Day 64 - another short day - Su
I discovered that one of my pedals is coming apart. Two of the screws that
hold the cage to the body are gone from the left pedal, and the other two
screws are loose. I need to fix this as soon as I can find a bike shop.
Last night I talked to Mark (one of the group of bicycle tourists I met just
outside of Suffolk), and he invited me to drop by his place - which is just
off the route. I figured I would want to do more mileage, but after I sat
down at Mark's place I decided to make this another short day.
Mark, his wife Valerie, his friend Clay, and I had a cookout and a dip in
the pool. An odd thing happened: after I got out of the pool I was nearly
deaf in my left ear. A piece of wax must have washed up against my eardrum,
so I went to work with Q-tips to clean it out. No luck. I guess I will
pick up some ear drops from a drugstore tomorrow.
Clay is planning a bike trip down the west coast for their biking group, so
he is interested to know how the rest of my trip goes. I told him that as
slow as I am going, he may be out there first.
Mileage for the day: around 23.
Valerie makes excellent lemon squares. We left a plate of them unattended
on the coffee table, and the dog ate them while we were outside.
As I rolled my bike from the elevator to the hotel desk to check out, a man
said "Could I just say that I admire you?" I said "Thanks," but I was
thinking about how much work I had ahead of me.
Day 65 - on to Baltimore
I made an early start because Mark and Valerie had to get up early to go to
work. A thunderstorm came through the night before, and the humidity was
around 100%. Still the temperature was comfortable and I had a good ride.
I made it to the Baltimore Youth Hostel before 11:30 am, so I had plenty of
time to relax. I saw a Thai restaurant near the hostel, so I couldn't pass
up the chance to go there for lunch. It was delicious, but the prices seem
high. Going down the street, I passed a few other restaurants, and they all
had higher prices than I'm used to. Even Washington was cheaper.
I didn't feed like going sight-seeing, so I just sat in the TV lounge and
popped in "Arsenic and Old Lace" with Cary Grant. It's a great way to waste
The hostel is cheap - only $13 - and very friendly. It's much smaller than
the one in Washington; I guess not as many people come to Baltimore for sight-
Mileage: around 25.
I passed some run-down areas and really bad roads coming into Baltimore. And
the woman who checked me in told me to stay out of a nearby area after dark.
I guess you have to watch yourself in this area.
The hostel used to be a very nice home. It is sandwiched in the middle of
a block of buildings, rather than a separate building. Some parts of the
place show off its former grandeur, such as the staircase and the woodwork.
Day 66 - a day off
Although I didn't go very far the past few days, I needed a day off, so here
I am in Baltimore. My first priority was to find a bike shop and fix my
bike computer and my pedal. There was only one close by, but they didn't
have the parts I need. The other bike shops are much further away, so I
decided to stop by one tomorrow as I head out of town.
I went to the National Aquarium in Baltimore (not affiliated with the one
in DC), which is the biggest I have seen. They only allow a limited number
of people to pass through, so after I waited in line for a ticket ($12), I
had to wait again for my entry time. The wait was worth it.
They have a really cool jellyfish exhibit, with many different types and
a display of the life cycle of a jellyfish. The different phases in the life
cycle are so different that scientists once thought they were 2 different
There were other interesting exhibits with rays, sharks, a coral reef, and a
rain forest. I spent so much time at the displays that I missed my dolphin
show (included in ticket). I'm not complaining, because I really enjoyed my
Redheads. I have never seen so many people with red hair all in one place.
I suppose a lot of Irish people immigrated to Baltimore.
Day 67 - bike shop blues
On my way out of Baltimore, I stopped at "The Bike Stop" on Falls Road. They
had a mounting kit for my bike computer and they found some screws to fit my
pedals. I recommend the shop very highly because they were very helpful.
Something odd happened with the mounting kit, because my computer wouldn't
work with it. What is even stranger is that my old mount started working
again! Very strange. Fortunately, I was still at the shop, so they gave
me a refund. And they wouldn't take any money for the screws.
One of the mechanics gave me good directions out of town. The area is
very scenic (except downtown) and hilly. As a matter of fact, the hills
never stopped - more on that later. I stopped at a Royal Farm Store at
the edge of town and had very good fried chicken for lunch. I hope they
are a chain.
With all the time I spent at the bike shop and getting lunch, I was running
way behind schedule for the day. I knew I wouldn't make my camp site until
7:00 or later, so I started praying for something to come up. A little
while later I was checking my map at Jarrettsville, and a man named Jack
asked me if I needed directions. I told him I was seeing how far it was to
my camp site, and he offerred to let me camp in his back yard. He is even
on the route.
After I set up camp, Jack and his wife, Pauline, invited me to join them for
Chinese food for dinner. Jack and Pauline used to travel and camp on motor-
cycles, so they understand what a trip like mine is like. This kind of
hospitality is what makes a trip memorable.
Side note: While in Saint Louis, I picked up a magazine with an article
about the difference between tourism and pilgrimage. One of the points
it made was that in a pilgrimage there is an exchange of blessings between
the host and guest. I guess I always saw it as one-sided before now. It
seems I am finally learning to be a good guest.
Trip total: 1821
Day 68 - crossing the Mason-Dixon Line
This morning Jack rode with me for several miles as I started on my way.
A little way up the road I passed the Mason-Dixon Line, so I just had to
get a picture. There wasn't anyone around, so I used my mini tripod.
Pennsylvania is not flat. And that's an understatement. I always imagined
that the hilly part was restricted to western PA, but that's not true. I
went up and down hills all day. I even had to walk for the first time since
Florida. I am riding in the Susquehanna River valley, climbing in and out
of miniature valleys where creeks feed the river. The only reasonably
flat part was a brief section of road that ran along the river.
Jack had suggested that I check out the Indian Steps Museum, so I dropped
in for a visit. It was built by John Edward Vandersloot, who first
discovered some Indian relics while digging his garden. Vandersloot
collected so many relics that he decided to build a building to house
them all. There are arrowheads and other relics embedded in the walls,
arranged in patterns typical of Indian drawings. The place isn't huge,
but it's interesting enough to warrant a visit if you're near Airville, PA.
The place where I thought I would camp seems to have been changed to a
day use park. As I was wondering where I would stay, I passed a sign for
the Blue Note Inn in Marietta, just 1.5 miles ahead. They have special
rates for bicyclists ($32), and they are on the route. A bed sounded good
after a hard day, so I stayed.
Today's mileage: 49. Trip total 1870.
A couple of boys on bikes told me what to expect on the roads ahead -
"A long downhill and then a fairly flat section." Several people have
told me the same thing since I left Washington, but I have never found the
"fairly flat sections."
At Indian Steps Museum I sat down in a secluded area to double check my
maps. A group of children came and asked me if I was doing drugs.
Day 69 - picture perfect
This is the kind of country I imagined when I planned this trip: farms and
forests in gently rolling hills, with enough steep uphills to let you know
you are still in Pennsylvania. I passed through small towns every 10 to 15
miles, and moderate sized farms were spread out along the way.
They get some bicycle tourists through here, because the man at the grocery
store in Mt. Joy said he saw a couple in there recently. It seems that most
people do this route going south, but I haven't seen many of them.
I stopped at the side of the road to pick mulberries. They make a great
snack while riding. I guess the reason you don't see them in stores is
that they are very fragile when ripe. When picking mulberries, you use
the slightest tug on a berry. It should almost jump off in your hand. If
you have to use any force, the berry isn't ripe and you run the risk of
squishing it and getting purple fingers. The black ones that fell off the
tree of their own accord are the best.
When I got to the Bowmansville youth hostel, no one was there. So I waited
around on the porch. After nearly an hour, A.J. came by and told me the
hostel is closed for renovations until summer of 97. He offered to let me
set up a tent in the back yard and use the bathroom. The hostel in Geigertown
is 11 miles down the road, so I was happy to stay.
Bowmansville is an interesting place to sit and watch people. A.J. said that
one of the major pastimes in the area is drag racing (there is a race track
nearby), so there are a lot of stock cars with tweaked engines passing through.
I also saw Mennonite girls in bonnets and long dresses riding on bicycles and
the occasional horse-drawn carriage.
Today's mileage: 39. Trip total: 1909.
Day 70 - into Philadelphia, by accident
Today I actually found a long downhill road, going from Plowville to
Geigertown. I guess it had to happen, because I'm generally going down hill
into Philadelphia. I like this _much_ better than the uphills.
The route took me right to Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. I stopped
to take a find out what it was and stayed for almost 3 hours. Hopewell was a
major producer of cast iron and pig iron in the mid 1800s. The Park Service
has restored or recreated most of the main buildings, and they have people
showing how the molds were made and iron was cast. It's well worth a visit,
although it's a bit out of the way.
BTW, a forge (like Valley Forge) would take the pig iron and produce wrought
iron. This was done by working the iron to remove some of the excess carbon.
The result was iron with a grain structure, which you can see in some very
old wrought iron products. Blacksmiths of the day would use wrought iron.
I intended to camp at the Valley Forge YMCA park, but I must have missed it
on my way through town. I didn't want to backtrack, so I headed toward
Norristown. But soon I found myself on the bike path into Philadelphia and
decided to go on in to the hostel. The bike path is pretty nice over most
of its length, especially the part near Norristown. It was twilight and I
counted 11 rabbits on the path.
I finally reached the hostel at 10:00 pm - much later than I like to finish
a day. I figured I would take a few days off to recuperate. The map was
_very_ sketchy on the details of getting through Philadelphia on the bike
path and to the hostel. They neglected to mention that the hostel is on the
opposite side of the Schuylkill (pronounced "school-kill") River. I finally
stopped to phone for directions and found I was pretty close.
Today's mileage: 63. Trip total: 1972
The hostel is pretty small - maybe 45 beds - and cozy (noisy). It was a
good thing I can't hear out of my left ear, because I just put my right
ear against the pillow. The hostel used to be a personal home - a mansion.
Thus it is called the Chamounix Mansion Hostel. It's also cheap - $11.
As I was exploring the hostel after my shower, I joined a discussion in
the parlor. We talked about everything from chess to raising kids to ear
wax and more. It was so interesting that I didn't make it to bed until 2 am.
Changes last made on: Wed Aug 14 06:35:53 1996