I needed to be out in the world, riding, or making photographs, I’m not sure which. The mist cum rain shrouded the mountains in a dark gloom. Seven miles from home, the gray ribbon of limestone and mud flows through stands of White Pine and hemlock, oak and ash trees creating a sensual canvas of sight and smell that I can’t resist. Triggering those senses serves to reset a mind and body drawn thin from a week of work.
My first visit to this part of Rothrock State Forest came over 40 years ago when I drove a Volkswagen Beetle along the roads I continue to prowl on the Vespa. Thinking about the vehicles I have owned during my life I see a trend of spartan power and performance right up to the Honda Fit sitting in the driveway now.
The rain was light, just enough moisture to keep the camera wet and continually wiping the helmet visor with my glove. When I traverse these kinds of roads, especially when wet, I find myself wishing I had more aggressive tires. Too early for the Heidenau winter tires and too late to change out the summer ones. Even so, I can safely manage the scooter from 25 to 40mph depending on the amount of loose gravel, washboard sections, mud or crown height. Riding a scooter on wet gravel roads is a different piece of business from riding a motorcycle.
I suppose it’s part of the mental attraction to a ride serving now purpose beyond hitting the reset switch in my brain and perhaps tease the lizard brain.
Central Pennsylvania is a beautiful place in the fall. Riding through the woods I expected to see a black bear or two loping along the road or crossing in front of me. I’ve seen it before on foot or in the car.
But nothing this evening, just a few deer and the odd squirrel. It’s cold enough now I don’t worry about rattlesnakes as I tromp through the weeds and brush. The deer tick is the only evil worth paying attention to at the moment.
The Vespa can go just about anywhere a motorcycle can. Perhaps not as fast or with the same mechanical prowess, but it is a capable little machine. At least until you encounter water.
I expected to see pools of water but hoped to avoid any flooded areas which I did. But the low air intake on the scooter makes it a poor candidate for any sort of foolishness involving water or deep mud encounters. Doesn’t take much liquid or debris being sucked into the engine to cut a ride short.
I make sure to avoid water where possible and to absolutely know how deep a murky flow is before attempting any riding heroics.
My hope for drama in the sky with fog in the valley were dashed as I looked east towards Detweiler Natural Area and the Seven Mountains beyond. Not even an eagle soaring overhead or a screech owl to serenade me before turning towards home.
As the day began to fade my eyes adjusted for darting deer and the black bear I still hoped to see. I’m amazed at how well a ride continues to demonstrate a unique power to transform my attitude and outlook on life.
Sitting at home now thinking of other rides and what the next will bring. Until then a cup of tea and thoughts of dinner will transform the world again…