Since the car was new to me, of course I had to figure out how to operate everything. On top of that, I was speed challenged. For the first several miles, I could not go the speed limit; it just felt too fast. Pretty soon, though, I was ticking along down the New York Thruway, marveling at how I was back in the real world again. The on-and-off torrential rain (so thick at times that I could not see the traffic ahead of me, only the gray swirl of water vapor) somehow seemed appropriate.
When I left the Thruway, I followed the western shore of Seneca Lake (one of New York's finger lakes) all the way to Ithaca. Such stunning scenery and long hills; that seemed appropriate, too. (Hmm...maybe there will be a Finger Lakes bike tour in my future.) When I realized I was obsessively checking the car's odometer for each upcoming turn, I smiled. I guess it's a good habit; I didn't take any wrong turns.
My tent--all by its lonesome self.
It took me all of five minutes to set up my tent. On either side of me, families were setting up camp for the Memorial Day weekend. Hours later, after much pounding of tent stakes and loud debates about various setup options, these families were still setting up. Struck me as excessive and exhausting.
The next day, I was packed up, showered, and on the road by 7:00am. Well trained by now. Good thing, too, because it happened to be Commencement weekend at my alma mater. I quickly visited some old haunts and then sped out of town before the throngs descended.
On to East Boston...to spend the night with my sister and niece. Since they hosted me the night before I flew to Mobile to start the tour, it seemed appropriate to spend a night after the tour reconnecting and debriefing. One odd thing: The morning I left, there was a possum sitting on top of a wire fence two doors down from my sister's--for hours--in broad daylight. I saw possums in every state on the tour--mostly dead as roadkill. I think possums and turkey vultures might take over the world--but that's for another post.
Finally...a day when I knew where I was going, without having to consult any maps or GPS! The driving to Portland, Maine, part went fine. Then, plans went awry. Dale was driving my car (with the bike rack on the roof) to pick me up at the car-rental place--when it died. Yup--electrics gone, power steering gone--dead. It was the alternator. Good thing I have a large support team; Steve drove Dale's truck to retrieve me, my bike, and my gear, and then we retrieved Dale as well. (A few days and over $500 later, I had a working car again.)
Once home, the gear cleanup and re-entry began. I had a huge box of mail to go through. I had cats to squeeze, and take on walks. While reconnecting with my life, I could let sore body parts heal.