Returning to the berth at Rusty Rex garage, La Tortuga shows 42'120 mi on the odometer, that's 40'000 mi exactly from where it started in May 2014. The oil leak from the crankcase is as worse as ever and I limped in with a completely flat tire, happy to be at the home of broken bikes for a while. The decision to continue travel by bicycle next stems from a desire to slow things down even more and immerse myself in the experience further. Now to repair the antique bicycle and hope these legs will carry me down the road.
The sunny weather drew me southward and closer to "home" in Virginia. Quickly, the scenery became more familiar and the roads remembered from faster times. It was bittersweet knowing the journey was coming near to a close...sort of. I reveled in the beauty of the forest and the beaucolic farmlands of PA turning yellow with the oncoming fall. It's a beautiful landscape this time of year and the mountains of PA are never far to cool your feet in a stream. While taking riding brakes along the road, I reserved a site online in the Michaux State Forest for free, then saved the pDF confrimation. A legal site and the freedom to cool on a wood fire is a nice change from stealth camping. Nestled in the forest beside the glowing embers, I stare at the Milky Way and constellations above more familiar in the desolate places of my travel. To end the trip is unjust to my dreams and so it continues. I know that this will be my last night camping with the Ruckus for a while as VA I only a day away. I savor the feeling of having my trusty companion and significant piece of equipment nearby with the potential of travel and triumph (depending on the size of the hill). Soon will come the bicycle journey southward and the fall colors in a whole new light.
After a memorable stay with my cousins in New Jersey, I headed out into the comfortable morning air westward toward the Delaware Water Gap. The roads were twisty and hilly approaching the gap and I eventually found my way across the river and on to the ridge running River Rd in PA. By mid afternoon it was time to camp so I turned up Silver Lake Rd toward the Delaware State Forest. The series of waterfalls beside the road are well worth a visit and the hike did wonders to stretch out my legs. My buddy Skippii had reserved a free site here overnight and I gladly opted to join him at the old CCC camp. Made a fire and cooked out waiting for him to show later at night.
During the winters of 1777 and 1779, George Washington and the Continental Army encamped outside Morristown, NJ. The brutally cold winter struck with a vengeance, famously known as the "winter of our discontent". Unprepared troops from the various state brigades shivered and froze to death in the harshness of New Jersey, inadequately clothed and often wearing nothing at all but rags and tattered makeshift garb. Support and replacement equipment came too late for many as the suffering in canvas tents and makeshift cabins was cruel and inhumane. Their sacrafices and the fight stood against the British later in the spring and summer contributed to the victories and course of American history.
Walking down the Patriot's Path on a rainy summer day, I'm conscious of the footsteps below me, the history of this ground, the trees and the earth. A visit in winter with the smell of woodsmoke and snow hanging on branches would surely drive home the reality of this winter camp and the rigors of life as an 18th century foot soldier. My feet ache just thinking about it.
In May 2014 I quit my job to ride a Honda Ruckus over 69'000 mi and counting. Wild camping most nights and cooking most of my own meals, I keep the costs low and the landscape changing.