Almost exactly 11 years ago my friend D. (yep same one as the recent motorcycle trip) and I had set across the US in his bread truck (Think old 1960's UPS van.) One of the stops we made was at his cousin's house in rural Pennsylvania. I have not seen or talked to her since. For Memorial weekend D. was heading out there to visit and invited us along.
Because of Memorial day traffic it took us about longer to get there. However it was nothing like the weekly exodus between Los Angeles and Las Vegas when we were living there. L. and I had brought our folding bikes and it was nice to just put them in the back of the car instead of needing to put the bike rack on.
On Saturday it just happened that the city had got together and had a group garage sale. I thought it was interesting because it reminded me more of an antique sale. A lot of people were selling old rusty cast iron cookware and other kitchen utensils that had not seen use for at least 50 years. (However I remember using them as a child and enjoyed explaining the weird contraptions to my wife.) They then took us for a tour of the old railroad path where the tracks had been removed. It was so quiet and pretty because everything is so green. The path followed the Susquehanna river and was very relaxing. By the time we made it back home we had ended up riding 10 miles. After that they had to show us the local ice cream hang out, and ride home through another covered bridge. We had the obligatory memorial weekend BBQ then set up our tents to sleep outside for a night.
Sunday morning I woke up early as usual. Just being able to lay there and listen to the birds was very relaxing. After breakfast at the local restaurant we took a tour of the remains of Centralia. Centralia was a coal mining town until Memorial weekend 1962 (So this was the 46th anniversary we visited) when burning trash caught the mine on fire and it has been burning since. I had heard of the town when I was a kid and was expecting scorched earth and bare dirt from the extra heat. In reality with most of the homes being torn out everything was green and overgrown. The ground was warm and there was smoke coming out of cracks in the ground, but the smoke was mostly hot steam that was very wet when I put my hand over the cracks. When the wind died you could hear the hissing and popping coming through the cracks so it is still very much active.
D. had brought his convertible so we then enjoyed just riding around rural Pennsylvania and another bike ride before packing up and heading home. Riding bikes through old covered bridges is something that should be done by everyone at some point in their lives.
The drive home was much easier since we returned Sunday night and did not hit any traffic. When we had been in a car driving around Europe we had found an English copy of "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe." The person not driving would read out loud to pass the time, and it made for a better experience when the movie came out. With "Prince Caspian" showing in theaters I decided to try it again for the second book to help pass the time in traffic. In the 4 hours there and 3 hours back we finished the book between the two of us reading. So on memorial day with us both not wanting to do anything else we went and saw the movie at the theater. Like most movies adapted from books, the books are better but I thought it was interesting to see how they handled some of the sub-plots given the time restraints.