Saturday, September 13, 2008
Today started out cool and cloudy, our favorite kind of weather. We left Shippensburg at 7:50 and had a very easy morning, thanks to the weather and the fairly flat road. We scooted up US 11, paralleling I-81, to Carlisle, going over gently rolling hills. The road surface wasn't the best, but we did have a shoulder all the way, sometimes smooth, sometimes rough. It was strange to be in familiar territory after so long. We saw our first Amish horse & buggy trotting along the road; the couple riding in it were nice enough to wave as I took their picture. There were lots of farm fields and old stone houses along the way. The stone houses seem characteristic of Pennsylvania to me; we didn't see houses quite like them anywhere else. We didn't see Shippensburg University, since it was north of the town, but we did see part of Dickinson College when we went through Carlisle. We had a bumper crop of historic markers today and tried to get most of them, but there were so many of them in town that we couldn't stop for them all. The town of Carlisle was very historic-looking with nicely maintained older buildings and a number of eating places and cute shops that seem to go with being a college town.
From Carlisle, we headed towards Harrisburg on SR 641. We seemed to be skirting to the south of the mountains - we could see them in the distance to our left, but the road remained pretty level. We made great time which was nice because we were planning to meet a cousin of Pat's for lunch in Harrisburg, right across the Susquehanna River. On the way to Harrisburg, we went through Mechanicsburg, another quaintly historic town, and Camp Hill which was a small suburb near Harrisburg. The Susquehanna looked lovely today, with quite a bit of water. There are some lovely bridges over the river and a very pleasant riverfront park along it. We got to the east side of the bridge shortly before Bill did and, with a little trouble finding a place for him to park, we soon were enjoying his company and the wonderful food he brought for our picnic lunch. He also had a cute puppy with him that he had taken in after finding it abandoned near his home.
After saying our goodbyes to Bill, we headed off along the river towards Elizabethtown. We passed through Steelton, a fairly depressed, industrial town that had grown around the steel industry, making use of the nearby river and railroad. The next two towns, Highspire and Middletown, were in somewhat better shape but it was not a particularly scenic part of the day. After Middletown and the Harriburg International Airport, though, we got back into a more rural area, which was very nice. It also began to get hillier and, at the same time, warmer and more humid. We had a few relatively steep hills coming into Elizabethtown, which slowed us down a bit, and we were happy to get to the Masonic Village where Pat's aunt, Emily, lives and get settled in there for the night. We arrived at 4 pm, having done 58 miles in about 5-1/2 bike hours, our best average of the week. Emily, as usual, took great care of us. We showered, did laundry, and ate a wonderful dinner that she had prepared for us, and soon went to bed dreaming of getting home tomorrow.