Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Journey Ends and Another Begins

Marlene is flying home today from Logan Airport in Boston and Barry begins the much longer trip home on the motorcycle. Barry is determined to ride both ways across North America and Marlene is just as determined not to. More importantly we are both looking and heading in the same direction.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Whirlwind Tour

We complete our visit to New York with the American Museum of Natural History, lunch at the Boathouse in Central Park, and the Empire State Building. Marlene even gets in an hour of speed shopping when Barry decides his legs can’t take it any more. We have found New York to be safe, friendly, easy to get around in by subway, and thoroughly wonderful. We are very tired and quiet on the train ride back to Boston, replaying all that we’ve seen in our memories.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Take My Hand, Take My Whole Life Too

We aren’t able to describe all the places and things we saw today including: the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island from the Staten Island Ferry, Ground Zero, sensational Highline Park, Grand Central Station, the UN Plaza, and Rockefeller Center. Our advice is that you must see it for yourself, hopefully on such a beautiful, sunny day as this and be prepared to be awed. When we finally make it back to the hotel we have to soak our feet and give one another foot massages so we can walk again tomorrow! We chose the Salisbury Hotel for its proximity to Central Park, however, we only manage a short evening stroll before taking our weary bodies to bed. Although we were married 35 years ago, this entire day has been a celebration of the love, trust, partnership, tolerance and tenacity that has characterized all our journeys together. We are grateful we can celebrate is such a memorable city!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

New York, New York

We take our first trip on an Amtrak train from Boston’s South Station to New York’s Penn Station and enjoy the scenic route along the Eastern Seaboard very much. Train travel is a novelty for most North Americans like us and it seems such a leisurely way to travel. When we arrive in the Big Apple the sun is shining and we’re so excited we elect to walk to our hotel, the Salisbury, on 57th street (about 20 blocks).
By now we have mastered traveling light and our one small backpack is light as we slowly make our way through Times Square and up Broadway. We are dazzled, delighted, and determined to see as much as we can in the short time we are here. When we finally arrive at the Salisbury we are thrilled with our suite on the 15th floor. This is a very comfortable older hotel, well located and directly across the street from Carnegie Hall. This is a bit of a splurge for us but we are celebrating a significant anniversary, not to mention our first visit to New York!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Boston Deluge

It has poured rain all night and as there are no signs of it letting up we decide to do some sightseeing in spite of the wet! We haven’t been in Boston for 32 years and want to reacquaint ourselves with this gracious historic city that is buzzing with today’s funeral of Senator Edward Kennedy. We are soaked to the skin by noon as the wind keeps turning our borrowed umbrellas inside out so we head back to the house for dry clothing. We are so grateful not to be riding in rain that walking in rain seems quite pleasant! In the afternoon our nephew, who is doing research at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), takes us on an exclusive tour of the campus. We are delighted that all of the buildings at MIT are connected by tunnels or covered walkways right from the subways stations, which enables us to walk freely regardless of the weather.
Our visit to MIT includes a few very enjoyable hours at the MIT Museum, two floors of galleries with fascinating exhibits. The museum documents what an MIT education involves past and present, in addition to stimulating an understanding and appreciation of the meanings of scientific and technological innovation in the modern world. We were dazzled by the eye-popping holography collection, amused by the robotic devices (including Kismet), and intrigued by the kinetic sculptures of Arthur Ganson.
As we freshen up before dinner the rain begins to ease but we still take the car the short distance to “Not Just Your Average Joe” restaurant for an excellent dinner. We are leaving the motorcycle in our nephew’s cozy garage and taking off to New York in the morning. We regret that we haven’t more time to visit with our nephew and his family in Boston but Marlene’s portion of this adventure is quickly coming to a close and we’ve got to go, as we’ve planned to spend our 35th wedding anniversary in New York!

Friday, August 28, 2009


Our disappointment with Kittery and the Rodeway Inn in particular set the tone for our ride today. We’re feeling a bit bummed out - perhaps the size of our dream was unrealistic, perhaps we’re getting tired of this journey, or perhaps our second approaching Atlantic hurricane is simply depressing our spirits. Although we haven’t far to travel on the very congested Hwy1 to the Harley dealer in North Hampton, NH we are not only a little late arriving, but also the bike service takes longer than we expect and is wickedly expensive. We’re never sure what to expect from HD service centers that we are unfamiliar with, as the level of service and the cost of service varies greatly from location to location. We do not see many motorcycles on Hwy 1, which parallels the Turnpike all the way to Boston, certainly North America offers much better riding opportunities than these busy roads on the eastern Seaboard.
The online directions we downloaded to our nephew’s home in Arlington (part of metro Boston) prove correct and despite the traffic, the threat of rain, and some disappointments in sights and stops, we arrive safely. We don’t have a GPS on the motorcycle and usually don’t miss it because we rarely ride in large cities such as Boston. Our chief joy riding in North America is the many wide-open spaces and roads so we try to maximize our pleasure by riding the open road and traveling the crowded city places by public transit or car. We don’t arrive a minute too soon because just as Barry parks the bike in the garage the rain from the second Atlantic hurricane of the trip begins to fall.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Singing The Blues

It is wonderful to wake to a blue sky and although the air has a cold edge we get an earlier than usual start as we’ve gained an hour (Atlantic to Eastern Time). We’re riding Hwy 1 down the coast of Maine enjoying the shoreline whenever it’s visible and the ambiance of New England. There are many beautiful old houses and it is much more populated than our Maritimes but the beautiful scenery is similar.
With true New England economy every other town has incorporated the word “port” into its place name. The highway is more of a commercial strip than a thoroughfare as the majority of the homes are also businesses providing every service or product imaginable. We decide if we ever decide to open a home-occupation business we will come back here for ideas. Needless to say this is a road for leisure travel only, Barry is practicing his slow riding techniques and being ever so vigilant for all the drivers who are making left-hand turns across double solid lines! The Maine Turnpike, I-95, parallels the coast highway and we concede that the toll would be well worth it if we were intent on reaching a destination quickly.
We particularly enjoy the awesome new bridge over the Penobscot River at Verona and the area around Belfast. As we get closer to Camden the traffic thickens and we crawl through the town. The next town, Rockport, also has a traffic snarl and Hwy 1 winds through a number of very poorly signed one-way streets. We get all turned around and end up on the wrong highway, a harbinger of what is to come!
The further south we travel the worse the traffic gets and after we crawl through places like Wiscasset we ride the by-pass around Portland. We encounter the inevitable roadwork and are shunted onto a detour around Biddleford that not only takes us miles from Hwy 1 but then confuses us so badly we end up inland 15 miles from the coast! We’re grateful we had a great fish/shrimp lunch earlier and we’ve allowed lots of time for this sight-seeing trip.
As we approach Kittery, Marlene starts to get excited as this town is known for its expansive outlet mall. A brief glimpse is all she gets, however, as this community is a motorist’s nightmare, so crisscrossed by turnpikes, etc. that it has lost all its integrity as a community. We stop not once but twice for directions to augment our maps and still barely find our motel. Interestingly our second stop is at Kittery Town Hall where even they have no idea where our motel is and have to get out their huge detailed community maps to help us.
To make matters worse, when we finally arrive at this very poorly-signed Rodeway Inn, across the street from the new Fire Station, we wish we hadn’t found it! It should not be operating as it is undergoing renovations. In addition to being dangerous, it is the worst motel we’ve encountered on this trip and definitely a black-eye for the Choice Hotel chain. Our decision to stay reflects how defeated we’re feeling and that we’ve missed the cancellation time. A further dismay is that we have to get back on the bike and ride to find something to eat. It’s ironic how a day that began with such blue skies and promise has just left us singing the blues.