White Haven- Danville, PA
After unofficially being forced to leave White Haven in the early hours, my legs struggle to find the necessary warmth to work efficiently. Doesn’t help that the temperature is in the low 40s. As the sun begins to rise my body reacts by shaking off the frost and I’m able to push through the daily section of the Appalachians. The scenery changes from thick forest to open, hilly farmland. It’s a welcome change.
Just like in White Haven how I had a close encounter with being kicked out, I also had my first run in with a dog not chained or enclosed. I emerge from a patch of forest, to my left a few small reservoirs surrounded by soy bean fields and to my right a small two story home pushed up against a hillside. I pass the house with ease and begin looking to the horizon. Not 150 yards away a pitbull mix reveals himself, has his sights set on me. He barks from the distance and think nothing of it. Suddenly the barks grow louder and louder. I turn my torso and head to gauge how fast he is closing on me thinking of any slight possibility I may be able to out gun him. Not a chance!! This canine is in full stride. With fleeing not an option I stop and stand on my feet. Make my presence known and say in a calm voice “it’s ok… It’s ok.”
This may have been more of an attempt to calm myself then the dog. I can hear off in the distance his owner yelling for him to return. The dogs pace slows as he is mere feet from me. After hearing his masters voice his attitude changes from seek and destroy to curious and guarded. He realizes that I pose no threat and begins to turn back. After a certain distance is built between us I begin to peddle off and wave thank you to the owner for his efforts. That was a close one and begin to think of ways to protect myself should another event occur. A knife? Pepper spray?? Gun???
The miles begin to pile up but luckily I arrive into my stop for the night, Danville. I quickly begin to wonder if the city was named after a man named Dan. Still have no clue if that thought bares any truth. My stomach took first priority that evening so I ask the first person where is a good local restaurant that people rave about. She takes a moment then her face lights up “Old Forge Brewery, you have to go there. The food is great and they brew their own beer.”
Sounds perfect. I make my way down to the restaurant, lock up my bike, sit next to the window and gaze upon the menu to see what I may have. I easily become distracted by my bike, knowing what we’ve been through only a few hundred miles in and knowing what is to come our way. It is an emotional feeling that falls upon me as I start to become homesick. The waitress arrives and breaks up my thought. I order to start a bowl of beef chili followed by a burger with pulled pork and a fried egg on top with some housemade baked chips and a pint of their local amber ale. It was delicious… Totally hit the spot.
As I’m finishing dinner and setting up the contents of my blog a man walks in and asks if that’s my bike. I turn to a man in his 50s with full running attire and respond with yes. He asks where am I going and I begin to tell him my story, my reason and my goal. He introduces himself as Joe. He is totally blown away and his face lights up immediately. Joe mentions that that has been something that he has wanted to do for years and was pretty envious. We chit chat for not longer then 10 minutes and asks where am I going to stay. I tell him that I saw a couple of places outside of town that I could make camp for the night and be on my way in the morning. He nods his head and says if you’d like you could stay with my wife and I up on our farm. I reply with a yes whilst remembering that something I wanted to improve on during my journey is to not only ask for help but to also accept help when provided. He gives me his cell number and address and mentions he lives 4 miles outside of town up a long hill. With having eaten that doesn’t seem to prove much of a problem. He says his goodbyes and leaves with excitement but not before saying that he is going to tell his wife that they will be expecting company.
After publishing my first entry to my blog I pay the bill and set off for Joe and Kate’s farm. After easily navigating the light the small town I embark on the long 4 mile trek up the hill. Joe didn’t mention that there would be no street lights and that it was a busy highway. No worries, I had my front and rear lights to keep me visible. After making it to the top I make a right onto their street then a sudden left down a gravel driveway. My headlight alerts them that I’ve arrived and their porch light illuminates as the come through the front door. Joe yells out “Mark!”
And I respond with “yup!”
I set my things in their porch and am greeted by his wife Kate, Joe and their dog. We make our way into the kitchen and immediately offer fruit, cookies, milk, beer, etc. I take them up in their cookies and milk for I’m a sucker of chocolate chip cookies.
After what I go into heavy detail if what I’ve done, who I met, what are my goals and what is next they offer me a bedroom to sleep instead of staying out in the front yard. It’s getting late and they make their way to their bedroom but not before they show me my room and shower. I say goodnight and bee line it to the bathroom for a long hot shower. Knowing that both Kate and Joe have work early in the morning I head to bed and get comfortable under the blankets. It felt wonderful to finally sleep in a warm, dry place that I didn’t have to disassemble.