TRIP 2013

Update #19 - August 08
Smoketown, Pennsylvania
Mission Trip 34: 6,075.00 miles (9,720.00 KM)
7,424.73 miles (11,879.57 KM) - Year Total

Currently, I'm on my way to York, Pennsylvania. From there, I'll be heading South through Baltimore, Maryland to Washington, DC. After Washington, DC, I'll be riding to Moore, Oklahoma to see what I can do with regards to helping out with the rebuilding after this Spring's deadly tornado

July 29 : Ipswich, Massachusetts to Walpole, Massachusetts - 63.24 miles (101.18 KM)

I had an okay afternoon and night. For the amount of the room, I would have expected individual control of the heat in the room, a better tv, a microwave, and breakfast in the morning. Before it got late, I walked over to the nearby grocery store and got a few things for supper and breakfast. I stayed up late because I had quite a bit to catch up on my computer and website.

I woke up a little before 5 AM and I got on the road around 8:30 AM. I backtracked through town and I continued on MA 1A. I was thinking about taking the commuter train into Boston but my finances were not that good. In Salem, I switched over to MA 107. The ride was slow because of all the stop signals. I got into the Saugus area around noon. I met up with a local guy on a bicycle who told me that if I would follow him to a nearby Wendy's he would buy me lunch. I hadn't any plans for lunch so I accepted his offer.

After lunch, I was looking at riding around Boston but I somehow got messed up and I rode through Malden. I kept on going to Cambridge. I really got confused around the Harvard area in trying to find a bridge across the Charles River into Boston. It took a while but I did find the bridge. I got into Boston in the Allston area. I had to wait out a rain shower at a gas station.

I rode through the Brookline area and then I found a route that would take me through Franklin Park and along the VFW Parkway to Norwood where I got on MA 1A. It was around 9 PM when I finally gave up the road and found a place to camp out in some woods outside of Walpole.

July 30 : Walpole, Massachusetts to North Kingstown, Rhode Island - 65.97 miles (105.55 KM)

I had an okay night. It didn't rain so the tent stayed dried. I would have had a better night if I hadn't accidentally lost the cyclometer unit. As soon as it got light, I went out of the tent to see if I could find it. It's amazing that I did. I found it less than ten feet (three meters) from the tent.

I got on the road around 6:30 AM. At Wampum Center, I switched over to MA 121. In Grants Mills, RI, the signage along RI 114 wasn't good and I accidently turned Northwards towards Woonsocket instead of heading south. I didn't catch this until I got into downtown Woonsocket. I got on RI 122 that took me into Pawtucket where I got back on RI 114 for the ride into Providence.

By the state capitol in Providence, I got on US 1 and then I switched over to RI 1A. I got a little lost in the Rocky Point area. I followed the bike signs but it ended me in a dead end. I had to get on RI 117 for the ride back to US 1.

Just North of Wickford, I got back on RI 1A. I got into North Kingstown a little before dark. I found my way over to the North Kingstown UMC. I knew the minister there. She let me into the church after the AA meetings left.

July 31 : North Kingstown, Rhode Island to Groton, Connecticut - 54.24 miles (86.78 KM)

I had an okay night. I woke up around 6 AM. I kind of scared the janitor when I came out of the room to go to the restroom. I left the church around 7:10 AM. The ride along RI 1A went okay and I got on US 1 at Wakefield. The ride to Westerly went okay. I stopped on the edge of Westerly to get some lunch off the bike. When I got into Westerly, I was so happy to find a laundromat. It was a little expensive but not as high as I had seen before. It cost me $3.50 to do laundry plus soap. It was good to have everything washed.

I crossed into CT around 3:50 PM. It was an okay ride to Mystic. I checked out the Union Baptist Church but there was only an AA meeting. I headed out to Groton. I stopped at the Stedfast Baptist Church. They had a bible service. The assistant pastor, Rob, remembered me from the last time that I stopped 4 years ago. Instead of letting me stay in the church for the night, he offered to get me a room at the Super 8 that was on the North side of the I-95 bridge.

August 01 : Groton, Connecticut to Guilford, Connecticut - 49.69 miles (79.50 KM)

I had an okay night. I woke up around 5 AM. I tried again to get connected with the motel wifi network but I wasn't able to. There was a good free breakfast and I picked up a few things to take along with me. I left the motel around 7:40 AM.

I was hoping to find the bike path across the interstate bridge over the Thames River easily but it was harder than I expected or remembered. I had to ask directions from a local guy on a bicycle. The signage to the bike path wasn't that good. I walked about 1/3 of it and then I rode the rest of the bridge and the path down to the road. The ride through New London to CT 158 was a little longer than I remembered.

I got into Niantic around 9:20 AM. My friend Michael wasn't in at the Episcopal Church. I continued on to Old Lyme. Before getting on the bike bath across the interstate bridge over the Connecticut River, I stopped to get some lunch off my bike. The ride across the bridge went okay but finding US 1 was really hard.

It started to drizzle some between Old Saybrook and Clinton. According to the radio, the area was supposed to have more rain and possibly a thunderstorm tonight. I tried to connect with a minister in Clinton but I didn't have any luck. I did find this guy who was at a church but he was really rude.

I rode on to Madison but I didn't have any luck there. I talked with a police officer but he didn't know any ministers in the area. I rode on to Guilford. I got into the dowtown area of Guilford around 6:20 PM. I found the rector of the Chr-st Episcopal Church in the rectory. He gave me permission to stay in one of the Children's sunday school classrooms downstairs in the parish hall. Before he left, Rev West slipped me $20 in a GH.

I'm not sure what to do tomorrow. It might be wet tomorrow morning. I haven't made connections with my friend in Darien. I'm pondering on whether to keep on going to Darien or maybe catch a train into NYC.

August 02 : Guilford, Connecticut to Norwalk, Connecticut - 55.24 miles (88.38 KM)

I had an okay night. I camped out in the least cluttered sunday school classroom. I needed to get away from the paint and turpentine fumes in the main room. Rev West gave me permission to get anything from the kitchen. I gorged myself on milk. I watched a movie and then I went to bed. My bioclock woke me up around 5 AM. I wanted to make sure that I was out of the church before the people showed up to start the painting again or setting up for the AA meeting.

It was around 6:10 AM when I left the church. The ride into New Haven went okay. I stopped about a block away from the train station to contact my pastor friend in Darien again. If I don't connect this time, I would go to the train station and get a ticket for NYC. I got hold of Mark so I'll be riding to Norwalk. Instead of letting me stay at the Calvary Baptist Church in Darien, I'll be spending the night with him and his wife.

The ride to Norwalk went okay but it was a slow one because of all of the traffic lights. I don't really like to ride in the SW corner of CT because it is basically a strip mall nearly 40 miles (64 KM) long. SW CT is mostly a megaplex extension of NYC. I still made 32 miles (51.2 KM) by noon. I stopped for lunch at a BK.

The last 23 miles (36.8 KM) to Norwalk took to almost 5 PM because I got turned around a couple of times. I missed several of the twists and turns of US 1 and there were also several steep hills that I had to walk up, The traffic and lights didn't help much. I took several breaks along the way because the temperature was in the mid 80s.

A couple of blocks from where Mark lived I almost got hit. This lady wasn't watching what she was doing as she was exciting an apartment complex. She was talking to a guy in the passenger seat. I was directly in front of her car when she slammed on her brakes. The car stopped less than three feet from me,

I've been invited to stay over for the weekend and speak at the Calvary Baptist Church in Darien Sunday morning. Tomorrow will be my first full day off the road since leaving Chittenango 19 days ago, I was only able to take a half day off the road last Sunday in Ipswich, MA. I'll be spending the day tomorrow with Mark and then spending Sunday night at the church. This will get me into a good position to get to the train station in Darien Monday morning.

August 03 : Norwalk, Connecticut to Norwalk, Connecticut - 00.00 miles (00.00 KM)

I had an okay night. I went to bed around 8:30 PM and I woke up around 8:40 AM. I did wake up a couple of times to go to the restroom. I didn't do much during the day but work on the Audio Bibles. I went out with Mark so that he could do some errands. We went to Calvary Baptist in Darien. I went to the church thrift store. I was able to buy two more pairs of pants for $1 each, Mark took me to Walmart. He got me of pack of underwear. I'm now wearing Small size underwear again.

August 04 : Norwalk, Connecticut to Darien, Connecticut - 03.66 miles (05.86 KM)

I had an okay night. I woke up around 5 AM. Around 9 AM, I headed out from Mark's condo in Norwalk to the Calvary Baptist Church in Darien. On the way, I stopped at a Walmart to get a few things.

At the church, I sat in the men's bible study for a little bit. During the service before the sermon, Mark had me come up front to speak at the church. I spoke for about 10 minutes. During the beginning of the sermon, Mark told me that he had used me as an example in one of his sermons about a month ago. After the service, I got a love offering of $140. Mark's assistant, Peter, was the person who gave it to me. Another guy slipped me $23 in a GH.

I'm staying in the church tonight. Taking the train into New York City tomorrow morning.

August 05 : Darien, Connecticut to Manhattan, New York City, NY to Kingston, NJ - 19.68 miles (31.49 KM)

I had an okay afternoon and night. Once everybody left, I went into the youth room underneath the sanctuary and I took a nap on the sofa. I slept for a couple of hours but I was woken up by some loud banging on the drums above me. There was another church called Encounter that rented out the church on Sunday nights. Very contemporary. Too loud for me. I got my laptop and went to Mark's office in another wing of the church. I stayed there until 9 PM because that was where I could get on the church's wifi network. I did go out to a local Subway to get a meal for the night.

Once everybody left from the other church around 9 PM, the church got pretty quiet. I went back to the youth room to sleep on the sofa. I woke up several times to go to the restroom. I slept till around 5 AM. I got cleaned up and packed up. I went back to Mark's office for a couple of hours to get on the internet again.

I left the church around 8 AM. I stopped at a local Dunkin Donuts for some breakfast.

It was a short walk to the train station. There wasn't a ticket agent so I used a ticket machine to purchase my ticket. I had about a 90 minute wait for the first off peack train to arrive. I amused myself by taking short videos of the trains that passed through the station. I also called Mark to tell him goodbye.

It was a surprise to me when Mark showed up a minute before the train arrived. I almost didn't make it on the train. The doors to the handicap section of the car that I was trying to get on were malfunctioning and they didn't open. All the other doors closed and the train started to leave the station. I raised my arms in disgust thinking that I was going to have to wait for the next train to come. The conductors must have seen me and they stopped the train. I was able to go down to the next car and get on.

The ride into New York City went okay. Once we got to the Stamford railroad station, the train became a straight express to the Harlem, 125th street station. From the Harlem station, it was just one more stop to Grand Central Station. I was basically one of the last people to leave the platform. I had to find the elevator to get up to the main level. I stopped in the main concourse of the station to take a short video and also to take some pictures.

Once out on the streets, I was going to do some more sightseeing but I opted to head basically to the Penn RR Station. I headed West on 42 Ave. I did veer off course some to take some pictures around Times Square. They had switched the pedestrian area in Times Square back to vehicular traffic. I stopped at a BK to get some lunch and also to use the restroom. I locked Alice outside but I was concerned about staying away from her a long time. The shop did have a guy who watched the entrance but he told me that he couldn't keep an eye on my bike. I quickly went to the restroom and get my meal and went outside to eat it near the front steps of a Catholic church rectory. I made one other stop at a gift shop to buy some postcards. I got a good deal of 15 postcards for $1.

I checked more of the sights around Times Square (Madame Tussand Wax Museum and Ripleys Believe It Or Not. There was a sword swallower and flame thrower as a barker at Ripleys. I did help a homeless elderly black lady with some food off my bike because she had a sign saying that she was hungry. This was the third time that I helped somebody out with something to eat in the past three times through New York City. I still think about the older gentleman that I met the first time. He had a sign saying the he was a homeless veteran. He did tell me that he had a part time job as a night watchman.

I got to the Penn Station around 1:10 PM. There was a direct train to Trenton at 1:36 PM. I was hoping to have enough time to find the elevators that would take me down to the right track but this wasn't the case. I had to deal with a flight of stairs to one level and get Alice down a double set of stairs to the right track platform. Both flights of stairs were really hard. During the first flight of stairs, the headlight flew off some place. Getting down the double flights of stairs was a lot harder because the flights of stairs were longer and there was also a landing between them. Alice didn't fair well. I couldn't keep her upright and she tipped over on the stairs a few steps before the bottom. The right below seat panniers came off.

Alice tipped over two steps above the platform. I had a hard time getting her onto the platform. There was a backup of people trying to get down the stairs behind me. Some of the people couldn't wait and they crawled over Alice and the wheels. It was lucky that they didn't step on the spokes and break them. I got on the train about 2 minutes before it left. I was able to have a whole handicap section to myself. As I was getting her secured with another bungee cord, I noticed that the cyclometer unit had come off it's mount. Of course, I couldn't leave the train to find it.

The ride to North Brunswich went okay. There was a ramp to take me down from the station platform to the road. It was a little hard finding NJ 27 that would take me SW to Trenton. On the way, I stopped at a bike shop to check out the prices on a new cyclometer. They wanted way too much for one. If I could find a Walmart, I could get one for under $20. I had to stop a couple of times to work on the rear rack because it had gotten out of alignment.

It was good to get back out in the country. The ride was kind of slow because of the traffic. There wasn't always a good shoulder. I had to deal with some traffic and hills. I did stop and buy some more groceries.

Around 5:30 PM, I had a neat encounter with a little fawn deer. The little fawn was eating grass on the side of the busy road. It didn't care that there were noisy cars and trucks going close by. I got about eight feet away from it. As I was trying to silently get my camera out and turn it on, it spotted me. It took the deer just a few seconds to quickly bolt in the woods next to the highway. This was the second time this year that I had an encounter with young deer.

I got into Kingston around 6:30 PM. I thought that I'd better stop because I didn't have a headlight. I could have tried to use my caving light as a headlight. I saw some activity at the Presbyterian Church. There was a deacon's meeting starting up. One of the ladies took me to the kitchen to get me some tea and cookies. The church had an interim pastor because their old one had retired 18 months ago after being in the pulpit 30 years. There was a hesitation in the part of the deacons to let me stay in the church for the night. The manse was being repaired from Hurricane Sandy damage and they didn't think that I could stay in the parish hall that was being used as a preschool. There was an offer to let me stay in a garage that was being used for storage. I made the best of the situation by shifting things around and sweeping. There is a roll of carpet liner that I could sleep on. The interim pastor did take me out to a local chinese restaurant for a late supper after the deacon's meeting.

August 06 : Kingston, New Jersey to Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania - 56.75 miles (90.80 KM)

I had an okay night. There was electricity so I was able to charge up and use my netbook. I slept okay on the carpet cushion. I was careful about stray light because there was a row of glass windows in the garage door. I stayed asleep till around 5:30 AM.

I got back on the road around 6:15 AM. I rode through Princeton. There was a bike shop but I didn't want to wait three hours for it to open. Near the Eastern ege of Trenton, I stopped at a Dunkin Donuts for some breakfast. I rode through Trenton. In the area of the state capitol, I found a bridge that crossed the Delaware River to Morrisville, PA. It was an old two lane trestle bridge that had an open mesh roadway but there was a separate wooden walkway. There wasn't a state sign take a picture of.

I finished up PA 32 and got on Bus US 1. I was able to purchase a new headlight and a cyclometer at a Walmart in Fairless Hills. The cyclometer was the same kind that I had before so I didn't have to put on the mount and sensor. In Penndell, I stopped at a motel that I thought had reasonable rates. When I got into the lobby, I saw things that wanted me just to turn around and leave. The check in windows was behind bullet proof glass and they sold liquor. It turns out that the advertised rate that got me into the motel parking lot was actually for a three hour block of time. This was a sex motel. They had a day rate for $29 for three hours on a basic room. To have the room for the night, they wanted $65. There was no way that I wanted to stay there. There was no indication if the room or even the sheets would be clean. The motel was run by people from India.

I hadn't really planned to travel through Philadelphia because of my nearly getting killed back in 1997. I wasn't going to travel through the downtown area and the historic area and I wasn't going to follow US 40 through the Chester area. I tried following Bus 1 / US 13 but traffic was really hard and there wasn't a shoulder. I was happy to find an alternate parallel route that was more bike friendly.

It was almost 6:30 PM when I finally got through Philadelphia to the Skuykill River. Along the river bank, there were bike trails with a lot of cyclists. I was able to get one of them stopped to get me directions to the closest bridge across the river. He also gave me directions on how to get to US 30 in West Philadelphia. I was thinking that I was going to have to find some place to camp out in the woods in Fairmont Park. I didn't think that there was still a youth hostel in Chamonoix Mansion. The last time I stayed there was in 1995.

I got out of West Philadelphia around dusk. Instead of trying to get to US 30 (Lancaster Ave), I got on PA 23 heading North and West. This was a tricky route with a lot of hills. Somewhere in the dark, I missed a turn and I got on Old Gulp Road. I trecked for another hour in the dark until I finally found some open woods. I found a place to camp out on the side of a hill. I got the tent up as it was starting to sprinkle.

August 07 : Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania to Wagontown, Pennsylvania - 41.97 miles (67.15 KM)

I had an okay night. The area where I put my tent down wasn't that level. I was able to get some rest. Instead of getting on the road right after sunrise, I took my time getting ready. I had to do some sewing. It was about 8:30 AM when I got back on the road. It was a tricky zig-zag route into Bryn Mawr. I was so happy to finally get on Lancaster Ave (US 30) going West. US 30 was quite hilly and I took my time getting up and over the rollers. I stopped for lunch in Paoli. I had to stop in Paoli to put a new innertube in the rear tire because the tire was getting soft. I didn't take the time to see if there was a leak in the old tube.

Just before Downingtown, I had to switch over to Bus US 30 because US 30 became a restricted expressway. I got into Downingtown around 4:15 PM. There wasn't anybody at the Methodist Church. I found the secretary still in the office of the Episcopal Church. She told me that the rector and his wife had gone into Philadelphia for the night. In the downtown area, I saw a discouraging site. There was a big church but it wasn't a church anymore. The building was now a furniture store. The church had a sign that said that it had been organized in the late 1860s. No telling when the church had been closed down.

I stopped at Messiah Lutheran Church. There wasn't any indication of which demonination of Lutheran it was. Outside of the rear entrance was a statue of the Messiah laughing with a young boy and a girl. The kids had some weird crowns on their heads. I found a short old balding guy in the office. He wasn't that friendly and he didn't impress me much because he came out of the office with the tails of his shirt hanging out of his pants. The guy's eyes were cold. He didn't even want to take the letter of reference that I showed him in his hands. After about fifteen long minutes, the guy in a cold voice told me that I had to move on. The guy followed me outside. As I was getting the lock off of Alice, I made mention to the guy in a non-threatening voice that they should basically take the statue of the Messiah down. He surely didn't show me the compassion of the Messiah as in Matthew 25. The guy was basically a goat in clergy clothes. I also told the guy that the Messiah was going away with me and not going to go into the church with him. Instead of going back into the church, the guy followed me to the edge of the driveway. There was a church across the street and I could have gone there to see if there was a Wednesday night service but I decided to head out of town instead.

I stopped at a drug store to get some more triple A batteries for my headlight and caving light. I stopped at a KMart. I wanted to get a new tail-light. I wasn't happy with the little firefly tail-light. The flat hearing aid batteries were getting weak. I was so happy to get a new tail-light that had been on sale half price. The tail-light price was originally $10.50 but I only had to pay $5.50 for it.

I rode into Coatesville. I got into the Coatesville area around 6:30 PM. The area that I had ridden in looked very economically depressed and not very safe after dark. I didn't see any churches in the downtown area that might have had an evening service. I got on PA 82 heading North out of town. The road went up a long hill but I was able to make it up the hill without stopping. The climb was over 1.5 miles (2.4 KM) long.

I got on PA 340 before dusk. I stopped a gas station for something to eat and drink. I got a small cheese pizza on sale. In Wagontown, I saw some activity at the Wagontown Baptist Chapel. There was a picnic shelter. There was a small group in the sanctuary watching a video about animals. There was a young guy who was the pastor. He was getting ready to leave on vacation to South Carolina. There wasn't a way for me to stay inside the church for the night because there was supposed to be a pre-school that was opening up tomorrow morning. I was given directions to some campground but it was almost 4 miles (6 KM) away and there was no way that I was going to get off PA 340 in the dark.

Between Wagontown and Compass, a friendly police officer met up with me and he told me how I could get into some woods behind a cell tower station. I found a place to camp out under a tree in some short grass next to a corn field. I was in my tent before 10 PM.

August 08 : Wagontown, PA to Smoketown, PA - 21.09 miles (33.74 KM)

I had an okay night. It didnt rain much and the tent stayed dried. I woke up around 5:30 AM. I got on the road around 7:30 AM. Instead of backtracking how I got into the woods, I follwed the corn field and got back on PA 340. There were some hills to deal with until Compass. I took my time through Amish country once I got into Lancaster County. There was a lot of tourist traffic to deal with.

I did some shopping in White Horse, Intercourse, and Bird In Hand. I met up with some cute Amish kids on scooters in Bird In Hand who were wearing bight safety vests. I sort of raced them down a hill. The little boy won.

There was some road construction to deal with after Bird In Hand. On the radio, there was talk about thunderstorms and more rain tonight. In Smoketown, I stopped at the Evangelical Covenant Church. The pastor was in the office. He was quite friendly and he gave me permission to stay in the church for the night.

The next trip update should be posted sometime between August 15th and August 22nd.



Bicyclist in Sunset



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