Along Route 35, in Richfield, I passed a gas station; Citgo I think. I rode on about 1/4 mile before deciding to turn back and fill up my 3.2-gallon tank (in ideal conditions, I get close to 140 miles off a full tank including reserve fuel). My intention was to camp in a state park a few miles down the road and into a state forest. However, all of this changed and dramatically when I met Anthony "Tony" Graybill at the Citgo pumps. For instance, he informed me that the "state park" was actually a primitive "state forest campground" with neither facilities nor campground hosts. This was exceptionally bad news for two reasons: (1) I was running (since leaving Asheville) without any lights at all and (2) it was 7:30PM and the nearest state park was at least 1 hour away (Reeds Gap or Paddy Creek S.P.). Appreciating my predicament, and being a CX "nut", Tony suggested he call a friend and general motorcycle enthusiast (especially sidecars) that would likely let me pitch my tent in his yard. After a brief cell phone call, I was following Tony along routes 35, 140, and west on a very pretty section of 522 to Middleburg, PA. All of this led to the home of Claude and Joanne Stanley.
Claude Stanley, Middleburg, Pennsylvania
Claude works for a company that sends prefabricated log homes all over North America and even a few to offshore locations including Germany and Japan. By accumulating rejected pieces from the factory, Claude has been able to build two complete homes on his property in Middleburg; his mom lives in one and Claude and Joanne live in the original homestead. Both homes are treated with a rich brown stain on natural siding; the trim is something like a forest green. Oak-dominated forest follows a gradual slope coming off a hill just south of the cabins and surrounds the cabins and grounds on all sides. As might be suspected, these woods draw in the local wildlife. Joanne showed me where deer often graze perhaps 10 feet from her windows. I heard coyotes as I drifted into sleep. As I packed my tent the next morning, I heard perhaps fifteen bird species singing or calling nearby including red-bellied and pileated woodpecker, great crested flycatcher, eastern phoebe, ovenbird, chipping sparrow and chestnut-sided warbler. The opportunity to pitch my tent amongst this setting was a tremendous privilege, but this was only the beginning of the generosity these folks had in store.
Inside the Stanley home(s) I met Bridget, their niece, Nana and her nurse, friend and fabulous cook Rosaline, and of course Joanne. They also had a number of cats that I was not able to count. But at least one preferred to hang out on rooftops. Joanne and Claude led Tony and I over to Nana's place for supper. Rosaline had prepared an outstanding dish including steak, kielbasa, and cabbage. I had two helpings and several glasses of good clean water that I suspect ran down from the hills beyond the cabins. By now, it was just about 10:30PM. Around this time, Tony stood up and suggested we go out to his shed (built on Stanley land), pull out his spare CX500 V-Twin engine, and remove the stator. Shortly after, he asked $40.00 dollars for the part but said he did not require payment right away. His exact words were something like, "send me the money whenever you can".
Following two valuable hours of lessons on the function and proper removal of several engine components, I had a stator in hand that experienced only 10,000 miles of use before the engine was made available for parts (bike was in a wreck). Along with the low miles, the stator color, pointed out by Tony and Claude, showed no signs of damage from overheating.
I did not, even when speculating wildly, ever expect to return to Massachusetts with a stator in my saddlebag. However, in all of my speculations I failed to include the factor of extreme generosity and unpredictability that strangers freely offer when a person, like myself, sets to wandering on the road. After ten years of traveling on and off again in North America, I have come to expect kindness when I approach strangers. But still, like most things, most people fall into the average, a few below and a few above. Given this fact, I will forever be impressed, in this story, by my good luck of encountering many above-average strangers exactly when I needed them, often, and far from well-traveled routes. Now I wonder, perhaps, if the Honda stator was only a means to a much larger end?
Text & photos © André Breton