Sun Aug 11, 2013
The chitter chatter of chipmunks wood peckers woke me around 6. I was comfy in my bag and decided to lay there and finish yesterday's Journal entry I fell asleep in the middle of.
The sun lit the highest top bows of my pine tree signaling it was time to ride.
I packed the gear up and made my way out of the hills and into the fertile Black River Valley.
You know..just Jesus and some deer on an island. No big deal!
Noticing windmills on the distant ridge, I plugged in some random spot in their vicinity and let Garmin route its magic.
I paused to make coffee/oatmeal, recharge my camera battery and get some water in the town of Lowsville at a closed Planned Parenthood.
I filled my camelback next door out back of a Progressive Insurance Agency. How fitting, getting something tangible in return for my monthly payments. I repaired my sunglasses for a third time and headed out of town for the windmills on the hill, my head filled with Don Quixote jokes.
Riding deeper into the woods on ATV and snow machine trails, I had to be careful on foresight terrain lest I drop her in some sandy or muddy tire rut.
Yup, I have some. Thanks for asking.
The few people I passed were on ATV's and returned big hearted waves as I blasted past.
Judging by this snowplow guide, I'd say they get a fair amount of snow up here:
Nice ol Truck
I came to a T where both roads were dead ends and could not decide what Robert Frost would've done...so I turned back for another road less travelled and that made all the difference. Crossing a sturdy bridge, I'm caught by the insects fluttering above the water falling like an August snow from the trees above. Sparrows dive to catch them and a finch alights in the tree beside me with a light "Chirp".
This bridge is new. It is not the first or last bridge to be placed here but spans the river just the same as I. The next four hours were a test of bike, rider and resolve.
I encountered a dead end at every one of the 5 or 6 trails I explored thanks to Garmin. I took camp two, and then camp four, Pedro, Page Ln and some others just to find them gated.
Never a fan of riding the same road twice, I had to enjoy my misfortune, a good life lesson instilled by riding.
Bondo won't help you now...
That hole in the valve cover is intense.
I HATE FORCED U-TURNS
I stop to eat some squished banana, bread and peanut butter. It was the highlight of the hour.
The December Truck Trail, name shoulda gave it away right!?, was by far the worst road I've ever ridden in terms of water hazards. It followed what was once an old logging railroad dipping and sinking into the surrounding ponds and marshes.
This looked like death. I should have turned around when I had the chance!!!
Alone, I became accustomed to cautiously dismounting before the deepest puddles before proceeding.
IN a few case, that was the difference between dumping it on some soft mud or hidden boulders in the pond.
I passed a sign for Alder Creek then a cabin covered in license plates.
(not this cabin but just down the road)
NOTE TO SELF: Carry an old plate in the bike in case I come across another opportunity and place a plate on his house or lose mine.
Another cabin comes into view and I wave as I go past. A middle aged man in the yard returns the wave with a curious smile I can only read as "I know something you don't". Five minutes later I am facing a deep swamp and three trails, the least travelled of which my GPS is directing me down. Thanks GARMIN! I have a talk with Meine Frau and make the decision to turn around. The road could not get better as the most heavily travelled option doesn't even appear on my GPS unit.
(heavily travelled road ahead and very deep stream crossing)
I tell myself I'll stop at that cabin so I do and talk to the old men outside in their 50's or 60's. I carefully remove my broken sunglasses, take off the stinky helmet and in my thickest southern accent say "Damn! I'm lost!" to which they both give a hearty suspicious chuckle. The next 5 minutes represents how solo touring falls to the lowest lows of personal thought and solitude to the explosive dialogue and valuable interaction sharing of ideas and common courtesies. Sitting on Meine Frau, the three of us confirm that 1.) I was lost, 2.)Trespassing on Private Land and 3.) Was harmless. Huzzah. I asked about the area and type of traffic he sees go by and was surprised when he told me they see "a lot of ATV's and many BMW's come through here." This led us to chatting about Google maps and how inaccurate road are all over there with wrong ownership, names and routes for all the city slickers to see. I didn't happen to prepare for this ride so I just found it all on accident. I apologize for unknowingly trespassing and ruining their peace and quiet, a notion their facial expressions scoffed at, I bid farewell and set off to conquer the deep ponds for a second time. You'd think I'd remember my line through each pond but NOPE. Some were whole new unique problems while others, the same random hidden boulder in the muck. Frogs darted right and left as I splashed through their home. Today, I'd hate to be a frog - at least that one!
Soon, I came across a whole family on ATV's. As soon as the father noticed my HID behind, he motioned for the kids (age 8 and 12 I'd guess) to let me pass.
I waved and said "Thanks! Ride Safe" and the elder son replied "You Too!". I gassed outta there in a spray of mud and gravel promptly making a turn to descend to more ponds. They followed but increasingly blended into a single shimmering light in my mirror as the bike excelled. A mile later I came across another couple riding tandem on a SUV taking a leisurely 25mph tour.
I patiently (yeah me! WTF- I know!) sat behind them until they turned right at a side split lane. I raced past them at 45 accelerating to a dangerous 60 mph on the rough rocky dirt. What do I have to prove? Why push my luck? Shit, I do this enough alone that I can see it begins as "Ohhh Look what I can do" but turns into "Yeah, I practice and find that 'edge' so I CAN do this." Of course all this sounds overly confident so I think I should dedicate tomorrow's return trip to this very concept.
I eventually make it back to the tri-cross roads, having explored every option, and disregard my GPS and follow breadcrumbs out of the woods past the windmills off the Great Whetstone Park's Plateau and onto Hwy 22 and 123.
I pass a small ski slope hosting a music festival followed by a small town and a family posting "No Parking - Subject to Tow" signs on each and every telephone poll in front of their house.
The dude with the bags is totally spazzing out.
The next 4 hours I could only describe as back road riding bliss and the dreaded "return trip" feeling I'm trying to learn to appreciate. My route roughly followed NY 26S in a SW direction.
The old fort at Rome
Crossing under the railroad beside the Erie Canal (I wasn't quick enough to snap a good shot of the canal)
Hours of this
The valleys in NY are mostly in a N/S direction so I cruised down many of them on 26 headed down to PA
Late lunch while the Harley riders pay money to drink beer indoors. Kippered Herring (
h14) and some bread round out my meal at a quick gas stop. I need to make up time after my lost hours in the wetlands.
Unique architecture and Victorian styling was haphazardly applied in all sorts of buildings.
US Army Corp of Engineers Dam
I rode deep into PA, gas tank to gas tank, but made a point to stop in Oswego briefly at my Aunt's old High School for a shot I knew she'd get a kick outta. Worth a shot since it looks like they knocked down the old building she likely went to school in.
See the smoke from the steam locomotive? Too cool!
I wound down the Chemung River into Sayre where I crossed into PA and picked up 220S.
It undulated between wide divided highway and two land back road 65mph sweeper fun.
not a great resto but a damn fine Charger 500
The road twisted on until I stopped at a family owned and pet obsessed gas station with a Dog on every sign and at every gas pump. Very strange - they sold live bait too just in case you were interested.
Soon I was on course to Sunbury and crossed to the east bank of the Susquehanna then wound down river on 147 via mostly familiar tree covered roads.
Waiting for a train.
What peaceful joy despite the soft ache in my should ache in my shoulder blades.
The sky to the west grew cloudier and shone red and pink under the cloud layer due to Rayleigh scattering.
The road quickly became PA22, a highway with 18-wheelers and a 55, meaning 65, speed limit.
I kept up with traffic and was reminded the last time I was on a hwy, other than traffic in Montreal, was in PA crossing through Harrisburg.
I made my way to Hwy 15 and set south and west to my evening camp in the Frederick Municipal Forest. A powerful storm cell was fast approaching and I had to keep up my pace to just narrowly avoid getting flogged from above by the wind, lightning and rain.
This bee flew into my face and lodged itself between my broken glasses (see superglue) and face. I snapped a picture first then carefully eased off the road as it buzzed and tickled my face. I carefully removed my sunglasses and flicked the bee out onto the ground where he died. I value bees so much and their role as polinators so it always makes me sad when I kill one. Sorry Mr. Bee.
Fortunately I rode just out of its path into MD then stopped at a convenience store and bought a Yuengling from an Indian shop owner with nose piercings and a cell phone habit. I wonder how she wound up here on Hwy 16 in the shadow of the Catoctin Mountains. Descending into the comforting familiarity of the forest roads, I stop and make camp at the usually spot. The creek is much lower than my first camp here (not last visit though) so I cross the creek on mossy rocks and set up my hammock beside the oft used and well established fire ring. At least if someone stops to inspect the GS, they may not see my hammock suspended 50 feet away in the trees. I make cous cous and tuna then scarf it down in record time along the creek in the dark. This is the first real thing I've had to eat today, other than crackers and snacks, since my Oatmeal in Lowsville this AM. I rinsed my dishes in the flowing creek, grabbed some chocolate liquors and my whisky then set to recording my daily activities written within these pages. Another safe and memorable day with hundreds or two pics to help me remember when I'm old, tired and in a reminiscent mood. Tomorrow...work...but now I'm ready.