August 6, 1999 - Day 56 - Torrington, Connecticut to Providence, Rhode Island

- 103.5 miles - 14.5 mph average speed - 3886 total miles - 41.3 mph max speed

THE LOST JOURNAL!!! (written August 11)

Roadkill: 14

    I've struggled with how best to present the wonderful story of the return of the digital camera in my journal. I've decided to stay with a chronological approach, and that means you're going to have to wait for the "Epilogue", which should be on line by August 14, to find out just HOW it was returned.
    I will only say at this point that the theme of the Good Samaritan, a theme unknown to me at this journey's start, was hammered home in almost mystical fashion, at its very conclusion.
    I'm not drawing this out to try to increase readership, or to keep a secret from anyone. I really feel that if the story is presented to you in its chronological order, you will have a better chance of feeling the same impact it has had on me.
    Thanks for your patience. I hope it's rewarded.

TODAY'S JOURNAL (WITH the pictures!!)

    While home in July I promised my daughter Ruth that I wouldn't show any more pictures of roadkill for the remainder of the trip, and I have been true to my word.
    But there are certain situations in life that call for the breaking of even so solemn a vow as a father makes to his daughter.
    I bow, however, to good taste in only showing you a small part of this, the most gruesome road kill of the trip. You will have to take my word for the horror, the disgust, the shock, the pathos, when I came across the remains of...

Glove and Straw
Gruesome remains
    ...the Scarecrow!!!! scattered by the side of the road this morning.
    I know that children of all ages are reading this web site and I'm sorry to have to report this awful statistic today. I can only tell you that it appears that the end came quickly: There was pretty much only this glove and some more of his scattered "remains" left on the highway. I saw no sign of the Cowardly Lion or the Tin Man. I assume they continued up the road.

    If I had only known when I took this picture how appropriate "...if I only had a brain" would be by the end of the day...

Rt 44 near Avon
NOT the Yellow Brick Road
    This is one bad bicycling arrangement here. It's near Avon (Ct) on Rte. 44, four lanes of fairly high speed traffic. You can see the teeny tiny shoulder provided, but most significantly, the curbing allows no bailout avenue.
    I have put these pictures in the journal periodically to show just how little thought is given to bicycling as a form of serious or recreational transportation in our country. This is as good as a sign that says "You're NOT welcome here". Ouch.

    No, this glass and chrome extravaganza is actually Hartford, the state capitol of Connecticut...

Twain's House
Can you see the steamboat?

    ... and the home of Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) at his richest. His Hartford years were his peak earning years, and he had this beautiful brick home built to his own specifications, including the design of the back of the home to resemble the fantail of a Mississippi steamboat.
    Clemens is perhaps the quintessential American author. If you've only read 'Tom Sawyer' or 'Huckleberry Finn', you are missing so much. He wrote hundreds of humorous essays and short stories.
    Shortly after this home, his dream house, was built, the investments into which he had put most of his money all went south, and so did his fortune.
    In his later years, his writing turned virulently cynical (I particularly enjoy his "Letter to the Gas Company"). He took on every piece of bureaucracy, be it political or religious, that angered him, and ripped them to pieces in his own inimitable way.
    He died nearly broke, and bitter, going out with Halley's Comet, just as he had come in with it in its previous appearance. I love him.

Stowe's House
The neighbor lady
    He lived immediately next door to Harriet Beecher Stowe, another American author, who wrote the American classic 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'. He pretty much detested her, I think because of her religious beliefs. They didn't socialize.
    But think of it: the authors of two American classics that it has become recently fashionable to criticize for being politically incorrect , 'Huckleberry Finn' and 'Uncle Tom's Cabin', living side by side in West Hartford, their homes surrounded today by the low income housing of thousands of African-American citizens. There's a symmetry to it.

Gothic Gates
Gothic gates
    Hartford is a beautiful city. These "city gates" are located in the park near the capital building.

State Capital
No, it's NOT Notre Dame - that's in Indiana!
    This beautiful building is the state capital. I would have loved to have shown you a picture of the OLD state capital building, of much simpler design but with the same golden dome, but the camera was "mis-placed".

    I would have loved to have stayed around Hartford, but my visit was already getting to be longer than I wanted, and if I was going to get my "century" in today, I needed to get moving.
    I stopped by the curb just east of downtown and was looking quizzically at my map, trying to figure out how to get over the Conncecticut River...

Steven Kardys and Steven Larkum
    ...when Steve and Steve, who work for Hartford Public Works just pulled up and asked if I needed help. I pulled my map out of the front pack holder and they directed me over the river.
    And this was my moment of carelessness. After taking their picture, I set the camera on the ground and turned around to fold the map back into the case. This was never easy (a design flaw of the Cannondale front pack, in my opinion), and by the time I got it done, I climbed on the bike and rode away.
    After ten minutes the awful realization hit me. I had stopped for something to drink, reached into the front pack for my money bag, and realized instantly there was a gaping space. I got back on the bike and sprinted back.
    There wasn't much pedestrian traffic where I left the camera. It was somewhat sheltered in the lee of a flower planter by the curb. Maybe... maybe... maybe. I'm picturing the camera there all the time I'm riding.
    But it wasn't really a surprise to see that it wasn't. Round trip was probably 20 minutes. That's a long time for a camera to be sitting on the ground in any urban area in this country.

    You know the rest of the story now, of course, but I can't begin to describe the sick feeling that came over me. I had misplaced the trust that Chris Balsano, our school librarian, had placed in me.
    I did the usual. I looked everywhere. There were no office building doors nearby where some good samaritan might have left it.
    Report it to the police? I was already another half hour behind schedule. That would have eaten another hour. (This was faulty reasoning. I should have reported it for insurance purposes, if for no other, but I was not thinking along those lines.)

    And so I headed up to the Burger King a couple of blocks away to try to clear my head with a Whopper (In fact, I had been biking so hard all morning that I failed to either eat or drink properly, one of the first times on the trip I had done this. Did this make a difference?)
    And that is where I met Dave (who left a message on the board under the name Buddha) and Abe Krisst (who also posted a message), who I talk about in the other August 6 journal. Thanks again, Abe. I sure wish I were able to show your picture. If you're reading this, any way you could email me a jpg of you on your bike? I'd love to put it in here.

    There are obviously no pictures for the remainder of this day. (Imagine how many 'centuries' I would have cranked out it I hadn't been stopping to take pictures all day!!)

    And the rest is now history.

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