Garbage Day Treasure – Mystery Solved

I took the bill back to the bank where the alert bank manager took one look at the bill and said, “It’s movie money.”

As you can see from the photo, it’s obvious. it clearly says “Motion Picture Purposes” in multiple places and the serial number begins with “MP”. And the motto on the back says, “In Props We Trust”.

Update on the Garbage Day Treasure

Yesterday I took the $100 bill I found on the street to a bank. The tellers gave it a close inspection and said that it was fake. So I took it to a second bank. The teller there reached the same conclusion. From where I stand it was a pretty good fake printed on paper that seemed legit.

I asked the teller what to do with the fake bill and she said to google the U. S. Treasury Department. I already knew from a rather crazy incident in my grad school days that the Secret Service is the branch of government that deals with counterfeiting. I found the number for the nearest Secret Service office in my state and called them. They told me to turn the bill over to a bank and have the bank call them.

It’s a bit troubling that the person I talked at the Secret Service didn’t seem overly alarmed by the fact that I had found a counterfeit $100 bill. And there was no urgency to her instruction to take it to a bank. It’s also a bit troubling that neither bank knew that they were suppose to confiscate the bill and send it to the Secret Service.

I’m going to the bank tomorrow to turn over the bill. We’ll see what happens. There’s still the remote chance that it is a legitimate bill that was damaged by being out on the road.

Garbage Day Treasure

Ever since my running days I have found things during my daily jaunts either on foot or by bike. When I was running I’d pick up a dollar or two each week in coins. My theory was that when people reached into their pocket for their car keys they’d pull out a few coins by accident. Most of my runs on the city streets in and around Providence were along parked cars so inevitably I’d scoop up some laundry money. The most I ever found back in my running days was a $5 bill. For a starving grad student this was a big windfall.

DC may not be such a great place to run (way too hot and humid) but it’s fantastic for roadside treasure. My most frequent finds are golf balls. This is especially true in early spring when the ground is hard and the golfers are rusty. Errant shots hit the hard ground and bounce clear off the golf courses. I have found as many as a dozen balls in a single 30-mile ride. I have a bag in my shed with over four dozen balls in it and that’s after giving away a few dozen over the last two years.

Every so often I find something else of use. I have a pretty nice pair of garden shears, a pair of pliers, and a phillips head screwdriver, all from bike rides.

From time to time I find cash. Not the change of my old running days but currency. Once again I figure this is the result of someone reaching into their pockets for keys or a phone and inadvertently pulling out a few bills. Six years ago I was shocked to find $140 – two $20s and a $100 bill – on the street in front of my house. It was garbage day and I suspected that one of the workers on a garbage truck dropped the money. I had no way of reuniting the money with its owner so I held on to it. Eventually I donated it at a fundraiser for the daughters of a woman named Rose who was run over and killed on Del Ray Boulevard in Alexandria.

It’s been a long time since I’ve found money lying around. This morning I went to the bank. After I was done I spotted a dime sitting on the chair I had been using in the waiting area. How strange, I thought. I don’t carry coins these days. I pocketed the dime and laughed. It’s my lucky day.

After my bank errand I went for a ride on Big Nellie. We were making our way along Fort Hunt Road heading for Alexandria city. I stopped at a red light. Big Nellie isn’t the fastest accelerating bike on the planet so we were only going about 5 miles per hour after we crossed the intersection on the green light. I noticed what looked like a dollar bill on the paved shoulder. After passing it, I hit the brakes and duck walked the bike back to the bill. It wasn’t a dollar. It was another $100 bill.

This is a test right? I mean who the heck finds a $100 bill in the road even once? Unlike the previous bills this one was pretty beat up. Maybe it had been there a while. Then, again, maybe not. After all, in a weird coincidence, today is garbage day.

What the most unusual thing you’ve found on your walks, hikes, or bike rides?

The 2021 Fifty States Ride: 50 x 13 = A Whole Lotta Hills

The 50 States Ride, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s signature event, is my (nearly) annual exercise in self abuse on a bicycle. I’ve done it all but three years since 2006. making this my 13th time. The course is about 60 miles long, weaving through all eight wards of DC so that riders pedal their steeds on the avenues named for all 50 States.

Each year the course is tweaked. This year for the first time that I know of the start of the course was moved from centrally located Adams Morgan to Yards Park in near Southeast DC, on the banks of the Anacostia River. The change moved the first 15 miles of flat terrain to the end of the ride. Yay! Oh, wait.

Starting at Yards Park meant that the first of countless hill climbs came at about one mile into the ride instead of 18 miles. Put on your big boy pants, this is gonna hurt.

And it did. Riding up Martin Luther King Boulevard in Anacostia, I was dropped by my posse – Michael B., Kevin W., Peter K., and Chris M., augmented by Shira and Steve O. piloting tandems with blind stokers. All of these riders are young whippersnappers and I knew I had no hope of keeping up.

After a brief descent from Alabama Avenue and a flat section on Mississippi Avenue we climbed right back up to an even higher point on Alabama. Dropped again. My posse humanely waited for me to catch up. Another flat-ish section was followed by a descent to Texas and another climb back up. Whose idea was this, anyway?

The next 10 miles or so was relatively easy as the route descended to and over the Anacostia to the Hill East and Capitol Hill neighborhoods. Despite its name, Capitol Hill isn’t much of a hill. We rode north through NoMa and into Trinidad past my friend Dave’s ghost bike (a bicycle painted all white as a memorial to and reminder of Dave’s demise from an out-of-control driver in a stolen van).

After a brief pit stop, we began to climb again up aptly named Montana Avenue and up 18th Street Northeast. This long stretch on 18th was designed to put us on busy and traffic crazy South Dakota Avenue for the shortest distance possible. After three quick turns we were headed southwest on busy and traffic crazy Michigan Avenue. We took the lane and rode in a pack which gave us the illusion of safety.

Once past Catholic University we began another climb up bumpy Hawaii Avenue. At this point, Michael left us. He was riding a single speed bike and wisely opted to swap sanity for knee cartilage.

Next up was the Petworth neighborhood. This section was not particularly hilly but involved several turns (and a walk through a farmers market on Colorado Avenue). We headed north to the northern peak of the city. (DC is shaped like a diamond with a bit taken out of its lower left quadrant.) Here we stopped at the Takoma pit stop, home of Mike and Lisa, about whom I can’t say enough nice things. So I won’t.

(No seriously. They do this pit stop thing every year allowing totally sweaty total strangers to use their restrooms and trample their front yards. And they are Nats fans. Lisa maintains a bobblehead shrine. And they ride a tandem that has weird asynchronous pedaling. And Mike has a DC area GPS in his head and knows every street within a 50 mile radius. Also, he laughs at my jokes.)

Lisa and Mike – They’re the pits

After the pit stop we headed to Alaska. As we made the turn back toward the southwest we had our pictures taken by Patti Heck, who does this every year rain or shine. She posts the pix on her Flickr page so check them out. She even got a group picture of my posse. (And an shot of me too.)

We rode down into Rock Creek Park then back up the opposite side into Chevy Chase, home of posh single family homes. We continued working our way south to encounter a climb up Fessenden Street. Somehow I always forget about this monster. Dropped again.

Down and back up to ride Nebraska past American University. Then down a looong way to MacArthur Boulevard in the Palisades neighborhood. Now came the hard part. Up a short, steep stretch on Aspen. Then a reprieve for a mile followed by the longer, steep climb up Garfield Street. When the route started in Adams Morgan this beast came around the 55-mile mark. This year it came around 40 miles when legs were not completely spent. We managed it without much difficulty at all.

Unfortunately, about a mile after a descent from the top of Garfield came Cathedral Avenue, another tough climb my brain had blocked out. Fortunately, there was a water stop at the top of the hill. Unfortunately it was out of water. No worries; all of us had plenty of water to spare on our bikes.

The remainder of the ride took us back across Rock Creek Park to the start of the old route. From there we weaved our way down to downtown on flat streets. During this part someone on a bike yelled out to us. I had no idea who it was but one of my posse recognized the voice. It was Ursula who works for WABA. When we reached the final pit stop at City Center, she re-appeared. She was riding a shorter route with her parents. We chatted a bunch then the posse headed out for the finish. Down to Penn Quarter, over to Union Station, around the Capitol, through Southwest, past the Tidal Basin. We did a 3 1/2 mile loop to Hains Point in East Potomac Park. I had been feeling dead at that last pit stop but adrenaline kicked in and the wind-assisted ride back from the point felt like I was sailing.

The last bit of the ride took us past The Wharf and around Fort McNair. We then did a close pass of the northern end of the brand new Frederick Douglas Bridge, being careful to navigate a construction zone and beaucoup bridge traffic. After a half lap around Nationals Park we arrived at the finish. Knackered and chuffed, we joined the after party where we picked up our t-shirts and shared a victory beer and a slice of pizza.

The things this idiot will do for a t-shirt

As an added bit of pleasantness we were greeted by Jesse, a member of my 2018 50-States posse, and her friend Mike (the two of them housed me at the end of my 2019 tour in San Francisco) and Kitty, a friend who has been living in Brazil for the last few years.

As always, big thanks to all the volunteers (including my friends Monica and Josephine) and to the WABA folks, especially Anna McCormally WABA’s events coordinator, for making this ride a success once again.

Friday Pandemic Club

As long time readers of this pathetic blog know, Friday Coffee Club is a thing. Every Friday before work, bike commuters would assemble at M. E. Swings house of caffeine on G Street NW in Washington DC for a dose of friendship with a side of coffee. About a year and a half ago, Coffee Club was suspended and Swings suspended operations at it’s G Street location, because no one was commuting to the nearby office buildings.

Coffee Club regulars continued to meet in smaller gatherings. I attended a few, one on Capitol Hill and a few more in Old Town Alexandria. The vibe somehow was not the same.

Earlier this week, Felkerino, one of the co-founders of Friday Coffee Club, posted a picture of the G Street location, open at long last. This morning, without any announcement, the Caffienators assembled. I woke up extra early and rode to DC in the dark. The cool dry air begged for warmer clothing so I broke out a vest that has all kinds of reflective material on the back,

The sun was just beginning to rise as I approached Old Town Alexandria on the Mount Vernon Trail along the Potomac River.

Into a headwind The Mule and I continued the trek. After about 80 minutes we arrived at Swings at 7:30 only to see this sign.

Derp.

There was a large plastic bag on the ledge next to the front door. After a few minutes an employee came along grabbed the bag and went inside. As it turns out the bag contained the day’s shipment of pastries. And to think I could have robbed the Glendale train and made off with the gold!

Soon, I was joined by Man-about-Town, Joe Flood. As always, Joe who is a skilled writer and photographer, made for good company.

Joe Flood and his steed

The shop’s lights went on and I went inside for a jumbo High Mountain drip coffee and a blueberry scone. Back outside Joe had been joined by Jeanne and we were up and running. Soon more folks arrived, eventually including Felkerino and his partner in caffeinated cycling Coffeeneur. The rest of the crowd included Rudi (who was actually once in a Dunkin Donuts TV commercial), Peter, Steve C., Steve O. Leslie, and Ricki.

Friday Coffee Club in between the women’s arrivals and departures

Ricki told us all about his recent bike racing mishap in Vermont. He came bombing down a hill carrying too much speed to negotiate a turn. He had a choice between crashing in the gravel on the road or taking his chances with the bushes on the outside of the bend. He took door number 2 and went careening down a six foot embankment, ending pathetically in a small pond. (His bike was unharmed; it had the good sense to land in some tall grass next to the water.)

As he was soon to learn, Ricky had broken his left clavicle during the crash. (He will have surgery next week. He should be back to what passes for normal in a couple of months.) He was actually fortunate to be conscious (and not underwater). He was out of sight of the road and could hear riders riding past above him. Soaking wet and beginning to chill, he cried out for help and some riders came to his assistance. They found a house nearby where they could leave his bike. An ambulance came and carted him off to urgent care.

After Coffee Club Peter and I rode over to the White House plaza. This is a short stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House. As I had done a dozen times this summer, I rode through the security bollards and headed for Lafayette Park. A Secret Service officer on a bike came rolling toward me and sternly told me to leave as the plaza was closed. I think he was upset that his colleagues stood by as I rolled through the security perimeter. All in all, I am glad I didn’t wear my “Stop the Steal” t-shirt. (Just kidding.)

Peter and I split up a couple of blocks later. I could hear him yelling, “You’ll never take me alive, coppers!” as he rode up 16th Street.

On the way home I had a chance to ride through the splendid extension of the 15th Street cycletrack. This two-way bicycle lane continues the cycletrack from Pennsylvania Avenue at the Ellipse to Constitution Avenue. Car traffic is unlikely to be affected by the change as the cycletrack displaces the visual blight of a dozen vendor trucks that sold tourist crap. (There are still scores of them all over the city.) The city also rehabbed the roadbed, removing some nasty moguls just before Constitution. In the days ahead, ‘need to install flexposts or bollards to deter drivers from parking and driving in the cycletrack.

in addition to the police at the plaza there were beaucoup police amassing where Pennsylvania Avenue dead ends at 15th. I had assumed that the police presence was some kind of practice for events connected to tomorrow’s 20th anniversary of 9/11. It turned out to be just normal (three motorcycles, four or five SUVs and squad cars, and a helicopter) security for the President (and First Lady) who were doing some eventing in town. No worries, the presidential motorcade also includes a dozen armored and armed SUVs.

I rode home across the 14th Street Bridge. Each year around 9/11 someone puts small American flags on the railing along the bridge’s side path. They must work quickly because I don’t remember seeing the flags on my way into town.

Flags on the 14th Street Bridge. Pentagon at far upper right.

The ride home was a breeze. Literally, as you can see from the flags, I made the 12 miles without effort.

How nice it feels to have Friday Coffee Club back on my calendar. It’s a great little tradition. Speaking of traditions, tomorrow is my 13th 50 States Ride. It’s a non-competitive ride on open streets through all eight wards of DC. It was designed by masochists who managed to find every stinking hill in town. Only a fool would do it more than once.

You’re looking at him.

When I woke up today, my 50 States posse was just three fools: Kevin W., Michael B., and me. As the day wore on, several more people reached out to join us in the 60-odd miles of two-wheeled urban insanity. We will do ur best to avoid ponds.

Back on Track – August 2021

I have been thinking about a three-peat all year. I did over 10,000 miles in 2019 and 2020. Can I pull it off again?

It was looking pretty bleak there for a while. My winter doldrums put me 2,000 miles in the hole. Some of this is expected because of the crummy riding weather early in the year but I, to be honest, was outdoing myself in the sloth department.

Each month since March, I’ve been chipping away at the deficit. I finally made it back on track last week. I am now on schedule to reach 10,059 miles by year’s end. To get there, I have to bang out some big miles in September and October because November and December are usually inhospitable to wheeling.

When it wasn’t wet around here, it was oppressively hot and humid. It’s been so muggy recently that even the breeze generated by riding has not been a relief. Ugh.

I rode 29 out of 31 days last month for a total of 957 miles. My longest ride was only 39 miles. But for few short rides to run errands and test out my handiwork on a few of my bikes, my shortest ride was 29 miles. My recent ride on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, filled with road and bridge outages, was my only ride that didn’t begin and end at home.

I attended a few coffee get-togethers in Old Town Alexandria at the ungodly hour of 7 a.m. (Thanks, Judd.) I also rode into DC for a happy hour. (Thanks, Kate.) And then there was a ride to the ballpark. (The Nats lost.) And a social ride that toured sites of import to the history of entertainment in Alexandria. (Thanks, Josephine.)

Little NellieBig NellieThe MuleThe CrossCheckTotal
August 202161.5348.0134.0413.5957.0
2021 Year-to-Date84.51,709.52,124.52,778.56,697.0

Among the accomplishments buried in the numbers are the fact that I moved my daughter to law school in Connecticut without destroying my back. I am still waiting for a crushing spasm to knock me off my feet, as I knock wood whenever the chance arises.

I finally got back on Little Nellie, my Bike Friday folding travel bike. I lowered the handlebars and the change greatly improved the ride quality. Unfortunately, the impact shock of the bike’s wee wheels still does not agree with my lower back. More tweaks lie ahead.

And Big Nellie returned to form after its fork snapped off during a ride in June. With the help of Peter Stull of The Bicycle Man who sold me the fork and the three-headed team – Beth, Daniel, and Tim – at Bikes at Vienna Humpty Dumpty was put back together again. It took me a while to trust the bike again, fork breaks will do that, I am now zipping around on my street luge to the amusement of little kids and the scoffs of teenagers. Recumbents reveal these things about child development.

My next mechanical issue is the repair of the Brooks saddle on The Mule. After over 6,000 miles of riding one of the nuts holding the springs on the underside of the saddle worked its way loose and fell off. The bike is still rideable but I suspect the nut was there for a reason and am determined to replace it. Normally, I’d go to the hardware store and buy a nut and thread it back on and tighten it with a wrench. But NOOOO. This nut is for a 9/32 sized bolt which Brooks sourced from another planet. And the wrench is every bit as rare. My plan is to steal a nut from another Brooks saddle and hope I can thread it on with an adjustable wrench. If not, I’ll be ordering a wrench and a nut from the Interwebs in the hopes of healing the patient.

On to September. Long rides ahead!

Nothing Ever Happens Around Here

Yesterday promised to be another slog in the godawful heat and humidity that defines DC in August. I lit out on Big Nellie for a ride around the neighborhood, my 30-mile constitutional. Another ho-hum day riding around in circles awaited.

I made my way to Fort Hunt Park and rode the 1 1/2 mile circuit over and over. On my first lap I heard a siren outside the park. It was moving toward the nearby GW Parkway and Mount Vernon Trail. On my next lap I heard a helicopter. I immediately assumed that it was a medivac flight for some unfortunate trail user, the victim of heat exhaustion or a bike crash. As the helicopter crossed through a gap in the tree canopy I saw that it was a Fairfax County Police helicopter. They are used to search, often for ne’er-do-wells. Another lap later I saw the helicopter drop low over the Parkway and Trail, heading north fast. A pursuit?

I left the park and made my way through the neighborhoods immediately west of the Parkway and Trail. As I rode toward the Parkway on Waynewood Boulevard I could see police and fire department vehicles parked on the Parkway. There must have been ten assorted vehicles: fire engines, ambulances, police cruisers and SUVs – marked and unmarked. The focus of the assembled responders was on the opposite side of the Parkway where there was activity on the slope going down to the Potomac River.

I talked with some bystanders but no one had any information about what was happening. Clearly some kind of search was involved. After a few minutes, someone said that there were police boats in the river.

Today this notice was posted on the Park Police website.

Image

I went back to the search site today just as a police vehicle pulled up with a search dog. Doesn’t look good.

It is times like these when I remember going for a walk with my friend Owen back in high school. It was a dreary night with low clouds. One of us said, “Nothing ever happens around here.” Within minutes a plane flew over our head, on the flight path to the airport six miles away. It didn’t look or sound right but the clouds and the darkness obscured it from view. We looked at each other then took off in the direction of the plane. THUD.

The plane had crashed into a house about a mile away.

Embrace the ennui. my friends.

Bridges of Dorchester County

The other day I was cleaning out my shed. In the process I came across an old map of a bike ride called The Bridges of Dorchester County. The map was a photocopy from the book The Washington Area Bicycling Atlas. The book is long gone mostly because I destroyed it making photocopies.

The ride aboard The Mule began at the Cambridge-Dorchester Regional Airport which was just off route. The first six miles were uneventful. Flat. Hot. Humid. Nice breeze. Soon I crossed a short, picture pretty bridge.

First bridge looked promising

Soon I came upon an electronic road sign warning that the road ahead was closed. In my experience most road closures make the way impassible for cars but not bikes so I forged ahead. In short order I encountered a flatbed truck situated in the middle of the road and backing away from me. I pulled along side and asked the driver if I could get through. He said it was okay. A hundred yards later I came upon a motely road crew. Five guys in t-shirts standing around admiring their achievement. This appeared to involve tying off a large black tarp extending from a jersey barrier down an embankment into an overflowing creek. Well done boys.

I passed through with a minimum of chit chat, bewildered by what exactly these five knuckleheads were trying to accomplish.

Not a half mile later I came upon a detour sign. I ignored it, of course. Detours and road closures have the side benefit of keeping car traffic to a level only a tad above nonexistent. Good for me.

Next came a road sign that said “Bridge Closed”. Not having any idea how far away the bridge might be, I soldiered on.

From time to time, I crossed cuts in the road that were filled with hard packed dirt and loose gravel. There were about 20 of these. They spanned the road from one edge to the other and were about ten feet across. From what I gathered new culverts had been placed across the road to act as an outlet for the swollen creeks and drainage ditches that crisscross the area.

After about 15 miles or so the road bed began to deteriorate. The right side of the road was starting to cave in. There were small holes in the pavement that seemed to go down to nothing. In places half the lane I was in was shearing off. This didn’t cause me any trouble because the road was closed; I simply rode on the left hand side of the road.

Along this stretch a corporate jet came overhead. It was headed for a landing at the airport and was coming in hard and steep. I wonder who in this swampland has the money to afford a baby jet. In any case, I was thankful for the momentary diversion from the decrepit state of the pavement I was riding on.

Next up came a small group of goats munching on the grass and wandering in the road in front of a house. It occurred to me that being chased by a bunch of goats might make for a good story or an embarrassing demise. Alas, these goats were far more interested in leafy greens than white meat.

Seeing as how the road was literally falling to pieces, I was starting to get a little concerned about the bridge situation. I came to what appeared to be a low bridge over a narrow creek.There was a pile of concrete rubble on the right side of the road. And a large piece of road construction equipment parked on the left side. Hmmm.

Looking back: these roads could use a little work

Was this is the bridge that was closed?

Nope.

A short while later I spotted a wooden decked bridge that arched up about ten feet from the roadbed. AHA! The games afoot!

Just before the bridge three jersey barriers blocked the road. I walked The Mule around the barriers and approached the span. The asphalt on my side of the bridge ended and some oddly white concrete spanned the gap to the wooden bridge deck. The concrete was about a foot below the end of the deck and looked like it was liquid. Having never seen white concrete like this on a road before, I tested it with my foot. Despite looking like malted milk, it was firm so I stepped on it and hoisted The Mule onto the bridge deck.

I walked The Mule over the deck which spanned 100 yards of water, part of the Chicamacomico River. I watched as two men in a small outboard fishing boat motored toward the span from the right. I figured that if I fell in for some reason at least that could pull me out.

At the far side of the span I encountered a bit of a problem. The decking ended. I could see the wooden support beams that ran perpendicular to the decking. They appeared to be about three to five feet above the river. Hmmm.

I could turn around and retrace my ride, turning a 30-ish mile ride into a 40-ish mile ride, or I could figure out how to get The Mule and me across the gap.

Looking back at the gap.

There were some metal guardrails lying on the deck. They had a convenient groove in them that was just the right size for a bike tire. On the side of the bridge was a series of low support pillars for the guardrails and a full length beam.

I placed The Mule’s tires in the guard rail groove and used the tops of the pillars as support for my left hand. Then I walked the ten-foot gap. Where the bridge met land on the far side of the gap was a steep drop off. The roadway was blocked by a loop of yellow police tape. I lifted The Mule’s front wheel over the tape and after a few snags, I had it on the roadway beyond. Then I stepped up and over the tape. Finally, I pulled The Mule’s rear wheel over the tape. Ta da!

No muss. No fuss. I walked The Mule around another set of jersey barriers and made notice of a large black pickup truck parked on the grass along the road. I reasoned that if the truck could get here, then I can get out. This was a good thing because the prospect of trying to cross the gap on the bridge from this direction looked considerably more difficult. (I later figured that I could work my way across the gap backwards. This kind of thinking would probably qualify me to be on a Dorchester County road crew.)

The roadway and one bridge for the last ten miles of the ride were perfectly enjoyable. This was a good thing because the 91 degree heat and oppressive humidity were starting to be a concern. The last few miles were vaguely familiar. I had ridden a short version of this ride about eight or nine years ago after a work meeting in Cambridge. I was on Little Nellie on that ride and had forgotten to bring a head light. I had one little white blinky light. It made for a creepy ride.

Soccer players in the street are a hazard

It’s a bit of a shame that the roads and bridges on this ride are in such poor shape. It’s an interesting place to ride. There are farms (mostly soybeans and sorghum), woods, swamps, and creeks. One home had dozens of purple martin houses in its backyard. I didn’t see any of these birds but there were quite a few vultures cruising in the sky, perhaps looking for a meal of dead cyclist. I hear they are quite tasty when left to rot on the asphalt in the hot sun.

I took a few pix and put them on my Flickr page.

A Moving (and Mowing) Experience

The Move

The day finally came when we moved our daughter’s belongings to her apartment in West Hartford, about a mile away from the law school she’ll be attending. We didn’t know the apartment number or the access code to the building until a couple of days before we left so the prelude to the move has been a bit more stressful than expected. We also learned that her apartment is on the 3rd floor of a building without an elevator. What fun.

My wife and daughter loaded the 10-foot rental truck and the back of my wife’s Subaru Outback on Friday afternoon. I was spared this part of the work because my wife is the jenga ninja when it comes to packing stuff into cars and trucks. The truck was only about 1/2 to 1/3rd full, but everything was covered in furniture pads and jammed together so as to be stable in transit.

Just before 7 am on Saturday, I took off in the truck bound for Connecticut. My wife and daughter followed in the Outback about an hour later.

I was anxious about the drive, not having driven a truck of any sort since I moved to the DC area decades ago. No worries. Everything went smoothly for 40 miles when the tire pressure warning light came on. No bueno. I pulled into a truck stop and visually inspected the tires. They looked normal. I topped off the gas tank and hit the road. The idiot light came on and went off, probably a bad sensor. I checked again in Delaware then forgot about it.

I had to drive I-95 most of the way to Hartford because the rental contract penalized rather severely for extra mileage. Also, many of the alternative routes were for passenger cars only.

I was cooking with gas until I made it through the toll booths at the GW Bridge into New York City. That’s when I encountered a 60-mile traffic jam. Deep breaths. After two hours of stopping and going, I lucked out. The last 60 miles all the way to Hartford were uneventful. The Google, however, guided me to the address of my daughter’s apartment in Hartford. Luckily the actual destination in West Hartford was only a couple of miles distant.

After a little over 7 hours I arrived. Having had nothing but snacks to eat since leaving home, but wanting to avoid driving the truck, I skipped lunch and started to unload. Having parked about 100 feet from the door, I was pretty pleased to have packed a hand truck from home. This allowed me to shuttle batches of small items to the base of the stairs. I then carried the items up the 5 half-flights to her apartment. Over and over and over. Bicycle legs and lungs for the win.

I had made the last-second decision not to wear hiking boots for the move. Instead I pulled some old Hoka running shoes that my doctor had recommended to mitigate stenosis pain. With their absurdly thick midsole, they feel like pillows. They worked amazingly well. I didn’t have the slightest bit of back trouble during the move.

The building is old but her one-bedroom apartment has an updated kitchenette and bathroom. And the place is huge. After making 20 or so trips up and down the stairs I barely put a dent in filling the place.

The dining and living room during the move.

I was pretty gassed by the time my wife and daughter showed up and we began the process of moving the heavy stuff. We had one full-sized mattress, the pieces to a platform bed (it disassembles), two book cases, a table, a heavy box or two, and five boxes for a yet-to-be assembled Ikea dresser. We made relatively fast work of things and in a couple of hours finished getting it all upstairs. At this point we were all exhausted.

My level of exhaustion was close to that from my ride across Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California in 2019. My body had nothing left. I was doubled over in fatigue.

We took the truck to our assigned drop off facility, 11 miles away in Manchester. It was closed. My daughter tried to follow the website instructions to do an after-hours drop off but was stymied by the software. I tried on my phone and scored a generational triumph as I managed to get the software to work. After 20 minutes of cussing, answering questions, and taking photos that would have made Officer OB proud, we bid the monster farewell and left for our hotel, sore and utterly knackered

After showering we drove to a pizza place in downtown Hartford and had a wonderfully greasy pepperoni pie. We would have eaten anything to be honest but it was staggeringly good.

Desert was cheesecake and Advil.

On Sunday we drove to the Quaker Diner in West Hartford and hoovered us a fine breakfast. Then we made a Target run and went back to the apartment for more fun with assembling the dresser and setting things up. The dresser turned out to be your basic Ikea disaster. Two pieces were damaged in the process so they would make the trip back to home for replacement.

The bed assembly went without a hitch. The Ikea dresser not so much.
We may get Covid from eating here but it was a diner food emergency.

After a few hours we needed more shelving paper so I returned to Target and searched for lunch. Whole Foods was a fail. The bagel shop next door was a fail. Finally, I settled for a Subway a mile from the apartment. It was staffed by two young men who were either stoned or had the IQs of zoo animals. They messed up the order twice. I played supervisor and they finally got it together.

After eating we finished setting things up and with the two broken dresser panels in hand we left the apartment at 6 pm. An apartment this big needs a sofa so it was off to some furniture stores. At the second store we found a sectional sofa that would make it through the narrow doors of the building. It will be delivered thank god.

At 7 pm. we hit the road for home. In the rain. Near Southport our journey slowed to a crawl again. This time for about 45 miles. At least we were in the Outback on the truck-free Merritt Parkway. Once into Westchester County the traffic abated. Still, the old parkways of this area of New York can be nerve wracking, especially in the dark and in the rain. We lucked out and drove across the Bronx and onto and across the GW Bridge without the slightest back up. The rest of the drive home involved minimal traffic delays even in the mixing bowl in Delaware. We made it home before 1 am. Suffice it to say, traffic from Newark to DC moved well above the posted speed.

I was a zombie from driving. Despite taking two Advil PMs I couldn’t fall asleep. I finally conked out around 3:30. After five hours I woke up. Groggy and sore everywhere. It may just be that moving is a young man’s game.

I ate breakfast then, naturally, went for a bike ride. I was so out of it that I actually became disoriented riding on familiar neighborhood streets. Three separate times I literally had no idea where I was. Somehow I managed to ride 30 miles without colliding with a tree. It’s a wonder that I found my way back home, I showered and slept for three hours. Dead to the world.

The Mow

You don’t really feel the pain of an extraordinary physical effort until the second day afterwards. Tuesday morning came and everything hurt. Now I could have taken a nap but I am after all a few spokes shy of a wheel. I decided that it would be a great idea to do some yard work in stifling heat and humidity. Perhaps the move damaged my brain.

I began by building up a sweat by trimming some bushes in the yard. Then I mowed my crabgrass and zoysia lawn that had grown incredibly dense in less than two weeks. The lawn was so thick that the mower bogged down several times. I was not having fun.

After trimming and blowing, I spread weed and feed on the lawn. This will confuse the lawn because it’s mostly weeds. (Do we grow or die? What does this jerk want? Let’s give him more crabgrass.) By the time I was done, my clothes and skin were covered in sweat and weed and feed. They don’t show you this on the TV ads for do it yourself lawn care.

After a quick shower and lunch I realized that my body needed more abuse so I went back outside for a bike ride. I was no longer groggy but my legs felt like lead, Normally I loosen up within a couple of miles of riding but on this day it took me 15 miles before my legs had any pop to them at all. With the heat index well over 100 degrees F, I rode another 15 miles. Along the way I downed four large bottles of water. My tummy was sloshing the whole way.

Years ago we visited some friends at their townhouse in Maryland. They had a new deck. I asked if they built it themselves. One of them replied, “Oh no. That’s why God invented money.”

Someday I’ll get religion.