I am not lost in the geographical sense. I know perfectly well that we are in East Strousburg, Pennsylvania, in the famous Poconos mountains.
When I say famous, I mean that it is an area known to only a few, distinct, and unrelated groups. The first, of course are the locals. Now this is the area where the Delaware River forms the line in the sand between Pennsylvania, with the Amish, fueds over who has the best cheesesteak sub, and the Liberty Bell, from New Jersey. There is a politian in New Jersey, Govenor Christie, who simply for the fact he is not Sarah Palin, may end up on the GOP ticket next presidential election. He looks quite good in a crisis, especially wearing a sweatshirt. I am surebhe has tried very hard to improve the current world opinion of New Jersey, but his efforts, just like every effort that has been undertaken by politicians in that state, has been undermined by nefarious forces. These are the loud, obnoxious, super tan, incredibly buff New Jersians who can, in one single episode of a reality show, reinforce every negative stereotype that New Jersey has while at the same time creating new sterotypes for the world to guage the dysfunctionality of the community by. So, some of the locals are from the wrong side of the river.
The second group that knows the Poconos is New York families, especially Jewish families, that have at least one member who was over 13 in 1965. An entire generation of New York Jews, who were educated, and thanks to the GI bill, homeowners, developed careers in everything from law to plastics, and at least once a summer packed the kids in the car for a stay at a Poconos resort. There, away from the pressures of the workday, the neverending slog of childrearing, and the eyes of nosy neighbors these families got close to nature by driving through it until they reached carefully manicured lawns, golf courses, quaint cabins, and shuffleboard.
A third group consists of people who were convinced by a travel agent that the Poconos were even better a honeymoon destination than Niagra Falls. If you are too young to understand why Niagra Falls would even enter into a discussion about eastern Pennsylvania, you just might be part of that generation born when the Yuppies forgot to use birth control.
The last group doesn’t know the real Poconos at all, but are convinced that they do because they have committed to memory every scene, line, and song of the movie Dirty Dancing. This group continues to grow as every few years some kid “discovers” that movies used to come on a big clunky roll of tape, plays around with an old VCR, and is soon doing twirls in the hallway to music from the part of the early 1960’s when it was still segregated black from white. Now, in 2013 this event can be traumatic for some families, as Mom may have actually concieved junior during said movie, or may have been part of the Insane Clown Posse and unaware of its’ existance.
Tooling around the eastern United States on a Harley Davidson Roadking has days that are exciting and fun. There are days when surprise and discovery are as frequent an occurance as black leather jackets on bike week. There are days, like at the beginning of our trip, when even a $200 all-weather suit and a full face helmet can’t stop the rain from getting in and on your skin, hair, and clothing. And then there are the days that Pennsylvanian Poconos, New York cities, and New Jersey combine into an unholy trinity that is surely the offspring of Satan and a wood nymph.
The day started in Kingston, NY at a hotel built with 200+ rooms and a confrence center back in the 1970-80’s. Looking back, I remember how cool and unusual it was the first time I stayed in a room that overlooked an entirely fake forest with a charming courtyard and swimming pool. To do so was certainly better, more upscale, than a room that merely looked out onto the parking lot, the expressway, or the back of a bottling plant!
This gem from days past had recently been approved by the Best Western chain, and was undergoing extensive renovations. However, for only $109+tax Brian and I had a lovely, if slightly shopworn, handicapped room with a roll in shower big enough for two, a king size bed, and a semi lovely view of what was probably a runoff ditch at one time. Thanks to the deluge of rain, it now had the action and speed of a nice mountain brook. It was enjoyable to look at once you got over the muddy appearence of the water with the occaisional shoe, tire, or lawn chair that an upriver flood had torn from it’s moorings.
Other than his eggs being cold, Brian enjoyed the free breakfast, as did I. He had an enjoyable swim in the pool and soak in the Jacuzzi while I unpacked, and I played Lord Of The Rings pinball to unwind.
Today started, like all my mornings, with a dim sense of a noise that didn’t belong. Eventually I figured out it was the alarm clock, and tried to move. As pain shot through frozen contracted muscles and swollen joints, the reality that I really was back living in this body riddled with multiple sclerosis and a laundry list of equally bad things hit me all at once. It is by far the worst time of the day, that moment I go from dreams to reality, pain, and reminders of my mortality.
The loading took forever. On a bike you have to be so careful about the amount of weight and that it is equally balanced, and since we didn’t find a trailer we could afford everything had to fit on the bike. While bungee cords are the most popular options, I have always been suspicious of the actual quality of the type sold at dollar stores. I was also less than sure that my better grade bungees would still be up to the task as they were well over 15 years old. Good old fashioned rope was always my preferred method of securing thing to a moving vehicle, and during my many moves and a brief period running a furniture bank with nothing more than a small pickup truck. It was one serious miscalculationI had made planning the trip, because the allotted 30-45 minutes at the beginning of each day probably got chewed up just with rearranging the way the load was stacked to compensate for all the food, depends, and other materials used up along with the shrinking weight of clean clothing and the growing collection of dirty laundry.
Each morning, it was easily a 2 hour job to pack each bag, takethem out, computethe weight of each, set upthe distribution, tie the stuff down, do a weight and balance check with Brian sitting onthe bike, and then actually add me on the back to do one more weight and balance check. Only then did the bike actually get fired up so we could hit the road.