Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Bike Trip Tuesday #3-Wanderlust

As I've mentioned, I grew up in a speck of a place in South East Pennsylvania. Though it was not the famed Lancaster County it was still smack dab in the middle of Pennsylvania Dutch country. My entire extended family on my mom's, except for one uncle and one cousin and his family, lives within 10 miles of each other.

Even though my childhood trips were generally limited to going to the New Jersey shore, which was only 2 hours away, I can remember feeling the pull of far away places very young. I vividly recall at age 5 or so standing in the Atlantic Ocean and looking off to the horizon, asking my mother, 'What's on the other side?' She told me other people were across the ocean. I asked if maybe there was a little girl standing on that side looking over wondering what was on our side of the ocean. Every year we went I can recall standing in the surf, staring off and imagining different people in different places. I am still compelled by my imagination when I stand at the water's edge and feel the sea lap my toes.

One of the things that excited me about the bike trip was getting to go stand on the edge of the Pacific and gaze over it to imagine yet another side of the world. What I don't think I realized is what it would mean to cross the continent and slowly pass through the sea of people that make up the United States. I knew my tiny corner of America. I naively assumed an awful lot of homogeny across the country, after all, we are all Americans, right? It's all one country. I figured it was really only the landscape that was going to change.

That said, I truly didn't even have a grasp at what the landscape changes were going to be like. Yes, I could label all 50 states and place them all on a map. I could carve up the country into all its regions and tell you what major geographical features would be found. However, no amount of book knowledge prepared me to stand at the edge of the Great Lakes and not be able to see across them the way I could not see across the ocean. No labelling of any map readied my eye to take in the vastness of the prairies. No postcard adequately represented the grandeur of the Rockies. No folk song really contained the Mississippi River in its tune. No documentary prepared me to stand at the edge of the Grand Canyon and be overwhelmed by it. No geography class ever made me grasp how huge this country is and how divergent her people are. And those were just some of the places I knew about in an abstract way. There were countless other places I had never heard of or had only the slightest knowledge about.
Now that we were all one group we set out together from Central Pennsylvania heading north to New York state and toward Niagara Falls. One of the benefits of having folks in our group from all over the country was having connections to people all over the country too. If one of the group had family or friends we asked if we could camp out in their yard for a night or two. Since I had the surprise of being told I had to beg for sleeping arrangements at churches each night I think I was more happy than everyone else when we came to Olean , NY where Mike's family lived.

We descended upon their lake cottage and had a terrific couple of days relaxing on Cuba Lake. You'd think perhaps the cyclists would not want to touch their bikes for those couple of days but you'd be wrong. We took a little 30 mile round trip jaunt to see some local park. I did pedal on a borrowed bike for those 30 miles and let me tell you, I was glad it was broken up into 15 mile increments and relatively flat. I made it and didn't think I would die or anything but I was kind of tired by the end of it. The rest of the time was spent canoeing (I very skillfully tipped the canoe over dumping Mr. Lime and myself into the cold lake), fishing, and lazing about.



After leaving Olean we headed toward Niagara Falls but made a stop in one of those off the map sorts of places called Rock City. It was the remains of an old sea bed and there were a number of hiking trails through the bottom and along the top. Mr. Lime and I decided to see about climbing up the walls. Yes, we've both always been monkeys. And just in case you thought my ridiculously klutzy ways are a recent development I'll tell you that about 5 seconds after this picture was snapped I fell off. No broken bones though. Hehehehe.

Tune in next week for the next leg of our journey....

17 comments:

Logophile said...

What's that you say, Grace?
Somehow you fell? I feel kinship with you on so many levels.
I'm enjoying the details and photos of your trip.

S said...

LOL

"I'll tell you that about 5 seconds after this picture was snapped I fell off. No broken bones though. Hehehehe."

Ha! Silly! I remember once I was in Joshua Tree, (desert in So Cal...)balancing on a teetering rock while my BF focused his camera for the shot....smile....click! WHat? Where'd she go? Looking into view finder...no Susie...peering from around the camera and finding Susie flat out on the ground having tumbled off the balancing rock splattering on the ground causing some minor scrapes and bruises..including an injury on my ankle, the scar of which I've been staring at for 20 years as a gentle reminder to be a little less klutzy!


OK still cracking up about your post about sharing scars! LOL That is just hilarious...I want to do a scar post now, however, I am not a "scarrer". I'm telling you, I got tons of stitces healed wounds, I even burn my right hand twice on boiuling water and theres no scar.
Ieven had a gigantic rope burn on my ankle once, the doctor told me I would have a 1" deep by 9 inches long by 1 1/2" wide scar and dent there from that burn. Not so, you can barely see it, and furtermore, the dent from losing so much epidermis even filled in. Ok I know its gross....but it's true. So, if I do a scar post, I am going to have to borrow all o yours.
Gary has quite a doosy actually. An 18" scar right down the center of his stomach where they had to get out his football sized appendix and about two feet of his intestines due to an undiagnosed appendix issue that went on way too long....
Bla bla bla you know how I am in the morning!

Cant wait to hear more about your journey!

Seamus said...

Ohhhhhh! A road trip on bikes - what a way to soak it all in!

Hey! Where's your climbing gear? (wags finger) ;)

Paul Champagne said...

The scenery would be so enjoyable ... if it weren't for the pain.

Moosekahl said...

I gazed across Lake Superior for hours this weekend in awe of it's vastness as always and on Thursday night I will be landing in Helena, MT to spend a precious weekend in "my mountains" We do live in a beatiful country.

Jim said...

Imagine the relief that New Yorkers feel now, when they return from some rural, God-forsaken place like the Poconos, and see their beloved "Welcome to New York" sign, signifying decent bagels, a CVS on every corner, and the holy grail of media outlets and sophistication, the NY Times . . . aah, civilization.

Do you still have those shorts?

XO

Breazy said...

This trip sounds like so much fun and I am enjoying the telling of it just as much as I do the info on the Trini days.

I too have always been very curious about the world we live in and the people who reside here as well. I have never really traveled any great distances but I hope to visit all fifty states before I leave this world, I also want to visit many places over seas starting with Ireland and Scotland.

I am not like you though, I am not good at geography. I never can seem to get a good picture of the way land is laid out in my head but I can travel anywhere and find it with just a small glance at a map, weird I know but it's true.

Thanks for sharing this addition with us and I can't wait for next weeks story!

Have a good day!

Queenie said...

Gosh that looks so much fun (I think). Your one fit lady!!!

Keyser Soze said...

MMmmm...lapping at your toes....

Oh! Uh...sorry. Nevermind.

Carry on.

Amber said...

Wow, I always wanted to go on a bikig trip across California. My Mom used to take bikibg trips when she was young. Wow your legs were so long and slender. Lucky!

Ya know I was real excited about legoland being that it is a fairly new amusement park and it was my first time there.

Dan said...

I vividly recall at age 5 or so standing in the Atlantic Ocean and looking off to the horizon, asking my mother, 'What's on the other side?'

Wow! That brought goosebumps to my arms. I did the same thing! And you know what? There were probably kids on the other side pointing towards our side, asking their mothers the very same question.

Very cool.

jillie said...

I think some how, some way we were distantly related in a past lifetime. I seem to fall more times than I can remember. Like on Father's Day? I fell off of a step twisting BOTH ankles...ugh!

lol

G-Man said...

Michelle...?
Nice Ass!!!!
xoxox

sudiegirl said...

It's been interesting to read about your bike trips...have you done RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa)? Every year, the coordinators of the trip plan a bike path from one side of the state to the other (Iowa is the state...my home state), and people from ALL OVER come to ride.

You should check it out!

MONA said...

Michelle!
Nice legs!!!

Hypersonic said...

You really should read American Gods by Neil Gaiman. He said many of the things that you are saying about the USA.

Great post as usual.

Craig said...

". . . no amount of book knowledge prepared me to stand at the edge of the Great Lakes and not be able to see across them . . . "

Hee-hee. . . That's why they're called 'Great'. . .