Reunited with Roomba

Friday, September 4 & Saturday, September 5
Left the Halifax Airport Holiday Inn by 8-ish to head to East Gore for Roomba. Had received a note from Sue that she and Jim were still away, but that Jen was likely there.

Hooked up and shifted things we hadn’t needed during the bike tour from storage in Roomba back to car, and were ready to leave when we both wanted a pit stop. We used the supplied key to unlock, and Jen had been inside the whole time we were working. Sat for a moment with her to catch up and thank her and then we headed up the u-shaped drive to the road and began our 7 hour trek up to Sugarloaf Provincial Park, New Brunswick.

image

image

Stopped for a chicken/ham Cesar salad to carry with us for dinner, and got a couple of pre-packaged sandwiches and a bag of chips, with a couple of bottles of water to eat for lunch in the market’s parking lot.

Not much to say about the route except, there being no “straight line” between East Gore and Sugar Loaf, New Brunswick, it was a long but pleasant drive. Arrived at about 6:30 PM and quickly set up camp and had a few hours to relax and eat before nightfall.

image

Spectacularly, there were NO BUGS at all! But we were evidently in the epicenter of a colony of those feisty red squirrels, and they gave us unrelenting chatter and reproach the entire time we were there, for two nights. So much so that I worried they might chew the solar connectors on Roomba’s roof (but they didn’t, thank goodness). Certainly, they ate their pine cones directly above our awning, plates, picnic table, etc. and dropped all the chaff disdainfully on our heads.

Sugarloaf, even though it’s a Provincial Park, it is primarily a ski resort. In the summers they have lots and lots of mountain biking activities: chair lift to the top and ride down; trails for all skill levels; a dirt bike course; and a lot more. It’s an excellent place to stay, and we had a great site — even though it was obviously a very popular place, and although we were between two big rigs, it didn’t feel crowded or busy. As the evening waned, we had a “wee dram” of the single malt Jack had bought to share with the bicycle pack a few days ago and that was sublime. So we cocooned and had a great night’s rest.

Next day we figured we’d go explore and see if we could pick up something to grill and some breakfast fixings, plus a wine store stop was definitely in order. Campbellton, the burgh the provincial park sits next to, was no great shakes. There was a nice bridge that led across a small bay, river, or inlet and suddenly we were in Quebec province. There was a nice park on the other side of the bridge and I took a photo or two, but not much to see beyond that, other than the mountains.

image

image

image

Still, I picked up a replacement pair of slippers for indoor Roomba use (you might remember the deluge en route up to the bike tour where my slippers were soaked and we declared them a total loss), and we did our grocery and wine shopping. As it happens, we were in a store that was offering a “tax free” day on all food supplies, so the place was mobbed.

Nevertheless, we got some goodies and decided on grilled hamburgers with Havarti cheese, replaced our pre-bike-tour mayo and mustard (this time the horse radish was included with the mayo rather than the mustard), and got some other staples — and for good measure, drove to a liquor store to stockpile wine for the next few days. We realized that we were shopping and getting ready to camp during the US and Canada celebration of the working stiff: Labor Day. We weren’t sure the liquor stores would be open on the Monday holiday.

It was an excellent evening. I spent a long time sketching on my iPad (since I could plug it in, since artwork really drains the battery), and Jack did some laundry and hung it out for a while. The red squirrels were quite bold and aggressive, running very close to where I sat and chittering nonstop at our intrusion. A couple of them were either playing or vying for victuals, and chased each other nearly right under my chair. I tried to run one or two off by throwing rocks at them, but they remained undeterred.

Cycling North Mountain
Cycling North Mountain
Blue Roomba and Soobie-Do.
Blue Roomba and Soobie-Do.

We had also picked up some firewood to burn, and started the burgers and the fire about the same time, around 6:30P. Accompanied by some store-bought potato salad, and with the burgers on ciabatta rolls, with a fresh tomato and some of the leftover salad from yesterday, it was a perfect meal. The Camembert we had left out to soften came out next and we watched the fire die with a sip or three of Port, and a cheese/cracker dessert. Perfect.

View of the fire from inside Roomba's circular window.
View of the fire from inside Roomba’s circular window.

Greenwich/St. Peters Loop

Sunday, August 30: Day Six of our Taste of the Maritimes cycle tour.

Taking a 35 mile looping ride along more of the Prince Edward Island Coastal Drive, we began our day riding a couple of miles to the Greenwich Interpretive Center, where we locked up our bikes to see a movie about the natural heritage of the spit of land on which the Greenwich National Park resides. Our interpreter, Javon, then hopped on his bike and led us into the dunes and stopped now and again to describe the flora, fauna, and geology we were observing.

image

image

image

At the trail head, we had to get off our bikes and begin walking toward the beaches and the enormous dunes that are protected from deterioration by human activity via paths and interpretive signage and such, as part of the National Park mission. We walked along a trail and then onto a boardwalk that stretched across some marshland, and was even floating along the top of the brackish pond/lake we had to cross to get to the beach proper.

image

image

image

image

Once we reached the beach, we talked for a little bit about wind and water and dune erosion, and then we had a tough climb up very fine sand to see a parabolic dune. Parabolic dunes are crescent-shaped dunes mostly shaped by wind. As the parabloic dune migrates, lines of sand are left along the sides of the dune’s path, creating two “arms” or “tails” that become anchored by vegetation when there is a lull in movement. When the dune migrates again, the vegetation forms a line where the former base of the dune was, creating a dune-tracking ridge. This repeated process forms a banded pattern of ridges recording the path and movement of the dune over time.

image

They mostly occur in places where the wind is unidirectional, and mostly consistent wind velocity. They are also often associated with slip faces, where the vegetaion has slipped down or off the crescent or arm slopes. Javon told us that there are only about 5 parabolic dunes with similar migration band patterns in North America, and I remember he mentioned Michigan and North Carolina, but I can’t remember the other places beyond Greenwich, PEI.

image

image

We hiked back to our bikes, and most of us rode the bicycle-allowed loop out to the point and back, where we left the National Park and headed on the Coastal drive ride.

image

Folks could choose several routes from 12 miles through 35 miles, and Bruce, Jack and I again wanted to get some training miles in — we were all looking forward to the Cabot Trail and the legendary climbs we had all been hearing about (from locals) for days. So we grabbed a quick sandwich at Lou’s Take Out right before we got onto the Gravel Road From Hell.

This track was so wash-boarded and had such enormous gravel on it, we all thought we’d break a spoke or explode a tire before we were through. Thank goodness it was only about a click and a half (1.5 km). Even with the short length, I felt like all the fillings in my teeth were loose after the ride.

Then we really hit our stride. Another beautiful day on the cycle, on pavement, without too many cars to worry about. Travel simply doesn’t get much better than that.

image

We rode out to Naufrage Harbor to check out the lighthouse and we found public washrooms and then turned around to map our way back to a new part of the Confederation Trail and wind our way back to St. Peters.

image

image

Back at the Inn, we enjoyed another spectacular meal with our group of new and old friends. Jack and I shared a seafood sampler, and the sun set on another excellent day of cycling the Maritimes.

image

image

image

It is with reluctance we shall say “goodbye” to the Inn at St. Peters, as it has been a lovely place to bide some time. I earnestly hope I can return sometime in the near future.

image

image

The Lookoff – YIKES!

Tuesday, August 26: Day Two of our Taste of the Maritimes bicycle tour.

Today’s was a big ride. We totaled about 35 miles, but we had in our “sights” The Lookoff climb, which we all knew would be a kicker of a crank.

We began by heading to Starrs Point, and en route, Mary led us on a short loop to see a plaque that explained a bit about the Planters of Cornwallis, the folks the British government of the 1700s asked to come and take over the exiled Acadian farmlands. New England settlers came and became known as Planters by the remaining locals.

The funny thing was that the monument with the plaque was right in front of a pig pasture, and the pigs were there, doing their piggy things, just digging and rooting around. We had a grand time photographing the pigs, but Mary kept asking, “Did anyone even read the plaque?”

image image image

Not really. We were having fun with the pigs and they were young enough to be cute, so many photos were taken. History can wait.

Our route included a visit to the Prescott House Mansion early in our ride, to tour the house and/or gardens. Jack and I did only the gardens, which were lovely. We left before the home tour began.

image

Our intrepid leaders, Mary and Allen.
Our intrepid leaders, Mary and Allen.
Jack taking a photo of me taking his photo.
Jack taking a photo of me taking his photo.

image image image image

Jack and I rode on to our next stop, the Blomidon Winery, where they were doing quite a lot of construction, for an expansion of their food service. As it was still only about 10 or 10:30 when the rest of the pack arrived, most of us skipped the offered wine tasting. The fine folks at Blomidon Winery gave us a very nice rest/break snack of excellent cheeses and crackers. Alan broke out the mixed nuts and it was (nearly) a party.

Having their vinyards right beside the Minas Basin allows Blomidon to grow grapes that otherwise wouldn't grow in Nova Scotia.
Having their vinyards right beside the Minas Basin allows Blomidon to grow grapes that otherwise wouldn’t grow in Nova Scotia.

image

Our next stop: The Lookoff, which Jack and I had driven past with Roomba about a week earlier, when we missed the turn to Blomidon Provincial Park. We crossed the Cornwallis River and rode along another dyke, and climbed gradually up and up toward the Blomidon bluff. Not everyone chose to tackle the climb, but many of us did.

Then we turned onto the road straight to The Lookoff. We may have made a lot of the elevation change before we got to the final climb, but it was a huge chug regardless. It was every bit as difficult as we’d been warned.

On top of which, as we turned toward the steepest of the climb, all the breeze from the Minas Basin was cut off from our location, so it got hot in a hurry.

Among our group, Bruce made it up first, and Jack was second, and because a couple of the other guys stopped to wait for wives or to capture a photo, I made it up third. Man, was it good to see the top. More peeps arrived as we visited the washrooms and took photos of the view.

image image image image

While there, I saw about 4 large birds at eye-height to us, but distant from The Lookoff. I thought they were either bald eagles or vultures. I watched them for a while, but just couldn’t tell for sure. Just as I was about to leave The Lookoff, one of them turned just so, and I was able to see the white tail. Frankly, whether they were vultures or eagles, it was a fun aerial display as they worked the wind and played so high in the sky.

The “slide” back down from The Lookoff was careful because the pavement was so bad, but quite a welcome relief not to have to pedal to cover some good distance. We’d rested and had a potty break at the top, so we all carried on to Fox Hill Cheese, where we re-united with those who chose not to climb.

image image

At that point, Alan reported that he’d read/heard about the WDBJ shootings, and knowing that Jack and I were local to the events, he wanted us to know before we had to see it on TV or someplace. One of our group hit the internet to get the details, and we were so very sad to hear that Joe Dashiell’s colleagues were mortally wounded in the event (early Wednesday, August 26). We were heartbroken for all the WDBJ family.

With heavy hearts, and under a loury sky, we departed the cheese place and carried on to Victoria’s Inn, with a quick stop at Sea Level Brewpub for a pint before we all had to get ready to take the van out to Hall’s Point, right on the Bay of Fundy, to our dinner stop, Hall’s Lobster Pound.

image image image

It rained the entire way out there, so our hoped-for outside seating was not possible. But we went in, chose our lobsters from the aquarium (for lack of a better word for it) and a great storyteller (named Lowell) gave us the low-down on lobsters — what they eat, how long they live, and so forth.

image

Then we sat down and I broke into my first whole lobster. My overall impression of lobster (yeah, it’s okay, but I like shrimp better and so the cost of lobster is really wasted on me) did not improve with this experience. Sure, it was fun, and there were enough folks at the table who love lobster and could guide me in taking one apart for the “good stuff,” but, well; meh.

image

Who knew that barnacles would grow on lobster claws? Not I.
Who knew that barnacles would grow on lobster claws? Not I.
The damage done at my end of the table.
The damage done at my end of the table.

When we arrived at the harbor, the tide was out. When we finished dinner, the Fundy tide was returning and the photos tell it all. Happily, the rain had stopped by then also, so we were able to hang out near the pier a while as the sun set.

image image image

Bicycle Tour Beginnings

Monday, August 24: Checked out of our lovely (if somewhat damp) Blomidon Provincial Park site this AM early, so we could get to Sue’s home when we’d told her we’d be there, to park Roomba for a while. Naturally, the day we had to check out was the most beautiful day of our stay. Goodbye Blomidon PP – we will definitely come back to stay again.

 
From there, we also had to to manage our day sufficiently that we could drive to the Halifax airport Holiday Inn (where our bicycle tour will terminate) to park our car; and then somehow manage to get ourselves down to Halifax proper and link back up with our bikes, and meet our tour group for dinner.

Roomba rode like a champ to Sue’s place, and we introduced ourselves and had a great time not only showing off our trailer, but also touring their 1850s-era home and all the renovations they’d made there, and then sharing a spectacular lunch with Sue, Jim and my Virginia friend’s sister, Jen.

The day had dried off and the wind had come up and it finally became what I’d expected we’d find, weather-wise, here in Nova Scotia. We spent a few hours chatting and sharing stories with them and had a truly delightful time. As we were sharing our meal, a bald eagle graced our skies and we all had a look as it soared in the blue sky.

We said a reluctant goodbye to Roomba, shut down the systems, gave away our leftover food, and then Sue and Jim took us up to one of the nearby wild blueberry farms, where we could see all around the 5 or so districts, and ate a couple warm wild blueberries, standing in wild thyme patches. It was lovely.

Headed to the airport Holiday Inn on an easy drive, and caught a cab from there to Halifax. Very chatty driver from Poland, who said we must absolutely not miss the salt mine-turned museum in a village near Krakow, when we go there (the dollar is quite good against the Polish currency right now, we learned).

As Jack was continuing to chat with our driver (and paying him $70 Canadian) Laura and Craig English, two of our fellow tour riders, asked if Jack always chats up the cabbies like this – of course, I answered, “He chats up everyone like this. It’s why we’re always late!”

We hugged necks and they were off to the harbor, and we were off for a shower before the group gathering for dinner.

16 of our 20 gathered in the lobby of the Hampton Inn, and we walked the couple of blocks to our group dinner at a restaurant called Five Fishermen. Met up with 2 of the group there (staying at a different hotel) and the final two of our number went whale watching instead of joining us for dinner.

Allen gave us the overview of the tour and those of us in the group who had not ridden together in the past introduced ourselves and we had a delicious meal with wine tastings from the local offerings and an excellent locally-made Ale served at a quite decent temperature (not too cold) from a Nova Scotia micro brewery whose name I could not pronounce last night and cannot remember now, but will try to get and document, because I hope to have another soon.

  
We van our suitcases and those bicycles brought from home (including ours) up to Wolfville tomorrow, where those who did not bring their own cycles will be fitted for their tour riding machines. Then it’s going to be a quick ride to lunch and then I think we get to decide where and how far to ride after lunch. Might depend on whether there is wine involved with lunch or not 🙂

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Sunday, August 23: This was our day to take our bicycles into Halifax to store them prior to our tour group’s kickoff gathering tomorrow evening. When we arose, the sky was blue but the sun wasn’t up yet. Then the fog rolled back in and we didn’t see the sun again until much later. We hitched the bike carrier and left Roomba for another day. 

The drive to Halifax was uneventful, and we got on the correct road to the Hampton Inn Suites, but we overlooked the actual hotel in the deep downtown of Halifax. A little more working our way around, and we found it. After we made the arrangements for the manager to store them, we headed down to the seaside walk to find lunch. We did find Alexander Keith’s Nova Scotia Brewery, which has been around for centuries, apparently. But it’s in a lovely old factory building right by the waterfront, and inside was a handy place to have a pint and some fish ‘n chips. The meal was excellent — the beer only okay.

  
We did some more wandering, and stopped by a bakery to get some bread to add to the lunch we’re planning with Sue, the friend who’s going to store our Roomba while we cycle about. We also stopped by a place called Rum Runners to get a small rum cake to finish our lunch tomorrow.

Halifax is a great big city and harbor, so there were lots of shops and restaurants and plenty of tourists and things going on. We saw the biggest ship I’ve ever seen that was privately owned, moored along the boardwalk.

   
   
The weather stayed dry but overcast down south. I took my jacket and rain hat along as we hiked the boardwalk. But we never got wet while out of the car. Got a few sprinkles along the drive, though.
Heading back, we drove through Wolfville, where our bike tour will begin on Tuesday. It’s a lovely small village that I’m looking forward to seeing in more detail from cycle-back. From there, we could see the Blomidon escarpment (if it can be called that), which has been our “home” for the past few days, but will also be a part of our cycle tour. 

  
There is wi-fi right around the Park Office, so I sat there for a while to get some blog backlog up to the ether. The person manning the station said it had cleared up by about 11A up there, and they’d had spotty sunshine throughout the day. So Roomba’s solar panels got a little boost while we were away, after all.

When we returned to camp, my poor slippers were just as wet as the day before, and we really had no way to dry them with the humidity. They were beginning to smell bad. I despair that my fave slippers will not survive the Blomidon Drench.

  

North Shore Exploration

Saturday, August 22: Leaving Roomba behind, we set out to explore the North Shore of Nova Scotia. We’d read about an island called Annapolis Royal, restored to its historic nature for tourism; and of course, the famous Digby scallops. 

Digby was a far piece away, but we decided to have a lunch of famous scallops there, then work our way back Blomidon way, hitting Annapolis Royal after lunch.

On the way out, with the tide out, we saw some of the enormous differential between Bay of Fundy related high and low tides. The photo doesn’t do it justice – it’s nearly unbelievable.

 

At high tide, there is no red mud visible except along the high sandstone embankments, and the “structure” at the end of the point is surrounded by water and nearly submerged.
 
I was really looking forward to Digby, as it sounded like (from our NS guide book) a quaint fishing town, and on the map it looked beautifully situated in a harbor protected by land, but with a narrow opening to the Bay of Fundy. Jack was looking forward to it because of all foods, scallops are among his faves.

It began raining as we ventured south, and we took the “interstate” 101, so there wasn’t much to see along the way. We passed through the Annapolis Valley, a serious growing region for everything from apples and grapes to oat straw and hay.

Upon reaching Digby it was still foggy but the rain had turned intermittent. The guide book recommended a place called Fundy Restaurant for our scallops, and our first clue to the coming disappointment should have been that the place was nearly empty on an August Saturday.

The meal we got was lunch-priced and sized, but it was their special scallops (supposedly) pan fried in garlic butter. The waitress said it was served with fries and cole slaw.

When it came, the scallops appeared nicely browned, but we bit into them and found a) little to no garlic and b) they were overcooked and tough. The slaw was watery and uninspired, and the fries were pretty good. We paid quite a lot of money for these “famous” Digby scallops. Too bad.

The rain came and went, and I still wanted to get out for a quick walk around the harbor, so we left the restaurant for a wander. The harbor was a good walk – I love taking pictures of fishing boats and floats and such. The gray day added to the impact of the colors. 

   
    
   
And then the fog rolled across the steadily increasing tide of the bay. Very interesting shots to be had there, one of which I took in black and white because I felt it would be most striking without color.

  
    
   
But Digby itself was seedy and drab. There were many empty store fronts, and lots of run-down apartments and dilapidated homes. The only people we saw about were elderly locals and maybe one family of tourists. It looked to me like a dying community.

And we drove 1.5 hours for this?

At this point, the rain began more steadily, and walking about a restored old downtown (the largest collection of pre-1800 buildings in NS), or the historic gardens (!), so we did a drive-by (I got a photo of the sculpture in front of the garden entrance):

  
And then headed to the Annapolis Tidal Station Interpretive center. A great storyteller explained the history and theory behind the turbines installed 30-some years ago to test theories about generating energy from the enormous Fundy Bay tide surges. Some of the ideas, including the one we could see at work at this center, were great theories, but in practice, proved to be far from practical for useful energy generation. It was quite interesting and we were dry for the experience.

Highlights of the drive (alongside the excellent tidal generation presentation) were: sighting of a bald eagle, a redtail, and an osprey. As we drove the back road to our campground, we saw an enormous, very dark-colored rabbit. And saw another right in camp. On the ‘other wildlife’ side, we saw a flattened fox and skunk along the road. And CROWS! I think I’ve never seen so many crows in my life. Thinking of CJ almost constantly.

  
We had briefly discussed combining efforts on a dinner with Mike and Mary (the Alto 1743 owners in camp), so we stopped to get a small amount of additional provisions to add to the effort. And we heard from our friend’s mom, who’s going to shelter our Roomba at her home while we take our ride, starting Monday. While both trying to eat our store of food down in anticipation of leaving everything behind for 10 days, we decided to get some asparagus and a little more wine. But as we emerged from the grocery place, it was positively tipping with rain, and thunder and lightening had entered the mix. A quick google on our Canada phone showed weather warnings for dangerous amounts of heavy rain. So as we headed back to our site, we stopped at Mary & Mike’s to see if they were in and to postpone our sharing a meal until they get to Meadows of Dan in mid-October.

As we rounded the bends back to our spot, we saw that the wind and/or rain had played havoc with our awning, and everything was wetly draped over everything else. The good news was that the bicycles and the one open window in Roomba were dry; and that most everything else could be wiped down pretty easily. The bad news was that my slippers for indoors were soaked, and our two camp chairs were holding pools of water.

Pretty easy to set everything back up, but boy is the ground, air, and most everything wet wet wet. And since it was foggy and/or rainy all day, Roomba’s solar panels didn’t give the battery much help while we were gone. But we didn’t use much, being gone, so we felt sure we’d be able to make it through the night. Hope tomorrow is – if not sunny, then brighter and drier.

Saw this as we ate dinner, so maybe the weather will break tomorrow.

  

Training for Nova Scotia

Our third adventure with our wonderful camping trailer, Roomba, is a prelude to our Big Trip to Nova Scotia and the bicycle tour we’ve been planning for over a year.

We also wanted one more trip in Roomba with the doggies, since we’re not going to see them for a month. This idea conflicts with our intended training schedule: to head down to the New River Trail, our “hometown” Rails to Trails conversion, and ride it stem-to-stern on back-to-back days. This places our butts in the saddles for about 47 miles, which translates into a 5-hour day with a lunch stop. Times two.

So we didn’t want to leave the dogs in the Roomba or at home; nor with a kennel — so we conspired with friends to have a group camping experience at the New River Campground in Fries, Virginia (it’s pronounced “freeze” for you non-swva-ers). Gloria & Kerry like my dogs, and have one of their own, so Glo agreed to be the dog-sitter over the two days of our being on the trail. In addition, Jack and Martha recently got a camper van and they got pursuaded to join the fun and come with.

On Sunday afternoon we all arrived and hooked up and began sharing adult beverages, lies, and tall tales.

Monday (today) was the first of Jack’s and my cycling adventures. We got rolling around 9:30, and loaded the bikes on the car hitch for the drive from Fries to Pulaski, the opposite terminus for the trail (it also goes off toward Galax, but that ‘s a spur. At “Fries Junction” you can choose to head right to Fries or left to Galax — if we’d done both spurs, the total distance would have been approx 50 miles).

We left the dogs in Glo’s competent care and drove to within 2 miles of the downtown Pulaski terminus and began our trek in a sunny, only slightly overcast morning about 10:30.

   
   
 

We sincerely love the New River Trail and we’ve spent many miles traversing it. The scenery is quite fine and varied, and when we’re running our training rides there we try to not only stay in the saddle for many hours at a stretch, but also keep our pace higher than what we can manage when we’re riding the BRP. But we charged our panniers with lunch and rain gear and set off.

   
   
As we were trundling right along we were surprised to see fellow Floydians on the trail! Penny, Sue, and Shirley were taking a break along the trail between Draper and Hiawassee. We hit the breaks hard and circled back to say howdy. We chatted a while about bicycles, and places we ride, and those pesky pressure points where the human body meets the mechanical bicycle. Funny to run into folks from the old hometown a good 40 miles from home.

  

We made our way along the trail, across trestles and through tunnels until we arrived at Foster Falls, where we exited the trail, found a picnic table, and had our lunch. From about 12:30 until our finish time of 1:00, we watched dark clouds mound in the sky and just hoped that they would be moving toward Pulaski instead of toward Fries.

   
    
 

As we began the after-lunch portion of our ride, some thunder sounded, and a few drops began to fall. Rain had hit the trail earlier, we could tell from the footing and puddles. But we still had hopes that we might not have to endure.

WRONG. No more than about 5 miles into the afternoon, the heavens upened and began truly dumping on us. IT got dark, and the wind shifted to be in our faces. 

Nevertheless, it was not cold. So I never had to break out the rain coat. As Jack says: “You’re as wet in the first 45 seconds as you’ll get all day, so why bother?”

   
 
We escaped the deluge at Ivanhoe, long enough to clear our glasses and wipe the sweat rinsing down our faces and (mostly) into our eyes. The rain let up a tiny bit and we set off again.

Passed the Shot Tower, as Interstate 77 traffic roared overhead, and we knew it was exactly 15 miles to Fries Junction. It was along this stretch that Jack began experiencing mud build-up under his fenders and between his rims and his break pads. He began having to stop and remove the interference on his wheels’ ability to turn (and his breaks’ ability to stop him). I managed to keep rolling and arrived through the dark and the wet at Fries Junction about 10 minutes before Jack made it. 

We had a bit of energy boost, drank some water, and then set off again for the final 5.5 miles to Fries. The rain finally let up from deluge status to sprinkle as we climbed up to Main Street and wound our way back to the campground. Then it began raining again; stopped long enough for me to get into the shower; but was pissing down again after I got out and had dry clothes on for the first time in 3 hours of hard, soggy, riding.

The Hiltons made us all dinner, which we enjoyed tremendously (we provided a bit of an easy appetizer of frozen shrimp and cocktail sauce). And as I write this, Jack and I are inside Roomba with the doggies, listening to it rain on the roof again; wondering how much fun we’re going to have riding again in the rain tomorrow, back to pick up the car in Pulaski. 

At least we will be riding with the flow of the river this time, so the grade is generally downhill.