There are a myriad reasons why we haven’t been blogging during this portion of the trip, not the least of which is that we are exhausted at the end of every day and can hardly muster the energy to find a decent place to grab a meal before tumbling into bed to rest our bodies before we get up again the next day to ride to the next destination or tour stop. It’s been incredible - and incredibly tiring - so blogging has taken the proverbial backseat. Our road crew, Stephanie Sharp, has a tradition she started with her family when her kids were little of asking a question at the dinner table to spark conversation. She asks each person, “What was your best?” as a way of inquiring about the highlights of their day. Here are ours so far:
Blue herons, egrets, loons, ducks, geese, blue jays, cardinals, crows, chickens, turkeys, crows, turtles, horses, cows, deer, and other wildlife we ride past and observe from the bicycle each day that make me feel more connected to Planet Earth than I ever do in a car.
Listening to live music almost every night. I love watching musicians play an instrument up close. I love storytellers. I love voices rising in song and collaboration and improvisation. I love the breath before the song. If you know me, you know it’s my not-so-secret dream to be in a band so getting to spend a few weeks with Peter Mulvey and the incredible musicians he has shared the stage with every night has been a pretty close second.
Riding the tandem with Maya. Yesterday I was reminiscing about our early days on the bike together. It was wonky. We were unpracticed and we couldn’t hear each other and we had more than a few fights that nearly caused us to give up. But then we slowly figured things out, got a headset, learned how to communicate our needs to each other. Now we have moments when it feels exactly right, when it feels like we are gliding, when it feels like we could ride forever.
Steph’s laugh. I love her excited (sometimes caffeine-fueled) stories about what she saw and did while we were on the bike. I love the thrill of her discoveries. Her joy, the punctuation of her giggles when we tell her about our encounters or spills. I love the easy way she has about her and the way she transitions between her own company and our band of misfits, the way she handles our needs and maneuvers and always knows where the damn keys are located.
The way a pillow cradles my head. The way a bed holds my exhausted body. The sweetness of dark and the honesty of rest.
- the tow path along the Erie Canal
- a blue heron, standing perfectly still
- the poems we wrote at Funk ‘N Waffles in Syracuse
- those miles when I forget that I’m pedaling
- the polite drivers of Canada
- how much southern Ontario looked like Nebraska
- Steph’s Aeropress coffee
- the tailwind that made us feel like rock stars
- turkey pot pie in Port Colborne
- when Amy leans forward in her seat to massage my back
- the easy, comforting silence between us as we ride
- Nathan’s unexpected bursts of humor
- the hilarity of the wait at the Thai restaurant near Pittsford
- peanut butter & raspberry jam sandwiches somewhere near mile 40
- apples and honey at the Lilac Farm.
- the amazing sectional at the Lilac Farm
- the fire and how the tiredness set in
- when I can say to Amy, nearing the top of a hill, “We're almost there"
- the trio of cheeses we purchased after a visit to the strange museum in Ingersoll
- the video Steph took of Amy pretending to make cheese when she says, “A right big vat of it.”
- breakfast sandwiches and a cinnamon roll at the Utica Coffee Roasting Company, and the decision to go our own way to Schenectady
- Greg’s high-five at the Holiday Inn
- when Peter says, “I have a couple of poets traveling with me”
- the phone call I had with Charlie, catching up to where he was and how he was feeling about it all
- warm, soft pretzel sticks dipped in cheese-and-bacon sauce
- the walk around the perimeter of Niagara Falls State Park
- watching Maiden of the Mist approach the froth under Horsehoe Falls
- smoked chicken and all the fixings with Michelle and Doug
- the view of Lake Michigan after the first 60 miles
- whenever we make Manhattans
- that maple donut at the Tim Horton’s in Hagersville
- the chicken salad sandwich at Mama D’s
- Mike Powell and his magic march suitcase
- the parade of burlesque dancers at Photo City Improv
- the murals at the Rochester Farmer’s Market
- hot showers and laundry and grapefruit-flavored bubbly water
- the smell of the Sumatra beans from Fireroasted Coffee Company
- cold-pressed orange juice from Market Squeeze after the morning ride
- climbing a tree in bike shoes
- the feeling of traveling light, of needing less and having more all at once
- the feeling of being exactly where I need to be
- the feeling that everything feels like a choice we get to keep making, or unmaking, as we see fit
the bar at bill and kitty’s cafe carpe...the conversations we had there. the experimental reuben. the old fashioned.
sista strings...the tangible joy as they crafted sheer magic with their cello and violin and voices. how their smiles lit up a dark room.
the beach in new baltimore...the clear, sea foam green water. dipping my feet in and splashing like a little kid.
my solo bike ride west to the pie guys cafe where i met the rest of the bikers...the amazing turkey pot pie. the way we toted the leftover cherry pie, too good to discard. the easier ride back east to the caravan. the sweet feeling of riding with the group.
the lilac farm airbnb...amy’s homemade dinner. maya’s rosh hashanah blessing over apples and honey. sitting around the fire.
utica coffee roasting co. the cinnamon roll that i don’t regret. a sweet conversation with my daughter and her excitement about my adventure.
the countless times amy has made me laugh so hard i had to stand really still and cross my legs to avoid wetting my pants.
all the in-between moments...sharing stories, exploring new places, marveling over simple beauty, and making way for whimsy.
All photos above by Stephanie Sharp.