With the triple-H weather and headwinds all the way, our goal for the day was to make the ~40 miles to Concord NH today. Leaving Meredith we were immediately confronted with a mile and a quarter long uphill, and even that goal seemed like it might be a bit ambitious. But the hills moderated, the sky stayed mostly overcast sparing us from the sun, and by noon we were already south of Concord eating lunch at a Subway in an anonymous strip mall along Route 3, 47 miles from Meredith.
The sun did come out for a while after lunch and it was wickedly hot when slowly spinning uphill with no breeze, but we were feeling good after taking the day off yesterday and we just kept going “another ten miles” until we found ourselves in Salem with 73 miles on the odometer. Our GPS showed a number of motels in Salem so we stopped at the first one, a Red Roof Inn. Looking forward to a shower, a meal, and a bit of cool air conditioning, we were shocked to find the motel full. Not only was the Red Roof Inn full, but so was every other motel in the area. Wow! We’ve traveled without reservations in many places and once in a while we’ve had to settle for a place we wouldn’t otherwise have chosen, but we’ve always been able to find accommodations.
Doris, the woman running the motel, called around all the neighboring towns and told us if we could find a room she would drive us there in her truck. But everything for miles around was booked. We sat and talked and ruminated with Doris’s help on different possibilities, and finally decided that we would leave our bikes at the motel overnight, take the Boston Express bus to Boston, and come back with the car tomorrow to pick up the bikes.
We had almost an hour before the next bus left, and Doris opened up one of the rooms not yet occupied and let us shower and change our clothes. She also gave us bottles of ice-cold water. She was a real angel to us! Once we were clean and presentable we locked out bikes away in their utility room and Doris drove us to the bus station up the street.
We rode the bus to South Station in downtown Boston, then the ‘T’ out to Quincy Center, and finally walked the mile and a quarter home stopping on the way to pick up some Chinese food for dinner.
It is Wednesday now, and this morning we drove the 40 miles back to Salem to pick up the bikes and drive them home on the bike rack. Not exactly how we envisioned finishing our tour, but being treated so kindly by Doris ad the rest of her staff make up for any disappointment about not riding the last half day or our trip. We brought a box of hand-made chocolates for Doris when we picked up the bikes, and even then she protested that it was unnecessary. She said if she can help one person each day, she’s happy.