The highlight of this summer’s vacation was cycling 300 plus miles under rain-filled skies surrounded by verdant green forests and raging brown rivers. What a treat to leave drought-ravaged southern California and see not only mud but also puddles. Flashes of lightning and the crashing thunder underscored the power of vacation to reawaken sleeping senses.
We started with a visit to the mother-in-law in Massachusetts. This afforded me the opportunity to swim in Walden Pond’s 60 degree deep waters. An hour communing with Thoreau was worth the amount of life exchanged for it. Did I mention state officials warned about high levels of potentially dangerous bacteria? I swam anyway. Can you say civil disobediance?
From there it was off to Buffalo for the wedding of a friend’s daughter. Given the distance, they were surprised we chose to attend. So was I.
The bike ride started in Buffalo, the Sunday morning after the wedding. The forecast was afternoon rain and thundershowers. The hotel had some plastic shower caps. We each had a set of regular clothes and a second set of riding gear, all packed in plastic bags. Off we rode along Lake Erie into a gray upstate New York cloudy day. The heavens let loose that afternoon.
We took shelter in what we thought was a restaurant. It was a bar filled with folks who seem to start their daily drinking well before noon. As we stood outside on the veranda, the patrons came out to console us as they rotated for cigarette breaks. Finally, we realized there was no way to stay dry for the hours we had yet to ride. Off we went navigating by gps and local redirects.
Bed and breakfasts were our general choice of lodging. There were also a few motels during our six day trip. We rode through New York’s Amish country where we passed several horse-and-buggy rigs. In Pennsylvania, we rode on the Allegheny River Bike trail, a conversion of a former railway. The sensory deprivation experience of riding through a dark dank tunnel was unparalleled. Not knowing when the tunnel would end was part of the thrill. Rolling fast down the hills helped balance the work to climb them.
We didn’t get wet everyday, but we learned no matter how wet we got, it didn’t take long to dry. Finally, we arrived in Pittsburgh where our oldest son attends college. Showing up at the high tech company where he works was interesting. His boss said, “So these are the crazy parents you were talking about.”