Monday, September 6th, 2010
I cross the NY-PA border just a few miles from the motel I stayed in last night. As borders go, crossing into a different American state is about as anticlimactic as you can get: just a sign on the side of the road to mark the passage. I feel this one though, it means I'm going beyond the familiar New England states, entering into the unknown; a sort of point from which there is no turning back. My feeling is not grounded in logic -- I've been through Pennsylvania a few times before on the motorcycle; I could turn around at any time; I could hop on a bus; etc... -- but faced with too much time to think while I push the pedals I've conjured up this imaginary barrier. My trepidation at facing a wet and cold day fuels the vague sense of dread.
New state notwithstanding, nothing much as changed. I'm still in the rural northeast with its cornfields, woods, and white clapboard houses. Rain comes on and off for most of the morning but I never get wet enough to consider seeking shelter.
After noon I ride through an Amish area. They are unfailingly friendly, always a wave and a smile when I cross a buggy going in either direction. An incongruous detail on their horse-drawn carriages: they have electric turn signals. I'm not very familiar with the rules of their religion but I come across another scene that is striking for its juxtaposition: a field where a man in traditional Amish clothing is leading a horse who in turn is dragging a gasoline-powered plough through the dirt. I'm left wondering why engines are not allowed for driving but okay for plowing.
The rain gets steadier late in the day. I find a secluded spot in the woods off of the road and set up camp in the rain. I make dinner in the atrium of the tent, managing to stay mostly dry.