Thursday, July 10, 2008

To Beverly, MA via Boston

Somehow at Dylan's, I managed to sleep until 10. I woke up some, but I did what I would call sleeping until 10. Dylan had to sleep when he got home around 8:30. At 10:03, Emily mentioned that the commuter rail to Boston was leaving at 10:30. And not again until some time in the afternoon. I packed my bags, and semi-hauled ass to the station cutting through traffic like a blunt bicycle-shaped knife. I got on the train with about 2 minutes to spare. I felt great about it. I also felt great taking the commuter rail shortcut, thus taking it really easy on cycling for a day. The previous day was murderous, so I was very happy to make this one extra easy. The train got me to South Station, and I skipped a whole day of pedaling. Time to recover.

The train ride was great. A guy about my age with a single speed (fixed/freewheel flip flop hub?) bicycle boarded and sat next to me. I told him he had a nice setup, and good conversation followed. He was a bicycle courier in Boston for some time, recently quit. We talked about bicycles and trips, and friend's trips, and didn't quit until his stop came up. He told me that a friend of his was currently on a loaded tour (haphazard runaway situation?) with a Ciocc-framed racing bicycle. In answer to How he got panniers on - someone welded some rack mounts. OUCH - we knew. His feet are hitting the panniers (short chainstays: aka: tight clearance). I hope he emails me to follow up this conversation. It's great meeting people and having instant comfortable talk. We'd be friends except for geography, etc. For sure a good guy. Kevin.

Let me backtrack. Someone commented about the great part of a bicycle trip being who you meet. Just because I mutter 'fuck' a whole lot doesn't mean I disagree. On the contrary. I should have told you about T. When I was lost yesterday, I was anxious to meet anyone who could tell me where I was supposed to go. The first guy I saw was a big tattooed guy working on his garden. With a little rake or some shit - pushing dry dirt around - I don't know. He spent time and wrote down what he swore was a much better route from where I was currently. I was inclined to believe him, and indeed his directions were good. Well this man had a few stories. He didn't show it at first, and didn't burst into them. His wife asked if I needed water. I was not in a position to say no, and I usually don't turn down simple hospitality anyway. I rejoice in it, and use my manners. As I said, the sun was melting and murdering me anyway. I gulped a whole bottle of water right away, and stashed the second one that they'd given me. They also gave me two packs of crackers. The guy's wife left to run a necessary errand. I paused for about one second, and he told me that he rode a bicycle across the country many years ago. In addition to that he'd hitchhiked across the country, been locked up for having long hair and only $14 (vagrancy) in Wyoming. He had the aura of a really good dude. He appreciated what I was up to when I told him the whole plan - but he looked back on his experiences with a laugh. Glad he did it, but glad to be where he is now. Driving one of the big red trucks that keep thundering past and blowing the horn at him. I loved hearing about all of this and adding my own strong opinions about the events, and adding my strong opinions about whatever came into my head. I was only there for less than ten minutes, but we understood each other, and were glad to have the chance to. Hands were extended. They call him T. I'm Chris (Harne)

So, fuck yeah with this commuter rail. $7.75. I was spaced out on the rail, thinking about the bigness of my trip. Then Kevin popped up, and I was better than just good. Then I got off the train, rolled out the side exit, and looked up at the buildings, unabashed tourist-style in a city that means a little bit to me. I grinned and I basked in it. Fuck yeah, I'm in Boston at this moment. I waited about five minutes, basking, then called Nick and left a message. I'll definitely tell you who Nick is.

Boston is a curvy maze of streets, and I don't know how cars get anywhere. It's difficult enough when a city is based on a grid. Boston is based on a fucking plate of spaghetti. And I have a knife. A bicycle-shaped knife. I looked up at the big gold-topped building, and ripped into the midst of everything that I saw. When I passed it, I cut around using my mental bird-compass power to circle back. Success. Then I ripped off again trying to get more lost. I was having a go at getting back - a really great time learning - and Nick called. After a brief explanation of which train - T - subway to take, I was on and heading in a direction toward meeting up.

Nick is one of my best old friends from high school. He was the guitarist and songwriter and initial-starter of my first band ever. I learned how to play drums and be in a band with this man. I learned to play drums by playing along to Sunny Day Real Estate and Dinosaur Jr and others blasting into some headphones - but our band - "Special" Guest - was my first band. We were close, but it wasn't very difficult to lose touch. We probably all know about this phenomenon.

I called Nick from Connecticut days ago. He has the same cellphone number. I found it in Contacts, and hit the button for Send. I waited out the few seconds in anticipatory outer space, and he answered. His voice, my voice, were both the same. I am on a mental and physical (bicycle) trip - and it was fucking easy and great to talk for a few minutes.

I got to Nick's girlfriend's house after figuring out how to get there. We sat around a table, and didn't stop talking. I talked a lot. I don't want to be like the bicycle fan who talks incessantly and gives people old bib shorts, but I don't think it was that way. I updated. My mind is exploding of late - in a positive way - and I let some matter of the brain spill out on the table. We all shared time, and got things said. Damn. I was glad. I barely know what happened 45 minutes ago much less some honest-length time, but Nick filled me in that it's been four years since we last talked. He's very much the same in thoughts words and actions. I suspect that it appears (and feels to me) that I am the same man I was as well. We went back to Nick's place in beautiful Beverly MA, and that's where I stayed, on a true-sized air mattress, under the wing of great hospitality.

Let me talk about Google maps. They fixed the one last qualm that I would barely say I had. This is news for bicycle tourists. THIS IS NEWS, GET EXCITED. Until very recently: when you made a starting and ending point, you could click the blue route-line and drag it somewhere to use different roads, or include an intermediate location. This would automatically open a rectangular destination box in the left-hand area, in the middle of your directions. If you clicked and dragged the blue line all over the place, you'd be left with nothing but a laundry list of rectangles that offer no more directional information than "go towards (next rectangle)" HERE IS WHAT IS NEW: Now you can click and drag the shit out of the blue line infinetely, and the left-pane directions will update with directions and distances for each turn of your modified route. SAY OH SHIT. WHAT THIS MEANS: You can make a point A to B and click-drag the hell out of the blue line so the route follows every tiny road and passes every funny thing you seen along the way - then hit print and have the most awesomely accurate bicycle cue sheet ever. Ever; I'm serious. THIS IS NOT SMALL CUE SHEET NEWS. This is the first improvement to mapping code that truly allows cyclists to make a cue sheet with STUPID EASE. The distances are surgically accurate. Try this now.

Me and Nick talked a lot. I used his computer to make some cue sheets. I got the Express overnight book delivery from my Ma. I have high hopes. But: this book - these routes - are 15 years old. Yipes Stripes - hope that's all good. I like the direct and simple looking directions. We'll see. We'll always see. Greyhound has buses poised if I should feel a strong desire to hit fast forward.

1 comment:

ghettorigged said...

side note: i discovered the google maps upgrade by accident one day in february when trying to pick out a route from my mom's place in georgia back to philly. i agree totally awesome. w00t

PS: should i feel guilty for reading this shit all out of order???