Wed Jul 2 10:35:54 2003
Rolling Into Town -- Carbondale, PA
The librarians in this town seem as friendly as the last one was rude. Hopefully I'll be able to finish catching up this time.
Saturday night, the 28th, Veronica and Sheeja and Russell and I all went out to dinner at a restaurant in Little Italy (which is apparently in the process of being devoured by Chinatown). Veronica and I were both terribly excited to see Sheeja, and we spent half the night giving Russell a hard time. But he passed muster with flying colors (am I mixing metaphors?). Then we had some tea, and split ways for a while. We met up again later at a birthday party for one of Sarah's friends.
Sunday morning, naturally, we got a late start. We left Sarah's apartment around 2 PM. The plan was to cross the George Washington Bridge. But when we got there, we tried to take the lower level, not knowing any better. There were no other signs saying "bikeway" or any such thing. We got all the way down the on-ramp and onto the bridge itself before we realized how ridiculous the traffic was, and how little room we would have. There had to be a better way. So we picked our way back, against traffic (don't worry Mom, it was light traffic!), and circled around until we found the bike pathway.
Five minutes later, we were in New Jersey! It was less industrial than I expected from my previous experience. We were sticking to the north, and away from the coast, so it was mostly suburbs. Correction: It was all suburbs. It actually was nice, it reminded me of Acton, if Acton went on for 50 miles in all directions. This posed a problem finding a campsite: we couldn't get out into the woods. Finally we took a side road and settled on a nice patch of grass behind a telephone switching station. Nobody bothered us there.
Monday, the 30th, was uneventful, we simply biked all day. The day was capped by a tremendous uphill to High Point State Park. We walked most of the way. At the top, we crossed the Appalachian Trail (Dad, remember that section? How we decided not to even bother with the 0.5 mile side trail to stand on "The Highest Point in New Jersey"?). We walked our bikes about 100 feet into the woods and camped on an open patch of ground.
While we were lying around camp, a thru-hiker named Healer came by and said hello. He asked about the terrain and so on, and we invited him to stay with us. He thanked us and told us how he was legally blind -- he can see enough to hike in broad daylight, but around dusk he stops being able to see roots and rocks very well. He also has Multiple Sclerosis. He's healed 137 people so far on his trip, from broken bones to dislocations to cracked ribs and cuts. I didn't ask if he was a doctor, but he seemed to know basic medicine. As far as I could tell he wasn't one of those "faith healers" we saw a few of in NYC. We helped him out with some fuel and talked for a while. He's been making amazing progress. He started on March 24th, and has taken a total of 24 days or so off, for various reasons, including flying home to Florida to pick up his mother at the airport. He's been doing typically 25 miles in a day.
Unfortunately, in the morning he discovered he had a fallen arch, so he had to hitchhike in to NYC to stay with his friend there for a few days and recuperate. We helped him figure out which directions to hitch to get into the city.
That morning, Tuesday the 1st, marked a new month, and we celebrated by cruising down the long, long downhill from High Point. I got going up to 40.1 miles per hour at maximum. But it marked our entry into a series of rolling hills that would last all day Tuesday and into Wednesday (this morning). We met one fellow mowing a lawn along the way who was really into biking and said he tried to bike at least 50 miles every day, even when he was working. I was amazed. But I suppose he does it unloaded, so it's a bit faster. Still, we are still in the vicinity of doing 50 miles a day, and taking all day at it. Our mileage is slowly creeping up, though, and I think we may do closer to 60 a day soon. Maybe more through Ohio.
This morning we had a huge long five-mile uphill that was slow but steady. The bicycle guy yesterday had warned us about it but it was still tough. We both seem to be getting better at the hills though. And of course, as a reward, once we got to the other side we got a long downhill into Carbondale (here). We're bypassing Scranton by taking an alternate Route 6, and then a smaller county road. By the way, for those keeping track at home, we are planning to take Route 6 most of the way across Pennsylvania.
The update on Google: I called to set up an interview a week before I got to NYC, but they said a week would be too soon. So instead I am set up to fly out of Chicago O'Hare on July 17th. So now I have a firm date by which I have to be in Chicago. I don't think we'll let it worry us though. If we fall short, we can always take a bus into Chicago. It's good timing because Emily has to be in town by the 16th anyhow for her trip with her father.
Anyhow, we're looking forward to another beautiful day of riding, and hopefully some swimming along the way. Jake out.