Monday, August 1, 2011

Days 8&9: Hot Times in the Delaware River Valley

7/30 Day 8: Mohonk Preserve to Oakland Valley Campground, Cuddebackville, NY 38 miles

We are slowly getting used to tenting it nightly and breaking down camp in the morning. We slept in a bit today and didn't really get out of our tents til 7AM or so. We knew we had a little extra time because when I scouted out the area for beers last night, I saw a nice little place to get breakfast sandwiches that opened early for all the climbers. There were tons of climbers up there today, primarily because of two reasons: there are literally miles of vertical, exposed rock faces in the Shawangunk Mounains where we are, and there is an EMS Climbing School next door to our breakfast spot. Once we'd gotten our fill, we began our ride west, not exactly sure where we would end up for the night because of everyone's various maladies. We ended up really tearing up the miles as we cruised through some quiet rural New York towns, and the whole day was basically flat except for one big climb and our "bonus hill" as I've come to call them. Every day at the end of the ride it doesn't seem to matter where we are- we could be in the Netherlands- but there is, without fail, a big hill that always stands between us and the campground. And that hill is the bonus hill.

Me wading around post-bath in the Neversink River.
Before the campground we stopped for a beer at about 11AM in Ulsterville, NY at Johnny John's when we stopped in to use their restroom and got talking to the old guy at the bar. He told us all about neighboring Pine Bush and their monthly UFO watcher meetings. He'd never seen one, but some old friends he went to school with, they had. Then for lunch we had some surprisingly good pizza at Badda Bing's II in Otisville (Pop. ~800) where a strange fellow from the fire department gave us directions that we didn't ask for. In his words, "People get turned around up here... I mean who would come to Otisville, all we have is two prisons and a railroad." And, on telling him we were going to Oregon he just replied, "Well...can't get there from here!" We aim to prove him wrong. After Otisville we cruised down the hill and then up the bonus hill and made camp by the Neversink River. We had a really nice relaxing day hammocking, doing laundry, cleaning up in the river, and playing board games in the campground rec room. At night we were lulled to sleep by the lullaby of screaming kids driving circles around their parents' RVs and setting off fireworks. Still, best sleep I've had yet.

7/31 Day 9: Oakland Valley Campground, Cuddebackville, NY to Turtle Beach, Del. Water Gap Rec. Area, NJ 48 miles

This morning the campground attendant was nice enough to let us throw our bags in the back of the site's truck so that we wouldn't have to push our fully loaded rigs up what the campground map has snappily named "Steep Hill." After our customary oatmeal and whatever is on hand breakfast, we schlepped our unloaded bikes to the top and did a little preventative maintenance on our rides. After lubing and wiping and Ben putting his tire liners in, we hung our still wet laundry off our bags and bungee cords, something we have started to call "hobo-ing" an item on. Our bikes are usually draped with detritus and drying clothes, veggies we pick up on the route for camp, and whatever else. So, all hobo-ed up we hit the road knowing that in only a few short miles we'd be hitting our fifth state, New Jersey. Before we did, we made a pit stop in Port Jervis, NY to pick up some supplies at the Price Chopper and visit the local bike shop for some shorts for Erin and a little camping advice.
Erin's cringing a little, because she loves New Jersey.

The shop guys approved of our decision to head south across the Delaware and take the Old Mine Road through the Delaware Water Gap Rec. Area. Because of our errands we didn't hit the road til nearly midday, and it was already blazing as we found the entrance to the preserve. It ended up being some of the nicest, least trafficked, and shadiest riding we've done yet on the trip. We did some light climbing, except for one real dagger of a hill about 35 or 40 miles in, as we followed the wide-but-shallow, green-brown Delaware River and were treated with glimpses of deer, huge millipedes, all kinds of water fowl, and a lot of blaring Reggaeton music from the other park visitors. So, maybe one of you out there knows, but where do all the people who visit this park come from? There weren't a ridiculous amount of people on the roads, but when we finally stopped somewhere to check out a local waterfall (read:shower) we were shocked at the amount of people there. Not hikers or anything, but city people eating Cheetos sitting on the hoods of their cars. We skipped the shower there and kept moving to try and find a better, less populated site for bathing and camping.

The day was full of good riding and nice people, on balance. From the kind hippy-dippy lady who gave us water in Peter's Valley, which is as best I can tell a real crunchy art school/retreat where weaving and glass bead making happens, to the woman giving tours of the empty, unfurnished Van Campen Inn, which was never an inn, and never was furnished, but is FULL of history... I suppose. She warned us about the mountain we had to climb and gave us a few bottles of water. Our camp at Turtle Beach with water access t o the Delaware was found after nearly an hour of frustrated riding and hiking and general scouting around for a good camp site at the other areas inside the park. We eventually decided to say screw it and just settle down under the awning by the restroom because we were all cranky, hungry, tired and sweaty. We competed with the loud, annoying crowd of 20 or so people swimming to bathe and do laundry in the river after cooking ourselves some orzo for dinner. We stashed our food bags and toiletries up in a recess of the building we were behind to keep the bears away and settled down for a fitful sleep, worried about bears and park rangers alike.

2 comments:

  1. Wow, it looks like you guys are having an absolutely amazing time. These entries are perfect, we can all live our lives through you for the next 3 months Berg. Great pics too.

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  2. You have come full circle and are literally "Dudes on Bikes." (yes I am posting inside jokes on your blog Matt, deal with it)

    Sell some software in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky for me - that's my territory. Some area news for you: Indiana just had it's 16th straight day of 90+ degree weather and Ohio just had it's first legitimate movement to legalize marijuana - if today's petition gets approved, only 385,000 signatures to go.

    Both Zimm's are tearing it up as of recent - when Strasburg gets back they will finally be a better team than the Mets with a 10th of the payroll.

    If there's ever an emergency, you can call/contact me at anytime (not sure how I would help but hell, I can't predict the future)

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