Mommy Mikey Day

bound·a·ry /’bound(ə)rē/ noun: a line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line.

June 27, 2018

This morning I remembered the box of Cream of Wheat in the pantry that I bought to use as a thickener for a vegan soup recipe. I haven’t had Cream of Wheat in ages and couldn’t get the thought out of my head that I really needed to eat it for breakfast. As the farina came to a slow boil, I reached for the Splenda and suddenly remembered that my mom always added butter. Okay, so Earth Balance Original is not exactly butter, but it still felt like a big ole hug from mommy. Now I was ready to rock and roll and start the day feeling good.

Tired of the same old gym routine and the threat of thunderstorms making a bike ride a bad decision, I resolved to go for a walk some place close to where my car would be parked just in case the weather decided to cooperate with the forecast. That’s when I thought about Boundary Creek Natural Resource Area, the park I ventured out to on a misty rain two days before Michael died (Christmas in October, September 23, 2016). Despite all forewarning, I defied the Weather Channel and chose to head out on another misty morning almost two years later. The park, itself, was not very large with the parking lot speedily accessible no matter what trail I would be walking along.

As I drove to the outskirts of Moorestown, it dawned on me that I had never been to Boundary Creek in the summer, having only gone in the autumn several times before. This time (weather permitting) I was going to take my time and really look around, determined to read every single signage…and I did!

Boundary Creek is located along Rancocas Creek, a waterway named after the “Rankokous,” the Native American Nation of the Powhatan Renape. Starting off the Delaware River and running a little further south of Vincentown, Rancocas Creek winds through a number of major hubs in Southern New Jersey. I discovered that the park was part of a 1050 acre peach plantation originally owned by John and Grace Hollinshead, immigrants from England in the mid-17th century. At the time the southwestern counties were being settled, there were no roads, thereby creating a “riverline highway” for steamboat transportation up and down the Rancocas. John Hollinshead also owned and operated one of the steamboats.

Three hundred years later, throughout the 1980s the County Board of Chosen Freeholders of Burlington County began acquiring land in order to preserve what are known as “green acres.” As of the early 2000s, Burlington County boasted over 3500 acres of open space and over 50,000 acres of preserved farmland, the Hollinshead property being one such acquisition in 2002. By 2004, the county began planning and designing the preservation of the natural habitat that was later named Boundary Creek Natural Resource Area. From open field grassland and succession to a vast forest area, the park has become home to hundreds of plant and animal species.

Milkweed wafting lilac scents, stately coneflower, wild raspberries beginning to ripen, bright red berries taunting the local wildlife, interesting fungus growing on a fallen tree and sweet-smelling honeysuckle.

With a multitude of mammals, herptiles, waterbirds, birds of prey, songbirds and woodpeckers, several pathways along the creek invite you to hide out and spy or just merely sit and ponder…

Finishing up the 1 1/2 miles of figure-eight trails and boardwalks, I decided to stop off at Johnson’s Corner Farm, one of mom’s favorite places to visit. The rain still holding, I thought it would be a good idea to go pick-my-own veggies and fruits – an activity with a very short window in any given year. You just can’t beat fresh organic produce grown locally and picked by your own hands. Driving out of the parking lot of Boundary Creek, I officially declared Boundary Creek to be Mikey Bro’s Farm from this day forward. I’ll be forwarding a memo to the County Board of Chosen Freeholders ASAP…

Stomach growling to remind me that I hadn’t eaten all day, I stopped at the local Wawa to purchase some hard boiled eggs, promising myself some ice cream at the farm but only after eating something healthy like a nice homegrown peach. On the way, I somehow convinced myself to go to the gym after the farm, despite my decision this morning to skip the old boring gym routine. Besides, if I was going to eat ice cream, I had to hit the gym to burn off the calories, right? Arriving at the farm, I entered the shop to purchase some produce not available for picking, particularly the peaches. I quickly scarfed down a peach to satisfy my insistence on eating something healthy before going for ice cream. As soon as I saw the list, I knew what I needed – blueberry pomegranate chocolate chip ice cream! And it was FABULOUS!

Sauntering inside to buy tickets for the hayride that would take me to the fields where I had predetermined picking my own blueberries, strawberries, snap peas and green beans, I was informed by the cashier that the tractor driving away as we speak was the last one until tomorrow. I just had to stop for that ice cream, didn’t I…argh!

F**k the gym! I didn’t need all that stuff anyway!

In the end, I found myself at the local grocery store to shop for Shabbat.

A box of Cream of Wheat started today’s journey. How funny that a simple red cardboard box filled with farina can expel a swarm of memories – our family home in Ramsey filled with fifteen years of childhood memories, my mother ever present for whatever was needed…at least most of the time for me. So where did my thoughts of Michael come in? That’s right – they both died in 2015 eight months apart…and they both died on a Tuesday…

I thank G-d that my mother didn’t have to suffer the loss of one more child…

Still seething over my inability to pick my own produce and not burning off those ice cream calories, unlike my defiance of the definite impending thunderstorms that never happened, I succumbed to G-d’s advice – sometimes you just need to not have a plan and just go with what I’ve given you…LIFE

Enough is enough…time to set that boundary…

And then a neighbor came over this afternoon to give me some strawberries in exchange for some old dishes…

“Living is easy with eyes closed
Misunderstanding all you see
It’s getting hard to be someone
But it all works out
It doesn’t matter much to me”

Strawberry Fields – The Beatles

“I had run for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours.” – Forrest Gump

Stopping to smell the roses

“All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous unpremeditated act without benefit of experience.”

Henry Miller

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Today was the first time in a very long time that I spontaneously headed downstairs into the garage, hopped on Ole Bessie, walked out onto the driveway and had no idea where I was going –  no premeditated plan, no GPS, no Google Maps or MayMyRide…just a small bag of trail mix, my debit card and ID and two containers of water. Today I was going to stop and smell the roses…

Not wanting to climb any mountains, I knew which roads to start with to avoid any unnecessary exertion at the end of my ride – let’s go through Maple Shade…no brainer – down the hill on 537 and left on New Albany Road…one of the most dreadful overpass, steady long inclines in Burlington County coming the opposite direction.

First stop – chicken wire sculptures – how have I never noticed this before?!

It’s been a long time since I took New Albany Road to the end…and remembered why when I hit the dreaded Route 130…

Highway

Somehow managing to cross over the highway of hell, I continued on until reaching River Road – another road that fellow cyclists seem to enjoy yet produces significant anxiety for me deep within my soul.

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With the fear of giant sneaker-clad ghosts out for a stroll on the highway along the Delaware River haunting me, I pedaled as quickly as possible through Cinnaminson until the “bike lane” allowed enough room for me to not fear imminent death.

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A turtle crossing sign made up of recycled roof singles – okay, if the turtles don’t have a chance in hell, what of me?!

Safely making it into Riverton, I checked out the shops promoting painting lessons, dining with yoga and old-time hardware. As I came to a red traffic light at the intersection of River Road and Main Street where I normally turn left, I decided to check Google Maps to see what would happen if I turned right.

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I stopped briefly at a beautiful 19th-century church where I met a little boy walking his bulldog named Ruby. The boy’s father then appeared on his bike after a nice morning ride and the three of us chatted for a few minutes – until someone slammed the church door shut…loudly…we got the hint.

Main Street ends at Bank Avenue, home to the Riverton Yacht Club, one of the oldest steamboat landings in America.

https://jerseydigs.com/riverton-new-jersey-on-delaware-river-easy-to-visit-by-train/

A mere seven blocks long, Bank Avenue is lined with gorgeous 19th-century mansions, one of which is the 1851 Riverbank Manor or the Caleb Clothier House, reportedly a stop on the Underground Railroad. By the way, it’s currently up for sale if anyone’s interested…

Coming to the end of Bank Avenue, I turned left toward River Road in order to get back onto Main Street and head home. This time I decided to stop at an old abandoned house I’ve ridden by a few times.

The sign says it’s the Cinnaminson Home established in 1880, but I can’t find any information whatsoever about this place. Oddly attached to this 19th-century farmhouse is a long brick building resembling a a school or apartment complex – curiouser and curiouser…

Ready to finish my ride, I was pleased to find that Hello Kitty lives a little over a mile from my house…

“Don’t need reason, don’t need rhyme
Ain’t nothing I would rather do”

Highway to Hell – AC/DC

“I had run for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours.” – Forrest Gump

Lockin’ it up

June 10, 2018 – Bridge to the Beach Bike-a-thon

Checking the forecast throughout the week, I was repeatedly forewarned on a daily basis that it was not only going to rain all day long, I should also expect severe thunderstorms…

Great…

Was this some kind of metaphor? For nearly three years I’ve been riding for and writing about my brother Michael and his battle with cancer. How apropo…

A year ago this week, I was bombarded by a nasty respiratory infection (no thanks to the hubby) that I, in turn, gave to the kid days before her high school graduation. I still can’t believe I managed to ride 54 miles that day, deathly ill with the possibility of an SVT attack in 90-degree weather. I also cannot believe that the kid is already a full year out of school and is now an Israeli citizen.

All in all, I allowed my OCD to take over this year, thereby ensuring I would not, under any circumstance, become ill in any way, shape or form…and it worked in my favor. Although the kid was battling a nasty respiratory infection over in Israel (just in time for college finals), the hubby and I were clean as whistles, which are not actually clean with all that spit, are they? It’s like “sweating like a pig” – FYI pigs don’t sweat…

I also took Ole Bessie to the shop for a pre-ride check up last month and had to wait almost two weeks to get her back thanks to cycling being in season and everyone and anyone deciding to bring in their bikes the same week. Needless to say, despite paying for an intense cleaning and requesting small quirks be eliminated as much as possible, Bessie was not fixed properly and I had to return her three days before the ride. Admitting their error, I waited for Bessie while chatting with my buddy Jeremy who told me about a couple of very cool miniature golf courses in the area and gave me the name of a guy who just might take those 78s we inherited from my father-in-law and have been piled in the garage for over a year. All in all it was a productive visit – bike fixed for the cancer ride, mini-golf addiction fed for the summer and possibly gaining three extra feet of storage space in my garage for the year…

Before I knew it, the day was here. Although I had done it last year, I still found myself nervous, struggling to catch my breath as I swung my right leg over Bessie’s saddle. Maybe it was because I decided to challenge myself a bit more this year and rode from my house to the first rest stop for cyclists leaving from Philadelphia – a mere six extra miles. Or maybe it was the impending thunderstorms the Weather Channel adamantly insisted would happen today. Or maybe it was the change in directions to the second rest stop that were unfamiliar to me, despite printing the directions out again and remembering how I missed a turn last year, almost missing the whole ride.

But I was prepared – I was wearing my new pair of Shebeest capris with the cushiony chamoise that had proven effective. I  had my new iPhone 7 (see below), fully charged portable charger and fully charged new micro bluetooth speaker to play my fully charged iPod, two containers of water, a bike kit, two extra inner tubes, a bike pump, ID, debit card, cash, snacks, lip balm, hand sanitizer, wipes, eye drops and reading glasses – yet, I was still scared…

Last year the temperatures were into the 90s by 6:00AM, but this year I actually needed a light jacket as I rolled out of the driveway at 5:45AM.

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The first six miles were a piece of cake…

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Eagerly lingering at the rest stop and trying to be a law-abiding adult as the volunteer with the megaphone updated us on how many minutes we had left, declaring we had three minutes left two minutes after telling us we had two minutes left, I took off five minutes before the starting time…I think…and I wasn’t taking my phone out again for fear of dropping it after shattering the screen when it fell from the new phone holder five times on my last ride before the cancer ride that cost me $150 plus to fix so I would have a GPS and a cry for help safety net for the 61 miles I planned on riding. (BTW, Target graciously allowed me to return said holder sans packaging but with receipt in hand…and I had to explain to the customer service rep how to complete this transaction – my Target addiction is a whole other blog…)

Asking what time it was from the gentleman behind me riding for Lockheed Martin who was also complaining about megaphone woman’s issues with math, I pretty much started the same time as last year – 6:40AM. Although this year it was only in the 60s, I stripped off the jacket after sweating buckets thanks to my relentless menopausal hot flashes that never seem to take a break…

Not missing any turns this time, finding the new path actually more direct and easier than last year, I quickly arrived at my first rest stop.

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Parking Ole Bessie under an old faded sign allowing me to “park anytime,” I battled with my anxiety over whether or not I should lock her up as I watched absolutely no one with bicycles much more expensive than mine not locking up theirs. I managed to escape long enough to stock up on the traditional carbs and salt while checking on Bessie to squelch my ridiculous fears of thievery. Allowing The Bully to take over and forcing me to move my bike closer to where I was hanging out, I made friends with a very friendly local police officer who was biding his time by using his radar gun on incoming cyclists and telling them their speed.

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As the Philadelphia crowd arrived at the rest stop, I remembered Jeremy-at-the-bike-shop’s words last year, “Don’t stop at the first rest stop – too many people stop there and wear out their welcome.” Apologies to my Philly friends…

As I made my way to the second rest stop, I thought about why I allowed The Bully to take over my thoughts about having my bike stolen. It wasn’t about the price of it – I could always buy a new one, right? I’ve invested a lot of time and money into Bessie to make us fit just right and have ridden many miles with her. To me she is a priceless creation. After complaining about my saddle being torn from use, bike shop Jeremy advised me to suck it up and buy some duct tape, “Once your ass and your saddle fit, you don’t wanna f**k with that symmetry.” Well, that about sums it up…

Reaching the second rest stop, I defied The Bully and leaned Ole Bessie against a tree next to the bike repair tent set up 20 feet away (at least someone would be keeping an eye out, or so I believed enough to abandon my bike) – so that I could make a B-line to the port-o-potties. Actually, my bladder pretty much wins against any bully, human or imagined.

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Stuffing my belly to the gills with watermelon and a snack bar wondering why I was eating so much despite not actually being hungry, I proceeded to the third rest stop and set Ole Bessie under a shady tree sure that she would be safe – f**k you Bully!

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Pretty much sensing my average MPH at this point, I texted the hubby as predetermined, knowing it would take me 1 1/2 hours to ride the remaining 18 miles to Atlantic City – the estimated time it would take him to drive the entire 61 miles. Long stretches of pine barrens later, I approached the third rest stop, grateful that the township had finally repaired their majorly potholed roads that nearly killed us last year. Now all I wanted was fluids with only seven more miles to go…

IMG_0435Thinking about all the losses my family has suffered over the past eight years, I felt the tears welling up here and there along the way, but as I rounded the bend off Franklin Boulevard onto the ramp leading to the Atlantic City Expressway, I felt the giddiness of a little school girl. It’s like having the red carpet rolled out before you – royalty for the whole world to stand by and applaud – and they always do. Passengers in vehicles rolling down their windows cheering us on, telling us, “You are awesome! You can do it! You got this! We’re so proud of you! Keep going, you’re almost there!” Although it was 20 degrees cooler than last year, that ass-kicking sea breeze off the Atlantic Ocean coupled with 57 miles of riding in the saddle made this the most difficult stretch of the ride.

And then it hit me…something I’d noticed last year but didn’t quite register – when you round that bend, everyone suddenly breaks off and rides the last 4 miles alone, even the teams. That’s what it’s all about – we have our cliques, our groups, our teams, our peeps, our families, our whatevers…but in the end, we are all alone…

ace

Texting back and forth, the hubby and I managed to find each other in front of Boardwalk Hall amidst thousands of tourists, volunteers, onlookers, cyclists and local weirdos. Walking Ole Bessie into the garage to park her while I collected my participant tee shirt on the boardwalk, I made sure to lock her up this time, in spite of the posted signs throughout stating you needed to check with security (who didn’t exist) before you could leave with your bike (which anyone could’ve done) – it is Atlantic City after all…and absolutely no one with bicycles much more expensive than mine locked up theirs – that’s not The Bully, that’s just common sense.

I’d show you the pictures I took while riding the ACE and at the finish line, but I accidentally deleted them from my phone and Facebook…I’m a serial purger, what can I say…but that’s a whole other blog…

“When I want something,
I don’t want to pay for it
I walk right through the door”

Been Caught Stealing – Jane’s Addiction

“I had run for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours.” – Forrest Gump