Playing a Carnegie Piano, Bike Crashes, and Throwing Stuff Overboard!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

I got up at about 10am or so, made breakfast, and we got moving. There is another Carnegie mansion on the island about seven miles north of us that is restored, maintained, and offers free tours. We decided the walk was a little too far and to take our bikes instead.

We didn’t leave the boat until noon or so, but I’m not sure where the time went. Dan and I loaded a couple of bikes onto the dinghy and shuttled them to shore before coming back to get Brandy and the third bike. Once on shore, we immediately started heading north along a dirt road that offered the same shade and beauty from the day before. We took some more drone shots along the way and spent a couple of hours making our way.

The island itself is almost entirely a national park, but there are a few private residences mixed in as well. There are signs posted stating that you have to have a permit to drive a motor vehicle, but I imagine only residents and employees of the park even have access to them. That probably amounts to 50 people total, but I also imagine most of these homes, which resemble pre-Civil War plantation homes, are not occupied even half of the year. In fact, one of the homes is still owned by a Carnegie so I’m guessing they live a jet set lifestyle. I could be way off, but that’s my assessment based off what I’ve seen.

We saw a couple of those private residences along the way and it was amazing. The dirt road looks like it’s the same one carriages traveled down. One of the houses had a huge expansive field out front and another was buried back in the trees but had an old rock wall that was 150 years or so old running alongside the road.

The road itself turned into soft sand at times and Brandy and I struggled a bit. Her bike tires are super thin like a road bike and not at all meant for such a terrain. Mine were a bit thicker, but a smaller circumference. Dan’s are the widest and as large as Brandy’s. He had no problem going through the sand, but Brandy and I kept sliding in the soft sand and coming to a stop. Occasionally, we had to walk while Dan biked ahead. The weather was hot but gave way to milder temperatures as another storm threatened with welcome shade and a better breeze so it wasn’t so bad.

I biked along side Brandy and we talked for a while and then up to Dan to talk for a while, moving back and forth between the two. Finally, we made it to the mansion which, again, opened up to a huge expansive field as the front yard. It was lovely.

I flew the drone around a bit and Brandy talked to the tour guide who was relaxing with a book on the front porch while another tour guide took a couple of people through the house. At 3pm it was our turn and we got a private tour for the three of us. Apparently, the tour groups are always pretty small and I got the impression a lot of time slots probably had 5 people or less if anyone shows up at all.

The house was restored really well and looked very much like the architecture of the mansions in the Newport, RI area. The main difference was that, while nice, they weren’t as ornate. They had Tiffany style lamps, but they only cost a thousand dollars at the time instead of a million. The wood was nice and clean but not trimmed in gold or ornate sculptures. That sort of thing.

Anyway, it was a neat tour that ends with an 9ft pool that was indoor. Its amazing considering the technology of the day. Apparently, they didn’t have the chemicals to shock it like we do today so it started to bloom algae immediately upon filling and they had to completely drain, clean, and refill it occasionally.

When it was over we headed back down south toward the boat. Again, Brandy and I had some troubles in the sand, but I soon realized that if I dropped down into a lower gear, I could more easily power through by keeping the wheel spinning and not lose momentum. It worked really well…except one time. Since I was able to keep the back tire spinning with less effort, it backfired when the front tire dug into the sand sideways and the back tire continued pushing through and propelled me over the handle bars. I landed on my feet more or less and it wasn’t a problem other than 1) all the sand sticking to my sweaty body, and 2) stopping for even a second brought swarms of mosquitos out to feast on us.

Brandy had a better solution. She figured out that if she jumped on Dan’s bike she could get through the sand without issue and no crashing! Dan did really well on her bike managing the gears and powering through as he slid in the sand, but it definitely took every bit of energy he had.

Later, I was riding my bike along and standing on the pedals rather than sitting because my back was starting to hurt. I’d make half a revolution on the pedals and ride it out for a bit before taking another half revolution, and so on. Once, I made my half revolution but the chain came off the sprocket which didn’t give my foot any tension to press down against. Instead, my foot fell straight down to the bottom of the revolution which caused a chain reaction of events. My foot slipped off the pedal and my weight shifted entirely to the right which caused my steering wheel to dramatically turn to the right. Again, it stuck down into the sand and my momentum caused me to fly over the handle bars. This time, however, I was going much faster so I flew out horizontal in the air and landed on my side. Or back. I don’t remember. I realized two days later I had large bruises all over my hip and upper legs. Luckily, it didn’t break the drone in my backpack. I had to fix the chain which got all tangled up and, of course, the mosquitoes came to visit.

Near the ranger’s station is a series of indoor/outdoor. Since I was sweaty and dirty from laying in the sand after my crash I wanted a shower. Dan quickly rinsed off, but I took off my shirt, used it like a rag, and took full advantage of the plethora of water available to us by getting a good scrub down. It felt amazing.

We then went back to the ranger’s station, found a water hose, rinsed our bikes off so we wouldn’t get the dinghy or boat too dirty, came back, worked out, and ate.

After dinner, I decided to do dishes by cleaning them off in the ocean before rinsing them in the sink. Again, water conservation is key. In our past vacations this has always been really easy. We’d just reach down off the swim platform into the water. However, since Maverick’s deck line is a few feet above the water this isn’t such an easy task. So I took a mesh bag and dipped the bowls and silverware into the water repeatedly. It worked like a charm. Then I took a piece of line and tied it to a carabineer and attached it to the skillet. I dipped it over repeatedly and once again it worked perfectly. On my last dip I pulled the skillet out of the water and up to me only to watch it pop free, fall into the water, and sink to the bottom. The knot loop was still in the rope so the carabineer gate appeared to have popped open. Now I’ve dropped two things into the ocean in three days and one of them was one of the most used items on the boat. I was pretty mad at myself for quite a while especially since Dan and I spent more time talking about trying not to lose the dishes overboard than I actually spent washing them only to see it end up that way.

All in all, it was another great day.

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