Thursday, September 11, 2008
Our second day in the mountains. Today we went through more developed areas - Bedford, Everett, and Breezewood - so the roads were good most of the way, but it was a little less scenic. We had arranged last night at dinner to get breakfast at the restaurant this morning before it officially opened, but when we went there at 7 as arranged, no one was there. So we headed off and planned to eat in Bedford. Bedford, like Everett and McConnellsburg, had a historic-looking downtown with an old movie theater, turn-of-the-century houses, and narrow streets. Very quaint looking. We managed to find a tavern that served breakfast after only an hour on the road. It was cool again this morning but not foggy, just very cloudy. It looked threatening all day but never rained and now we hear it may not rain until after 1 pm tomorrow, so we may be lucky and stay dry tomorrow as well. We had two big hills today, one at midday and one near the end, after we'd done quite enough minor climbs already and were quite ready to be at our motel relaxing. But we managed to get through both hills and all the other ups and downs and reach our motel at 3 pm, having done 44-1/4 miles in unde 5-3/4 bike hours, much better time than yesterday to our surprise.
We were on Rt. 30 again all day except for the very end. It danced around the PA turnpike for the early part of the day before swinging south for McConnellsburg. It was fun to see references to things that we normally see on the turnpike, like the exits for Bedford and Breezewood, the sign for the Midway service plaza, and Sideling Hill, which on the turnpike is the name of another service plaza but we actually went up the hill. Tomorrow we'll have one big mountain to climb first thing in the morning - Tuscarora, which the turnpike just tunnels through. After that, we'll be past the mountains and stay relatively flat for the next two days. It was especially fun to see Breezewood - the town of motels - which we've never been to but have gone by on the turnpike many many times. Breezewood is at the intersection of US 30, I-70, and the PA turnpike so it's jam-packed with motels, restaurants, and gas stations. It was a bustling town splayed out in the center of a valley. We stopped at a Denny's for lunch and found a pack of motorcycles parked there. When we saw the bikers inside, they said they had seen us climbing the hill into Breezewood and were surprised to see us there so soon. We had a good time comparing bikes in the parking lot later, but the lack of a motor on ours was a real deal-breaker for them. We actually saw a lot of motorcycles on the road today for some reason - might have had something to do with it being 9/11.
After Breezewood, the road got narrower and we ran into another section of road construction. They seemed to be expanding the shoulder, though, so how could we complain? It was a pretty rough stretch, though, and uphill to boot. It went through the Buchanan State Forest, which was very pretty and had a some nice parks in it. And at the top of the hill, just past the construction, we saw the Sideling Hill Summit sign - elevation 2,195 feet. We kept seeing streams alongside the road, which was very pleasant - sometimes it was the Juniata River or a branch of it. We saw several more historic markers today, one of which had to do with our motel. We didn't realize it when we picked the place, but Johnnie's Motel & Diner in McConnellsburg has been a landmark on Lincoln Highway since the 1940's. It also had a neat old gas pump outside the diner which a local artist had painted with scenes from the town's history. She called the town Pennsylvania's best-kept secret. It was a very pretty town with lots of antiques and artsy shops and charming houses along the downtown streets.
Tomorrow we'll have a short day (about 32 miles) and hopefully a dry one. Forgot to mention yesterday that we hit 18,000 total miles on the bike. We only have about 165 more miles to go and 3 more days to do them in!