Day 12
August 25th, 2002
Warwick, Rhode Island

The elevator door opened into the empty lobby of the Sheraton. I walked through in the early morning hours, in the Roadcrafter.  Staff personnel had little to do, because the motel is still asleep.  I had my camping stuff under my arms.  This motel was the fanciest I've ever stayed while on a trip.  Indoor pool, high priced restaurants etc.  The local fire departments were able to negotiate a BIG discount for us.  The price on the back of my door read 395 a night.  Yeah right.

A bell hop blurbed- "need any help?"

"nah, I'm going to bring my bike around, I just need ya to make sure no one walks off with my camping stuff"
"why are you leaving so far ahead of the others"

"Long Rider"

He had not a clue as to what I was talking about.

I brought the ST around and strapped my gear down.  I fired the engine at 7am, and stuck my Arai over my head.

I will riding into NYC this morning, then south to West Chester, Pa.

I went down the street to fill the tank at a Exxon Station.  It was closed, so I reversed and went south to a Shell station.

I went back to I-95, and started the ride south.  

It was cool and sunny. 
The ST purred along, and in a few minutes I was out of Rhode Island, and in the Ivy league state of Connecticut.  By most standards traffic was moderate, but in this part of the country, it is considered light.  The northeast is so densely populated there is no such thing as light traffic.  Connecticut is one big suburb for NYC, especially along the coast.  Boats, cars, trains and who knows what else are used to transport these folks into the city on work days.  Better them then me.

The shores of I-95 are packed solid with urban sprawl, not just in Connecticut but all the way to Miami.  It is the ugliest, least fun road in America.  Riding it is torture.  I would like to know how many millions live within 2 miles of I-95 from Maine-Miami.  It is the worst road a long rider can ever find himself on.  In this part of the country there are no back roads, no soul searching roads, no desolate roads connecting barren, isolated towns. 
Riding south on I-95 I felt like a lost eagle, flying in a flock of drab, ho hum migratory birds.  The cages I maneuver around and pass have no soul, no individuality, they follow the guys in front.  Their lives are tied to the herd. Don't believe me?  Check I-95 on a work day and watch how they all seem to take the same exit to get to work.  These ARE the folks that would drive I-95 all the way to Miami.  The sight of Long Rider making his way through their ranks, probably makes them uncomfortable, so I stay extra cautious.  The most exciting thing that is going to happen them today, is someone might open the door and blow papers from the desk.

I pass through New London and note the Navy has submarine bases nearby.  If I remember correctly, this area is the headquarters for the Atlantic submarine fleet.  Now those guys know how to be different.

I keep riding south through ever thickening urban sprawl.  New Haven, West Haven, Milford (there's that town again), Stratford, and Bridgeport.

I see a freeway sign-Trumbull Next Exit.  Hey! didn't they win the Little League Series a long time ago?  I KNOW they did, I just can't remember when.  My son and I watched that game on TV.  On impulse I decide to ride into Trumbull to check the town out.  I carry out a head check to my right, and dive into the exit lane.

I will ride into the city and check the Little League field out.  My mind needs escape from the torture of I-95.  I don't have to find lonely places in the desert to stimulate my curiosity, all I have to be is creative.

Trumbull is a high dollar place.  Carefully manicured lawns and medians guide you into the city.  I saw no signs at the city limits announcing the past glory of its Little League team.  I was surprised. 

I glide through the city, looking for the ballpark.  Trumbull is not that big, and I don't anticipate a hard time finding the field.  A few miles from the freeway I find a shopping center and pull in.  I see a young man about 18 walking into the grocery store, and I stop for directions.

"hey do you know where I can find the Little League field?"

"yeah, go down this road, through the next 3-4 lights and you will see the sign on the right.  Narrow entrance, so look for the sign"


Armed with good directions I easily find the park, and ride up the narrow entrance road.  I find the baseball field sitting on the right.  I dismount and walk over for a closer look.

I am curious as to how a league honors a World Series champion.  A big, blue sign hangs on the concession stand/press box- Turmbull 1989 World Series Champions.  I look around some more and find a faded stone marker out front, it is a copy of the scoreboard from Williamsport.  Trumbull 5- Taiwan 3.  The copper marker is turning blue, and much of the detail is hard to see.  The names of the players and coaches are etched below. "You made us Proud" is the quote.  I see the name of Chris Durry on the marker.  He pitched the final game, his junk ball and sinkers baffled Taiwan the entire game.  Chris Durry went on to become a NHL hockey player, winning several awards.  He also played on a Stanley Cup championship team.  He's had a great run.  
​  The Little League Park in Trumbull, Ct.
I looked at the marker then out over the field that sprung this team.  In 1989 a team from Taiwan hadn't lost in the LLWS for many years.  Years later, it was later determined they were guilty of all kinds of rule infractions during that span.  Kids too old, and illegal districts allowing them to build teams for many thousands instead of the normal hundreds.  But, in 1989 a team from this town, facing all kinds of odds, won.  If they had played Taiwan another 25 times they would have never won, but they won when it counted.

As I looked at the names on the plague I wondered how each of the kids turned out.  I'm sure they are like most things in life.  Some good, some bad.  I wondered which went on to be successful businessmen, how many advanced to the higher levels of baseball, and if any were currently down on their luck.  

Players from my past teams have run the gamut of life, I would think the team from Trumbull would not be any different.  

Satisfied, I returned to I-95 and continued south for the city.  

I entered New York and sprawl gave way to concrete, old mercantile buildings, and row after row of run down, 2 story family dwellings.  I followed 95 into Jersey City and then I was stunned and saddened.  I could see the Manhattan skyline and the spot where the WTC Towers once stood.  I was last here in 1999.  Seeing the altered skyline for the first time is heartbreaking.  I slow the ST and begin my solemn journey to Ground Zero.
Traffic was typical NY but somehow, it seemed insignificant.  Traffic is nothing, compared to what these people have been through.

I wanted to take a picture, but there was no safe place to do so.

I came through the Holland Tunnel, and made a right turn and was soon on the surface streets of NYC.  The sky was bright blue, just like on 9-11.  Taxis were jumping around and honking the horn at me.  They did not care I was a struggling long rider, trying to find my way around the maze of skyscrapers and one ways.  I made it this far without one missed turn, how did I get so messed up in Halifax?   Goes to show what good signs can do.

The Empire State and Chrysler buildings were easy to spot.  I was not far from either.

I found Ground Zero quickly.  Fire trucks were on the scene.  It is a sobering, haunting place.    I looked for a place to park the ST, but could find none.  I was not going to be able to walk to the overlook, because leaving the ST unattended would be crazy.  So I parked near a fire truck and made my way to the fence to look down.  It was unbelievable.  A 5 story hole now exists where the towers once stood.  The site was clean, and orderly.  The massive pile of rubble removed.  Only in America could such a task been carried out in such a short time. 
I raised my camera to take a picture, but changed my mind.  Somehow it did not seem appropriate.  So many died here, it is indeed hallow ground.  I thought of the 343 firefighters lost here, less then half have been found.
I starred out at the ground of this special place.  The 1 year anniversary will soon be here.  It is my hope we don't make 9-11 a holiday, it is not a day to be sad, but should be a day to confirm our resolve to avenge what happened here, just as we did Dec. 7.  Maybe I'm wrong, but the most fitting memorial for those lost would be to take care of our enemies for good.

I tried to picture the chaos that took place on these streets, but I can't.  A person would have had to have been there.  

I walked slowly back to the ST in the shadows of the skyscrapers.  My ST and I have been to many special places, but none as important, or as solemn as Ground Zero.  I throw my leg over my bike, and reflect just a moment longer before hitting the starter.  I brought the ST to life, then blended back into the traffic and headed for Pa.

I now had closure for 9-11.  

I paid my tolls and got back to I-95.  I missed my interchange and found myself in the Bronx.  I took an exit to get sorted out.  I found myself dodging under subway trestles.  Never had to watch for cars, pillars, and potholes before, so it was interesting.

Navigating NYC on a bike takes nerve and guile.  Lots of fast moving traffic, on narrow, crowded streets and highways.

So far I've paid about 7 bucks in tolls.

I left the city on the New Jersey Turnpike.  I don't remember much about the trip through New Jersey, my mind was elsewhere.  The trip was winding down, and in a way, I was ready to get back to Alabama.  There is not much to see in New Jersey, so I just concentrated on getting it over with.

My goal for today is West Chester, Pa. and a visit with my favorite uncle.  Uncle "Boots" was my father's youngest brother, and reminds me very much of my father.

I pay my tolls again, and ride through Philadelphia on I-95 and US 1.  I position myself in the far left lane for the run through the city.  I feel safest there in big cities.

At one of the Philly interchanges a 18 wheeler decides to cut me off.  He almost missed his exit, and took it out on me.

I follow US 1 to US 322, it is late afternoon now.  It has been a good day.  The weather was warm and sunny, and I feel good about getting to see Ground Zero.  The scenery has been the worst I've ever encountered on a ride, but that hasn't really bothered me.

I saw several southbound Harleys on 322, none of them returned my waves.

In West Chester I made a wrong turn trying to find my uncle's house and wind up on the campus of West Chester University.  I made several corrections and made it back to West Chester Pike.  In Pa. they call many roads "pikes"  I wonder why?  That makes me wonder what a Turnpike actually is.  It certainly doesn't make a guy turn anywhere.  The things you think about when riding a motorcycle.

I find Penn Lane and (every city in Pa has a street named Penn something) begin scanning for my Uncles house.  It has been several years since my last visit, and I have to look extra hard.  I have it narrowed down to 2 at the far end of the block.  Both houses look the same, but in the end an America flag in the garage window is most like my Uncle Boots, and is the decisive factor.

I rode 397 miles today.  I did not take many pictures today,  Who wants pictures of the NJ Turnpike?

I park the ST in the driveway of the modest split level home, and go to the door.  My Aunt Connie comes to the door and does a double take, but quickly recognizes me.  I'm greeted by warm hugs and shown in. 
I spent a hour or 2 speaking with my Aunt and Uncle, then set up in the finished basement.  It was comfortable.
After I showered, I drove my uncles car to a good local place for supper.  It was my treat.  I got the feeling my aunt and uncle did not get out much, and really enjoyed being out of the house.  They both are little old to be driving, so they sit at home alot.  They listened to story after story of my adventures.  They must have asked me a 1000 questions.

Both told me I am just like my father, when he was 47.

My cousins are scattered throughout the country, I was disappointed I did not get to see any of them.  The closest is in Pittsburgh.

Back at home I watched a little TV then went to bed about 11.  I plan only a short ride to DC the next day, little do I know I will scrap that plan mid stream, and try for a long run home.