This will be the last post detailing my late-summer ride to the Maritime Provinces. I awoke in Fredericton, NB Wednesday morning to light rain and when I checked the weather radar, I knew I was in for a wet day of riding. I was on the eastern edge of a relatively narrow band of rain that was moving slowly to the east and that stretched in a long line from the Gaspe Peninsula all the way down to the Carolinas. It was raining only lightly by the time I ate and packed up and headed out, but the further west I rode, the harder it rained. When I crossed the border back into the US at Vanceboro, ME, the border patrol guy joked with me about choosing such a pretty day for a ride. But somewhere around Lincoln, ME the rain let up and by the time I reached I-95 the sun was peeking out. I rolled down I-95 until a point a little south of Bangor, before hopping over to Highway 9 at an exit with a sign that said Anglers Seafood Restaurant. It was way past noon and I was hungry for a tasty bowl of clam chowder.
I stayed on 9 for awhile, hugging the eastern shoreline of China Lake for a good 15 miles, and then got back onto I-95 near Augusta. I now needed to make some time and burn some miles, so I stayed with I-95 all the way to I-495 and then Massachusetts Highway 2, and eventually wound up after dark in the Town of Leominster, MA, a town I had never heard of before, but one where my old friend Tom Bodett had a room with a light on for me.
I had been worrying about the condition of my rear tire for several days, trying to decide if it would last all the way back to NC or not. After inspecting it again Thursday morning, I decided it wasn't worth taking the chance, and so I began searching for a Suzuki dealer who should most certainly have the correct size tire for one of their most popular models. As luck would have it, there was a dealer a few miles north in Fitchburg. As luck would not have it, they didn't have the right size tire. So I continued many miles west on Highway 2 to I-91 where there was another dealer in the town of Greenfield. They too didn't have the right tire, but they made a call on my behalf to a dealer near Holyoke, about an hour south, who claimed to have the correct size tire. By about 1 pm, I was leaving Holyoke with both a new rear tire and new peace of mind.
I had one more stop to make before heading for home with all due haste...Big Pink had been beckoning me since I first began this trip. Big Pink is the house outside Saugerties, NY occupied by members of The Band in 1967 where they made some of their best music, both as a stand-alone group (Music From Big Pink) and in colaboration with Bob Dylan (The Basement Tapes).
Big Pink is owned today by Don and Susan LaSala, musicians themselves and very mindful of the home's musical heritage. Their website contains a touching tribute to Levon Helm who passed away in March of this year, following Richard Manuel and Rick Danko to Big Pink In The Sky, and leaving only Garth Hudson and Robbie Robertson as surviving original Band members. Big Pink is not easy to find. Saugerties is a small town on I-87 about 10 miles east of Woodstock. Big Pink is on Parnassus Ln north of Highway 212 about half way between Saugerties and Woodstock. Parnassus Ln definitely qualifies as a lane.
Just as you are thinking you are very lost, you come around a curve and there is Big Pink, unmistakable and almost unchanged from the album cover of 44 years ago.
I set the camera on the handlebars of Ole Blue and used the timer to get this picture.
Some of you may now understand why I fondly refer to our house in Florida as Big Pink.
My Big Pink pilgrimage concluded, and feeling happy for having made the effort to seek her out, I set a course for home, spending Thursday and Friday nights on the road in Pennsylvania and Virginia, and arriving back in Lake Lure at noon on Saturday Sept 22, tired, happy, and satisfied with a trip well taken.