Monday morning I woke up to about 40 degrees. Thankfully I'd packed my cheap down jacket (and pillow) and made coffee in total comfort. The gang of four at the next site made a giant pot of rice and did group calisthenics.
A brochure I'd picked up at the camp check promised cell phone, wi-fi, A/C, and a massive gift shop at Smoke Hole Caverns - a short trip north on rt 28. I packed up camp and was at Smoke Hole 20 minutes before they opened. The gift shop WAS massive, but the cell service was non-existent. I signed up for the first tour.
A pair of very shrill co-eds led a large group of locals+me into the cavern. Surprisingly, photography is allowed (altho a challenge in the dark). Caves have always amazed me. This one was a little more on the 'bastardized for tourism' end of the scale, vs. 'preserved fanatically by fascist spelunkers.' I don't know if I'd do it again, but I'm glad I did it.
Caved out, I plotted a course back over Dolly Sodds, thru Laneville, the Canaan Valley. The guy with the KLR told me there was a lot to do in Davis. Somewhere along the way I once again hit a m/c 'zone' and tried desperately to somehow grab onto "right now" and hang on to it. I felt a tangible sense of loss and hopelessness knowing that these moments - here doing this amazing thing in this amazing place in this perfect weather with no worries or hassle - here where I have achieved "flow"- this is temporary, fleeting. It will end, and the mundane will return.
I want to remember the two hours surrounding these pictures:
The rest of the day was just riding, some even fairly grueling. Davis was nothing to see, so I didn't stop. Rt 55 across WV is just OK (by day 3 anyway). Eventually I hit Romney again and stopped for lunch and to check in and re-plot. Romney Cycle was STILL closed.
I decided that I'd been everywhere I wanted to go in this area, and was getting annoyed with the lack of service. I headed east planning to then swing north and head toward home.
Somewhere along the way I got stuck behind a pair of cut-wearing HD riders, the trailing rider was clearly an unskilled noob who's eventual wide run over the double yellow compelled me to pull over and find a better way. For kicks, I plotted to Front Royal and for a brief moment considered heading over to/ down the Blue Ridge Parkway. I changed my mind at the thought of having to slog home tomorrow from so far south.
I crossed 55 into VA, then north, ultimately to 522 and the welcome center on the PA side, where I stopped for help finding a campground for the night. Several great free maps in hand later, I was bound for Follow's Hollow State Park in the Tuscarora Woods.
Now Monday night, the place was deserted but for me and a large family of Mennonites at the far end of the grounds. At dusk, two bike packers arrived and quickly hid themselves at the walk-in sites.
What a nice camp site - a stream flows the park about 20 paces behind the site I picked. I was lulled to sleep by the sound of that stream.