Friday, April 30, 2010

All the way into NYC

Well, I've been putting off getting this post for awhile. It's been a fun but very busy past week +. I made it into New York City yesterday and have some time to relax here while staying with my friend so here it goes...

Leaving Virgina I took the historic Whites Ferry over the Potomac River and into Maryland where I rode the C&O Canal towards DC. It was rainy all day and I didn't know the trail I was going to ride on was unpaved, so my bike was filthy in short time. The trial was very nice though, almost no other people and in pretty good shape.

Riding the C&O Canal

That night I was happy to have a place to stay with the sister of one of my Forest Service supervisors. Sue welcomed me into her home, helped me clean up my bike and made me right at home with a good meal. It's a lot of fun to meet new people with whom I have common threads and especially who are so kind.

With Sue

Next it was the ride into Washington DC to meet up with Raya and find my sister. I'd met Raya back in Louisiana and she'd offered her place just outside of DC. It was fabulous to see Raya again, see her work (she's an art professor at Corcoran College of Art and Design, just a block from the White House), and her lovely community of Glen Echo, MD. It was also such a treat to be able to meet up with Holly in DC (since I knew I wouldn't make it to Alaska on this trip), catch up with her and have someone to explore the city with.

We walked all over, seeing the sites, wandering through museums, and eating some great food. One of Holly's college friends and her younger sister also happened to be visiting DC so we were able to go to a nice dinner with them as well.

Holly and Me (yup, per usual I got to wear her clothes for a little change from my carharts and t-shirts)

While relaxing out on the National Mall, Holly decided to do a strength workout. I joined her for what I could do in a skirt as some of the endless groups of passing students cheered us on.

After Holly flew out, I met up with Jeff who'd I'd met touring down in Tennessee. He happened to be in the area and having used to live in DC offered to show me around. The weather wasn't great that day, but I got a good tour of the city and a world-wide tourer to chat with for the day.

Ready to ride with Jeff

Raya outside her house with some of her sculptures

Washington Monument and Reflection Pool

The incredibly generous person Raya is, she offered me to stay as long as I wanted. With the Climate Rally, a celebration of the 40th Earth Day and push for comprehensive climate legislation, I opted to stay another day. The forecasts threatened rain and thunder storms, but the weather held out and even turned beautiful in the afternoon. The day was spent on the Mall with over 60 speakers and numerous musical acts. Though many people were just there for the music (with The Roots, John Legend, Jimmy Cliff, Sting, and Joss Stone some of the biggest names), it was a large crowd estimated at 150,000. Most of the speeches were very short but some were very good and inspiring. The speakers were a variety of government officials, heads of nonprofits, students, athletes, and celebrities.

A view of the Rally early in the afternoon (before the crowds really built up)

Michael (who I also met down to LA) roasting one of Raya's homemade marshmallows. They were fantastic!

Next it was off to NYC. I rode out of Maryland in some heavy thunder storms and made it across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge by hitchhiking (no bikes allowed and the only other options being a $30 shuttle or a two day ride around the bay). That night, while sitting in my tent, for the second time on this trip I heard: "Come out with your hands up!" Ugh, not again. I'd gone into some woods off the road, but was across from a house. An old women there had seen me go into the forest and called the police reporting a person "on a moped who might be living in the woods." The worst part was that I'd been sitting in my sleeping bag without pants and tried getting them on before getting out of my tent. The officers were getting impatient so I had to pull my pants up as I stepped out of the tent. They turned out to be very nice once I explained my situation. They ran my ID and talked with the property owner who'd be called out to the scene. He didn't have a problem with my staying the night, so that was that.

The ride through Delaware was short (only 45 miles, such a small state), but that was fine with me. The roads were good but chicken farms were everywhere and semis with chickens off to slaughter passed frequently; it did not smell good. I then took a nice long ferry ride to Cape May, New Jersey. As soon as I got into New Jersey, the wind hit me and didn't let up with whole way through the state. I tried riding the coast, but it was endless development and a battle with the winds, not too much fun. After riding through Atlantic City (thought I should see it, but 7am off season was the perfect time being that most everything was closed and very few people were out), I cut inland hoping to escape a little of the wind, I'm not sure if it helped much.

The boardwalk in Atlantic City

I can't say I liked much of New Jersey. The wind sure didn't help, but it just wasn't very nice, especially compared to Maryland and Virginia. Once I started to get close to NYC, Jersey got really bad. The last 2 hours of riding were pure survival, with very busy, large roads I couldn't avoid full of trucks and fast moving traffic. It was not any fun, but I made it through and got out to the harbor for an excellent view of Manhattan.

Looking out at Manhattan

My friend, Colin, met me and we took the ferry across to NYC. He then rode me into the city "the least traumatic way" along a bike path and strangely quiet roads; it was great!

Colin, ready to guide me through the city.

New York is of course very overwhelming for me. The streets seem dark with such tall buildings, the noise and people are everywhere. It's wonderful to have Colin's apartment here in Manhattan as a retreat to relax. Colin's parents are also in town visiting, so we went out to dinner last night and walked to and around Central Park this morning.

So many people.

In Central Park

With Colin off at work, I'm taking it easy this evening, realizing I'm worn out. It was a push to get here from DC, now to enjoy and recoup, then continue north to Maine!

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