Getting to Liftoff

It’s about 8 p.m. the night before the start of my ride to Maine and beyond. I have been buzzing around like a madman trying to get ready. Here’s a recap of my last five days of normal living.

Last Wednesday I drove to Albany to attend my 50th high school reunion. Along the 400-mile way, I stopped at Hyde Park to see the FDR house. It was a bit of a pain to get to but I did get to drive over the Mid-Hudson Bridge which is a state-of-the-art span built in 1925. The winding approach goes through a gash in rock. As I drove across I could see the Hudson River Walkway, part of my tour route, to my left.

Hyde Park was interesting. I thought it was on the Hudson but the view of the river is obscured by trees.

The ride from there to Albany is mostly on the roads that are designated as New York State Bike Route 9. I expected it to be hilly but, other than being a bit trafficky, it looks quite rideable.

I arrived, ate dinner, and went to bed.

On Thursday I drove to my brother Jim’s house. Jim and I did a 22-mile ride, mostly on the new Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail. The trail goes from the Port of Albany to the village of Voorheesville, west of Albany. Along the way it passes by the neighborhood where I lived for the first five years of my life. On the way back we swung by the old house, which looks remarkably unchanged but for an enclosed breezeway between the garage and the house.

After returning to Jim’s house, I drove to my sister Margaret’s house near the University of Albany (known to old timers like me as the State University of New York at Albany or SUNY Albany). My sister and I went to lunch. At about 3 p.m. I left her place and drove to a cemetery to see my parents’ and my younger brother’s grave. They are right where I last saw them but the pin oak tree that was planted in my father’s memory in 2005 is now enormous. He’d have like that.

Next, I drove up a hill to another cemetery to see President Chester A. Arthur’s grave. Ooh. Exciting. He was such a big deal that I had no idea he was buried in Albany until Margaret told me over lunch.

Back to the hotel I drove to clean up for dinner. I drove about and hour into the Adirondack foothills to have dinner with Jim and my other sister Roo and their spouses. The restaurant in the town of Galway was The Cock and Bull. It was a steak house in a barn. I had jambalaya and it was quite good. A quartet called Corner House played on a very small stage after we ate. They describe their style as influenced by Irish, Scottish, Appalachian Stringband, and Bluegras music. The space is so small that they interacted with the audience and even left the stage to play an impromptu acoustic encore sitting practically in our laps.

I arrived back at the hotel at 11. Too tired to sleep.

The next morning at the lobby complimentary breakfast I ran into a couple of classmates. Oddly the three of us are all born within 48 hours as I recall.

Then it was time for the main event. I drove to the school to meet up with about 15 classmates (our class had 40 graduates, all boys. 35 are still alive.). How strange it was to see people I haven’t seen since 1973. I didn’t recognize three of them at all. Some of my classmates didn’t recognize me. Touche.

After lunch I wandered around campus with Dave, a classmate that I had lived with briefly in college in a dilapidated old warehouse on the Boston waterfront. (The building has since been properly modernized and now probably costs a fortune to live in.) We were stunned to see the new indoor athletic building which included a very impressive indoor track. And we also saw the new swimming facility, a major upgrade from the musty old pool crammed in the back of the 150+ year old main school building. (I learned that the elementary school boys swam in the nude back in the day.)

After the tour, we attended an awards ceremony for the school’s Arts Hall of Fame. One of our classmates was inducted but we arrived late and missed his part of the event.

Next up was a playoff high school baseball game. It was a tight contest. The good guys won on in a walk-off, on a bases loaded walk.

After that came the reception in a tent outside the school. I met some classmates of my oldest brother, Bill. To be honest, despite being five years older, they looked better than my classmates.

After drinks (actually a beer for me) we had dinner in the open air outdoor pavilion which was paid for by the class of 1970, which included my brother Joe. Twas a lovely repast. We were joined by some 50-year celebrants from the girls school across the street. The separation by gender is being phased out as was the mandatory military program at the boy’s school.

After dinner we all decamped to a bar where some of my classmates had reserved a room for us. We hung out and chatted. A nice time for sure. And thankfully not nearly as alcohol intensive as my 25th reunion. (I had a single beer. What a lush.)

On Saturday I drove home in a driving rain. Ugh. Lucky for me the storm had bypassed my place so I mowed the lawn. By the time I was done I felt exhausted. My daughter had come home from law school to attend her 10th high school reunion. She warned us that she might be calling us to come pick her up if she had too much to drink.

Before she left, I opened some early Father’s Day gifts. Shorts that actually fit (I was stunned that I am now a size 36. No wonder my old pants kept falling off) and an Ottlight for reading.

At 3 a.m. we got the call from our girl and drove the half hour to DC. After tracking her down using an app, we retrieved her car and drove home arriving around 4 a.m.

Are you exhausted yet? I am. By now my sleep cycle was completely screwed up. On about 3 1/2 hours of sleep I started assembling all the stuff I’ll be taking on my trip. Then I went for a 30-mile on Big Nellie, because that’s what I do.

Sunday night we drove in to DC to see Crowded House perform. They put on a stellar show as usual. We arrived back home at 11.

Today, I finished packing and took The Mule on a loaded 2 1/2 mile test ride. It felt a bit like I was riding a buffalo but I’m sure I will get used to it after an hour tomorrow. Then I went for a 28-mile ride on Little Nellie.

When I arrived home I saw my daughter off then dealt with a medical billing issue that I’ve been dealing with. I am being charged a “facility fee” for my December colonoscopy. I never had to pay one before so I’ve been going back and forth between the doctor’s billing office and the insurance company. Somehow my procedure which heretofore had been termed “routine” was now defined as “diagnostic”. (Aren’t all colonoscopies diagnostic by definition? Oh well.) There difference in this one word could cost me $320. The insurance company has promised me a review. I am not optimistic.

And there your have it. Five days of mayhem. Just what I needed to get in the mood for my bike tour. To be honest I am not feeling all that good about this one. Hopefully, my attitude will improve after a couple of days in the saddle. Tomorrow I ride from Mount Vernon, Virginia to Linthicum, Maryland just inside the Baltimore beltway where I will stay at Mark and Tracie’s house. (Marc and I rode half the Trans Am Trail last summer with his lifetime pal Corey.) It should be about 55 miles with near perfect weather.

I hope to hit the road around 9. Judging from how tire I am at 8:45 p.m. it will be a minor miracle if I make it out of here before noon.

Stay tuned for daily updates. I will be posting fewer pix on the blog in the interest of saving some memory but any others will be posted on my Instagram and Flickr accounts. (Both under my goofy nickname Rootchopper).

6 thoughts on “Getting to Liftoff

  1. I need a nap after reading that. I was charged an “operating room fee” for a steroid injection for which I was not only clothed, but they said I didn’t have to take my snow boots off. (I did anyway.) It was in a carpeted office. I objected to the charge and said there was no way that was an operating room. I had to pay it anyway.

  2. Wow, riding your bike will be a breeze compared to the packed days you’ve had! Glad you have lovely weather for your first day on the road! I will think of you as I clock on at work at 9 a.m. in my little cubicle. Enjoy!!

  3. Enjoy. Hope the weather cooperates. As for me I recovered from my ride with you. I am in awe of what you are able to accomplish. I thought walking 6 miles a day was something but the bike ride with you (and I assure you I was able to do that same ride easily 2 years ago) and what you do on your bike are nothing short of amazing to me. Gotta go. Have to spread Marg’s mulch.

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