I’ve been looking forward to Philly since leaving Charleston. For me, entering Pennsylvania will be momentous and as we approach I am very excited. But there is no welcome sign. Ok, there is a Mason-Dixon sign but that is not the same thing and I do not feel the great welcome that I hoped for.
I get over it after a few hours as we approach Columbia, Pennsylvania. Columbia, as most of you probably remember, was once considered the gateway to the West, with Wright’s ferry offering passage across the Susquehanna. It was so financially sucessfull that Pennsylvania and Maryland militias skirmished. Columbia was also the city that in 1790 was approved by the House to become the capital of the USA. It was George Washington’s first choice. Unfortunately Columbia lost in the Senate by one vote and the difference that time has played is striking. Washington, D.C. has much better bike trails and quite a few monuments. So it goes.
The approach to Philly has another very trip specific meaning for me. In my early planning of the trip I was so focused on dealing with the roads and busyness of Florida that I never thought that there might actually be some fun, beautiful bike riding ahead. Some time last November I was looking at the maps and realized that the approach to Philadelphia would be a 20-mile rail to trail along the Schuylkill. Wow, this bike adventure might actually have some fun to it. Excitement! So here we are on the trail and inside I am flying. Well, maybe not exactly flying, maybe a little tension after a flat relieved us of our last spare tube and kept us wondering if the tire would be OK, since we had destroyed our spare tire a few days before. But, it’s all fine.
We ride the bike trail all the way to Manayunk where we leave the bikes at Cadence bike shop for some much needed attention. We get picked up by my old college roomate Larry, who brings us home to a reunion with Linda, his wife and an introduction to Geroge E., their new puppy. Their friend Ricky comes over for our first home cooked meal since Charleston and life is easy. Good times.
The next day we head into Philadelphia. Ever since Savannah, Shelagh has been talking about how we’ve never explored Philly together, despite many trips to visit family and friends, so it feels like time. We hop a train into the city and take in all of the sights. First stop is my old med school, Jefferson. It’s been 40 years since I’ve gone into the building. Want to say “same old” but I don’t really remember. I did take a picture of the old lecture hall and send it to my old med school roomate, Gary. Apparently, upon looking at the picture, he immediately became sick. (Those weren’t the best of times.) Shelagh and I move on to the colonial sections and check out Independence Hall, a few cemetaries, Betsy Ross’s house, and the Liberty Bell (still cracked).
Then, continuing our fortunate surprises, we have lunch with our friend Michelle, who’s in for a meeting, and Jonathan and Teresa and their baby, Ava. We feel like we have hit the jackpot. Friends friends friends.
We spend two more days in Philly getting some much needed rest, and more home- cooked meals. Our last night, L & L’s son Sam and wife Jenna join us, just keeps getting better.
On our way out of the city, more treats are in store. The Adventure Cycling maps are somehow able to weave us a path out of the city with the least amount of traffic you can imagine. Right along the path we are able to meet up and have lunch with my Uncle Izzy and Aunt Reba, their granddaughter Renee, and my cousin Sharon. We are feeling extremely fortunate.