Thursday, June 18, 2009

Where in North America is Uncle Rod? Day 5

Thursday, June 18, 2009
Plymouth, NH
238 (1,586)

Those moments last night, beautiful though they were - were fleeting. The rain doused my fire just after midnight, and like someone just turned on a shower, rained steadily all night. I awoke at 6:00am from what little sleep I got, looked out of the tent and saw little streams running down to the lake all around the tent. There was water everywhere.
I laid in my warm sleeping bag for a long time devising a plan to pack up and load the bike without getting everything inside the tent soaked. The tent was a different matter, and I worried about it all day.
The plan worked, but it certainly didn’t matter. Within a very short ride, everything was soaked anyway. I donned my new heated gloves and felt them get heavier and heavier as the rain wicked from my jacket into the liner of the gloves. When I had to stop, it was nearly impossible to get my wet, clammy hands back into the gloves.
It was a slow-going day. I made several wrong turns early on, and couldn’t find a way around the lake at St. George to get to the road I needed. Like that triangulation of the outerbanks sounds on Monday morning, I found myself back where I started. I made the first 84 miles in exactly 3 hours, flat.
As soon as I entered New Hampshire, I began seeing dozens of bikers around every bend. It was somehow comforting to know that there were so many other people riding in the rain. But I also noticed dozens of bikes in every restaurant parking lot, in every Mom and Pop roadside motel. By mid-afternoon, I know I had passed a thousand bikers, and I kept seeing them all day. The further I got into New Hampshire, the more there were. Finally, when I stopped for gas, everyone would say, “ya’r headed for Laconia, ah ya?”
Aha! I realized I was headed into the biker hornets nest I’d seen 25 years ago when I was in Guilford. I decided to swerve North of Laconia, and try to skirt the worst of it.

Eventually, even the heated gloves lost the battle for temperature, and they ceased to keep my fingers from going numb and turning white. When this had happened, I was close to Plymouth, NH, so I decided to look for a place to stay. I needed to get dried off and re-compose myself.
I rented the absolute last Hotel Room in town (3 Hotels) for an exorbitant price, and set about unpacking my reservoir luggage, and devising ways of drying things. The lady at the desk told me all 3 hotels had been communicating all day because there were so many bikers and so much rain. The hotel had wooden blocks in boxes in the parking lot for bikers to use for their side stands. They also had towels and rags at all the entrances with signs that said, “Rags for bikers.”
As I unpacked my bike, I realized that there were only a couple of cars in the parking lot. Same with the tiny Motel across the road. Bikes were crammed in 2 and 3 to a parking space, so I shared a space with a Harley Sportster. Once inside, I saw folks sleeping 4 and 5 to a room, and noticed that everyone on my hall was speaking French. The hallway was like a train station with all the doors open, all the hairdryers blowing and folks milling from room to room, and NOone spoke English.
I unpacked all my clothes and took them to the laundry. I poured detergent into the machine and then noticed that money slot/start button was stuck so that the machine didn’t work. There was only one washing machine, so I beat the life out of it until the slot popped out and accepted my 50 cents.
I hung my gloves on the heater, my sleeping bag from the curtain rods, fashioned a display prop for my jacket after I’d disassembled it into its various components, and as soon as I’d taken a piping hot shower, unpacked the tent in the bathtub to hang it over the shower curtain to dry. I attacked my boots with the hairdryer until the circuit breaker kicked, and then I hung them by the heater blower as well.
What follows next is the most astounding thing….
I turned on the television – to the weather channel. Yes. I did it. I turned on the television. I thought maybe I could devise a flight path to get out of the rain, but I learned that it was raining from Indiana to Nova Scotia – Delaware to Quebec. So I turned off the TV and tried to think about dry heat that I experienced last summer in Nevada.