There and back again.

Well, well, well. It seems I took a bit more time off than I had originally expected. I had a great time resting and visiting in Asheville. Then, my friend came down for a week and we drove back up to Madison. I hung out there for more than a month, then flew down to Dallas for a few days to meet up with some family. I flew back to Asheville (where my bike was resting this whole time) and was further delayed by some cold weather. I finally got back on the road after more than two months of being lazy, and it was not pleasant.

I was/am out of shape and the weather didn’t help much. I figured the first day would be pretty bad, but the second was worse. I managed 50-something miles the first day. The first night I stayed at a nice little campground, but it was cold.

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I did a lot of standing in the sun to keep warm. I was to grouchy and cold to actually unpack and put on more clothes.

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I ended up getting in my sleeping bag pretty early, read for a while, then slept. Woke up a few times from the cold air on my face, and had a slow morning.

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After around 45 miles day two landed me at a ‘campground’ behind a motorcycle bar on the outskirts of a small town in South Carolina. It was actually quite nice, I got to stay in an old motor-home trailer for cheap.

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I felt a bit better on day three, but my directions and the weather were worse. Turns out Google Maps street names don’t always line up with the actual signs on the roads. Also, plenty of roads don’t have signs, and are gravel, and you have to walk up them. Oh yeah, I also got chased by more dogs this day than all the rest of my trip combined. I didn’t get nearly as far as I was planning (only did ~45 miles) and ended up in a cheap motel in Cornelia. 

The last day was alright. Seemed less hilly and less wind, but it was colder, and there was still a gravel road. Made it the ~70 miles to my destination: the family farm outside Atlanta. 

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Though that last day was alright, I’m really not feeling the fun I was having before. Maybe because I am out of shape, maybe because of the season and the weather, maybe because I’m not used to being alone after spending 2 months in close quarters with loved ones, maybe because I am tired of traveling and ready to have a home. Probably a combination of all these. Also, I am having some knee pain that sometimes happened before, but seems to be a lot worse now. Anywho, I guess I’m saying that this is it for now. I’m going to hop on a train to Birmingham to visit some more family, then train some more to Dallas to see my sister again (and hop up to Tulsa to see my other sister). Then I think I’ll be getting back to a normal life with a job and a place to live. I still want to bike the West coast, but I figure I can do that later. Other places on my route (Roswell, Tuscon, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone) I have decided I would rather drive to anyway so I can stop and hike with a more substantial base camp.

Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway

Skyline Drive is a 105 mile long road the runs through Shenandoah National Park. It cost me $8 to get in in a bike, but it was certainly worth it. The speed limit is 35 mph and road never gets above a 6% grade event though it runs along the ridges of the mountains. That being said the first 6 miles were all uphill. Regardless, it seemed like every few miles (or less) I would turn a corner or get to an overlook and say to myself “Woah.” I took some pictures, but most of them don’t do it justice. 

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That last picture was the view from my room at the Big Meadows Lodge. It is park of the national park, built in the 1930′s the rooms feature the practically extinct chestnut everywhere. It was a pretty neat place to stay.

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Next up was the Blue Ridge Parkway which is similar to Skyline Drive, but is free, longer, and the speed limit is 45 mph.

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I stayed at an old B&B just off the Parkway, really it was less than a mile away, but there was at least 700-800 ft elevation drop. Luckily, I got a ride back up in the morning. Above is the bridge crossing on the road to the place.Image

 

 

 

 

 

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This was the highest point on the Parkway in Virginia.Image

View from my room at the Peaks of Otter Lodge. Same idea as Big Meadows, but not as old or neat.

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“Most Photographed thing on the Parkway”

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Getting higher…

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Twin tunnels!

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It got a bit foggy.

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Got cold going downhill after all that, so I neglected to take anymore pictures. Made it to my Aunt’s house outside of Asheville and now I am going to hang out and rest a while.

 

 

C&O Canal and the Great Allegheny Passage

The Chesapeake and Ohio canal is a pretty neat path from DC to Cumberland, MD. There is free camping every 3-6 miles with porta-potties and hand pump wells. When the government shutdown they locked the bathrooms and took away the pump handles. By the time I was riding they had unlocked the bathrooms, but still no handles. Here are some pictures of the three days/nights I was on it.

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The picture above is of Charles’ Mill.

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Once in Cumberland the trail turns into the Great Allegheny Passage, one of the classic rail trails. It goes all the way to Pittsburgh. (I took part of this trail when I left Pittsburgh earlier in the trip.)

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Pittsburgh: Round 2 was shorter, but still fun. got to catch up with folks and plan my route to Asheville. Turns out the route I settled on involved going all the back down the GAP and part of the C&O. Get off at Paw Paw and spend a day riding some roads (4 lane divided highways) to get to Skyline Drive and take that to the Blue Ridge Parkway which goes all the way to Asheville. I’ve done the day of highway riding, tomorrow starts the scenic bit. This documents my path since Pittsburgh:

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Philadelphia to Washington, DC.

I left Philly following the same bike path I came in on. It continued out a ways then I crossed a bridge into the Valley Forge National Park.

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Stayed with some interesting folks in small town Pennsylvania, then headed on to Maryland.Image

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After overnighting in small town Maryland, I headed into Washington, DC. It was the longest day I have had so far, a little more than 100 miles. There was a nice bike path into the city.Image

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Actually went all the way into Arlington.

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I have been staying with a variety of ‘friends of friends’ in DC. They have all been great people. Heading back to Pittsburgh tomorrow via the C&O canal path and Great Allegheny Passage.

New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania

NY bike route 9 was well signed.

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I caught glimpses of the Hudson River.

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Then emerged on a pretty awesome bridge.

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The route then took an unexpected turn onto a decrepit old path that might have been good for a mountain bike.

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Yes, those are power lines.

Back on the road another unexpected thing happened, the New York bike route went into New Jersey.

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Then, seemingly out of nowhere there is the George Washington Bridge and New York City.

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I had a great time in the city. I was surprised how easy it is to bike around there. After a few days of stuffing myself with vegan treats, drinking, doing touristy things, and hanging out with friends, I took the NJ transit system out of the city and was back on the ACA map. Biking through New Jersey, I saw a lot of deer that didn’t care about me.

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Crossed over a bridge into Pennsylvania. 

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Stayed with a nice vegan lady that night.

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Short ride into Philadelphia, all along a path.

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Rhode Island, Connecticut, and the return of New York.

Left Boston and really started to notice the leaves changing.

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Made it to the edge of Massachusetts the first day and stayed on a neat little farm that I neglected to take any pictures of. The next day I skirted though Rhode Island for a few miles, then entered Connecticut. It is a bit hilly there. Not as bad as Maine, though.

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Stayed with some nice older folks in Granby, CT.  They had a neat old house that was very nice. I saw a black bear in their yard. Sorry, no pictures.

Today I biked the rest of the way across Connecticut (still hilly), and back into New York (also hilly, but less so and possibly more downhill). It was a long day, about 85 miles. Took some pictures on the way:

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Another long day tomorrow following a hopefully well signed NY bike route 9 to NYC.

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Boston

Image Staying a few days in Boston with some college friends. It is a pretty nice town, perhaps a bit big for me, but still nice. Lot of bikes! Took some nice trails to get here. Image Went to Harpoon Brewery. P1000808 Crossed some water to get there. P1000807 Planning on biking across Connecticut in two days, then taking NY bike route 9 down to New York City. Then I can take a train out of NYC and get back on the ACA route.