Six for Six

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The late Mister Rogers wrote You’ve Got to Do It in 1969, and sang it for many years.  The bits relevant to our adventure:

If you want to ride a bicycle and ride it straight and tall,
You can’t simply sit and look at it ’cause it won’t move at all.
But it’s you who have to try it, and it’s you who have to fall (sometimes)
If you want to ride a bicycle and ride it straight and tall.

You’ve got to do it.
Every little bit, you’ve got to do it, do it, do it, do it
And when you’re through, you can know who did it
For you did it, you did it, you did it.

Today is significant.  I, Joey, reached Vermont, the sixth of six New England states.  There’s not a state in New England that I haven’t been in.  I did it!  (OK, no Kangaroo Court Puppet is an island.  Jeffrey and his still-mending leg helped.  Here he is by a tilted slate rock-face under a bridge in Brattleboro, VT.)

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We started our day in Keene, NH, with Kate’s smile.  She is horrified that without private efforts like those of Human Rights First, refugees can face life-or-death asylum tribunals without a lawyer. She and Jeffrey talked about the need to let our children experience the world despite our parental fears.  Kate is a great mom – and she rides a bicycle!

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Low clouds in Keene.

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We climbed many long hills.

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What goes up must come down.  The grade wasn’t 7% the whole way, but was half a mile longer than the posted 1.25 miles.  Whoosh!

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At the bottom, we met Mike and his BMW.  The license plate invokes Arlo Guthrie’s motorcycle song.

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Mike grew up in New Jersey.  He loves New Hampshire, where he is an electronics engineer (he makes stuff that works), a creator of maps and guides (he is particularly proud of his white-bound guide to Mount Monadnock – don’t buy the competitor’s red-bound guide, which lacks Mike’s descriptions and is too big to fit in the hiker’s pocket!), and a theatrical lightning designer.  Bigger than life: you can take the boy of out New Jersey, but you can’t take New Jersey out of the boy!  He handed Jeffrey a donation to Human Rights FIrst.

Flowers were everywhere.

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Here’s the old bridge (at left, now a park) and the new bridge between New Hampshire and Vermont.  The old bridge won a beauty contest in 1937, and bears a plaque reminding us that Chief Justice Harlan Fiske Stone was born at the west side of the bridge in Chesterfield.  That’s me in the middle.

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South of Brattleboro, we saw several lumber mills surrounded by log piles, the piles topped by sprinklers.  We stopped in Vernon to ask Jared some questions.

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Jared explained that logs are kept wet to prevent the sap from crystalizing.  He explained the differences between winter- and summer-harvest timber, and what causes aesthetic and structural damage to lumber.  Jared was a cavalry scout in the U.S. Army and had intended to make a career in law enforcement, but he said you get older and things change.  He loves his work; he gets to be a kid every day, outdoors, driving the tractor, playing with logs.

Jeffrey explained Human RIghts First’s mission.  Jared supports it.  He is happy when good people come to America.  He reminded Jeffrey that our country is peopled with immigrants and the descendants of immigrants.  He thinks people willing to pull their weight as they are able, including refugees, should be helped.  Jared is concerned that we not let in terrorists; Jeffrey said the resources now used to jail nannies and to pigeonhole people into ridiculously narrow visa categories, could better be used to do background checks.  Jared and Jeffrey and Human Rights First are on the same page.

Snowmobile country.

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What appears to be a “town tomb” from 1875.  Was this where bodies were kept over the winter, for spring burial after the ground thawed?

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Part of our route turned out to be a mud and gravel road that crossed from Vermont into Massachusetts.

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After a quarter mile of this, contending with clouds of vicious mosquitoes and a barking dog, we asked at a crossroads and were pointed to a steep paved road that got us out of there.

A working farm.  Log truck.  Donkeys?

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In Greenfield, we met Pat, Peter, and Susan.

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They are part of a local movement to improve the environment, conserve energy, clean up the Green River, and develop park space.  Susan was the force behind commissioning Brookie, this big beautiful brook trout sculpture made of welded items of stainless steel flatware, mounted on a pole that lets it swivel in a brisk wind.

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To our delight, Pat is part of a group that visits immigration “detainees” in the local jail when officials don’t make it too difficult.  The group found lawyers to do “know your rights” presentations and screening interviews to find colorable cases.  Pat and Peter know the whole story: how immigration “detention” and “removal” break up American families and misdirect resources; they said an official admitted that renting cells to the feds for immigration prisoners, was funding a new local jail.

Peter told a cycling story, about a man who gave up his job and property, bought a bicycle, left on a grand tour, and had lost heart in a 2-day rainstorm at Orient Point, NY – where we boarded the ferry to Connecticut on the second day of this Ride!  Pat and Peter, in Orient Point to visit family, invited the man for Easter dinner, restored his courage, and saved his trip.

Wonderful people!  We have more such encounters and tales than we can tell.  We wish we had time to stop and talk and listen more often.  But we have miles to go each day.

Deerfield was the site of a 1704 raid by French and First Nations fighters.  They wouldn’t recognize it now.

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This barn caught our eye.  It appears to be roofed with billboard posters.  New England thrift!

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As we proceed south, the mountains are lower.  Tomorrow we reach Connecticut, the first New England state we visited, and the last one between us and our New York home.

6 thoughts on “Six for Six

  1. Vermont..you saved the best of the New England states for last……Good for you for getting to all 6 of them

  2. This post was one of your best. I loved seeing the New England countryside and remembering my childhood trips to Vermont. You seem to be spreading the word with great cheer. Ride on! Susan and Tom

  3. The cemetery in Ogdensburg had something that looked like that “town tomb”. Ah, life in the great frozen north.

  4. Again – Jeff wonderful pictures and stories! Safe travels home….

  5. Yay for making it to Vermont and completing all the New England states! Can’t wait to see you both back in New York 😊

  6. All the best on the last leg back to the City. It has been great fun following you around New England. Thank you for including us all on your “teaching adventures”, and safe ride home!

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