Saturday, June 30, 2007

Erie, Pennsylvania

Just a quick update while we have the chance. It is mid-day on Saturday, and we happen to be at the library in Erie, Pennsylvania.

-We are currently at about 1680 miles on the UGRR route, and about 1835 miles actually ridden.

-Yesterday (Fri. June 29) we spent the day as a rest day in Conneaut, Ohio, and had a great, relaxing day. Got some extra sleep, did some leisurely walking around the marina, out the rock jetty around the marina, and along the beach. Then, in the evening, we went to the town carnival that opened for the weekend, and watched a couple of local talent shows, including one American Idol-styled singing competition. Lot of fun in a true small town Americana setting.

-Today (Saturday, June 30) we crossed over into Pennsylvania, and reached Erie in time for an early lunch. When we left the restaurant to resume riding, Joan found she had a flat tire..... the first flat tire on the trip! We replaced the inner tube with one of the spares we carry, found a bike shop here in town, and bought a new tube to replace the spare we'd used. The tire itself seems to be ok. One flat every 2000 miles..... that is a frequency that we can live with!

-Also notable is that about 30 minutes ago, we passed the intersection in Erie that marks the end of the 4th UGRR map section, and the start of the 5th section. This means we have now made it onto the final map section for the route!

-Now that we are up around the Lake, we are clearly in a different climatic area. The weather here is much cooler than what we've been used to ...... highs in the 70's and low 80's. It is like beautiful fall weather, clear, sunny, but with a crispness in the air. Makes us wonder a bit as to whether we've packed sufficient warm things to wear for further north in Canada. I guess we will find out.

-A note about the Underground Railroad and a learning that we've had on this part of the trip. I'd also thought about the UGRR as being primarily significant in helping people move from the southern states that supported slavery to the northern states that did not .... i.e., across the Ohio River. What we've been learning on our ride through Ohio, particularly northern Ohio, is how critically important the UGRR network was in the north as well. Escaped slaves were still in considerable danger even after they successfully left the "slave states", because slave trackers actively searched for them, and because the Fugitive Slave Act passed by Congress prior to the Civil War compelled people in the north to help return escaped slaves to their masters. This also helps us understand why Canada was such an important part of the equation.... it represented the only really true place of freedom for many of these people. We are finding that there was considerable danger and many serious incidents and confrontations between escapees and those that wanted to turn them in, as far north as the Canadian border. Hence, the safe houses and assistance throughout the north was a very important part of the UGRR.

Ok, that's it for now.... must hit the road again. We intend to make it to the town of North East, Pennsylvania by this evening. More later as we have the opportunity to post.


dawson.smith said...

I saw your note on Erie, PA, the site of one of Tamara's marathons.

Keep on trucking!

What an adventure!

Mike said...

Dawson, that's right, I'd forgotten about that. She ran on Presque Isle, isn't that right? We did not get on the island, but saw the signs for it. Supposed to be a beautiful spot.

Thanks, and talk to both of you before too long....