Newfoundland/Labrador Day 29: Coming to a Close
At the end of today’s ride I find I’m only 450 miles from Maggie Valley, several hundred miles closer than I thought I’d be on Day 29. Consequently, I’ve decided to make tomorrow my final ride, ending the 7,500-mile adventure that started almost exactly one month ago. Tonight I’ll post on today’s ride and then wrap-up tomorrow night with, perhaps, a hint at next year’s great adventure.
Initially I had planned to go to Franklin Roosevelt’s Hyde Park home and the historic site there, but one look at the multi-colored weather radar map and I knew that wasn’t going to happen. If I went south from Albany as planned , I would have had at least a morning’s worth of heavy rain. To the north and west my chances of avoiding a drenching looked better, so with my rain gear on and a slight rain continuing to add to the overnight rainfall total, I backtracked about 20 miles north and then headed west on I-88. By the time I was on I-88 the rain was gone and I could see the clouds thinning with a hint of blue every now and then. I generally don’t ride much Interstate highways because of the monotony and the lack of small-town character that occurs at a constant 70+ mph. But I definitely make better time.
Since I couldn’t get to FDR’s old stomping ground (well, I guess not really stomping ground in his case), I decided to make sure I didn’t miss the opportunity to go to the Duane Zeleski Historic Site. For those who don’t know Duane (aka “Ski”), he’s one of my good riding buddies from Florida and at 79-years old and still going strong, a model of endurance and fortitude for us all. “Ski” spent summers as a young lad on the cusp of manhood tromping through the woods near the family’s cottage his father built just outside Hancock, NY, and fishing the waters of the East Branch of the Delware River. It was, he claims, the best place to grow up.
I made it a point to be in the vicinty of Hancock and took up Ski’s suggestion to ride down “Peas Eddy Road” as it follows the winding course of the East Branch of the Delware River. I’m sure I saw the place where he grew up, but there were several houses on the road and I’m not sure which one was his. As he told tales of his golden youth over cups of coffee back in Florida, Ski mentioned one of his childhood chums who lived year-round on the river where he spent his summers. “Go by Van Peter’s farm,” he said. I found it at the end of Peas Eddy Road where the road diverges at a right angle from the banks of the river, and dismounted from the bike, which was parked next to a barn with a sign that read: “The Peters Farm at Peas Eddy, Established March 9, 1909.”
As I stood there looking around, a silver pick-up truck drove up with “Peters Logging” on the side. “Can I help you,” said the driver. “Are you part of the Peters family that has the farm,” I said. “I’m Van Peters and this is my place,” he said with a 360 degree sweep of his arm. “Does the name Duane Zeleski mean anything to you?” I asked. “Sure. His family had a place just down the road. My sister owns it now.” I explained who I was and how I knew Ski. His 80-year old father, who is as active as his 79-old Florida friend, wasn’t at home, to my chagrin, but Van III and I had a nice 15-minute chat about what a great place the land around Peas Eddy Road is.
I took a few pictures, including one of Van III which I sent to Ski, and rode slowly back along Peas Eddy Road, imagining Ski as a boy crossing the East Branch to his various Huck Finn-like hideouts on the island in the middle of the river. He was right. It’s beautiful country and, no doubt, a good place to grow up.
On the ride to Hancock I went through some nice New York farm country, including some dairy farms. The only reason that has any significance to this blog is that our friends in North Carolina, who suggested I ride to Newfoundland because of their experience there 17 years ago, owned and operated a dairy farm in New York until they retired to travel and live the good life in the mountains surrounding Maggie Valley. So, Bob and Pat, this cow’s for you. And thanks for the tip.
When I left Hancock, I headed south again through eastern Pennsylvania’s wooded and gently rolling farm county for an hour or more until I found myself again on an Interstate. Some quick calculations told me that if I stayed on Interstate 81 the rest of the afternoon, I would end up close enough to North Carolina to make it back tomorrow. I love riding the side roads, but after 30 days on the road my dirty clothes are starting to smell and I want to fall asleep in my own recliner.
For those keeping track, today’s lunch consisted of Apple Pie with whipped cream at the Hancock House Hotel in beautiful downtown Hancock.
So, tomorrow will mark the final ride of this saga. And tomorrow night’s blog will be the end of my scribbling for a while. The ride home tomorrow should be uneventful, so tomorrow night’s blog will just go where it goes.
Stop and smell the flowers and the dairy farms and I’ll do the same.