Day 5: Philadelphia and bicycle tourists of the world unite!

I decided to begin the day by correcting a mistake. I hit up the UPS store to send some stuff back to Cincinnati. In the past I’ve been quite the photo rat, taking hundreds of photos whenever I go to a new place. It’s been a while since I pulled out the camera and figured this tour would be an unrivaled opportunity to do it again. I especially love taking photos in urban areas. But the thing is, all I’ve done with it since I began this thing is push its weight on my bike. I didn’t even think to take photos in New York. I almost feel guilty about this (no, I guess I actually feel guilty), but it’s time for it to be sent back to Cincinnati to join all the other things I’m leaving behind. I also sent back a daypack I brought for hiking. It’s not especially heavy, but it’s heavy enough and bulky, and I don’t think I’ll use it enough when I hike out west to justify keeping it with me. Plus, I need the room in the rack pack for the ukelele that is waiting for me in DC… Something I’ll use every day. I always have music running through my head, and I already miss my Warren Ellis tenor guitar for getting it out. So both went back to Cincinnati after a stop at the UPS Store. 

I then took a stroll around Center City. I walked down Market Street, which was full of tourists (yet another tourist trap I’m getting funneled into) and made it around Philadelphia City Hall. Such a gorgeous building!

This guy was hanging out outside City Hall, and I think me and others taking pictures is exactly what he wanted:

I enjoyed the sculptures across the street from City hall as well:

I passed the Ritz-Carolton. This sign out front kind of disgusts me.

I kept moving, with stops in Chinatown and Logan Square, where the heavy wind sprayed fountain water on me. The Philadelphia Museum of Art was close by, but it’s closed on Mondays and I didn’t feel the need to do the Rocky steps out front.

I meandered my way back to the hostel and saw some little ones on a field trip. Check out their guide:

 At the hostel I just relaxed for a while. This was a rest day, after all.

Around 4pm I decided to get back on the bike. I gotta ride in cities, and it’s part of the reason I designed my route the way I did. Of course then I realized it was approaching rush hour, and I got a bit happier. It’s such a thrill dodging traffic in big cities on the bike, and Philly provided. It was a rough and tumble cruise through Old City and Center City, a little messy, and a requiring even more vigilance than I’m used to. No close calls with taxis or buses, and it was very satisfying outrunning car traffic on the crowded streets. I made my way to Rittenhouse Square…

…before hitting Chinatown…

…and finally cruising by Independence Hall, which was closed for the day and heavily guarded. But that just makes for another good bike portrait:

And then it was time to meet another bicycle tourist I met online! Kate, a speech pathologist, is beginning her cross country ride in about a month after she finishes her fellowship in Philadelphia. I was so happy she offered to meet, and we did so at the Independence Beer Garden. We chatted for a few hours over just as many beers about all manner of things while the chilly air kept us both with a bit of shiver. She picked my brain a bit about what I’m packing along with me and how I’m planning on getting west… And relayed her fear of bears along the way. It was another night of good times and laughter, and also a healthy dose of good fortune – she hooked me up with her riding partner for her tour, Chuck, who lives in DC and can host me, saving me from two more nights in a hostel! This is the best development of the day. I’m grateful for the bed in Philly, but it has kind of soured me to hostels. I really don’t want to spend another night in one if I don’t have to, and I definitely don’t want to pay for it. In the future I’m going to go the Warmshowers route or Airbnb or something in big cities. If hostels work for you, right on. But not me. So staying with Chuck for a couple nights is most welcome, especially given that he’s about to start his tour with someone I had a great time hanging out with.

Kate and I said our goodbyes. If all goes according to plan we should be reaching Portland around the same time in late August. I really hope we do; it would be great to reconnect after our respective rides near their end. Either way we’ll keep in touch from the road.

I pedaled back to the hostel, and was out by midnight. Now it’s time to load up and say goodbye to Philadelphia. I’m not sure where I’ll be staying tonight – I’m thinking Bear, DE or Elkton, MD, but one thing is for sure: it’s my first night freecamping on this tour. It’s about time I become a bicycle squatter. But more on that when I get there. Time to head south!


6 thoughts on “Day 5: Philadelphia and bicycle tourists of the world unite!

  1. Looks like you’ve made a really good start on your epic journey. Great photos – I feel like I’m getting a tour of the east coast! Continued good luck to you!


  2. Great trip, Jeff. You are doing it right – meeting people and taking great pix. Did you find a route to DC? Maybe Kate’s friend can help.


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