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Plans Change and We Go With the Flow

I am at a park in Lockhaven, PA.  It's a gorgeous day, but I will have to move soon.  The playground/park where I am sitting doesn't have an electric plug in the shelter.

I was going to write to you from the cafeteria at the University here.  After finding a place to park, I learned it was graduation day and now officially the summer season when the cafeteria is closed.

So plan B was a stop at Wendy's for a breakfast sandwich and to a park with electricity.  Strike two.

So much for that idea.

I drove to town this morning because I have zero, zilch, nada cell service at (or anywhere near) the campground where I am staying.

The good news is I am not a parent of young children right now.  As I write I am listening to and watching the parents of a two children, (three and four year old?) that are constantly fighting and having tantrums.  Thank goodness that stage of life is over, though I would have more patience at this age of my life than I did at 21... sorry Jeremy.  Now, I celebrate my freedom from such responsibilities. 

Last I wrote to you, Steve and I were in Marion, Virginia area camping at Hungry Mother where we met up with my friend, Dee and Steve and I biked the Virginia Creeper Trail.  It was a great time.

Where is Steve?

You are probably wondering why I am here by myself, and that is a long story.  I will get to that, but right now let's go back to where we were when we last "talked."  Because there are pictures and experiences and fun to share.

Our next stop on our journey north after Hungry Mother was Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio.  It is Southeast of Columbus, Ohio.

We got lucky this time and had campsites right next to each other.

I had been to Hocking Hills last year.  I had hosted a Sisters On The Fly event, "Hiking at Hocking."  It had been my first time there and I was very impressed with the gorges and trails.  I was glad to have an opportunity to share it with Steve.  It tickled me to hear him thank me for bringing him to Hocking Hills.


The trails take you down into gorges and past pretty waterfalls.

And a cave that had been shelter to many and a place for people to carve names and initials... few dated their graffiti.  Let me lecture here, people, if you are going to carve your message into stone for future generations to see, it would be a good idea to put the year with your carving.  And not just the last two digit!  99 could be old or fairly new.  We here in 2023 do not know.





We stopped in the gift store and I saw these cute puppets.  One was shaped like a tree and the eyes moved as well as the limbs!  It was soooo funny.  Steve was buying one for his mom to give to her great granddaughter.   "Not the kids in the your daughter's classroom?" I asked.  He thought a puppet was too young for the third graders.  

But he must have thought again because I saw him a bit later with a couple of children's books and two puppets.  Yes!  Of course third graders will love it.  I giggled over it and I am almost 70!






The CCC's helped build the trails in the park.  It has nice stairs and an awesome artistic cement bridge.



 



One of the reasons I thought Steve would like Hocking Hills is because it is right next to the John Glen Observatory.  We went over there during the daylight hours to get a lay of the place.  And I am glad we did because it was pretty cool to see and read some of the signs.  There was a program scheduled on the big dipper on two nights while we were there.  Unfortunately the skies were cloudy both of those nights.  We did go on our own one clear night and lay on the pavement looking up.  But no guys with telescopes showed up, which would have made it more fun, since they can point out things.

Last year when I was there one of the guys pointed out the space station that was in view briefly.  They said it was special to see it since it is in shadow most of the time.  Cool!

While we were at Hocking we drove over to a bike trail that started in Nelsonville, OH. 


When we were approaching the end of the trail we saw a man riding a delta trike up a ramp with such speed and towing a long trailer.  I thought for sure he had electric assist.  We followed him up the ramp and had a chance to talk with him.  

"I pick up litter," he said several times.  "I keep my city clean."

He was living well with a brain injury, it seemed and was obviously a strong biker.  He did not have a motor.  


On our way back we stopped at a place with lunch and craft beer.  It also was going to have music outside the following night!



The day of the music, it was rainy.  So we went to a place a bit closer.  The rain held off, and the music there was great!  No one was dancing though.

Our next big stop was Cape Henlopen on the coast of Delaware.  

It takes two days at our pace to get there from Hocking Hills.  We used a Harvest Host spot for the one night inbetween.  It turns out we arrived on a Sunday afternoon when the brewery had live music and a food truck!

I spent more money than I do for campsites.  I bought my sister a four pack of beer and one for me too.

Our site was lovely, overlooking a huge field.





We tried a flight.



Steve and his late wife Margaret used to go to Cape Henlopen on vacations. He had talked it up back in August when I was in Wisconsin and he was in New York.  

We were texting back and forth as friends.  It has everything, hiking, shops and restaurants, beaches, and bike trails.  So when I started planning my trip north, I booked a place.  When I told Steve, he booked himself a spot there too.  Only he couldn't get as many days there.  He would leave for his home in New York and I would continue my adventures as usual.

Cape Henlopen was neat and I will definately go back.  Biking trails right from the campground... and easy bike to beaches, shops and restaurants.  Heavenly!




We were on a bike lane passing nice homes when I saw this elephant shaped mailbox.  It took me a moment before realizing, the homeowners were announcing they are Republicans.


Then we came to the house next door.  These folks had big US flags and a Ukranian flag.  



We biked a board walk, went through a WWII Fort, and passed a few nice murals.




Every other day or so, Steve calls his mom and we chat with her over the speaker phone.  During one call she told us she had fallen.

Sometime during our stay Steve got a text from his family.  His mom had fallen again, bumped her head bad, and was in the hospital.  It didn't sound good.  Steve decided to leave the next morning and high-tail home.

I was concerned.  I had wanted to meet her in person.  What if she died before I got a chance?  And I would want to be there to support Steve if she did die.  So I spent a day on my own changing my route and plan.   First I did yoga on the beach at sunrise.  It was lovely.


I went for another ride exploring the area.  I aimed for an Anytime Fitness.  It turns out this one was sold to another company.  This was the second Anytime strike out in a row!  Bummed, I decided to ride to the end of the trail. 




Then I started packing up camp so I could leave early in the morning.  My last night I found a good spot to watch the sunset.  I texted it to Steve.  He had arrived home ok and in enough time to go see his mom in the hospital.


My plan originally had been to go to French Creek State Park north of Philadelphia, PA.  I still wanted to go there and it was almost on my way to New York.  So I moved my reservation up and would stay just one night.

In the morning I did yoga on the beach and then drove to French Creek State Park.

I discovered that the bike trail that I wanted to ride near French Creek went right by Valley Forge!
OMG!  

The next day I drove to Valley Forge and watched the video about the place. To tell you the truth, I knew Valley Forge had something to do with the revolutionary war, but that was all I could remember.  I wanted to see what I had forgotten, ha ha.



You can park at Valley Forge and take a trail down to the Schuylkill Rail Trail.   It is a long trail, but the surface changes.  The longest contiguous paved section is 30 miles with Valley Forge in that section.


I rode 10 miles into the industrial areas by Philadelphia and stopped for lunch.  


Where am I from?


I woman stopped to compliment me on the flowers on my bike.  She asked where I was from.  I have puzzled over what to say when people ask me that.  Am I still from Inverness, FL?  I don't have a residence there, just a storage unit.  Am I from Green Cove Springs, FL?  No, I don't spend time there, it is just me legal address.  Am I from Wisconsin, where I lived the biggest chunk of my life?  

I have tried saying, "I am from everywhere, I am a traveler."  Usually the person I am speaking with gets a glazed-over look like they could care less.  They don't relate.  Was I being rude?  What would you say?





When I returned to Valley Forge, where I had parked, I rode around and read some of the kiosks.  I learned that a lot of territories (states) had skirmishes/battles during the revolutionary war, not just the original thirteen.

Then I was anxious to make headway toward New York.  Steve's mom was weak and sore from her fall, but cognitively was sharp and herself.  Good news!  Maybe she won't be dieing now afterall.

I packed up the bike and headed North.

In the evening I found an Anytime Fitness that was open.  I had hoped it would be in a big strip mall with lots of parking.  It wasn't, but had some space behind the building to park.  I was going to be boondocking for the first time.  I was nervous about it.  I worked out and showered and went next door to a pizza place for supper.  Then I sat in Anytime looking at my phone until bedtime.  I walked into Lilac, locked the door, cleared space on my bed, and waited for the knock on my doors or walls.  

It didn't come!  I slept well!  I used the Anytime restroom to freshen up in the morning and headed out. 

I had planned to visit the area near Steve even before we were a couple.  He had told me a lot about it, and that is what I do in my travels.  Often I meet up with folks in their location because they have raved about it, or they happen to be where I am going and we meet up.  I love that in my travels.  It keeps me connected with friends and I get to see things I would not normally see exploring on my own.  

But my arrival in Steve's part of New York was originally planned for three weeks away, in mid-June.  

Plans changed.

The evening I arrived at Steve's, we went over to see Steve's mom.  I got to meet her in person!

She was bruised up, sore and weak, but home again.  I was so glad to meet her.  What a delight.

Steve and his brother were working to make sure she had the assistance she would need.  They, along with their sister, were taking turns bringing food and providing companionship and care.  

Right away Steve's brother found a full-time experienced caregiver.  How lucky they were.  And she is getting along with Steve's mom and doing all kinds of great stuff that demonstrates her years of experience.

Steve had planned on having his family over for a fish boil when he returned.  The plans were in place, so the day after I got there, he still was having the family over.  We picked up his mother and brought her to his house.  Probably not a good idea, since she was still very weak and tired from the fall, and there are four steps into Steve's house.  But she made it, slow and determined!

I got to meet Steve's son, and see his daughter again.  They didn't make me feel awkward at all.  Steve is so nice and his family is nice too.

Oh, I forgot to tell you that on my way to Steve's, I stopped at Forsyth Park to stretch my legs and practice Spanish.  There was a mini zoo there with pretty birds.




And the first thing I saw when I walked into Steve's house was one of his award-winning wood carvings.





I was blown away!  He had talked about it, but the samples I saw in Florida didn't even come close to the amazing detail and beauty in this bird.  I said to him, "Ok, now do something stupid. Because I am feeling pretty unworthy of your interest in me right now."

The peice below is a combination of wood and metal.



When I walked into his kitchen I saw Cricket!  My friend Debra in Florida has a cute little dog that she put into a contest for a fund raiser for the Withlacoochee Trail Citizen Support Organization.  I sent the picture to Debra.


There is an Anytime within 20 minutes of Steve's house.  Pictured here are six risers that I jumped up onto ten times.  Then I added another riser and jumped six times!  Two years ago I was too afraid to jump up and down one riser.  I am making progress.  



I had reservations at a State Park near Steve's home from when I had originally planned to come to the area.  I canceled the reservation.  Steve took me over to the park and some of the areas around it.  Lovely, lovely, lovely.



Now that I had come early to meet Steve's mom, I was around when Margaret's family was opening up their family cabin in the Adirondacs.   They have been going there to open up and close the camp for over 30 years.  It is a neat, cozy, rustic place on a lake. Steve has so many stories of fun family memories there.   

He and I were the first to arrive.  He had the roof cleaned off and I had some of the leaves raked by the time Margaret's brothers and their families arrived.

Steve had told me about them.  It was fun putting faces with the names.  

Margaret's brother Matt is a musician and Jim is an artist. (Jim Daly, look him up!)  Matt's wife Bobbie came up next to me at one point and told me she was so glad Steve and I got together. That was good to hear.  Thank you, Bobbie!

Jim's wife was also accepting.  She came out and chatted with me a while and we bonded over some stuff we have in common.  She always brings these wonderful chocolate chip cookies to camp.  Steve had raved about them and said rules (such as no sugar) were off while at camp.  So I ate half a dozen or so of those chewy, not-too-sweet cookies.  Thank you!

I really had fun raking leaves... so many leaves!  And then we had our picnic lunches together.  After lunch I took one of the kayaks over to the beach while Steve and the families met over the business end of jointly owning a cabin.  

Time went by so fast, soon it was six o'clock and Steve was in a kayak chasing me down.  It was time to head home.

My next camping reservation was in Little Pine State Park in northern Pennsylvania.  Back when I was making reservations I was taking my time to get up to the Adirondacs of New York because Steve had said the black flies are maddening until about mid-June.  

I hooked up my trailer the night before I was to take off from Steve's.  In the morning I got up and was out the door by seven.   The thing is, I did a big no-no.  I didn't walk around the trailer before taking off.  If I had, I would have noticed that I didn't finish winding up the jack in front.

About 20 miles into my trip, the warning light went on.  One of my tires was losing air.  At about 25 lbs and holding steady (the other three at 35 lbs.), I had time to pull off at an exit.  Lucky me!  This exit had a Ford and Toyota dealerships right next to each other.  I pulled up to the Ford and according to the sign on the door they weren't open on Friday/today!  

I pulled into a gas station to use the air pump but it was out of order.  Lucky me!   My tire was positioned so that the screw in it was right on top in view.  "I better get it fixed!"

I ended up going to the Toyota dealer.  First I had to unhitch Lilac.  And that turned out to be harder than I thought because somewhere in those 20 miles I had managed to hit the hitch hard enough to have slightly bent the shaft.  It works, just not easily, it takes some of those muscles I have been working on at my gym visits.  



What's nice about having a capable partner in my life is getting help.  He told me to get him the specs and he will order a new one and we can put it on when I return to his place in June.

Near the Little Pine State Park is the 62-mile Pine Creek Trail.  It is, as the brochures say, "The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania."

Well, it isn't anything like the Grand Canyon, but in the early morning light, it is pretty awesome in it's own way!




I was supposed to meet up to ride with Dennis Voorhees.  He is kind of guru of recumbent bikes and has helped with the "Laid Back Bike Report" which is a Youtube podcast all about recumbent riding.  He spends winters on the Withlacoochee Trail.   

I was worried about getting in touch with him.  First of all, I lost a lot of my contacts when I switched phones recently.  Important people to me just got dropped!  Fortunately I was able to get his info and reach out to him to set up a date and time and place to start our ride.  The next time I got in cell service area I checked for a message from him.  Oh my!  He was in the hospital with a mini-stroke!   (He announced it on Facebook so I know it is ok to share with you here.)   

I rode the trail alone.  I am usually very ok with doing that on my own.  But I had been spending a LOT of time on our trip with Steve.  So it took a couple days to adjust to being solo again.

The first day I rode 36 miles.  I was really worn out and my ass did NOT like it.  I missed my trike, but I knew I would need electric assist to ride my trike on this crushed gravel trail.  I want to push my legs as long as I can.  When my heart or legs give out, that is when I will do electric assist.


I was still able to appreciate the beauty and the well-maintained trail.




I took a day to take care of stuff and hiked up a mountain.  Then I rode the trail through what was supposed to be the greatest of the grand canyon.  I felt good that day.  I shifted my seat every mile, then every 1/4 mile to keep from being in agony.  It worked... mostly.

Steve gave me Margaret's old "Cloud Nine" seat to try.  And though it is better than my old seat, it still needs adjusting and ... let's face it, my ass needs toughening.



Lots of hiking trails cross or join up to the rail trail.  Behind my bike is the Turkey Run.  The description says it is "Very very rugged".  I was tempted to go up to see, because it goes along a gorge with water falling.  But I figured bicycling 50 miles was enough for one day.


Besides, I was getting low on water.  "Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink.'  There are pit toilets along the trail and pumps with signs that say, "Warning, Water is not tested."  I even saw a stream with the sign.  I was wishing I had brought my water filter on the ride.


On my way back south on the trail I saw an ambulance parked in a parking lot next to the trail.  Then, as I was going past, it started to leave and drove up onto a dirt road that runs parallel to the trail, throwing up a cloud of dust behind it.  This dirt road has gates on it and is only for rangers, horses, a horse drawn covered wagon giving tours, people with permits, and obviously emergency vehicles.

A few miles up I encounter two emergency vehicles parked.  The workers were running a big bright orange rope across the creek.  And one was blowing up a raft/stretcher.   Several of the people with the injured party on the other side of the creek were in Amish style clothing.  The mood among the people sitting in the creek and along the shore was somber.




Speaking of throwing up dust.  The trail is very dusty too.  My bike and bags were coated.



I spent time back at camp cleaning up the bike.  And constantly wiping and flicking away little black caterpillars.  I guess Florida isn't the only place that has a season of caterpillars dropping from trees.  





I imagine the night skies are pretty amazing here, being so isolated and surrounded by mountains.  But, it is getting summer, the days are long, and I am weary by nine at night and sound asleep by the time the stars are out.  

Coming Up!

No matter where I go there is something ahead to draw me forward.  

I had wanted to explore the state of New York this year.  My exploration starts with a 10-day stay in the Finger Lakes Region.  I have neighbors, Donna and Craig, from when I lived in Windermere that live in the area and want to take me to some of their favorite wineries.  Yes, the area is know for its wineries.  And new friends, Christie and Mark live in the area too and are fun to hang with.  They will show me some fun places too and maybe we will get to listen to and dance to music!  Yay.

And I have wanted for years to visit Ithaca, NY.  Back in the days when George and I were exploring Co-housing we learned of a community in Ithaca.  They are like hippies, letting their lawns grow, using solar and composting and sharing a couple weekly meals.  Ithaca is a college town and Christie says it has a bike trail.  That's exciting.

I have heard from my friends Sandy and John that they will be up in Rhinelander, WI. when I am there this summer.  Then I heard from my ex-sister-in-law, Sue, that she will be renting a cabin in the campground where I am staying.  And her sons and their partners will be coming to camp there.  I will only be there one week to visit my sister, and it looks like I will be super busy having fun with friends and family.

In August, Steve will be joining me in Wisconsin.  He'll get to meet my awesome sister and see some of the places I hung out last summer.  Then he and I are doing a bike tour on our own, starting in Trempeleau and ending up in Madison where we have been invited to stay with my friend Kathi!  That's cool!   I would like to spend a lot of time in Madison, but we will be rushing out quickly to fly to... oh my, am I boring you?

Sorry.  I am getting way way ahead.  The plans are exciting... but remember, plans can change.

Thanks again to friends, Kay, Kathi, Sandy, Debra, Frankie, Connie, Melody, Jane, Ann, MaryAnn, Cindy, Beth, Margaret, Audrey, Mary, Melanie and, and, and for sending emails or posting comments when I post a blog.  It is super great to stay in touch though the miles keep us apart.  I think of you often!  Thank you for keeping me company.

To all of you caregivers, a great big hug.  Grab some good moments to focus on.  

Oh, and where is Steve?  He is taking care of his mom and his house, which is where he needs to be.  I will be seeing him again in mid-June... which is another exciting part of my trip I have yet to tell you all about.

I send him texts and pictures when I am in cell service areas and he tells me this place goes on our list of places to schedule another visit.   And because of his mom and his house needing attention we will probably head northeast next year, instead of West.  I have yet to make reservations.  Things change.

Until next time, I hope your June goes fantastic. 


Comments

  1. Diane Reguin, InvernessJune 2, 2023 at 4:55 AM

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful adventures. I always look forward to seeing what you are doing next. Stay safe and keep posting

    ReplyDelete
  2. First - we are very glad to hear that Steve’s mom was not badly hurt and that Steve and his brother have arranged for a good home care person to be with he. He is a terrific guy and, of course, doing all that he can to have her care and property in good shape before traveling again.
    It was super you could meet so many of his family and Margaret’s, too.
    Limestone trails are dusty - and you will experience lots of these in your travels. Our bikes were FILTHY after the 3 rides we did with our kids over the Memorial Day weekend. We enjoyed your pictures from the Valley Forge and Pine Creek adventures as we have ridden both of those trails.
    Do keep having great adventures but - make a “check list” for departures. All good pilots have one to go through before taking off. We do too - walk around your unit and whole site for forgotten items or obstacles to avoid while pulling out. Check the electric connections, lights, safety chains, door locks, etc. It is so easy to forget something when your mind is on the trip.
    We look forward to your next report!

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a great time you are having this summer! I enjoy all of your posts to this blog and find all your new discoveries of places so exciting. Im so glad u have been able to do so much already and that you got to meet Steve's family, though I hate you arent getting to do as much exploring in New York as u desired.. There is always next year. Continue to enjoy your travels, and do it as long as you are physically able. Thanks again for sharing your travels with all of us. Charlotte

    ReplyDelete
  4. Happy to see you are happy. Take care of yourself. Enjoy the ride! Fun to read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for Trippin' with me, Ruth. Frankie and Dennis were up on the Tressel Trail.last week. When they sent the picture I said, did you contact Ruth? They didn't know you lived nearby.

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  5. Loved hearing from you! Sounds like all is well. I am sorry about Steve’s Mom. An aging parent is such a concern. Onward and upward. Safe travels friend. ❤️

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sue, I really really enjoyed reading of all your adventures this summer so far and am tickled u got to meet Steve's mom and son and got to see his daughter again. I just hope his mom will be OK.. him staying there is best for now, but I know you are anxious to see him again and to do more travels this summer, and see your sister as well. The pictures are so good and help tell your story of these great adventures. Im so glad u have the physical health to do all of this and hope that continues for a long long time. Please continue to enjoy life as you are and I am grateful to be included in your blogs. Charlotte K.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for being with me in spirit, Charlotte. I hope to see you this coming winter. I think we completely missed each other 22/23 season. Hugs!

      Delete
  7. All I can say is WOW! What a life you lead. It sounds very interesting and exciting and adventurous. Enjoy!

    ReplyDelete

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