guest blogger: Dorothy Blair
Seven a.m. found the PA IPL climate change riders pulling themselves up wearily from their sleeping bags and air mattresses, placed the night before on the hardwood floor of the Methodist Community Center. Just in time to get to an 8 a.m. service at pastor Ed Seeley’s Orbisonia United Methodist Church, and also to devour Lisa Seeley’s egg casserole and empty a couple of pots of strong coffee.
We were in for a treat. The service was a lively one of “Praise and Healing.” A lead tenor and female singer, accompanied by a pianist and bass guitar, led the congregation in about 40 minutes of songs of praise –words and images on the screen above the altar and banners waving at the sides. Then Pastor Ed led us to consider the care and feeding of our soul, so as to be capable of responding to the call of the Spirit.
After picture-taking on the church steps, we were off down Route 522 toward Burnt Cabins. The weather was chilly and windy and threatening rain, but we were full of energy and song. Jason led us through his favorite Beatles songs, and it went downhill into more lunacy. We heard Molly shout SILENCE, which quieted us down a bit, but we realized she actually said “10 MILES,” so we went back to our crooning. The terrain was green grass, woods and streams, mountains in the background, lots of farms, and many, many hills. I was perfecting my full speed ahead up a hill, then quick downshifting, as I ran out of steam. Twice today I popped my chain.
Luckily we were able to avoid the long crawl up Tuscarora Mountain by turning left at Burnt Cabins and biking through the Tuscarora State Forest to Cowan’s Gap State Park, a park road that follows a lovely woods stream through tall oaks and maples. More rolling hills. We picnicked at the Cowan’s Gap lake, squeezing jam from plastic jars on our thickly-spread peanut butter sandwiches.
Then we were off again, zipping down a long and giddy ride to Route 75 (more rolling hills) to Mercersburg. Suddenly we were experiencing full blown spring – leaves on trees, crab apples in full bloom, red bud and dogwood. What a change! Luckily everyone but me avoided the broken glass on the side of the road. Jason is an amazing flat changer, and in a jiff had my new tube back in place, but not before picking 20 pieces of glass out of my front tire.
We followed Route 416 through the stately town of Mercersburg, with its well preserved 1750s buildings, then headed toward Hagerstown – only 15 more miles! More rolling hills, fewer farms and more homes adorned with flowering trees. A turnoff on Route 58 brought us finally to Hagerstown, 52 miles from our start in Orbisonia.
Steven Wise met us at Christ’s Reformed UCC, where he supervises the recently completed wing for the homeless, featuring showers and a kitchen. It keeps 44 male and 12 female people off the streets from October to May. Soon Pastor Gregg Meserole brought our food –fettucchi alfredo, lasagna, and salad, and they both joined us for dinner. We tested out the homeless folk showers (ahhhhh) and spent the evening chatting companionably (while Bob and Ed made a quick beer trip to the sports bar up the hill). By 9 p.m., all suddenly realized how tired they were, and quickly departed to their cots in the social hall for some heavy snoozing.
Dorothy (and Bob, Ed, Molly, Janet, Jon, and Jason)