Friday, July 22, 2011

Giant's Despair

An acquaintance from high school who is now a Facebook friend read something that I had posted on Facebook last week and suggested that I take the scooter for a ride up the mountain road that we call Giant's Despair.  it sounded like a good idea but I did not have the opportunity to make the ride until today.  When I set out this morning I almost turned back to the house because it was already in the 80s when I got up at six o'clock and even hotter when I rode the bike up from the yard to the street.  I realized, however, that it would get cooler once I got out of the city proper and kept on rolling.

It took me a few miles to get to the base of the mountain.  This is the view that greeted me as I paused to take a picture.  The southbound side of Interstate 81 is the overpass in the foreground.

The ride up the mountain was pleasant with lots of curves to make it interesting and fun.  There was nobody on my tail so I was able to ride at a comfortable speed and enjoy the scenery as well as the illusion of coolness as the air moved over me and through my helmet.  To be sure, it was hot, but I had been right in my assumption that I would feel a lot cooler once I got moving outside of the city.

When I got to the top I needed to decide which fork in the road to take.  Each one would take me to a familiar but different place.  I paused atop the overpass under which runs a set of railroad tracks while I thought about which way to go.  (Yes, trains also go up that mountain though along a much longer and twisted path so as to make the grade possible for them to climb.)  I opted for the left turn which would take me to route 115 at which point I would again need to decide if I wanted to go left and back down into the valley or right to face more decisions.  When I reached 115 I decided to go right and to head toward Penn Lake.

Again I traversed a rather pleasant portion of my ride enjoying the light traffic and the breeze.  The road leading to the lake also features a number of fun twisties and since I learned to lean this summer so as not to be hitting the brakes every time I approach a curve I had a lot more fun than I used to on roads like these.

Penn Lake brought back many wonderful memories though diaphanous ones rather than any that were specific.  The parents of one of my best friends from high school owned a cabin at the lake and our little gang of girls and guys who were inseparable then whiled away many a good summer day right there in the water.  I rode around the lake with a big smile on my face in remembering those times and those friends of mine who I still see on occasion from time to time.

Leaving the lake forced me once again to decide where to go.  I turned to the right from the access road to the lake and headed toward White Haven where yet another crossroads would greet me.  On rides like this one I have a general sense of about how far away places are because I've traveled these roads before well enough to know where I'm going but without knowing exactly when I will get to where I'm heading.  When the skies are blue and there isn't the slightest threat of a raindrop in sight, I kind of like not having to think about a timeline at all because the ride itself is what it's all about, and not the destination.  It took a while to get to White Haven, but that was just fine on a day like this one.

Because of my affection for all things railroad I had to pause to get this picture of the Piaggio in front of this retired Union Pacific caboose. 

It was a relaxing stop.  I chugged quite a bit of my cherry drink from the Bubba Keg I took with me, made an enjoyable phone call, and, strangely, I didn't mind soaking up the searing heat for just a little bit.  When I had to use the porta potty, though, I was very glad that I only needed to make number one because the heat inside the small plastic room was tremendous.  I think it was the very first time that I had ever used one of these outdoor contrivances on the day that it had been serviced.  It was amazingly clean inside, including the view down the pit, and the sticker on the inside wall indicated that it had been serviced just this morning.  I'll take whatever little bit of luck comes my way whenever it does!

I chose to leave White Haven via a route that would lead me back toward Route 115.  My plan was to meet up with 115 at Blakeslee where a left turn would lead me north and back down into the valley.  When I got to the turn for Francis E. Walter Dam, though, on impulse I hooked the left to travel the stretch of road that would take me up to the dam and then back to the road that had led me to Penn Lake from which I would pick up 115 again though closer to town.  The view at the dam is always a nice one and with nobody else seeming to be around for miles I was able to enjoy a leisurely stop to grab another picture.

I had been out for a few hours at that point and my belly was beckoning me to start thinking about having lunch so I made a beeline back to the house but not without enjoying the rest of the ride at a leisurely pace.  I remember thinking distinctly that riding is even better than sitting around in the air conditioning and I stopped right there in the middle of the road to get this picture by which to remember that moment.

About a quarter of a mile from the house I swung around a curve and was delighted to see a train rolling across the tracks that run behind my backyard.  While I watched the tankers and boxcars roll by I savored the feeling of having spent a most delicious morning out on the scooter.  These are some of the moments I will miss the most in a few weeks when I am back in school, and the simple kinds that I look forward to spending when the day to retire comes along.  That will not be for a while though, so my summer rides will have to keep the smile of leisure on my face until then.

Just a reminder that I am now dictating rather than typing my entries here, along with my plea for the indulgence of your patience regarding any errors that I do not catch in my proofreading.

1 comment:

kmrcst said...

the ole Giant's Despair...start out coming off of Public Square in Wilkes-Barre and keep driving thru Wilkes-Barre Township up the mountain into Laurel Run and get lost somewhere off Rte 115 in Bear Creek...I haven't been on that road since 1993; thanks for joggin' my memory!