After years of not taking him up on his invitation, I decided it was time to head out to Philadelphia for Roach’s annual July 4th get-together.
I got out of work right around 5pm and, given that everybody had been bailing earlier for the holiday weekend, I was able to make my way up I75 to Karen’s place without much impediment. Arrival at Karen’s revealed that I had actually beaten her there, though she arrived a few minutes later.
After some time for Karen to get ready and for me to pack her additional stuff on the Cruiser, we were ready to go. Packing was a bit of a breeze for this trip, as we elected to eschew camping in favor of air conditioned hotel rooms. You see, the forecast was for 90-degree (F) highs for the weekend in Philly.
I had a long sleeve shirt on because I knew we’d be venturing into western Pennsylvania that night and those valleys get a bit cool. I was seriously rethinking this very logical decision as we rolled down I75 through the hot humid climate of downtown Detroit. Ugh. Within 30 minutes, however, we were out of the metromess and closer to Lake Erie, where offshore breezes dropped the temperature down to a very comfortable level.
The last time we took this route was down to the MAMMARY run a month before and that was in a good rainstorm. This time, it was clear and sunny, which afforded much better views as we crossed the tall I280 bridge over the Maumee River in Toledo, OH.
I jumped on the Ohio Turnpike, headed east, and started the fun process of having Karen evaluate the available food vendors at the various plazas along the way. First one, McDonalds. Yuck. Second one, Burger King (meh) but also a Einstein Bagels. Ooooh! This was fortunate, since the Cruiser wouldn’t have enough gas to make the next plaza anyway.
Lo, and behold, the Einstein Bagels was already closed for the evening. (Confutatus maledictuc flammis acribus addictus! — beware my rage when I swear in latin.) We could have fallen back on the Burger King but the line was filled with quaintly dressed individuals of the Amish/Mennonite persuasion. I swear, there must have been a busload or at least enough to bring to mind a gypsy caravan. (Is that a mixed metaphor? Amish; gypsy; whatever.) I ended up getting a slice of pizza from Sbarro and Karen ended up getting a chocolate chunk muffin from Starbucks. Just like a woman to clobber her frustration level with a serious dose of chocolate.
As the sun set behind us, we headed back down the road into the darkening purple sky to the east. Suddenly, everybody is hitting the brakes and traffic is bunching up around a easy left hand curve. As I’m wondering how far this backup extends, envisioning a two-hour wade through stop-and-go traffic, we proceed far enough around the corner to reveal the leading line of the backup a mere quarter-mile ahead. Now I’m confused. There is no obvious obstruction or accident that would be slowing everybody down like this. Just as I’m telling Karen that I think there’s some debris in the road, I see deer dart out from the front of the leading vehicles and run over the K-rail. It ran along the rail for a while, decided that it couldn’t jump it, and headed back in front of the cars and off into the right ditch. The pace quickly picked up and Karen and I were left to laugh about the mental state of that poor deer as it tried to get the hell out of the way.
We left the Ohio Turnpike at Youngstown, OH and headed east on I80 into Pennsylvania. As predicted, it was now getting much cooler, so I switched to my heavier gloves at the next gas stop. There was no moon this evening (at least not yet), and there were plenty of places where there were woods between lanes, so there was excellent viewing of the stars as we rode on into the night.
We ended up stopping in Clarion, PA at a nice little Super 8 hotel. Total miles for the day: 370 (though that includes my commute into work and the slight out-of-the-way trip up to get Karen).