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HUGE state sign! Not very interesting...but HUGE!

HUGE state sign! Not very interesting...but HUGE!

we’re now over 4,000 miles.  wooo hooo!

We tried to enter our bikes under the category of “special interest” in the 4th of July car show in McConnellsburg, PA, figuring that we’d be a shoe-in for the top three spots, but the judges didn’t buy it.

bikes, cars, mountains

bikes, cars, mountains

Still, we got to browse the rows of beautiful cars we’d seen pass us all morning long on the way to Waynesboro, where we were going to stay at my friend Scott’s place. You may remember Scott from such previous posts as “Dang, I look good in a tux”.

This guy.

He’s on his honeymoon right now, but during his wedding last week, he gave me the keys to his house (with his new wife’s acknowledgement, I’ll have you know) so that we could crash, do laundry, watch fireworks, watch TV, and veg out along our way. The Buhrman’s also left a kitchen island full of snack food and Jim Beam which we blitzkrieged as soon as the door creaked open. Thanks again Scott & Liz. I hope we remembered to turn the toaster off. :)

Even when the weather doesn’t agree with us, it agrees with us. That’s what I was going to write about how the persistently poor Pennsylvania weather works in our favor when we’re pedaling up the biggest hills since the rockies, burning up inside, but cooled by the clouds and an intermittent sprinkle. The mountains out here have nothing on the Rockies. That’s also what I was going to write until we hit three big climbs in one day on the way to Waynesboro. 50 miles seems like a lot more when half of it is steeply uphill. Of course, the downhills are a blast, but like I said, sometimes the weather didn’t really agree with us.

On our first day of tackling Appalacia, a spritz here & there cooled us off. Then an extended shower kept extending until it poured on us during the entire climb over Laurel Pass into the Highlands. 2,600 feet in the sky is truly nothing for twoarmparty, but when you descend another 1,000 feet then go back up a few times, in the rain…that begins to suck.

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So we stopped in Jennersville, a small town just past our first pass, and had some ice cream while we drip-dried. An older lady who we asked about camping said that her daughter was at Camp Sequanota up the street with her grandkids, and maybe we could set up under a pavilion there, or at least in an unused campsite. She made a few quick phone calls, and by the time Andy’s Sundae came out, we were hooked up with a place to pitch a tent at the camp, which happened to be a Lutheran summer camp. And this was family week.

We rode back up the road a bit to Camp Sequanota, and found our way to the main offices, where Linda, the woman’s daughter, came out to greet us and direct us where to go. Shortly afterwards, Pastor George came out, and as we all looked at the darkening skies above the mountains to our west, feeling mists of future downpours drift past our faces, our place to stay was negotiated. What was once a spot on the ground became a spot on the ground under a pavilion, then an unfinished, dusty cabin, then cabin six with twelve beds, electricity, and two bathrooms.

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dang...i forgot to rotate this image...but...you get the idea

dang...i forgot to rotate this image...but...you get the idea

“Why don’t you join us for dinner,” Pastor George asked. Twoarmparty never turns down an act of generosity. So we walk into the dining hall where teenage counselors are frantically setting dozens of tables, families are chasing around kids who have fallen ill with cabin fever (it’s been raining all of family week), and the staff poured pitchers of Kool-Aid. We stood around a table with Linda, Pastor George, a counselor and another couple while a camp leader lead the room (with more people in it than the entire population of Philip, South Dakota) in the “Johnny Appleseed” grace. It involved lots of hand motions and gutteral sounds that none of us understood and seemed somewhat cultish. But that’s probably just because we’re heathens. Nonetheless, Andy and I had some Kool-Aid and came back later for the puppet show. It was a delightful reinterpretation of classic 50′s songs set in a diner, based on the gospel of Mark, chapters 4, 5, and 6. Even the 18 year old counselor with tattoos, piercings, and a torn Misfits shirt who Andy said “That was me, when I was at Bible Camp” was getting into it. Hanging out with the Lutheran Family camp in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania was just like hanging out with the guys at Pactola lake, way back in the Black Hills of South Dakota, except this time, they were drunk on the love of God.

It has been a long time since we have had access to a computer and I rarely notice it when we do.  Usually it takes Ken to spot it.  Big surprise.  Nerd.  Anyway, here’s a re-cap of my week in Dayton…alone…just team A.  It was a long week and a half in Dayton, but it is still Dayton so here are just a few highlights.

In Indianapolis we had two options:  either take a rest day there and partake in Karen-oke on Tuesday night or not take a rest day and make it to Dayton by Wednesday night for karaoke at Blind Bob’s.  Of course, with my persuasion we opted for an early arrival in Dayton.  Ken performed his staple Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show, which brought the house down.  The only other act that came close was my good friend Jon Gassett’s rendition of Material Girl.  Both fabulous in their own respects.

The next night we grilled out on Emily’s back patio.  I made up some bleu cheese stuffed burgers, Nathan’s hot dogs, grilled corn on the cob, potato salad.  Delicious.  I regret not having my camera around but don’t mind being distracted by great company.

Friday night we went to see the Dayton Dragons play the Michigan minor league team.  Dayton blew it 0-6.

Saturday was Brett’s big day.  Again, thanks to EP maggie and emily we all looked pretty decent for the occassion.

Sunday afternoon was supposed to be spent bridge jumping in Pleasant Hill with Brett and the rest of the wedding party.  That didn’t happen.  Instead Emily, Noelle, Casey, Ken and I all went to Yellow Springs to swim at Glenn Helen National Park.  It was beautiful.  There are two waterfalls and one emptied out into a deep area that allows you to jump off the top of the waterfall.  Although, you have to shimmy up a fallen tree to get back to the top.

After the weekend I lost track of days.  It’s a miracle I remembered which day to leave for Columbus to meet back up with Ken and Quinn.  The rest of the trip was awesome, though.  We finally did end up going bridge jumping in Pleasant Hill.  That is where Eric grew up and bridge jumping is how he spent his childhood summers.  It was Eric, Maggie, Emily, Martin, Martin’s daughter Penelope, and myself.  The bridge is only about 15′ high but you have to go up to the roadway and make sure you don’t get seen by any passersby or they might call the police.  It’s not neccessarily legal.  There was also a swinging rope hanging from the bridge into the creek.  It was only about 5′ long but still fun nonetheless.  And just to ease the nerves of the parents, every year the kids move rocks to dam the creek to make it deep enough to jump in.  No worries.  There was also another waterfall further downstream we could stand under.  I never knew Ohio had such magical places.  Later that night I even experienced my first Drive-In movie.  We saw Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.  It was pretty entertaining and made me wish NYC had drive-in movies.  Or bike-in movies.

For me, this trip has been the first time I’ve met a lot of babies of friends and family.  In Milwaukee I met the adorable Mabel Steffeck, Roxanne’s daughter, and Miles Divozzo, my nephew, I also got to meet my other nephew Peyton Allen, my sister Rachel’s little girl.  To all the new (and experienced) mothers, your children are beautiful and I’m glad this trip has allowed me to meet them because who knows when I’ll get another chance.

One of the last nights I was in town my friend Eric Hoyer took me on a bike ride.  Just about the only time I used my legs while in Dayton.  There is a group ride every Thursday night around 10pm that he organizes.  In all about a dozen people, maybe a couple more, showed up.  We rode with the pack for a bit but then we broke off and he took me up into some of the only hills Dayton has to offer.  It was real fun and I’m glad he reminded me Dayton can be fun to ride around.  He was pretty upset that I wasn’t winded though, given his competitive nature.  But Hoyer, I’ve been doing this for 2.5 months now!  Don’t be mad.  When we were on our way back downtown the skies opened up and began to pour.  It was great!  Nothing I love more than sweet summertime rains.  That about does it for Dayton.  I thank the whole of Gem City for being so awesome.  Always a hole in my heart for ya.

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!

Our brief venture into West Virginia included such hilights as ... lunch.

Our brief venture into West Virginia included such highlights as ... lunch.

Eastern Ohio eased us into the brutality that awaits us over the next few days into Pennsylvania. FYI, if you’re ever traveling out of Columbus to the East, route 40 in Ohio has a wide, paved shoulder that is OFFICIALLY a bike lane. Go Ohio! We also now know, thanks to Andy’s Uncle, Lee witha K, that route 40 is one of the oldest commissioned roads in the nation, surveyed on the east coast by none other than George Washington himself. So thanks for those bike lanes, George Washington. We can’t say as much for Pennsylvania so far, having already rolled over the hills of route 19 into Pittsburgh with no shoulders & heavy traffic. Ohio: 1, Pennsylvania: 0.

On the other hand, Pittsburgh, the City of Champions and the Pirates, had the Mattress Factory – a modern art museum, and we took some neat pictures in one of their installations.
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It is amusing to note here that there’s a pitch black exhibit in one of their rooms. Like, pitch black. Put your hands in front of your eyes, and you can’t tell the difference. Black black black. There’s a railing, some chairs, and some sort of big room, based on the way our voices echoed. When Andy leaned over the railing to try & figure out if there was anything out there, his passport & bundle of cash fell out of his shirt pocket and onto the floor which, by the sound of it, was well below our feet. Light never came on in that room.

Pittsburgh is where we managed to run into half of the riders from the Bicycle Film Festival 42Ride! Three of our friends from New York are on this northern half of their cross country tour, and it just so happened that they arrived in the Steel City earlier in the afternoon than we did. There’s a photo floating around in an iPhone somewhere between here and Indiana right now, and as soon as we get our hands on that, we’ll post it. It’s adorable. Swear to god. Ohio: 1, Pennsylvania: 2.

Now, we can’t forget that near the end of our journey through Ohio, we got some fantastic, unsolicited advice from a gas station patron at our final destination who had passed us twice during the day. “I hope you’re not taking route 40 tomorrow…it turns into an awful gravel road.” This was good advice, because we didn’t really know where we were going. At that point, route 40 and route 70 were the same, and route 70 is one of the most major interstates in the world. His advice took us along some well paved, quiet roads and back to route 40 once it was passable again. Also, this guy negotiated with the gas station owner so that we could camp on his property, as long as we kept out of sight. That gets at least 2 points. So, Ohio: 3, Pennsylvania: 2. This of course doesn’t take into account anything but the last few days of Ohio, so it’s a bit skewed.

Here’s a tip about cooking: we’re getting a bit more creative at it, after having eaten nothing but couscous while camping for a good month. This time, we got some elbow pasta, which cooks quickly, and a small jar of tomato paste. Toss the tomato paste into the water after the pasta is done and voila! Spaghetti Sauce! But wait, there’s more. Gas stations are full of ingredients you’d totally add to pasta sauce if you were making it from scratch. And I’m not talking Pop Tarts or potato chips. Beef Jerky. It’s good for a lot of things. Just look at the ingredients. If it’s got stuff you’d love in your spaghetti sauce, chop it up & toss it in while cooking.

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.

NJNEW NEWARK STAR LEDGER michael-jackson1

farrah-fawcett-anal-cancer 51950045FB011_net

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!

 

that's Brett's dad in the middle..

that's Brett's dad in the middle..

Everyone riding to the reception

Everyone riding to the first party spot

 

the married mobile

the married mobile

 

Eric and Andy (andy rode Eric's BMX bike all day)

Eric and Andy (andy rode Eric's BMX bike all day)

quinn-148-by-quinnnn

after the wedding we went to this bar, then the reception, then eventually back to this bar.

all the single fellas

all the single fellas

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