My shoulder hurts so bad I can hardly type. Started writing by hand on Saturday evening but don’t get too far. A deep aching pain only relieved by sudden flashes of sharp pain caused by a strained rotator cuff. And that is a result of trying to get better pictures. Just one of the costs of better pictures.
Two goals were firmly in place when I left the house this past Saturday morning on the Vespa --- to see the sunrise and see a wild elk. Riding early means seeing magical light. Light that describes and defines the world in ways outside common experience. Those of you who routinely travel at dawn or dusk know what this means. I hope you stop once in awhile and actually look at things. Getting up early was a small price to pay when the alarm went off at 4:20 AM
The sun would rise at 5:56 AM and I was dressed and ready to go at 5AM but I hadn’t factored in the problems my new helmet visor would pose. Last week my clear visor broke and the dealer didn’t have a replacement. While waiting for a new one to arrive I purchased a tinted Iridium visor. Works great in the sun but was almost useless in the dark. So I had to wait until the pre-dawn glow was bright enough to see. When I am anxious to ride it is hard to wait.
At 5:50 AM I stop in a cornfield to watch the sunrise. Not notice it while riding but actually stop and watch. Like I do when Kim and I stay in Ogunquit, Maine and sit along the Marginal Way to watch the sun come up.
Riding on the morning clouds give way to a clear blue sky. I pass a single Harley and we both extend hands in acknowledgment of being out early in 55 F air. That’s really cold when you have gotten used to hot weather. Riding in the shadows of the forest was cold. I stopped in the bright sun to look out across a reclaimed strip mine and pull on another layer under my mesh jacket.
Vegetation slowly takes back and hides the disruption to the landscape surface but at best the place is only a ghost of its former self. The sun warms me enough to continue on towards the Quehanna Wilderness area.
A line of fog in the distance marks the West branch of the Susquehanna River. Descending off the plateau brings the scooter and me into sudden grayness. The temperature dips and my visor fogs making visibility bad. Whitetail deer stand along the road as I slow to 25 MPH and raise the visor.
want to take a look at the river and ride down a canoe access road. The water is quiet. Docile. Nothing like the torrent earlier this spring that attracts serious canoers. There is not a soul around. I have the world to myself.
I cross the river at Karthus and continue on to Quehanna, a vast tract of land that almost was lost except for a bit of foresight on the part of then Secretary of the Department of Forests and Waters Maurice K. Goddard.
In the 1950’s in a move to make this “useless” 50,000 acres of land profitable the state agreed to give it to the Curtiss-Wright Corporation to test and build aircraft engines. At the last moment before signing the agreement Goddard insisted the state get the land back should the enterprise fail. It did and now Pennsylvania enjoys this area where every cabin and camp and other human enterprise was stripped away. The place is a wilderness save for the paved road that runs around its perimeter.
It is on the Quehanna Highway that I pay another price for better pictures. It happened while stopped making the picture below.
It was a quick picture. Didn’t even take my helmet off. I didn’t like how the Vespa was arranged so I put the camera down on the seat and move the scooter off the center stand. If you look closely at the picture you might imagine what is going to happen next.
The scooter drops off the stand after a good hard push. I relax and the scooter tire rolls back off the road. The bump causes the camera to fly. I have to take my hand off the bars to steady it on the seat. The front wheel turns to the left and the scooter is taking on a life of its own. As I wrestle with it the Nikon D200 starts to slide. I am faced with a decision. Save the camera or save the scooter.
I grab for the camera and the scooter begins a slow descent towards the ground. My right hand is still firmly grasping the rail around the seat but the decision has already been made. As beautiful as the GTS is it looks bad lying on its side along the road. I continue to make bad decisions by not taking a picture of it in repose.
I get the scooter back up and the only damage is some gouges and scratches to the side. I have begun thinking about riding patina. It has been suggested that the optimum state of a Vespa is to look unused. That sort of flies in the face of the moment and of the use I put it to. I am going to have a user version of the Vespa.
It won’t be until I get home that the pain in my right arm blossoms, a result of unconsciously trying to save a lost cause. A visit to the doctor on Monday confirms a strained rotator cuff. No riding for a few days. My arm still hurts. On a scale of 1 to 10 for pain I offered 8. I’m a wimp though and not real smart of late.
The scooter still runs fine and I continue on in hopes of seeing elk and stop for a moment to admire a birch forest. Uncommon for Pennsylvania.
Elk could appear anywhere now. The herd is the only free ranging herd east of the Mississippi River. The native herd disappeared at the turn of the century but around World War I elk from the West were reintroduced and have now established a viable population.
I see the first elk from a place called the Winslow Hill Elk Viewing Area. The state has built a little observation area above a valley where they often roam. You can see them in the distance above the sign.
I wanted to see one up close. My dream was to have one next to the Vespa in fog. I ride on until a Harley rider waves me down and points towards a field.
Across a stream is a bull elk. That is as close as I’ll come on this trip.
This region of Pennsylvania is isolated. I stopped to try and call Kim to let her know where I was. Not sure why I thought there would be any cell coverage.
The ride was relaxing and I had a lot of fun and I stopped frequently just to look at the landscape. Even though the water levels were down on Wyckoff Run the sound of a small waterfall was like music.
The last unusual event on the trip occurred while I was stopped for lunch and looking over an atlas for possible routes home. A red Miata flies by and stops, backs up, and rolls down the window. Stacy and Gina are regular readers of Scooter in the Sticks and saw me sitting there. Small world.
My right arm started to ache during the last 50 miles and by evening I arrived at unsettling pain. It has taken several days of scattered attempts to get this post together. For some reason typing is an especially bad activity.
The ride was great even with the scooter drop and damaged shoulder. And the ride never fails to trigger a lot of ideas and issues to wrestle with. I’m ready to roll again. Another day or so and I should be in good shape.