Thursday, September 24, 2009

What state are we in?

Greetings from PA!

We're currently in Swarthmore, PA, at the Swarthmore College library. Since last writing in Woodstock, NY, we've been traveling between states a bunch. Being from a state that only borders one other (Maine), it's funny to be in the Tri-state area of NY, NJ, and PA! We're always wondering where we are...

We camped Sunday night at High Point State Park, in NJ, on Sawmill Lake, which was beautiful, after spending the day checking out the Shawangunk Mountains as well as Minnewaska State Park. Both very beautiful.

We set out the following morning from Port Jervis, NY into the morning fog, and spent the day cycling through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The fog disappeared and we got sun mid way through the day. We stopped at an interesting antique store across from a cemetery where Chief Thunder Cloud was buried, and a small towny museum about the Lenape Native Americans who lived in the area. We took ourselves on a 30 minute self guided tour with cassette player in hand to explain the displays. After seeing the Water Gap (which, for as unusual a geologic feature it is, wasn'nt that impressive to the eye) we camped in Worthington State Park in New Jersey. After crawling into our tent there we heard a cacophonous brawl amongst little critters that lasted for a solid few minutes. We heard grunting and terrified squealing that tugged at our heart strings. But even more than empathy we felt fear that we and all of our equipment would soon be reeking of skunk, since earlier in the night we noticed a couple of them hanging around our picnic table. Fortunately we woke up to both a spray and carnage free campsite!

Tuesday we made our way from DE Water Gap to Frenchtown, NJ, where we stayed with a friend's family at their home which they also deemed "the hobo hotel". (Thanks Molly and Betsy, Rick and Lana!) Again, we saw much of the same by the road - interesting mail boxes, gas stations, rolling farmland, horses, produce stands, and wildflowers galore. It's interesting to notice the composition of trees changing as we head south. There are so many acorns, walnuts, and butternuts by the road!

Wednesday we journeyed from Frenchtown, NJ to Paoli, PA. We took a Rail Trail for part of the day - the Perkiomen Trail.

At night we stayed with Steve and Kim McInally, who generously provided us with a bed, showers, and laundry! Thanks to you all and your generous hospitality!

The road is pretty entertaining, as are the people we've met along the way so far. Lots of people ask about our shirts, our bikes, or what we're doing. We've met many colorful characters. We saw a woman taking her parrot for a walk yesterday. Always, the locals are great for directions, but we tend to ask a few people to cross-check the accuracy. We've heard almost nothing but positive feedback - "How bout that!", "Way to go girls!, 'etc, etc. There are also great ironies as well. Perhaps the best so far was a woman driving a hummer alone with a license plate that said "Save the Animals."

The road rage has increased as we've gotten into more congested areas, often by no fault of our own. A man on a riding lawnmower today decided to take it to cross a busy road and even he gave us a nasty look for being a bike in his way. Another man honked and waved his finger wildly on route 29 in PA for just existing and liking to bike. And really, the kindness we come by outweighs the grumps we encounter.

We're really enjoying ourselves so far. Since we're putting out a lot more energy than we're used to, the most simple things like sleeping and eating feel so luxurious and good. Also, we're coming to realize that we gave ourselves a lot of time for the miles we have 'planned'. We want to take side trips to see some interesting things along the way. We're thinking Gettysburg, Annapolis, or Monticello, or all three! If anyone has any suggestions for must do's and see's that are vaguely along our route, let us know! Thanks!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Pretzels are good

We stopped at a sweet shop in NY, home of the Peppermint Pig which is apparently a holiday tradition...we were clueless. However, they had delish free samples and a giant pig in the parking lot that we just had to photograph!

Since we last wrote we've stayed in Cohoes, NY with Emily's family friend and camped in Greenville, NY. We passed through the town of Surprise (really!) as well as a cute little town called Catskill where we met friendly people with good advice. In addition to the Catskill Mountains, we've seen rolling farmland, lots of farm stands, loose change (that Emily struggles not to pick up) and more roadkill than you can shake a stick at!

Today we've kicked back in Woodstock, NY wearing tie-dye, flashing peace signs, and playing hacky sack....just kidding! We've met up with a friend (with a car!) and our bikes are currently spooning on the roof, locked up of course! Today was a bike-free day. We went for a short but beautiful hike up Overlook Mountain where we had awesome views from a fire tower. We camped here last night, and just decided to stay another. Tomorrow the plan is to check out Minnewaska State Park and the Gunk mountains, before making our way to a town en route to the Delware Water Gap.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bicycle boot camp

Day 1 Burlington, VT to Addison, VT

A great first day! Despite a dreary beginning, the day redeemed itself. We had lots of sun and a pleasant temperature. After Emily's front pannier fell off, we reevaluated the pannier situation and tightened things up. Good to go! After several friendly people asked about our plans, we started feeling somewhat silly sharing that our destination was New Orleans. After we discovered a detour on route 17 west, we stopped into the general store nearby and met Suzanne, who tickled us with her childlike awe of our plans. She ran to the window to watch us ride away on our bikes. We camped overnight at DAR State Park, with a gorgeous view of lake and sunset. We had the run of the place.

Day 2 Addison, VT to Chestertown, NY

Beautiful! We enjoyed a big breakfast at the Bridge Diner before crossing state lines, and checked out the fort across the bridge after. Didn't get moving until around noon! Rolling hills for the most part, with the exception of Chilson Hill out Route 74 - a super steep, several mile long hill. GAH! We survived. Rode by Eagle, Paradox, and Schroon Lakes. A never ending-day, but full of wonderful, helpful folks. Arrived later than expected, just before dark to warm showers, lasagna, and great company.

Day 3 Chestertown, NY to Wilton, NY

Another day of great weather and temperature. Fewer miles than the day before. Passed by Lake George. We're enjoyed the evidence of Fall, and we're thinking perhaps an alternate name for this blog could be "In Pursuit of Autumn." Rolling hills until stopping for lunch in Glens Falls. Muscles are tender and well used! We need W-D 40 for our knees, but we're taking it slow so as not to overstep our physical boundaries. We're thinking of the first few weeks as our training, since we started without much! We dream of how fit we'll be! As a woman today at lunch said, "You're gonna have KILLER thighs." We can't believe how much food we're eating! Arrived early at Emily's aunt's house in Wilton, NY. Emily settled on a name for her new bike, since Purple Rain bit the dust; Belle. So now we have the dynamic duo of Belle and Babs.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

September 12th

Wow...we're actually doing this! We spent the day getting everything up to snuff with our bikes and running last minute errands. We just came back from dinner out with both sets of parents. We got a dessert entitled "bicycle wheels." And tomorrow at 11 am, we'll be rolling away from Burlington towards Addison County!

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Our bikes all loaded up! We're carrying around 45 pounds each.