Off the beaten path, the adventures multiply

  • Norma looking at the rainbow.

    Norma looking at the rainbow. Courtesy Evie Weber

  • A rugged coastline in Maine.

    A rugged coastline in Maine. Courtesy Evie Weber

Published: 9/14/2009 12:02 AM

Evie Weber of Arlington Heights and her sister, Norma Witherbee, are familiar to Daily Herald readers who followed their bicycle travels on the Lewis and Clark Trail and the Underground Railroad.

On Aug. 19, the sisters (Norma, 76, and Evie, 72,) embarked on another adventure, the 2,700 miles from Bar Harbor, Maine, to Miami, Fla.

Stay with dailyherald and the Daily Herald through October for Evie's dispatches from the "M&M" ride.

"Hi Evie what state are you in now?" Friends and family call me on a regular basis with this question. My answer lately has been that Norma and I are in the "state of confusion!" I'll explain.

We are doing a combination of routes. One is from Adventure Cyclist, a bicycling organization out of Montana, and the other is from the book, "Bicycling the Atlantic Coast" by Donna Ikenberry Aitkenhead. The book was written in 1991 - it supposedly is updated yearly but that I think is questionable!

The Adventure Cycling route goes inland at Portsmouth returning briefly at Kennebunkport, Maine riding the coast for a short while and then going inland again - whereas the book follows the coastline until after Cape Cod and then swings inland to circumvent New York City.

Right or wrong we decided to choose the coastline route and it became a lesson in frustration. Most of our time was spent deciphering the route and the rest of the time was spent getting lost. There were times when the configuration of roads changed along with the names.

Too much of our time was spent looking for a specific road only to discover that the name of the connecting road was not included in the directions.

But the real kicker was, we arrived in Orchard Beach, N.H. expecting to find the campground that was listed in the book and discovered that it had been replaced by condominiums!

Are we sorry that we chose to follow the coast? Not at all. It was beautiful riding and the scenery was spectacular.

We would have missed rainbows arching over the Atlantic, walking along rocky beaches among fields of wildflowers, lighthouses, rugged coastlines and being discriminated against!

Yep, in Hampton Beach, N.H. they would only let RV's camp on the beach. Thus, we as tent campers were definitely being discriminated against. So TCAM (Tent Campers of America), rise up and protest!

We would have missed meeting up with some friends of ours, Pam and George Christo, who drove from Andover, Mass. just so we could pig out on twin lobster tails, drink wine and laugh until our sides ached.

We would have missed visiting the Crows Nest bar in Gloucester, Mass. and talking to the brother-in-law of one of the fishermen who lost their lives in the Perfect Storm.

We would have missed meeting Uda, the owner of an Oceanside luncheonette. She had the language of a sailor and a sense of humor that went unchecked. When we told her what we were doing she said, "You're ... nuts!"

We would have missed driving through Boston at same time Sen. Kennedy was laid to rest and getting hung up in a major traffic jam.

We would have missed tropical depression Danny and having to spend two days in an expensive motel with lots of seaside character. In other words, to get into the room you had to walk through a literal waterfall of rain, the floors slanted toward the middle of the room and you needed a seat belt while using the commode. The rain came in droves, the wind blew which made watching the ocean being whipped up exciting and scary at the same time.

We would have missed taking the ferry to Provincetown, or as the locals say, "P Town."

We would have missed being in a suspense filled situation when all shipping traffic was halted in Boston Harbor as the Coast Guard and Boston Harbor police escorted a huge, liquid nitrogen tanker to its berth.

We would have missed watching the Coast Guard and Boston Harbor police surround a vessel that did not adhere to regulations. We watched this drama unfold as they halted and boarded the ship. It was almost like being in a James Bond movie.

We would have missed meeting Eric Falconer USCG, formally with the U.S. Navy having served four tours in Iraq. He had a fashionable bald head, bulging muscles and was as proud of his family as he was serving his country. Norma and I thanked him for his service as he went off yet on another tour of duty, this time toward South America in search of illegal "boat" immigrants and drug runners.

I asked him if they shoot back like in the movies? His answer was, "No, they know better, we have bigger and better toys!"

We would have missed being on Cape Cod the at the same time as President Obama. For some reason he got all the press coverage and Norma and I were totally ignored!

And finally we would have missed the bumpy roads in Rhode Island and their lack of road signs. Being from Illinois we know that our politicians are not exactly on the straight and narrow but we always know where we're going!

Happy Trails from one sleepy cyclist, Evie.