$7 :: snacks, smokes
26.26 mi :: 3.04 hr :: 40.1 mph :: 8.5 mph :: 5710 mi
It seems like I have endless tasks to finish before I can leave. Phone call to Dad, get packages ready for Mom, Dad, Cynthia, Dewey, and myself. Charge the phone card. Gather possessions from all over the house. Replace maps and reading material. Shower, eat. It’s closing in on noon before I’m ready.
I’ve left the house and come back enough times that it seems unreal that this time I won’t return. There are pictures and goodbyes in the driveway. Frank begins with a handshake and decides to part with a big hug instead. Dewey mounts his bike and we ride off together. He rides with me to Middlebury, four miles and two good hills. His mom meets us in town for one last ice cream and goodbye at Baba’s.
It’s lush green country riding to East Middlebury, then steep winding wooded road to Ripton. There my standards fail and I buy smokes, butts and all. I think because, having had one at some stirring, solitary, romantic moments of the trip, I have come to associate them with these otherwise wholesome experiences. I continue this unhealthy trend by having one on the utterly peaceful Robert Frost Trail, while sitting in the beauty contemplating a few of his poems.
I continue the steep climb up to 2000’. There I cross the Long Trail, deciding not to go for a hike due to the number of people there. Instead I fly down a couple of miles of 12% grade and turn off to go to Texas Falls. A lovely area of trails, falls, and picnic spots. At the last such spot I meet three retired Catholic schoolteachers. The ask the usual questions amidst offers of food. I refuse shrimp, the roasted chicken. Then they offer a Rum and Coke, which I heartily accept to their merriment, and join them at their table. They have a cottage near Middlebury where the power is still out. Jan, Jean, and Joan are full of laughs and smiles. They make me a couple of very stiff drinks before we part, putting me in a fine mood.
I pick up Moby Dick gingerly, in which I have so far read of nothing but dark longings for death’s adventures. I am immediately presented the image of Queequeg the headhunter and Ishmael waking in a bridal embrace. My laughter sails out into the mountains again and again.
Still giddy, I prepare to ride up the road a short ways and make camp. But my primitive urges rule me. As long as the road continues to rise, I cannot stop. I arrive at the road’s end, with a view of Braintree Mountain across, sweaty and jubilant.