At Cape Cod: Cycling sisters are over budget, but still happy

  • Norma and Evie triumphantly hold up their room key on Cape Cod.

    Norma and Evie triumphantly hold up their room key on Cape Cod. Photo courtesy of Evie Weber

Published: 9/23/2009 12:01 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. Evie filed this dispatch on Friday, Sept. 18.

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

CAPE COD, Mass - "There's a hole in the bucket dear Henry, dear Henry; there's a hole in my wallet dear Evie, a hole."

Well, I knew the East Coast would be pricey but a dollar for a glass of lemonade from a child's lemonade stand ...??

Location, location, location - it's all about location, even with campgrounds. In the Midwest camping is a very reasonable way to enjoy a vacation. Not out East oh no, they see you coming and dollar signs appear in their eyes. I was not prepared to shell out $40, $50, $70 per night for a tent site that doesn't even include water or electric.

So needless to say when Norma and I got off the ferry at Cape Cod we were shocked when we were given a gift that made our mouths drop open, our eyes bug out and the impossible happened - it rendered us speechless.

We were on our way to Nickerson State Park (Brewster, Mass.), when it started to rain. Not wanting to melt we stopped to put on our rain gear on and that's when I noticed the sign for the Sandbar Motel. They offered kitchenette units, free Internet and a beach view.

"Norma, I'll stay here and watch for Larry (my husband who is driving support). You go find out how much they're charging."

It didn't take her long to come back with a price way beyond our $50 a day budget. It was $189 per night.

"Not going to happen, go tell them we're sorry but no can do."

Now here I am, standing in the rain getting wetter and wetter and Norma is taking forever to return. When she does she is grinning ear to ear.

"They really want us to stay. They've offered the unit for $90. Come see it, it's unbelievable."

From the instant I walked into the unit I knew we were in trouble, money trouble that is. This very compact, beautifully appointed home away from home was calling our names, loudly.

How could we resist? We had our own private patio and beach with expansive views of the bay, but most of all it was the beds. Huge, soft beds. Not a skinny bedroll on the cold, hard ground.

"O.K. so the budget is going to take another hit. Let's do it."

The next morning when we went to check out, Brian the manager surprised us with a bill that had zeros on it. NO CHARGE. He knew that we were on a very tight budget and this was his way of helping us to complete our journey.

Have you ever noticed that along with the good some bad creeps in?

The very next day I started scratching my foot only to discover a few days later that I had picked up a fungus! Yuck! I went to a "Doc in a Box" and was prescribed a very expensive cream that had lots of side effects and that's when I remembered my mom's old-fashioned remedy, Epsom salts. I soaked my foot twice daily and it took care of the fungus.

Then I was munching on some trail mix and broke a molar. But that's not the worst of it. My camera stopped working!

Anyone who knows me knows that my camera is an extension of my right arm. Bicycling is my sport but photography is my passion. Capturing America through the lens of my camera and bringing our adventures to life through our programs for the folks back home is the real reason that I love bicycle touring.

Remember when you could walk into your favorite clothing store, shoe store or even the hardware store and everybody knew your name? It made you feel special. Gone, all gone now, replaced by mega discount stores where nobody knows anybody anymore.

That's why I called Camera Craft in Rockford. Vicky Vanderwiel Larson was the manager of Arlington Camera for many years. When they closed their doors she moved to Rockford and has been working at a family owned camera shop ever since.

Vicky knows me, she knows my style and she knew what I would need.

Two phone calls and five days later I received, via general delivery, a beautiful, new Canon EOS 50D. I came alive again as I placed the view finder against my right eye and started clicking away.

Norma and I come alive on these bike journeys. Our strength, endurance, lungs, bodies and minds all improve. Well perhaps not our minds. We ask directions from someone and within 30 seconds we've both forgotten what they've said!

One thing that I cannot forget, though, is my sister's birthday. On Sept. 24 she will turn 77. My sister is amazing. She never gives up. She's like the Energizer battery, she just keeps on going.

If you would like to send her a birthday wish you can do so by e-mailing her at

Happy trails,