I Wonder What Winter In Key West Is Like?
by BOB STOETZEL, Cannon Courier Feature Writer
In the morning I woke up because the sun was beating down on my tent and it got warm real quick. Dan was up early as usual, being in the over flow section put us a long way from the bathrooms and showers, the campsite cost us 30 dollars for the night but it was worth it.
The campground is on the Cabot Trail and the scenery was getting pretty amazing, we were riding right on the coast. As we were stopping for pictures of the ocean a man stopped along side of us and told us that if we wanted to get a real good picture to go to the edge of the cliff and we would see a section that had been washed out by the tide. On the edge we saw where over the years the tide had washed away about one hundred feet of the shoreline and had left a high point which became an peninsula and the tide eroded a hole right in the middle of it, I can't say how long it will take but eventually the island will also wash away.
In the part of Cape Breton my brother Jim pointed out that the sky seemed bluer for some reason and the air was fresh, even at the seaport of Yarmouth where the "CAT" embarked and disembarked I noticed it didn't have the normal harbor smell. Jim, commented that he had never seen the sky so blue; he was elated and actually seemed "high" because of it, like the spirit had gotten into him. Amen!
We were well into our second week of driving and because of our foibles concerning our sense of direction we really didn't know when or how long it would take us to get home so Dan and I approached Jim about not completing the circle and instead head for the Port at Yarmouth. Reluctantly he gave in, he wanted to finish it, and now both Dan and I have wished that we had taken the time to go around the whole Trail-sorry Jim. However our concerns were valid. The schedule for the Cat was absolute and if you didn't get there on time you had to lie over another 24 hours. It was a long way on the Canadian Highway system to get to Yarmouth and it took us all day to get there.
Monday the ferry would leave in the afternoon; we traveled all day Sunday to get to Yarmouth and found us a nice motel room. It took us about 10 minutes to get into bed. I don't believe we even woke up. It was a smoking room and Dan said he never woke up to smoke a cigarette during the night which is very unusual.
We actually slept until 9:30, or at least I did. We were not that far from the port and we needed to wash clothes before we hit the states. We went and purchased our tickets to that afternoon's ride, went to get something to eat and then we went to wash clothes. All of us know how to wash clothes whether our wives believe it or not. So we went to a Laundromat and proceeded to become Mr. Mom.
We found that the machines were fairly expensive at 2.50 Canadian and the attendant sold us some detergent, she also advised us that when we dried our clothes to bunch them altogether and set it on high. I think she was trying to help us with saving money, because I had to start my dryer again.
We made it in time to line up almost an hour before we were to sail. The attendants at the ship always put all the motorcycles and bicycles together because there is a certain place you have to put them to be able to secure them to the deck for the rough seas ahead. While in line we meet people that have been riding as long as we have and carry on good conversations with them; where they have been, what has happened, that sort of thing. We also met a French Canadian man and wife from Quebec who were on bicycles. Once they got to the port at Yarmouth they had traveled their 1,000th mile on the road on their way to Florida. His name was Jean Philippe and hers was Natalie. Both of them were slender in build, most likely from always on a bicycle, but she looked really frail. Her hair was short like a person who might be on chemotherapy. In fact I can't help but believe that she could have been a cancer survivor, but I never brought it up.
During all of our conversations with each other in line we got funny stories that we were telling of the different experiences along the way and everyone was in a good mood. Natalie asked us if it would be safe for them to leave their bikes below. She wanted to know if anyone would be able to mess with them. I told her that no one was allowed below decks while being ferried across the bay. That seemed to satisfied her and then she stated that she didn't want anybody to try and stash anything illegal on their bikes before going through customs in the U.S. We told her that no one do that and then I told her that "there goes your alibi," which really tickled everyone, even Natalie and her husband. Before we went on I asked her if they had any trouble with their tires going flat after all that distance and she said no everything was great.
After we boarded and found ourselves getting situated on the ship, I went astern (to the back of the ship) and looked out in the parking lot and saw a tour bus that had the name of the company (Wise Coach) with Nashville Tennessee written on the rear of the bus. On the beginning of the trip I told my brothers that everywhere I go I always see someone from Cannon County. I went back into the lounging area of the ship and looked around and lo and behold I found them. Dr. and Phyllis Reuhland were traveling on the bus for a tour of the upper northeast and New Brunswick and Nova Scotia; they were with friends Dorris Estes and his wife. Now I knew that they were going to be in Nova Scotia about the time that I was there but I really didn't think I would run into them. It was good to see them as we shared a lot of stories. I introduced him to my brothers which he would never had remembered as being at my wedding to Teresa 27 years ago come December. Dr. Reuhland was my best man at the wedding and most of my family was there, but there are so many of them I can barely name all their names myself.
This crossing was only going to take three and one half hours; the ride over here from Portland was five and one half. The trip back had one tour bus, one motor home the same size and a fifth wheel trailer, plus I don't know how many cars and people.
It seems that it is always foggy around this part of the Atlantic. But I got to tell you that when we were entering into the port at Bar Harbor it was mystical. Something like you would see in the movies. The harbor pilot came and took over the ship to bring her into the berth. Rock Islands were shooting up out of the water as defenders of the harbor, beautiful but they also seemed like foreboding sentries waiting to repel enemies. I wish I had pictures to show you and for some reason or another I don't have them.
As we were leaving the port I once again saw Jean Philippe and Natalie, she was pushing her bicycle with a front flat tire and yelling something like " you are bad luck, I have went a thousand miles and never had a flat tire until you brought it up" in her French Canadian accent. Oh well, it is better she had it then, than when they were on the road. I wished them luck, and I hope they make the drive to Florida safely; after all it is all downhill from Maine.
The customs people were once again thorough yet pleasant and awaiting us in front of the port was a beautiful hotel where I am sure they get the majority of tourist there. After we cleared customs we took a right towards Bangor Maine and shortly we found a huge campground where we put up for the night. Tomorrow we would be determined to be able to make it home, all 1,371 miles left to Woodbury.
The rest of the trip was uneventful except when we passed through Queens, New York after dark. The traffic kept you on the ball and there was no time for indecision whether you needed to turn or go straight. You had to watch the bikes in front and if one of them turned whether or not he was right the other were going with him. We were not going to get separated from each other. There was a time that I had to cross two lanes of traffic to make a turn and I looked at the female driver behind and to the side of me and let her know I was going and I made the turn. We were going into a tunnel at one point and the road narrowed when this semi and I were trying to get there at the same time. I grabbed a whole handful of front brake to keep from getting rolled up like a tin can.
My brothers immediately started calling on the radio because they saw what happened and then didn't see me. They thought the worst had happened but the good Lord was with us the whole trip. In fact we had prayer together every morning and I asked God "if we didn't do anything stupid would he have his angels watch over us" and He did.
After keeping the throttle in the open position just about the whole way we arrived home in two days. It really doesn't surprise me that when you need to do something that you can pull it off. We were all tired, but we were all glad we made the trip and we are seriously thinking about going out west next year. Perhaps we will be able to get the other two brothers to come along.
One thing that we really enjoyed was when we could spend some quiet time reminiscing about our childhood together as a family. During the meals and at night in our rooms and tents we did recall some our younger days together, it seemed we stepped back into time when we talked about the good ole days growing up in the country with 9 other siblings. Even Dan is only three years younger than I am and I was really surprised that he remembered in detail some of the things that went on when we were all much younger. We all remember vividly certain parts of our youth, although some of us remember it differently than the ones telling it. Like for instance we loved to play Fox and Hounds or Kick the Can. Jim was a devious type of person, although he doesn't remember it that way, but one summer night we were all outside at dark and most of us were bare footed. Jim had put the can (probably a baked bean can) on a short nub of a bush that had been cut down. I came around to free my siblings who had been caught and I ran fast and kicked the can, and the can stayed in the same place. I thought I had broken my foot. Of course he thought it was funny and the can never left the place so we were all caught. But it is fun remembering those times; it brought us a lot of laughs. It was good for us and I thoroughly enjoyed it and am looking forward to when we can get together and go again.
Teresa and Candice had remarked a couple of days after I got home how quiet it had been when I was gone, and they are now trying to gather up more money to let me go somewhere else. I wonder what winter in Key West is like.