Saturday, November 23, 2013

Philly to Longwood, Pennsylvania Day 1

Today I biked 125 miles, in 14 hours. I'll tell the whole story later.  I've learned that it's good to let an experience settle into your bones before you go telling people about it.

Tonight is the second night in a row (and ever on a bike trip) that I've gotten a motel.  I secretly love motels, and if I could afford to, I'd go to them all the time!  Yesterday I biked a hard 70 miles on the parkway, and it started to rain right when I saw a Food sign a little ways from where I'd stopped.  Had a bite and decided to in fact stay at the motel, because there are many things I can do at a motel that I cannot in a stealth camping situation.  To name a few (and set aside the incomparable connection-to-the-natural-world aspect of sleeping outside):

Take off the soggy clothes I'd had on for two days and nights.
Call my mother (the last time I tried calling while camping behind some houses, I got a flashlight shined at me; and during the day I need to bike!)
Blog - minimal service, battery saving, and no lights that would draw attention to my tent!
Play banjo and sing and write songs
Sleep in past sunrise
Actually sleep instead of readjusting all night
Start the day with warm toes
Not worry if I'm allowed to be where I am, if anyone will find me, if animals will eat my food, if it will rain, if my bike is safe, etc ...
Sew my pants and shirt (again the light thing)
Eat food at night (animal thing)
Put arnica oil on my poor knees and calendula oil on my poor seat.
Drink mediocre coffee in the morning
Spread my stuff out everywhere!

That was quite the list ... Now back to the story.

Vicky dropped me in Philadelphia, after showing me her hometown of Old Lyme, CT, and the awesome trees and people she grew up with.  Her brother is building a very impressive off-grid wooden lodge, hand-hewing and pounding wooden pegs, etc.  the site looks out over the Lt River, and you could see all the way to Long Island from one of those hills.

So in Philly, we park and walk a ways to find a nice organic bite to eat.  It's a very nice city!  The park we went to eat at had smiling happy people sitting around, and a swing dance session, a ukulele playing singer, and an accordion-playing singer.  Accordion-playing singer was particularly compelling - forgot to get her name and her band's name!  Drop me a line if you read this please!!
I had this a strange feeling of familiarity with the park, and didn't remember until the next day that it was nearby the site of the Asbell wedding from my last bike tour!  Oh, and the most memorable moment of the park was when Vicky went to sit up on a stone wall/railing, kicked her foot back for leverage, found only the space between railings, and fell like a sandbag flat forward.  She was immediately laughing hysterically, which is why it was a funny moment and not a terrible one.  Man was it funny.  Looked like her whole torso and face hit the ground at the same time, but apparently she caught herself with her hands.  Style points for hilarious dismount.

I had a friend to stay with about 40 miles west of Phila, near the Longwood Gardens of DuPont fame.  That meant 4 hours of cycling ahead, and I preferred to not bike at night.  Cut it close though, and hit the road by 1 or so.  It was a pretty uneventful ride through some kind of rough neighborhoods, so I just kept moving.  A lot of riding at the side of two- or four- lane roads with broken glass near the curb.  It opened up a little as I got out of the city limits, but I was still on highway when I put on my blinky red light and busted out my LED work light/head light.  But as it really got dark, I pulled off onto country roads that I only wish I could have seen in daylight!  Thick hollows with creeks, tall trees, and fat vines.  There was a smell of grass burning the whole way through this part.  Maybe leaf burning?  Either way, sweet and pleasant.

I pulled into Joyce's driveway, and she answered the door warmly.  It's so rewarding to see a familiar face at the end of a long ride!  Cleaned myself up and played the piano for a bit.  Checked out the map and checked in with my cousin to see if he would still be coming to ride with me!  Part of my trajectory was to head thru York PA to meet him from his home in Harrisburg.

Joyce had another guest who was at the end of touring her new book about an epic World War II civilian escape across frozen sea in Prussia, with horses.  I was gifted a hardcover copy of it that I've been riding with, but haven't begun reading.  The two of them had been doing a pretty intense workshop the previous days.  I set out early in the morning, grateful for a cozy home, sad Joyce and I didn't have time to go garden touring, but I had to get to within striking distance of York, and set up camp.  That'll be the next entry, when I biked 60 miles thru Amish country, racing horse carriages and smiling at playing children!  Cheers, -travis

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