Day 153 • Aug 1, 2012 • Norristown, PA to Skillman, NJ • 56 miles
Last night we stayed with Barb and George, wonderful Warm Showers hosts. We enjoyed another home cooked meal and room of our own. They even treated us to ice cream at a regional parlor called Zwahlen’s. Barb does a lot of bike touring so we had a lot to talk about. As we were leaving this morning my driver-side mirror broke off, another in a long list of minor mechanical issues that, with only three riding days left, I was barely attending to. This one was important though so Barb found an old tent stake and helped me splint it in place. This repair was so successful that I still haven’t bothered to replace the broken mirror.
Zoe and I backtracked slightly to pick up some more history, and National Park passport stamps, at Valley Forge. Then it was Pennsylvania Bike Route S most of the way to the New Jersey border. We’d been following this route off and on since York, usually favoring it over the Adventure Cycling route. We rode the edge of an intense line of thunderstorms most of the way through the Pennsylvania section today. The lightning provided a continual light show but we somehow managed to avoid significant rain. We crossed the Delaware River into Lambertville, NJ on a multi-use path posted that bikes must be walked. I’d long ago given up trying to explain why it’s much easier and safer for everyone if we just ride our contraption very slowly. We just do what we need to do and don’t ask for permission. This time, however, there were a pair of cops in the middle of the bridge, right on the border between PA and NJ. Maybe they were security guards or meter maids, I don’t know, but they seemed to have the authority to ticket people brazen enough to ignore the rules. Thankfully I don’t think they had guns or Tasers. They yelled at us to walk our “bikes” as we slowly pedaled by. We did our best not to make eye contact. The parting shot was a stern warning that we’d be ticketed next time. OK, next time. Welcome to New Jersey.
This is one of those days for which I can’t really pinpoint where, exactly, we squandered our time, but squander it we did. By the time we reached Lambertville and a pretty significant climb out of the Delaware River valley it was getting dark. This wasn’t a very polite way to treat our Warm Showers hosts tonight and I really didn’t want to be trudging the final few miles in the dark. As I was pondering my options, not coming up with any good ones, I got a call from Chris. She and her partner Eileen, our hosts tonight, were getting a little worried so she had set out to find us in her car. She was maybe a quarter mile away—rescued again! By now we had the routine down: throw the kid and most of the panniers in the car so I can make good time the rest of the way. This plan worked well. I flew down CR-518, a beautiful road for cycling by the way, minimizing our exposure to night riding in fog.
The astute reader may be wondering how I could leave my child with someone I’d met only moments earlier. This thought had crossed my mind. All I can say is that in the course of negotiating our stay with them we were far from strangers even though we hadn’t physically met. At this point in the process there were a lot of details in play, any one of which could have tipped off nefarious intent if it didn’t check out. And then there was meeting Chris in person, and later Eileen. Salt of the earth. In fact in the shady calculus of risk they probably had more to fear from us than we from them– we were their first Warm Showers guests. They’d just rescued us from the added risk of riding a foggy night on narrow county roads. There is no question in my mind that this was the right thing to do. But please don’t tell my wife about it just the same.
Chris and Eileen live in a beautiful log cabin in an equally beautiful part of the state. Another wonderful home cooked meal and a room of our own was waiting for us. And for me, beer! They had read about my weakness for local micro brews and had an assortment waiting. River Horse Brewing out of Lambertville, good stuff. This blogging thing was really beginning to pay off.