Today started under dark threatening sky’s which later on unleashed their wrath upon us. I forgot to switch my sun glass lenses to clear for the threat of rain. So with the dark sky’s, my sunglasses and my deep thoughts today was a dark day. With much anticipation today was the day we’d arranged a visit with Andrew Leclaire Sr who’s battling ALS. So most of my thoughts today were heavy just thinking about this disease and why we were riding in hopes of ending it someday. Early into our ride Andrew contacted me and thanked me for for what we ( Jim Quigley and I ) were doing. That meant a great deal to me so I stayed in touch as we rode along. I felt a connection to Andrew as I had with Mike. So today was a special day.
But the weather wasn’t going to cooperate and make today easy. We crossed the state line and sprinkled our Pacific Beach sand as our good luck at the state sign. This is a tradition as you cross state borders and wish good luck. We carry beach sand from our departure at Manhattan Beach Ca along with us. Just after crossing the border we climbed up into Bennington Vt a very nice quiet town. We stopped and visited the grave site of Robert Frost behind an old church. The dates of on some gravestones go back into the late 1700’s. The town dripped in history and I would have liked to spend more time there. But it started to lightly drizzle. As we left town it turned to rain. And as we started a long 6 mile climb over a mountain it came down hard and mixed with hail. Yep, wrong sunglasses McCauley! So as we reached the top the temps dropped to 40 but I thankful that my light rain jacket kept me fairly dry and pretty warm.
Climbing up was pure frightening, white knuckle because of the knuckle head 18 wheel drivers and local pick up truck drivers. This was really scary and we’ve ridden some super sketchy roads and interstates. I thought the Green Mountain State was going to be mellow country folk, but boy I was wrong. I’m telling you in a full downpour rain with NO shoulder these trucks are ripping up this mountain at warp speed. Really sketchy.
Luckily we descend down into Wilmington and the sun starts to pop out. As the first clouds started to open up I began to get short quick bursts of warmth from the sun. Honestly I instantly felt like Mike was looking down and guiding me along. By the time we hit Wilmington we were in full warm sunshine. Our sag truck was there and all of us did a complete wardrobe change into dry cloths.
Next we climbed up and over Hogback Mt and into Brattleboro. Welcome to the hippie town. We found 2 bike shops and stopped in. Man there are some classic hippies around here. One dude walks by us with full tat sleeves a formal shirt and hat and a full length skirt and Birkenstocks. People are staring at us in spandex and were staring at them. Quite the juxtaposition I suppose. Well after all they’re the locals so we’re the strange ones, which often I think we are. Boy I’m tired of a daily wardrobe of spandex.
Jim and I rode up to Andews house and had an extremely meaningful visit. Both of us fought back tears, but it brought meaning to our journey. Kathleen, Andrews wife couldn’t have been sweeter. We also had the pleasure of meeting Andrews sister and husband. We shared stories about the ride as well as about ALS. Andrew has lost many family members as well to ALS. It was a solemn and humbling visit. Our message was to let Andrew and Kathleen know that there are people, foundations, and laboratories out there working to find a cure. They thanked us for visiting and I thanked them for adding meaning to our journey. I’ll remember this visit always. God bless you Andrew.
Tonight we are on our own for dinner so I walked to a small place called The Tavern. I sat at the bar alone and ordered claim chowder and a Vermont Cheddar burger. In the background they were playing Neil Young, like old Neil Young. I felt like I was in a time warp. I half expected to hear a News bulletin about Nixon and Watergate. Vermont sure has its history that’s for sure. And in some ways it feels like they still live back in the day.
I’ve been first and last
Look at how the time goes past
But I’m all alone at last
Rolling home to you.