Thu Aug 8, 2013
Traffic was expectedly light leaving DC on 495 to 270;
I slabbed it on up to Harrisburg on 15 where I cruised up the river to Clark's Valley. I enjoy frequenting this straight road through the valley as a calm break from the slab. I stopped for a snack break beside Fishing Creek and was pleasantly greeted by the cool water, damp rotten log and fog hanging over the creek.
Shortly after leaving, I spotted a sign in a driveway for "free cucumbers". I now regret not stopping and turning around for both the photo and nature's sustenance. I should not be so foolish in the future. From the narrow valley rd, I grew tired of the close-following car and made a left to climb the steep mountain to the next valley above.
Riding some gravel and waving at a kid in his front yard, I turned left and headed north to follow Garmin on a collection of curvy and traffic free roads through forest and farmlands.
The weather held out and I was pleasantly greeted with blue skies and enough clouds to keep the sun out of the eyes. The most memorable road today was Winding Rd, which lived up to its name.
It was bumpy and rutted with lots of shoulder patching for a few miles up to the county line sign where a yellow stripe appeared and the pavement was fresh and new.
I think I know which county has all the money, or the higher taxes. The banked turns snaking along the creek and rising and falling out of corn fields was serene. 29N was also a comfortable and rolling highway following creeks and rivers with light traffic volume. The many cabins and small wooded homes often lead me to consider my future. An aging long haired man tends his yard-sized garden, fortressed by an L-Shaped home and handcrafted slate fence. Will I be him someday? No...too near the road. Crossing the upper reaches of the Susquehanna, the air is thick with the pungent smell of decaying fish.
I recognize the turn for Hwy6, a nice E/W route across the state of PA. I pushed on and avoided the highway until crossing the NY line at 7:30PM. .
I cross referenced my GPS with my cell phone to uncover a vast line of yellow/red storms on the radar swiftly approaching and covering the course of my GPS already.
With no real destination and the chance of severe weather, I made the decision to find camp outside Binghamton. Slabbing it for 10 mi up I-81, the rosy sky kept me company as the sun kissed the wet clouds ahead to the north. The highway splits at one point and big 18-wheeler signals and comes over into my lane. I quickly swerve, drop a gear and blast past with a big middle finger for the world to see. A brief reminder of the hazards of highway riding - all avoidable by not getting near the truck to begin with. Live and learn. Such is life. The dark sky ahead led me to pull into a dark and overgrown commercial property for sale. 122 acres of forgotten dreams and desolate concrete foundations just north of Binghamton. The locked gate deters me but I notice a frequented ATV trail disappearing into the brush so take the risk and follow it around the gate back to the main access road. I travel a short way keeping an eye out for nails and debris on this forgotten road before quickly approaching a 3-4ft hole in the road.
Frequent high water left an area between two marshes to collapse entirely. A car would not have made it...neither would a police cruiser. This is promising news except that they still have feet. The GS cut through the narrow gap with a few dabs and one "Oh shit no ground there" moment! I eventually came to a lake and clearing with concrete pad and remains of a rusted out railcar. I park on the pad, scout out some hammockable trees, establish camp and feast on cous cous, tuna and Crown Royal.
I enjoy a granola bar and some dried cranberries as the sun sinks lower behind the mountain range and light fades. The flash of lightning accompanies the deep rumble of thunder signaling I had chosen the best time and place to stop for the night. As I write in my hammock, the brilliant flashes illuminate the sky with approaching fervor offset by the whine of 18-wheeler tires, the rusted exhaust burble of antique V-8 trucks and familiar "potato-potato-potato" blat of Harleys moving on down the highway to be met with glorious life-breathing rain. I should stay dry but cannot guarantee avoiding electrocution. A 90 horsepower dirt bike, GPS unit and hammock in the few trees of a sparsely recovering commercial site: Such is life in the modern times.