Day 71 - Independence Hall - Su
I woke up late and went on a search for bagels. I found them at a deli
not too far from the hostel. The hostel is in the middle of Fairmount Park,
so nothing is very close.
The hostel is closed between 11:00 am and 4:30 pm, so I was headed for central
Philadelphia at 10:55. I rode my bike to the city visitors' center, where I
found lots of useful info about the city. And I found an oasis of cool air.
The weather is warm and humid, so riding is sweaty business.
I asked a passing local to recommend a restaurant in Chinatown, where I had a
delicious dim sum lunch of dumplings, spring rolls, and coconut pudding. It's
hard to pass up all the tasty looking items as they go by.
I spent the afternoon wandering in the Independence National Historic site,
visiting Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Independence Hall is under
restoration, so part of it is closed off. The tour took us into the halls
where the Declaration of Independence was signed and where the US Constitution
was written. The Liberty Bell is more of a photo opportunity than a major
Late in the afternoon I discovered Franklin Court, which is in the part of
town where Ben Franklin lived. None of the original buildings is still
standing, but there is a museum where you can go to learn more about Ben.
It was interesting, but I didn't want to learn a bunch of new facts, so I
didn't stay long.
The hostel is about 6 miles from Central City, so I rode about 15 miles with
all my wandering around.
Philadelphia drivers do not make way for bicycles. They only grudgingly grant
us space on the roads, and they honk if they think we take up too much.
The ride into the Central City goes past some really bad areas of town. There
are block homes that are falling apart, burnt, or defaced. Plus there is a
lot of glass on the roads and sidewalks.
Day 72 - hearing restored - Mo
I had another late start before I was off to the AAA office, Chinatown, and
the historic sites. The place I remember best is the mint. They had a series
of short videos outlining the process of making coins and medals. They have
samples of many of the medals the mint has produced in the past and some of
the experiments they have made in coin materials and designs. I had to leave
when they closed the building, so I'll come back tomorrow.
After 8 days of being nearly deaf in my left ear, I was finally able to clear
my ear, so my hearing is back better than normal. From now on I will obey
the rule "Never put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear." An ear
cleaning kit works much better than q-tips.
Street-side food carts are amazingly cheap here. Soft pretzels are 3 or 4 for
a dollar! In DC the slightly larger pretzels cost 2 dollars each!
Day 73 - another ear revelation - Tu
I checked out a music store to see if they had any decent quality "tin"
flutes, but had no luck. I also tried to find a magazine with a reference
to a place called "Lark In The Morning," where I was told I could get brass
"tin" flutes. The guy at the discount book store sent me to South Street.
South Street is like a cross between Virginia Highlands and Little Five
Points in Atlanta. It has the "hip" crowd with all the latest nonconformist
clothes that all look alike. There's a body piercing salon, record stores,
and (best of all) good bookstores. They have a well-stocked metaphysical
bookstore and a very good "normal" bookstore with a large magazine section.
Unfortunately, none of the music magazines had any reference to Lark Of The
On my way back from town this evening I got a flat tire - my first since
South Carolina. Of course it was a piece of glass. I decided to ride the
I decided to try cleaning my right ear this evening, because my newly clear
left ear made my right ear seem weak by comparison. It worked, and now my
hearing is excellent in both ears. Unfortunately, that means I must find my
ear plugs, because the dorm room seems amazingly noisy now. With 6 guys on
creaky metal beds, and no carpet, I'm waking up every time someone turns over
Day 74 - a night of culture - We
Because of my flat tire and because the weather is warming up, I decided to
take the bus to town today. The bus is convenient, but it took longer than
the bike ride.
I don't even remember what I went to see today. I think this was the day I
talked to a couple of musicians at the National Historic Site. They told me
the proper name of Lark in the Morning, and they told me that my tin whistle
(from Williamsburg) is one of the hardest to play. It's nice to know that
it's not just me.
There is an amphitheater in the park where they have free concerts in the
summer, and several of us from the hostel went. The first sympony was a
modern one, which I didn't really appreciate. But they also played Beethoven's
fifth symphony, which I enjoyed a great deal. The orchestra was excellent.
The amphitheater was quite large, but there is only a single entrance. It
took an hour or so for everyone to exit. It reminded me of the Stone Mountain
Day 75 - Eye institute, the Freemasons' Hall and I finally connect with Mary
I went to visit the Eye Institute of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry,
because I heard they have a vision therapy center. I'm interested in natural
vision improvement, so I thought I might learn something there. But the place
does therapy for visual degeneration, not "normal" poor vision.
I took the subway downtown and had lunch, after which I visited the Freemasons'
Hall. This is the national headquarters for the organization, and it is a
showcase of fine architecture and workmanship. The place is immense, housing
seven huge meeting halls, offices, and a small museum. Many of our founding
fathers were masons, so the museum has many papers and artifacts with famous
owners. The place is well worth a visit.
I headed to the library, where I was hoping to find a reference to Lark in the
Morning. I found they have free web access - text only. I was able to use
the Yahoo search engine to find a telephone directory web site, where I found
the address for Lark in the Morning. Plus I did a search on my name and found
that there several references to me on the web. It's almost like being famous!
Mark, the guy I stayed with in Maryland, has a few more digitized pictures of
me on his web site. I'll have to grab them when I have phone access.
I finally got in touch with my friend Mary, who was down in Florida visiting
her parents. Mary works at a home for troubled women, and she has been in
Philly for almost a year. She also feels that Philly is in bad shape. She
lives in a pretty bad neighborhood, typical of the area.
Day 76 - from Philly to Tyler Creek State Park
I got everything together this morning only to find that my rear tire was
flat again. This was probably a pinch flat that happened after the tire went
flat a couple of days ago. Unfortunately, the tire has a very slow leak,
even after I fixed the hole. I'll fix it later.
I followed the bike path out of Philly and used the Adventure Cycling route
past Norristown and Amber. There was a diner in Amber that advertised "Home
Style Cooking," so I had to stop in. The meatloaf was good, but nothing like
my grandmother makes. When I went outside, it was starting to rain; and while
I was covering up, a guy came over from across the street to ask about my
trip. I never got his name, but he rides the trail between Valley Forge and
Philly. He was very nice and even offered to let me stay at his place, but
he lives in Norristown, which is in the wrong direction.
I started making my own route toward Tyler State Park, where there is a
hostel. Most of the roads in this aread of Pennsylvania are in a grid pattern,
but they don't run north/south like midwestern states. Also, the shoulders
are generally narrow or nonexistent and filled with potholes. Fortunately,
the pretty countryside made up for the marginal roads.
Tyler State Park is beautiful, and the hostel is a grand old stone farmhouse
secluded in the woods. The park is also hilly - enough said. Because the
hostel is so secluded, I didn't feel like riding out to find a grocery store,
so my meal consisted mainly of rehydrated mashed potatoes. I never saw the
people running the place - only Don, who had a free room for doing handyman's
chores around the place.
Today's mileage: 44. Trip total: 2057.
The hostel does most of its business in the spring and fall, so there were only
two guests, including me. Needless to say the place was very quiet. I heard
it will rain heavily tomorrow, so I may stay the day. This is the weekend that
hurricane Bertha grounds on the east coast.
Day 77 - storms and a search for spirit
When I got up in the morning (late), no one was around. I read the hostel
rules and realized I had missed the office hours (7:30-9:30), and I thought I
would have to leave. This was the day that hurricane Bertha passed this area,
so it was raining pretty hard. I finally got everything together and was headed
outside when Susan (who runs the place with her husband, John), showed up and
told me they weren't very formal about office hours and I was welcome to stay.
She even offered me a bagel for breakfast, since I hadn't any food.
Today was cleaning day, so I pitched in and cleaned toilets. There wasn't
much else to do, so I also rearranged the cupboards with the pans and dishes.
Renee, the other guest, showed up mid-morning because her art show had been
rained out. We decided to go look for the Kirpal Singh Center, which she was
sure could be found nearby. We found a metaphysical bookstore where the owner
knew of the place, and he gave us directions. We went there only to find that
the place had closed. Still, it was a nice drive because the rain ended soon
after we headed out, and it used up most of the afternoon. We stopped at a
grocery store to grab food for dinner and headed back.
I picked up 2 turkey legs to cook for dinner and tomorrow's lunch. Even with
no seasoning and no real work, they turned out pretty good. 60 minutes at 350.
Changes last made on: Wed Aug 14 06:39:06 1996