|There is a traffic light in this park. However, there is no traffic.|
We woke up today a bit before dawn, fearing that since the park opened at sunrise we would be rousted out by militant rangers. We ended up being wrong on that score, thankfully, and had a quiet oatmeal breakfast next to the fog shrouded Delaware River with the odd deer here and there for company. We managed to reap an unexpected benefit from our early rise in that we could hit the road early and ride before the day really started to heat up. The day flew by as we crossed the Delaware back and forth from NJ to PA a few times, passed the actual Water Gap, and generally cruised along the relatively flat banks of the river. We stopped in Belvidere, NJ at Uncle Buck's Diner and had our inaugural second breakfast snack. We all ordered the #1: 3 eggs any style, homefries, and toast for $2.55, can't beat it. Then, after we had stuffed ourselves we had two super steep hills to climb immediately- not fun on a full stomach.
However, we kept up a very strong pace and had 40 miles behind us by about 2 in the afternoon. We decided, then, to take a break at a coffee shop and use their free wireless for a couple hours while we blogged and uploaded photos and generally caught up with the world. We ended up doing some serious loitering and were there for about 2 hours. At the end of that stretch, as we were readying our things to leave, a man wearing sunglasses, sipping an iced coffee and sporting a long white beard that had a touch of caramel color in it struck up a conversation with me. He asked where we were going, and told me I had a strap dangling from one of my panniers and to be careful it didn't get wrapped in my spokes. And then he said, "Well, are you looking for a place to camp tonight?" I said we were and asked him if he knew of any on our way. He responded that it was a little north, but that he had a very nice house on the river with a sandy beach we could hang out on if we wanted to stay there for the night. I was still thinking that we would want to get our last 10 miles in for the day and politely turned him down. He was insistent, and mentioned that there were thunderstorms in the forecast.
|Relaxing on the Starks' awesome patio. See our pics for rope swing photos.|
8/2 Day 11: Easton, PA to Bristol, PA 67 miles
|Smoke wafts over the corn fields from the burning factory.|
Today we woke up, had some cappuchino and muffins, and chatted with the Starks in their kitchen. The Starks own a mill in Easton, but hadn't left the house because the gigantic plastics manufacturer near their facility was burning down and spewing delectable looking black fumes into the sky over the Lehigh Valley. Before we hit the road, the Starks had left to go survey their site to see if all was well while we did our last minute preparations and got on our bikes. The day was quite nice riding- mostly rolling hills and scenic views of the Delaware. We haven't even gotten to the Midwest, though, and I have already seen way more corn than I need to. There are literally thousands of acres of corn grown along the Delaware River, in NJ and PA, it's amazing. Today, though, the long, rolling expanses of gold and green corn were overlaid with that ominous miles-long plume of smoke from the plastics factory burning down as we wound our way toward second breakfast at Mama's Dog House in Milford, NJ.
|Erin and Mandi share a huge and awesome sandwich. This is one of three!|
They fed us, beered us, and gave us beds to sleep in. We hadn't slept under a roof in about a week. It was a really pleasant visit for me, and wonderful to spend a night in a house I'd slept in many nights before, even if most of them I couldn't remember having been so young.
8/3 Day 12 Bristol, Pa to Washington's Crossing to Norriton Presbyterian Church, Trooper, PA
We slept til almost 9AM today, soaking up the comfort of mattresses and sheets. When we got downstairs, we made some coffee as Uncle Tom ducked out to pick up some bacon and other goodies at the store for breakfast. We took our sweet time getting things together and decided to take my cousin Jaime up on his offer to drive us and our bikes the 20 miles back to our route in his truck. He dropped us off at Washington's Crossing, that we'd ridden past around 2PM the day before and with bags full of leftover hoagie, we hit the S Trail.
The S Trail is one of PA's many well-signed bike routes that criss-cross the state. After doing a five mile circle because of a wrong turn, we started to make progress knowing it would be a bit of a late day. A note for anyone who wants to ride along the S Trail: so far it has not been bike paths at all, just more well-trafficked roads without shoulders, it's actually been pretty stressful so far and I can only hope when we get further from Philly it will improve. We ran some errands at Sports Authority, printed out some maps at Staples, and bought some gear at EMS. The folks at EMS were very nice, and took our picture for their Facebook page- Warrenton EMS, I think. We scarfed the hoagie's delicious remains before riding on from there under threatening skies. It seems that the only nice days of riding we've had, we end up staying at someone's house, and the days we need to camp out, it rains without fail. True to the formula, rain began to fall as we neared the 45 mile mark for the day and began to look around for a place to inconspicuously throw up a tent. We had intended to make it to French Creek State Park Campground, but it turned out that that was about 40 more miles away and had soundly ruled itself out.
|Everyone is very happy to be sitting on wet|
ground and cooking in the rain. See those smiles?
Now, the 4th of August I'm blogging in a Burger King and I can safely say it's the longest amount of time I've ever spent in one of these restaurants. Gonna sign off for now, more to come.