I spent this morning toodling through the Catskills, enjoying the scenery, averaging about 35mph and taking a couple of wrong turns. One was a dead end, and the other took me through the center of the mountains when I had intended to exit to the south. Can't say I regret it; it's a stunningly beautiful place, with wonderful twisty roads perfect for cycling.
There's even a castle! Really, I found a castle.
Over every hill and around every curve I found a reason to think, "Wow, look at that." When the highway warns you of possible crosswinds, prepare to stop and take photos, like I did here at Neversink Reservoir. (Strangely, there was nothing floating on it.)
Speaking of funny town names: Coxsackie NY, please explain yourself. Are you home to the derby player known as Calkin Balls? Because you should be. Also, Nanty Glo, PA? What?
Anyway, after I crossed into Pennsylvania I stopped at a farmstand and got some really excellent peaches. The clerk and a customer both wanted to talk bikes, so we did, and the customer said he would pray for me when he heard about my trip.
I got a lot of raised eyebrows at home about going alone, and I'm continuing to get them as I progress. It doesn't bother me, but the one question that stopped me in my tracks was, "Why?" Why am I going alone? Because... I am. No one else can go with me, and I didn't really want to plan my trip around anyone else, either.
Riding through Pennsylvania Dutch country on a beautiful sunny afternoon went into what I call a "bubble of perfection." Life isn't perfect, but some moments are, and when those happen, I picture them being captured in a shining soap bubble and floating into the happiest parts of my memory for safe-keeping.
This countryside is one of the many possible epitomies of gorgeous. I passed several wagons containing Amish people, being drawn by horses along the side of the highway. One of them had a pair of children, a boy and a girl around ten or twelve, waving at me from the back. I waved in return and then rode around them.
Getting lost in the mountains may have been beautiful, but it ate up time, and I hit the interstate for an hour or so to get around Scranton. That was a hot, traffic-filled, unlovely experience that I do not recommend.
So back to the good roads on routes 45 and 22. Take those; they're worth seeing, particularly 45. Twenty-two turns into a lot of pavement eventually, and I ground out the last 80 miles (for a day total of 428) to Pittsburgh with rocks where my shoulders used to be. The views were still beautiful, though. I knew my camera wouldn't do them justice, so I didn't try.
You're coming down a stretch of sandy colored pavement, a four-lane highway that leads straight down into a valley. There are steep grassy embankments on both sides, and maybe a hundred miles in the distance is a range of blue mountains. The sky is covered in a flat layer of grey clouds, except for a strip slightly off to the right, where pink rays of sunshine cascade downward and give depth to the dark green rolling hills that fill the valley from here to the mountains.