Trip update: Saturday before the Great Vigil of Easter, I rode out to the Castelli Romani in the Alban Hills. Basically, I got on the Via Appia two blocks from the hostel and rode south for two hours. I passed the aqueduct of Acqua Felice, where the earth has risen so much since ancient times, that people have turned the tops of the arches into storage cages. The ancient road led me gently up to the Regional Park of the Castelli Romani, where I had a splendid view of the Agro Pontino (the Pontine Plain). It was known as the Pontine Marshes, an inhabitable, malarial swamp, until Mussolini had them drained. The air was clear, thanks to there being no industry or traffic belching fumes on the holiday weekend. I could see the Tyrrhenian Sea 40 km away. On Sunday, I refilled my water bottles with Roman city water. Good stuff: it still comes from the same sources to which the Romans built their aqueducts.
Sunday and Monday back in Formia, everything was closed. Fortunately, I had some canned food laid in, because even the bars and restaurants were shuttered. Monday, I did laundry and took advantage of the strong WiFi available at the NSA Detachment. The American Navy does not observe Easter Monday, so I was able to print my financial records for 2015, which I will need to renew my Sojourner’s Permit. Living on the road, I have learned to print everything, from tax returns to recipes, to PDF files on my computer and the backup drives. When I need paper, I visit someplace with a printer.
The rest of the week has included fixing up the apartment, and preparing for the Bologna Book Fair next week. But most of all, I have been riding locally to stay in shape, and preparing for the next big excursion.
Let me share a weakness of mine as a writer: I just can’t pick decent titles for my work. This must be a congenital handicap, because the editor of our high school newspaper picked better titles than I did. Fortunately, I have been blessed with generous and intelligent editors, and I learned to let them to throw out the working titles on my manuscripts. I am in a similar quandary trying to name this next big trip. I just hate “Intercontinental 2016,” but I can’t come up with a short, snappy name. Maybe after I describe the odyssey, you can help me rename it.
The original plan was to start this week, taking the train with my loaded bicycle to the Children’s Book Fair in Bologna. I have wanted to attend this book fair, and the bigger one in Frankfurt, for many years. Then I was going to ride north and west from Bologna. Unavoidable obligations force me to return to Formia after the fair, however. I will head out before the end of April.
First, the train to some point north of Rome (no point in riding to Rome yet again). Then along the Riviera, and up the bicycle paths that parallel the Route Nationale 7 in France to Livry and Paris. I hope to spend all of May crossing France and visiting friends and colleagues. Late in May or early in June I will cross the English Channel, either by ferry or the Chunnel. A lot depends on who will be home in England in June, when I will ride from Weymouth to Kent, via Bath and London, visiting friends and family. At the end of June, I plan to store my bicycle and its panniers near Heathrow and fly to Vancouver, British Columbia. My bicycling friend, Cheryl, has two of everything, so I won’t need my own stuff for July and August, when we ride BC and the American Northwest together.
At the end of August, I will fly back to Heathrow, collect my bicycle and bags, then fly to Bilbao, Spain.
Cheryl will meet me there, and we will ride our own vuelta de España, about 2400 km, first south to the Costa del Sol, then around the coast to Barcelona, arriving at the end of October.
I will take the ferry to Civitavecchia, while Cheryl flies home. From Civitavecchia, I will take the train to Formia, leave the bike and bags, change into my fancy clothes, and fly to San Francisco for the American Translators Association Conference. After the Conference, and an additional week in the California wine country,
I will fly back to Italy. By then, the weather should be lousy enough to incline me to huddle down in my flat between short trips around Italy.
The only thing that is locked in are the intercontinental flights, because I booked those far in advance. The adventure may be getting from one flight to the next!
So, what do you think? What should I call this year’s odyssey? The only rule is to put “2016” at the end of the name. Decision of the judge is final until he changes his mind. 🙂
Looking forward to your suggestions. Until then,
Smooth roads and tailwinds,