Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Riding out Hurricane Arthur- or not. July 3

July 3.....The original plan was for Pam to get me onto the island before they shut it down as part of the mandatory evacuation that was to take place on Ocracoke and Hatteras Islands. The storm was supposed to track over the ocean, and we were supposed to have 75 mph winds. It would gave been an exciting ride, but one that most locals and a lot of tourists would have ridden out. It was noticeable to me how confident Pam was that we could do it. I thought it would be one of life's great experiences, and I was willing to give up my ride to get to the island to do it. By the time we got to the island, forecasts began to change for the worse. The tropical storm was going to be a hurricane by the time it hit us now, with winds of 90 mph. We were still staying, but the anxiety factor was ramping up amongst the natives. Word began to circulate that the track of the storm was changing, more to the inland side, and the potential was there for the storm to track right up the Pamlico Sound, which according to history, presents more flooding and damage than an ocean side storm. Hurricane Irene came up the sound, and was absolutely devastating here. The sound water and the ocean water converged and met in our campground, and new inlets were cut through the land. Highway 12 was impassable for weeks, and Rodanthe was in ruins. I had to take an emergency ferry system to get onto the island to save our flooded trailer. Sound side flooding was not a thing to be messed with. We began to hedge on staying. Broadcasts were being made, asking the locals to reconsider any decisions to stay, and the hurricane was upgraded to a category two, with winds up to 105 mph. We spoke to people who had ridden out such storms, and it was pretty unanimous that they would never do it again. They feared for their lives. Considering that during the last storm of such magnitude, trailers from our campground were washed out until the sea, all of the stayers, became leavers. Campground acquaintances from the inland town of Edenton began relaying the names of available motels to us. We managed to get a room an hour and a half inland, when all other motels were filled, which made our decision to leave a no brainer. It would have been much more stressful if we were leaving but had no place to go.
So, we packed up everything that we ever wanted to see again into the Jeep, and left the still beautiful weather, for Edenton. I left my bike in the trailer, which was a tough decision, (can't believe he did that!!!) and we left the TV and some other things, but everything was put up to avoid  a flood as bad as Irene, where we had about ten inches in the trailer. 
We spent two days and nights at the Coach House Motel, watching the Weather Channel and networking text messages with a large group of people. On July 4, we watched a very nice fireworks display over the Albemarle  Sound at the town park, with a few thousand locals, and a few more hundred evacuees that congregated there. The town was a really nice little place, and it was enjoyable to visit this hidden little gem for a couple of days. The storm was nothing but some heavy rain where we were, but when we got up in the morning, the reports started coming in of flooding, and the aerial videos showed potential devastation. One friend, Giselle, did stay, and got to the campground as soon as the water receded and began sending out pictures of individual trailers on Facebook. North Beach got rocked, with many trailers knocked off their blocks, and trailers in the sound side storage area stacked on top of each other. Our trailer looked fine, but we couldn't tell how much water we had taken. Debris was all over our deck, and we were 100% certain that we took on water. 
Frustration began to mount with the lack of information after the storm, as far as when we could go back. They had to wait until the 6-10 foot waves in Oregon Inlet calmed, before they could send divers to test the integrity of the Bonner Bridge, which has been in terrible shape for twenty years. That took time. Highway 12 was buckled in places, but it looked like it was going to be passable. When they finally gave the go ahead, only local residents were allowed in. Frustration continued as tourists piled up in Nags Head. We decided to leave Edenton and battle the traffic, as opposed to staying one more night. Text messages were telling us that some North Beach people were getting on, and some weren't, so there was that suspense. We drove right to the check point at the bridge, with no lines of traffic, and produced our tax receipts which proved that we owned property on the island, and we got on with no hassles, as we looked over at the waiting line that was building at the Oregon Inlet Marina. We got to the campground, to find standing water and debris everywhere. It looked really bad to those who had not seen the aftermath of Irene, like I did. Some people will lose their trailers, including the people right next to us, but we got NO WATER, and no damage. The water missed our door by two inches or less! The roof of our shed is flapping a little bit, and our satellite dish got knocked out of whack. We had to clean junk off the deck, but escaped unscathed. People on all four sides of us got rocked, but we didn't. People closest to the ocean stayed dry, because the ocean didn't breach the dunes, like it usually does, even in nor'easters. Electricity came back on shortly after we got there, but the water took a day because of two breaks in the campground water lines. Pam had stored five gallon buckets of fresh water in our shower, so we were okay with that. The ice bags that she put in the freezers of both refrigerators kept everything cold during the outage, and the ice didn't even melt. We spent two days helping our neighbors cleanup and dry out, but we were totally spared. I thought I had used up all our luck in the roof fall episode, but once again, luck prevailed for the Roses.

In Edenton looking at Arthur's outer bands


Fourth of July celebration in Edenton



Confederate Soldier's monument in Edenton, NC

Sitting at water's edge waiting for it to get dark and the fireworks to begin!

The sun is going down!


While we waiting, a snake swam by......


Let the fireworks begin!!!

Edenton had wonderful fireworks!  Nice job folks!
This was a photo that we received before we got back to Rodanthe.  This is 1/2 mile from our campground!

Driving back after our re-entry - this part of the road was temporarily repaired

Still had some sand on the road
This crane was working on a bridge before the hurricane hit.  Unfortunately, it didn't fare too well!

The extent of our "damage"!!  We had water on the deck as you can see by the marsh grass and everything that was shifted around.



Unfortunately, the trailers in the campground storage by the sound didn't fare as well.



Three days after Arthur, we walked to Lisa's Pizza and this is what Hwy 12 looked like!

These are fish from the sound that were swimming (and dying) on Hwy 12.


Bicycling from Newport News to Chesapeake, VA via the Jamestown Ferry July 2

July 2..... 77 miles in  6:37.......Thank God I didn't ride deeper into Newport News, like I had originally planned. I thought I would stay close to the James River Bridge, and just ride across it and follow US 17 through Portsmouth and Chesapeake, like I did when I did this trip several years ago. Newport News, Portsmouth, and Chesapeake are basically one big metro area, and I rode through on a Sunday,  so traffic wasn't bad, but it was in civilization at all times. Not so this time!!! Last time I didn't have GPS, therefore I had no one inform me that it was illegal for bicyclists to ride on the James River Bridge until I was halfway across. It is just a huge, long bridge, with metal grate surface, and as I struggled across it last time, I had a motorist slow down and offer me a ride. I thought that was weird until he informed me that I wasn't allowed there. Well, I was half way, and I just kept on pedaling, and in made it without the bicycle police giving me life in front of the firing squad. That stayed in the back of my mind I guess, because I looked on the Internet and got the official word, while I rested at the motel: NO BICYCLES. It was also a weekday, and I knew what traffic could be like, so I decided to take the ONLY route a cyclist could ride. I headed three miles north, back the way I came, to pick up US 60, which took me right through historical Williamsburg, and west on Jamestown Rd, right past the Jamestown Settlement Historical Area, to the ferry. I left the motel at 7:30 AM to beat what was going to be stifling heat, and tourist traffic. I rode through Williamsburg before any tourists were in the street, beat traffic, the heat wasn't terrible yet, so all was going well. The ferry was scheduled to leave at 9:00 AM. I got there at 9:00:30, and missed the damn thing, because I stopped at a 7-11 for a water refill. The ride to the ferry was about 13 miles. As I stood at the ramp for a half an hour, waiting for the next ferry, and then took the 25 minute ferry ride across the water, the temperature soared.
Instead of the traffic filled adventure through the metro area, I got a pretty boring ride through the Virginia countryside, passing no stores, no water, and no civilization. There were homes, but no people anywhere. They were working, or locked up inside their air conditioned homes, because it was HOT. My GPS @$itch,  took me on sand packed forest trails, and state roads that all looked alike. I had one detour for bridge construction, and the trip took me a few miles out if the way, but I figured it out, despite GPS girl not being able to comprehend that there was a detour, and constantly trying to turn me around. That is a major problem with her. There are also other problems, which I will detail later. At some point, I passed a lake, Prince Lake I believe, and I  stopped at the boat ramp to cool off. It didn't really work because the water was so warm, it was not refreshing. I take cooler showers. A contributing factor to the intense heat, was the crazy humidity. I had been told that the weather before and after a hurricane was usually unbearable, and Hurricane Arthur was just two days away, which caused a multitude of problems in itself, but more on that later. After the refreshment failure at the lake, I began to feel like the rest of the ride could be very uncomfortable. It wasn't uncomfortable, it downright sucked. I knew not where I was, my water bottles were empty, and fatigue was accumulating from days of pretty significant mileage. I finally stopped at a house with a hose bib, and at least got some warm water, which would help physiologically, but was about as refreshing as a warm beer. I like my water at least cool, or it just doesn't quench my thirst, at least psychologically. 
Eventually, after way too many miles, I came to a sign that told me I was in Suffolk, which really wasn't where I expected to be. I had ridden 50 heat seeking miles, to hardly go anywhere, compared to the real estate I would have covered if I had just taken the bus across the bridge. Now I know. Now you know. Take the bus. Even with traffic. At least you can get food and water. Fortunately I had packed some Clif Bars, an energy bar that is my favorite ( chocolate chip!) the only other saving grace was the shade of the tall trees that shaded much of the country roads in Virginia. Whenever there was a home or something besides farming fields, Virginians of 100 years ago liked to leave a buffer of trees between their yards and the roads, hence, really tall, old, stands of trees next to the road. I could usually find some relief, even when the sun was directly overhead.
The outskirts of Suffolk became busier and busier as I got closer to town, and after all that solitude in the name of safety, GPS girl put me on US 13, 460, and 58, a divided six lane highway with New York City like traffic, and very dirty, dangerous ( even though they were wide ) shoulders. I rode that for about ten miles, towards Portsmouth, which really made me realize how little actual distance I had traveled. Very frustrating. Very hot. Very humid. 
I finally was taken off off the main road, so I stopped to contact Pam. We had made arrangements for her to pick me up at the Wawa Store in Great Bridge, which is a southern suburb of Chesapeake, near the North Carolina state line ( sort of). This development was necessitated by the previously mentioned by the name of Hurricane Arthur. We felt that they would probably shut down Hatteras Island sometime Thursday, and if I rode tomorrow ( Thursday), we might not be able to get back on the island if there was an evacuation. I was not close enough to make it to Hatteras by bike until Friday, and the hurricane was predicted to hit Thursday night. Also, complicating matters, is that there are virtually zero motels in North Carolina until you get to the Outer Banks. I solved that problem last time by taking a different route through the Dismal Swamp, to Elizabeth City, and staying there. I did not want to do that again because it was longer, just as boring and desolate, plus, everyone being evacuated from the Outer Banks would take all the hotel rooms. Knowing what we knew, and guessing the rest, we decided that she would come and get me, drive back to our trailer, ride out the storm like locals, and enjoy the experience of 6 inches of rain, 75 mph winds, no power, flooding, and everything else that comes with an Outer Banks hurricane. A once in a lifetime experience. I was shocked that Pam wanted to do this, but she was committed with a group of friends, and I was game. Anyhow, back to contacting Pam. When I stopped,  GPS said I had 18 miles left, which would make my trip 92 miles. When I plugged it in to the GPS, it was supposed to be an 84 mile trip. GPS was doing it to me again. My 99 mile trip to Jamie's turned out to be 132 miles. My short ride to Andi's turned into a nightmare. This damn thing is adding mileage to my rides, or not calculating them properly to start. I had never heard of such a thing, or had not had a problem like this, ever, till last week. In the past, I sucked it up and did the mileage, but this is getting out of control. I can no longer trust what it tells me, but okay, I would do 92 miles on a 92 degree day with 92% humidity. Cool. Once in a lifetime. I can do it.
I rode for about 4-5 miles before I came to a little gas station type convenience store, and I saw an opportunity to get an ice  cream bar before the last 14-15 miles. I checked the GPS again, and it had changed again. I was now 21 miles from the destination that I was 18 miles from a half an hour ago!! It also said it was 95 degrees with a heat index of 105. Traffic was getting worse as quitting time approached. ENOUGH. I called Pam and told her I was done. She had to drive an extra 25 minutes from the original Wawa pickup point to get me. She did. We got back onto the island to ride out the storm.

Welcome to the Outer Banks, Arthur!!!

These are signs warning us of Arthur's approach

Tappahanock, VA to Newport News VA. ( July 1st)

67.72 miles in 5:53.....After 119 miles yesterday, I had an easy, shorter, day planned, and it turned out that way, but not without some complications. My legs actually started out feeling pretty good. Ice is a wonderful thing. The ride out of Tappahanock quickly became mind numbingly boring. I have done it before, so there were few surprises, just pounding out the miles with little to look at that I was interested in. US17 continued to alternate sections of nice shoulder, with sections of no shoulder, seemingly in random fashion. As traffic picked up near Gloucester (pronounced Glowster) Court House, there were no shoulders when I needed them most. Towns of Gloucester and Gloucester Point all ran together with Gloucester Court House, beginning the Newport News Metro Area, and mind numbing boredom quickly turned to death defying bike riding. There really were no problems, but I really rode on heightened alertness through the entire area.
I crossed the York River, which was pretty big, into Yorktown, right past the historical Victory Center, and the GPS then got me off of the main road, but it was still busy in places. I ended up on US 60 somehow, and I came upon a cheap motel before I really intended to, and decided to park it for the day. A headwind  and some serious heat and humidity was taking its toll on tired legs. Thank goodness I did. I had intended to head right into downtown Newport News, and cross the massive James River on US 17, just like I did previously. As I rested at the motel, I checked the course with my google maps, and it told me that bikes were NOT ALLOWED on the James River Bridge, and there was only one way for a biker to get across, and it involved much extra mileage, and backtracking for a few miles. If I would have gone into Newport News to get a room, it would have been more expensive, and I would have had to backtrack every additional mile that I would have ridden. It occurred to me as I thought about it, that when I rode the James River Bridge last time, it was on a Sunday afternoon, so traffic was mild as I went through town and across the bridge. The bridge was difficult because it was a mile or so of metal grate, with big grate openings. As I was riding across, I now remember a guy pulling along side me and offering me a ride, because I wasn't allowed to ride across. Of course I didn't take the ride, and continued across the bridge. Ignorance was bliss that time, and it saved me a lot of miles. My other option would have been to catch a bus across the James River Bridge, but that would have required battling weekday traffic, so I decided to follow GPS directions, fully knowing that a real adventure might ensue.
I spent the evening relaxing at the pool, icing my quads, walking to a Chinese take out for supper, and watching forecasts of a potential hurricane on the Outer Banks, on the day I'm probably going to arrive, so plans are WAY up in the air right now. We shall see how far I get tomorrow with this little GPS reroute, then see how the hurricane is forecasting, and make some decisions.

Bicycling from Leesburg, VA to Tappahanock, VA (June 30)

119 miles in 10:29..... I really didn't know this was going to happen when I started, but today turned out to be the third longest ride of my life. However, I really don't remember a thing from the first 70 miles. The landscape was very nondescript. I was on rolling back country roads, blindly following GPS girl, and hoping she gave me a good ride. It was for the most part, but who knows how far I went away from 'the way the crow flies' in the name of safety on back roads. There were three gravel roads, the longest being about six miles, that really slowed me down and were NOT the highlight of the trip. I remember cornfields, trees, cornfields, poison ivy, cornfields, trees, and farms, some of which were horse farms. I had no idea where I was....no towns, no stores, no clues....but I got to where I was going.
The original plan was to stop in Fredericksburg, but it was only three o'clock when I got there, so I decided to keep rolling on US17. I did the same thing on a previous trip this way, and it turned into my longest ride ever, which was 136 miles. The destination was Tappahanock, and there would be no failing to get there, because there were no motels between Fredericksburg and Tappahanock. Taking US17 allows me to miss Richmond, which I was told was not a good place to ride, and I thought, Williamsburg, which turned out not to be the case. US17 alternated between two lane and four lane, and was all very familiar to me, as I was back on the course that I had done on both my other trips down this way. Traffic was light, once I got away from Fredericksburg, and the road was smooth and sweet, with great shoulders for a majority of the ride. Just as before, the rolling hills were a factor, and there were two significant climbs near Fort A P Hill, which is an Army training facility which US17 borders for over ten miles. I got to Tappahanock at about 8PM. The town is right along the Rappahanock River, which is pretty big, and looks like a sound. Nothing has changed since my last ride through here, so I ate at the same seafood restaurant and stayed at the same motel as previously trips. The 119 mile trip in 90 degree temps ended with ice bags on the quads and a good days rest.


Hagerstown, MD to Leesburg, VA (June 29)

65.5 miles......clock didn't get turned off so I have no idea how long it took.  I spent a day hanging out in Hagerstown with my oldest daughter and her family, which was the purpose of this leg of the trip. It would always be nice to stay longer, but just like when I stayed at Andi's, it was a one day stopover.
On Sunday, I got a late start, but that was okay because the days ride was relatively short, and I didn't want to beat my legs too badly. It was twelve miles south from Jamie's house to the C & O Canal Towpath, which I followed for 45 miles. The C&O is part of the bike trail from Pittsburgh to Washington DC that I would have followed if I didn't go north from Pittsburgh to Andi's in Franklin. It wouldn't have been much of an adventure, riding a trail, and I'm glad I took to scenic route. The towpath started out rather desolately, even though there were riders out for their Sunday afternoon. Once I neared Shepardstown, West Virginia, the trail became a regular playground, with families of bikers and walkers amongst the workout riders and runners. I was uncharacteristically polite, and had a smile for each and everyone of the people who got in my way, but at least it wasn't as boring. I was tempted to use my bear spray on a couple of them, but I understood that I was in their playground, they weren't in mine. The stretch between Shepardstown and Harper's Ferry was particularly crowded, as it followed the Potomac River, which went from being serene and kayakable, to rocky and tube-able by what seemed like thousands of people. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, and their were rafting companies busing people to the hot spots so they could float down the river. It was fun to watch as I rode, and I was sort of jealous. 
I got off the trail at White's Ferry, as I needed to cross the river to get to Leesburg. It was a neat little ferry ride, reminiscent of the old ferry that crossed the river in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. From the ferry ride, it was only five miles into Leesburg, where I hooked up on a bike path for the ride to the cheapest motel in Leesburg, which was still the most expensive motel of the trip, the Days Inn. I ate at a Wendy 's and stopped at an Irish Pub for a drink as I walked around town, loosening up the legs, that hadn't let me down yet.

Mycicle Bycicle having a "Field of Dreams" moment

Riding through a very historical area in "War of Southern Arrogance" (civil war)

Taylors Landing - entering the C & O Canal Towpath

Towpath trail

First lock that I came to

Potomac River

One of many camping areas along the towpath

Trail rode along wall of another lock

Picture from "in the canal"

Hewn out cave near canal
Potomac widened and became rocky and shallow


Looks like fun to me!

Bus loads of tubers disturbed the serenity of it all

Locks and cliffs near Harper's Ferry

Train bridge near Harper's Ferry

Train tunnel visible from towpath

Algae water in the C & O Canal

Fallen trees from storms not yet removed

Monocacy Aquaduct Crossing

Towpath and canal

Towpath and canal (bright green)

I rode across the Potomac on "White's Ferry"

6 weeks ago the buildings had 3 feet of water during a huge flood

Altoona, PA to Hagerstown, MD. June 27 (via the Abandoned PA Turnpike)

132 miles in 11:48..... Yea, that's correct, 132 miles. I started at 7:30 in the morning, thank goodness, for what the GPS said was going to be a 99 miler. I'm not sure what is happening with the GPS, but I have been having problems like this since I left Slippery Rock a few days ago. The only thing I can figure, is with the loss of satellite signal that I've been experiencing in these forested mountains, the GPS recalculates when signal returns, and it's not the same route as was originally plotted. Or, I made a wrong turn and didn't know it, because it recalculates without telling you, like some GPS devices. They will actually say ' recalculating,' so you know there are changes being made. Mine doesn't do that. Or, GPS girl is just messing with me.
Whatever roundabout route I took was beautiful, and great riding. A lot of the roads followed the green and white'  PA Bicycling' signs, which gave me confidence that I was taking the best route possible, because the routes are pretty good in my experience. I was on parts of routes G,V, and S, which I will have to research sometime. Even though there were no significant, major climbs on the entire route, I climbed 6667 ft. I think that's more than I ever climbed going through the Rockies and Sierra Nevada's in a single day. The big total was as much a function of the huge distance I covered as any mountains. As a matter of fact, the entire trip was surprisingly flat in relation to what I thought I was going to get. Central Pennsylvania seems to have these very wide valleys ( example: Happy Valley where Penn State is), separated by very big mountain ridges. Fortunately, the roads all travelled in the valleys, and didn't have to cross any ridges on the route I was traveling. There were always green mountains to my right and left, and all the landscape was plush and green. The corn and soybean fields were very healthy, and covered every hillside that was plowable. The floods that were occurring further west in my trip were not happening here, and the creeks and rivers I saw were running clear and cool.
When I left Altoona, I was worried about being out in the middle of nowhere with no food or water access, so I packed heavily with those staples, but there was no need. The course hopped from small town to small town, and food and water were plentiful. Some of the towns were big enough to have their own Dollar General, but there were no other chain stores or restaurants anywhere. There were a lot of mom and pop places, and the course was very heavy Mennonite country. Buggies, ladies in long dresses and boys in bib overalls were everywhere on the farms and in the towns. There was very little traffic anywhere, and the roads were smoothly paved, most with good shoulders.
I took PA 36 out of Altoona, through residential and farm areas until I picked up a multi use trail that followed Canoe Creek through wooded areas, but parallel to PA 36. It was serene and beautiful, easy creek side riding, but I could still the trucks as they rolled by on the road. The trail was about ten miles long, and I spent some of it with a guy who saw my bike jersey that I picked up in Jackson, Wyoming, and had tons of questions because he wanted to ride a tour out there next summer. He said my stories inspired him to confront his wife when he got home, because she wasn't so enthused about him doing it. The end of the trail came out in the town of Williamsburg, PA ( not Virginia), where I picked up PA 866, which is a beautiful ride for sixteen miles, through farm country, with corn fields that were six feet tall already. The farms were mostly Mennonite operated, and it eventually came to the idyllic town of Martinsburg, PA ( not West Virginia), which was surrounded by beautiful mountains. There was a town wide garage/yard sale going on, and people were everywhere, walking the streets, from sale to sale.
I continued for quite a while before PA 36, then PA 26 emptied me into New Stanton, the hotel and restaurant oasis that is in the middle of nowhere on the PA Turnpike. That's when the trip became even more interesting. New Stanton was very busy with traffic and bustle that goes along with the area, and I began climbing US 30 out of town, when, GPS girl threw me a curveball. She told me to turn left, then right. There was an old road that turned left, but there was nowhere to turn right as I was descending back down into New Stanton. I knew that wasn't right, that she was messing with me again. I pedaled back out to US 30, and she told me to turn left before I got there, onto the  'Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike.' There was nothing there but a single track, dirt path,  that was so steep I couldn't possibly ride my bike up it. I thought to myself 'Really?' Fortunately, there was a woman and her son parked there, with bicycles on the back of their car, that hadn't been there before. I asked them about this abandoned turnpike, and they told me to go up the steep path, and prepare for an adventure, and oh yea, I would be needing a flashlight. Fortunately, I had a helmet light in my bag that I brought just in case I got caught riding after dark. 
It turns out that the turnpike was reconfigured back in the 60's and miles and miles of road, with several tunnels laying dormant and decaying for the last 50 years, unknown to anyone except the locals. The original turnpike followed the path of an old railroad, and even used the railroad tunnels. They rebored them to widen them for the road, but they were still only two lanes wide, one each way through a single tunnel. The road was known as the 'tunnel turnpike' because of the eleven tunnels that cut through the mountains. As traffic increased in the 50's, traffic jams occurred at each one of these tunnels as four lanes filtered into two at each tunnel. The road was eventually reconfigured to include mountain cuts, with fewer tunnels, and four lanes the entire way. The abandoned sections were used for PENN DOT worker training, road paint testing, military exercises and equipment storage, movie making, state police shooting ranges, and other such things. Not until 2000, did a bicycle  group  take control of the old road, and begin to 'maintain' a trail for adventuresome hikers and bikers. The only signs of 'maintenance' that I saw were two signs that said no glass was allowed (" because that's how you are getting your flats!") and 'no motorized vehicles'. The road was discernible in most places, with some sections being worse than others. Trees grew right through the crumbled asphalt in places, and weeds prevailed. I saw one other lady, out for a walk, over the entire 10-15 miles that I rode. It was a bit eerie, riding on a 'twilight zone' highway, complete with abandoned toll booths and an abandoned rest area (that was replaced by the Sideling Hill rest stop on the new road). It was a very unique ride, unlike any other I've done in the country, but it got really cool when I looked into the distance and saw an entrance to a tunnel, that was just about obscured by overgrown trees. As I got about 200 yards from the tunnel, I could already smell it and feel the cold air pouring out of it. As I pulled up to the entrance, there was no light at the other end. This was a long tunnel! I pulled out my helmet lamp, which I thought was bright, but it really didn't cut through the darkness at all. The dripping of water echoed loudly as I rode along, just guessing where the road was, and hoping that I didn't hit a pothole or a rock, or a booby trap of some sort. I unclipped my pedals, and listened for lions, tigers, and bears, as I rode. It wasn't too long before a pinhole of light appeared at the other end, and as it grew, it only served to give me a target to aim for as the glare rendered my light totally useless and became greater as I got closer, but not increasing visibility at all. I cleared the tunnel, and my eyes had to adjust to the screaming sunlight as I pulled out. After riding a few miles, I spotted another tunnel ahead. It was longer than the first, with the same eerie ramifications, but this time I did hit something with my wheel that bounced my butt off the seat, but didn't cause my top heavy bike to go out of control. The road ended for me at some jersey barriers that led me through someone's property onto a back road. There was an overpass that was missing, but the abandoned turnpike carried on to who knows where. This is one of those examples of the crazy things GPS girl tells me that I really enjoyed. Sometimes she brings frustration and terrible ideas, but this is why I follow her directions, for the gems that I would otherwise miss. 
The next adventure was another of the 'orange barrel' state's detours that I had to negotiate. GPS girl doesn't do detours, so as I followed the detour signs, she kept arguing with me about which way to go. Finally, I came across a couple of locals, who it is safe to say, probably have never been on a bike in their lives. The probably have been gumming their food for a few years too, but they were friendly. The guy told me that it was a long way around on the detour, to Hustonville, and that I could go back to the detour, and I could get through because the road was closed only because they were working on a turnpike overpass that crossed it. My ride already was getting pretty long, and I still had 50 some miles to go, so I chose to run the detour. I'm glad I did, because I wiggled through, between the construction equipment and mud, and was on my way. Another ten miles on the detour would have guaranteed that I wouldn't have enough daylight to make it to Jamie's in Hagerstown. 
As I approached Maryland, I had a pleasant interlude through the Buchanan Forest, and a state park whose name escapes me. ------ Gap State Park. It was heavily forested, shady and flat, as it followed a nice stream. Then it was out onto US30 to the towns of St. Thomas, Fort Loudin, and Greencastle, across the unmarked state line into Maryland, which I believe is the twenty ninth state of the journey.  As I came into Hagerstown I was now racing darkness, but determined to do the entire ride to Jamie's doorstep. I had to go through downtown on US40 to the other side of town, and back out into suburbia. As I approached the house, I was greeted by Jamie and four year old Fallyn cheering me from the doorstep.
That evening, as I got to know David, Jamie's boyfriend, and his daughter, Fallyn, I was waiting for the leg cramps to attack after 132 miles, but they never came. My legs held up amazingly well, potentially due to my diet of Gatorade and Clif Bars that I had packed and grazed on all day. My sit bones didn't fair quite so well, but I don't think I was sitting on the couch with a limp.
Corn fields and soybean fields dominate the landscape south of Altoona

The mountains were there......I just didn't have to climb them!!

Young cow with personal feed bucket!

Mennonites at yard sales in Martinsburg, PA

Bicycle and buggy scenic route on PA 866

Mennonite landscape

Corn and buggies with the mountains in the distance

Path to abandoned turnpike road - that I missed the first time I passed it!

Abandoned turnpike that is now a bike trail

Abandoned turnpike

First (short) tunnel

In the tunnel looking ahead

In the tunnel looking behind

Flat pass thru the mountains

I made it!  Second longest ride ever