Jeffrey joined us on the road for the first 10 miles after dishing up a great breakfast, it was nice to have somebody navigate us out of town for a change onto the route for the day which he had helped plot the night before and a great ride it was riding along the ridgeline which we would hop over tomorrow. Finding campgrounds was still proving difficult on this area of the ride but two motels were close by. The first, Fort Motel had a sign on the office door to ring some guy if you wanted a room. Several unanswered calls later and after speaking with another resident who looked as though he hadnt showered in weeks we decided to give the next place a few miles down the road a try. They had rooms a restaurant and bar, it was the cheapest so far at $45 including tax. It was clear to see why once we got in the room, this place was OLD, we ain’t fussy though. That night at the bar we had a great time with the bartender Mike Narvaez. A musician himself, he loved British music from the 60’s and 70’s and played us tracks from his stack of LP’s all night.
The last few rides we continued to zig zag with the Appalachian trail but on route to York, PA we would descend into rolling farmlands and Amish country! Almost immediatley we passed our first horse and cart being navigated by a plain clothed amish lady. We would pass more Amish people that day including some young Amish kids out the front of a big barn, I gave them a wave and hello and got a warm smile and a wave back, nice people and very interesting. I remember seeing a documentary about rumspringa, which is where teenage Amish go out into the towns and cities and live as we do before choosing which lifestyle they wish to follow, almost always they return to the Amish way of life after seeing how cruel and messed up normal society can be.
Leaving York we joined one of the well sign-posted cross Pennsylvania routes. After finding ourselves on some fairly busy roads now and again over the past 7 or so weeks riding its reassuring to see signs on the rode for bike routes. It helps create a more relaxed atmosphere on the road when you know cars are expecting cyclists, not that we have had any trouble but sometimes you can feel like a nuissance if there is no shoulder and your slowing traffic. Its only right that cars should share small county roads like this and cyclists should oblige by always acting in a predictable riding manner. We rode through some apple orchards as we approached Caledonia State park where the fields gave way to forests again. A mile from the campground and with lots of time to kill me an Eal decided to go in a biker bar we passed. ‘Welcome bikers’ the signs often read, a different leather clad type of biker but we usually get to exchange some sarcastic jokes in these places and the motorcyclists are always friendly.
After sinking a blue moon we rolled down toward the state campground, no alcohol in PA state parks. A guy at the campground office invited us over to their plot later that evening. Scott and Emily played host to passing Appalachian Trail hikers every year feeding them up with calories to carry on their journey. It was fun talking with the trail hikers whom as mentioned in the last post I spent a night sleeping with in Damascus, VA in 2010. One hiker had a great story which everybody who knew about it urged him to tell again. It was a great story about an encounter him and some others had on the trail a few weeks previously, he told it great whilst we all sat engrossed around the campfire. I couldn’t possibly retell it with any justice but an article from the local press can be found here…http://www.johnsoncitypress.com/News/article.php?id=100221.
Emily and Scott invited us for breakfast with the hikers the next morning and stuffed us with enough blueberry pancakes to last today and tomorrows ride. They even handed out carry out bags to me, Eal and the hikers to take with us filled with Ramen noodles, chocolate, leftover pancakes and more! Truly amazing people, as I told Emily upon thanking them; it sure beat the gas station breakfast we had planned that morning!
The ride to Mcconnellsburg took us over a few long ridge climbs, the heat was letting up and conditions overcast. We stopped atop the last climb at another biker bar before a final eye watering descent into town. We found another cheap as chips motel as again there was no camping with all the surrounding forests being state game lands. At the motel I asked the women if there was somewhere for me to get a long overdue haircut in town. She said there wasn’t but called her friend up who did do cuts and had her come round to the motel. Now because my mum is a hairdresser I have gone 25 years without having to visit a barbers or salon, never exchanged a penny for a cut or had another person take scissors to my head. Well sitting on a chair outside the front of a motel with some random lady chopping away was certainly a strange way to end the streak, but she was really friendly and did a great job. After it was done I asked how much, she told me she only ever accepts what her customers think it was worth. I gave her $15 which I thought was fair and I am still yet to visit a barbers!