Day 7

31 July 2003
Matamoras, PA to Easton, PA
88.1m, 7h14m, 12.2mph

The Best Western had a continental buffet at the restaurant so we wolfed down some chow and hit the road at around 8am. The plan was to spend the night near Easton, PA at my mother-in-law's place--our second and final night of mooching from relatives. We rode back across the Delaware into New York, through Port Jervis, east into New Jersey, then southwest along the left bank of the Delaware. Once again the weather was perfect and traffic was light. Once we crossed into the wilderness of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area the traffic disappeared almost entirely.

Cycling in New Jersey

Near Dingmans Ferry we thought we could avoid a climb by skipping the store at Layton and jumping onto Walpack Road. It turns out we probably shaved a mile off our trip, but we still had to make the climb and we missed the only store on the first 45 miles of the ride. We continued down a moderately scenic valley through Walpack Center, which appeared to be little more than a campground. Finally, we came to Flatbrookville, where there was a left turn...and little else.

Near Walpack Center

Downtown Flatbrookville

We took the left and started climbing. It was a steep and long climb, made worse by the presence of large numbers of annoying gnats and mosquitos. About half way up there was a building that might have been a store, but we didn't stop (by that time JT was out of sight). We screamed down the other side into Millbrook, a partially reconstructed historical village within the Recreation Area.

JT relaxes at Millbrook

We wandered around the village and came apon a park volunteer working at the carpenter's shop. I had read on the Internet that the Old Mine Road (the direct route from Millbrook to Delaware Water Gap) had been closed due to repairs, but it was supposed to be open by the time we got this far. But the road was still blocked by a "Road Closed" sign. The carpenter guy said that the road was supposed to have been opened in May, but they are almost done and we could probably get through there on bikes. Just then another touring cyclist rode up and told us that he'd just come up Old Mine Road and he had no problems.  We probably spent a half an hour in Millbrook just hanging out and shooting the breeze. This is what bicycle touring is all about.

On the newly paved Old Mine Road

Eventually we filled our water bottles and moved on. Near the end of Old Mine Road there is a traffic light in the woods. It's there because the road is very narrow where it runs around the end of the Kittatinny ridge, but it still looks weird just hanging there in the wilderness.

The traffic light in the woods

We waited for the light...and waited (it's a 3 minute light) then we rode off and suddenly there was an interstate highway in front of us. (There was also a pickup truck waiting for the light on the other side). The route ran up a ramp and onto the I-80 bridge across the Delaware into Pennsylvania. Once again we ignored a sign telling us to walk our was just too far and there was no danger at all.

Riding the AT across the Delaware

The pedestrian lane of the bridge also accommodated the Appalachian Trail and we saw several hikers in the small village of Delaware Water Gap. We ate lunch at the Trails End Cafe. It was yummy.

For the next 15 miles we rode down the west side of the Delaware. We topped briefly at Portland (where I took this picture back up the river toward the Water Gap).

Delaware Water Gap from Portland, PA

We encountered another "Walk Your Bike" sign on the bridge to Belvidere, NJ. I thought that the sign meant that you have to walk if you use the sidewalk. I didn't want to walk so I took the road bed.  JT went first while I waited for some traffic to pass. When I got across I could see that JT had been pulled over and then a bridge cop came running out yelling for me to stop. I can't believe that they pay people to sit on these bridges to make sure that people don't ride their bikes across.  (Actually, I suspect their real job is to make sure that nobody tries to drive an overweight truck over the bridge, but I'll bet they see more renegade cyclists.) When I asked him why we had to walk he said something about us being non-motorized and uninsured. I'm not sure why being non-motorized is relevant, but it is simply not true that we are uninsured. I'm just as insured when riding my bike as I am when I'm driving my car. There was something else that didn't make any sense, but it didn't stick. I do remember that the fine is $90. Anyway, we promised not to do it again and they let us go.

The route took us down the New Jersey side of the Delaware on little back roads until we got to Phillipsburg. There we encountered heavy traffic, mostly headed for the "free bridge" to Easton. Once we passed the bridge most of the traffic was headed in the other direction, but it was still heavy. We stopped at a convenience store for drinks and snacks and I called my mother-in-law to tell her we'd be there in about an hour.

We made a right turn somewhere, climbed up a hill, crossed I-78, and we were back in the country, following the railroad down the Delaware. I like it when the road runs close to railroad tracks--it means there probably aren't any hills--and you won't find a road much closer to the tracks than this one.

Near Riegelsville

The bridge cop was standing in the middle of the bridge at Riegelsville when we crossed back into Pennsylvania. He nodded and smiled approvingly as we walked by on the other side of the bridge.

The treacherous Riegelsville Bridge

From there it was just a few miles to Linda's mom's place, but it was all uphill. I kept telling JT how bad the climb was, so by the time we got there it didn't seem so bad. We ate a nice pasta dinner and settled in to an evening of relaxation...except that we still had to arrange for lodging in Pottstown for the next night. I called Linda and she made some calls to the local motels. It turns out that there was a big lacrosse tournament coming to town on the weekend and that all the motels were booked except the Travelodge, which only had two single rooms for $80 each. We had to take them.

When Linda asked the woman at the Travelodge whether the motel was east or west of route 100, she asked, "Are you traveling north or south on 100?"

Linda, knowing this was silly, just said "North."

"Then it's on the west side."

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