Entering the Amished Land

One method of finding a place to sleep involves knocking on a door and asking for permission to camp in the yard. Our first night after Philly we saw a house with ample space for a tent and some trees to sleep under. The only person home was a middle-aged lady folding laundry in the front hall who, after having us hold our IDs up to the window and making an affirmative yet deliberate decision, let us know through the glass where we could set up.

Heidi's couches

Heidi's couches

We awoke to our first rainy day, and I mean rainy day. Everything, even what we thought was protected from the rain, got wet. When we arrived in Lancaster we thought it would be nice to have a warm shower, so we sought out a coffee shop with internet to look up someone on warmshowers.org. That was when we met Donna Styer, a life coach who, after inquiring about our trip, bought us a coffee and cookie. Impressed with our first interaction with a Lancasterite we were even more pleased with where we ended up for the night.
We met Heidi Shirk at her downtown home where she makes jewelry, bikes a lot, tends her plants and bamboo, cries during movies (don’t we all), and works in the city welfare office. That night we saw the action movie Ironman on an outdoor screen in the city square, which ended with me disappointed in myself for watching it over taking the time to blog.
My brother Henry, who just finished a semester abroad
staying happy on the road

staying happy on the road

in New Zealand attends Franklin and Marshall College which is in Lancaster. When I visit him next year I plan on stopping by Heidi’s house to say hello and show pictures. Route finding in PA was as easy as keeping our eyes open. There are multiple bike routes in the state that have signs at every turn to make sure you stay on it. We took route S, which spans the southern part of PA. We did veer off of it though to stay at Laura’s neighbor’s boyfriend’s parents’ house 8 miles west of Gettysburg where we caught the third period of the Stanley Cup Finals. Good thing the penguins won, their good mood following the game was probably the reason we were offered the pullout couch rather than the yard to sleep in.
part of an hour long climb

part of an hour long climb

The next day we said an unexpected ‘good morning’ to the Appalachian Mountains, and bid flat ground adieu. Our lack of route research prior to departure ended up making us the most bad ass bikers in the state. Most people who bike in to Pittsburgh take the Allegheny Pass bike trail that connects our national capitol with Pittsburgh. Not thinking the trip South to meet up with the bike path was worth it, we decided to take route 30, a road that was void of bikers due to the massive climbs.

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