After the hostel I spent two nights with Tom and his Blue Heeler, Arrow, in Silver Spring, a suburb outside of DC. Tom was an awesome host. He’s an Apple developer and getting through a divorce so we talked about life, love and electronics pretty late into the night. He’s also done a fair amount of bicycle touring, most of it in Ireland. “If you can look past the fact that the driver hates bikes, it’s pretty good.” Mostly he’s a mountain biker, but still, it’s cool staying with “bike people.” They get it. His sister had heard I was coming and cooked me an awesome plate of food. Not only that, but Tom cooked some seriously awesome grilled pork. Since he put up with me for two days I took Tom out to see Prometheus which turned out to be pretty damn good.
After that I biked from Silver Spring to Edgewood, about 60 miles which involved going through Baltimore. Have you ever seen the HBO series The Wire? Apparently it’s an accurate representation of Baltimore according to a few of the locals I talked to. “Except everybody is Omar.” Maybe this is just in contrast of going through DC previously, but Baltimore sucked. The city was filthy; there was trash everywhere. Worse still the roads looked like they hadn’t been repaved in the last 50 years. It was like biking across the moon, except there were a lot more cars and it felt like most of them had a vested interest in hitting me. I didn’t stop much and didn’t take many pictures. I was pretty much ready to leave before I even got into the city proper. I don’t plan on coming back.
A few pictures of the area:
Missy and her roommate Elvin were my hosts in Edgewood. Her sister and sister’s boyfriend, both newly graduated from high school also came by. There was some sincerely awesome food here, Missy cooked a vegetable ratatouille which is a sort of vegetable casserole with a ton of ingredients. I’m totally learning the recipe. Her sister also brought over a tasty pasta and red sauce dish. We also played this crazy card game call Munchkin. It was a little too complex to explain for the blog, but it basically involved a lot backstabbing and silliness. We only got time to play one game (everyone else had to work in the morning) but it was fun. Stupidly I didn’t get any pictures. I need to be better about that.
A shipwreck that won’t sink and the Underground Railroad
I stopped for water today after about 20mi. at a house with two guys outside painting it. After chatting a bit, in which they inquired where I was from and where I was going, one of them said “Hey, come here, here’s something you don’t see every day.” Behind the house was a huge ravine and just through the bushes I could see a rusting hand bridge. Apparently this very ravine had been used by the Underground Railroad back in the 1800s by slaves escaping the south. I couldn’t get a picture of the bridge (it wasn’t safe to get much closer) but here’s a shot of the ravine. Nevermind, no shot of the ravine, they all came out crappy. Deal with it.
Here’s the dam I had to cross. I did the whole thing at a full sprint because it was single lane and letting cars pass wasn’t an option:
Also of note, which I do not have a picture, was the awesome tattoo on the guy’s leg. An awesomely detail skeletal marlin on one side “’cause I really like to fish, any kind really, give me a rod and a reel and I’m happy” and a shipwreck poking through the water “a shipwreck that won’t sink, that’s me and my life.” I liked the concept. I doubt they’ll ever see this, but thanks again for the water guys!
It Comes in Pints?!
I stopped at a German restaurant I just happened across on the road. The beer was dark and absolutely huge, just the way I like it. I ate half a roast chicken too. Warm German potato salad tastes better than it sounds. The restaurant is actually owned by a German family, some of whom didn’t speak English so the other member of the family would translate any of my questions an answers. I understand about 1 in 10 words in German so it was kind of fun trying to guess what they were saying. The bartender, Clifford (in full laderhosen) told me I should check out 37 more miles to go till Wilmington.
I’ve arrive in Newark, DE the site of my host for the night, Dan. He sent me a text and said he was going to grab dinner, would be back at 8 and had left a key out for me. I’m sitting outside of his house still even though I’ve unlocked the door. It feels way too much like I imagine burglary would feel like. It doesn’t matter much, the sun is going down so it’s cooling off a bit.
Okay, Dan came home. I got a shower and we sat and chatted for a bit. He and his roommates are in the beginning phases of setting up a cohousing situation, basically a bunch of people all living together as roommates and sharing their property. It’s sort of like having roommates, except you all own the house and it’s long term. It’s a concept I’ve heard of before and very fascinating, though I don’t think it’s for me. I’m not sure I could find ten other people I could stand living! Dan;s got some interesting ideas; I’m very curious to see how it goes. He also runs more red lights than anyone I’ve ever see; like 4 in one ten minute trip.”They don’t apply to me.” Well, you can’t argue with that.
After we chatted a bit Dan mentioned that he was going to have “kaspa” with some Saudi Arabian friends and asked if I wanted to come along. Sounds interesting! Turns out kaspa is (I think) a Saudi Arabian dish, mostly rice and roast chicken but with a lot of seasonings. The neat thing was we ate it Saudi style. They laid out a big plastic sheet, put down plates of fruit, dates imported from the middle east, chopped vegetables and two gigantic bowls of the kaspa along with individual drinks for everyone. And that’s, literally, it. No plates, no forks, no knives. Everyone eats from the dish communally and with their hands. Eating rice with your hands is tricky business, but they manage to do it somewhat gracefully. They served Arabic coffee and tea after words and we smoked shesha from hooka. Apparently they liked me because they told me I “have a home here anytime.” What a cool bunch of guys!
Alright, time to wrap this up. Tomorrow I head into Philadelphia to stay with my friend Brook. I’m not sure how long I’m staying but I only have 40 miles to go tomorrow. Woohoo! Plenty of time to explore!
I stayed in Philly for several days and had a blast. The city’s a ton of fun and Brooklyn knew all the right places to go check out. We saw the Mutter museum which was full of all sorts of crazy medical stuff, weird preserved body parts and other weirdness. I’d say the weirdest was a tie between the 40 lb. colon, the gangerous hand floating in embalming fluid and the soap lady, who’s entire body had started to turn into soap.
After Philly I biked to Helmetta, NJ and crashed with a couchsurfing host named Stephanie. Apparently her boyfriend was off couchsurfing himself, a local travelling musician, which is a shame as I think we’d have really gotten along. New Jersey itself was interesting, the place is hard to navigate as the name of the road you are on changes with every township you cross over into. Furthermore there’s little in the way of a system to their roads so it’s very easy to get turned around. I did make it and saw some really awesome scenery once I got north of Trenton (which is a scary, scary place, don’t go there).
I’m in NYC right now staying with a friend of my girlfriend’s: Abby who was awesome enough to put me up for the night. It’s raining here in the Big Apple today so I’m taking a freaking nap. I’m exhausted. Perhaps I will venture out later tonight.