Thursday, June 14, 2012

"All Real Living is Meeting." Amen. Amen.

I was awake early - as seems to be the case most mornings I am on the road!  I had decided not to do any writing this morning - instead I packed up my stuff and went off and filled the bike with gas - thinking that by the time I got back Starbucks would be open!  No joy!  The morning before, staff had been there at 7:00AM and they were kind enough to serve me as soon as the coffee was ready.   I guess that only happens on Tuesdays!!


I wondered over to the meeting space and found that breakfast was set up and early risers Charlier and Pauline (CURE) were there.  It was a delight to share breakfast and hear the stories of these two amazing people (he from the deep south and she from Wisconsin) who met at a Vietnam protest march and have been involved in advocacy all their lives - she even learned to make grits for Charlie!!

Charlie invited me to consider attending the 2013 meeting of CURE International in India as a speaker...  hmmmm.... I must say I am intrigued!  We'll see where this goes.  I am not sure what I could bring to the event - but it was an honour to be asked.

With breakfast in my belly it was time to head off.  Only one other participant was present besides Charlier and Pauline and I - everyone else was sleeping in I guess!  At 9AM I set off on the road home - and what a road it was!!

In my planning I had been intentional about choosing back roads.  I did not want to do any Interstate riding!  I wanted to see the back country - and what a back country it was!

After a quick stop at WalMart to get a nose pad on my sun glasses replaced I began heading northeast on the Stillwater Road.  I passed by farms and woodland, working farms and old abandoned farms!  I travelled behind dump trucks hauling farm by-products away that cleared out my sinuses!  I saw sheep crossing the road and all manner of things for sale in front of houses!  Before long I arrived at Deposit and began to follow Hwy #10 alongside Cannonsville Resevoir - a stretch of beautiful scenic twisty road that climbed at between a 3% and 8% grade in gently sweeping turns!  Awesome!!

Past Walton and the next stop was Delhi where I had to stop and take a picture!  John Perkin eat your heart out... no jetlag... no worrying about street food here... nor is it as colourful either!!  Hope you are enjoying your time in India!!

By this time I was travelling through farmland - either in the valley of the Schoharie Creek or along the ridges that formed the valley.  Just past Middleburg I crossed over Interstate 88 and recalled that Al Wallace and I had travelled that highway together before.

Past Amsterdam and its outlying communities marked by old Dutch Colonial homes and barns I turned eastward on Hwy 9N.  This brought me to Lake Luzene and then onto the bottom tip of Lake George in Adirondack Park.  What a beautiful area - owned I am sure by the rich and famous.  So many of the roads are marked "Private"  "Keep Out" it seems such a shame that the land in not more accessible.  I heard in conversation that this is an issue around lake Champlain as well with properties being bought up and whole communities becoming playgrounds only for those who can afford it!

About 15 minutes outside of Lake George the road opened up and began to climb!  To the right is a shot taken from one of the turnouts!  It is a beautiful part of the world.

Past Crown Point I continued north and crossed over the new Lake Champlain bridge.  What a beautiful view.  Unfortunately traffic did not allow me to stop and take a picture.

At Addison I turned onto 22A and headed north again, passing through Vergennes and past Mt. Philo State Park and on into Shelburne, VT - my planned destination and it was only 4PM.

I was early.  I had arranged with my CouchSurfing host that I would arrive after supper.  Slowly coming into Shelburne on my left was a building that simply said Beer and Pizza on the outsidee... I passed it... and quickly turned around and went back!

See the Brewer Dog!
Matt Cohen
Fiddlehead Brewing and Folinio's make an awesome combination.  As I chatted with the Matt Cohen, the brewer who was pulling beer a couple of other men came in and bought a Growler.    Matt told me the story of the brewery and about a beer they made this spring in which they replaced the water content with Maple Sap... interesting... but there was none left!  He pulled me a sample glass of their IPA and it tasted like more!  However, when I asked for a glass he said he could only sell Growlers... I asked if the Pizza Joint sold his product - "No, but hey do BYOB and they have a fridge full of chilled glasses... "Well," I said, "I will take a Growler and I am sure I can share the remains with soneone else!"  What a fateful wonderful decision on my part!

I took my Growler, and entering the restaurant, saw the two men who had just been in the brewery were sitting at a table.  I asked if I could join them and Jim (as I learned later) quickly said yes.  He introduced me to his friend Jake and what a deep and satisfying conversation we had.

Jim is a retired school teacher.  Jake is a Vietnam veteran.  They are both Lutherans and they have a tradition on Wednesdays where they go and visit some senior folk in their congregation and then have a bite to eat and a beer together.  It was so easy to see the deep friendship that exists between these two and I was so privileged to be invited into the midst of it.

We talked of their community, my travels, Canadian comedy (Jake has relatives in Canada and watched Rick Mercer every chance he gets), friendship and vulnerability... and then Jim make Jake tell some of his story: Jake had been a pre-theology student during the time of the Vietnam War and when his parents fell on hard times he was unable to stay in school.  As a result he had to enlist and when he did he asked to be a Chaplains assistant.  He was assigned as a field medic... and there is a sad, tragic irony there... as it was by the Chaplain he spent much of his time with dying men...

And then... Jim asked me where I was staying and I told him about CouchSurfing.  He said that if I hadn't had a place to stay I was welcome to come to his home - his wife would not mind at all!  After about an hour and a half and two small glasses out of the Growler I gave the remnants to them and with hugs all around we parted ways!

Moments like these are such gifts - when strangers connect, when in our vulnerability we come to the table - and there around delicious pizza and some tasty brew, the world is made a smaller place.  Thanks Jim and Jake - the time spent with you was one of the highlights of the trip!  I hope we connect again!

With my belly full and spirit lifted I headed off to my CouchSurfing host for the night: Linda, a retired social worker who lives with a couple of housemates who responded to my search for accommodations with en enthusiastic welcome email.  After settling in, we sat on her back deck and shared stories: her of her work as a social working in New York city and the move to Vermont and I of my work and travels.  Soon her partner Margaret joined us and Margaret told of her two motorcycle trips as a young woman... Margaret worked as a cabbie in New York City for 30+ years and she alluded to having some stories from that time as well.  Later on Richard, a young single dad who is boarding with Linda for a time as he gets settled in the area to be near his 3 year old daughter came in from work and we shared some conversation!

On about 10PM after another lengthy conversation with Linda about the joys and challenges of parenting (Linda's daughter Holly and her wife Rachel are expecting their first child in September) I headed off to bed.  What a day!!  What a full and rich day!!  I am so blessed to have had this opportunity - to see and experience so much beauty and meet all the people that I have met along the way!

The other day, my cousin Wade and I were chatting on Facebook and he was saying how much he'd like to ride but it is so dangerous... indeed it is... but I told him, "...it is a risk that I will take... and if I should die on the motorcycle... I will die happy, doing what I love."  Not that I have any desire to die!  I have much to live for: a family that I love and am so proud of, a vocation that challenges and engages me at so many levels... and the next road... the next person I meet along they way.   As said Martin Buber, "All real living is meeting."  To that I can only say:  Amen.  Amen.

This morning I will be heading eastward.  Margaret who knows Vermont like the back of her hand and knows the thrill of riding a motorcycle suggest a few roads to me... "You must go through the notch!"  Well, through the notch I will go!!

Until tomorrow... On the Sabbath Road!!

 










Leaving

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