I have no idea what to write. Only a handful of photos from a recent ride. A ride fueled by a desire to be on the road and in the world. No goals. No destination. Just the need to recharge my spiritual batteries. To take a long Vespa ride.
At this point in my life you wouldn’t think I would need to justify or rationalize why I’m getting on the Vespa. Oddly though, I find myself at times struggling for a reason. Perhaps desire is enough.
I sat at the end of the driveway for a few minutes wondering which way to go. I was reduced to left or right. Growing impatient I muttered to myself, “F*ck it” and turned left.
All I was doing was keeping the Vespa in motion, confident that some plan or idea would surface. As the scooter rolled along familiar pavement I remembered a conversation with a friend about an Amish bakery. A plan emerged and 40 minutes later found myself surveying boxes of Bear Claws and cream filled donuts in a self-serve bakery along Smulton Road in Smulton, Pennsylvania.
No one was around. A can with cash sat on a table to accept payments. All the regular donuts were gone — the telltale chocolate rings evidence of the prize I was after. I left without sampling the more complex cream filled offerings.
With donut dreams dashed, I decided to cross over the mountain into Sugar Valley. A week later I would learn of another Amish bakery there. For now though, I was just riding to where ever I ended up.
The air was still cool and damp as I crested Nittany Mountain. I had been there before. Many times. And each time it feels different. No two rides are quite the same.
The road stretches to the horizon in Sugar Valley as I pass farm after farm. Sometimes this route feels endless; almost tedious. And other times it’s flush with scenes of tractors and cows, Amish buggies and men plowing fields with teams of draft horses. I find myself often passing this way again and again.
And suddenly I’m in Williamsport. The miles passed with little I can now recall other than I had to stop for fuel and I was hungry. On a back street of some unknown neighborhood I found Peg and Bill’s Diner where I would enjoy one of the better breakfast’s I have had in a long, long time.
I don’t often ride in urban areas. While Williamsport isn’t New York City or Philadelphia, it is as urban as one will find in central Pennsylvania and I took the opportunity to wander back and forth along streets and alleys, surveying stores and businesses and taking in the sights.
I had heard of Roy’s Bakery and the delicious cookies they bake. After the near miss at the Amish Bakery it was a pleasant surprise to find it. All they seem to bake is cookies. I left with a small waxed bag with three cookies — chocolate chip, peanut butter, and a pumpkin-shaped sugar cookie.
A snack for the road.
Not sure if it was the call of the cookies or the fact that I had been riding for six hours that drew me to the roadside rest area not far from Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland; a good place to go if you’re frightened by snakes and alligators.
These old style rest stops are at best — seedy. Nothing like their Interstate cousins. This one had trash strewn everywhere, paths into the woods for bathroom breaks and more, and all topped off with an annoying swarm of mosquitoes. Any joy from the cookies was sucked away by this place.
Corn is being chopped and winter wheat and other cover crops planted. Sure signs of autumn and the melancholy approach of winter. I’ve always felt odd this time of year, some quasi genetic/spiritual recognition of the passing of time and the universal dying of things. As I get older it continues to change and intensify as I sense the rhythm of life.
Damn odd feelings for a ride.
By the time I stopped to make this photograph I had ridden 125 miles. My right shoulder ached from holding the throttle — a sure sign of not doing a lot of long rides. Thankfully, my backside has remained adequately tempered for time in the saddle — near six hours at this point. Traffic all day had been low and only a few other riders passed by.
I still didn’t know where I was going other than home. Pulled into the garage seven hours after I left with a 150 more miles on the clock. From the moment I left in the morning it seemed like I was heading home. Not sure what that’s about. Not sure I care.
It was good to ride. And eat sugar cookies.