07/30/06 Issue 6 - Moon Over Parma!!!!!!!

So the tomorrow I referred to last email was Friday, for those who didn't guess. I left at 2 P.M. I took York Rd (hi Frog) out to Gettysburg (the cradle of the Civil War), and State Route 30 from Gettysburg until it ended just west of Pittsburgh. Rt 30 is my new favorite passage through the Appalachians! The views and vistas are AMAZING! I mean I-70 is good, especially so if you are in a hurry, but 30 is by far the most aesthetically pleasing. Take a car with good handling and better brakes. A Porsche would be best, the windows on a Lotus are too small, and a Lamborghini is too close to the ground. The hills went straight up for 2 miles, around a hairpin turn, and then straight down for 1.5 miles. Well, straight down when there wasn't a switchback every 10 feet. In the niche of every mountaintop hairpin was a bar/restaurant. Just what we need. Drunk people on those roads! That's an overpopulation solution if I ever heard one. No, I didn't go in and have a beer.

On Rt. 30, there is an 8 by 8 foot plank wooden sign. On this sign is a large blue passenger airplane with the words Flight 93 and an arrow pointing right. There is a temporary monument to the victims of Flight 93, the flight that went down in a "remote Pennsylvania field". This Pennsylvania field had 2 large coal removing crane looking objects, a scrap steel yard, and a scar in the ground that is currently full of water. The monument consisted of 4 largish stone plaques embedded in the ground, a 30 foot wall with hats, helmets, vests, patches, pictures, and drawings, and a 6 inch thick cross section of tree with a carving that mourned the passing of 5 boyscouts. In all seriosity, the woodcarving to the boyscouts really got to me. All of the memorials were privately funded with no government input aside from the land. It delivered to me one of the rare pangs of patriotism this country's current policies afford me. Just 'cuz I'm anal about documentation, I went to a covered bridge on the way back and reminded myself that this bike is not built for gravel roads.

It was almost sunset and I was still 60 miles east of Pittsburgh, with a bed waiting for me in Cleveland (about 4 hours out of P-burgh by highway). With one more mountain to go, I figured it couldn't be too bad. I was wrong. I think that it was Allegheny mountain with a height of 2914 feet. The bike took the ascent like Lance Armstrong takes the Alps (Where do they get these names for mountain ranges? The Rockies make sense, but the rest of 'em just don't). The crest is called Bald Knob. As soon as I was on top of it, I knew I was on the wet side of the mountains. The humidity immediately jumped to 97%, and I could no longer see through my visor. Worse yet, the wind picked up to 50 mph and tried to throw me into a telephone pole. No problem, just slow down to 10 below the speed limit, and try to keep my heart from jumping out of my mouth, dancing a jig on my helmet, and forcing it's way into my chest through my right ear. Admittedly, I wouldn't mind if my heart actually did that, but I don't want to clean up after it. Back to the story at hand. No telephone pole sandwiches full of Pete. Although the fog at the bottom that persisted in every dip in the road for the next 200 miles did not help at all. I always thought that it would be cool to ride through fog on a motorcycle. The tendrils of smoke wisping at the lines of a car lend themselves a certain romance that one would expect to transfer to more intimate contact. Romance, however does not describe the sensation. Those things are cold! Really cold! Like 20 degrees below ambient temperature. And when you're in a 4 mile river valley with pea soup fog and you can't see the people behind you, let alone the people coming in the other direction, AND your visor is now opaque with condensation AND your are eating bugs by the dozen 'cuz if you don't breath through your mouth, they get in your sinuses and twitch... Romance is no longer the term that comes to mind. But thankfully, that valley ended in just one more mountain. Lower than Allegheny, but with switchbacks every 5 feet instead of 10, passing semi's, and ending in a 15 mile downhill with 6% grade going straight into the city of Pittsburgh. Did I mention that it turned into a grooved 4 lane highway?

Pittsburgh is a much cooler city than I ever gave it credit. In my head it will forever been known as The City of Grit and Steel. It looks like "eden" in The Prophecy sequels. There are steel bridges everywhere, smokestacks full of fire, dilapidated warehouses, abandoned trainyards, and rivers running on either side of it. It is a testament to what men can do with industry. There is a fine patina of coal dust over everything that is more than 10 years old. From a standpoint based solely on "look how far we've come as animals", from the mentality that brought us atomic energy, Pittsburgh is a beautiful city. I would even consider living there for a few months at some time. The opportunities for photography in that city are without measure. I guess that the same could be said for Baltimore... only without the coal dust.

Enough of Pittsburgh, time to move on. It's 10:30 P.M. and I'm on my way to Cleveland. I tried to avoid night riding. I wanted to see everything as it passed, but there's a warm bed and cool company waiting up for me "4 hours" away. Not much to say about Ohio except hot, wet and foggy. I have given up on the visor at this point. I wipe it off when I get gas, and can use it for a full 20 minutes, but that fog is still in every 2 foot ditch. So when it's 4:00 A.M.(a little more than 4 hours), and I still haven't hit the landmarks that I'm expecting, it is driven home to me how much more efficient highways are. When my cool company (Melinda) calls me at 4:30, and I'm looking at a map at a gas station, trying to figure out the best way to get to her house, I take her advice, and the highway. 45 minutes later, I'm in Cleveland. I change into bedclothes and pass out. I slept the sleep of a 15 hour drive. I will NEVER do that again on this trip.

Today we explored the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Pink Floyd Exhibit was among my favorite. They have a Bob Dylan exhibit right now on the top 2 floors. David Bowie changes images more often than I change underpants. Rock-a-Billy is still the hippest jive, daddy-o. And I know now why the Hall of Fame is in Cleveland. A Mr. Alan Freed not only coined the term Rock and Roll, he popularized it with his Moondog radio show. He did all of this in Cleveland.

A little more trivia... The Cuyahoga river once caught fire! I'd have liked to see that.

This long long journal entry was brought to you by The Great Lakes Brewing Company's Holy Moses White Ale. Not worth the journey to Cleveland, but definitely worth the journey to the store.

Tomorrow: Ann Arbor (maybe)

Until next time

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