Our ride on Day 69, the next to last day of our cross country trek, took us 28 miles in to Ellsworth ME. Since the first week of our ride we have managed to avoid serious rain, but not today. It started raining shortly after we left Bangor ME and continued for the entire ride. The good news was we had our rain gear, the bad news is with all of the hill climbing and sweating we ended up just as wet on the inside as the outside.
We did see a lot of interesting things along the way: flowers, colorful buildings several old cemeteries, and a classic car display. Tom’s wife, Dixie, arrived in Ellsworth ME in the afternoon; so tomorrow we will finish the ride and can celebrate our accomplishment. We got together for supper to discuss our upcoming Tuesday ride and begin reminiscing about things we had seen and done. Our family members ended up looking somewhat blankly at us as we smirked and laughed at funny stories that only someone on the ride would understand.
One year ago I agreed to do this cross country bicycle ride with Tom. Between late August of 2012 and early June of 2013 we planned the ride, put our gear together, and prepared ourselves both mentally and physically as much as possible. No amount of advance planning properly prepared me for the stark realization that this great adventure had begun as standing on the Oregon beach, surrounded by the Pacific Ocean behind me and 3,600 miles of roadway in front of me.
It is now 9 weeks later, and we were preparing to head out for Bar Harbor ME on the last day of cross country bicycle ride: P2A (Pacific to Atlantic) as it were. As at the beginning of the ride, no amount of planning or thinking about this day prepared me for what I was feeling. Happiness at getting back to family and friends, sadness that the daily routine we had established was coming to an end, and curiosity at how my life will respond to the things I seen, the people I had met, and stories I had heard.
With our family cheering us on we pedaled out from Ellsworth ME toward Sand Beach in Acadia National Park. The ride itself was a blur as the entire focus was on getting our first glimpse of the beach, which occurred at high noon. There is no easy entry to the beach for bicycles or any other wheeled cart or vehicle. It turned out that several sets of winding stairs provided the only access to the beach. After negotiating the stairs and a beach full of people staring at two guys pushing loaded bicycles across the stand and into the water our journey had come full circle.
The next item on the agenda was getting together in the evening for a lobster fest dinner to celebrate our accomplishment. But, a surprise awaited us. Our son, Eric, and daughter-in-law, Laurie, created special shirts for us with our pictures on the front and a list of each day and the mileage we rode on the back. What a special way to close out the day and the trip.
I do want to thank everyone that supported us on the trip through prayers, blessings, and comments on Facebook or through the website. Without your constant encouragement this trip would not have been the success that it was. And, a special thanks to Tom’s wife, Dixie, and my wife, Margie, for holding down the home front and giving us the summer to make our dream come true.