The next morning, after coffee and good conversation with Joanne, I rolled back down the 1/4 mile of dirt road between the Stanley's home and Rt. 522 (this section of Rt. 522 is exceptional). As I departed, I may have felt as good as I did when, two days ago, I traded a long stretch of interstate for red line and rode onto Skyline Drive. Not far from Middleburg, I accessed a multilane highway heading south along the remarkable Susquehanna River Valley. Just down the road, I approached and passed by Harrisburg, PA.
My destination this morning is a tribute to all my family and friends including those I met between Cherokee, NC, and central Pennsylvania. Up until the morning of June 30, I falsely believed that I had visited all 48 of the lower states on my '82 CX. On that morning, while fingering through my road atlas at the PA welcome center off I-70, I realized I had missed Delaware! For the next few hours, I was reasonably certain that a trip to Delaware was not necessary. Then I met Tony, the CX enthusiast and he was thrilled to hear about what I'd done on my own CX. Next, of course, I met a similar enthusiast, Claude, and like Tony, he was impressed enough to ask for a picture of me with the bike. I cannot recall anyone else, over ten years, ever asking for such a picture. After about ten hours of talking with my little voice inside, and those experiences just described, I decided I had no option but to head southeast towards Delaware in the morning.
Along the way, I met Crail Gordon Jr.. He and I talked at the pumps long enough for an attendant to ask, "if our meeting was over yet". Unfortunately, for that fellow, it was not. I suspect Crail and I held up that pump for a solid 40 minutes. Crail was wearing jean pants and a vest, biker boots and dark wrap style sunglasses. His ride was a recently purchased Harley-Davidson. Turns out, Crail is CEO of a vinyl compounds manufacturing company out of Denver, PA. But our conversation never approached "vinyl"; instead, we shared our philosophies of how things were and how we'd like them to be. If you can believe it, I felt some emotion when I waved goodbye to Crail. Somehow, in less than one hour, Crail and I formed a respect similar to that shared between brothers. Just before we parted, Crail provided local knowledge of the area that allowed me to slip easily into Delaware and then onto I-95 north.
A few hours later (I stopped for lunch) Ms. Culpepper and I rolled into Delaware and (really this time!) our 48th state. Combine these states with five Canadian provinces and 50,000 road miles and you have a very brief summary of a very long story. Folks often wonder why I've gone so far and so often. I did not have an answer that satisfied me until recently...as recently as about the middle section of my cross-country trip in 2003. There are two parts to the answer. The first part I'll take from my 2003 trip journal: 12 July 2003, "My trips are made in search of rediscovery. In this sense, they are similar to trips of discovery made by individuals like C. Darwin, L. Agassiz, J. Muir, and E. O. Wilson". Second, I have come to realize that my trips provide a means to search for serendipity, i.e., wonderful events that happen by chance.
Text & photos © André Breton