Bike Blog 2015.4: Crossing to MD— and a swim!

Guest blogger: Dorothy Blair (profiles: 2015, 2014)

IMG_6819[1]Sunday Morning in Orbisonia: At 6:30AM Karl Raynar roused us out of our sleeping bags with the smell of coffee brewing. Pastor Ed Seeley and his wife Lisa and their cooking crew soon arrived with scrambled eggs and bacon, pancakes, home-made maple syrup, yogurt, coffee cake, fruit and juice. I must have been stuck in REM sleep, because I just couldn’t wake up for a while, but their good humor, plenty of Pastor Ed jokes, and the smells of breakfast soon had me pushing the air out of my mattress and chowing down with the rest of the hungry bikers.

IMG_6820[1]The early morning service at Orbisonia Methodist consists of songs of praise and adoration – words projected on an overhead screen, while the congregation is led in song by the Huntington high school music teacher, his harmonizing companion and a small band of musicians. We were invited to join the congregation in taking communion, and afterwards were doubly blessed by Pastor Ed, who anointed our foreheads with oil, while congregation members laid their hands on our shoulders. Such a poignant gesture!

IMG_6834[1]Then we were packed and on the road again, greeting a gorgeous day and rolling through woods and farmland on PA route 522 – going through Shade Gap, “the valley of the shadow of death” according to early settlers and one roadside sign. We stopped occasionally to catch our breath and appreciate the verdant Appalachian ridge/valley scenes.

IMG_6846[1]Soon we pulled into the stream-lined woods road to Cowan’s Gap State Park – biking nirvana. Cowan’s Gap is a swimming park, and after we swilled our peanut butter, Nutella and jam sandwiches, Molly, Joyce and Noah had a swim: a relief, I bet, after almost 3 days without a shower. Personally, staying dry was more appealing to me, and the clouds were ominous. We all donned long sleeved shirts for the 3-mile downhill from Cowan’s Gap into the Mercersburg Valley, along which Jonathan made a death-defying video as he rode at 30 miles per hour of the trail of bikers behind him zooming down the hill. And we worry about texters!

IMG_6853[1]Immediately we were in a verdantly greener world, full of dogwood, crabapple and red bud in full bloom. More rolling hills, then we were met at the Milky Way dinner by Matthew Caretti, English and Buddhism instructor at Mercersburg Academy along with a crew of blue and white uniformed bikers, members of their road biking club: Chinese, Mexican, Kazakistan, and one local boy. They escorted us back to their gorgeous and impressive academy, where we got to know each other a bit and discussed PA IPL and the climate issues in their own country. Really impressive kids. [editor’s note: hey, look: they blogged about us, too!]IMG_6828[1]

We got an assist from them out of town. Another 19 miles and we were in Hagerstown at Pastor Gregg Meserole’s UCC church and homeless shelter. Soon we were eating chicken noodle soup, sandwiches, salad, fruit and brownie, courtesy of Sandy Shank; as usual, Steve, a church member and volunteer helped us find our cots. With full stomachs we bid farewell to Eric Sauder and Karl Raynar (and Karl’s wife Paula, who came to pick him up), and welcomed Tony and Fiona Philippe-Grugan, new bike riders who will make the trip to Washington D.C. from here. But for me, after all these adventures, there was no greater pleasure than that hot shower here at the shelter, ahhhh, at the end of a long day.

MANY THANKS to our 2015 silver sponsors Sun Directed and Beth Richards, KBB Realtor,
and bronze sponsors Freeze Thaw Cycles  and the Rock Ethics Institute for their support!
Learn about sponsoring PA IPL. Become a sponsor.

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