July 25, 2013 - July 29, 2013
We crossed the border into the USA, entering the State of Maine. I've always heard good things of Maine, but I think it got my hopes up because I wasn't as impressed as I was told I would be. It depends how you like to travel though. It was packed with tourists, many people obviously like it there. Once we entered New Hampshire, I thought it was really beautiful. After a full day of riding, we decided that we would try to find a place to hide our tent. We were in a town called North Conway, New Hampshire, and decided to camp in a field behind a McDonald's. North Conway is a very pretty town, I was excited to see more of New Hampshire. We began our morning early with hopes of avoiding rain. Rain seems to be the theme for this wet summer. Before riding through the White Mountain National Forest, we stopped at Dunkin Donuts for breakfast and coffee. It was a shitty way to start our day, Dunkin Donuts has the most horrible watered down coffee we have ever tasted.
Just after approaching White Mountains, Rocky asked me if I felt something weird. We were stopped for road construction but as soon as we started riding again Rocky noticed we had a flat tire. We pulled over into a campsite parking lot and I'm surprised that Rocky didn't snap. He has had to take the tires off so many times in the past few weeks that I bet he would be able to do it with his eyes shut. Once we were finally able to locate the tiny hole in the tube, we tried to patch it. For whatever reason, the patch wasn't sticking. We decided to use the old spare tube we kept for emergencies only, but I'm going to bet that it will soon cause us to do another tire change. We put the bike back together and re-packed our belongings for another attempt at riding. We were frustrated but at least the rain only spat at us the entire time. I would have hated the day if the rain had poured on us. We got back on the bike and enjoyed the view as we exited New Hampshire and entered into Vermont.
We had gone to high school with Rocky's good friend Jaimie and we planned on visiting him deep in the wilderness. Jaimie decided to move to Vermont after he found 23 acres of forest land for sale. He had always imagined living away from society and he made his dreams come true. After he moved into the forest, he began constructing what he calls home. A four story high, geodesic dome that has a trampoline as one of the floors and a large slide that can be used if you don't want to use the stairs. It features an outdoor cooking area with a stove made out of a recycled Keg that uses wood to heat. A natural spring runs through the property, with cold, delicious water. A washing machine is available for doing laundry, but it’s cranked by hand. And, he has an alternator connected to his bicycle, to charge a bank of batteries for electricity.
Jaimie has also constructed a nearby workspace. Built from an old airplane hanger, he calls it the Banana building. For the past few years he has been building spider-like robots. After making a few small prototypes he began to create a giant size spider robot. He documented the entire process on YouTube and was eventually contacted by an interested toy company. Attacknids are now sold in stores and have won a few awards. They are a six-legged robot with armour, weapons and a "battle brain". They have a head that rotates 360 degrees to aim its gun. The interchangeable blasters can fire disks, darts, or balls. They wear armor on each leg that flies off when it’s hit. After three direct hits to a plastic switch on the face, the robot shuts down. It can even wade through water and mud up to 3 inches high. I wish toys like these were invented when I was a child. I owned a sticker book and a few fake Barbies.
When Rocky contacted Jaimie, he asked him if it was possible to bring the motorcycle all the way up to the dome. We should've known that Jaimie believes everything is possible. There are two ways in, he told us, and it is possible to bring in the motorcycle if we took the long route in. Jaimie met us at the entrance but I didn't see a road. It was more like a hiking trail. I immediately got off the motorcycle and unloaded our bags to let Rocky tackle the off road experience. Jaimie helped me carry all of our luggage, except for the panniers. They remained on the bike. And by helping me, I mean he carried most of it. He is a machine. We hiked under the hot sun for almost one kilometer and then hiked through the forest for another kilometer. Jamie and I were pouring sweat while Rocky was practicing his off-roading. As soon as we got to a spot that Rocky could no longer get through, we had to remove the panniers. I wanted to poke him in the eyes when he told me that off-roading was also really hard work. Yes, he definitely worked up a sweat as well but I saw him forcing to hide his smirk, he loved every second. Approximately 300 meters later, the bare bike wasn't even able to continue but we were only a couple hundred meters from Jaimie's dome. All I could think of was how the heck we were going to get back out of there.
As soon as we reached Jaimie's place, I was out of breath and ready to collapse. But, we weren't done yet. Since it would be getting dark soon, Jaimie showed us where there was a good flat place to pitch our tent. We followed him up a 30 meter cliff, I was glad that a rope was placed there to help me pull myself up. I am petrified of heights but with my body working so hard my brain couldn't even function to distract me with fear. After reaching the top of the hill, I was surprised to see people, especially an entire family. We met Martin, Brandy and their two kids. They also had just arrived. They were on their way to Maine for a vacation but wanted to stop in Vermont to meet Jaimie. Martin was a big fan viewing Jaimie on YouTube and he wanted to see the giant robot.
The following morning, I felt good after sleeping like a baby. Rocky and I took a moment to gather our thoughts to figure out the best plan to get the bike out along with all of our things. Since the bike could only use the same trail it entered, Rocky would have to ride it back out the same way. We also decided that the smartest thing to do was carry our luggage out the opposite, shorter trail. As soon as we established the plan, we decided that we would need to bring the panniers up near the dome so that it would be a shorter distance to eventually carry them out in the opposite trail we came in. Luckily, Martin offered to help us because it was much heavier than we thought and the trail was extremely steep at that point. Martin cut down two tree branches and a gurney was built. Him and Rocky carried them half of the way but Brandy and I helped once we saw that they were struggling. We were really grateful for their help. It wasn't a job that most would sign up for, especially on their vacation. Once we were done carrying them closer to Jaimie's house, Rocky rode out of the forest and I hiked out following him. It took us almost two kilometers to reach the road and from there it was a quick distance on the bike to the small town of South Royalton. Once we were done doing our laundry at the local laundromat, we prepared ourselves to do the hike back to Jaimie's. How the heck does he live like this? I was exhausted and I had only been there two days.
I was dreading the next morning. Even though the bike was moved to the closest exit and I had carried out a huge bag on my back the day before, we still had two trips to make out of there. The first trip was for Rocky and I to carry out the panniers, the same panniers that took four people to carry. At least Rocky was encouraging, "It's only a bit more than one kilometer through the forest and past the two ponds!" Each pannier weighs approximately 40 lbs. and I could've never imagined being able to manage. I still can’t believe that I was capable of doing that. It was probably the most physically challenging thing I have ever done. After taking a rest, we decided to go back for part two, we still had to carry out a 75 liter bag with all of our camping gear, a backpack, a tripod and a heavy tank bag filled with all of our electronics. We hiked back to Jaimie's and before taking our last hike out, we finally had the chance to visit with our hosts. Jaimie lives with his partner Deshaina and his adorable little girls Aurora and Bellatrix. We all sat in their outdoor kitchen to enjoy a tasty meal Deshaina had prepared. I just can't imagine how Deshaina is able to live in the middle of a forest with two little girls. I applaud her because I wouldn't have the strength or I'd suffer from cabin fever. The mental and physical strength it would take to live there, would tare me to bits. After saying our farewells and thanking them for the insane but incredible memories, we finally made it back to our motorcycle with all of our gear. I am really grateful for the experience. Seeing Jaimie again after so many years was awesome, and it was really nice to meet Deshaina and their two lovely girls. And of course, I was also excited at the thought of losing a few pounds.
After a long day of hiking, we decided to camp by the White River in the small town of South Royalton, on the outskirts of the wilderness. We didn’t go far at all, yet we seemed so far away from where we last camped, at Jaimie's. Our next journey would begin in the morning on our way to New York City. We rode through many States that day. We left Vermont and re-entered New Hampshire. We rode through Massachusetts and then into Connecticut. It was nice to finally sit down at McDonald's to use their WIFI. After a couple of hours, we were approached by a man. Ken asked us about our motorcycle and travels, he too owned a motorcycle. We spent a very long time talking up a storm until his wife Pam walked inside to introduce herself, and to probably see what was taking her husband so long. Moments later, she asked us to spend a night at there home.
Ken was a Preacher and he lived with his wife and father, Merle, in a large, beautiful home behind their church. Ken and Pam have been married for most of their lives and it was cute to see how deeply in love they still were. They had recently celebrated an anniversary in Alaska and were excited to show us photographs of their trip. Rocky and I were immediately inspired to someday visit Alaska as well. Ken and Pam described their trip by saying everything about it was perfect because they believed that they were in the FOG. Being in the FOG is an acronym for Favor Of God.
After a nice hot shower, the bed we had slept on felt especially comfortable. It had been a really long time since we had slept on something soft. We woke up refreshed are were ready for our next adventure towards the city that never sleeps, New York.
We visited my high school friend, Jaimie, who lived in Vermont. After university, Jaimie bought some land just next to the small town of South Royalton. His home was in the middle of the forest where there is no road access, and the kilometer (or so) hike through the trees took you to the dome he built from scrap parts. He had a fresh water spring, solar panels and a battery bank for power.
Jaimie, an inventor and a bit of a recluse, lived with his girlfriend, Dashaina, and his two children, Aurora and Bellatrix.
Jaimie & Aurora, Dashaina & Bellatrix
Bellatrix & I
Paula & Bellatrix
Jaimie turned his hobby of building a giant mechanical robot into somewhat of a career, and has designed award-winning toys that are sold all over the world. Since visiting Jaimie in Vermont, he and his family have since sold "The Dome" and have taken up traveling in a converted cube van across North America. Jaimie and Dashaina mentioned the idea of buying an island somewhere in South America as a possible future plan.
After a few days visiting with Jaimie and his family, Paula spent out last night in the town of South Royalton, where we were able to do our laundry and prepare for the ride to New York City.
While stopped at a McDonald's near Southington, Connecticut, we met Ken and Pam. Ken noticed our motorcycle and struck up a conversation. Ken and Pam are two avid bikers whose ride of choice is a 2008 Honda Goldwing. After conversing for about an hour, Ken and Pam invited us back to their home since we hadn't yet found a place to sleep for the night. They offered a spare bedroom with a comfortable bed and a nice, hot shower. WE spent the night and, the following morning, made our way south towards New York City.