FACE AIDS Ride Against AIDS 2010 Blog
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Thursday, August 19, 2010
Rolled out as a pack of 7 at 8:30 am. 52 miles to destination. It was a fun, exciting ride. Of course we couldn't finish out the ride without a few more flats though. Brought back memories. The 7 of us all in our FACE AIDS jerseys definitely made a statement riding through towns and into Boston.
We found the Entering Boston sign and found our way to the meeting place - a boathouse on The Charles. There we met up with a bunch of Partners in Health employees and Claire's dad and brother. We finished up the last 7ish miles with a huge pack. From there we all made our way to The Boston Harbor so we could finally dip our front tires in the Atlantic. Something we've all been waiting for.
This was a riot. We found our way down to a dock and all dipped our tires, drenched ourselves in champagne, and jumped into the Atlantic. I can honestly say that this was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I can not even describe in words how exciting and how fun it was to have all of us out on the dock finishing off the ride with a bang. We definitely also drew a crowd and word got around about our ride. On our way out we got a number of high fives and appreciative remarks from the people around the harbor. That was also very cool, beyond description.
All smelling like cocktails and dripping wet with salt water, we headed to lunch at Dick's Last Resort. Then we showered up and had a great BBQ and get-together with more Partners in Health staff and friends and family. It is so great to hear how much the ride means to others as well as to us. Wonderful, wonderful, indescribable day and night.
Looking back, I literally can not believe the journey we have been on the last 67 days. It truly was an experience of a lifetime.
Now I have a couple days in Boston with Jay, former teammate, before I "become a real person" according to the group (aka I'm done with school and will be getting a job). To top off a great night, guess what was waiting for me in the passenger seat? You guessed it - half a dozen cupcakes from Kick*ss Cupcakes.
More pictures and videos to come, the camera is still being stubborn..
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
We got a very late start today, leaving Old Lyme around 2. It was like pulling teeth to get us all out the door. We had 70 miles to Providence, RI. The hills just kept on coming too - the knees were taking a beating. Downed a bunch of Advil and kept trucking, there's no way I wouldn't finish the last 2 days.
We pulled into Providence around 7 and cleaned up quickly to head out for our last team dinner together. We had an amazing time at a Hibachi restaurant called Shark. We reminisced, talked about all the inside jokes, the ridiculous things we had gotten ourselves into and out of, and predictions of what would come after the ride. Tonight was one of the most fun nights we have all had together and will definitely be remembered.
I can not believe tomorrow is our last day, what a journey it has been.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
We left with a "Cheerio" and a motivational, admiration speech from the Stearn's Grandpa. We had about an 80 mile day into Old Lyme, CT which consisted of 95 steps in the Google map walking directions, which is our normal routing. Needless to say, it was a flashback to the first day and we obviously got lost a few times. We just kinda had to laugh and kept wandering around, trying to get back on track. Luckily we actually were in a big group today, so it was pretty humorous.
We wandered around Yale's campus as well in New Haven on our way. The final destination was definitely worth the day's struggle as we pulled up to an amazing farm house in the woods of Old Lyme. We had an awesome dinner and enjoyed wonderful conversation again. We're being hosted by one of the guys' crew teammates and his family so we were blessed with some more crew stories. One of his cousins is also just ending a cross-country bike trip to fight cancer. He's dipping his tire in the Pacific tomorrow as they started in Maryland and will be finishing up in Seattle. I'm still pretty surprised by how many people we've run into along the way that are either biking a trip like ours, have done it in the past, or know someone who is or has had a similar adventure.
I also had the chance to finally test out an erg machine. I'm pretty uncoordinated with it and it'll probably stay that way. On to Providence, Rhode Island tomorrow. I can not believe we are so close to being done.
Almost forgot...I also woke up to this amazing surprise. A bag from Crumbs, with another cupcake inside.
Monday, August 16, 2010
We switched houses and hosts in Greenwich today. The day started off with a humorous mistake of pulling into the wrong house. Good thing we didn't start unloading quite before we realized this was not the house we were supposed to be at.
After we did find the correct house, we were welcomed with an amazing lunch spread and went on a short driving tour of The Avenue. We also saw The Boys and Girls Club where Lebron made The Decision. I took quite the bum day of a rest day, while a couple of the others went back into NYC. I spent a majority of the day hanging around with the family and reading an entire book. The dog, Lilly, had the most personality I've ever seen in a dog. She was quite entertaining.
Mike gave another magic show after dinner and left everyone flabbergasted again. Not much to report, but an enjoyable, actually relaxing rest day.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
I was shocked once again as the group hit the road by 7:15 am. Today was my LAST driving day!!!!! It was kinda a bummer not to be able to ride out of the city, especially since there was hardly any traffic that early on a Sunday morning, but oh well. We made it to Greenwich, CT in time to join our hosts for their church service which allowed us to talk with a ton of people. A reporter for one of the local papers also met us to do a little bit of interviewing and take a few pictures to showcase the ride.
After church we had a great lunch with some of the family's friends and then headed back to the house, which was on the ocean to regroup. I grabbed my book and took a nice nap on the hammock, just my style. Then we talked with the Kings for a while about their travels and work in Rwanda. It was great to meet Leslie especially, as she is a board member for Partners in Health and has been able to work closely with Dr. Paul Farmer and other Partners in Health members. She even was given the Mountains Beyond Mountains manuscript as a gift by Tracy Kidder. That was very, very cool to look at and go through.
Even though it was gloomy and drizzling we headed to The Point for a picnic and some games with more family friends. Our time with this family and all their friends was amazing.
Friday, August 13, 2010
The cold I've been trying to fight off unfortunately finally settled in, so I spent a good chunk of the morning just relaxing. My options for the day really only consisted of entire day endeavors, such as the Statue of Liberty so I decided I'd just hang around and wander after I recouped a bit. Good thing I didn't attempt the Statue of Liberty trip, Zane went and quickly realized it was not going to happen considering the line was 6 hours long. Yikes.
When I finally did get out of the apartment I wandered around town and through Central Park a bit more with Magnolia Bakery as my destination. There have to literally be about a million nail salons and Dunkin Donuts-Baskin Robins combos. And I love that there were fruit stands on almost every corner.
I ran into this store with my life motto across the entire store front: Workout to Eat...
I tested out some New York style pizza as well, which was really good. I did finally make it to the bakery and then headed to meet the group for dinner. As I was walking back through Central Park I even got invited to join some guys as their date to a wedding. Haha, very funny. Dinner was obviously more important though, so I trekked on to our Italian restaurant to join both Claire and Jason's families and the rest of the group. After dinner I walked back on 5th Ave and enjoyed the never ending street of stores.
Unfortunately I never made it to Hoboken, NJ to Carlos' Bakery (Cake Boss), but I hear from Wally who tried to order me a cake that they've become a bit too famous and busy to deal with our small orders. Oh well, we'll have to save that trip for another time and a bigger occasion.
We shockingly got on the road at 7:15 so we could get into the city early and still have a majority of the day to go explore. I was impressed by our early wake up, that hasn't happened since the first week. Obviously we were pretty excited to get to NYC - but I don't think anyone could have been more excited than Jason, who was entering his hometown.
After a tour of his neighborhood, blasting Jay-Z's Empire State of Mind, we moved all our stuff into our apartment the was donated to us for the next 2 days. Since everyone now knows about my love of cupcakes and the likes, the first stop was Crumbs Bakery, which Jason wanted to take me to right away, knowing it was one of the best (which it definitely was). Then we took a stroll through Central Park and kinda all split off to do our own desired site-seeing after that. Luckily the city is super easy to navigate with the grid system and the streets being numbered.
My day consisted of going to Dylan's Candy Bar, Times Square, Madison Square Garden, back to Central Park, and then to Serendipity.
Dylan's Candy Bar is crazy! First off, it's the most candy I've ever seen in one place in my entire life. Second, it's 3 floors. And 3rd, it's the most ridiculously priced candy I've ever encountered, so my trip there was definitely more looking than indulging. After that I wandered down to Times Square.
I encountered a number of things in Times Square. Found the Naked Cowgirl, but not the Naked Cowboy. Of course saw the NBC, Late Night Show, and ABC studios. MTV was surprisingly so unnoticeable I passed it a few times and had to literally look up the address and still then it was not noticeable, which surprised me. Tons of lights and signs and craziness. And the amount of people was insane!
We all met back up around 6 at the boathouse in Central Park to meet with a woman and to talk about FACE AIDS and the ride with her. After that discussion, we all broke off again. I went to Serendipity with Claire and her sister Jill, who had been doing an internship in the city. Another one of Claire's friends also met up with us. It was nice to have some time with other girls again, didn't realize how long it'd been that I really have been with more people than those on the trip. Serendipity is known for its frrrozen hot chocolate, so of course I got one. And it was AMAZING. Really the first souvenir of the trip - a tin of the frrrozen hot chocolate mix. Maybe some of you will be lucky enough to try it when I get home...
Great day. On another note, people always say NYC is a bigger, dirtier Chicago, and I have to say I've never in my life seen rats in Chicago like I saw walking home - they are gigantic. So you make the call.
GTL (Gym, Tan, Laundry)! Just kidding, New Jersey as we saw it was nothing like the Jersey Shore. Anyways, we unfortunately were forced to drive into Princeton, New Jersey because it rained literally alllll day and the roads were extremely wet. Like I said before, Mike and I barely escaped the death trap of Lincoln Drive before, and none of us were about to attempt to escape it again in the rain. We made a good call, it just kept raining and getting worse.
So not much to do on a rainy day then. We drove through the campus and town a bit and I ended up wasting a lot of time in a bookstore, reading about cupcakes - go figure. Once our hosts were around though things picked up. We ended up making ice cream, which was awesome, and we all took some part in making dinner. I miss cooking. Anyways, that turned out to be really fun and a good way to pass the time.
The daughter of our host just got back recently from a 6 month stay in Ghana so that was really fun to talk about with her and compare our experiences. Man, I miss those Fan Chocos and Fan Yogos - basically it's frozen chocolate milk and frozen strawberry yogurt in a bag and they are the only cold, dairy products available in the country and the best snack ever. Very fun hosts and experience in New Jersey despite the weather.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
We went into the city as a group today, covering pretty much everything it has to offer. First we went and saw the Liberty Bell which I didn't realize was in it's own little museum. And a fun fact about the bell is that the crack was manmade when they were trying to fix another small crack, sorta interesting. Also toured through Independence Hall and one of the U.S. Mints. The Mint was pretty cool (no pictures allowed though). There have been so many different coins made! I remember when the state quarters started coming out and everyone was going to collect all 50, they were going to be soooo rare. And now, they're everywhere. But no worries, through 2021 they're coming out with another round of National Park quarters, one for every state.
After we finished up with all the history type stuff, we headed for the good stuff - some Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches. I should pretty much just turn this into a food blog since that's what it's pretty much become, but it's the best part. We went to Jim's Steakhouse - they were SOOOOOO GOOOOOOD! Made me like Philly a little bit more.
Then we went to the Art Museum to work off our lunch by running up the stairs from ROCKY. Of course we had to do the famous Rocky stairs and snap a couple pictures with his statue.
Then everyone headed to the Phillies game while I wandered through the surrounding neighborhood a bit more and just relaxed. Great way to end another jam packed day.
We scheduled a late departure time today thinking we only had 32 miles into Philadelphia, which ended up being 39. Mike and I somehow managed to escape death on Lincoln Drive (literally worst road ever). We even pulled off, found a cop and asked what was a better way and he told us we had to take Lincoln - ugh. But we made it all in one piece. Mike also managed to dent some guy's brand new looking BMW when he rode over a rock and it flew every which way. Oh well, we can't control that....
We are staying with a wonderful family at a church for the next two nights. We had a great dinner with them and of course great conversation. Not much time for exploring today but we'll take advantage of our rest day tomorrow to cover Philly.
Monday, August 9, 2010
Into Wilmington, Delaware today putting another 57 miles behind us as we rode to our presentation site. Getting to the presentation on time was the concern of the day after we had to be driven over a bridge on construction, Claire's tire got stuck in a grate causing her to wipe out, and Mike popped two tires. But we managed to pull it all together and get there with time to spare.
This presentation was really fun to give, as the audience consisted of a group of our peers from The University of Delaware and the staff of AIDS Delaware. A huge thanks to the staff of AIDS Delaware for setting up the presentation, housing, and dinner. They are awesome! Anyways, after the presentation a few of the girls showed interest in starting their own FACE AIDS chapter on their campus, so overall I'd say we were pretty successful in relaying our message.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
After a mini-vacation in D.C. it was time to hit the road again. We had a grueling 38 miles to get to Baltimore (just kidding - it was a pretty breezy ride). Anyways, the day was kinda uneventful. We took our time leaving around noon and had a lot of navigating to do to get out of the city. Other than that, the day was pretty straight forward, crossing back into Maryland. We're right on the harbor, so after a nap and shower I went exploring around the harbor.
I woke up to discover the day would be too short to see everything I still wanted to see. So I got creative and decided to get my run in while I site-saw. I mapped out all the memorials and monuments I hadn't seen yet and set out for a 6 hour extravaganza.
I started at The Smithsonian National Zoo. Wandered around there for a bit and obviously through the reptile house. Then I ran over to The Ghana Cafe. Unfortunately, they weren't open yet, and I was pretty bummed after looking at their menu, I could have definitely gone for some Red-Red for lunch. Still pretty cool just to look at the menu and laugh at my first attempts at eating most of it over 2 years ago while I studied abroad in Ghana.
After that I headed towards The Lincoln Memorial. Maybe I'm biased being from Illinois, but I think The Lincoln Memorial is by far the coolest one, with Jefferson being a close runner-up.
After seeing Lincoln, I wandered through the mall a bit and stumbled upon The Vietnam War Memorial, The Korean War Memorial, The World War I Memorial, The FDR Memorial, and The George Mason Memorial. Eventually I did make my way over to The Jefferson Memorial as well. On my way back I also ran into The Holocaust Memorial Museum.
I'm sure there's still a ton that I missed, but I was pretty impressed with my abundance of sites for the day.
After my long day out exploring, we gave another presentation about the ride. It's always the most fun to finish up with a question and answer session. I love having the chance to answer individuals' questions from a personal point of view and also to listen to the rest of the group's answers. I think we learn a lot, and a lot about each other, during the presentations as well maybe hearing answers to questions we don't necessarily ask amongst ourselves.
Then I did get the chance to try yet another cupcake shop, Hello Cupcake. This was definitely right up there with Georgetown Cupcakes... Very impressive. Then I was able to meet up with the IWU crew once more before I departed D.C. We wandered through Adams Morgan and were shocked by the amount of people on the streets. We also experienced the famous Jumbo Slice pizza. Literally the biggest piece of pizza I have ever seen, and it was actually pretty good.
D.C. was an amazing city and I loved exploring it. I had a great time and some more great friends to meet up with along the way. On to Baltimore tomorrow!