Daily Archives: October 19, 2012

More People!

I ease into most days with the well-wishing of others back home in my mind.  Seems every day someone is helping us get going, do a little laundry, blessing us, or just joining us for a laugh.  We do that often and sometimes with little provoking.

The Tramper and 4Runner Truck are performing pretty much flawlessly.  The poor truck does “ping” sometimes on the highway when I abuse it trying to keep with uphill traffic .  Premium gas, cautious shifts of the automatic transmission and overall patience keep that to a minimum.  Any of you who know what  pinging is (or have heard of it but don’t) may be aware that its like hitting the pistons with a blazing hot blacksmith’s hammer 3000 times per minute.  Essentially spontaneous combustion occurs to an unstable mixture of fuel and air before the piston even reaches it’s top position where it should await an explosion lit by the spark plugs you pay for that job.  That’s where power comes from if things are running right.

I brought the Toyot (missing the A on the tailgate) to a few small shops to see if anyone had time to squeeze in a look.  Both places were gracious, the first mechanic was middle aged, but wore a mohawk.  It was hard to look him in the eye much.  His shop was booked.  The next guy was familiar with 4Runners as that’s what he drives.  Steve squeezed me in this morning for an oil change, transmission fluid change, and to aim a timing light at the 3.0 V-6.  It is as good as  it is going to get; So, my patience and smaller roads will preserve the motor.  I Hope.  Oh yeah, he said GOOD LUCK on the trip, take your wife out to dinner and didn’t charge any labor!  ($33 bucks: wow, the world is full of good people)

Cusick's sign was all I had to go on until I stopped in to ask about squeezing me into their schedule

Cusick’s sign was all I had to go on until I stopped in to ask about squeezing me into their schedule

In Acadia I heard a guy in the Market and Grill mention making pie while we ate breakfast.  When I asked about a slice, the waitress said they didn’t sell pie.  So in a moment Michael (we think) came over and said we could have a slice.  He had made 4 pies for Church and social groups, with one going to his co-workers (or employees) at the grill.  He insisted Jane and I share one, warmed and A-la-Mode’.  Wow, what a baker.  I think it was better than the ones I make with subtle wisps of flavor and a delicate crust.  (the world is full of good people)

In New York we stopped at what could have been a kitchy-artifice of a country market.  A glance saw tchatchkies , knicknacks, candies and handcrafted items.  Closer scrutiny bore out the deep roots; this is a Farmer’s store.  Produce and blacksmithed items at reasonable prices.  (A sizable weathervane for ~$50)  When we met the proprietor I knew it to be the real deal.  Doug and I traded yarns while he checked out the Tramper, each with trouble finishing his story before the other wanted to speak.  By the end, I told him he could borrow the Tramper after our voyage.  Seriously.  A pair of tires or a battery would be good rent and it would be out of my driveway for a month or so.  I don’t know if it was his smile, handshake or stories that gave me the confidence in mankind.

Doug and I in the glory of the day on his parking lot

Doug and I in the glory of the day on his parking lot

Back to the people supporting, nurturing our ride.  A long-time friend who used to let me watch him restore Indian motorcycles and Willy’s Jeeps (I was about 6 years old) certainly kindled my adventure and mechanical roots.  When I researched small trucks on Craigslist part of my selection was confirmed by the previous owner Steve, who had purchased it for his son who now had to go off to college at University of Maryland.  Steve shook hands on the type of deal where trust meant he would hold it until we returned to buy it in a few days.  No deposit required.  I almost felt bad pointing out the work I’d be doing to get it through inspection and safe.  Of course the $300 price break came in handy for rear axle seals, bearings, and rear brakes.  I had to dip into savings for the rest of the parts: front brakes, 4 shocks, mud flaps, muffler, hoses, belts, fluids and “all”.

A surprise came when neighbor Billy brought over one last present, a Dietz kerosene lamp of about the same vintage as the trailer.  He had also donated several small details, some used, some stored at home; an awning and poles, a big plastic water tank.

Look carefully, the left light is a 50 year old kerosene lamp (better picture to be posted) Thanks Billy!

Look carefully, the left light is a 50 year old kerosene lamp (better picture to be posted) Thanks Billy!

When I was trying to make new Birch look like old Birch I trialed about 20 different stain combinations.  It was serendipitous  that I met Dave, a customer at Woodcraft, who showed me the perfect product.  A small bottle of Brown Maple Aliphatic Dye to measure into the shellac, ml. by ml. until the desired hue is found.  Wonderful.

We mentioned Tom and Jean who came and fed us one eve during our hurried final packing.  And, of course, Jane’s recovery from that pesky but benign biopsy. They packed us champagne and steaks.  Wow.  We feel so privileged.

Jane and I both felt compelled to get really good hiking boots.  Jane’s slip and fall while descending the Sterling Pond “bouldering-staircase” cinched it for her needs.  An old pair of Vasque boots had been overheated by a fire ring at Lykens a few years before and were failing.  My own boots were >5 years old from LL Bean and were lasted like a pair of buckets.  We searched the internet which led us to the mall and a store that didn’t stock boots in Jane’s size. The clerk there said, “check Sleepers”, a store next door.   There we met Demarre and Matt who fervently helped as if they meant it.  Matt’s family makes maple syrup so we are well stocked now!  We bought a wine bottle FULL  of Maple Syrup…dark and sure to be delicious soon.

When it came time to leave Maine we went to a gravel pit and weighed the rig.  A business called Ferraiolo’s in Farmingdale didn’t bat an eye as I drove between dump trucks, front end loaders, and gravel spreaders with my little lumbering Tramper.   The scale man was cordial, said the price would be 5 or 10 bucks.  After we finished, he asked for $5.  First I drove onto the long steel plate, total weight: 8,640 lbs.  Then the truck alone: 5,220 lbs. that leaves the Tramper at 3,420.  I guess I’ll look at the ratios, freight rates and see just how bad, or good it is to get the 12-ish mpg we’re getting.  Oh yeah, the people.  He was smiling and eating a tootsie-pop.  Just the right touch to a down-home send off and a cheap way to see how much our load weighs.

Small, five-year-old Parker made us a book of art and helped us on our Raystown, PA  test run.  His dad Steve graciously loaned us his Dodge truck.  perhaps nicest and most frequently seen though, is the cool quilted Tramper banner that hangs proudly at our door.  Donna gave this to Jane days before we left.  We travel on love of family and friends.  We miss you all daily and take note of or take pictures of things you each “just have to see”.

Rainbow artist - Parker L.

Rainbow artist – Parker L.

Yes, there is indulgence in this journey.  But, too we feel there is some amount of inspiration.  Good People Everywhere.  Plus, we demonstrate the possibility of doing that dream that you’ve always dreamt! (even if it doesn’t involve traveling in an aluminum box for a year).

DAY 34 – 10/18/2012 Mountain Biking in New Hampshire: Franklin Falls

As you may recall, a guiding principle of the Tramper Voyage is fun.  Bike, hike, paddle, ski, gawk, shop?, listen and learn.  See a few sights, walk a few walks, visit a few museums and junk stores (good places to grab or drop off a book or get kitchen tools).

Spontaneity is our technique.  Ask, “where should we go today?”  See something on the map.  Check out the best small-road diagonals.  Or, better yet, just see it on the side of the road.  Can’t tell you how many times our 8000 lb rig rolls by as I brake safely to search for a good place to turn around.  (the lobs-tah guys place, the Second Chance junk store where I found a BSA/Scoutmaster hat, many campgrounds, gas stations, bathrooms, and on and on…)

Another tool of course is the internet via our Macbook.  We have a subscription to Singletracks.com .  Jane scored an excellent find in the mountain bike trails at Franklin Falls in New Hampshire.  We easily found the parking lot and trailhead, which is not always so easy.  100 feet into the woods I agonized over whether to go back and grab another electronic gadget.  (not always guaranteed to enhance your enjoyment of your life or endeavor)  John (traveler PT) had loaned me his Garmin GPS and I rode out knowing I’ll never learn anything by leaving it in the cupboard.

Serendipity.  We met Josh and Jamie at their parked cars just finished “blowing off” the trails.

Our gracious "hosts"

Our gracious “hosts”

Their Husqvarna backpack blower had taken a toll on their backs, but left the trails buffed-clean for our enjoyment.

Their insider’s hint on riding their trails led us in through Rogue, Whaleback, Mighty Chicken, Bee Trail, Old Ledge, Salmon Brook (harrowing-tight-rocky-rooty-switchbacks), then back up Pine Snake.  The trails are managed and maintained by NEMBA (local clubs do a LOT of work for access and environmental cooperation in the Mountain Bike world).

My "lovely wife and I share a lovely ride" (me riding one-handed with camera)

My “lovely wife and I share a lovely ride” (me riding one-handed with camera)

The Old Bench

The Old Bench

These trails were sinuous, weaving through pines, sometimes bench cut, using the terrain artfully, undulating up and down curves and plummeting

If you feel up to it...

If you feel up to it…

down a corkscrew (the Mighty Chicken is crafted as well or better than Tap-and-Die at the Kingdom trails, VT where they charge money for trail access). We had a great ride.  Rode slower, looked around more than usual and tracked the trails by GPS trying to learn about the “little electronic device”.  We bore our tired legs to the next place to dock the Tramper,  Manah-Manah! (think Sesame street)

We parked up in Monadnock State Park, NH but couldn’t keep from calling it Manah-Manah!  Even first thing in the morning before coffee:  Manah-Manah!



DAY 33 – 10/17/2012 Beautiful New Hampshire

Over 1 month on the road! Woo Hoo! And we still like each other! Double Woo Hoo!

We left finally left Maine and headed to the White Mountains of New Hampshire for some hiking. We had a special treat in Maine. My brother’s new wife, Laurie, was visiting from her soon-to-be-former home in Michigan.



(Yes, they are happily married and live in separate states for now. Don’t ask!)

Laurie is wonderful and we had fun together. Bob is a very lucky man!

We drove into New Hampshire looking for some mountain hiking. We found it in a peak called Blue Mountain. It’s

Had to post this pic of my brother. He, for once, doesn't have that "ax murderer" face on!

Had to post this pic of my brother. He, for once, doesn’t have that “ax murderer” face on!

in the Mt Chocorua Scenic Area on the southern edge of White Mountain National Forest.

We started the hike rather late in the day but the sun was still fairly high in the sky.

The woods were beautiful and, as usual for New England, there were many water features. Lovely little babbling brooks tumbling down the mountain.





Until at last we hit the summit!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Phew! That was work!

A little irony at the peak!

A little irony at the peak!

The "view" from the top

The “view” from the top

I say ‘work’ but really, it’s just fun! Breathing the clean air, hiking through the lovely autumn woods with the person you love. What’s ‘work’ about that?

Every day, we appreciate this trip. It’s an indulgence, sure, but it’s also an amazing way to live life for a while. We feel more like humans on a beautiful planet than workers making a nest egg and not a whole lot else.

We worked hard at making it happen and took an enormous chance, doing this trip. But it’s so worth it! Maybe some of our readers will be inspired to find a way to make it happen for them??

Our day ended as it always does – returning home to the Tramper. Night was falling fast as we came off the mountain and a waxing crescent moon shone over our little aluminum home…

– Jane