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Crazy People


Andy just sent me the photos from our weekend in Avalon – I think Mac took these?  Thanks, Mac!

 

Uncle Lee with a K, Andy, and part of ken... outside the ice cream shop.

Uncle Lee with a K, Andy, and part of ken... outside the ice cream shop.

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heading to the beach

heading to the beach

 

such an awesome moment.  we conquered!

such an awesome moment. we conquered!

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I was writing someone about our trip yesterday and was going back through the blog… I really miss exploring a new place every day and riding so many miles all the time.  I just rode from Atlantic City to Avalon this morning… a whopping 26 miles.  Still loads of fun, though – especially with the wind at my back.

These photographs were taken by Edwin Jimenez.  He is another awesome photography friend of ours  - you can check out his work here.

 

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Our friend Halston Bruce took these before and after shots for us.  Thanks again, Halston!

 

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Before and After headshots coming soon…

Check out this video from our friend Trudy.

 

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These are photos from our ferry ride into the city.  It was a perfect day and a nice windy ride home.  

Our first stop was Trackstar, our local bike shop where Andy works and then we went to Neighburrito and were treated to a fantastic lunch!  Then we hugged and went our separate ways.  

I met my brother and his girlfriend, Bri at my favorite local cafe, Southside Coffee where their daily sign read: 

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It was awesome!  (they didnt know my last name other than the sham part… so a scribble worked great) They even gave me free coffee!!  …and then went to my bri and brother’s place to take a shower and relax.  I had sublet my apartment until August 1st, so i’m still sleeping on a floor for the next couple of weeks.  Bri and Jarrett had organized a small dinner with a couple of my friends and after rushing to take a shower before heading to the restaurant.. i walked out of the bathroom and there was my MOM!!  She drove up from Stamford, CT to join us (and treat us) for dinner.  Thanks again, mom.  What a great surprise!

Today I went through boxes to find some clothes to wear and i’m sitting in Southside Coffee on my laptop looking for jobs.  If you know of any great outdoor jobs in NYC or 30-40 miles away, please let me know.  I’m hoping for a long bikeable commute at least a few days a week so that I can stay in shape.

Thank you again to everyone for your support and generosity!

Instead of heading south from Pittsburgh straight to the jersey shore, we went the QAK way and headed north for a bit up to see Ken’s family in Easton Pennsylvania.  After many exhausting, but beautiful days of climbing, it was nice to ride through the still scenic, less steep, hilly PA.  On our way to Easton, we stopped in Allentown to have a beer with the head of Marketing at the Allentown Brew works, Mike Fegley.  Mike has put on a criterium through the pub for the past couple years.  A criterium, if you dont know, is a loop of some kind that the racers go around a number of times (20ish usually) and its all very technical.  I personally like these races, but i’d like them a lot more if they all went through pubs like Mike’s race.  We all encouraged him to continue this, in hopes of participating some time soon.  

Also, Andy’s dad Mac has been trying to meet up with us somewhere along the way, and finally we were all in the right place at the right time.  Well, Mac drove 10 hours to be in this place, so..that’s not exactly true.  Mac met us at the Allentown Brew Works, had a beer and got directions from Ken to Easton.  We all met in easton at yes, another bar… where Ken’s dad was sitting waiting for us.  It was a great little Stanek/Knepshield get together.  Ken’s mom and an old friend of Ken’s all joined us for more drinks and a nice dinner.  

So, I feel like i’ve learned a lot on this trip, about loads of things – including ken and andy.  but, seeing them with their fathers and talking with Don, Patti and Mac a bit more about their perspective on our experiences and such.. well, i learned a lot more.  We stayed with Ken’s mom, Patti and she made us an incredible breakfast in the morning.  Ken’s parents both had to work, so Mac took us around all day to see the sights in Easton.  We saw the Crayola Factory and learned that you’re not supposed to go in there unless you’re 6yrs old or have a 6yrd old, but it was still fun.  Then to counteract this, we went to the Yuengling Brewery in Pottsville and drank and learned about beer.  It is the oldest privately owned brewery in the country.  Then we all went to Don’s house for a lovely dinner and grappa tasting.  Have you had Grappa?  No… well, its an experience, that’s for sure!

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The next day we had coffee with Mac and got back on the road.  Thank you for everything, Mac, Don and Patti!!

In easton, we were only about 75 miles from home sweet home, but none of us wanted to go back to the city without a nice weekend on the jersey shore…so we headed south.  The ride along the delaware river was beautiful and we stopped at Ken’s friend’s place on the way for a delicious, very filling lunch. Ken’s friend John really wanted us to stay with him, and if were weren’t so determined to get to the beach, it would have been a perfect place to stay!  We continued on to the Burlington-Bristol bridge into NJ… no bicycles aloud..  that didn’t stop us.  Nor did it stop ken who got a flat tire the moment we started sprinting over the bridge.  We gave the bridge guards/police plenty of time to ticket us, becuase as at the bottom of the bridge was the welcome to NJ sign and ken sat there and changed his flat.. so it couldnt have been too big a deal for us to cross there.  We rode a few miles further into Mt. Holly (no, not a mountain, there is a hill that goes up about 4 feet, thats about it) and found a bar to sit and have a beer.  At the bar, I asked our bartender if he had any idea where we could camp… anywhere at all, even behind a gas station would do.  We were tired and this town was not one that would have camping.  Well this guy, James Diamond, generously offered his backyard and boy were we thrilled.  He still had to work, but we went to his house and knocked on the door to meet his parents Carolle and Joseph Diamond – they gave us a very warm welcome.  Insisted that we come inside, offered the shower and opened up their house to us.  We set up our tent inside and when i came in to say thank you and use the bathroom, they explained that they had to be at work at 6am, but they would leave coffee and breakfast for us and please do not go out and spend money.  Geees, so nice!!!  We woke up, drank a pot of coffee, cooked some eggs, cleaned up and got back on the road.  Thank you so much, Diamond Family.  It is so nice to experience such generosity on the east coast.

We were all anxious to get to Avalon and so we made great time, even into a pretty strong headwind.  I grew up in Syracuse, NY but have been spending my summers in Avalon since I can remember.  After a few years of renting, my parents bought a perfect little house near the beach and we have been coming here since.  My brother and I have lived here together over past summers and this year, my two youngest sisters live and work in Avalon.  So when we arrived at 1:30 in the afternoon, we went straight to my sisters ice cream/candy store to say hi and of course, eat ice cream and candy.  As we’re standing there talking to my youngest sister, Rory, Andy gets a call from his dad saying that he and his Uncle Lee are 4 blocks down the street!!  What an awesome surprise.. they met us in Avalon and thankfully took photos when the three of us ran down to the ocean and jumped into the water (in full cycling gear).  It was the greatest moment.  Felt soo good to jump in the water and to know that we have officially made it to the other side of the country!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Another 150 miles to brooklyn, but that’s just some extra… ‘cus we MADE IT!

The rest of the evening was spent drinking beer on my porch with Mac and Lee and my two sisters.  Umm, my sisters were definitely not drinking because they are not 21!  And we ate another incredible, grilled dinner made by Andy.

 

Thanks everybody!!  We’re going to relax in Avalon for the weekend and then head home.

Brought to you by Pennsylvania, near the site of the crash of flight 93 on September 11th.

That airplane is awfully close to Jesus's head

That airplane is awfully close to Jesus's head

This is the same state that thinks hosting drinking parties for your teenage kids is a bad idea.

Preposterous!

Preposterous!

In our idle hours over these past eleven days, I vowed not to let all of my 3,500+ miles of hard work come to naught as my body withered and weakened from disuse. An accumulated half-day’s worth of time at Dayton’s Pacchia cafe, shocking my muscles into jittery flexion from overdoses of caffiene was the first step. Thanks again to all the baristas and pastry chefs there who facilitated my fixation.

A second step was a return trip to the refreshingly bike-savvy town of Richmond, Indiana, our last stop before Dayton. My rainjacket had been misplaced at Chris Hardie’s place and seeing as there were six days to kill in the city where flight was born (the Wright Brothers began their aviation-destined entrepeneurial ventures with a bike shop in Dayton), I took off one morning on a 90-mile round trip to collect my coat. By 8:30 in the morning, I was on the road already once traveled, averaging a solid 22 miles per hour with a disparaging tailwind. Disparaging only because tailwinds work just one way. By 10:30 I had made it to Richmond in time to witness the celebratory parade in honor of their selection as an all-American city. Congratulations, Richmond! By 1:30, I was back in Dayton, 90 miles more not-atrophied, relishing in the celebratory accolades of the baristas & pastry chefs at Pacchia who thought I was nuts for riding so far by so early in the afternoon.

Later, Andy and Emily picked me up and we went hiking deep into the excruciating woods of Ohio to jump off waterfalls in Yellowsprings, kicking ferociously against the deadly undercurrent to reach salvation at the surface of the frigid waters below. Then we checked out a Birds of Prey sanctuary, where all these badass birds who’ve lost wings, legs or eyes are cared for. It was adorable and sad.

All of these activities were meticulously planned so that I could ride to Columbus in an indirect fashion along old railroad trails on a hot, humid day with headwinds. Furthermore, I logically started at noon so as to ensure I rode during the most oppressive parts of the day.

Twoarmparty was now officially split up. Quinn was in Syracuse, Andy was still in Dayton, and I was on my way to help one of my best friends get married in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. It wouldn’t be until Sunday (as I write this) that we’d be back together again.

During my flight to Philadelphia, I kicked the seat in front of me constantly for the entire duration of our 90-minute trip. It was ok because it wasn’t a very crowded flight. The people on the flight back to Columbus weren’t so lucky. Sorry about that, lady. Had to keep the legs in shape.

Once in the ill-nicknamed City of Brotherly Love (have you ever met many Philadelphians? They hate eachother. And everything) I demanded that Jon, my friend of 27 years, ferry me by motorcycle so that in my high-speed, two wheeled terror, I would try to crush his pelvis as I held on for deal life with my phenomenal thighs. Route 611 from his home in Furlong to the wedding in Stroudsburg was hilly, massively scenic, and full of blind curves Jon took at breakneck speed with me behind him. My legs were sore and his hips were so collapsed, he could barely dance. But not before we took our blushing groom-to-be out for a night on the town. Rampant chicanery ensued, I promise you that. Details will not be explained here. Let it be known that some members of the bridal party are not allowed in certain bars and may owe the city of Stroudsburg some money after the tickets are processed.

Getting back to dancing, it is now a well known fact that all Staneks love to dance and are great at it. Michelle (the little sister) has been a better dancer than you since she started studying at Miss Pat’s on Greenwood Avenue 20-mrrmmmphhh years ago. Patti (the mom) couldn’t be torn off the dance floor. Don (the dad) had hip replacements a few years ago which were apparently bionic. And I, of course, pledged to not stop shakin it all day and night long, singing “She’s a maniac” and running in place even when Scott (the groom) and I went hiking in Jacobsburg park three hours before his wedding. All of the following photos from the wedding are from my sister. Thanks, Michelle.


The groomsmen. From left: “Hutch”, Jon, “Silent” Ken (the best man), Scott (the groom), Joe, myself


OMG, I look good in a tux!


Me & Mom


The whole fam.


From left, Me, Jon, Scott, his bride Liz.

Through this intense, well planned training regimen, I feel quite ready (not to mention seriously anxious) to re-begin our trek tomorrow morning. It’ll be two long days to Pittsburgh, then some grueling days through Pennsylvania. Having flown over the state in less than a freakin’ hour, I’m psyched to do it the hard way, over the better part of a week. Easton, I’ll see you again just after the fourth of July!

Gary, Indiana was a horrible industrial pit of hell, but I do think its great that we went there right BEFORE Michael Jackson’s death.. because somehow it seems more meaningful (this is not to imply that I would ever go there again).

I’ve spent the morning watching Michael Jackson videos, some are very awesome and nostalgic (tho i think i was 3 or 4 when thriller came out) and some great but really creepy.  Like the one with the Marlon Brando cameo… one of the later videos i think, as Michael Jackson was in his really creepy looking faze, one of them.

Last night we watched Jackson’s body be transported from place to place – because there was nothing more important happening in the world.  CNN’s headlines were horrible and funny at the same time and all very abrupt with fewer commas than necessary.  MICHAEL JACKSON, KING OF POP DEAD.  Just doesnt read well.  Interesting how both Jackson and Fawcett had wayyyyy too much work done and went from very beautiful to disturbing and creepy.

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Oh and my mom’s neighbor’s cat died too.   Very sad, but way to make history!

Syracuse is great.  I road my moms craptastic bike over to my dads place yesterday in hopes to jump in the pool when i got there.  There are two hills on the way to my dads place, one is pretty big and steap, so i figured i’d get some excersize even tho my moms bike was too small and far from comfortable to ride.. but when i got there, my hopes of jumping in the pool dissapeared when the pool was green.  So i hung out with my sister for a bit and then planned to ride home.  but that’s when the major thunderstorm started.  whoops.  best not to ride in this and tho i dont mind the rain, the lighting was far too close for comfort.  so my mom came and got me. thanks mom!

Wyoming, generally no less elevated than 4,000 ft above sea level (the lowest spot is 3,100 ft at Belle Forche River), is geologically astounding. Places with names like “Fossil Butte” are everywhere, and digging for fossil remnants in ancient ocean beds is a family activity. Kids can keep whatever they find unless they find something extremely rare. Not like the kid would know it’s really rare, but I’m sure if little Bobby showed up with an example of Amiiformes Ammiidae, the guides would totally freak out and probably get promoted or something.

In the morning when we woke up next to the Creek that runs through Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge, I commented to Andy that next time I do this, I want to have a geologist with me, so they can explain to me why the earth is the way it is everywhere that we go.

Mountain ranges, once buried beneath collossal glaciers which have receded only because of harmful industrial pollutants over the past 10,000 years, now peek above masses of rollign land, scoured and sculpted by the movement of the prehistoric ice. As it moved north, it took earth with it, and dumped it between the rock it couldn’t take along the way. We rode along this level part, and up and over the remaining mountains. From those peaks, spectacular ranges and intense color changes surrounded us. Native Americans have lived here since the ice began to move north.

We passed the Continental Divide through the Wind River Mountains. Misleading maps led me to declare “nothing but downhills” for the rest of the way to Lander. I’d like to describe the reality of the next 30 miles, but I think Quinn has already done it in a comment in a previous post: “oh my god. so far from all downhill. it was a lot of uphill with 30 mile winds at our side, pushing us off the road. THEN it was GIANT up and down hills, not enough speed gained going down to get half way up without a lot of work. and with the crazy winds coming from various directions, i didnt feel comfortable coasting 40mph down hill. and then it was pedaling HARD downhill to go 15mph with headwinds pushing me backwards. all downhill is quite a myth as far as i can tell. but it was pretty and we made it eventually.”

It was indeed pretty. All the suffering of an hours long climb is wiped away when you see something like this.

The Red Canyon

The Red Canyon

In Lander, we found the geologist who could tell us everything we wanted to know about the earth. Juan, who regularly hosts people from warmshowers.com and couchsurfing.com, put us up in a friend’s house because his was too cluttered. Actually, cluttered doesn’t begin to describe it. Juan’s a fine arts photographer. Or, at least that’s part of what he does. He’s a self-admitted pack-rat, and each time he would try to explain why he has a dozen empty tin olive oil cans, he’d come up with a new profession. “Oh, of course I have 600 feet of copper tubing. I’m a plumber.” “I’m a spelunker, so I keep all of my caving equipment in one of my 11 Volvos”. Juan, you should be proud to be the first person to have a post on twoarmparty classified under “crazy people”. Here are a few other things Juan had at least 10 of:

Disney Princess “make your own outfit” refrigerator magnets
Espresso Machines
Trucks
Stainless steel thermoses
License plates for EACH STATE
Plastic dinosaurs
Coffee socks
Toasters (didn’t see ‘em, but I bet he does)
Jars

Anyway, there’s a lot more. Everyone in town seemed to know him. And at dinner at the Gannet Grill (Gannett Mountain is the highest peak in the state. The bike shop is also named after it), he explained a lot of geologic things I didn’t understand. Since beginning to ride, a lot of people out here have seemed to know a lot about what glaciers have done to their land. I didn’t even know what a glacier was, technically. Juan helped me out with that (it’s snow that’s at least 150 feet deep. The ice, under so much pressure, changes consistency at the bottom, becoming almost plastic-like. That’s the short, dumbed-down version.) He also explained how weather systems from the west crash into the mountain peaks, cool down quickly, dump horrible weather all over the place, then warm up slower on the other side & whip up serious warm “Chinook” winds (or “Snow Eater). I probably got that part wrong too…but I’ll look it up later.

Since Juan’s place was filled up with everything, he put us up at a friend’s place, who was more than willing to accomodate us. Actually, he wasn’t even around…but later on, he said it was totally cool. Then Quinn fell ill and we stayed at the Holiday Lodge where she could rest rest rest and get all high on Codiene. The Holiday Lodge had an awesome neon sign and a hot-tub, which I lounged in while doing laundry.

I'm serious, why didn't I start taking photos of motels sooner?!

I'm serious, why didn't I start taking photos of motels sooner?!

While in Lander, I wandered through the park & ran into a pretty girl on a bike who invited me to the Catholic Girl’s College for dinner. Was it a terrible mistake and a tremendously missed opportunity for Andy & me to decline this offer? Keep in mind that at one point she did mention that “she fell in love with God again.”

We are now in the town of Jeffery City (pop 30-40), where we seem to be missing the inimitable “Byron Seeley”. Everyone in Lander not only knew Juan, but also knew Byron. Even the Catholic College girl. Byron’s pottery (monkingbirdpottery.com) was all over the Folklore coffeeshop (where Andy & I spent most of our time). Shane told us “this might sound weird, but there’s nothing to be creeped out about by Byron. He’s a really sweet guy. Really.” We were really looking forward to meeting him, but it seems like we might be out of luck. Jeffery City is definitely a ghost town, and we’ll show some photos eventually. It’s not nearly as much of a ghost town as Strevell, Idaho (there IS wifi here), but since the Uranium mining trade dried up (apparently), everyone has moved away.

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