Yesterday we all awoke at 6am to the sound of Neil’s alarm. A few hours later I woke again to find Neil and Leo asleep on the floor, as apparently it had been too cold to start cycling. When eventually everybody set off a further few hours later, Ed and I visited our first diner for breakfast. It really was like a diner in the movies and my egg, cheese and ham bagel was a delicious start to the day. We then had a quick wander around the Botanical Gardens, which were nice, though the birdsong was curiously drowned out by the noise of the interstate (think the M1) on one side and the equivalent of a British A road on the other.
We pushed on to Scranton, stopping only for the town of Factoryville (disappointingly, it featured no factories that we could see) and a scenic overlook that featured no scenery to look over. In fact, other than the large viaduct towering over us, the focus of the overlook appeared to be a large commemorative stone to two apparently insignificant congressmen who had spent their boyhoods in this town; one of them had only been elected in 1998 and had lost his seat last November after his mistress complained of assault. It is difficult to imagine a British town deciding to erect a monument to, say, David Mellor or Neil Hamilton.
Andy and Alex, thanks to the TomTom, eventually reached the motel after the hardest day yet. Once again Neil and Leo were collected in the car from a street corner a couple miles away – they’d gone the wrong way, then my instructions to head along North Keyser Avenue failed as I didn’t specify which direction they should head, causing them to end up a further two miles away.
In the evening we drove into Scranton, a task made more complicated by six people not fitting into five seats, so I drove the monster truck in twice to accommodate everybody. Scranton felt like a ghost town considering it was a Saturday evening, which according to the multitasking waitress in the steak house was because it was a student town and all the college kids were on summer vacation.
As we loaded the last of the luggage into the car this morning, I received a phone call from Neil to say that he was just around the corner and his bike chain had snapped and bits of the geary part were bent. Andy and Alex darted round on their bikes with tools in hand, but by the time I’d located them in the monster truck it was apparent that the damage was not immediately repairable. Neil’s bike went on the bike rack and he reluctantly got in the car for the trip to New Jersey.
After spending some time in a Super 8 motel car park stealing their wireless internet access (our own motel had a crap internet connection) in order to find a cycle shop in New York City that sold the required parts, we drove on towards McAfee, NJ. We stopped for lunch on the way, conveniently missing a heavy rainstorm. Later in the journey, Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer was interrupted by a mysterious warning message from the local weather centre to say that a serious storm (presumably the one we’d encountered earlier) was moving across the area and telling us to seek cover.
A confusing detour through suburbia later, Ed, Neil and I finally reached our motel. Almost immediately we went for a drive which took in a Dairy Queen (an ice-cream parlour), the Franklin Heritage Museum (which appeared not to exist), the Franklin Mineral Museum (which was closed), the Gingerbread Castle Theme Park (which had been closed on and off for the last 20 years), a reasonably old Presbyterian church and an unnoteworthy synagogue.
An hour or two later, Andy, Alex and Leo arrived at the motel after another tough day in the saddle. Tomorrow we head for New York City.