We were supposed to be on vacation this week. We were supposed to load up bikes with touring gear and hit the road, going somewhere we’d never been, exploring unfamiliar territory. First the plan was somewhere in West Virginia, then northern Pennsylvania’s Elk Country, then the burning ghost-town of Centralia, a place we have both always wanted to go but haven’t yet.

But in the end, the world seemed to conspire against our leaving, so after a plethora of unforeseen issues, we decided to just stick around home, to relax and do all the things we keep saying we’d like to do but haven’t been able to find the time to.

Yesterday morning, after a leisurely hangout to get our coffee fix and some sustenance, we set out on bikes from our house, planning to take the long way into town, maybe grab a bite to eat there, and then figure out the rest of our day.

It was the perfect day to be out riding—sunny but not too sunny, warm but not too hot, winds strong enough to be pleasantly cooling but not strong enough to be brutal. We wound through the back roads of Hartslog Valley, along the way making a decision to grab some pizza at a gas station along Rt. 22 that serves some remarkably good pie, then continue on to Barree and ride a longer loop, instead of just heading into Huntingdon.

Cruising along Hartslog Valley Road.
Cruising along Hartslog Valley Road.
Typical Central Pennsylvania.
Typical Central Pennsylvania.
...and so is this.
Old buildings and rusted cars.

Bellies full, we got back on the bikes, pedaling through the town of Alexandria, Evan pointing out the old canal and other historical landmarks. I’d driven on these roads so many times before, but this was my first time biking them. It always amazes me how much more you notice, how much more you can see, how much more you appreciate everything around you as you pedal country roads on a bicycle, as opposed to just flying by in a car.

Past Barree, we headed into Rothrock State Forest and onto gravel for a bit, then back onto hard roads, past farms and grazing cows and a lone emu. On our way back towards home, we detoured into Game Lands 322 for some off-road adventures on the Fargos.

Gravel travel.
Gravel travel.
Into the Game Lands.
Into the Game Lands.
Rocks on skinnies and drop bars---always a treat.
Rocks on skinny (ish) tires and drop bars—always makes me feel badass.

After an exciting descent down mud and rocks, and a bushwack through the woods, we were on the road towards home. We picked up our truck that was getting new tires (part of the unforeseen issues was a flat), then retired to the local coffee shop for milkshakes, casual conversation, and basking in the sun.

Sure, maybe I was a little disappointed that Evan and I didn’t get to go somewhere new for our week off together, since I know we have a busy summer ahead and this was probably our last chance to go anywhere until sometime in the fall, but that disappointment is quickly fading. Honestly, sometimes it’s nice to be able to explore familiar areas in a new way, to sleep in and hang out in the mornings, to not have a plan but know that we have an entire day ahead of us to do anything we want, together.



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