• I Ply The Fire With Kindling Now, And Pull The Blanket Up To My Chin

    Weatherman says it’ll heat up again in a few days, but it’s been trending much cooler this past week — comfortable days, nights in the low 50’s. Good sleeping weather, as the saying goes.

    We went to friend’s house for a porch visit yesterday evening, and I was actually chilly once the sun went down, and when we got home we closed some windows and put the comforter back on the bed. The temperature dropped into the 40’s overnight. Summer is coming to an end.


  • She Don’t Come Around Here Anymore

    There was a huge spider living under the eaves of our back door. I mean really huge, easily the biggest spider I’ve ever seen in the wild around here, maybe a quarter the size of a tarantula, with a big bulbous body (pregnant with eggs?), and legs that probably stretched almost an inch across. It would build a web every night from our rear door over to the clothes line, and every morning — until I figured things out — I’d go outside and walk into the web. The spider would then make a run for it, on semi-permanent strands a little higher up, back to its hidey-hole under the gutter, and from there it would stretch its arms out and make “I am scary spider!” gestures until I went back inside.

    The spider had a pattern: it would hide out in its spot during the daytime, then come out and rebuild its web once darkness fell. The web building process was quite fun to watch, and the spider was a very successful hunter, which is maybe why it liked that spot.

    A few days ago I noticed it had moved its daytime hiding spot to the inside of the screen door frame, then it seemed to disappear — no more spider, no more webs. Just yesterday I went looking, found its crushed body on the door, and felt bad for the rest of the day.


  • This Side Of The Mountain

    Well, we did it — Anne and I rode the century ride we’ve been working towards. We started with our friend Julie and her brother Peter, who were riding to their family cabin in NY just past the Poconos, but for COVID and logistical reasons we only went about halfway — we left them at Delaware Water Gap and continued from there on our own route, returning along Cherry Valley Road (one of our recent favorites) and picking up Mountain Road, an old favorite, just north of Wind Gap. This was a beautiful section, but it meant that we had to go over Blue Mountain at Little Gap. Luckily, the ice cream place was open at the bottom of the downhill side…

    We got home with about 98 miles and had to circle around the neighborhood a few times, but we finished with 100.1 miles. It seems funny, I used to do century rides on a fairly regular basis back in the day, but Garmin Connect tells me that this was my longest recorded ride. I’ve been using Garmin Connect since 2009, so that means that this was my first century in more than a decade.

    Reading

    I just finished David Mitchell’s latest, Utopia Avenue. I really liked it, which was good because I’d been thinking lately that I no longer had the patience or attention span to read a book under the current stressful circumstances. (I finally finished The Mirror and the Light, and was sorry to leave it behind, but in the moment the process seemed such a chore.)

    The story follows a British 60’s-era band, blues/folk/psychedelic amalgamation Utopia Avenue through its formative days, with plenty of references to the London music scene and cameos from all sorts of British musicians, but there were also connections to some of Mitchell’s other books like Ghostwritten, Cloud Atlas, and the books in the Bone Clocks universe. Apart from a few (relatively drama-free) supernatural passages, and a jarring ending, it just passed by in a smooth and pleasant flow, like a sort of “Forrest Gump of British Rock.”

    I just picked up where I left off in The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, since it apparently is a bit of a prequel to Utopia Avenue.

    Happy Labor Day!


  • Nextpedition

    Patriot Graves

    I did another ground-truthing session along the Delaware Towpath, this time finding (or confirming) the access points between New Hope and Morrisville. I parked (for a fee) at the municipal lot in New Hope and turned around a little past the accessible parts of Morrisville; I was out for just over three hours and rode about 31 miles. This should be the penultimate expedition, since there is now only the last eight-mile section from Morrisville down to Bristol.

    I was not as impressed with this section of towpath, but there were a few highlights: I took the flag photo just north of Washington’s Crossing, where a bunch of unknown Revolutionary War soldiers are buried, and I thought the town of Yardley has potential. (Morrisville was a bit of a disappointment.)

    One other notable event was that I passed the young couple we met over the weekend, when we were doing bike checks at Sand Island. They told us that they were from Philadelphia, had taken the train to Bristol, and were on the outbound leg of a multi-day ride to Jim Thorpe and back. Fast forward a few days and there they were, heading south as I was on my own return leg. I waved but I don’t think they had any idea who I was.

    So that was my day! I’ll leave you with one more photo, a bunch of turtles sunning themselves on a log.

    Turtles on the Delaware

  • More Photo Blogging: Round Valley

    These are from several weekends ago, when we met Joe and Laura for some kayaking at Round Valley. I have not been there in years, and I’d never been on the water — it was always bicycling. Awesome day, and I had fun trying to make correspondences between what I saw from the kayak and where I rode years ago. There were a lot of spotted lanternflies on the water though, which was an unpleasant surprise since we didn’t know they were already in New Jersey (or that they liked water).

    In other photo news, I’ve been doing some more curating of my Flickr photos, and finished uploading the last of them from 2017. Now I am only three years behind.


  • North With Summer

    Anne and I did a pretty long ride yesterday. This has been the trend lately, road rides in the 50-70 mile range, but yesterday was a solid 93 miles: up through Plainfield Township and over Wind Gap, Cherry Valley Road to Water Gap where we met Ben and Candace for some socially distant lunch, then following the more recent Gap Gallop route through Columbia and down to Belvidere, where we picked up Foul Rift Road, re-crossing the Delaware at Phillipsburg and then home. Pretty mellow ride with snack and lunch stops, we were out for just about 12 hours.

    Here are some photos at about our halfway point, crossing the Delaware just south of the Gap:

    This was my first time across the Pedestrian Bridge in Portland, and it led to a quiet and rural corner of North Jersey I’d never seen before. Very pleasant if a bit hilly…


  • Now What?

    One of the pedals on my road bike has developed a squeaky bearing lately, and I thought that maybe it’s time for a new pair. (I’ve used the same clipless pedal system — Speedplay Frogs — for more than 20 years. With pedals on multiple bikes and cleats on my bike shoes, it’s a fairly big investment in the one technology.) I went online to order the new pedals, and found that they have become extremely scarce — like nonexistent, discontinued scarce. Turns out that Speedplay was bought by Wahoo, and they decided to shut Speedplay down while they “reconsider the product line” or whatever they might call it. WTF?

    My immediate options are to see if I can find a new pair on eBay or whatever (no luck yet), or to replace the bearing (which also requires an eBay purchase, but spare parts seem plentiful so far), or just keep re-packing the pedal with grease and hoping for the best — that’s what I did this afternoon. I guess I’ll eventually have to completely replace the Frogs with some new system, and rather sooner than later. Three sets of pedals and two sets of cleats — it’ll be a substantial chunk of change, but I’m not even sure what that replacement system will be yet. It’s a total shame, really, the Frogs are great pedals.


  • Low Energy Week

    Not much riidng this week (so far), it’s just been too rainy. The Delaware towpath is actually closed in many places due to flooding damage, and sections of the Lehigh towpath suffered damage as well. I slipped in a towpath ride (and some lawn work) on Monday when it turned out to be a nice day, but I’ve done nothing since. Tomorrow we’ll try for a long-ish ride west of the Valley, it looks like it’ll be a beautiful day

    In the meantime, there has been a lot of lounging around, reading. I am almost done with The Mirror and the Light, which I’ve been dragging my feet on, and I am re-reading The Rook, and I’ve perused some Python texts… Most of the time I’ve been just staring at the computer like it’s a TV or something.

    (Speaking of TV’s, we finally tossed our old one last week. It’s been sitting in our living room taking up space for years, we couldn’t remember the last time we watched anything on it and it’s now long obsolete — wrong format, not digital. Any TV we watch is on the computers, so Anne brought down her old office desktop with the giant screen to take the TV’s place, and we put the TV on the curb with a “FREE — it works” sign. It sat out through at least some of the rain so that’s probably no longer true, but someone took it — most likely the garbage man.)

    I did get my map updated with trail amenities down to New Hope, and I’ve also had some learning experiences with both Python and SQL. I also have been updating the genealogy stuff.

    We’re thinking that after COVID (which is starting to sound like “after I win the lottery”) we may put together a trip to Germany, possibly like the Ireland trip we did years ago. Anne has German ancestors on both sides of her family, and I have a few as well, so there should be some places we can visit (discoverable through some genealogical homework), that have connections with our ancestry.

    My uncle and cousin did a lot of research on that part of my family a few years ago, which I have but never really looked through until the other day. A lot of it is Ireland, but there is a bit about my mother’s father’s paternal grandparents, who had come to the US separately from different parts of Germany, and met and married in Manhattan’s “Little Hanover.” My great-great-grandfather Heinrich Barth was from Leese (near Hanover) and my great-great-grandmother Helene (Euchen) Barth was from Mehring (just outside Trier near the Luxembourg border).

    Well, bedtime. We’re getting up early for tomorrow’s ride.


  • Rain, Rain

    It looks like it’s mostly over for now, but we’ve had a ton of water come down overnight and this morning. We’ll probably get more (the remnants of Tropical Storm Isaias) as the week progresses.

    So yesterday we went on a ride, and a pretty big one: up to Delaware Water Gap via Cherry Valley Road, then back via National Park Road and the Plainfield Trail, for a total of about 80 miles. Our ride was about eight hours moving time, but we also stopped for (a disappointing) lunch in Delaware Water Gap, a visit to the cave on 611, a dip in the Slateford Creek waterfall, and several stops to say hi to people Scott knew — we went with Scott & Kellyn. Our total time was probably 11 hours, 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM. What an awesome day! …and we seized it but good. Dinner was hoagies from Carl’s Corner, and bedtime was a bit early.

    In about an hour we’ll be leaving for our quartet meeting, minus our violist who is dealing with water in her basement. It is currently both drizzling and sunny out; it’ll probably be very muggy but beautiful at the barn where we play.