: Left is when your hand makes the L. Right is the one you write with.
Noah: (hands in the air making L shapes) Becca that way is left. We gotta go that way.
GPS: Turn left in four hundred feet
Noah: It says go left Becca. Mommy, Becca doesn't know where our house is.
Melinda: Becca will be fine honey.
Noah: But it says go left.

This continued for a while until I figured out how and why my sister can drown out the sound of her own children when appropriate. We turned on the Sirius kids channel and had some grown-up conversation.
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Old 06-21-2008, 03:59 AM   #26
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So here I am, sitting in my old room in my mother's house. It's known now as my brother's old room because that was a much more recent identity for it. Surreal.

Everyone in my family thinks I'm crazy for riding all this way when I could have just bought a plane ticket. They've been reading the stories and following my progress - they hate that I've had to ride in the rain, at night, and in the cold. My mother has urged me to ride back from here through a more direct route, but I am going to stick to the original plan and head north. Maine. I've come this far, I don't see how I could turn back now without at least making an effort to achieve my original goal.

There's another two days of family pictures that I'll bore you with as soon as Ive got them sorted and uploaded - then it's back on the road, shooting from the saddle.
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Old 06-21-2008, 04:03 AM   #27
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Day 7
May 2nd

Still in New Jersey staying with my sister, her husband, and their two boys.

"I'm with the band!"
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"I has a foot"

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Easy fries with lunch

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Which, as it turns out, are not so easy

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We ran some errands around town for most of the afternoon. It was drizzling, so Noah got to use his new Crayola umbrella.

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Ice Cream!

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Then over to the book store, where apparently it's more fun to sit on the bookshelves than it is to look at the books themselves.

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Old 06-21-2008, 04:03 AM   #28
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Day 8
May 3rd

When you leave a camera laying around, it's an open invite for a three year old to start taking pictures.

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It's time for Aunt Becca to start packing up her things. I'll be riding from NJ out to Long Island, NY to see mom and the rest of the family.

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It was foggy up at elevation, but it cleared as I neared Manhattan.

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George Washington Bridge. Brian loaned me his EZPass to make the crossings go a little easier.

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Ah, New York City.

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Old 06-21-2008, 04:04 AM   #29
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I rode around for a while trying to find a good spot for a picture but it was impossible to get away from traffic. I was almost crushed by a cab driver that felt that I would just HAVE to lose the merge despite 75% of my bike being out front of his bumper. As he came over at me I looked at him and he just stared at me as he continued to push me into the next lane. Luckily, the next lane had enough space to accept me. If I'd been wearing my MX boots, he'd need to replace his headlight.

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Another bridge. I think I took the Queensboro after unsuccessfully negotiating cross-park traffic. Twice.

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I stopped at my younger sister Nicole's job to surprise her. She knew I was in the area, but didn't think she'd see me until later tonight at dinner.

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The Islanders practice arena

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I got lucky and the local F.D. still had the doors open for this pic. Kenny, my step father, is a volunteer here and is a career fireman with the city of New York.

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Old 06-21-2008, 04:04 AM   #30
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I don't think I ever realized how twisty the roads near mom were until I started riding a few years ago.

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Cassidy, the Westie

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Oliver, the Old English Sheep Dog (after a recent shave)

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Out to dinner we go. Italian food in NY is about as good as it gets without needing a passport

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Of course you have to deal with characters like this showing up while you eat

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The Mommy

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My sister Nicole and I

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Old 06-21-2008, 04:05 AM   #31
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Mom stayed home and Melinda drove out from NJ to meet Nicole, our sister in law Kat, and me for Nelson Ladies Night at Dave & Busters. Emma, the newest Nelson gal, joined us in her stroller.

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Nicole

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Kat (quick on the smile even with candids)

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Cool ceiling fans, all belt driven and working off the same motor

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Some hoops

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And trivia

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And diaper changes

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We were all exhausted and needing to be at my mother's for a BBQ the next day so we said out goodbyes and retired for the night.

New Jersey, New York
114 miles

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Old 06-21-2008, 04:06 AM   #32
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Day 9
May 4th

A slow and sluggish start to the day-after-ladies-night-out.

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But nothing some bagels and coffee can't cure!

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Kat and my brother Heath brought Emma back over to hang out at Nana's house.

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And Noah went for a ride on Poppy's tractor

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But wasn't able to get the key away from Poppy so he could drive by himself

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Heath gives Ethan a boost

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And then Nicole tries to keep up with the conversation

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She wasn't behaving so we put her in time out inside the pen

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And she couldn't figure out how to escape!

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Her boyfriend Matt eventually let her out to end the suffering

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Old 06-21-2008, 04:07 AM   #33
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"Look! Poppy's making chicken!"

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"What? I can't hear you. I have lawnmower ears on."

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Emma and Kat enjoying the shade

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While Nicole enjoys the sun

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And the rest of the family eats. We're professionals. Don't try this at home.

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"They say lunch is done but I'm still hungry"

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Country bumpkin

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Noah learns to ride his bike, which he's been talking about since I got to the house with my motorcycle.

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"Race Ya!"

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An early birthday cake

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Noah helps me blow out the candle

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And Emma said goodnight to Spank before going home

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Old 06-21-2008, 04:09 AM   #34
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Day 10
May 5th

Leaving my family is always difficult, but this time I wasn't being driven back to the airport for a quick flight home. Home would be almost a week away - hopefully - and the journey would have a few milestones to write home about.

Gas prices on Long Island are the highest I've seen the entire trip. Is it something with NY taxes, or just greedy station owners that are trying to squeeze every penny out of the seemingly well-to-do suburban dwellers?

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I hopped on the Long Island Expressway and took the HOV lane until it ended, It didn't get me past traffic, but it kept a wider cushion between me and the crazy cagers.

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After leaving I495 on the east end, the landscape morphed into countryside - wineries and asparagus farms abound. I passed Pindar, a local wine producer that I know my sister has always liked, but there was no way I'd be able to carry a bottle the rest of the way without breaking or mutilating it.

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Land gave way to water, and soon it was on both sides of the rooadway as I headed all the way out to Orient Point.

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I arrived at the Cross Sound Ferry in time to buy my ticket, take a few pictures, then board for the hour plus ride up to New London, CT.

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Once parked, we were not permitted back down to the parking deck. I later thought that I should have brought the SPoT tracker upstairs with me to have the "blips" continue across the water. Oh well, next time.

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It was a beautiful day for a boat ride. The water was mostly calm, the birds were hovering overhead, and the sun warmed everything it touched.

I grabbed an egg sandwich and some apple juice from the on-board cafeteria, then settled wandered the ferry decks looking for interesting things to take pictures of.

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New London, CT

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Spank says he's got a cough now. I shouldn't have left him down there with all the cars and fumes.

290774069 gmxsx O
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Old 06-21-2008, 04:10 AM   #35
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I wasn't able to get a picture of any "Welcome to Connecticut" signs because we crossed over the state line somewhere in the water. I did notice that CT smelled like cedar. Maybe that's just my imagination.

290774104 v5Gpm O

Before too long I was crossing into Rhode Island.

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The "Ocean State" - ok, now I gotta pee.

The people in Rhode Island are rude, or at least the few that I met were. I stopped at a gas station to fill up and use the ladies room - but was told there wasn't one available to the public. Even for paying customers? "No restroom" was his repeated response.

Ok, so I went up the road to the next one and there was a sign on the door that there were no facilities. I don't see how the cashier puts up with that...

The third station didn't have a sign on the door and I spotted the powder room in the back. The door was open so I snuck in despite the "Employees Only" sign. Hey, it's not like I had to go through a stock room to get to it, but I reaaaaally had to go! I came back out, refreshed s ever, and proceeded to buy $5 worth of overpriced drinks and snacks as a sign of my appreciation. As I got to the counter, the woman behind it looked up at me, wwalked around the counter to the bathroom, and closed and locked the door from the outside. She came back up front and rung me up, told me to have a nice day (all the while giving me "the look") and I left.

Hey lady, would you rather I just drop trou behind your store?

Onward I go, past Purgatory

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Through Massachussets, which I didn't see a sign for, but it smelled like pine trees. Or maybe Pinesol. Is it state-wide spring cleaning day?

Into New Hampshire I go.

290774235 9d5QL O
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Old 06-21-2008, 04:11 AM   #36
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Chugging along, I kept my GPS zoomed in so I would know when the crossing into Maine was coming up. I wanted to be ready! A I approached, I realized this would be another state border created by water. The bridge neared.

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Did you see that? I bet you didn't. It said State Line - Maine - Vacationland.

Here's a close-up:

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I was disappointed. I'd come all this way to get the sign and THAT was it?

I was (slightly) relieved when I got to the end of the bridge and found this, a larger sign welcoming me to the far northeast state. But there was also a small sign next to it that prevent a better picture.

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Living in New York for most of my formative years, I'd traveled repeatedly to Vermont and New Hampshire for family vacations, skiing, hiking, and general "get away from the city" vacations, but I'd never stepped foot in Maine until now. As minor an occurrence it is for most, it was a big deal for me. I was smiling from ear to ear, the sense of accomplishment was almost overwhelming. I'd done it. And the naysayers (you know who you are) can all kiss my big, tired, sore behind.
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"Forget not that the Earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair." -Kahlil Gibran
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Old 06-21-2008, 04:11 AM   #37
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I found a gas station with decent food and beverage offerings to grab some dinner and make a plan for the night. My sister and I have a friend from college that lives somewhere in Vermont, so I called her to get his address and phone number. I left him a message and headed his way.

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I wasn't able to reach him but left a message with my ETA around dark:thirty. As I rode through southern New Hampshire, the setting sun was directly in my face and I put my sunglasses on under an already tinted visor.

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Both are polarized. Now I couldn't see the GPS screen. DOH!

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My shadow grew longer as it followed me west

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I stayed on Hwy 4 and Hwy 9, which were fun. I spotted a Moose crossing sign but didn't get the camera out in time - but moose this far south? Really?

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I found a small bridge traversing the creek/river I'd been following

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And had to be VERY careful riding on and parking in the thick layer of sand that had accumulated on the roadway over the winter.

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It sure is beautiful up here

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Vermont! I'd crossed over on another bridge, then caught the sign on the other side.

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I rode up the unpaved street and into his driveway, but Keith wasn't answering the phone or the door. I called my sister, the coordinator, to see if I was at the right house. Just as she reached for her cell phone to check his number two cars pulled into the driveway. Keith! ":long time no see!"
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Rebecca
'03 VStrom 1k "Wilbur"
'98 XR400R "Templeton"
"Forget not that the Earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair." -Kahlil Gibran
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Old 06-21-2008, 04:12 AM   #38
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It had been years, literally. We determined the last time I saw him was at my sister's wedding back in 2001. Since then he'd moved up here to a small town just outside Brattleboro, VT and was working from home. Ah, the life.

I was afraid my last-minute overnight request might have been interfering with his plans, but he and his friend Bryan assured me they were just planning on hanging out for the night and that I was a welcome addition.

I guess they needed someone to beat at darts.

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I'm glad I could fill that void.

Our old friend George showed up and we talked for hours about the past - good times, bad times, strange times. We eventually made our way out back and built a fire in the pit.

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And as every proper Vermont homeowner should, Keith has a hot tub and coaxed us in. I made do with some Under Armour shorts and a shirt and relaxed away the miles. I must have been in there over an hour, my hands looked like prunes!

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New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont
406 miles
One HUGE milestone, and the turning point towards home again

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'03 VStrom 1k "Wilbur"
'98 XR400R "Templeton"
"Forget not that the Earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair." -Kahlil Gibran
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Old 06-21-2008, 05:43 AM   #39
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Old 06-21-2008, 09:09 AM   #40
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Nice trip and the pix are really good. Little ride eh?
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