AWP- an evolving e-book

Adventures with Pete
Lisa Floryshak-Windman

When I was growing up my dad had these wild stories about his childhood adventures. He was quite the storyteller. There was this guy Pete that was a central figure in his tales. He grew up in this tiny coal town in northeastern Pennsylvania and Pete was his best friend. All in all though, my dad’s stories would not have been anything without Pete and quite frankly Pete took this place of grandeur in the history of my family, though I never met the guy. 

My dad is long gone, as are most of his siblings. I cannot recall his stories about Pete so I am not going to bother trying. Instead I will share with you my own adventures with Pete. The Pete of my childhood gave me great courage and confidence. He was a gentleman and a true supporter of my cause. Pete was one of those few true friends that I could count on one hand.

It all started on a playground while our mothers played softball down the street from his house on a warm evening in late-spring. I had broken my hand a few days before while riding my bike. The break was a compound fracture so my hand was both stitched up and extra tender under that cast. I was climbing on a jungle gym and there were these boys that were going to great lengths to tease me. Still flat-chested at the time, I was asked to prove I was a girl. As I climbed with a cast I was told I was faking my injury as no kid in their right mind would climb in that condition. Pete witnessed this and came to my immediate rescue. That was all she wrote. We were friends instantly.  This remains true to this very day.

I have decided to share my adventures with Pete. With the grandest of eloquence and in the spirit of my upbringing the stories told will be just as wild, mostly true, occasionally embellished, and at times stolen from my other life stories because Pete would have made that tale epically better. They are recollections of my life and times on this planet. I have always loved to tell stories. Pete has filled the shoes of that monumental and somewhat metaphorical figure that has taken a place in my literary history. He has encouraged me to tell my stories. He has promised to be the one person I could count on to read this book, family aside.

So , just what happened that day on the playground that solidified my allegiance to this guy named Pete?  I was the quintessential tom-boy, always hanging out with the boys climbing trees, skate-boarding down steep hills not to mention in traffic, playing football, building forts, playing with matches, creating impromptu bon fires, starting mud fights and arguing about taking a shower afterwards. I had a few good role models. My mom was a Phys-Ed teacher, my dad a science teacher and HS football coach. There was also a shortage of girls my age in the neighborhood that liked to get dirty. Huckleberry Finn was my hero and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Twain 1876) was my bible. I much would have been a boy-scout than a stupid old girl scout any day. It stated when I realized after climbing up the geodesic dome of a monkey bar contraption with a cast on that getting to the top was easy, getting down on the other hand was not so easy, actually, it was downright frightful.  There were at least four overly assured boys and two really mean girls giving me hell that night for being stuck on the damn monkey bars. I felt like that pigeon being pelted by stones in that public service film we used to have to endure every so often in school. You bully something defenseless long enough it will die was the moral of the short feature. In any case, there were all these kids destroying me and then there was Pete, a defendant in a protective shiny covering, le chevalier dans briller d'armure, my own personal Don Quixote (Cervantes 1605) defending me from the windmill that was the playground.  First he helped me down. I honestly think my predicament scared him a bit. Then he stood up to two of the boys giving me grief. Defending my honor as a girl. He treated the situation in a way akin to a brother sticking up for a sister. Whatever he said, however short and sweet was impressive enough to build a fortress without worry of future retaliation.

A few weeks later I invited him to the small lake by our house to swim. After hours of diving off the dock, splashing each other with cannonballs, rating jackknives, playing tag, racing each other to the raft, engaging in the ritual game of Marco Polo, and having near death experience chicken fights, we finally collapsed on our towels in the sand to start what would be a decade long, potentially cancer causing, wrinkle fest of a competition called who can achieve the darker tan. 

The Beach
Everything about life from the first really warm days in April until the last of those days in October was about the sun and the sand. Fortunately, we lived within an hour of several.  Sometimes we would even create our own long weekends, finding an excuse to cut out of school and head to Sherwood Island State Park, stopping at a nearby grocery for the essentials, lunch, beverages, ice and baby oil or if we had the funds, a fresh supply of Ban de Soleil for that tan only achievable in the South of France. What I find ironic is that there was a park with a chivalrous name for us to rob ourselves of rote knowledge and skin cells.  Our education in social skills grew by leaps and bounds. The beach was the place to be, period.

My grandparents lived close to Jones Beach and there was a bike path to get there, so essentially, from the time I was about 12, Pete and I used to bring our bikes to Bellmore and ride the 10 miles to field 6. We would carry our lunch, water, a small radio, a towel, sun tan oil, and a few dollars for french-fries dawn our sun-glasses and head out for the day. We would find a spot as close to the water as we possibly cold get without getting wet. This way we could run in and cool off at will without breaking up the conversation too much. We would people watch, this was a necessary part of our day. There was always the old guy wearing a Speedo that was six sizes too small and the wrinkly woman with a cigarette hanging out of her lips and her chest among other things hanging out of her suit. We would try to coax the seagulls by throwing French fries to them and laugh hysterically when they would poop on someone. Sometimes we  would head to the pool for a bit, it was a way to get wet without getting the sand in places where it would make the ride home uncomfortable. This was always an interesting endeavor as well. We wondered why the pool at the East Bathhouse was always so cold and the one at the West bathhouse was always so warm? We would spend a good hour or so swimming in the lap lane, racing back and forth across the long course. Eventually we would call it a day and head for home, often not arriving until the last bit of light was hitting Merrick Road and the street-lights would light the rest of the way. Once there, we would compare our degrees of lobster, take showers with Yardley’s oatmeal soap and then proceed to indulge in the cool, yet highly mentholated, contents of a whole jar of Noxema, eat the dinner my grandmother slaved over and then walk to the ice cream stand on Sunrise Highway to get black raspberry soft-serve and sneak the cigarettes we would swipe from either my grandmother, my uncle or my mother. We would also be sure to grab a pack of the Trident Spearmint from the cabinet to cover up our smoky breath.

Life around my grand parents house was always an adventure in itself. They lived in this 200 year old colonial on Washington Ave. The house had a lot of secret rooms, this giant copper beech in front, a chicken coop and detached garage in the back, a tire swing, a tree fort, and plenty of population surrounding them to make life interesting. It was a quite acre in an urban setting.

We would often climb that copper beach to the point of being higher than the roof of the house. We were so high into the canopy that we would often go unnoticed by the pedestrians that would pass by. Of course we took great advantage of that situation, making strange noises and watching them look around trying to locate the source. Sometimes they would laugh with us but often we would be messing with this one up-tight lady who had the little ankle-biter dog. She was insistent on the fact that she knew my grandparents well enough to know that they did not have grandchildren even though there were 5 of us. This woman would often yell at us to get out of that tree and off that property or she would call the police on us. We were, after-all, trespassing in her mind.

Inevitably, she would walk up the path and knock on the door with such vigor that my grandmother would think we had fallen out of the tree or there was some other grave emergency. My grandmother would assure her that we did in fact belong to her and summon us to terra-firma to introduce us to her, hoping that maybe this time she would get a good look at us and never scare the bejesus out of her again. We would be begged to make better use of our voices than animal sounds, handed a few dollars and encouraged to go to the country store for candy.  Of course we would go get our Old Fashioned Lozenges and candy necklaces before heading right back up that incredible tree.

Eventually all this time spent with Pete at the beach would turn into a major crush. I went to great lengths to be noticed. I remember this one rust colored string bikini I purchased. It was skimpy enough to come in a small bag. It barely held anything in and the front was held to the back by ties that often came undone. I was a devastated 14 year old when Pete’s reaction was not what I expected but like a true gentlemen he was so afraid it would somehow fail and I would be embarrassed on a beach that had no public facility and be a ferry ride away from the safety of the car. He marveled at the fact that my mom had nothing to say about the apparel, matter of fact she even purchased it for me in one of her make her daughter happy moments. Poor Pete, I held onto that suit for way longer than I should have and he had to endure the stress for two years. The strings finally met their demise in a game of Frisbee at Sherwood Island as I ran past a picnic table to catch the disc and caught the string on a nail. With a quick rip it fell loose. Thankfully the beach was nearly empty, a towel, my change of clothing and the bathhouse were right there, not that my really short jean shorts with all the holes in it were any better.
This is a picture of me in that Bakini at Jones Beach. I am with my cousin Gary

As a mother of four, I have had to endure the driving instruction required of all teenagers once they hit that glorious age of sixteen. It put my own learning into perspective. My father had the patience of a saint, or maybe he was influenced by other things to calm his nerves. My mother loved to teach and driving was just like another sport so when I failed my test the first time she took it upon herself to teach me to drive a stick. This was, in her opinion, the only way to learn to drive.

So where is this story going? I think back on how cool it was to have friends who were able to drive. When I learned to drive I went and did all those things I was never able to do at the drop of a hat, such as visiting friends. Pete of course was at the top of my list. There was only one problem, while I learned how to drive a stick I never really learned how to back-up. I think of this and crack- up incessantly. Lets just leave it at that for a bit.

I didn’t get my license until late in the Spring of my 16th year. Pete was away at school in Pennsylvania. I was so happy that I could show off my skills when he got home and arrived at his house almost as soon as he did. I think I even beat the neighbors. I remember sitting in the kitchen when his mom got home. We had a long conversation and then Pete had some chores to do that required a visit to the grocery store. My car was the most convenient. So off we went. Pete had this long tree lined driveway that was as scary to back out of as a very tight garage. OK, it felt as if I was backing out of a quarter mile long cavern. I think it took me 15 minutes to back out to the road. When we arrived home, as patient as Pete was, he never let on that my driving was the cause of his tardiness. He just let his mom believe he was just dawdling. 

I went to leave, just as his brother was coming home. Again, I had to make my way down that endless abyss. Only his brother was not as patient. I almost cracked under the pressure but I made it out.

A few days later we found ourselves in the same predicament, heading to Gristedes to get some much needed staple and I was again behind the wheel facing that stupid backwards journey that caused me so much stress. Pete however was not going to let me be the cause of his slow return again. At the first sign of trouble he did what any friend would do in the early 1980’s, he called a Chinese Fire Drill.  So into neutral it goes, up goes the handbrake, out the door and around the car I go. How the hell did he get me into the passenger seat of my own car? In any case he backed out of the driveway and when we got to the road he called another Chinese Fire Drill. This behavior continued until the family went off to Maine for the summer. I was really starting to get a complex, even going as far as handing Pete my keys every time I had to leave. I even parked on the road a few times and walked in, which earned a well-deserved ribbing from whoever had previously witnessed the antics.

One day shortly after their return home, Pete decided to end my problem of backing out of the driveway once and for all. We spent time going back and forth down the driveway. I cannot imagine what that must have looked like. I remember at one point his brother and company stopped us to ask what we were doing. We told him that I was trying to figure something out about the car. “We thought maybe there was something wrong with the clutch.”  Pete offered me persistent instructions each time I hit reverse. It came to mind, as the son of two teachers watched me, that I was going about this completely wrong. He decided that it was a matter of posture. That I would never be capable of that long drive in reverse if I didn’t actually turn my body around to see where I was going. I could not drive that distance using the mirrors alone. In an instant it all came together. I learned how to navigate that tree-lined drive in reverse as well as anyone who lived there.

I think about what it has been like for me to teach my own children to drive. I remember what it was like to be a passenger in a car where my friends were new drivers. I cannot even imagine what it was like to be a friend two years older with at least that much driving experience under their belt to have to endure the newly found skill set of a friend?  Pete was an essential part of that village who raised me and saved the world from my poor driving skills.

So when you are out teaching your youngins how to play with that 4,000 lb plus toy, remember that reverse is a direction worth looking into beyond the parking spot.

YEA we found technology!

Readers: I write this entry as a letter to my cousin John Patrick as I know he would appreciate the adventures I speak of. JP is a frontiersman of sorts and currently resides in AK. His life outside of Sitka is one I someday hope to witness. I hope you enjoy the next few posts as much as I know he will!

Dear Johnny-Pat, July 19, 2010
Adventures with Pete
South Addison, Me
Crystal clear skies, Sunny and hot
I write this to you with both excitement and appreciation. I am with my childhood and good friend Pete in South Addison, Maine, on a waterfront at a place called “the Narrows”, getting ready to launch on the days adventure of island hopping and possibly fishing. I came up here with the intention of spending some time hauling Lobsters, which I have not done since the summer of 1980. Pete’s parents have not seen me since 1982 and I decided that it was high time I show my face.

The house I am staying at is totally off the grid. Pete’s parent’s who are hovering around 80 are living the potters life. Actually it’s the typical life of a Mainer, no running water, an outhouse, an outdoor solar shower that is, in itself a wonderfully intuitive invention. Water is heated in 5 gallon buckets by the sun. It is tempered to 110 degrees with boiling water heated with propane and cold water from the tap. The water is then carried down the hill (about 100 yds) down a soggy and slick path to the shower, where you will find another 5 gallon pail with a hose fitted to the bottom of it that is threaded into a shower fixture and stall. This bucket is tethered to a pulley system that you lower to fill and then hoist up to allow gravity to work its wonders. There is exactly 2 minutes of run time once the spigot is turned on, so one has to wet down, turn off the water and soap up, then allow it to run for rinsing. I was thrilled to see exactly how refreshing it was. The mosquitoes share the shower experience with you, so it is essential to make sure they too have washed behind their ears as well.

I spent the night in a bunkhouse, complete with the chamber pots under each bed. It was quite comfortable I might add, and I awoke this morning to lobster boats coming through the channel at first light, which is about 4:00 AM. This was in addition to a rather large animal bumping the bunk house at 3AM, which rattled the crap of everyone. After arising this morning I went blueberry picking, made camp coffee and oatmeal (with fresh picked berries and peanut butter of course). We ate in the sun and marveled at a small squirrel scampering in a nearby apple tree and the smell of salt and beach rose permeating the air. Life is truly grande! More later…

July 20, 2010
South Addison, Maine
Cloudy with some sun and FOG

We spent the day out on the water yesterday. We were on a mission to explore Fisherman’s Island to gather up any useful refuse that might be had, such as hog pins and line. While this may seem like a long ways to travel to secure a few items but we were off on an adventure. The sun was blazing with not a cloud in the sky. This proved to be both a blessing and a curse as the weather was grand for exploring but capable of scorching the skin. In my case, lets just say I am nursing some areas of flesh today that are almost as red as some of the rocks we traversed. When we were leaving the island we had to cross a rather large field of seaweed covered scarlet colored rocks. This had the capability of playing with the mind and I kept thinking I was stepping on millions of lobsters. My time on the island yielded a few pieces of drift wood, some sea glass, about eight rib bones to some dog sized vertebrate, a partial pelvis as well as a femur/tibia of a bird.

Our next adventure is one that your brother Brian would not approve of, yet at the same time it was a photo opp that would be typical of him. You know on that is most likely to show up on one of his Christmas cards. It is a tradition here to have your photo taken on the bell buoy. As we pulled up to the buoy and I was directed to hop off the bow and onto the buoy but I panicked, second-guessed my balance and could not pull myself off the bow of the boat. I feared that I would fall into the drink between the boat and the buoy and be crushed like a common household ant. As a competitive soul, that moment’s hesitation worked on my head all afternoon. I have come to terms with it and have decided that given a second chance I might be more successful, more on that at another time.

Upon returning to shore, I spent the afternoon on the beach painting before heading to town in search of a pottery to buy a proper mug for coffee. We returned to the camp baring some forgotten items at the store such as pickled beets. It was perfect afternoon. We ended the day on the porch with a martini and a snack of smoked herring on crackers, we had a proper polish supper of kielbasa, cabbage, beets and corn. The only thing missing was the pumpernickel, horseradish and maybe boiled potatoes. I could hear your father giggling at the fact that I was being polite and eating my kielbasa like a good little Polish girl should. He never did let me live down the day I told him I didn’t care for pork. He couldn’t imagine that being raised in a family where they served Kielbasa with a side of pork and a slab of bacon that anyone could hate the stuff. He told me that only saving grace was that I married a Jewish guy who did not keep kosher and couldn’t get enough of the stuff. It was on that very same day that he taught me to give steamers a second chance and I learned to love clams, which brings me to another point I want to make about this trip. We had also planned on securing at least one night’s dinner by doing some raking, but as luck would have it we arrived here bringing the red tide with us so procuring the succulent mollusks will not happen.

Today? Trying to figure out the weather. Maybe a hike on Campabello.

July 21, 2010
Lubec, Maine
Sunny, breezy and chilly
Dear Mr. John (Oh don’t get your hopes up about the permanence of the title!!! Just thought it would sound right today, in a sort of sea faring way!),
I write this to you from the public library in Lubec. I have just returned from Campobello where I have managed to swim in the Bay of Fundy, hike to the East Quaddy Head Light, picnic along a pull out on a causeway and look out over Friar Head. We also spent a good deal of time down on the beach at West Quaddy Head as well as we observed a bunch of Inuksuk like structures on a rock outcropping and then added to them by building a few of our own We have had an exciting day and its only 4:00 PM (though we still have laundry to do and dinner to think about).
Yesterday, was equally as interesting. We took a trip to Steven’s Island, again only accessible by boat and also requiring a trek over seaweed covered rocks. This was a bit more nerve-wracking as the rocks were fairly large and since the seaweed was so dense I was afraid that there might be crevasses. Luckily that did not materialize. We were greeted by 2 bald eagles screaming at us. After a walk around the point, we realized that the cause of their distress was actually a washed up and decaying humpback whale. There was not much left to it. The only reason I know it was a humpback was because of the bumps on its fins. We spent a good amount of time there taking pictures before being picked up on the beach where the whale was, which required a bit of immersion into the cold water. We headed back searching for a known Lobsterman to buy lobsters from. We finally succeeded, right in front of the house in the Narrows. After purchasing dinner we headed in to take showers and head into town to seek out some technology. We arrived back at the house in time for a fantastic lobster dinner, forgetting that we had 3 blocks of ice that we purchased for the cooler in the trunk. We did remember this however a few hours later and only had a minimal amount of soaking.
I found it difficult to get out of bed this morning, despite being awoken by the local lobsterman launching from the beach. After 2 cups of coffee and a cheese sandwich we were off on our adventure. I will post pictures as soon as I am home. I have taken over 500 so far and do not have the time to sort through them yet. Tomorrow? We are setting and hauling traps with Pete’s friend Ubby.
Until then…
July 23, 2010
The Narrows, South Addison Maine
Not a Cloud…
My Dear Cousin,
Well they say there is a first for everything and yesterday was no different. We awoke at 4:30 to get ready for a day of setting and hauling lobster traps, and I wish that I could say that 4:30 meant that I had a good nights sleep, seeing that I have been keeping hours with the sun. Unfortunately I had one of those restless nights. The spirits of this place haunted me. It was storming when I retired and the rushing of the stream behind the bunkhouse made me understand in my sleepy brain that it was pouring all night, which it was not. At some point (2 AM) I was woken up by something that was teasing me, flicking a towel, grabbing at my feet, telling me it was morning, I thought it was Pete. Then I heard Pete snoring in the room next door. Yes, I sat up and turned on the lantern, wouldn’t you? When I realized there was nothing there, I tried to settle down and sleep despite the adrenaline pulsing through my veins. As I drift ever so slowly back into unconsciousness, I am greeted by the faces of two men, one was scruffy, curly blonde hair, and weathered beyond his 20 something years, the other was about the same age, dark hair, with a striking resemblance to “Uncle Mill” the original proprietor of the land. They didn’t say anything, they just appeared there momentarily watching me, as if I was about to learn something I should not know about, being a girl and all. I again lit the room with my lantern, knowing that I would find nothing. This time I put my I-Pod on, blocking out the world, listening to an archived podcast of “The Story”. I drifted back to sleep comforted by a Haitian gospel tune. I was awoken again by bumps to the bunkhouse wall. This time it woke Pete as well. It was probably just the resident porcupine coming home after his night of foraging but even so, it was no less alarming. After a few words about the noise we both drifted back off for that last hour of rest. Four, F&%King- thirty came racing in, screeching like a mother protecting her young… it was not pleasant, and quite frankly, we were not pleasant to each other. I was completely spooked, I had not slept, I was to tired to eat, a mistake that would also haunt me, and it appeared the weather would be iffy. We arrive at the dock, with a few minutes to spare, despite forgetting things and having to return to retrieve them. Ubby and his dad steam in and retrieve us, all smiles, right on time.
The night’s issues immediately melt away as we board the boat. We stow our gear and cruise past the house, greeted enthusiastically by a wave from Pete’s dad. We were off and within minutes I was in waders and gloves, face in the bait box, working hard, and totally in my glory. As I write this I am beaming ear to ear. I could so get used to that, being out on the water, making a living from the sea! Linda Geenlaw I am so jealous of your life!
As I sat there working my butt off, there was an important moment that I will not soon forget, Ubby’s dad smiled at me, and announced that I was a keeper. He was a nice man, but my first impression was that he was worried that we would disrupt and distract them from their work, especially if we were allowed to handle some of the tasks, rightfully so. I wholeheartedly understand this, they were out there trying to make a living, and despite there being no hesitation at all with letting me help, there was still the learning curve to consider, their day would either be more work, or less work… that pivot point of balance is microscopic! I understand that. So when he smiled at me, and announced that I was a keeper, it meant that someone’s day would be better for my efforts.
As the traps came up and the bait pockets were emptied and handed to me I became part of the rhythm of the day at sea. Traps are hauled and emptied two at a time, lobsters placed in a box, awaiting banding, bait bag emptied and replaced, buoy checked and then the trap is reset. Sometimes the contents of the trap yielded more than lobsters, sometimes there were some really ugly fish in the trap, sometimes crab, and sometimes there were treasures, such as scallops. When I first arrived on deck I was asked if I had ever watched the deadliest catch? I was told the initiation was to bite the head off a baitfish, Pete backed up that thought and I teetered on the edge of you can’t be serious an I am drawing the line… then came the scallop. I was asked if I was able to eat shellfish. When I answered yes, I was told that the scallop would be shucked for me in a moment and I was left to roll that tidbit around my head for the next 30 minutes or so. I knew that I had no choice, despite never liking RAW BAR fare, I would have to eat this scallop, so in that half hour I had to grow a pair that would allow me the 2 seconds to swallow… By the way, that scallop was the most delicious thing I have ever tasted, period!
The morning flew by. I continued to fil bait bags, watch what was coming out of the traps, and enjoy the opportunity of a lifetime. There were islands, and animals, and rock ledges, and swells…and swells…and…oh my I suddenly don’t feel well... I am going to heave and its not going to be pretty…maybe I can quietly remove myself to the outside, take a break for a bit, get some air? Maybe if I quietly excuse myself to the side of the boat and get rid of the contents of my stomach, oh wait a minute, the contents consist of one handful of cereal and a raw scallop… nothing in there to get rid of. I tried to heave, dry as a bone. I tried to eat something…two bites made the world spin… So I sat and focused on one spot quietly, letting the water from the lobster tank run over my wrists as it drained off the side of the boat. I was so embarrassed, despite the understanding from everyone around me. What was Pete doing, documenting the WHOLE experience, noe censorship, on camera. Pete’s dad came out to fetch us in the boat. I was so grateful and so deflated at the same time.
Upon returning to shore, we showered, ate a bit of something, and moved our day to plan B. While Pete spent time napping his mom and I discussed color theory, decorating and teaching. This would be the second in depth heart to heart I had with her during my visit. The first one was a few days back when we discussed motherhood. She has truly made me feel welcome. Pete and I then went shopping for dinner. We stopped by the wharf to take a photo and use the phone on the way back from town, just as Ubby and his dad were calling it a day. I got a chance to thank them both and Pete also had the opportunity to see his friend Timmy. After that we returned to that house where I prepared the evening meal. We dined on a solar tomato sauce, pasta, asparagus, chicken and garlic bread. For desert we had angel food, blueberries and whipped cream. Afterwards we talked for a bit and played word games. Dishes were done and we were sleeping by 8. Another wonderful day on the Maine coast. This morning 4 AM was perfect and I so wanted to be out there again…another time I guess.
Today, island hopping, berry picking and possibly clamming, oh and we have to work on the artwork for the bunkhouse. We are packing as well as we leave tonight.

We are home!

July 24, 2010
Somers, NY
Hot and Muggy filled with exhaustion
Mr. John,
I am resolving to address you in that manner this one last time because I learned something this week about that salutation and in this case, I have all the respect in the world for those who have attempted living off the grid, even if its for a fleeting moment.

Pete and I left the state of Maine last night at midnight after a few hours sleep. I don’t mind the night time travel too much, its an adventure, but I really don’t like traveling tired and I don’t sleep well in the car. I am no worse for ware after this past week, sunburned, sore from scrambling and clambering over the rocks, and my hands are cut to shreds from the barnacles. I am sun- burned, have chapped lips and grateful to have had the time to spend a week on the water with a good friend.

It is interesting to be home by 9AM. I have the whole day in front of me, yet I am way too tired to enjoy it. I can’t imagine what my trip to Korea is going to be like next week. I sit here and write as I cook the lobsters that I brought home. One of them did not make it, despite being packed in layers of seaweed. I guess the ice melted more than we thought. If I have to cook that one right away, I may as well cook the rest. We are having lobster rolls for dinner I guess.

Yesterday, Pete and I had a very interesting and very exhausting day. We went berry picking and scrambling on Tibets Island. There were blueberries, raspberries, cranberries and gooseberries. The few dark purple gooseberries we picked were far better than the red ones we get at home. It was wonderful to stand in a thicket of blueberries, but it was also terrifically HOT. When we arrived back at the house, I went in for a swim in the cold water of the Narrows. After lunch Pete and I cleaned up the bunk house and packed the car. Pete then spent some time with his mom and I kept his dad company out at one of the local clam beds as he fetched us dinner. The operation was back breaking, and the clams were characters, pissing as they were uncovered, sometimes with great aim. The end result is sweeter than anything I have ever tasted. Shortly before we dined on those clams, Pete and I headed to the wharf to pick up some lobsters for Kenny. We got to hang out with Timmy for a bit too. We had the car packed and we were off for a short sleep shortly after 8.

I drifted off to sleep with the bell buoys sounding like church bells. It was a windy evening with a stiff chill in the air. I never did get the opportunity to stand on that red buoy on the other side of Tibet’s Island. The short-stepping white cat we saw on our way into town the day we arrived crossed the road again last night as we left. We laughed aloud (again). It seemed she had afforded us a perfectly correct send off, bringing to an end to a fantastic week.

True friends are most definitely a part of your soul. Pete has always been there for me growing up, especially when things were tough. We were afforded the chance to reminisce as well as build upon the bank of memories we have. This week will not soon be forgotten!

I am off to Korea on August 4th. I will surely write about that adventure. I will be going at it solo, which is a bit unnerving.

I do hope AK is finding you well! All the best!

Notes from the Road
Antics on the bike
In 1999 I decided that it was time to get back on the bike. I fondly remembered all the riding I did with Pete a few years back (1993), just before I became pregnant with my youngest. My bike at that time was my escape. I really couldn’t afford a baby-sitter at the time, but I indulged anyway and made sure to get away and pedal with Pete and Co. a few times a week. I think we rode to and from Brewster more than we drove it.

The year I decided to get back on the bike I did so with a huge leap of faith. On the night my friend Karen passed away, in the middle of Hurricane Floyd, I decided that I was going to train for something huge, I decided I would participate in the North East AIDSRIDE. I am not sure if it was because Karen, who died of a lung disease associated with pigeon droppings, left a family behind and it caused me to realize my own mortality or if it was because in that fleeting moment of realizing that friends die I reminisced about my HS friend Bobsled? In any case, I trained long and hard and joined a great group of people that were out to change the world on pedal stroke at a time. I learned a great deal from those few years on the road.

Training consisted of many different types of riding. I would ride at least 15 miles every morning by myself, then on weekends I would be out on the bike with a group of people all training for similar things, and then there were the public tours our little team “PEZ” would embark on together such as the Blooming Metric, the NYC Century, and the Montauk Century.

A few years ago, a friend and I embarked on the NYC Century. We had loved this ride the first time we had done it in 2001 but the pain of the days just after made us put it on the shelf for awhile. That was two days before life changed forever in NYC. The last time I would ever see the skyline as I knew it growing up. On this particular day we decided to ride the 75 mile route because we were running late.  We had gotten a late start for a number of reasons. No worries, we would only be cutting out the Bronx. So off we went. We managed to get to the first rest stop in Brooklyn with no incidence. The view across the Brooklyn Bridge at sunrise was spectacular as usual! We rode on to the esplanade in Bay Ridge and just as we were passing the stables on the Belt Service Road a golf ball comes from the sky, bounces on the yellow lines and hits my riding buddy in the lip. He was not sure what had happened but all of the sudden there was an extreme amount of blood. We needed an ambulance. NYPD showed up to help. The problem with emergency transport was logistics. There were two people, two bikes, and a crew that said no to taking extras along. They told me that I would have to ride to the Coney Island Hospital on my own and they would not take my friends bike. They argued and argued and argued. We were getting nowhere until one of the NYPD detectives showed up and demanded that they take me (and both of the bikes) along. Riding alone through that part of Brooklyn was not advised was what the officer told the EMT and that was the end of it. So off we went. I called a mutual friend to see if she was busy and wanted to keep me company at the ER while I waited with the bikes. She dropped her laundry duty for the day and showed up in no time. We waited for a few hours, every few minutes being told to move the bikes until finally we were out in the parking lot being told we were not welcome there either. Not to worry, this was just as our friend was being discharged. We were on our way within minutes. Where? Oh, we headed just a few blocks away to the Brighton Beach Boardwalk to lunch on herring and tomatoes. After a bask in the sun we hopped on the Q train and headed back into town. It was a beautiful day that had an unexpected ending.

This was the same year that I had ridden from Niagara Falls to NYC. I had trained extensively with a few people. One in particular was the Speedskating coach I was skating with. The following notes were selected from my training journal:

Hello out there!
Niagara Falls to Montauk Point in a week sounds like one of those vacations that would require a vacation to get over due to the amount of driving involved. Well, as most of you know, I will be completing a seven day bike ride that will cover precisely that in AUGUST to raise money to fight AIDS. The thought of such a journey seems overwhelming when put on paper, but seems a thrilling challenge never the less, raising the bar on life a bit. All of you know that I live for taking my interests to the next level.
I have had lots of support training for this ride. My family has allowed me the time, my speedskating club has taught me how to make training more efficient to lessen that time away from home, as well as kept me company along the way the ANTICS alone has made the haul interesting. Bud has helped me to put my goals into perspective and strive for them. The notes of encouragement and training advice from Sue has kept my head focused on the task at hand. My friends from previous AIDSRIDES have been there too, offering support, advice about riding, and helping in what ever way needed. Mikey's baseball team has cheered me on, making bets with me about their individual stats to help me make my interval work more interesting (Someone has found a great deal of holes in that outfield all of the sudden). Then there are those of you who cheer me along the road when you see me out riding, THAT CONTINUES TO BE SO AWESOME! I could go on and on... Thank you, everyone for all you have done!
I have covered about 1500 miles this season, not quite as much as last year, but I am secure in the fact that my fitness level is far greater. A good deal of those miles have been taken at an intense pace, and in avery calculated way. This past few weeks has seen its share of antics too. I almost broad sided a garbage truck at 40 miles and hour (BUD was waiting and bracing for the impact, trying to figure out how he was going to deal with the fact that I was toast. Thankfully all the experience gave him was an adrenaline rush for a lifetime.) I also have been riding in excruciating pain, as I tore one of my abdominal muscles while doing some strength training. I actually was waiting to get sick thinking it was the start of appendicitis, imagine my surprise when I found out why crunches and climbing hurt so much. I managed to find the steepest hill I have ever encountered in my life last week while in Oneonta, it came complete with a lady gardening at the top who said in a very un-amazed tone "so you made it up today, tomorrow it will be easier". Had I been riding it alone I may have gotten put aside enough by the remark to do repeats in my upper chain ring, which is the hardest set of gears, until she was impressed, even though getting up it in granny gear, the easiest set, almost got the better of me (the ride up this hill was the only time this season that my chain was in the granny ring). I was in a cool panic near the top of this hill thinking I would have to turn around and abort the attempt because of the amount of stress put on my clipped in feet- I never would have been able to clip out if I had to. Balance became a real issue as my cadence slowed to almost non-existent. A visit to Eric (the bike fitter) was supposed to make life easier, but I am finding muscles I never knew I had a little late in the season. I have now been introduced to the art of SPINNING rather than my previous nature of MASHING. If anything it will make me a faster skater- though skating from Niagara to Montauk is not in the plans anytime soon.
All that aside, I write to say THANKS and give you my notes from the road! SEE YOU ALL SOON.
Pedaling onward and OF COURSE UPWARD! Love Lisa
Hello out there!
I went out for a ride yesterday to take care of an urgent and important errand. I had to get an official set of transcripts mailed to my new district from SUNY New Paltz. I figured it was good excuse to go out for a ride. New Paltz is 60 miles from here.
I had company, thankfully! Bud has put up with a great deal of my whining and cursing this training season, and yesterday was no different (He deserves a purple heart and a bronze star for his heroic efforts- too bad they are not issued to coaches).
The overall tone of the day matched the weather- sunny, lighthearted, funny...Our trip started with a friend spotting us on the road on his way to work. He was slowing up traffic to cheer us on, part of me wants to believe we just about had him playing hookie to join us. His bike was in the back of the car, and we were only 1/2 mile out. We managed to get stuck in traffic in Poughkeepsie (imagine that), hike across a bridge (the Mid Hudson does not allow you to ride your bike) and meet a speedskating friend for a 2 hr. lunch (which was totally by chance and one of the best parts of the day). We even chased down a unsuspecting rider at the 110 mile mark to pull us for a bit (he refused to play that game for more than a few miles, but he was very interested in knowing how we could pedal that way after being out for so long). I witnessed first hand the ENERGIZER BUNNY quality in the coaching that I have had, when Bud took off at around the 115 mile mark on what appeared to be a seemingly fresh pair of legs (completely dumbfounded, I am still shaking my head). After all was said and done, yes, I did remember to complete my errand.
This trip taught me a great deal about perseverance. I have ridden many centuries before, but this one was different. I had my typical lull around mile 95, but for the first time quitting never entered my thoughts. I realized that increasing cadence when your fatigued helps to relieve it (imagine pedaling faster offering relief to being tired?). This has been taught to me for years, though it has taken riding with someone MUCH stronger and TONS faster to have it truly sink in. My quest for the state of NY will be easier as I will be taking this lesson to heart.
I received a note from a friend this morning concerning a pig roast she was having to raise money for TNT (leukemia society). She broke down her training into how much she accomplishes over a year, and how many calories all of it consumes... It got me thinking, since December I have ridden just over 2000 miles, skated at least 375 miles, ran at least 200 miles, and swam about 75 miles, all to help raise awareness and comfort those with AIDS. It has been amazing, yet I would increase that 10 fold if I had to, because this cause is that close to the soul of my being.
Today has been a day of retrospect, I often use that as a way to find a clearer path. I found a tent mate, unlocked a new riding strength, and found solace in knowing I have so much support. (I LOVE THE E-MAILS
just as much as I love the cheering along the road!) Thanks to all of you (I can't say it enough).
PEDALING ON- Love ya, Lisa
HI again!!!
The past week of training has proved to be an interesting one and a long one - I logged over 300 miles. We dropped a few riders yesterday on this big hill and wound up on a wild goose chase to find them (we never did) - the funny part is that they bailed to take the easy route too Ridgefield while our plan was to include every long difficult hill we could find to get there- they waited for us to arrive figuring we would have just continued on without them, instead we had turned around to try and find them - only to completely misjudge their route. So we made a day of finding a new route when it became evident that finding our lost souls was not going to happen. The happy part of this was that I managed to stay in the middle of two very strong riders, and not be dragged or dropped- and I did not even hit the wall in doing so. My normal pace is hovering in the very high teens (which is so strange to me).
I had Justin out with me one day on a forty mile ride, he has vowed to Kenny that I am insane- I think it was the one legged drill down route 100 that did it! 4.5 miles of pedaling with one leg only, switching every 60 sec and maintaining a lead on him (mind you the kid runs 45 miles per week). He essentially had fun though and can't wait to do it again.
I am planning to pedal onto Montauk on the 24th and will be taking the New London Ferry from there that night (if you want to say hello) as I have to be at school on the 25th.
Pedal onward and upwards! Thanks for everything!
PX3 (pedal, pedal, pedal) ,

Training notes: My last week before the ride.
I am supposed to be tapering, supposed to be, tapering is a relative term. I find myself a ball of nervous energy, ready to go. I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that I have to start work the day after my return, or if it is just proving myself … (to who?)
I have been instructed to complete this ride in a very specific manner (ok it was just a fleeting and concocted suggestion). I am to pedal from Niagara to Geneva (the first day’s ride) with only my left foot. I should expect to cover Geneva to Lisle, which is day two, with just my right foot. Day three, the hilliest of the ride, in my upper chain ring. On no day do I finish less than fifth (mind you it is not a race) and I need to bring home a yellow jersey. So what is a girl to do with these instructions? I will spend seven days trying to acquire a YELLOW jersey and have a fellow rider produce some sort of fabricated proof that I in fact completed the objectives.
I spent two nights on ice this week, and being told not to overdo it (though tapering has been so difficult). I chose to skate the kids laps rather than the intervals set aside for the adults. I don’t know that it really made a difference, I still accomplished a pretty good workout. I also gathered some of this month’s slacker tips. If you are attempting to complete very specific interval work and you are almost done, but your body finished ages ago, throw in a time trial for someone else in the group to allow an extra bit of rest for you.
My travel plans have changed considerably. I had originally planned to arrive in Niagara Falls on Sat. but Bud has been asked to be a guest bartender at Players in the Ice Arena and has generously decided to donate his tips to my ride. Kenny and a few others have talked me into flying up to Niagara on Sunday so that I can surprise Bud, and pay tribute to an awesome coach! The thought of this is almost as exciting as the ride itself. I will show up in the bar complete with ENERGIZER BUNNY EARS for the COACH and PEZ dispensers for the crowd.
I find myself a bit blue this week too, but I am not sure why. Is it because I feel as if summer never happened or is it because my goals are nearly complete? Yesterday’s ride cured it a bit. But I still find it a nagging annoyance. I also think I am apprehensive about the fact that I am going this alone, as the solo representative of TEAM PEZ.
The prospect for company to Montauk are dwindling… but I have resolved that this just might have to be my ride in the sun… A transformation into a new life… scary, exciting, tiring, demanding, and did I mention SCARY (ok – life is scary ) .
I spent the morning packing my bike to be shipped – remember the SAT night plans? It is a reminder that this is really happening. The energy building! The packing started! The point of no return has come! The trip into the city however was a story within itself. I was so focused on getting there that I hadn’t realized that my bike was not tethered properly to the rack. A bump in Chappaqua nearly left my wheels as road kill, thankfully the handlebars got stuck long enough for me to get off the highway and fix the problem. I found a spot within a block of where I needed to be, dropped the bike, shot the breeze and lent a hand for a short minute until the lights went out. I said my goodbyes afraid that if I didn’t hightail it out of the city I would be there for hours. It was a two -hour ride home, of which Niagara was mentioned more times than I can remember. I am sure this was not what was meant by an electrical start to the journey.
I spent my last day of working out in-lining with Bud on the trail. It was uneventful and slow. I was too afraid to gather speed as I was too afraid to fall. I had originally planned on running. I hadn’t in-lined in awhile. It was more fun, I think, and it was probably a better tapering activity as I didn’t overexert myself. I spent the evening at the lake, discussing my plans with everyone. The one conclusion was that I was wound up like a top, and that is funny to watch me as I can’t seem to sit still, or eat, or.... I am so nervous about getting to Niagara Falls in time as the airports are backlogged with all the stuff that didn’t fly out in the blackout. In all of this I almost blew my secret. I hated to be so vague about my travel plans with Bud, telling him I am really not sure how I am getting there or when I am leaving… ah hell, if his cadence hadn’t been that much faster than mine I would have spilled my guts completely. (Don’t ever plan on robbing a bank with
How does one get a weeks worth of biking clothing, a sleeping bag, and pad, all the other necessary stuff, and the all important PEZ dispensers in one bag that weighs less than 70 LBS??? Then how the heck do you expect me to carry the damn thing across two airports and into a hotel and then across five campgrounds too? Ah, packing!!! Ziplock Bags, the 2 gallon size, squeezing air out of them so that your socks, shorts and jersey for a specific day are vacuum packed, accessible, and ready to go within a reach of the hand. Every year I think it will be easier, every year it remains the same, probably because it is as easy as it will get.
Well its now Sunday morning and I am just about ready to leave for the airport. I find that I am no less anxious than yesterday, but too tired to really pay attention to it. My minimum pledge amount has been met, thanks to Bud’s efforts at the bar last night. It was a great time, with a few very interesting stories, but that’s something for another time. Hope all is well with you and I will see you , or at least touch base when I reach “the END”. Thanks for all the wonderful wishes!
Have a good week!
Love Lisa

I never did make it to “The End”. I suffered a leg injury on that ride that made the last six miles of my supported ride to NYC incredibly difficult. I nearly passed out on the last climb and pedaled the last few miles with one foot. I know see where all that training came in handy and how Karma often bites you in the ass.  A few years later I would train in the rain all season. Bud started to hate riding with me because he knew it would be pouring, even if it had been a cloudless sunny day. That season of wet miles paid off.

The Day the Rains Came:
“It was the most difficult 104 miles I have ever ridden. Looking back, I learned what I needed to learn because of those conditions”

I couldn't have picked a more horrendous day to attempt a record. The rain was torrential, visibility was poor, and the wind was blowing from the southeast at a sustained 30 mph. It felt like I climbed a 104-mile mountain. There were even times that I felt as if my bike and I had become a kite, ready to be launched at any second.
On October 8 we left Sharon, CT close to dawn anticipating a wet and chilly day. I was dressed for the occasion, rain gear, reflector vest, and a well taped, well lit bike. I started pedaling in Sharon at the border of Amenia, NY, heading out Route 343 and in short order reaching Route 4. My day started with an immediate four-mile climb out of Sharon. I knew this climb existed, I knew it was going to be a bear, and I should've warmed up a bit. But it was raining hard and it was just chilly enough that I just could not imagine that extra 10 minutes.
At the end of that climb there was a wet, leaf covered, windy, steep and equally long descent. I was met with strong head and crosswinds. Visibility was limited. It was raining sideways. I quickly accepted this would be one of those conservative rides. I realized just miles into the day that descents were going to be a problem, and this was a very hilly route.
I spent the day looking forward to various parts of the route. I was pleasantly surprised coming into Hartford on Route 44 on the west side of the city. Almost everyone stopped to cheer me on! What struck me as funny was that they had no clue why I was riding, just that it was pouring buckets and there I was in a pair of shorts with messages written all over my legs in indelible ink.
I had dedicated my record attempt to my friend's six-year old son who had died a week earlier of cancer. The evening before the ride she and her family had covered my legs in prayers. I must have looked important, ridiculous, or both. The smells of jerk chicken and rice and peas permeated the air in this neighborhood, warming the soul as much as the encouragement did. It was heavenly, and it made me really hungry!
When I planned the route I neglected to check on the event schedule in Hartford. My planned route was impassable due to a marathon! I was really upset about that, but there was nothing I could do. The Founder's Bridge was closed to all traffic including pedestrians and bicycles. The only way across the Connecticut River was by car on Interstate 84. I was ferried over the bridge and deposited at the end of the first exit ramp.
I dreamed all day long about the frogs I would see in Willimantic, and given the weather I felt like they were preparing me for arrival. In Torrington, I saw my first frog leap across my path, this occurred several more times during the day. In Bolton (pee stop) I was elated to finally start seeing signs with mileage to Willimantic making the town seem like it was just around the corner. < Pee stops, were as much of a challenge as the wind and rain. My shorts felt like they were literally glued on. >
Shortly after this point my crew started giving me the phone messages that were coming in. My friends and family were very concerned about me riding in the unbelievable conditions. My husband was at the Manhattan Invitational Cross Country meet, half expecting the worst, but all along believing in me. My son and daughter were both running and I got news of PR's and medals. About this time I also heard from one of the kids that I coach in speed skating. Andrew and his father Dan proudly dubbed me Rainwoman.
I was riding this attempt as a prayer for Jimmy Arena, and at one point, I found myself not only thinking about him and his family, but talking to him. At the same moment I felt as if I needed to quiet that voice in my head and just listen. I was greeted by thousands of little birds in the trees lining the road for the next four miles, they were singing. How wonderfully beautiful it was. They were so loud, much louder than the rain, or the wind, or even the traffic.
On to Willimantic, three quarters of the way across Connecticut. I had prepared my crew for the trip through this town by giving them an Art History lesson, which was tucked inconspicuously into their route sheets. I also gave them a quiz about the public sculptures and the history of the town's obsession with frogs. Later in the evening at dinner with friends and family, they howled at the thought of me not letting go of teaching art, not even for a minute.
Shortly after turning onto 14A, I started to feel really cold. I stopped to change into warmer clothes, my crew fetched me something hot to eat, and I tried to make the best of the last 20 miles. I was chilled on the climbs and frozen on the descents. The wind picked up and seemed to tug at my bike even more than before. I actually went anaerobic on five of the descents in the last part of the ride, as the wind had turned the down hills into unbelievably tough climbs. This was the longest 20 miles I have ever ridden in my life, though that hot pizza was really good.
I had originally planned a double-crossing of Rhode Island immediately following this attempt. When I reached the CT/RI border, I was showing obvious signs of hypothermia: headache, uncontrollable shivering, gray skin, etc. and the weather prediction was unchanged. The UMCA official and my crew had decided that they would not be part of an unsafe record attempt and would not let me continue. < I was easily convinced to stop. I was so cold > We ended the day at the Rhode Island border on route 14A, only eight inches of rain later.
I found learned a great deal about perseverance that day. It was the most difficult 104 miles I have ever ridden. Looking back I learned what I needed to learn because of the conditions. Had it been a sunny day I may have missed some of those lessons.
Special thanks to Jay and Tamar (my crew) and Bud (UMCA official) for watching out for me during this waterfall of a day, regardless of the endless frog references. Thanks to my family who have put up with my antics on the bike for what seems like an eternity. Fred Boethling, you deserve special thanks for putting up with the endless questions and e-mails. It would not have been the same without any piece of this puzzle.
Official record: 103.3 miles, 8 hours 49 minutes, 11.72 mph
Start: SH 343 at CT/NY state line west of Sharon, CT
Finish: SH 14A at the CT/RI state line west of Greene, RI
 This story was taken from the article I wrote for UMCA which can be found at:

Its interesting for me to go back and read these and know that while Pete was not a part of that life he was definately the one that got me to understand how important taking time for my own mental health was. As a very young mother with a slew of very young kids the stress factor was high. Riding helped, alot.

The Pond in the Woods

Most of my life has been full of outdoor activity. My mother didn’t believe a child should be in the house unless it was time to: clean, eat, sleep… This meant that I was out having an adventure each and every day. In the summer we swam, in the winter we played in the snow, skied, built snow forts, explored the woods, and skated. We searched high and low for activities that would defeat the monotany of small town life.

There was this one day when one of Pete’s neighbors called a group of us in my neighborhood over to her house to skate. We were under the impression that she had set up a rink in her yard, as her father often did things like that so we took her up on the offer and walked the 2 miles to her house, speedskates in one hand, lunch in the other. When we arrived, we were surprised that we had to walk to the next street over, then climb the cliff that was behind what is now G’s house, trudge through the knee deep snow to reach this small pond in the woods.  It was really a glorified swamp with a large patch of free ice and tons of ice between the trees that surrounded it. The snow was shoveled off all of the skateable surfaces, including what ice was between the trees. The snow banks serving as benches to change into skates or take a break.

What an adventure, we arrived at our secret pond to find it full of neighborhood kids, Pete included, skating away. There was this small fire built at the pond edge with a camp coffee pot that was full of hot chocolate and there was an intense interest in why the four of us were descending on their ice. It must have been close to winter carnival time, which means that the all the skaters in town were very territorial about their practice surfaces. Our town’s winter Carnival offered some pretty high stakes in the form of large trophies and community owned award plaques with the names of the winners inscribed. Because of this it was so important that each neighborhood have a champion of some sort, especially if you were not from one of the lake communities, because that meant you were not allowed to enter the relays. The feeling that day was that this kid had just allowed a scouting mission in the interest of being popular despite her only wanting to have new people to hang out with. In any case there was this mutual feeling that this little pond was a gem and out of respect for that we kept it a secret. After all, it was devoid of parents and the lake community we came from was under a constant microscope. It was also devoid of development, which was cathartic.

After this initial visit to the pond in the woods, I made it a regular spot to skate with Pete. I remember at times being the only two people up there, we skated through the trees, had snowball fights, ate sandwiches, smoked cigarettes, let the world exist in another place, just as long as it wasn’t there.

I often wondered about that pond and if it was still there? I think it must be the pond my son has 4 wheeled around with his friends and I think it belongs to a friend of his and is clear-cut, and stocked with pond plants, fish and amphibians.  When they were in high school I remember telling him and G about our adventures at the pond. I think they were in disbelief that such a place could exist in here, that close to home. They were bound by the same small town tedium. 

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