The Bell Ringers Academy

The Meeting room

Every November I begin volunteering at the local Salvation Army.  My job is to deliver the bell ringers to their designated spots.  Today was the first day with only a hand full of ringers on duty.  We will have many more stores after Thanksgiving and things will get kind of crazy around here.

Every morning they get the daily training speech usually about the dos and don’ts of bell ringing.  I leave after the speech  so they can say their prayers then it’s party time. I set the radio in the van to the Martha’s Vineyard station, turn up the volume, and we rock the van on the drive to the stations.  If you ever get the hankering to join us by listening on line.  I’m sure you will love the music.  Today it was Robbie Roberson’s cover of Bruce Hornsby that got us going.  Just click the play button at the top of the page.

Behind the scenes at the Salvation Army Bell Ringers Academy
The Bell stands standing tall.


Providence to Warren RI Bike Ride

I was very late for the group ride on the East Bay Bike Path in Rhode Island. They began at 10, I arrived at 11.  I met a couple in the lot who were new to biking, and asked if they had ever ridden over the Washington Bridge.  It’s was only a quarter mile away and I assured them it was well worth the detour.   Naturally they loved it.  I stopped on the top of the bridge for the opening monologue of the following video.

On the return from Warren, RI I was able to hook up with the group ride.  One was returning to the bridge and I decided to ride back for the closing monologue.  Surprisingly he didn’t cross but instead road on what I though was a dead end service road.  Actually it was a shortcut to the Blackstone River Bikeway.  Another one of those secret places you only find out about when you ride with a local.   I’m going back during the week to give that new route a go.

PROVIDENCE TO WARREN R.I. from John Sullivan on Vimeo.

Going Secular

As I began my ride I passed by three ex churches, and decided to make the theme today. the closed churches locally. In the surrounding towns most of the churches, of all denominations, are rapidly closing their doors.  Some are in prime locations and are scheduled to be converted to secular uses.  Some are in impoverished areas and are wasting away.

There are very few church affiliated schools and other indoctrinating techniques left in many parts of the country.  The decline in church membership and religious affiliation has followed.   Around here, the churches that are left have very small memberships, who are for the most part, in their 70’s and 80’s.  The choice of nearly 5000 gods, makes everyone an atheist who doesn’t believe in the one true god that someone else believes. The younger generation has figured out that religion is not necessary to lead a good life and they realized that churches have become political and fundraising institutions, that more and more of the under 50 crowd want nothing to do with.

Years ago Sunday morning was an easy overtime day for the local police force who got extra duty directing traffic around the many churches in the area.  Now,  most of the churches have been relegated to gypsy status in small storefronts and run by some guy with a mail order minister title.

The best transition I have seen is outside of Washington DC in Brunswick, MD. called, Beans in the Belfry.

closed church 003
Sitting alone and rotting away


closed church 004
Abandoned but it may be converted into a restaurant


closed church 006
Just sitting empty for 5 years


closed church 008
Soon to be demolished and replaced by a convenience store.
closed church 010
Abandoned church for sale.
closed church madrassa
Church school scheduled for demoliton


closed church 002
Once a church, now a private home


Church being reconditioned into a homeless shelter


June Hates Me

It was getting late for a bike ride.  After 1 PM and I wanted to do the 30 mile loop.  But I really didn’t feel like it.  Standing in my garage, dressed for a ride, staring at three bikes.  I felt like one of those couples on the HGTV show House Hunters.  I eliminated the touring bike by hanging it up for the winter.  That left the road bike and the commuter.  I finally grabbed the Felt road bike, put on the roadie shoes and off I went.

I met a regular young walker on the MUP stopped to say hello for a few seconds and began to ride away.  He began to walk faster then jog to keep pace.

“Are you trying to keep up with me” I asked.

“As long as I can” was his response.

“Good luck with that” I quipped  as I quickly accelerated to 19 MPH on this flat stretch of blacktop.

During the first part of the ride I couldn’t shake the desire to take one of the many bail out option on this route.  Eventually I slipped into the riding zone and before I knew it passed the point of no return. Meaning there were no more side roads to shorten the route.

Because of the late start, I rode past one of the local high schools at dismissal time.  I was also riding west into the low sun.  I couldn’t shake the feeling that there were lines of high school drivers texting while also being blinded by the low sun behind me.  I found a place to get off the narrow country road to let the traffic settle down.

I sat in front of these two who were both born in the 1700’s as the high school traffic raced by.

The car traffic ended and the yellow buses began to make their way toward me from the school. I began riding thinking the school bus drivers would be a safe bet as they passed giving me plenty of room.  Think again big guy. The buses were traveling faster than the kids in cars and the 50 something male drivers had fire in their eyes as they passed. A couple very close I might add.  I again pulled off to the side to let the remaining buses go by.

From then on it was clear sailing to the country store.  It’s a stop I always make if for no other reason, because it’s there.  A woman inside asked if I was running when she saw my get up.  “Riding a bike” I said.  “Oh, that’s even colder”.   It was chilly, which is different from cold.  45 degrees chilly. I mentioned I only had 8 or 9 miles to go and then she asked how many I had done.  When I said around 20 her eyes bugged out.  I used to think 30 miles was a massive amount to ride a bike in one day.  Now, it’s a decent ride.

Near the end of the ride, I noticed a rider approaching.  As the rider got close I realized it was one of our group riders, whom I hadn’t seen in a while.  As we crossed paths I stopped and yelled “JUNE, howahyah”.  I got a soft hi John back as she rode toward the setting sun.  I think June hates me.

Just a couple of things to end this post.  The road that had collapsed because of the water passing under through the pipe way that was built of brick and stone sometime in the 40’s, is almost complete.  It looks like all that’s left is the blacktop.

Lastly.  If your ankle strap that keeps your pants from getting caught in you chain come off on a country road some day and you turn back to retrieve it.  Keep one thing in mind.  When you unclip you right shoe, make sure you lean to the right when the bike stops rolling.  Don’t lean left.   OK. Now turn up the volume and put on your dancing shoes.

The Weather is Cooperating Nicely

Busy New Bedford, Ma. harbor.

Again the weather was too nice not to ride. Again into the cite for a jaunt around the peninsular.  Some may notice an abundance of nautical themes to my postings.  When you live in a fishing village abutting the largest fishing fleet in  the country and have a Whaling National Park, nautical themes poke you in the eye, so to speak.


Stopped by the ATI lockout and spent some time on the picket line with the union brothers.  The United Steel Workers have been locked out for a couple of months, and it looks like management is coming to it’s senses and a settlement may happen soon. A bit later a fellow biker came by and we decided to ride around some of our favorite spots in the city.


Dredging the bay.










2015 Coffeeneuring Challenge Celebration Ride

The 2015 Coffeeneuring Challenge is in the books. Thanks to Mary at Chaising Mailboxes for organizing the challenge for the fifth year.  Thank you also to all the new friends we have made because of our love of coffee and bike riding.  See yas around.

ONE LAST COFFEE RIDE from John Sullivan on Vimeo.

Kodak Zx5 Video Camera


I started video recording a lot of my rides a couple of years ago while preparing for my three state bike tour of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland. On a side note. two of us will be riding the Erie Canal, end to end in June of 2016.  We have done a few tours together and separately, and both agree, that the Erie Canal is such a sweet bike ride that we will do it for the third time.

My Kodak Zx3 worked fine for over a year.  One day it seized, and that got me to check online for solutions.  It was unanimously reviewed that it was a piece of junk, and to not even try to get it working again.  After months of on and off attempts, I posted on that same forum how much I concurred.

I wanted to video some of my rides again and found a good deal on the Kodak Zx5 that got much better review than the Zx3.  I do much of the recording while riding and that’s the reason I don’t use my smart phone.  Dropping that would get very expensive, and also the Kodak has a wrist strap and is much easier to operate than a Droid.

I also don’t use YouTube much. I much prefer Vimeo for many reason.  I also bought a pretty high end video software back then and kind of feel compelled to use it.  One of my favorites is HERE.  A ride in Provincetown MA, on the outer tip of Cape Cod.  Standing at the beginning of US Rt 6 that terminates in Long Beach, CA was very cool.  The dunes made me wonder if I was still on earth.  You’ll see it if you check out the Video.

Below is the unedited Zx5 in action.

Climate Change Ride

Keeping with the coffeeneuring theme of hats.
Keeping with the coffeeneuring theme of hats.

A rainy warm morning on the South Coast of Massachusetts begged for a bike ride.  Having many long distance tours in my bio makes riding in this kind of rain just another bike ride.  It was short and again I wanted to ride in solidarity with the remaining coffeeneur challenge friends. When biking on challenging days, it’s all in the clothing.

I have friends that are regulars at a local fast food joint.  I stopped eating there a long time ago, and stopped having coffee there when they changed from Newman’s coffee to whatever brand they serve now.  yuck.  I do like to sit around with the paying customer friends and discuss ways to save the planet, or at least our country, and at more least our state.  Well, our state is fine, but our town needs saving for sure, so I guess that’s the at most more least thing to save.   I do bring my own breakfast and I get lots of request, “can I smell it”.  After that they all decline a taste.  I have, at the most, an hour to get home after my healthy breakfast.  I know there are holiday sales starting up soon, and the #1 thing on my list is a good blender so I can make my own drinks.  I’m saving the ingredients list on the one I’m sampling now for that reason.

A retro Mickey D's in Fairhaven Ma
A retro Mickey D’s in Fairhaven Ma
Bring your own food when you go to this joint.
Bring your own food when you go to this joint.

Riding in the rain is nice but going to the show is also a pretty good way to spend a rainy afternoon. Yesterday was Spectre, the latest James Bond movie.  I have read that this is the last Bond movie because they are considered to be chauvinistic. I didn’t notice and of that and  I’m still not sure if it the end of Bond, or just the end of that type of Bond.  I know 007 hung up his gun for a broad and walked into the sunset with her, which could spell the end of his bachelor lifestyle. At least this one drank vodka martinis.  (I still prefer mine with gin. Stirred not shaken. Dirty).

Vivid Imagination

Brand Island causeway
Brand Island causeway

I did go for a ride today with the intention of supporting the coffeneuring challenge riders still at it.  Today’s ride took me to Mattapoisett, on the southern coast of Massachusetts. When I got to the end of Brandt Island road, I began thinking about what fun we had here one day a long time ago. The story is later on in this post.

I made my way back to Fairhaven to do my daily shopping for tonight’s meal.  Did I ever mention that I’m the cook.  Well I am, and always buy food for cooking the same day.  Especially the vegetables and breads. Speaking of cooking.  My favorite food show is on PBS and it’s called, “I’ll have what Phil is having.”  Watch one episode OnDemand and I’ll bet you too will put it one your favorites list.

During the ride I went off road with my pseudo off road bike.  I have a 700×25 tire on the front and a 700×33 on the rear.  You see, the bike is in transition to winter.  I got home about the same time as wifey who you may know from yesterday’s post, is an extreme animal lover. She had forgotten to stop by and feed the feral cats and asked me to go back and do that.  I was tired and almost drove the three mile round trip.  I did come to my senses however, and rode there.  They were waiting patiently and every now and then one would take a peek.

Transitioning to winter riding. I call her Caitlyn.
Transitioning to winter riding. I call her Caitlyn.
Feral cat taking a peek
Feral cat taking a peek

Brandt Island. The Story

Way way way back, around 1970  I learned about Brandt Island.  It was abandoned, had a mansion that had been destroyed in the hurricane of 1938.  The story was that none of the family members survived, nor were any of their bodies found.  A few of us had visited this place once before after hearing “the stories”.   One summer night, under the influence of some decent blunts, I’m sure, we decided to return to show one of our gang the place.  On the way, this very dark, cloudy, windy night, I told the stories to the kid who had a vivid imagination and was making his first visit to Brandt Island.

Years ago a teen couple walked out to the island and disappeared.  During the search of the island, the authorities sent a diver to look around.  He never surfaced.  More divers were sent into the bay and found nothing.

Police were stationed on the island overnight to guard the place.  When the detectives returned the next morning. One officer was missing and the second was found sitting up against a tree.  His hair had turned white as snow and he had gone completely insane doing nothing but stare into space wide eyed and mouth agape.

Over the years, it was said that people walking their dogs tried to lead them onto the island.  The dog’s would cower, cry, yelp and refuse to step off the causeway onto the island.

Back then the causeway had been destroyed by at least two hurricanes and was never rebuilt.  In order to get to the island, we had to make our way across the causeway over large rocks, and cement slabs that were once the road and now sat askew and at difficult climbing angles.

After hearing the stories on the drive to Brandt Island, the new kid did not want to leave the car and walk across the causeway.  The four of us said, “that’s fine. Stay here by yourself”.  We walked away and he figured that was worse so he began to make his way to the island well behind us. What he didn’t know that there were actually five of us making the trip with him.  The four in the cab of the car, and one in the trunk, dressed all in black and wearing a long trench coat.

The kid thought he saw someone on the causeway behind us and began to get excited. He told us we were being followed and we laughed it off and assured him there was nothing to worry about.  On the island, he saw the thing again and his excitement began turning to fear.  He got loud and kept telling us we were being followed.   That’s when we gathered in a circle and began a seance.  We started chanting in ancient tongue and he began to panic.  We tried to coerce him into joining the seance and he started yelling, “what’s wrong with you guys? Your all possessed”. We began chanting louder and calling the new kids name.  Miiiiiike,  Miiiiike.   Our monster had made his way to the high ground about 30 feet away from and above us.  He stood tall, opening his trench coat wide and began moaning.

The new kid was now in full panic and began running back to the car.  The monster started to run after him while we chanted louder and louder, Miiiiike, Miiiiike.   As he was running Mike tripped and fell forward, as he landed on his stomach, his feet were still running in the air above him.  He was wearing boat shoes with white bottoms.  When the monster saw this, he thought is was so funny and began laughing.  When Mike heard the laugh he recognized it immediately.  He jumped up, ran to the monster Ronnie, gave him a huge hug and said.  “F*** ,  Dam, am I glad to see you.”  The rest of us joined them and we all had a story to tell almost 50 years later.

Off road bike path
Off road bike path