August 26, 2012
Today we saw Visions of Arcadia, an exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum Of Art featuring amongst others Gauguin, Cézanne and Matisse. It was a breathtakingly beautiful exhibit that fed our hunger for culture.
The permanent exhibition has treasures bequeathed to the museum by private collectors.
In town we discovered we had misread the train schedule by neglecting to take Sunday into account. Our plan of leaving the city by train and riding to a campsite is impossible because the train doesn’t go to our destination on Sundays.
After investing entirely too much time trying to find an inexpensive alternative, we realized that staying on in Philadelphia for another evening, so that we could catch the early morning commuter train out of the city tomorrow morning, was our only option.
Christof got a great price, better than the one we had paid for the first two nights, at the hotel we’ve been staying at.
We visited the other galleries included in our tickets, and once the museums closed rode along the
Schuylkill River. A group of people was playing music and dancing on rollerblades and retro – four-wheel – skates. They had a jam circle going and were doing battles, and although no one there was under forty, they moved fluidly and did more spins than we could count.
Obviously former break dancers.
August 27, 2012
Today we were in three separate states:
– Pennsylvania, The Keystone State – local lore has it that the delegation sent from Pennsylvania to the Continental Congress were divided on how to vote for Independence. Four were for it and four were against it. The deciding vote which tipped the scales towards Independence became known as the ‘keystone’ vote.
– Delaware, The First State – the first state to ratify the constitution and
– Maryland, The Old Line State, named for holding the line during the revolutionary war, also called The Free State, a reference to the Maryland Constitution of 1864 which abolished slavery within its borders.
We took the train as far outside of Philadelphia as possible to avoid traffic and the urban ugly belt, leaving at 6:30 and arriving at our destination a good hour later. Just as we left the train it started pouring. Conveniently there was a shelter on the platform where we sat and watched heavy rainfall for an hour.
We rode through the University of Maryland at Newark, in what felt like a Turkish steam bath. The air was so hot and sticky it felt as though someone was holding a wet hot towel to our faces, smothering us and making it difficult to breathe and harder still to move. After riding through hilly country in the muggy heat we were thrilled to come across a McDonalds! Although I always say ‘I don’t do fast food’, there are exceptions. We took an extended break and did some shopping for supper and breakfast, buying fruit, yoghurt and porridge
We continued the journey on a well trafficked road, the only one crossing the Susquehanna River at the dam. Sharing the road with trucks isn’t for the lily-livered, and the truckers ignored us completely and rarely left us space to ride in. On the way down the hill towards the bridge a sign displaying a bicycle and the words ‘share the road ‘ sign gave me the illusion of being on a recognized bicycle route.
Construction was being done on the last part of the bridge and consequently the lanes narrowed. We created a traffic hindrance because the cars couldn’t pass us and had to ride behind us until we were off of the bridge. One driver lost his patience, and pressed down on us, honking loudly, as though he wanted to scoop us out of his way. This unnerved us and left us uncomfortably aware of our vulnerability. At the top of the next hill we found a visitors’ center next to a swimming pool of blue green cool water! While Christof was inside gathering information, one of the crew members, who had been curious about what we were doing on heavily laden bikes, and had just driven off on his golf cart turned around and came back to encourage us to use the pool:
– I’m not saying you look bad, he started out, but imagine how much better you will feel after having a swim? They might even lower the entrance fee for you.
We did as he suggested, and since the entrance fee was $6 for both of us, we didn’t worry about getting a reduction.
I was instantly transported back to my childhood and those long lazy days of floating about a turquoise colored pool on my back.
We spent two hours at the pool thinking that the camp ground was just around the corner. It was about five miles to the state park and once in, another ten miles further inside the park to get to the campground. The light dwindled as we rode up and down countless hills and tried my patience to the breaking point. Faced with yet another climb I almost threw my bicycle in the ditch:
– Forget it! I yelled, I’ve had it! I’m leaving this stupid thing right here!
I hoped that Christof would stop and give me some sympathy, say that we were almost there and murmur a few words of encouragement instead but he ignored me completely, continuing on as though he hadn’t heard me. We were in a valley and it was getting dark, so after a few minutes of standing on the side of the road hoping that he would come back and pick me up, I had no choice but to continue.
At the campground there was only one other couple, but we went into another section where we choose a beautiful grassy spot as far away from them as possible. There was no gate at the entrance and a few locals cruised by in their cars to look at us.
Then for the first time I realized that we were in the middle of nowhere with no way to escape or quickly leave, should it become necessary. Not a comforting thought.
Tree frogs, crickets and birds made so much noise it was like being in a jungle. No sooner had we settled into our sleeping bags when we heard a deep snorting sound right next to our tent.
What was that? A boar? A bear?
To be on the safe side I hung our food up in a tree a distance from the tent. Christof put earplugs in and lay down to sleep, while I clapped my hands and yelled and made as much noise as I could when the snorting got close to the tent. I didn’t sleep much.
Towards morning there was a downpour and although it was torrential we stayed snug and dry.
When we were visiting John and Lauren in New Jersey, Lauren drove us to Eastern Mountain Sports and we traded the tiny tarp tent I could barely wiggle out of without accidentally hitting the ceiling and causing the condensation to drip through, in for a larger tent. Although there were some doubts about carrying more weight, after this rain we were convinced that we had done the right thing.