Test Run: NYC to Philly (3)

It was a dark and stormy night (never had a chance to use that before), but by morning there were occasional breaks in the clouds. The forecast indicated the flash floods were over and things were improving, so the trip was on again. I was better prepared, with my new waterproof trousers, and Rob was able to waterproof the battery and connector with some plastic bags and tape. With a temperature still in the 50s, I set out with a vest, hat, and gloves that were to become a regular travel necessity. My see-thru tiller cover came in handy, both keeping the electronics dry and and my hands warm. Somehow I had envisioned shorts and a t-shirt for my scooter travels in June, but it just was not to be.

We picked up where we left off on Monday, a couple of miles west on Montgomery St. Having done this route in a previous test ride in March, I knew the route and knew there was no way to get across the two bridges to Newark on Truck Rt. 1&9. Therefore, I planned to meet Rob and Gracie , who was in the van for the first part of the day, in Lincoln Park, just before the entry to Rt. 1&9. There I boarded the van and we drove across the two bridges. I exited again on the Newark side of the bridge, at the Globe service station on Raymond Ave. From there I knew the plan: head toward Penn Station, then up to the Prudential Center, south on Broad St, right on the avenue that goes off at an angle to the right, continuing until I arrived at Weequahic Park.

This part of the days journey went pretty smoothly, with a little time lost as I circumnavigated the Prudential Center looking for an accessible restroom, a difficulty that arises from time to time when travelling via scooter. The effects of a morning cup of coffee we but sooner or later this produces a diuretic effect. There were no open doors to be found, and not being bold enough to openly defy social conventions, not to mention the law, I continued on my way. Forced to focus on traffic and directions, I was able to dismiss lesser biological urges for the time being. After Broad St, the main thoroughfare of downtown Newark, I was able to travel mostly along the road, rather than on sidewalks. Every third joint in the sidewalks here is an expansion joint, and these produce a spine-compressing jolt each time I hit them with my 10-inch tires. At one point I noticed a rhythmic thumping coming from a front tire and found that a large screw had become embedded in the rubber. I was able to remove it with my handy pliers.

About an hour after crossing the bridge into Newark, I arrived at Weequahic Park where Rob and Gracie were waiting. We hung out for twenty to thirty minutes and Gracie got to run around a little. The real-time tracking system seems to have been working well, and Rob was able to monitor my progress along the way. I resumed my travels through the neighborhoods around the park, and knew that my only minor obstacle ahead would be along a short stretch of road that crossed under the Garden State Parkway, busy with traffic entering and exiting parkway. Unlike my previous attempt along this route, I now had a CatEye Rapid 5 rear flasher for increased visibility. This day it went well, and I was able to make the left turn that took me to a tranquil neighborhood along a golf course. Meeting up with Rob again, Gracie got out an joined me for the next ten miles into Westfield.

It was still wet and cold, but the paths ahead were beautiful when I traveled this way in May. I hoped the character—the dark grey bare tree trunks on a carpet of yellow buttercups—had not changed too much. Although the leaves had now reappeared on the trees, the path that goes through Black Brook, Lenape, and Nomahegan Parks in Union, Springfield Township, and Westfield NJ is a treasure. It must get a lot of use on warm sunny days in the summer, but the two times I have traveled this path have been on cold and/or rainy days, like this one. We encountered nobody on the Black Brook trail. Somehow the sounds of traffic and other activities of the most congested state in the country barely penetrate the woods, and you feel like your getting a exclusive tour of natural countryside of New Jersey. This is something I would find again tomorrow along the Deleware and Raritan Canal path.

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