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Day 1 - 8 Coast To Coast 1999 by Eric K. Andersen (click on images to see larger pictures)

Day 1 - April 30, 1999 Hoboken, NJ. As you enter the town of Hoboken, NJ, there is a sign that welcomes you to the birthplace of Frank Sinatra and baseball. This theme would be repeated throughout my journey across the United States. Towns, especially small insignificant places, would try to identify themselves by making special claims. Hoboken was proud of it’s connection to the legendary crooner even though he rarely returned to the town after he left it. There is a marker on the sidewalk in front of where the building stood that was his birthplace and a restaurant across from where I live is a shrine to his life, pumping "Night and Day" onto the sidewalk daily. At around 1pm, I met a friend to take some pictures at the new Frank Sinatra Park on Sinatra Drive on the Hudson River across from Midtown Manhattan. There is spot where the park meets the river and I put the rear wheel of the bike in the water hoping to repeat the tradition by putting the front wheel in the Pacific upon completion of my trip.  From "My Kind Of Town" it was a short 30 mile ride to my parents house in the suburbs on a beautiful, cool Spring day. The most difficult part of the trip was figuring out a route to get there. I found a road that went through Jersey City, Kearny and Belleville in order to bypass the urban sprawl of Newark and The Oranges. At one point a truck came very close to me as it passed by. A mile later, I stopped to allow a truck to enter the road, hoping to appease the truck Gods for my journey. I bicycled through Bloomfield and Verona and then headed to New Providence making it there easily for a farewell dinner out with the family. Total Miles: 30
Day 2   I spent the day closing up my apartment and preparing for the trip.
Day 3 New Providence NJ.   After saying farewell to my parents, I left early into another beautiful day. I stopped for lunch in Flemington and then again for a break in Sargeantsville. Along the way I passed a sign on a lawn that read "SWM, 40 seeks female" along with his phone number. I stopped at the general store in Sargeantsville that welcomes bicyclists since it is located along a popular biking route. The store was established in 1857 and is run by a Chinese couple. They offer sandwiches as well as Chinese food and they have a large selection of energy snacks as well. The spirited owner will provide tools and air pump if you need them too. I talked to several bikers while I rested and picked up a sandwich for dinner. This was the first time I was to tell other cyclists about my journey which at the time seemed like a daunting undertaking. I pedaled through the last covered bridge in New Jersey on my way down to the Delaware river and my first campsite at Bull's Island. A friend knew a ranger there and when I asked for her she was out on a call so I paid for a site from a grumpy old man working there. I picked a site on the river, set up my tent, ate and went to bed as the sun was going down. Total Miles: 60
Day 4 Bull's Island, NJ The weather the last few days had been amazing and was supposed to continue so I was surprised when it started to rain as I got ready that morning. The clouds were moving in unusually from the east. I crossed the river on the footbridge into Pennsylvania and the first real climb of the trip. I took a side road that climbed the steep slope up from the river. I had my rain gear on over my bike clothes and by the time I pushed my load up the steep grade I was covered with sweat. I took off a wet layer and rode on into the rain. The rain was never consistent, sometimes drizzling, sometimes pouring and sometimes clearing, but it was a dank day all the way to Phoenixville where I stopped for lunch. At the fast-food restaurant I noticed a man praying before his meal. I thought that was really nice until he licked the side of his hand as if preparing to drink a shot of tequila. That night I stayed at my cousin's in Downingtown. They prepared a feast and we had a great meal. Total Miles: 64
Day 5 Downingtown, PA I left that morning with more than I came. I had all kinds of leftovers and snacks that my cousin Jackie gave me. I stuffed pretzels, brownies, a great broccoli salad, an apple, banana and crackers into my pack. As I passed through Coatesville an old man hanging out with his friends on the porch of a beat up old building yelled, "now that’s the way to travel!" I gave him a big thumbs up as I rolled by. I passed through farmland cultivated by Mennonites. I passed a horse drawn carriage. Mother was driving and a little girl in a lacy bonnet stared at me as I pedalled by. She looked at me blankly as if I was an alien and I stared back with a smile. The route went into a small town and then cut back sharply. The carriage had turned before town and was in front of me again. I passed it again and received the same blank look from the little girl. I stopped for lunch at a bridge over the Susquehanna River and ate the salad and brownie. I crossed the river into rolling farmland. Sometimes I could get up enough speed to carry me over the top of the next rise. It was tiring and I still had a long way to go to get to the campground that my cousin Fred found in a directory of the area. As I was climbing up a slight grade, a man getting his mail noticed me. He held up the Adventure Cycling magazine he just received and asked if I was touring. What a coincidence. I told him of my trip and he asked me if I needed anything. I said sure and he invited me into his kitchen for some cold water. He had once set out to cross the country by bicycle but gave up in Ohio since the weather had been harsh. He planned to try it again and we had a great conversation about cycling and life. He gave me directions to a Rails-to-trails that would lead me to the campground. This would also take me off the roads and the riding would be level and easy. I thanked him and headed on, stopping in town for dinner before going to the campground. I found the North Central Railroad Rails-to-trials and crossed the Mason-Dixon line into Maryland. A few miles later I found the campground and settled in for the night. I had gone 78 miles, the most I had ever ridden by bicycle let alone towing 40 lbs. of gear in a trailer. Total Miles: 78
Day 6 Freedland, MD I started a little late this morning. I wasn't on the road until after 10. I continued down the rails-to-trails to Cockeysville. The path was nice and smooth and the slight grade was in my favor. The trail went through pretty countryside and I passed a few other riders out enjoying the nice day. I headed west towards Ward’s Chapel where a guy in a gas station told me of camping down the road in the state park. I had gone 45 miles and was ready to call it a day so I was disappointed when I got there and there was no camping allowed. I continued on and as I was stopped for a break, another cyclist came by. I asked him about places to stay in the area and he told me about a motel about two miles up the road. I found it but as I got there they were putting out the "no vacancy" sign. A man said there was lodging in Columbia so after eating dinner, I headed there. I had to ride illegally on I-29 for about a mile to get to town. Unfortunately the only place to stay was a Sheraton. My first night paying for a room would cost me $99 and only after I told the girl at the check-in of my trip and my problem. I went to a restaurant and had a big dessert before turning in Total Miles: 59
Day 7 Columbia, MD I ordered a great room service breakfast before starting the day’s ride. I figured I deserved it and hey, I'm on vacation. I made a wrong turn trying to get out of the residential hell of Columbia and ended up making a small loop. This added three miles to the day. Fortunately the road was mostly downhill to Rockeville where I stopped for lunch.  I picked up the C & O Rails-to-trails near Great Falls. I rode along the Potomac for about 15 miles through a light mist and swarms of gnats. The trailer bounced along nicely behind me. I was expecting the path to meet a paved road, but instead it was gravel. I rode for another 5 miles past sod farms before suddenly coming upon Lee’s Ferry which I took to cross the river into Virginia. I made it to my brother’s house for dinner. I had gone over 70 miles again and it felt good. Total Miles: 72
Day 8 Ashburn Farms, VA I took the day off to rest and hang out with my niece and nephew. We played video games and watched movies before heading to the Rainforest Cafe for lunch.  My legs and butt were sore so It was a day well spent.



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