Day 12
May 7th
My Birthday

The whole reason this ride was planned for early Spring during such tumultuous weather was because of today. I wanted to be on the road on my birthday just like I was last year and how I hope to be in future years. I like traditions. I like looking forward to things. Regularity

Well, the trip itself has been anything but "regular". As Mollie said, if everything were going perfectly this would be a vacation, not an adventure. There have been moments that I wished this was a vacation though, sitting on a beach with an icy fruit drink in my hand. Most of the time that thought is the farthest from my mind. An adventure it shall be.

I woke up to a few phone calls and text messages reminding me that I'd grown a year older (seemingly) overnight. Why should we feel like we're a whole year older on this ONE day when its been creeping towards us all year?

The bike had been parked right outside my hotel patio door throughout the night and was easy to pack up.

The bugs that had smashed themselves against my visor had also encrusted most of the front of my bike. I took soapy water and a rag to the lights and blinkers to aid visibility.

Having typed up a day or two of ride reports but not uploading them due to lack of WiFi at the Motel 6, I decided to stop for a liquid breakfast to get that done.

After two iced caramel macciatos (sp?) I was ready to roll.


I found myself following water again. You can see it in this picture off to the right of the road.

I've found peace with water. It doesn't like to run along mountain ridges, so it tends to allow for twisty roads at lower elevation. It's a safe bet.

Not sure what's up with this FEMA area.

Miles and miles of construction slowing me down.

The state line was tangled up in this mess, and with state police sporadically placed to watch the flow of traffic, I didn't risk weaving through to the other side of the barrier for a picture. I ventured off the highway to escape the smell of fresh laid asphalt.

About an hour into the ride, my MP3 player decided to quit. It signaled low battery and turned itself off, but I was sure I'd charged it. I took it as a sign that I should be thinking more than singing today, so I left the earphones in to block the wind noise and motored on. I caught myself repeating some of my riding music over and over, but I got a good hour or two of thinking done as well.

No, you don't get THOSE details. As much as I share on this ride, there are things that nly I will know once it's over.

In the next town, I pulled over and swapped out to my "backup" MP3 player. It's shown it's age and has no LCD glass, but it plays music and I'm a creature of habit.

Hills and valleys

Expansive interstates

With the late start, I'd almost forgotten to eat lunch. It was already well into the afternoon when I pulled off for gas and found Aungst's Family Restaurant.

I've always found that restaurants with "family" in the name are worth stopping for, and this one was no exception.

I splurged on a loaded bacon cheeseburger and fries.

When the waitress cleared my plate (yes, it was empty except for the pickles) and asked if I wanted dessert I instinctively said no. I did a double-take though and remembered that it was MY day, so I asked what my choices were.

If this place were closer to Texas, I'd say we need to have a pie run here!

A slice of peanut butter pie and a hot up of coffee were the perfect cap to a great meal.

Back on the road, the skies grew darker as I made my way across PA.

As the drizzles began, I stowed the camera and started to make a plan for the night. If I could make it to Columbus, OH I had a friend I could stay with. The backup plan was a colleague of my mother's that lived outside Pittsburgh.

The rest areas along the interstates are much cleaner than I remember from my childhood. I stopped at this one to let some of that coffee out and to put the liner back in my jacket.

I was making good time on the highway when I realized I was nearing 200 miles on the current tank of gas. I'd been pretty good about refueling well before I needed to, so when the flashing beacon of stupidity blared at me for 15 miles I actually started to worry.

Thing is, I worried less about what I'd do if I ran out and more about how I'd never live it down with the Monday night crew... go figure...

Turns out I still had a half gallon or so to spare.

I made the decision to head towards Darlington, PA where Salome (pronounced Sol-oh-may) would gladly accept me into her home for the evening. She rides a Harley with her husband and has been following my journey on my blog.

She warned me that they lived "in the boonies" and offered to come meet me in town and lead me back to the house, but the GPS said it knew how to get me there so I declined the offer and wound my way up the dark, wet hills and right into their driveway. As I rolled to a stop and put me feet down on the gravel, the garage door magically opened before my eyes and I nestled the soaking Strom in for the night.

Cheyenne said I could share her house as long as I pet her for a while.

After her husband Dennis went to sleep, Salome and I stayed up for a while drinking coffee and talking before finally calling it a night. She offered to let me sleep in and leave when I felt like it or even stay another day to stay warm and dry, but I regretfully had to decline so I could (again) try to make up the miles getting back home.

Oh, how I long for the day I can hit the road and not have to "be" anywhere.

New York, Pennsylvania
363 miles

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