8/28, 8/29, Alta Vista to Greensboro to Concord, NC.

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9000 Miles. Into North Carolina.

In Greensboro I stay at an Air BnB, the home of Ed and Sarah. Ed is a minister on the nearby college campus. I am their first guest, and I hope after me they still want to host! Sarah offers me some home cooked Indian Curry, which they felt was too spicy to eat, but I enjoyed it.

I explain that I’m an omnivore, which means that if half of it is edible, it’s all edible. Ahh, the advantages of a roaring furnace for a stomach. We talk about respect for and appreciation of the many beliefs that people hold.

I cycle to Concord NC, and stay at another Air BNB. Cynthia, my ex, who lives in NC, is going to drive a couple hours to visit me. I am looking forward to spending the day with my wife of 27 years. That’ll be the first familiar face I’ve seen in months.

Then it’s a push to get home. I can feel the tropical heat, I’m only 700 miles away.

Into North Carolina.

SAM 2051

The roaring chippy dust corn harvest.

SAM 2043

Fun to ride behind and watch horse legs.

SAM 2047

8/27, 8/28 2015 Haymarket VA to AltaVista VA

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Now that my focus is on getting home I am knocking off more miles each day, about 85. I finish around 4:30 PM. I could not do this without an ebike, it is 20 miles or more farther than I could go on a push bike, especially in the rollie pollie hills.

Last night I stayed at another airbnb, tonight I am camped behind another Wal Mart.

How to camp at Wal Mart: Choose your destination. At McDonalds go online and use google maps to get a satelite image of the areas surrounding the Wal Mart. Because most Wal Marts are newer and big, they tend to be on the outlying areas of town where there is a bit of woodland close. If there are no woods choose another destination.

Apon arrival at the Wal Mart, circle it looking for electrical outlets. Test the ones that you find. Run inside and get a cool drink. Then ride your ebike all around the Wal Mart area looking for the best spots to stealth camp. Don’t take the first one, just note your options and keep looking. Narrow it down, then explore the possibilities on foot. Try to meet these criteria: Pleasant, invisible to the curious, not on Wal Mart property, shortish walk to Wal Mart. Come as close as you can.

Stash your gear in your spot, making sure you can find it again. Grab the ebike, your water bladder, a razor, a toothbrush and a lock and ride back to Wal Mart. PLug in your ebike and lock it to two grocery carts. Grab your water bladder and go.

It’s time to eat and the options are many at a Wal Mart superstore. Usually there is a fast food operaration inside. Tonight dinner was a Subway, often it is a sandwich from the deli section and some milk.

After dinner grab your water bladder and head for the bathroom. Fill it up with warm water from the tap. Shave and brush. Sling the bladder over your shoulder and hike back to camp.

When you get to camp, hang the water bladder from a tree and place a tarp underneath to keep your feet clean. Take a shower then change into your sleeping clothes. Set up your tent, inflate the airmatress etc, be sure your gear is covered in case of rain.

Next it’s to write the blog and develop pictures. Then it’s a little reading from the Kindle before sleep.

In the morning, before it is light, go check on your Sherpa. The battery will be a couple of amps down and the charger will have stopped. Now that the battery has rested, restart the charger and trundle back to camp and get another hour of rest while your Sherpa tops off on ejuice.

Pack up camp, go get Sherpa, load Sherpa. Leave at first light for the closest McDonalds in the general direction you are going. Have breakfast and use wifi to chose the days destination, a city 90 or so miles away with an Air BnB, a cheap hotel, or a Wal Mart. Post to your blog, answer emails, take care of business. Then Ride.

Repeat until home.

Virginia countryside.

SAM 2040

SAM 2041

8/26/2015 Gettysburg PA through Maryland to Haymarket Virginia.

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Riding through Gettysburg on Highway 15 takes you straight through the battlefield where the battle of Gettysburg was fought and so it is lined with monuments to the men who died. From my present day perspective, it is hard to believe that there would be men willing to fight to the death to keep slavery.

Just one monument picture. It’s enough. You get the idea.

SAM 2036

Highway 15 can be a fast ride, or it can narrow down to a 2 lane with no shoulder. Here is the Whoopeee part of today’s ride.

SAM 2038

In Haymarket I find a camping knook behind the Wal Mart. I sit, hidden behind a block wall, overlooking a highway, waiting for the cover of darkness to pitch my tent. Sherpa is drinking ejuice. My gear is stashed close to me. The small discipline of writing and processing my pictures each day grounds me, brings me back into techno civilization.

It is so hard not to have a place where I belong for so long. I must look like a suspicious character, one who should be watched for criminal activity.

Sometimes I feel more animal than human; finding hidden places to sleep, my reactions honed by months of traffic, my will to survive my dominant feeling, my mind quiet. I live in a never ending moment. My fatigue is a haze I must see through.

My lifestyle is so different from others. I have no way of explaining, even if anyone was to ask. It reminds me of Africa when people would ask how many cattle I owned. How do you share what your life is like when it is so different? My civility feels like a thin cracked shell, I wonder what shows through, and I cling to it for dear life. I feel closer to the woodchuck, alert by the roadside, timing his crossing, than the shoppers at Wal Mart.

I begin to understand the feelings of an outcast, a hobo, or a wrong culture or wrong color person.

I feel invincible. It is just a feeling, I know. But my willpower, determination, adaptability, flexibility, toughness, are well exercised. I feel that if it can be done, I can do it. My self confidence is strong. I’m ready.

I’m just a thousand miles and a few weeks from home! I’ve come over 8750 miles since April 10th.

8/25/2016 SchuylKill to Gettysburg Pen.

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It rains during the night and I toss and turn and try to keep the sleeping bag from getting too wet. But after a grey start the sun breaks through and I enjoy riding. That is my singular focus- to wake up and get going on the bike. Anything else is just an interruption. I am trying to plan more comfortable nights, but I need wifi access to do that. I find a McDonalds inside a Wal Mart yesterday but the wifi is too slow to be useful.

The terrain still has it’s challenging moments. This is the steepest long grade I have ever ridden up. I should say walked up. Thankfully touring on an electric bike means that I don’t have to push the bike up the hill. Sherpa burns 350 watts just pushing himself up the hill.

SAM 2033

The Pennsylvania neighborhoods are very pleasing.

SAM 2031

My arrythmia is acting up making me dizzy from the exertion so I find a motel. The Indian woman wants $65 cash, and I empty my wallet on the counter. Fourty eight dollars and thirty two cents. She takes it, giving be back the two cents.

I’m thankful that I just restocked some traveling food at Wal Mart as the hotel is in the sticks. Dinner is bananas with peanut butter rolled up in tortillas. That’ll be breakfast too. Can’t wait to get back home and really eat.

8/24/2015 Delaware Water Gap to SchuylKill Penn

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I have turned up the boost. I am tired of going slowly up all these hills.

SAM 2027

When I am going through the rollie pollies I climb over the smaller grades by boosting with the throttle. It’s not the way you would do it if touring, where you just keep on downshifting, but oh well. It will get me home.

The countryside is lovely, the rolling hills and small farms make for a very scenic ride today:

SAM 2029

For the most part the hills are not as steep.

SAM 2030

Still, I only make it 85 miles. Actually this is a long way in this kind of country. And I am not exhausted. I work plenty hard when ebike touring, today especially because I feel good, but I can always back off and lay on the motor more. I end the day tired but not wiped out.

I stop around 4pm when I find a park with a pavillion with a working outlet. The park closes at dark, so I lay Sherpa down so he is hidden. I make a camp 50 feet away behind a drop in the land. I swim in the river 100 ft away to bath and wash my clothes. It is a 5 star campsite, but dinner comes from a gas station convenience store. I won’t tell you what I had, so as not to ruin your appetite, but it was discounted.

8/23/2015 Poughkeepsi to the Delaware Water Gap campground.

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After a nice chat with Lorraine my host I head for a bicycle store with the promising name of Bicycle Warehouse. They open at 10:00 so I am planning on a low mileage day. Despite their name they don’t sell bicycle wheels or even carry rims. They have no used wheels. The owner explains “When I get a wheel I cut the spokes out and throw it away”. But they are busy!

So I ride on to the next bicycle store. I get there at 10:30, and it doesn’t open till 12:00. I ride on.

Bicycle trail:

SAM 2025

I get to cross the Delaware River on this wonderful pedestrian bridge. I remember stealth camping on the other side of it on my previous Maine to Key West cycle trip.

SAM 2022

Million mile view from the pedestrian bridge.

SAM 2024

I ride on looking for the next bicycle store. I ride quickly knowing that stores close early on Sunday. I have disconnected Sherpa’s front brakes as they are rubbing and knocking against the bulging rim.

I am told there is another one about 25 miles south. It’s there that I buy a used wheel and mount the tube and tire. The owner of the store tells me of good camping at the Delaware Water Gap Campground, it is only another 20 miles or so south. So I set off again.

My Cycle Analyst odometer is reading erratically. It began acting up at abut 8500 miles. So I reset my Bafang trip meter to 0, and will continue recording distance on it..

The countryside is really lovely:

SAM 2026

I find the campground but am stunned at the price, $38 for a campsite with no water or power or wifi or even cell phone reception and reverberating with freeway noise. But it is 5:30PM so I decide to take it anyway.

The shower and toilets are grody and there is simply no way to charge Sherpa. I pack up and head out to get my money back- and ride on to who knows where. But the office has closed and the clerk is sitting in her car. She apologizes for the camp conditions and suggests I move to a site within the camp with power. So I do.

Sherpa is thankful he doesn’t need to take a shower as he slurps up electricity.

8/22/2015 Windsor Conecticut to Poughkeepsie New York

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The hotel turns out to be populated with children who do what children do, running up and down and screaming in play untill late at night. I’ll do better next time.

The roads continue to be very rollie pollie, but Sherpa with a fully charged battery is able to make it up every grade. The payback is the lovely wooded countryside, buzzing with insects and flowers and greenery.

SAM 2013

Sherpa gets a flat. I repair it behind a building but must walk a mile to a local bike store- thank goodness it was that close- to get a rear wheel skewer, as I have stripped the threads of mine by overtightening it.

Fishing in the bridge shadow.

SAM 2016

Then 10 miles down the road the rear tire blows out. The tube explodes through a 1″ rip in the center of the tire! I repair this and continue, but it means a trip to buy a new tire tomorrow.

Oreo Cows.

SAM 2021

Then the front rim develops a bulge. It will blow out soon unless replaced. I have had this happen before in Morocco. Braking becomes very j j j j j j jerky.

Despite these setbacks and the rollie terrain I make it 95 miles to Lorraine’s home. I could not have done this without an ebike. Her home is a large two story on a pretty and quiet street. This is my first stay at an Air Bed and Breakfast. The keys are in the front flowerpot, Lorraine and her husband are not home. I unlock the door and go in. Ahhh, the home is lovely and instructions are marked on tiny chalkboards. I bath and cook and sleep in a real comfort for just $32. What a deal. I’ll do this again!

I plan to have more comfort on the final leg home.

8/21 Morey Pond to Windsor Conn

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Sherpa is running well, and I am thankful, because resting makes me realize how deeply tired I am. I feel different inside, but I can’t name what it is. I wonder if it is permenant.

I ride only 35 miles today and check into a hotel to rest. But my mind is buzzing with ideas and so I use the time to do research. I promise myself to try to take better care of myself. So-

I am going to try my first Air BnB tonight. They can be found costing half what a hotel costs. I have decided to try and be as comfortable as possible on this my final leg and to cover about 80 to 120 miles a day. Let ‘er rip! I never liked to have a destination that had to get to when push bike riding, because I wanted to stop when I was tired. But with an ebike it is easier to go those extra miles.

No pictures because my mind has lost it’s freshness. I don’t see anything worth stopping for. It is just me, because the small towns are just as picturesque, and the scenery just as woody and creeky.

8/19 and 8/20 Kittery Maine to Boston MA to Morey Pond Connecticut

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A lot of miles under the spokes.

Amongst the emails of congratlations for reaching the east coast I get this one from Marsy.

“Gratulations, Shawn and Sherpa, you have arrived at the coastal east, there on your inner hemisphere. Here, on the outer, all H2O lies below ground: pockets, streams, geysers, the great sea of  caves. Voices At Sea (LLf entry 015VS in ebike2mars.com) was written near R.I.  Isn’t that where your CP is leading you?   Spin safely,   Marsy and  Botta.”

I go to her website, www.ebike2mars.com What a trip! It’s like Timothy Leary, Lewis Carrol and Dr. Seuss on a road trip. 

Of course the coast of Maine along A1A is lovely. I heave great sigs of relief to be seeing boats and water not corn and tractors.

SAM 2004

Blondie (my GPS) takes me through downtown Boston today. I have never cycled through a major metropolitan area and find it fascinating- it’s good to do something new. Everyone seems very out for themselves- you know, cut in front, honk at you to get out of the way, etc. It is ironical, because you would think that with a all those people crammed into a small space everyone would be more courteous… But I know nothing about cities..

SAM 2012

Community gardens sprout in the burbs.

SAM 2008

I plan on camping at a Walmart just south of Boston. When I get there, I see that camping is impossible. It is too congested, the area is rough. Google maps satellite shows me a wooded area close and I head for it. I end up camping on asphalt 25 feet from the train tracks. I sleep in my clothes, sticky from the long hot days ride. Later that night I discover that the homeless people know about it too as they move in and want to talk to me.. Sherpa does not get charged up. A local Motel 6 is $115 a night, and I can’t bring myself to spend that much for that hotel.

I wake and pack and get out early. Ii am headed for Windsor Conn. which is 115 miles away. That is a long ride especially considering my fatigue and Sherpa’s state of charge. I am glad to leave the Boston megapolis and get back into the country. Boy, what hilly country. It is severe rolly pollies. A number of the grades are marked 10%! Sherpa cannot make it up those grades carrying me, so I walk alongside. There is only a very small shoulder and I am very cautious with the curvy roads and trucks.

It is getting dark and I am walking up a long 10% grade. Sherpa’s motor controller is cutting out due to low voltage, meaning that I have to push Sherpa up the hills. My legs are aching. I turn on the lights when I hear approaching motorists. I feel desperate, I may have to put out my thumb, I don’t want to get hit. But as I crest the hill there is a downhill and the shoulder widens. I hop on and ride, and after a few miles find a bait store with an outlet! They are closing, but tell me of a close hotel! So I ride another mile and check in. Comfort heaven!

Despair to bliss in 45 minutes… The emotional roller coaster.

8/18/2015 Kittery, Maine

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Yahoo, I am in Maine at Micky D’s having breakfast and WiFi in Kittery, Maine. It is now time to exercise my right arm and make another turn and head south towards home on the final leg of my journey..

I rode to Portsmouth last night thinking it was in Maine. Leslie let me know of my error, so I rode a dozen miles north to Kittery, Maine.

Google maps tells me I am only 1600 miles from Venice if I take the most direct bicycle route. It takes me through New York and Philadelphia but there are probably bicycle friendly roads, right?

So it’s off to Boston today! Spppppirits are high. Sherp is running well. Skys are clear.