Sunday, October 25, 2009

Napoleon complex

Pennsylvania was both beautiful and intense. I don't think we were quite prepared for the severity of the hills - some long, some short, but all steep. Casey insisted they had a Napoleon complex, trying to compete with the Rockies. Well, we all had to walk our bikes up hills in PA - which didn't happen in the Rockies. And going down the hills was sometimes completely terrifying. We had our brakes squeezed as hard as we could and were still flying down the hills. We made it all in one piece though.

In this picture you can see a small, fun version of what I'm talking about. Imagine that hill being miles long and covered in gravel.

We stayed with some friends of Casey's family before heading to Pittsburgh. Thanks for all the hospitatlity and amazing food, Kathy and Rich! Here we also got some fresh nutbutter (and chocolate nutbutter!) homemade in a 30 year old Champion juicer! Wow. It was like a live infomercial. If we would have had any money and a way to carry one, we would have tried to buy Rich's juicer/grinder on the spot.

Pittsburgh was great - much nicer than I expected! It was surprisingly clean and beautiful.

There was great food, including ice cream with over 100 toppings to choose from (I got chocolate with cardamom and cracklin oat bran - oh yeah!) and ridiculously huge sandwiches full of french fries and cole slaw.

There were little street markets all over. There were art galleries with free music shows - including this one where we saw a hip hop harmonica player! Kind of awesome.

And there were very helpful and fun hosts and REI workers. Thanks so much Larry, Adam, JJ, and Joe!

After Pittsburgh we got to ride for about 90 miles on a rail trail that goes all the way to Washington D.C. It was incredibly beautiful and FLAT. :)

After getting off the trail we went through a small town, New Baltimore, where there was this great covered bridge...

and an amazing family who invited us to camp in their yard and join in their family potluck. Thank you Plushes!!

Even with all of the hospitality we found up to this point, it seemed the people in PA are a bit more reserved than in other places we have encountered. But once they warmed up, they were super nice. We stopped at a fire station in central PA to ask if we could camp on their property. They were hesitant at first, but after talking with them a while they ended up giving us our own bunk room (with bathrooms and a theater room included!) and put up a sign to keep others out and give us our privacy. You rock, McConnellsburg fire fighters!

Friends of friends took us in in central PA. Not only were they awesome to us (thank you Ron and Beverly!!), but they also gave us the name of another friend who could take us in a little ways down the road. We had hoped to get further than that, but after a very strange day (where Casey did NOT pass out in a library bathroom, despite strangers' reports to us otherwise) the friend totally rescued us last minute, late in the day, out of the rain. Thanks so much, Terry!

A bright spot in a strange, rainy day

Then we camped out at a fire station, where the volunteer fire fighters were very nice, and surprisingly, mostly all under 20 years old. It was raining when we woke up the next morning. We went out to eat, hoping that it would get warmer and the rain would let up while we were eating. But I think the rain got colder and harder. We were 70 miles from Philadelphia, so decided to push through the cold rain and get to a dry warm place to sleep. This was maybe the hardest day of our trip.

We were drenched and cold, it was difficult to see with the rain pouring in our eyes, and we didn't get to Philly until after dark. But wow, were we happy to get to our destination. And what a wonderful destination it was. More on that later.
Here are a few random Pennsylvania pics:

Starting to get some good colors

At a candy/elephant shop

Good drive, indeed.

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