There's no turning back now! We've begun our journey westward from Philadelphia and we won't be ending it until we hit the Pacific.
However, the trip has gotten off to a little bit of a rocky start...We took a little longer than expected to get everything ready to go in the morning before we left Philadelphia, and once we had everything packed up on our bikes and we're ready to go, Caitlin got a flat tire not more than 50 feet from the front door. We replaced the tube, pumped it up, and hit the road. About two miles later I got a flat tire. After changing that, we prayed to the tire gods for no more flats and continued our journey.
Even though we were behind schedule, we decided to take a break in Downingtown to visit Victory Brewing Company -a local brewery that prides itself in their commitment to using ingredients from nearby farms, and running an environmentally friendly operation (using solar energy to power their machinery). We couldn't bring our bikes inside, but we enlisted the watchful eyes of Jason (a worker at the brewery) to watch our bikes while we got some food and beer.
On our way to Quarryville we passed by dozens of farms amidst the rolling hills of Lancaster County, PA. We stopped to take a picture of a group of truly free-range chickens and were greeted by a lovely Amish family who were raising them. It would have been nice to talk more about their life in the countryside, but the sun was setting and we were anxious to get to our final destination for the day -the Gnome Countryside.
The Gnome Countryside is the secluded home in the woods of one of the nicest men we've ever met (also father to a good friend of Caitlin's). The property is surrounded by a beautiful stream and doubles as an educational nature trail for all ages. Here you can learn about the interesting history of Gnomes, experience the beautiful ecosystem of Lancaster County, and hear fantastic tales of adventure. To contact The Gnome Countryside to schedule a tour go to their website and contact Rich Humphreys.
We awoke to a beautiful day (75 and sunny) and were ready to hit the road after an energy-packed breakfast of oatmeal with raisins and almonds. We had initially planned to bike ~75 miles to Gettysburg, but having talked to Rich about the surrounding terrain we decided to cut our day short by 50 miles and bike to his wife's house instead. Rich says that biking 50 miles in Pennsylvania is like biking 150 miles anywhere else -5 hours, 25 miles, and yet another flat tire later, we both understood why biking in Pennsylvania is so difficult. The terrrain goes from straight downhill to straight uphill for miles -over and over...Needless to say, when traveling with the amount of gear that we are carrying this type of terrain is extremely demanding. When we finally arrived to our destination, we both felt as if we had just biked 75 miles.
Rich's wife Linda was just as hospitable as he was and we are incredibly grateful for their generosity during the very beginning of our journey. Now the real test begins as we head to Pittsburgh through what some say is the hardest part of a trans-American bicycle trip. We're keeping our fingers crossed for good weather (although yesterday was cold, rainy, windy, and overcast...ugh), and also the good fortune of running into people like Rich and Linda along our adventure.
We're currently packing up our belongings after spending the night in Codorus State Park in Hanover, PA and heading to Gettysburg. It should be a nice short 18 mile ride, which will give us some time to explore historic Gettysburg Park The weather is a little bit chilly and windy, but at least the sky is blue and the sun is shining.