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Erik Trautman

“Everything you can imagine is real.”
-- Pablo Picasso

The Journey Begins Again

The night before I left Newport, we had a real ripper of a thunderstorm pass through. By morning, all that was left to recall the violence of the previous evening were downed leaves and tree limbs beneath a gorgeous blue sky. It was the first sign of poor weather in almost a month – a fickle sort of omen before a long journey.

My first leg west included precious little of value”¦ Connecticut is a pass-through state whether you’re taking 95 or not and you can’t drive within 100 miles of New York City without suffering through the echoes of its crowding. It wasn’t until I rolled into the Catskills that the pace of life seemed to settle a bit and the freedom of the road felt more real. The local accent is interesting and takes a minute to figure out; it sounds a bit like they’ve got a mouthful of bubblegum.

The bears were supposed to be pretty bad this year due to the lack of rain but I camped out next to a lake at 1500′ and didn’t have any trouble in the night aside from some carousing teenagers on the other side. The next morning’s ride into Narrowsburg passed a countryside that seemed indecisively split between farming and manufacturing. Shortly after starting out, a wandering yellowjacket found its way into my sleeve and made its presence immediately known. The swelling is still pretty bad but I can’t say it’s any worse than catching a bumblebee to the face on my way to South Padre Island.

I took a break from the early afternoon’s Texas-style heat to swim across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania (and returned for the bike), much to the amusement of the locals gathered to sunbathe on the NY shore. The Pennsylvania side felt like one of those 1950’s summer camp movies where the rich families leave the city in the summer and deposit their kids for some supervised fun by the lake. The impression faded as I traveled further east.

I finished at Rickett’s Glen State Park, a National Natural Landmark known for the 22 waterfalls that cascade down fractured shale outcroppings and numerous mossy hollows. The Falls Trail hike took 2 hours and I came out a lot dirtier and wetter than I went in but the pictures were worth the effort:

That night I camped out in one of those organized campgrounds that attract everything from the young friends out for a summer thrill to the lifers who raise their kids by the light of the fire and the sounds of the bullfrogs on the pond. In some ways, it was a lot like you’d see in the movies. There was a family with diverse musical talents putting on a show and a church group out in their congregational regalia. Campers and pickups rubbed elbows in a sort of gentle, bohemian bliss. It was nice to be surrounded by so many interesting people but I was the outsider looking in and in some ways I felt more isolated than I had the previous night alone in the woods.