My good friend Steve has a summer/weekend place out in Trout Run, PA that he bought when he felt the crush of New York City becoming too much. It’s 7 acres of land with a nice house, two barns, and an old dog kennel that I keep threatening to turn into a recording studio. Steve offered me the place even though he would not be there. It’s a familiar dwelling. Steve, my drummer Tylor, and I come here a couple times a year to unwind and relax. We make beef jerky, blow up toasters with shotguns, watch old movies, and drink too much. It’s a needed respite from the ant race that is Gotham.
I put in one last short day at work to take care of things. I made a few cables, turned in my time sheet, and paid for my Pink Floyd class that marks my return to college (for the 6th or 7th time). I won’t be here for over 3 weeks. I felt strange looking at the mementos and awards hanging on the walls, the sedimentary buildup of being ten years on the job.
I walked home and started my sparse pack. I figured 8 days of clothes should be more than enough as I could find laundramats along the way. I unplugged my musical and a/v equipment to protect it for lighting, and took the elevator down to the parking garage. It was a solemn and quiet walk. No fanfare, confetti or Champagne, just a man alone walking to his bike to start a journey. I had gassed up the day before so now all I had to do was drive.
The weather had many of my friends scared for me. They saw the large green and yellow patches on the Doppler radar maps warning of impending doom. I told them all that I will be safe and I have rain gear. I’m going. A slight runny nose and scratchy throat meant a head cold in my future. I’m going. The traffic on the GWB broadcasted on the news looked terrible. I’m going. There is so much noise that keeps people from doing things. None of this racket was going to stop me from getting on that bike. I braced myself mentally, cranked up the Brick, and squealed out of the garage.
The George Washington Bridge was not bad at all. Slow, but not stopped and my exodus was smoother than expected. I took 80 west and just kept driving. The weather turned out to be spectacular. The rain never fell and the air was cool and breezy. Just past the Pocanos, the traffic thinned and I had the road nearly all to myself. I was going faster than usual, running about 85, but people were passing me like I was a fire hydrant so I didn’t sweat the fuzz.
In an effort to “stop and smell the roses” as my friends have encouraged, I pulled off at a scenic overlook in Columbia, PA. I breathed in the sweet air, unpolluted by carbon monoxide, and just stared at the side of a mountain for a while. For some reason, I wasn’t in that kind of mood. I wanted to see pavement going under my feet. I wanted to run away.
Back on the road I gassed up at about 130 miles into the trip. I met a nice gas station dog named Chelsea, and saw a rare freestanding phone booth, the phone of which actually started to ring. Nobody in the world knew where I was at this moment. That call was not for me.
I veered off at 180, to 15, and then to 14 right up to Steve’s place. The lightest of rain started to fall as if Mother Nature was saying, “I spared you this time but remember my wrath!” I entered the cozy house and dropped my plastic sides cases. I have started. Leg one is finished. Not much of a dent in the mileage, but a start is a start.
I had not eaten since devouring a Smart Ones Salisbury steak at lunch so I ventured to one of my favorite Trout Run haunts, The Crippled Bear. It’s a local dive with decent bar food and cheap beer. I ordered the BBQ pork sandwich that was tasty, but the fries were not as crisp as I like them. It was hard to complain though because I was feeling very relaxed. The locals were providing hilarious banter that kept me smiling. The bartender was harsh to the locals, but pleasant to me which is the sign of a good bar tender – knowing your audience.
Halfway though my dinner it started to rain hard. I waited it out with the Olympics as a distraction until the rain became light enough for the 5-mile ride back to Steve’s. I was tired but happy. I crawled into bed and left the window open with a fan running, the rain picking up again. It was a lot nicer than having the AC freeze my bones. The Sandman hit me hard with his mallet and I wobbled off to sleep, dreaming of the miles yet to be ridden.
Click for larger versions:
|Tight pack||Starting mileage||Here I go|
|Columbia, PA||Gas stop||Chelsea|
|Freestanding phone booth||Open road||Steve’s barn|
|Crippled Bear||Horns||Good eats|
NYC to Trout Run, PA – 216 Miles