Cardinal Greenway, Richmond to Marion, Indiana October 29 and 30, 2018

Cornfields along Trail

Though this bike ride stretched over two days, each day riding about 5 hours and covering about 40 miles, I’ve decided to combine my entry into one because it all seems like one long trip instead of two.

The flight to Indianapolis was on time and uneventful, and the Avis car rental went just fine.  Once again, we took off into unknown territory, with me driving and Martha navigating with the GPS on her phone.  One and one-half hours later we arrived at the Cycling and Fitness Warehouse in Richmond, Indiana, to pick up the bikes, which were free of charge to us, through a grant that Reid Hospital provided by paying the bike shop for each rental.  The shop was actually closed, but the manager Danny came in special just to meet us and give us the bikes.  That was very nice of him.  Next door to the Cycling was Warehouse Café where we changed into our biking clothes and purchased sandwiches for the trail lunch break.  I got a Thai chicken wrap that turned out

Joyce on Cardinal Greenway

to be delicious.

The plan was to ride from 1:15 to 6:30, stopping before it got dark at our Marriott Inn in Muncie.  However, we got a late start because Danny, the very helpful manager, had some difficulty adjusting the pannier rack to one of our bikes so that it wouldn’t rub the back tire.  It’s supposed to be on his road bike with a higher seat than on the ones we rented, and so it didn’t quite fit right, but we thought we really needed it to hold the pannier pack we had brought for our extra clothes and lunches.  Once he got it on in a way that he thought would work, we went out to the parking lot to pack our stuff, either in our back pack or in the pannier.  The problem was that with any weight on the pannier rack, it did droop to the point of rubbing the back tire, which definitely wouldn’t work.  So we re-packed our stuff, leaving the pannier bag and our rain gear in the trunk of the rental car along with the other stuff we didn’t think we’d need that night.  So 30 minutes late, we got started.

Joyce Emerging from Tunnel

For the first mile, though, Martha had to keep stopping to adjusting the pannier because the rubbing on the back tire, even with only our lunches bungeed to it, was really dragging Martha’s speed and making worrisome noises as it rubbed the tire.   Since we couldn’t get it totally off without the proper tools, which we didn’t have, Martha figured out that she could just twist it around so that it sat at an angle on the seat bar and thus did not extend straight out over the back tire.  That worked, thank goodness, and we were on our way again.  By now we were 45 minutes behind schedule.

Normally, we figure we can ride at an average speed of 10 miles per hour on a paved path, as opposed to riding on hard packed gravel or crushed limestone.  What we didn’t figure on was the frequency of hill climbing on this trail.  They weren’t steep, but they were a steady slightly uphill.  The canopy of trees and the trail was nice, but looking ahead to anther long incline was a little depressing.  We could average only 7.9 miles an hour, sometimes my odometer even registering 5 miles an hour.  Martha was almost always ahead of me, but she stopped to wait until I caught up.  Maybe my age is showing.  Then, to keep the time efficient, instead of stopping also, I would just ride on past and she would eventually catch up and pass me again.

Fall Leaves on Cardinal Greenway

On one of her stops, however, she was talking to a woman with a dog and didn’t see me pass her.  This was in the hour after the sun had set, so dusk was upon us.  I didn’t know she didn’t see me until she never did catch up to me.  Then I thought maybe she had some bike trouble and wondered if I should go back for her.  I waited for about 10 minutes and then decided to call her.  Well, she had turned around and gone back for me and was just about ready to call me to see where I was when I called her.  That episode cost us about fifteen or twenty minutes, which added to her stress of our not getting there while it was still light.  While I stayed hopeful, she stayed practical and started scheming while she rode. By this time, about 7:00, the sun had definitely set, and as pretty as that experience could have been, it was more disconcerting because we had no bike lights and the trail was pretty secluded in the canopy of trees.

By 7:15, darkness came to the trail.

Joyce @ Muncie Train Depot

I had better night vision than she had, and Martha said she literally couldn’t see ten feet ahead of her on the trail.  She tried to use her phone light, but to no avail.  At this point of stopping, we were about two miles south of downtown Muncie where our hotel was and near a house where a man was working in his yard. We debated the situation and then decided to ask him if we could lock our bikes up somewhere in his yard.  Martha had already planned on calling an Uber if he said yes.  So that’s what we ended up doing, a little less than two miles from our destination.

So the Uber guy got us to our hotel, we had half a pizza for dinner at a nearby restaurant, and went back to the hotel for an early night.  I was asleep before 9:30.  Martha had decided to take a shower that night, a good move it turned out, because when I went to take my shower in the morning, we found out that the whole hotel had NO hot water!  So we heated up our left over pizza, she went downstairs for some juice, and we ate breakfast in the room, ready to call another Uber driver to take us back to our bikes.  As we ate, she asked me how I felt about our original plan of turning around in Muncie and riding back to Richmond.  When I expressed some negative feelings about all the hills we would have to do going back (they were up and down hills on the way in, meaning we would have more uphill going back), she then said “Good, I’ve already reserved us a truck in Muncie so that we can do the northern part of the trail beyond the trail break by driving our bikes up to the start of the other end that goes on into Marion.”  The plan sounded good to me, so off we went with the new Uber driver.

Joyce on Trail near Marion

We rode the fifteen miles to the end of the lower part of the trail, back 5 miles to Muncie to the Chick-Fil-A, where the Enterprise people picked us up with a pick-up truck.  We got that rented, took our chicken sandwiches and started toward Gas City/Jonesboro, Indiana, where the trail started up again. Got to the trailhead parking, unloaded our bikes and rode the approximately ten miles to the end of the Cardinal Greenway trail outside of Marion and back to the truck, where our ride was complete.  It was 4 p.m.  Now all we had to do was load up the bikes, drive 90 minutes back to Richmond to turn in the bikes, pick up the rental car in the bike shop parking lot, drive both vehicles back to Muncie to the Enterprise store, turn in the truck and head on in the rental car to our motel on the way to Indianapolis.  Smooth plan, but time was again a problem.  Poor Danny was waiting in the parking lot for us at 5:59—he closes at 6 and had to pick up his grandson—and even though we had called him to let him know we were running late, it didn’t get us there any faster.  We turned in the bikes and each of us drove a vehicle, heading back to Muncie.  It was dark when we arrived to turn in the truck, and because we had changed our route from Richmond to Muncie for our return to Indianapolis, we had to cancel the one reservation and find another hotel.  This we did when we were together in the truck taking the bikes back to Richmond.  I was doing this and had almost hung up when the lady on the phone was confirming our new destination and I heard her say “Pendleton, Oregon.”  “Wait, wait wait!” I exclaimed.  “We’re in Indiana.  Pendleton, Indiana, not Oregon.”  “There’s no Holiday Inn in Pendleton, Indiana,” she said. Panic set in, but she was VERY nice and located us a Fairfield Inn in Anderson, Indiana, about ten minutes from Pendleton.  Not even her company, but she made us the new reservations.

So, after turning the truck in, we went back to the Chick-Fil-A to buy some nuggets and a milk shake to reward us for our troubles, and started toward Anderson, Indiana, where we checked in at 8:30 and Martha conducted her online math class help session.  The next morning we drove to the airport with plenty of time to spare and had a good flight back to Atlanta.  I have to add that it had rained there on Sunday, was raining on Wednesday morning as we drove to the airport, and we had NO rain at all on Monday and Tuesday while riding.  What a blessing!

Canopied Bridge

Now, I need to say a few words about the trail: It was a good ride. Perfect fall weather too.  I will say that I enjoyed the upper part (day two of riding) over the lower part (day one of riding).  The fall leaves were beautiful, as most were bright yellows, with some still green and some reds mixed in.  This aspect probably was the most prominent part of the aesthetics of the trail.  There were several wooden bridges with metal decorative canopies and metal railings.  One bridge was alongside an old railroad bridge, which was scenic.   Frequently the trail had several yards of wooden rails alongside the trail, which gave it a nice touch.  The trail keepers had also installed several wooden benches along the way, and at each trailhead was a bench, picnic table, and port-a-potty.  Often, we saw “tool” stops also.  Nice.  Where there weren’t trees, there were plenty of farms with cornfields and pretty Indiana scenery.  Lots of trees, but no flowers at this time. We encountered few people riding the trail, probably because of the time of the year, because in many pictures of the trail there are lots of people, too many people from my point of view.  So the lack of trail users was positive for us.  Just outside of Marion and then again at the lower end of the upper part of the trail we encountered a friendly couple from Indianapolis who had ridden the lower part and were now riding the upper part.  They, too, had ridden several of the Hall of Fame Trails, although I didn’t get the impression that they had set out to do that, as we had.  They were just riding pretty trails.  We told them about our blog, the one I am now working on, and we saw on Wednesday that they started following us on the blog, so we got their email address.  It would be fun to meet them again sometime.

At first I couldn’t see how it became a Hall of Fame trail, especially because the entire trail is not complete, but I can now see that it serves the local people well and it is well maintained.  It does deserve the recognition.  I’m glad we did it, and I’m especially glad we had some out-of-the-ordinary days because of the unplanned adventures.  At times, the timing was stressful, but now that it is over, it was enjoyable and well worth the time and money.

 

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Cardinal Greenway – October 30, 2018

Muncie Train Depot

I woke up early (4:30 AM) the next morning and began rethinking our schedule. Based on our average speed from the previous day, I did not believe that we could ride 63 miles and still have any time leftover to eat or enjoy the scenery. So, I plotted to convince Joyce to consider an alternate plan. I suggested that we take Uber back to our bikes, continue riding north to the end of the southern portion of the trail in Gaston and then bike back to Muncie to rent a truck. I’d already checked online and reserved a small pickup at Enterprise (just in case I could persuade her to accept my revised plan) 🙂 . After renting the truck, I planned to transport the bikes beyond the 15 mile stretch between Gaston and Gas City where the trail is not complete, and then resume our ride on the northern completed section to Marion. After two hours of planning and scheming, I finally decided to get up and take another shower. To my surprise, there was no hot water! I called the front desk, and they confirmed that the hot water was out in the whole building. Although they had a plumber working on it, they were not sure when it would be repaired. I woke up Joyce and told her the bad news, and she could not grasp the possibility of not being able to take a hot shower.

Bridge Adjacent to Trail

Since I was already dressed, I decided to go downstairs and purchase milk, orange juice, and a scone to eat with our leftover pizza for breakfast. While in the lobby, I inquired about the hot water and asked whether any monetary compensation would be offered for our inconvenience. The night attendant assured me that the manager would adjust our bill when he came into work so I went back upstairs. Joyce had accepted the fact that she wasn’t going to get a hot shower and had already dressed. We heated our leftover pizza in the microwave and ate breakfast. Afterward, we packed our gear and called Uber to take us to pick up our bikes.

By now, I had explained my revised plan to Joyce and she was pretty much onboard. Our Uber driver recommended that we call U-Haul because she thought we could get a better rate on a pickup truck. I called U-Haul; although their daily rate of $19 was better, the mileage charge of $0.59/mile would make the cost significantly more than Enterprise. So, with the plans set for the day, we embarked on our journey. Fortunately, our bikes were exactly where we had left them the night before. We unchained them and started biking northward through Muncie, which is a mid-sized town with a population of 70,000 and home to Ball State University. With the exception of one major intersection, we hardly realized that we were passing through a town. We stopped at the Visitor Center (converted railroad depot) at the Muncie trailhead and picked up a mileage chart. Although the map on the brochure included mile markers, it was much easier to read the mileage chart 🙂 . Normally, you can rent bikes at the Muncie depot; however, the rentals were closed for the season.

Spectacular Fall Leaves

With Muncie behind us, we biked another seven plus miles to Gaston, which is the current end of the southern portion of the Cardinal Greenway. We turned around and headed back south to McGalliard Road in Muncie where we biked one block west to the Chick-fil-A. While Joyce hurried into the restaurant to order our lunch to go, I called to check on the status of the Enterprise Car Rental driver who was supposed to pick us up at Chick-fil-A. Within minutes, the driver arrived and helped me load the bikes into the pickup truck. Joyce returned with our lunch and we rode in the truck with the driver about 2 miles west to the Enterprise rental office. I was relieved that Enterprise was willing to pick us up because most of McGalliard Rd was a 4-lane highway with no sidewalks. After completing the necessary paperwork and transferring the bikes to another truck, we ate our lunch while driving approximately 15 miles north to the trailhead in Gas City.

We estimated how much time we had to ride the 9-mile northern portion of the trail in order to allow sufficient time to drive 75 miles back to Richmond where we had to turn in the bikes before the store closed at 6 PM. Estimating that we could ride about an hour and fifteen minutes before turning around, we started biking. Immediately, we both noticed that the scenery was slightly different than the southern portion of the trail. There were more woods in full fall color and more cattle farms. With a slightly downhill slope, this nine-mile portion of the trail was pleasant, and we enjoyed the ride much more than our stressful ride on the previous day. When we reached the trailhead in Marion, I tried to convince Joyce that it was the end of the Cardinal Greenway; however, a man loading his recumbent bike explained that the trail continued for approximately three more miles to the Sweetser Connector. So, realizing that we had extra time, we decided to keep riding.

Bridge near Marion

Although we noticed that the trail was narrower and did not have the recognizable mile-marker rocks, we pedaled on for a couple of miles against a stiff headwind through an open corn field. When a friendly retired couple from Indianapolis approached us, we asked them about the trail. They were not sure whether the trail was a connector trail or part of the Cardinal Greenway; however, they were extremely complimentary about the little town of Sweetser. We rode a little further north until we realized that we must turn around in order to make it back in time to return our bikes in Richmond. After further research, it looks like we were riding on the Sweetser Trail which joins the 2-mile Converse Junction Trail to a segment of the Cardinal Greenway. This portion was still listed as “Future Cardinal Greenway” on the map posted at the Marion Trailhead. The ride back to the pickup truck was slightly uphill, but we made good time. When we reached the parking lot, we decided to ride the ½ mile down to the actual end of the northern portion of the trail. This was a good decision; the trail was tree-canopied and paralleled a small river.

Martha near Gas
City Trailhead

Returning to the rental truck, we loaded the bikes and headed south toward Richmond. We had allowed an hour and a half for the drive, but we hadn’t planned to get stuck behind a tow truck and an 18-wheeler. The road was rural with hardly any traffic, except in front of us 🙂 . Calling ahead to inform Danny that we were running a little late, he reminded us that he needed to leave promptly at 6 PM to pick up his grandson. Driving as fast as we could under the circumstances, we managed to pull into the Cycling & Fitness parking lot at 6:01 PM. Danny was waiting for us in the parking lot; he helped us unload the bikes and quickly closed up the shop. Needless to say, we owe him a debt of gratitude!

After dropping off the bikes, Joyce followed me in the rental car back to Muncie (approx. 45 miles) where we dropped off the pickup truck and grabbed fast food (again). Realizing that we were not going to make it to the Holiday Inn Express in Greenfield before my scheduled online help session for my math class, we changed our reservations to a Fairfield Inn & Suites in Anderson, which is located about 30 minutes west of Muncie. We checked into the hotel and I logged into my help session with a few minutes to spare. Fortunately, no one logged in for help, and I was able to unwind and get ready for bed.

The next morning, we ate an early breakfast in the hotel and drove to the airport in Indianapolis where we returned our rental car and caught our flight back to Atlanta. I took MARTA from the airport to the North Springs station where my husband, Ed, picked me up en route to our daughter’s house in Villa Rica where we planned to spend Halloween with our grandson. Although the trip was rushed, I enjoyed the ride! I’m thankful that we had good weather (no rain; not too hot and not too cold) and the leaves were magnificent!



Cardinal Greenway – October 29, 2018

Cardinal Greenway

As soon as the 2018 inductee to the Rails-to-Trails Hall of Fame was announced, Joyce and I started planning a trip to Indiana to ride the Cardinal Greenway. We decided to squeeze it into our busy fall schedules instead of waiting until next spring. So, on Monday, November 29th, we flew from Atlanta to Indianapolis to embark on a two-day bike ride from Richmond to Marion.

When we arrived in Indianapolis, we rented a car and drove about an hour and a half east to the Cycling & Fitness Warehouse in Richmond. Prior to our trip, we had researched bike rentals in the area and discovered that most of them are closed on Mondays. Fortunately, Danny, the manager at the Cycling & Fitness Warehouse agreed to come into the store on his day off to rent us bikes. His generosity was definitely unexpected, but the next bit of news was even more surprising. The store had received a wellness grant from a local hospital, which meant that we would be able to use the bikes for two days with NO CHARGE! Apparently, the grant reimburses the bike store when customers “rent” the bikes so it’s a Win-Win situation for the customers and the retailer.

Indiana Farm along Trail

We arrived at the bike store in Richmond about 12:45 PM, and Danny greeted us in the parking lot. He helped us select bikes for our ride and agreed to loan us his personal rack so that we could carry a pannier containing our clothes & personal belongings for the two-day ride. After trying several seat posts, Danny thought he had finally found one that would support the rack on the hybrid bikes. We pushed our bikes into the parking lot and picked up our pre-ordered sandwiches at the Warehouse Café next door. After mounting the pannier to the rack, we realized that the load was too heavy, causing the rack to drag on the back tire. Although we each planned to carry a small backpack, we also needed the rack to hold some of our gear. Realizing that we only had five hours to ride before dark, we were forced to spend several precious minutes selecting items that we could leave behind and trying to fasten bungee cords from the rear of the rack to the front of the seat post in an attempt to lift the rack above the tire. Confidant that we had resolved the problem, we embarked on the trail at 2PM (45 minutes later than originally planned). Unfortunately, the bungee cords did not sustain the weight of the pannier, and the load began to create extra drag on the rear tire. Realizing that I could not sustain the extra strength needed to pedal against the drag, I stopped and tried to readjust the rack. Desperate to find a solution, I turned the rack about 30 degrees away from the back tire. Although the rack looked strange, protruding from the side of my bike, it worked 🙂 .

Williamsburg Trailhead

It was now 2:15 PM, and we had about 40 miles to ride before dark! Normally, on a paved trail, this would not have been a problem. However, we quickly discovered that the slight uphill grade from Richmond to Losantville, about half the distance to Muncie where we planned to spend the night, was steeper than expected. Instead of averaging 10 mph, we were averaging just under 8 mph. Although Joyce was confident that we could make it before dark, I was more skeptical and pedaled harder. In my mind, I decided that if it got dark before we reached our destination, we could always call Uber 🙂 . Pushing the time constraint out of my mind, I decided to enjoy the ride.

 

Fall on Cardinal Greenway

We stopped to eat our picnic lunch at the trailhead in Economy. Although there were park benches, the porta-potty had been removed due to vandalism. After a quick lunch, we resumed our slow ascent on the trail. The fall leaves, particularly the sugar maples, were breathtaking. Most of the trail was lined on both sides with cornfields and farms. Some of the fields had been plowed for winter; others had not. We passed a few cow pastures, but the predominant crop was corn. I love to gaze at old barns and silos; it’s almost like stepping back in time. Focusing on the scenery made the uphill climb more tolerable. Our steady, persistent riding with few breaks enabled us to make up for most of the time we had lost at the beginning of our ride. After reaching Losantville, we noticed that the trail had become mostly level, and beyond Blountsville, the trail continued slightly downhill on our northern journey toward Muncie.

Bridge on Trail

By 6:30 PM, dusk was approaching, and I was doubtful that we would be able to reach our hotel in Muncie, which was about 6-8 miles away. When I noticed darkness approaching, I pedaled faster; however, Joyce, confident in her pace, fell slightly behind. Typically, I use a rearview mirror to keep her in sight, but the poor light made it difficult. I stopped to talk to a local lady walking her dog and to inquire about how far we were from the outskirts of Muncie; meanwhile, Joyce passed by me without my knowledge. Thinking that she was still behind me, I waited for what seemed an inordinate amount of time before deciding to turn around and pedal back toward her. Just as I decided to call her, my phone rang and Joyce explained that she had passed me and was actually ahead of me. Pedaling as fast I could, I caught up to her, but I explained that I was really having a difficult time seeing the trail. My eyesight is not very good at night, but Joyce was not having any difficulty. She put on her neon bands, and I tried to pedal as close to her bike as possible. Finally, I resorted to turning on the light on my iPhone 🙂 . That worked pretty well until the battery died… Joyce turned on the light on her phone, but by then I was really struggling just to see the trail directly in front of me. I stopped and told Joyce that we needed to lock up the bikes someplace and call Uber to take us to the hotel. We had just passed a house where a man was working in his tool shed outside so I suggested that we ask him if we could secure our bikes on his property overnight. He agreed and got a flashlight to help us see as we pushed the bikes up to his porch. We chained the bikes to an outer post on his porch, and explained that we would return in the morning. Then, I called Uber. Fortunately, we were at an intersection which was only 2-3 miles from the hotel. It took about ten minutes for an Uber driver to arrive, and we enjoyed conversing with him on the short ride to the Courtyard Marriott in downtown Muncie.

Courtyard Marriott

After checking into the hotel, we walked to the Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Company (adjacent to the hotel) where we had planned to eat dinner. By then, it was 8 PM, and we were starving! Joyce had soup, and we both ate pizza AND bread sticks. We decided to take the leftovers back to the refrigerator in our room to heat up for breakfast. I was exhausted but really wanted to take a hot shower before I went to bed. By the time I finished my shower, Joyce was already asleep! I watched a few episodes of my favorite shows on Acorn TV and drifted off to sleep.




Central Park, NY – August 23-24, 2018

The Wife Billboard

We left the bike shop in Poughkeepsie about 3:00 PM and drove back to New York City. It took a little over an hour and a half to drive to Central Park where we parked our car in a deck on 66th Ave. Realizing that we had a couple of hours to waste before the park would be closed to car traffic, allowing bikers and pedestrians a safer pathway, we decided to go to the movies! I had secretly hoped that we would be able to see an early screening of The Wife, starring Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce, at the Paris Theater, and my wish came true 🙂 . We walked about 10 blocks to the theater and arrived just in time to pay for our tickets, go to the restroom, and purchase a drink before scurrying into the dark theater where the previews had already started. The movie was definitely worth our extra effort; the acting was flawless, and Glenn Close’s portrayal of a wife trapped in desperation was mesmerizing to watch as years of her pent up frustration exploded on the screen before our captive eyes. The ending was completely unexpected; she finally had her freedom but not as the audience expected. I certainly hope that this deserving performance will finally earn Glen Close the Oscar, which has eluded her several times in the past.

Dusk in Central Park

Exiting the theater, we walked a few blocks west to the bike shop where I had purchased our 2-hour rentals through a Groupon for $12 prior to the trip. The rental agent informed us that the bike shop closed at 8 PM instead of 9 PM, which I had mistakenly thought. Since it was already 7 PM, we had only an hour to ride the 6.1 miles around the park, including pushing our bikes a few blocks over and back. As directed by our map, we entered the park on Central Drive and proceeded counterclockwise around the perimeter. There were literally hundreds of joggers and bikers following this same route, and it almost felt like a Friday night traffic jam in Atlanta. Bikers zigged and zagged around the joggers and pedestrians, whizzing by us as if we were standing still. The route around the park is hilly, and I needed to lower my gear several times as I strained to make it up some of the hills. Thankfully, neither of us succumbed to dismounting our bikes and pushing them; however, our uphill speed was nothing to brag about 🙂 . Since New York is further east than Atlanta, the sun sets earlier. As we neared the end of the loop, darkness was fast approaching, and many bikers turned on their headlights. We returned our bikes with five minutes to spare, and I crossed off another item on my bucket list: bike through Central Park 🙂 .

Tavern on the Green

I talked Joyce into eating dinner on the patio at Terrace on the Green. Thankfully, I had packed my jacket because it was chilly sitting underneath the canopy of lights on the terrace. Although this restaurant is located in a beautiful, romantic setting in Central Park, the food was really just average. After dinner, Joyce and I lamented that we should have purchased dessert instead of wasting calories on a bland meal that was not very satisfying. We walked back to the parking deck, paid $40 (ouch!) for our car, and drove toward LaGuardia to our hotel. Since it was night and we were not familiar with the highways to Long Island, the drive was a bit stressful; however, Joyce remained calm and we did not miss a turn 🙂 . Arriving to the Wyndham Hotel after 10:30 PM, we were informed that we could either pay $25 for parking or try to find a legal place to park nearby. We carried our luggage to our room and returned to the car in an effort to find a free parking space; however, after circling the streets around the hotel to no avail, we decided to concede and pay the valet fee. We probably didn’t get to sleep until after midnight and had to wake up early the next morning to get to the airport. After a quick breakfast at the hotel, we returned our rental car and took two shuttles back to LaGuardia. I slept during part of our flight home, and was thrilled that my husband had decided to pick me up at the airport rather than have me take MARTA to the North Springs Station. I was glad to be home but already planning our next bike trip on the newly inducted Cardinal Greenway in Indiana.

Hudson Valley Trail Network, Poughkeepsie, NY – August 22-23, 2018

Leisure Ride Bike Shop

After our bike ride in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, we drove three hours northeast to Poughkeepsie, New York. We arrived in Poughkeepsie about 6:15 PM and drove directly to the Leisure Ride Bike Shop (excellent customer service and well-maintained, quality bikes) where we rented two KHS Brentwood comfort bikes and a rack for our next day’s ride on the Hudson Valley Trail Network. The 18-mile Network is comprised of three paved trails: the Dutchess Rail Trail (13 miles), Walkway over the Hudson (1.3 miles), and the Hudson Valley Rail Trail (3.6 miles). Our original plan was to ride across the Hudson to the northern terminus of the trail and back the same evening as we rented the bikes to reduce the amount that we would have to ride the following day. However, we found out that the Walkway over the Hudson closes at 8 PM (time adjusts with sunset), and if you do not make it back across the pedestrian bridge before the gates close on the west side, you have to bike south and cross the Hudson on the car bridge. Based on this new information, we decided to wait until the following morning to bike the whole trail down and back, which would be a total of 36 miles.

Mill House Brewing</center)

The bike owner personally helped us secure the rack and bikes onto our rental car, then we drove to Mill House Brewing for dinner. We ordered a pizza and discussed how to adjust our schedule for the following day. I highly recommend this two-story, warehouse brewery; the food was excellent, and the service was quick even though they were extremely busy. Following dinner, we drove to the Holiday Inn Express to spend the night.

Martha on Pedestrian Bridge

We ate an early breakfast at the hotel, including one of their decadent cinnamon rolls, and then drove back to the Leisure Ride Bike Shop to park our car. The shop was not open yet; that’s why we rented the bikes the previous evening. We unloaded the bikes and pedaled a few hundred feet to the entrance of the trail. Although the trail passes through several hamlets, it felt fairly isolated. We crossed three iron bridges over highways on the 6.5 mile stretch from the bike shop to the Walkway over the Hudson.

Walkway over the Hudson

The 1.3 mile Walkway over the Hudson River is the longest pedestrian walkway in the world. As we approached the bridge, we noticed that pedestrians are supposed to walk along the outer sides while bicyclists are supposed to ride in the center – a recommendation which definitely improved the flow of traffic across the bridge. It was approximately 9 AM, and there were about 100 people on the bridge; however, there were noticeably more walkers and joggers than cyclists.  We stopped several times to take photographs and then made our way to the other side where we biked 3.6 miles to the northwestern terminus of the trail.

Caboose Near Western Terminus

Caboose Near Western Terminus

The trail was extremely well maintained with restroom facilities, mile markers every .5 mile, and numerous benches and picnic tables. This more isolated portion of the trail was tree canopied with a few rock outcroppings, and it reminded us of the Silver Comet Trail in Georgia.

Wild Flowers along Trail

The ride down to the end of the trail and back to the bridge took about an hour, including a quick bathroom stop. As we entered the bridge, the sun was in front of us and I was thankful that I was wearing my sunglasses. It took only about 10 minutes to bike across the Hudson. After exiting the bridge on the eastern side, we continued down the trail past where we had parked our rental car and pedaled on to the southern terminus in Hopewell Junction. Although we had read that this portion of the trail crossed several roads and was more urban, it was unexpectedly remote as soon as we passed the outskirts of Poughkeepsie. I enjoyed the wild flowers and the variety of trees bordering the trail. This stretch was not as crowded and seemed slightly downhill.

White Haven Train Depot

We arrived in White Haven sooner than we expected and decided to eat lunch at Daddy O’s, a New York chain restaurant located almost in sight of the restored train depot and museum marking the end of the Dutchess Trail. After a satisfying lunch (turkey & avocado sandwich with fries and a coke), we biked 6.5 miles back to the bike shop where our rental car was parked and returned our bikes before driving back to New York City for our flight home to Atlanta.



Lehigh Gorge Trail, Jim Thorpe, PA – August 21-22, 2018

Empire State Building

Our bike trip to the Poconos started with a flight from Atlanta to LaGuardia, followed by a two and a half hour drive to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. Our GPS route took us directly through Manhattan, via the tunnel under the East River, down 5th Avenue past the Empire State Building, and under the Hudson River to New Jersey.

Broadway Street, Jim Thorpe

Arriving to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania was a pleasant surprise! The quaint tourist town, lined with gift shops and B&Bs, is sandwiched between the Pocono Mountains and the Lehigh River. A scenic railway, bordering the river on the east side of town, runs daily from Jim Thorpe north to to the Lehigh Gorge State Park.

Inn at Jim Thorpe

We checked into The Inn at Jim Thorpe and carried our luggage to our room before walking a block to Molly Maguire’s for dinner. Our original plan was to eat at the Stone Row Eatery, but we found out that it is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Molly McGuire’s

The outdoor deck at Molly’s pub was a perfect spot to enjoy a good meal and the cool, fresh air! After dinner, we hurried back to the hotel so that I could log into my online help session for the college algebra class that I’m teaching this semester. I helped one student and then fell asleep watching a new episode of 800 Words on Acorn TV. Fortunately, I got a good night’s sleep and felt rested the next morning.

Renee’s Cold Cut Hut

I chose French toast and bacon for breakfast at the Broadway Grille (hotel restaurant); the food was both delicious and filling. After breakfast, we loaded our luggage back into the rental car and drove about a mile and a half to the Lehigh Gorge State Park where we met Jim, our shuttle driver, who transported us with our Trek rental bikes to White Haven. Jim dropped us off near the trailhead, but we decided to pedal a few blocks back into town to Renee’s Cold Cut Hut where we purchased sandwiches for a picnic lunch on the trail. We purchased a large hoagie, chips and a drink for approximately $8, which was much cheaper than we expected. Renee, the owner, was extremely cheerful and friendly.

Martha @ Waterfall

We started biking about 10:00 AM and within minutes we felt completely isolated from the hustle and bustle of the world around us. The 25-mile Lehigh Gorge portion of the Delaware & Lehigh Rail Trail follows the Lehigh River through tree-canopied forests on its slightly downhill route to Jim Thorpe. The trail is hard-packed crushed gravel and is well maintained (no potholes or debris). We passed numerous waterfalls on our ride, including Buttermilk and Luke Falls. The landscape reminded me of the Greenbrier River Trail in West Virginia, and I felt extremely blessed to have the opportunity to experience this remote, scenic portion of the country on a bicycle!

Joyce @ Picnic Spot

Just below Penn Haven Junction, we decided to eat our lunch at a picnic table perched on the bank of the river and adjacent to the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway tracks. Opposite the tracks and in sight of our picnic table was a small waterfall – what a perfect spot for our lunch! We enjoyed our ham & cheese hoagie while listening to the river rushing below. The water was swift but too low for rafters; however, we did spot two groups of tubers.

 

St Mark’s Cathedral

After lunch, we pedaled south a few more miles to the Glen Onoko access point. Unfortunately, we did not have time to make the two hour plus round trip hike to the falls so we continued our journey south to Jim Thorpe. We parked our bikes and took a walking tour of the town, peering in gift shops, strolling down narrow carriage roads, and admiring the Gothic-style St. Mark’s Episcopal Church built in 1869. Our walking tour ended at Wood’s Ice Cream where we indulged in our traditional end-of-the-ride dairy treat 🙂 .

Scenic Railway

As we departed Jim Thorpe, the scenic railway train was also leaving the station for a sightseeing trip up the valley. The train paralleled the bike trail for several miles, but we turned east into the state park to return our rental bikes to the same parking lot where we had left our car earlier that morning. Our shuttle driver had left a combination lock for us to secure the bikes to a concrete picnic table until he later returned to get them.

Although this is not a Hall of Fame trail, I highly recommend it! We only rode the Lehigh Gorge portion of the much longer Delaware & Lehigh Rail Trail, which spans 141 miles from Bristol (just outside of Philadelphia) to Mountain Top in the Appalachian Mountains.

Stream Near
Buttermilk Falls

Abandoned Track Adjacent to Trail

View of Lehigh River Valley





Hudson River Valley Trail, Thursday, August 23, 2018

Joyce on Walkway

Actually, this trail of 18 miles one way has three different names—the lower part is the Dutchess Rail Trail, between Hopewell Junction in Hopewell, New York, and the edge of the Hudson River. Then comes the Walkway Over the Hudson, a 1.5 mile pedestrian/bicycle bridge over the Hudson River. (Martha said she read that this is the longest pedestrian bridge in the country.) The northern stretch is actually called the Hudson River Valley Trail. The last part goes a little over three miles and ends at a park. The Walkway Over the Hudson was fun because the scenery of the Hudson on both sides of us was great, and we could also see the small mountains in the distance and the green tree-lined hills on both sides of the river. There were several people walking the bridge, but it wasn’t a problem as long as we stayed in the bike-designated area and they stayed in the pedestrian-designated area. The other two sections were tree lined and shaded. The whole trail is paved. The three sections form the Hudson River Trail Network.

Dutchess Trail

We had rented our bikes from Leisure Riding in Poughkeepsie the night before, plus we rented a bike rack for the car, and drove out to dinner for a pizza and then to our room at the Holiday Inn Express. So on Thursday morning, we drove back to the bike rental place parking lot and left the car while we started on the trail. We had done the rental the night before because we started riding at 8:30 a.m., and the rental place didn’t open until 9:30 a.m. We wanted to get this early start. We rode north to the end and then south to the end, where we had lunch at Daddy-O’s and then back to the bike shop parking lot to turn in our bikes and the bike rack. Martha had read that the trail went through several little hamlets on the lower part, so we were expecting many more street crossings and commercial development. We were pleasantly surprised to see how rural and isolated the trail actually was. Except for many memorial benches along the trail, we didn’t see any other amenities and also very few people. It reminded us somewhat of the Silver Comet trail in Atlanta. It was also shady, perfect weather again, and plenty of trees to the side and overhead. It was another enjoyable ride.  Our legs and lungs must be in pretty good shape, because even after riding 36 miles, we still had plenty of energy and could have kept going.

Joyce on Trail

After turning in the bikes and turning on the GPS, Martha navigated us out of Poughkeepsie and south on various roads (like I said, I never really knew where I was going, just following her directions) to enter Manhattan from the north side. I learned as soon as I started on this leg of the trip that the merge lanes end abruptly almost as soon as we merge onto another road. One time we came close to running out of lane but fortunately no one was in the lane immediately to my left as I continued to merge onto the highway. This part of the drive was about one and a half hours. The GPS led us eventually to our parking deck near Central Park, even though barriers in our road caused us to improvise the directions about six blocks beyond our turn and then do a backtrack on another road.To top it off, there was construction right before our turn into the parking deck, so we almost missed it, which would have meant we would have to do the 12 block roundtrip detour again. However, we did see it and zipped into the deck. It was valet parking only, and it cost $40 for our six hour parking. Welcome to NYC.

Trump Tower Restrooms

With the car parked, we footed our way to the Paris Theater about six blocks away to see The Wife, a new film starring Glen Close. That was a good break, and the movie was excellent. Thanks to Martha for noticing it was playing so close to where we were and just at the right time! After the movie, we walked another five or so blocks to 5th Avenue in search of Trump Tower because I wanted to see it and go inside. Martha had the address, but somehow we kept walking past it. We should have paid closer attention to all the people taking pictures with their cell phones! Anyway, we went in, saw the escalator that Trump rode down to announce his candidacy to the crowd gathered in the lobby (I heard they were each paid $50 to be in attendance, but I have no proof), and then down another escalator to the gold-plated restrooms. Took some pictures to verify my being there and to show to Ron and Johnny.

Joyce @ Central Park

Leaving Trump Tower, we walked back about seven blocks to the bike rental where Martha had reserved bikes for us to ride around in Central Park.This ride was 6.5 miles. Not knowing how long it would take to do this because of the hills, we rode faster than we really needed to—zipping around it actually—and returned the bikes 20 minutes before they were due. Even though we could ride only on the perimeter road of Central Park, we were still in the park with no autos competing for our space (only many many other people riding and walking) and could see lots of the scenery of Central Park. I thought about the novel Kiss of the Jeweled Bird and its scenes in Central Park. We had dinner at the Tavern in the Park, which wasn’t very tasty at all and pretty expensive. It was after 9 o’clock when we were there; we decided that we should have just skipped dinner and ordered one of their fancy desserts.

So around 10:15 we started out drive to the Wyndham Hotel near LaGuardia Airport so that we could catch our flight back to Atlanta in the morning. That drive was an experience all its own. Again, with Martha navigating and me driving, we had to traverse several roads, change lanes, cross at least one big bridge, and compete with all these fast New York drivers who didn’t have patience with my going a bit under the speed limit because (I have to admit it) I was rather rattled by all the traffic and night driving. At one point, all lanes were packed, I was in the left lane, Martha said my next turn would be to the left, and there was no shoulder next to me, only this cement barrier. I stayed in the left lane going cautiously, a bit under the speed limit probably, much to the dismay of the drivers behind me who didn’t hesitate to honk to let me know I was holding them up. I wasn’t creeping along, but I definitely wasn’t going 60 miles an hour.  I didn’t want to crash. (The next day, driving my Subaru back in Atlanta, I realized that part of my troubles had been that I am used to sitting much higher in the driver’s seat than I was in the Ford Focus.) However, we made it to the hotel. And there began our next stressful experience:  there was no place to park at the hotel. Well, I take that back, there was a huge empty lot behind the hotel but fences prevented us from walking from back to front, so we decided we better not park there, because, surely, the hotel has parking spaces. Driving around to the front of the hotel, we saw a narrow driveway that led to some underground parking spaces. Ah, we were in luck. There was one spot left.  It was a pretty tight fit, Martha having to get out of the car and guide me into it so that I wouldn’t hit the cement poles or other cars parked there. But we did it! Then walking out to the front door of the hotel we saw the sign that said “Private parking. Violators will be fined $25.” Still stressed out from the drive and parking experience, we went into the hotel to check in and ask them where to park. Their response was “No, you can’t park in the underground parking area where you are. We have valet parking for $25, or you can park in the street if you can find a spot.” It was close to midnight, we didn’t want to pay $25, so we said we’d go look for a spot. But that was NOT easy! Streets for four blocks surrounding the hotel were jammed with parked cars parked inches from each other. This was not looking good.  Finally, in desperation, we drove back to the hotel after circling the area twice and said they could do valet parking. We were tired!

Small room, no hair dryer for Martha, but it did have breakfast the next morning.  We made it through the night.  The next adventure came when we checked out and asked for our car.  Suspicious of where their “parking garage” was located, because they said they could get the car for us in five minutes, I followed the employee out the front door and down into the little driveway where we had painstakingly parked the night before, only to move it and hand it over for valet parking.  This time, though, he had parked it on the side of the drive way, so that he literally drove our car ten feet to the outside sidewalk and gave us the key.  Then he kept standing there and asking for the “tik.”  I kept telling him that we gave the valet parking ticket to the inside desk, and he kept holding out his hand and asking for the “tik.”  Finally, I put his gestures and his nationality together and realized he was asking for a tip.  I gave him $3, so that we could get out of there.  Never will we stay at that hotel again.

From the hotel, it was about a twenty minute drive to the Avis Car Rental to turn in the car, get their shuttle and ride to the airport for our flight home. We got to the airport a lot earlier than we needed to, but we were there.

Martha and I always enjoy our bike rides, even the unexpected. This one was no different.