I don't have pictures of our day in Monroe, PA. That's how good it was. Those movie moments, those pieces in movies that have no words, but a soundtrack of peace and perfection in your mind. The world whipped past us as we flew through it. Nothing disappointed and we were really starting our adventure now!
We left the huntin' cabin with the sun starting to cook the water vapor and us, which is not terribly uncommon in Pennsylvania. But there is something to be said about the reprieve of shade on one of the trademark balmy summer days of the Northeast. Further, the lazy breeze that comes from a car meandering down an old dirt road becomes the soft touch of relief. AWL let's old memories bubble up about every turn and pot hole on the road and it all becomes a gentle rhythm while I stick my feet out the window and close my eyes. I can practically see the world fade into black and white.
Alas, the road smooths out and the rhythm of bumping potholes and swaying maneuvers calms into the present day. The color begins to saturate the world again and the last of the wildflowers soak with their color and spread to little country patios filled with old swings and pots of petunias. There is nothing better than taking the back roads and letting your hair down to dance in the wind. We're headed to see AWL's dad.
We arrived on the back roads and then took off again without much ado. We rode his two Harley's over to the PA grand canyon. I'm pretty sure I've been there before, but what do you remember when you're a young'un?! As they so often say, it's not the destination, but the journey that counts. And there's nothing like a journey on the back of a bike (unless it's being front and center).
I remember an Irish cousin saying once that America was so frustrating, "you can't SEE anything." It's SO dense. I guess that is the result of choosing Pennsylvania as the destination. It is "Penn's Woods," as I learned in my early years. There's not much horizon to get lost in, but when you grow up in the forest, you learn to look carefully among the trees and pick up the details as they fly by. I have spent many childhood days in the back seat imagining a mystical moment unfolding in the underbrush. Everything hidden in the busy fast paced reality of the current age. And here I am again clutching AWL's waist. Alternating between peering into the forest, looking for Mr. Tumnus, unicorns, and sword fights and closing my eyes and letting the air wash over me. The heat of the day is nothing at this speed.
As we rolled into the parking lot of Pennsylvania's grand canyon (which coincidentally I found on this trip that most states have their very OWN grand canyon) just as the dark foreboding clouds began to fill the valley. We parked the bikes under a canvas of trees and made our way to a gazebo. We watched the showers march up to us and at once it was upon us, covering the entire canyon with steam and sauna temperatures. There was not much to be seen, so we sat and read the information boards and father and son spoke about mechanical boy things. I leaned over the rail and tried to feel the spray of the rain.
The rain cleared and the clouds rose above the ridge line just enough to see the river below and the covered wagons on the old rail lines. We watched and wondered and like Pennsylvanians do, we peered into the nooks and crannies and spotted hawks perching and nests near the end of their habitations. It was just a beautifully humid peaceful day.
As we left, we saw the clouds doubling back and we all silently watched the rain chase us back to the house. Having to stop at the local roadside stand for corn, we were helped by the happiest dirtiest 7 year old there ever was on a farm. It felt odd to see such a young boy lording over shelves of corn, tomatoes, honey, peppers, and other various crops with only the shaggy flea-bitten dog to keep watch with him. I felt teacher pride while we paid for our corn and he managed the change with no technology, no calculator, register, or adult to check on him. I wish I had one of these in my classes!
But then the dark clouds pushed upon our backs and we began to think that maybe we took too long after all marveling over how delicious everything looked and smelled. We're only a few miles from haven, but will we make it?
And we didn't. Swiftly it seemed the sun took to rest and a false night overshadowed us. We could hear the rain coming, but then we felt the road slick beneath us. We were running into the storm as we turned the corner. It started slow, and small, but stinging as it often does while you motor through a rain. I smiled to myself and laughed a little in my head. I love a good adventure. AWL turned to me and asked if I was okay as the rain started just POURING down on us. I laughed to him and said this was my favorite part of the day. Apparently we have more in common than I realized. I heard him smile while he said he better "hammer down." We drove into the rain like Han Solo drove through the stars and there wasn't a happier duo (even when AWL decided to duck his head to smack me with the stinging spray of rain at random moments).
Soaked and purely happy we sat on the porched with AWL's dad and stepmom, drinking tea and listening to old stories. And as the time stretched on we moved into homemade wines and warnings that the hours were getting on and it was too late to leave. Could there be a better day in Pennsylvania? It is very doubtful. But alas, there are other states to discover, and off to Indiana we went, driving into the sunset again.