Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Where in North America is Uncle Rod? Day 17

June 30, 2009
Greencastle, PA
62800 Miles
386 (4,410)

Last night, when I was ranting about the unfriendly people in Mass and Conn, I mentioned the exception of the guy camped next to me. After I’d written and closed my laptop, I heard him playing guitar by his fire. He was quite good, so I walked over in the dark and asked if I could sit and listen. What ensued was a 4-hour conversation and sharing of music. This was not just a normal, two strangers passing the time with small talk. It was a deep conversation about weighty things that old friends talk about.
The day started off really well as the fog and overcast burned off early to reveal blue. I rode through the rolling country of Western Connecticut and into New York. I’ve said before that my atlas did fine last year in the West where there are only a few roads, but in the Northeast, it is entirely insufficient. Add to that, the fact that New York does a poor job of labeling roads and using arrows to help get travelers to their chosen destination. As soon as I crossed into New York, the roads changed their numbers and began to be labeled with county road signs. No east, west, north, south, no Podunk, 5 miles this way. No nothing. I rode through farms (actually through farms – I thought I might be in folks’ driveways a few times) until I finally found a road with a route number and then directed myself back to the Atlas. I didn’t make it far once I’d found the road I wanted, before I rode up to a very large tree that had just fallen across the road. There was no way around on the left, and the shoulder was so steep and wet on the right that I knew I’d never get my bike through it. I turned back, found a northbound country road, then a westbound dirt road, and finally popped back out on my road about 5 miles west of the tree.
It was my desire, to find route 209 at Port Jervis, and follow that until it reached I-81 to take me down to Allison’s parents’ for the night. Before I made it to Port Jervis, a terrible storm blew in, so I stopped beside the road and suited up and applied RainX to my face shield. From there, it was a short ride in a really bad storm to Port Jervis, where I found a McDonalds to log on to the intertubes and check the weather. I looked at the satellite images, chose a new route north to try to ride around the storm, and got back on the bike. The next 30 miles were horrendous, but just as the satellite image showed, I rode out of it, and by the time I reached Scranton, the roads were dry again, despite the threatening skies.
I continued south on I-81 for a few miles, and traffic was getting thick as it inched its way through construction. When I saw a sign that warned of extreme delays at mile 261, I took the sign’s advice and chose an alternate route. I realized that I could work my way back to the 209 I’d originally planned, and set out to do so. When I reached I-81 again, a terrible storm struck, and I sought shelter again. The storm moved north rather quickly, and I climbed back on, and headed South toward Harrisburg.
When the weather looked stable and promising, and I felt I could make it all the way to Allison’s parents’, I pulled off the road just as the sun was setting and called them.
An hour later, I pulled into the driveway, unpacked the bike and settled in for another nice, warm visit. While we were visiting, Mom called and told me that Jodi was in the mountains for the week and maybe if I rode close by, I could stop in for a visit. At that point, I knew where tomorrow’s destination would be.