Breakfast Club in Pollockstown, NC
23 October 2012
A really special second breakfast. Sabena, Kathleen, Lainie and Bob at the Corner Grill.
Play Misty for Me
21 October 2012
The last few miles getting into Vineland were eventful. I know better, but I got a painful reminder of the necessity for utmost care in negotiating railroad crossings, especially when wet, especially when the tracks are not perpendicular to the direction of travel. I encountered such a case, daydreamingly, and instantly the track changed my direction 60 degrees (to the right fortunately) and I was up and over a 10 inch curb and stopped by a close encounter between my lower arm and a channel- iron sign post. Ouch. No broken skin or bones, though, so I set to work re-aligning the wheels which both had been jarred a bit. Ten minutes later, dusk rapidly approaching, I got a flat, apparently unrelated to the little accident. Warmshowers to the rescue! I called my host for the night, Tom, who was happy to drive the 5 or 6 miles to my location, load bike and gear in his pickup, and, Bob's yer Uncle, I'm enjoying the warmshower and delightful chicken dinner Tom and Tammy put together for me. Thanks again, folks.
Next day was a bright and crisp day with a quick run to the ferry at Cape May across the mouth of the Delaware. I'm glad I did not know the ferry schedule until I got there, because I made the 2:00 run with only minutes to spare--next one not until after dark. No extra charge for the bike!
It took a couple of days to get down the Delmarva Peninsula and I took a rest day halfway (courtesy of an amazingly hospitable and knowledgable Warmshowers host). He gave me a tour of the nature refuge on Assategue Island, with the famous wild ponies which eventually will grace this post.
On Friday I biked the rest of the way to the southern tip of Delmarva where the tunnel bridge to what you might call mainland Virginia starts. This system crosses the Chesapeake Bay entrance and covers 20 miles! Eighteen of the miles are spanned by a fairly low bridge, or causeway, but this is interrupted near the northern and southern ends by two tunnels, which provide two wide and vertically unlimited entrances for the major ship channels into the Bay. No bikes here, uh uh. The tunnel authority provides shuttle service for bikes: you call ahead for an appointment, load the gear into maintenance trucks, pay one car toll per truck, and travel across (and under) the Bay in style. Friday I made my appointment for 7:00am and rode to the very beautiful (and convenient) state park near the bridge tollgate. I was befriended in the last miles of that ride by a dynamite pair of Swiss cyclists, Carol and Gregory, who have been doing a North American circumbikagation since March(!) and are headed for their finish at Miami. The three of us shared a tent site and the shuttle truck and rode together into Virginia Beach. I hope to reconnect with these two great folks on my next big riding adventure north through Europe. They, of course, are also huge Warmshowers fans and intend to become hosts when they get home.
Saturday was semi-tough. Despite its reputation, Virginia Beach was pretty pleasant to ride through. But once out of the city I was on heavily traveled, zero-shoulder, high-speed secondary roads, with irritable good-old-boy pickup drivers that would have done Missouri justice. Not fun, and there was a persistent headwind, and bright sun in the eyes all afternoon. Then, another flat near dusk!!! My Warmshowers host had agreed already to pick me up on her drive south (also from Virginia Beach). It took some creative remote control navigation by cell phone on both our parts, but we connected in Elizabeth City and drove the final miles to her delightful place right on the Albemarle Sound for a magnificent spaghetti dinner with her and her housemates.
I am about halfway to another Warmshowers home in Greenville, NC. Knock on wood, this could be an easy-ish, shortish day. I have a great attraction to Wilmington/Wrightsville Beach (2 or 3 more days south) and I'll be hanging out there for a bit. If I decide to keep riding this season (to Florida? Texas?) I might keep blogging. Watch this space!
I got into Princeton!
15 October 2012
It is pretty slow riding through congested suburban towns. lots and lots of intersections with streetlights that have to be obeyed or judiciously ignored. Some of the country between towns is pretty and except for the misnamed Pleasant Mountain Rd. the hills in New Jersey are modest. I did not make it to the state park i had in mind for the night, but rather "wild camped" on a powerline right of way near Rockaway. Once I was set up and camouflaged I walked to the nearby huge suburban mall and had a delightful ironic evening among the famous brands and the mall-denizens. A bit of frost around in the morning but nice and toasty in the tent and sleeping bag.
Next day was more riding through suburban megalopolis, involving some interstate-like highways that were pretty intense, especially around Somerville. But my Warmshowers host from Princeton, Tracy, rode an hour out to meet me as I approached edenic Princeton. We stopped at a country store along the canal bike path and I got my groove back with a cookie and some trail mix. Like my wonderful Warmshowers host in Manhattan, Liz, Tracy and wife Joan generously allowed me two nights. He's a gourmet cook, so we had a wonderful concoction based on chicken thighs for dinner and watched the game where Jeter got hurt (though I bailed in the 8th) Next day after a huge waffle breakfast (by Joan) I lightened the bike and rode into Princeton for a little sightseeing. The Princeton Art Museum was a highlight, but the campus itself is a marvel. Also a nice town generally, though people seemed a bit more intense and self-contained than in some other areas. Not much eye contact. Less than Manhattan, even. That night, an authentic vegetarian meal in a local Indian restaurant (we could have been tourists in Mumbai, considering the rest of the clientele)--my treat, though I had to twist some arms--and an early night for an early start. Thanks again to my wonderful, fun, generous hosts! (They got up for an early breakfast and Joan even made me a sandwich for my lunch!) I am winding through Trenton now headed for a little town near the Delaware in southern NJ, called Vineland. I have decided to cross the Delaware at its Atlantic mouth by ferry and keep as much as possible to the barrier beaches on my way south.