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Wandering in the night

Day 15: Newburgh KOA Holiday to Dingman's Campground (67.49 mi)

The Tri-state Monument, the intersection of three different states!

Today was the longest ride of the trip so far, riding mainly through rural areas of New York. However, in contrast to many of the sections north of Poughkeepsie, today's ride had quite a lot of open fields and exposure (also meaning it was hotter) compared to riding through forested sections of road. Constant rolling hills again, with the earlier morning ones being quite a bit steeper and slow going. Just before lunch, I ended up chatting with a very nice man who was mowing his lawn. Turns out he had ridden across the Northern Tier some years ago and we recounted many touring experiences with each other. It was quite pleasant, albeit a long conversation! Later in the afternoon, following the most significant climb of the day, I crossed over the Delaware and rode on a path that Google describes as "mostly flat" (boy do I not trust that at all anymore...) which really meant rolling hills that were at least substantially less steep. I made my way to Port Jervis where I ended up making about a 3 mile roundtrip detour to visit the Tristate Monument, the location that Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York meet. My eventual late arrival to my campground followed another 2-3 hours of biking, broken up by dinner in Milford.

I spent a lot of time in the Delaware Water Gap, crossing the river between NJ and PA at least 5 times!

My mind is kind of mush, there are things that happen during the day that I would note to write in the blog but all I can think about right now are mosquitoes. Let's chat about those buggers for a hot second. Getting bit my mosquitoes is inevitable when I'm camping everyday, it's the same old song and dance at every campground where I am trying to setup my tent as quickly as possible while swatting at the buzzing mosquito that comes in every few seconds or so. Tonight was different, they brought an army. Upon arriving at the campsite, I was immediately beset by maybe 40 to 50 mosquitos swarming around me. I don't know how I managed to setup my tent, or frankly how I still have any blood in my body. On one of my very first bike tours, I accidentally let a few mosquitoes into my tent, the next morning I had over 200 bites all over my body. I now have a very specific procedure for entering my tent to ensure this doesn't happen again: I enclose myself in the vestibule and then make a minimal opening in the door and barrel through, immediately closing the tent door. None of this leave the door open business while I setup the tent or bring my bags in. My strategy seems to work, even with this swarm. I hate mosquitoes.

Day 16: Dingman's Campground to Deer Wood Campground (84.64 mi)

Many bridges, many crossings

I didn't have signal on my cell for internet this morning, and so I was unable to check route alternatives. As a result, I followed my map's suggested route on the New Jersey side, which resulted in an immediate 700 foot climb followed by grueling hills for 28 miles. Meanwhile, I would later discover that the PA side would have been 4 miles shorter with a total of only 400 feet of climbing. The worst part of the hills was that I would get swarmed by midge flies and I would have to swat at them frantically while trying to climb as high as 12% grade slopes. Perhaps this blog is becoming too much of a soapbox for complaining, but when the suffering of climbing hills dominates your life for the whole day...well I'm probably going to complain! I had some nice ramen (!) in Delaware Water Gap at apparently the only sake brewery in the state of Pennsylvania, very cool (even though I don't drink)!

Flashbacks of the C&O canal?! Luckily there's a path on the side, no need to carry the bike!

Most of the rest of the day went by at a fairly frenetic pace. I found a route that really minimized elevation gain and I was able to make great progress despite being fairly unsure about reaching my destination given the morning's fiasco (I should mention I was going verrrry slow). Thankfully, I learned that the Delaware River actually has a beautiful 60 mile tow path alongside the Delaware Canal (and thankfully trails next to canals are quite flat!). This definitely gave me some nice memories of the C&O Canal Trail in DC and I was able to ride most of the late afternoon for over 20 miles on it! I stopped for a quick dinner at 7pm, 1.5 miles before my intended campground. Unfortunately, when I arrived, I realized that the campground was not a real campground and it was part of the state park canal trail which you are not allowed to camp on. My backup site down further down the trail was also the same. Uh oh. I have a rule not to ride at nighttime on the weekends, but I had to make an exception to find somewhere to stay and luckily I would be riding on the canal trail where cars are not allowed. Nevertheless, it is quite scary to bike in the complete darkness in the woods late at night, surrounded by a cacophony of insects, birds, and frogs. I banked on a campsite 9 miles away, which meant an extra hour of biking and bringing my total to nearly 20 miles higher than yesterday's previous record...thankfully, when I arrived around 10pm, a group of campers invited me to camp and hang out with them. Funny how these things always seem to work out in the end.

Day 17: Deer Wood Campground to Hyatt House Philadelphia/Plymouth Meeting (31.10 mi)

That's an odd campsite...

Big shoutout to the folks from Allentown's church (sorry I don't know which one!) for letting me join their campsite and feeding me for breakfast! Today, I am doing just a half day's ride, especially after yesterday's exhausting journey. I rode just outside of Philadelphia, stopping at a Hyatt in Norristown. The ride in was fantastic, although it was mildly hilly, there was a very nice bike path along the 202 for probably 15 miles. Time to get to resting!

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