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“The Switzerland of America”: Trenton, NJ to Weatherly, PA

Day and a half of riding the Delaware & Lehigh trail. Headed into Pennsylvania on the Trenton Makes, the World Takes bridge. Low canal crossings (signs said to dismount bikes; I ducked), lots of rain, and a friendly café dog with tennis ball at the ready in New Hope on day 1. Water supplies in parks had been shut off, and many connections from the trail to towns involved multistory staircases, so I went without water longer than I’d have liked.

Stayed indoors overnight in a room overlooking the Lehigh River. Flurries and a detour the morning of day 2, followed by a bridge to nowhere. One park had a working water pump. Stopped for a hot drink at a Harry Potter-themed coffeehouse in Jim Thorpe.  Left the trail thereafter and crawled up 2 miles of 9% grade before reaching camp in Weatherly.

Borscht Belt Loop

3 days, 3 people, around 160 miles and 11.5k feet of climbing through the Catskills in a big loop to/from Poughkeepsie.

At one point a bald eagle soared right overhead. At another, a small yellow plane did the same on its way to a small airport next to the road.

Last photo is from an intersection with pre-Revolutionary War buildings still standing at all four corners.

Heading inland

To make it through Wilmington, I enlisted one of my hosts to act as a local guide for cycling through the town.

She quickly got frustrated with my slow pace, though, and hurriedly gave directions before speeding off for a double espresso.
Left to fend for myself, I headed down a brick-paved street to the river.

There was one more North Carolina ferry to catch, so I made my way past the highly accurate deer crossing sign and the beaches before going across Cape Fear.

After cycling across Long Island one time and discovering that many towns there have West, Central, and East counterparts, I was surprised and delighted to find there was no Central Carolina in between the North and the South.

South Carolina’s roads were far less welcoming to a cyclist at first, but as I pressed on past Conway (where I stayed my first night) things got somewhat quieter and I spent my second night at a state park where yellow pedals matching my tent fell to the ground overnight.

After a couple long rides, I took it easier today and made it to a campground in Point South, passing a Tuskegee Airmen memorial at the Walterboro airfield and having lunch at a local restaurant a few miles before the site. The owner was originally from NJ and so was very interested in the trip, so I was glad to have stopped by (especially as a change of pace from my usual gas station meals during the day).Tomorrow, I take the bold step of heading west of I-95 for the first time this trip and then continue into Georgia.

Landed on the quay as the ship was sailin’

After a nice night in Virginia Beach in a very bikeable neighborhood I headed south on some busy roads while fighter jets sped by somewhat more quickly overhead. (Spot if you can.)

My front tire, despite the new tube, had lost some pressure the evening before so I stopped at Fat Frog’s bike shop. A mechanic with a full beard and waxed mustache (always a good sign) who took a look, which among other foolproof tests involved pumping the tube up to max pressure and running it along his whiskers. We couldn’t find anything wrong with the tube, tire, or rim so I changed the tube just in case and had some coffee and cake left over from a group ride that morning. It was then that they helped me avoid attempting to bike in sand dunes.
Compared to, say, Yahoo Maps and Mapquest, it may be doubletrue that Google Maps is the best, but on occasion its bicycle directions still have their quirks. From Virginia Beach, there are bike paths that eventually turn to sand, and some people have apparently toured on them, and Google blithely assumes you’d like to try it out. The shop, though, helpfully gave me their map and cue sheets to get to the Outer Banks via Knott’s Island instead on a series of back roads.

From Knott’s it’s a ferry east to west back to the mainland, from which there is a long causeway to Kitty Hawk.

I made my way to Kill Devil Hills and stayed on the bay with a host, Pat, I found on, a Couchsurfing-but-for-touring-cyclists site. It was both of our first times using the site, but you wouldn’t know that from her hospitality (and that of her three small dogs, each named after an I Love Lucy character).

The next day I continued down the islands, stopping to pay tribute to a couple local bike mechanics who made good. From there it was long stretches of dunes and water on both sides. From Hatteras I took the ferry to Ocracoke, where I’m camping tonight before catching an early ferry in the morning.

Le jour se lève

Letting people know you’ll be starting a bike trip in February is a good way to have lots of people remind you that it is cold in February (and compare you to Forrest Gump). Today finally arrived, though, and it was uncharacteristically far from cold (not that I mind). I said my goodbyes by the dunes and set off, though it is still sinking in that the trip is underway. I went west across the new bridge from Long Beach Island for the first time on a bicycle and stopped at Bass River State Park, which I’ve visited twice before: once because it is an endpoint of the Batona Trail through the Pines, and another time when we stayed in a lean-to at the campground. I then made my way to Avalon on bicycle-friendly roads and paths through the woods, bays, and drawbridges. My hosts’ neighbor snapped the last photo when I arrived at the end of day 1. (Sincere apologies for not stopping to take a photo of the alpaca farm I passed today: hopefully there will be others.)