Wednesday, August 19, 2015

102 Miles of Bliss

When I left the house on the scooter yesterday it was with no particular intention except to take a long ride.  How long a ride I didn't know, but after the first hour being on the scooter was like having one of those cups of coffee that you drink and know that you'll be needing a whole lot more.  Another hour later and I knew I was hoping to clock at least 100 miles in the saddle so as I arrived at each milestone I was heading toward, I just kept picking another place a little further along in the loop that I knew would gradually bring me back to where I started.


A good part of my ride was along roads like this one.

Though the view is the kind that my elder daughter might say, "Meh," about, I still enjoyed every turn of my wheels along the roads like these.  For various reasons I struggled over the course of the past year to find the same joy in things I'd once taken great joy in, and riding was one of them.  It was only a few days ago of this past week when I took the scooter out that I found myself grinning as I'd done for years as I rode along, so yesterday's ride was a test of sorts to see if I could sustain that feeling.  Not only had I, but I had it in spades!

A place where I played the accordion in a popular polka band nearly 40 years ago.

Some of the places I rode past were very familiar to me such as the Hanover Section of Nanticoke which was once known as Rhone Station.  It's one of those places I visit often enough when I want to take a ride to get out of the house for a little while, but not venture too far from old computer chair.  I never go through there without enjoying the warmth of many good memories from a time in my life when I was old enough to drive and work on the weekends with my trusty "cordeen" as my Dad called my squeeze box, but still too young to have to worry about paying bills


Next along the journey comes Glen Lyon which gets its name from "Gleann Lìomhann" which was the Scottish name given to the area by the railroad that ran through it.  Like many of the "census designated places" around the valley Glen Lyon had its heyday when the coal mines were not only functional but when life in and around the mines fairly defined the kind of lives the inhabitants endured.  Hard lives, but in some respects seemingly better than the lives many "millenials" live now.  When my grandfather was a young man working in the coal mines he was able to own his own home and raise his family without my grandma working outside the home.  Though many of the homes of those miners stand vacant such as this one pictured above, I ride past and imagine what life was like then when Faith was strong and people seemed to appreciate the little they had more than we seem to appreciate many of the things we have today.


This retired caboose sits in somebody's yard between Glen Lyon and Mocanaqua along with a different variety of caboose parked behind it.  Though they're well kept and pretty to see from the road the many, "Private Property - No Trespassing," signs posted along the property make it seem that trespassers might not only be prosecuted but maybe eaten as well.


I've ridden along these tracks, the same ones that run behind my home, only about 500 feet from my back door and which connect Mocanaqua to Nescopeck, but without ever having seen a freight train running on them there.  We get a decent number of freights passing through each day; I've just never been sufficiently lucky to have encountered one here.  Some day perhaps I'll take a picnic lunch and the scanner tuned into the railroad frequencies and just wait for one so I can pace it with the scooter.


From many points along yesterday's trek the twin cooling towers of the local nuke (I love how the electric company calls it a "steam generating station.") are visible.  Indeed, from certain points in the City of Wilkes-Barre, about 25 miles from the power plant the plumes of steam are visible on a clear day.  Thank heaven this nuke hasn't experienced problems such as Three Mile Island near Harrisburg or we might have had to start up a local scooter group and name it in its honor such as this group has done.  I say that with affection.  The TMI Scooter Club is made up of some really great folks!

 
I've often ridden past this closed church in the car and on the scooter and never without pausing just to drink in the sight of it.  It's not really much to look at - certainly not terribly unique compared to many churches somewhat like it in the region.  What makes it dear to my heart is that it is in a small neighborhood that's out in the middle of nowhere.  By Google Maps it's the very small municipality of Wapwallopen. (If you click on the satellite view, you'll see how small and charming it is.) There is something about the little area itself that is very endearing.  It's the kind of place where I could imagine myself living happily a century or so ago.  I'd like to be able to step inside this church some day to offer up a prayer beside whatever ghosts might inhabit it.  It just seems like holy ground in some kind of way I can't explain.


Just around the corner from the church is Heller Orchard.  They have an apple fest kind of event there every autumn, and the whole area around the orchard itself is closed off for various vendors to offer their wares.  The small town charm of the area is in the air in a special way when that's going on and visiting during the celebration gives one a feeling of stepping back in time.  I must be an "old soul."  I find myself longing to be in places in the past - places such as this where it almost feels as if the thin veil between the past and the present has just enough of a rift for some of the past to touch us even now in inexplicable ways.


No trip to Nescopeck is complete without a quick stop beside the large rooster.  Its near twin is on the grounds of the Bloomsburg Fair and I can never resist getting a picture of myself beside that one too.

Of course there are some who have a different name for this note-worthily large fellow.  Probably the same folks who refer to the residents there as Nescopeckers.

It was in Nescopeck that I figured I'd just ride back the way I'd come, and had begun to retrace my route when I was hit by the bug that made me want to put at least 100 miles on this ride.  A mile or so into going back over the road from whence I'd come I did a U-turn to take a fork in the road coming out of Nescopeck that would put me on the way to Hazleton.


On the outskirts of Hazleton is Freeland which has the distinction of being Pennsylvania's highest borough.  I suppose that's to distinguish it from Pennsylvania's highest city, village, town, township, census designated place and podunk.  All I really know about the place is that my Dad used to go there around Easter every year to get some rings of kielbasy.  Well, that and as of yesterday I know that it's also the home of Big Bubbles Laundromat.


When I had gone through Freeland and White Haven to arrive at Blakeslee from where I'd planned to head more or less home I was contemplating putting even more miles on the scooter.  My rump, however, had other ideas and was getting just a bit tired of being in the saddle.  I imagine other guys who ride scooters experience that particular kind of wedgie that affects other guy parts too - the kind where the only way to fix it is to dismount the bike completely and pull on ones pants and underpants as if there's no tomorrow.  In spite of the discomfort I was still thinking about adding one more road to the trip, but the gas gauge convinced me that heading to more of no-man's-land might not be prudent, so back to the house I went.


The blue track shows the circuit of the big ride which all in all turned out to be 102 miles long when I finally set the kick-stand under the deck behind the house.  Although I wasn't more than about 25 miles away from here as the crow flies, I still consider over 100 miles to be something worth celebrating.  I did a lot of cobweb clearing from my head.  I did a lot of thanking God for beautiful days and scooters and all kinds of things.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Agitated

When I got back from my latest trip (in the car, not on the scooter) I unceremoniously dumped my travel laundry bag into the washing machine, closed the lid, and walked away until it was time to transfer my cleaned items to the dryer.  Imagine my horror when after lifting out all the wet clothes, at the bottom of the drum of the washer, I saw something dark and rectangular still in there.  It wasn't until I drew it into the light that I realized what it was - the GPS I'd set into the laundry bag to bring it into the house at the end of my trip.  I'd totally forgotten that it was in the bag, and although I usually download my tracks from the GPS as soon as I get into the house and to the PC, for some reason I didn't do that this last time.

Next week I'll be traveling to Delaware and then to Somerset, Pa.  Yeah, I know my scooter buddies will be busting me for taking the car, but until I become a certified scooter mechanic who can take care of problems and breakdowns en route to somewhere (I'm lucky I can pump my own gas into the scooter.) I still won't be taking any trips of epic proportion on two wheels any time soon.

I hate traveling without a GPS, especially to parts unknown as I'll be doing on the way to Delaware.  I've been to Somerset many times, but never with a starting point in Delaware.  So, I broke down and did what needed to be done - bought a new GPS.  I stuck with Garmin, my first brand, and got nearly the same model as the one I killed.  Though it doesn't have some of the bells and whistles I'd really like to have, it was within my strained budget.



Sadly, the old GPS still interfaces with the PC and the computer can read all the data from it.  It just won't turn on and do its old reliable GPS things.

The good news is...  Last month I finally added a cigarette lighter adapter to the scooter and it plugs into the same connector that's attached to the battery for the trickle charger in the winter.  Now I have a second brand specific wire to run from it to the GPS for when I want to track a scooter ride. 

Now if I could only get that old GPS to turn on!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I Should Really Know Better

My mom drove me crazy when I was growing up with what I call "stupidisms" - folklore, old wives tales, superstition, all woven together into a huge tapestry of gobbledegook.  Though I'd never have smacked the old girl, I must admit that there were times when I was tempted when a choice adage would come rolling out of her mouth and get splattered all over me as if I'd been standing in front of a feces flinging simian's cage at the zoo.  It stuck and it stunk so bad that I could hardly breathe.

"You can't go swimming for at least an hour after you eat."

Um, Ma...

We had a 1 foot deep wading pool.  Nobody was going to go swimming no matter how hard he tried.

"You can't go in the water until St. John 'blesses it.'"

This one meant that there was to be no swimming (nor 1 foot deep wading) before June 24, the day on which the Catholic church celebrates the birth of John the Baptist.

There were countless others.  About how to peel potatoes the only correct way.  About whether baths or showers were more water efficient (though we had no water meters back then.), about whether a flush of the old toilet was warranted just for a small pee.  Of course, poor Mom didn't have Snopes nor Google with which to verify the dumb things she shared and insisted upon - only that time honored tradition of believing whatever one heard, I guess from somebody older, as if Jesus had dictated it to Saul when he fell to the ground on his way to Damascus, and as if old Paul (whose name was changed right then and there) was transcribing the discourse verbatim.

There's one particular of these sayings of my Mom that burned me up perhaps faster and hotter than any other, though it comes close to the ones that claimed that if a breeze from an open car window hit you in the neck you'd get a "cold in your neck."

And, it is this:

"The sun is hot, but the air is cool."


That was Mom's inarguable way of saying, "You're wearing a sweater outside today even if all the other boys in the neighborhood are naked and call you names." 

I didn't much care about that cool air.  It was the hot sun with which I had the problem, and still do, till this very day, when I'm the one in the room turning down the air conditioner's thermostat while the poor blue-lipped others reach for blankets.

Well, I did it again this afternoon.  Looked at the read-out on the indoor/outdoor thermometer beside my desk and saw that it was 82 degrees Fahrenheit which would be perfect for tee shirt and shorts scooter riding.  Or, it should have been.  I live on the kind of ONE-WAY street that, once I get to the STOP sign at the end, does not make the thought of returning to the house to change clothes particularly inviting.  So, knowing full well that the sun was hot, but the air was cool, I hung the left at the corner and gave any thoughts of returning for a change of wardrobe the full boot.

For the record, I do keep a full rain suit (And not just the thin as a grocery store bag kind.) under the scooter's seat, but it's so cumbersome to put on, and like a parachute to refold, that I'd never pull it out unless I was in a deluge and needed to get somewhere.  So, on I went, suffering more with each passing mile.

Oh, I didn't get the blue lips or anything like that, but still I'd wished that I'd checked the temperature at the airport (Where George Carlin reminded us that nobody lives.) rather than just here by my own desk.  I did enjoy the ride, but admittedly a bit less than I would have had I realized that "the sun was hot, but the air was cool."

Pictures that don't necessarily accompany this post, but which I'd like to include anyway...


I was pleased to discover yesterday that two cases of beer cans fit easily into the scooter's crate!


And I'm not the only kid on the block who has a scooter.  This one is a neighbor's.



These are the kinds of vistas that I can't seem to get enough of when I take the scooter on a moderate ride.  Within a few miles it seems as if Pennsylvania is more farmland than anything else.


I'll keep hoping for these blue skies, and perhaps more days when the air is as hot as it seems to be.