Raindrop Eyebrows, Water Trough Tongue, And My Sticky Earthen Tent

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Provincetown, Cape Code

June 7, ‘77

Rhode Island was pretty nice. At first, the roads were bad, but they got better. The nicest part was where all the bridges came together by the bay. I had to hitch across the Jamestown Bridge. I wanted to stay and explore the history around me, but unfortunately, I was on a schedule. Tomorrow I’m supposed to meet a friend at the tip of Cape Cod. I got to know Richard at CMU. Before he became a college student, however, back in Houghton Lake, he was the little kid brother of a friend of my best friend, Mike. It was nice that we were able to hook up and become friends once he reached college age. Richard was under time constraints, so instead of doing the whole trip together we planned to meet in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and from there we would ride north together.

When I peddled into Dartmouth I was wondering where I was going to camp. I stumbled across an old vacated Howard Johnson’s restaurant and although it was a little early to stop, I took that as a signal to call it a day. Walking through the deserted building, I decided to use the lunch counter for my bed (after I cleaned off the inch of dust). Because I didn’t have to worry about rain, I could leave my bike fully packed, and that made it easy to get an early start in the morning. I still had more than a hundred miles to go before I reached Provincetown.

There was time to kill before I called it a night, so I went over to the near-by gas station and became friends with the attendant. Before the night was over I had played a game of basketball with one of the locals (in the schoolyard across from the gas station) and watched Rhoda on TV with the gas station attendant. It was a good night! Sunup found me back on the highway. It was cloudy with a little rain—okay for biking, but that was about all.

I arrived in Provincetown just as the sun was setting. On the map, Provincetown was small, so Richard and I had not planed a meeting place. We both thought it would be easy to find one another. Walking my bicycle down Main Street, however, I began to have second thoughts about that decision. It was already late, and the weather forecast was not good—wet and windy, so I took an $8. a night, ($6. thereafter) room at the Codder Boarding House. Once I got settled in, I went back to looking for Richard.

I passed some street musicians playing guitars by a city fountain. The dog, also part of the group (I think), was doing the singing. Just off to the side of that hilarious scene sat Richard, or should I say reclined Richard—his raingear for a pillow, and his lanky body stretched out on a bench. He had book stuck in his bearded face—what a sight! Leaning on the back of the bench was his ten-year-old K-mart clunker of a bike. But, hey, it got him here, all the way from Michigan.

Our reunion went super—pizza, beer, and, of course, sharing the stories of our respective trips. Outside the pub, the rain had finally decided to fall, but inside it was warm and cozy. Provincetown was definitely a good place to meet. Main Street was only large enough for one automobile at a time. We were told that the seaside shops and boutiques, on particularly stormy days, become the town’s seawall. Even so, the rising surf, on particularly bad days, managed to make some of the streets impassable. In addition to the tourists, the town’s other contingent–the free spirited artist community, filled the quaint shops, restaurants, and bars. Provincetown was also home to a large gay population. A visit to P- town should be on everybody’s “list of places to go.”

Baking Bread In A 1720 Bread Oven Fireplace

Kingston, Massachusetts

June 9

The night after we met we went to the cinema to see Sylvester Stalone’s movie, Rocky. It was a good flick. When we left P-town it became apparent that, when it came to bicycling at least, Richard and I had different agendas. We had to make an effort to coordinate our daily schedules—food, biking-time, etc. We only made forty miles the first day. I think things will come together in a couple of days.

June 11

Two nights ago we set up camp outside of Kingston, Mass. We were still forty miles from Boston. At 2 a.m. the rain started. At 3 a.m. I moved into Richard’s tent. The following morning I paid homage to all waterproof tents. It was still raining in the morning when we walked into town for coffee and doughnuts. We underestimated the distance. It was a two-mile walk. Wet and miserable, we stumbled into the coffee shop. We had brought books with us because we weren’t planning on going anywhere. Neither one of us was into bad weather biking. After an hour of sipping coffee, the waitress told us about the library down the street. When we arrived, it was closed. We had a three-hour wait before it opened, so back to the coffee shop we went. After we had told the waitress the “whole story” about why we had returned, the guy drinking coffee at the counter told us we could hang out in the house that he was remodeling.

The house was originally built in 1720. Comrade Richard, the guy who let us stay in the house, told us to make ourselves at home. Inside, the place was pretty much gutted, but it had a roof and best of all, it had a fireplace. Actually it had eight rooms and seven fireplaces. The floor was rough wood and there were only a couple 5-gallon cans to sit on, but once we got the fire going, it was “home sweet home.” After showing us the place, comrade Richard said we could spend the night if we wanted to, and then he left. With that good news we hoofed it back to where we had left our tents and bikes (hidden well off the highway behind an abandoned house). Unfortunately, Richard had left his bike lock key back at comrade Richard’s house. While Richard broke camp, I rode my bike back to get the key. The six-mile excursion (two walking, four on bicycle) was in the wettest rain and windiest wind I had ever done time in. It would have been a lot worse, however, if there wasn’t a warm fireplace at the end of the line.

I met Richard walking toward me upon my return. When we finally did get back to the house, we restarted the fire and got out of our wet clothes. Sitting by the fire, I even think we laughed as we reflected on the hardships we had just encountered (the day before Richard’s axle broke in Plymouth, and, by the way, we saw Plymouth Rock—not all that spectacular.) That night we ate hamburgers cooked over an open fire, and washed them down with cold beer—a real treat. In the morning, it was hot coffee, toasted hamburger buns, and pretzels. Comrade Richard also stopped by to see how things were going. It was still raining, so he gave us permission to stay another night. That made us extremely happy. We had our castle for another day and night. We spent the day relaxing. Oh, by the way, yesterday I started smoking cigarettes again.

Happy

Sunshine holiday,

summertime, fancy-free,

open up, let it be,

we are free.


Comfortable

Crackling fire,

popping sparks,

black charred wood,

warm happiness.


Question

Sometimes I wonder

And then it passes.


Bicycling In Massachusetts

Morning rain:

brown pine needles,

wet nylon,

raindrop eyebrows,

water trough tongue,

and my sticky,

earthen tent.

Afternoon rain:

chilled to the bone,

cloud burst streets,

open anxiety,

faith,

and spun water

bicycle tires.

Evening rain:

night shroud victim,

stiff and rigid,

cold, damp, cold,

drowned fantasies,

yet, time forgotten.

June 12

Richard and I straightened up the castle before leaving. The castle had aged. It was never more splendid than when we first encountered it two days ago. Just before leaving we put the bread that we had bought at the store into the top of the 1720 fireplace—a bread oven built right into the fireplace. It turned out scrumptious. What a treat!

When you’re not traveling, expenses pile up. I guess that’s the price of a good time. I had $400. when I started and now there’s only $180. in my pocket. The good news was that the rain had stopped and the weather was clearing. I’m looking forward to a nice, long, bicycle ride today. Maine and Nova Scotia, here we come!

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5 Responses to “Raindrop Eyebrows, Water Trough Tongue, And My Sticky Earthen Tent”

  1. Beverly Says:

    Hey Dave, Once again, another great blog.

    You have a way of describing things that makes me feel as if I am right there with you, or at least it makes me want to be right there with you and Richard. Which would not have been a good idea, since it would have changed the whole dynamics. I think men need time to do things with their buddies, as well as alone time….as part of the process of becoming and being a real man.

    I try and imagine what the freedom must have felt like. I have never felt freedom like that; who knows what inspirations may yet come of reading about your adventures! I can guarantee you with 99.9% accuracy though that my freedom will not come from being on a bike.

    I love the spirit you reveal in these writings, not the least of which is not complaining. You endured what I’m sure were physically uncomfortable situations, yet you never complained or whined. (at least not in the telling of it) I’m not so sure I could have done that, not then anyway. Perhaps now that I have grown, I have seen the futility of complaining and the negativity it brings into your life and how it blocks you from experiencing any real joy in that moment.

    You didn’t let anything spoil your adventure, instead you saw the beauty around you, the kindness of strangers, the joy of simplicity, gratitude for a dry place to sleep, you were even able to find humor in hardships. You lived in the moment and it is reminding me of how much I miss when I don’t do that. You’re also reminding me of how much I have to be grateful for, and that there is still humor, even in hardships.

    I’m glad you’re telling your story, Dave, not only am I enjoying it immensely, I’m learning about you, I’m learning and remembering some valuable lessons and I’m learning about my own self at the same time. You can’t beat that combination.

    I hope you have a great week.

    Beverly

  2. Beverly Says:

    By the way, is that you in the picture?

  3. dave Says:

    Hi Beverly. Learning to live in the moment did not come easy for me. I think I became aware of that possibility seven years earlier when, after reading Ram Dass’s book, “Be Here Now,” I made “getting into the moment” a high priority. Of course, not all moments are good, but, hey, that’s life too! Anyway, reading your comment brought back those memories (thanks),so I went back and skimmed my Atlantic coast trip journal writing and sure enough, that writing may be the my best recorded example of that practice (that practice being Buddhist mindfulness, and it tends to stay with you throughout life, if your “mindful enough.”) I also enjoy reading your blogs. It’s nice to have friends. Like you, I’ve been surveying lately and have found some pretty interesting blogs. But, the flip side of that coin is, I only have so much time, and it takes time to do a blog justice. Right now, with you and subra, I’m pretty content. And, while I’m on the subject, why did you close your quick comment window? I’m just curious. Oh, and the person in the picture is Richard. I have another picture of him, a better one that I want to use, I just don’t know where to use it yet. He’s only going to be with me for a short time on this trip because his brother, Steve, died in an automobile accident just after we got together. Richard and I remain close. These days my friends are far and few. Thanks for your kind words again!

    Take care,
    dave

  4. sue s Says:

    Thank goodness that I found you again–began to read your blog and was totally entranced-then had to leave and couldnt find out where I found you in the first place,well aware that doesnt make any sense,but there you are.Beverly summed up your blog well–reading it,the reader is there–amongst the rain,and the rainbows-sometimes I trawl through blogs,its rarely that I read every page,and even more rarely that I am desperate to find out what happens next!Thankyou Dave and your travelling companion Richard,you gave me,however briefly,an escape to a place I have never been.May your gods go with you.

  5. dave Says:

    Hello Sue. Welcome to the club. When it comes to yahoo 360 I am like a blind man in a pub. I know how to get a drink but….. In that respect, I just found out people are sending me messages (that I have never read until today), but I didn’t know that until today. Also, I don’t know how the yahoo green cross works, but that’s okay because posting my story is why I am here. God knows I have made as many or more mistakes than the average person. However, because I’ve learned from those mistakes, I have something important to say that might be helpful to “some” people. Thanks for your comment. Oh, I checked out your blog. I think we have some common interests. Time will tell on that one.

    Take care,
    dave

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