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  • Writer's picturePatrick Baechle

Go West young man

I'm sitting on a bench in a charming, pleasantly illuminated wooded city park in Morristown, New Jersey; filled with couples holding hands; seniors strolling with their friends; families sitting on the lawns on blankets and children running around giggling. It's an ideal summer evening, and I am listening to a ukulelee band of 15 people strumming 'Lord I was born a ramblin man', followed up by 'Hit the road jack'.

The day didn't start out as well. Two blocks after Danny said "Go west young man" I did, until Avenue B, where I got a major flat front tire from a sharp piece of glass which, also sliced the tread a little. I walked it a couple blocks to a bike shop to get it fixed but, they were closed, so I had to fix it myself. Today, I used Suave shampoo, with volumizer, to get the tire bead to pop on the rim.

The next 2 hours were spent meticulously trying to get back over those same two truck route bridges I road into the city upon on Sunday night. The difference was, today, they are loudly roaring, even more madly, at a much higher velocity, by insanity propelled. tunnel visioned truck drivers.

I still had to lift my bike and all its gear up on and over a guard rail, again, to get to a safe place to move through this crazy web of complex twisted cloverleaf ramps, going and coming from every direction, with a disturbing absence of yield signs.

Once I got out of the thick of it, traffic started to thin out, outside of West Orange. But, then, out of nowhere, I had to climb a mountain. I immediatly started griping because, I thought "damn, I'm not even back in Pennsylvania and the climbing is already starting" But it just seemed like one mountain, from the map, and it was kind of unusual that the trail route was planned to ascend this particular mountain.

Then I got to the crest and Shazam! What a view. I had arrived at Eagle Rock Reservation. Here was this park, with this lookout, with a view I had never imagined. From this high loft you could see 50 miles east. And there, off in the distance was the entire Manhatten skyline, from one end to the other.

Today, it appeared as a cool misty blue-gray silloette on the horizon; almost like a mountain range in the distance; with many sharp peaks and valleys. But when you see it, you are astonished; and it takes your mind some time to process the scene because, you know that all of these are man made structures, rising up tall, out of a flat island in the Hudson River. It is a phenomenal sensation.

Apparently. because of the commanding view, this lookout was used during the Revolutionary War to spot enemy ships and troop movements along the Hudson River and it is also known as an eagle migration observatory and a 911 memorial is also in the park.

This pleasant discovery made the mountain climb well worth the effort (er, should I say "push" not climb and not ride - kinda steep).

I hope that I will experience such similar joy and elation upon reaching the crest of each and every upcoming mountain climb in Pennsylvania in the upcoming weeks.


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