Thursday, October 28, 2010

New England bike trip October 27-28, 1985 -- Pennsylvania

Sunday October 27, 1985.

Early in the morning I stumbled out the back door of the ambulance station into bright sunlight. There I found two of the ambulance guys, packing up to leave. They were suspicious to see me, a stranger, emerging from their building. I explained whole deal. That's when they told me they'd been there at 4:30am, banging around to go out on a call. All of us were surprised I had slept through the whole thing!

The ambulance station on google streetview today...

(above and below)

The St. Clair main street was quiet and still. I bought a box of cornflakes and milk at a small store and went back to my "quarters" and devoured all of it, milk too.

And soon I was on the road again. Followed a not-so-pretty main highway south through Pottsville and Schuylkill Haven. The deep blue and ginormous broad mountain ridges ahead were beautiful though. Well-rested and well-fed (not to mention really pleased with the unique memories I'd forever have of St. Clair), I was looking forward to climbing again. I have always liked cycling uphill. Running uphill too. Call me crazy. All good for me there in PA; it had plenty of hill to offer!

Big climb south of Schuylkill Haven, PA. October 27, 1985.

Appalachian Trail crossing. October 27, 1985.

Many I'll walk it someday?

Atop the first big ridge I crossed the Appalachian Trail. On the other side, a terrific descent to the intersection with I-78. I kept south on state route 419 to Womelsdorf. All of a sudden I was in "PA Dutch" country. There were German names everywhere ("Dutch" is a misnomer; it's supposed to be "Deutsch"). Rehrersburg, Schaefferstown, Kleinfeltersville, etc.

Not long after, I was in Amish country too. I was now in Lancaster County, and horse & buggy combos became more and more frequent. I had never seen this before. It was sort of hard to believe. Eventually I made my way to Bowmansville, home of the PA Dutch youth hostel.

Lancaster County, PA. October 27, 1985.

Bowmansville, PA. October 27, 1985.

Which looks more ancient--the buggy or the car??

I had some hours to wait before they opened at 5, time I spent hanging out in front of the general store nearby. Reading, eating, and people-watching. Horse & buggy watching too. The Amish and Mennonites wore traditional plain clothing. Young men around my age were clad much different than I, and much different than in the blue collar mining towns I'd been in earlier. Many of them were cruising around on 5-speed bikes with upright handlebars. Seemed like the "cool" thing for that demographic! They waved when they saw me with my bike. Wish I had a photo of one or more of those guys. I noticed too that cars were very bike-tolerant.

The hostel had a barn for parking bikes. They also had plenty of interesting reading material from which I learned the histories of the local people, the difference between Amish and Mennonites and various orders of each. I enjoyed talking with the man who ran the hostel, Carl. He was a teacher at a Mennonite school in nearby Euphrata, PA.

Monday October 28, 1985.

I took a day off from riding on October 28th. The plan for the day was to explore Lancaster County using their excellent public bus system and my feet! I was armed with a county map. Carl gave me a ride to his school in the morning. From there I walked a couple miles along quite roads to Euphrata, where I could catch the bus. I rode it into the city of Lancaster. En route I saw a farmer working his field with a team of horses pulling all the equipment.

In the city I was disappointed that the farmer's market wasn't open on Mondays. But I found a 25¢ macaroon at a little store. That plus some apple sauce earlier was all I ate 'til lunch. I was saving my stomach. Had a plan, see. After a bit of walking in Lancaster I hopped another bus east to New Holland, PA. From there I walked a couple miles out of town to where I planned to EAT a very large amount of food. My destination was the Shady Maple Smorgasbord, recommended by Carl. Oh my, it was great. $6 for all I could eat. Breads, soups, vegetables, meats, casseroles, desserts. I took my time, read the local paper, and ate a lot. Highlight dessert: traditional shoo-fly pie.

(Why I took no pictures of the place, or the food, I'll never know. Not too late, though! They're still there! Prices ain't $6 no mo but it looks right reasonable.

Horses & buggies parked near the Shady Maple (above & below). October 28, 1985. Again, observed the fuel-efficient super-compact 80's cars!

From the Shady Maple it was about six miles to the hostel. I decided to walk it, taking in some more scenery. The map got me onto more quiet, pretty farm-country roads. After four miles or so, I was thinking I'd like a little more reading time at the hostel. So I put out the ol' thumb and hitched a ride the rest of the way. Great day. Only way it coulda been better is if I'd had time to get to the pretzel factory in the town of Lititz.

Along my walk back toward Bowmansville. October 28, 1985.


Anonymous said...

I stayed at Bowmansville YH in 1978 on a tour of the US. For some reason I never took any personal photos of my time there so its nice to find this site. The area was beautiful and the people very friendly although I remember the Mennonites being quite reserved. Visited Ephrata on market day (I do have a photo of that) loved the sight of horse drawn carriages clippety-clopping the country roads. Happy, care free days!(sigh....)

Anonymous said...

haha i think this is so cool. Ive lived in the area since i was born. I actually live right down the street from the picture you took in Bowmansville and the houses still look the same. I worked at shady maple too so its intresting to see it from a different perspective and time.

DeLardo said...

Thx peeps for the comments. Glad I could tap into your memories and present day too. Loved my travels up through there.

1978 tour dude/dudette: where ya from?