Monday, November 4, 2013

Recumbent bikes, and Washington D.C.

Writing this, I'm sitting outside, on the back porch of church I found, using their power, and my Internet. I'm not exactly freezing, but I am cold. This negatively impacts my typing, but I manage.

This week started about midnight on Saturday. Wait.. I was still awake from the week before...?

Alright, for the purpose of this blog post, this (last) week started about mid-afternoon on Sunday when, as my hosts for the night were headed out, I needed to find someone else. Needing still to update my blog.. Um, yeah.. same thing happening right now. Almost. But I digress..

Anyway, after the shortest ever planned ride, in which I was actually heading towards my ultimate destination, I made contact with Robert Blanda through WarmShowers. His profile asked for a week notice, but when I asked on about a 4 hour notice, he said he'd love to have me stop by.

Now, because I like parenthetical thought and side notes more than actually telling stories and giving chronology, I'll take a little bit of a tangent for a moment.

Looking on the WarmShowers network website, or in the app, there's a box where people can say how much of a notice they would like ahead if you wish to stay with them. Some people leave this blank, a lot say 24 hours, or 1-3 days, and some request a week, which for me really doesn't make sense. I don't know how much distance I can make in a day, I don't know what's going to happen, so on the vast majority of cases I make hosting requests within 6-8 hours of when I would arrive at the destination. Maybe 10% of the time I solicit more than a day in advance. Perhaps it would be easier if I planned ahead, but..

Well, Robert, an IT/graphic design/photography professional, while he's never gone on a long bike tour what I'm doing, organizes a regular group of some two dozen people who go on "bike packing" trips (like, backpacking, with bikes), sometimes as long as a week or so. There are lots of rail trails and such in these parts that give opportunity for such without needing to spend time on roads. The majority of the folk on such trips, as it turns out, ride recumbent bikes, Robert included. He had me take out his trike for a spin, and I, being so much shorter than him I was laying almost flat in order to reach the peddles, found it to be quite an interesting ride. Maybe I'll have to try one out again some time.

Before I left he posted some pictures of me on Facebook, talking about my trip, then afterwards wrote a blog post about me. Before long I had several friend requests from various friends of his, and a few new followers to my blog.

Thanks Robert!

You can find out more about his organized trips by going to

That was the best story of the week.

On Monday I made it to Philadelphia. There aren't a lot of bridges from New Jersey to Pennsylvania (there is a waterway between, if you didn't know), and it just so happened that the sidewalk on the preferred bridge was closed. Not wanting to ride through Camden to catch the next bridge, I took the advice of a friendly police officer and got a ride from someone at the nearby liquor store.

I went to downtown Philadelphia, where all the historic sites are, but unfortunately I arrived just as everything was closing, so only got to see things from outside.

Part of the old Philadelphia trolly system.
I managed to see the Liberty Bell, and Liberty Hall, but was not able to see enough of the former to really prove that was what it was (being inside, while I was not), and somehow failed to get in a picture of the latter.
Steam gysers?
I did eavesdrop on a tour for a few minutes though.
Not sure the identity of this structure, but it made for a cool picture.

Please Touch Museum. Sounds fascinating.

I guess "Deleware Memorial Bridge - Port of Wilmington - Baltimore" does take up a bit of sign space.. 

This sign describes the case of one of two pieces of unclaimed land on earth - though, apparently, it's only slightly larger than the space underneath the sign.. 
I made it to Columbia, MD, with a little assistance on Thursday afternoon, where I spent the weekend with Greg, the brother of a friend of mine who I've never met, though their dad lives two miles from where I've grown up.

Having nothing he needed to do that weekend, Greg took me around on to see the sights of DC on Friday, Sabbath afternoon, and Sunday.
The Joint Strike Fighter - F-35B Lightning II
Well, on Friday we walked through the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, a companion to the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian.
The tiles of the space shuttle Discovery. You can clearly see the angle at which it falls through the high atmosphere on reentry. 

The space shuttle is one of few things I've seen that looks more impressive the farther away I got..
A small bit of the aircraft here - many of the Japanese aircraft were the only surviving examples.

The Metro, my first experience with lightrail.

Right after a light rain, the Capital building quite shone!

Washington Memorial during the day. Apparently they built the scaffolding after a semi-recent earthquake.
Secret Service police car. Also saw a US Capital police car but thought one police car picture was enough.
Some government office building...
Building apparently dedicated to women of the Civil War
WWII Memorial
Viet Nam War Memorial
I bet you can't tell what this building is..

The Washington Memorial
Korean War Memorial
FDR's well worn finger, where thousands of people have touched it..
Jefferson Memorial
I think this building belonged to the Department of Energy
When I first heard him I thought it was a marching band.
The Monitor and Virginia. No wonder the battle was inconclusive..
Pictures taken 150 years apart from the Smithsonian Castle, same angles, of D.C.
All in all we walked perhaps 15 miles in a 3 day period, and visited only most of the memorials, and a few museums, including the Air and Space Museum, Museum of US History, the National Archives, and the Smithsonian Castle, which is essentially the "this is the Smithsonian" building.

After all that walking I began developing a blister on my foot (currently taped so I can ride without problem). Also, it seems walking is so foreign to my system, my leg muscles (shins particularly), and the tendons at the back of my knees becoming rather sore. The latter made even standing up a bit uncomfortable Sunday evening up till Monday morning..

It was fun touring with someone else. I'll have to come back again, and maybe do something similar with someone on down the line some time...

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