8/4/20 – Chased by a Hurricane
We left New York as early as we could the day Hurricane Isaias was to hit. We gathered our things, hooked up the trailer, and were out of there in a New York minute. Our driving route was to the northeast, more east than north, toward Mystic, Connecticut. Pulling the trailer, we average 55 miles per hour. The path of the hurricane was moving due north along the Atlantic coastline. It was traveling at 70 miles per hour. We made it to the Seaport RV Park in Mystic mid-day, quickly setting up in our spot, right as the winds were picking up. We sat watching from inside the trailer as the trees blew around savagely. A trailer is pretty much the last place you want to be in a hurricane or tornado. We made a plan that if the winds started moving the trailer we would go to the truck and park next to a nearby building. We turned on the TV to watch the news. There were tornado warnings in central coastal Connecticut where we had just passed through. The news report showed a big tree blowing down across I-95 at a place we had passed just two hours earlier. All the lanes were blocked but one. The traffic was backing up and those poor travelers were sitting ducks right in the middle of the hurricane’s path. Newscasters stood on the beach recording steady 40 mile per hour winds with gusts up to 70. Power outages were being reported all over the state, but mostly to the west of us. It was an intense few hours, then everything settled down. It turns out we were at the edge of the storm, which blew inland right behind us. Had we delayed for even an hour getting out of New York, we would have been caught. Fortunately, we heard of no one in our vicinity being hurt, even those stranded on I-95. There was a lot of damage. Tree limbs big and small littered the highways. Overnight work crews worked to clear the roads.
The next morning was bright and beautiful, just like two days before in New York. I jumped on Sunride and went for a spin. Everywhere there was evidence of the storm. Most of the roads were cleared with only the small tree limbs remaining for me to dodge. I saw a large tree, at least a foot in diameter that fell on the power lines bowing them to within eight feet of the ground. A contractor was studying the situation. He was probably thinking if he cut on the high side, half the tree weight will fall to the ground and the lines will spring up bouncing the rooted side of the tree into the air.
I’d have to leave the cogitating to him, my job this fine day was to Sunride. I rode around Mystic then headed into Rhode Island. I was excited to go there because I had never been to Rhode Island, one of the only two states I hadn’t been to. The first town I entered was Ashaway, a small neighborly community that looked unchanged for 200 years. The buildings were old, the houses were old, a lot of the people I saw were old, but they were out walking enjoying a beautiful new day.
I passed the Ashaway Free Library, where I’ll send a copy of my book when I get home. One of the stated goals of Sunride is to donate a signed copy of FOOTPRINT, dated the day I was there, to a town in each of the 50 states I visit.
I circled back around riding through Stonington and Old Mystic, places settled in the 1600s.
There were no “Welcome to Connecticut” or “Welcome to Rhode Island” signs on the back roads I was riding. As one would think, there’s no noticeable difference in the landscape between the two states. Both have old waist-high stone wall fences, and old well-kept homes. The people are somewhat staid, nodding hello in a friendly manner rather than speaking it. No one stopped in their steps and gawked at Sunride like they did in Nebraska or Tennessee. They followed along with their eyes but didn’t move their heads. It’s the New England way to be a bit like Old England.
There are lots of beautiful churches in this part of the world. This one, a Baptist church set on a hill overlooking Mystic, I would love to attend, if it were Sunday and if Covin-19 were no more.
After my morning ride, 36 miles in all, we drove over to Watch Hill, Rhode Island, a gorgeous place where stately mansions look out over the ocean. A local told us we need not drive all the way to Newport to see the big expensive houses; Watch Hill, favored by wealthy Catholics to Newport’s Protestant elite, has plenty. Dear Lord, I hope we’re not still doing that Catholic-Protestant thing. That’s older than my great, great grandmother! I noticed that the homes weren’t enormous. They were large but exquisitely tasteful and elegant. One castle-looking home even had a guest house with turrets. Now that’s class! I’m sure even the smallest of the hillside mansions cost several million dollars; but they kept a lot of people busy building them and keeping them up. We took a nice walk on the beach and I took a quick dip into the Atlantic. It was cool but not freezing cold like Neskowin, our favorite beach back in Oregon. There were a smattering of people doing a good job of maintaining distance. It was purely relaxing, the way the ocean is.
We returned to Mystic, a lovely little town by the water, very picturesque, clean and nice. As recommended by Jon Ely, an old Coke Spy buddy from here, we had dinner at Abbots Lobster in the Rough overlooking a bay full of happy sailboats. We had raw oysters, a lobster roll (something like a lobster burger) and shared a 3-pound lobster. Even though they didn’t serve beer, it could not have been better. The lobster was rich and not just filling, fulfilling. I don’t think I ever experienced having enough lobster. Usually it’s a few bites and you wish you had more. That three-pounder satisfied both of us. We’d have the beer when we got home. The Elys, Jon and Caroline, invited us to their lake front home not far from Mystic. It was an enchanted evening. We went paddle boarding then swam half-a-mile out to the picturesque little island rising like a treed dome in the lake. For dinner our hosts grilled a sumptuous swordfish. I didn’t think anything could ever be as delicious as the lobster we had the night before but that swordfish was any lobster’s match. After dinner they took us on a boat ride around the lake. It was enchanting.
The next morning, I took another ride going on a new road to Groton. A man driving a Prius flagged me down to take a photo of the bike. He snapped several pictures of the bike from different angles. Mike was on his way to work at the Brumble Bike shop in nearby Westerly, Rhode, Island. We had a nice chat with his telling me where to ride and where not to in all the States where I’d be riding next. “Vermont,” he said, “has a lot of gravel roads. Be careful of that, and I would avoid Boston altogether.” He gave me other good tips for websites and maps to get me all the way back home. Thank you Mike!