After having stayed in New Jersey for a couple of days to wait for some spare parts we were able to get back into our riding schedule and headed towards Pennsylvania. We knew that some parts of the US we were going to cross will be rural and some things would work differently there but when we suddenly started seeing horse carriages instead of cars; that was kind of surprising.
A few confused seconds later we figured that we were riding through a stretch where a lot of Amish people live who often still use horses as their main way of transportation. Even supermarkets in the area have special poles for tying horses to it (like in western movies) right next to massive pick up trucks.
On that day, the family hosting us told us about a bicycle trail that is built on and next to old railroad tracks (it is called GAP trail) and it leads from Washington DC to Pittsburgh so we decided to make a small detour to the south trough a part of Maryland to get on this trail in Cumberland. Getting away from road traffic while being on the trail alone was totally worth the detour, the fact that it leads trough a lot of beautiful nature made up for the extra miles 10 times. Even if we had underestimated how many curves the trail would make and due to the fact that we were in a forest most oft the day had lead to a pretty empty battery after about 200km. After these 200km, we were almost in Pittsburgh and only needed to find our next host which did not seem to be far away. But: we learned that Pittsburgh is really really hilly so the last 10km with empty batteries up and down the hills felt like an eternity.
We slept longer the next day to compensate for the extra kilometres the previous day.
The next day we wanted to go for an easy day and camp somewhere about 120km west of Pittsburgh on a campground. There we noticed we have not yet figured how camping in the US works. The “camping site” (literally how it was called) we had chosen, would not let us camp as they would not allow tents only RVs… So we had no choice to go to another campground that was in reach just to learn that this one was not open for another two weeks. It was getting late and we decided to stay on the closed campground anyway. What followed was a night with the constant fear of getting caught by park rangers and we decided to leaving at 6am, before the rangers would officially start working again.
A lot of farmland a many kind people
The days after then lead us along the county roads of Ohio and Indiana which would include many stretches where we would not have to make a turn for more than 50km and to our surprise there were still people living indicated by countless “private property” and “no trespassing” mounted on close every tree and bush.
During our whole journey so far we met countless kind and welcoming people wherever we went.Starting from the many Warmshowers hosts we stayed so far, that offered us a place for the night and giving us route tips or bike packing advice like making couscous, coldsoaked in a peanut butter jar, to strangers offering us a shower and a place to stay for a night when we were standing in a supermarket looking for shelter as it was pouring and even coming back later to buy us lunch (we must have looked fairly lost on). Or even the occasional thumbs up while driving past us.
Some drivers like to honk to indicate their pleasure in seeing us which to this day gives us a adrenaline rush for a split second as we think we are going to be run over, just to see a happy face waving at you.
An unplanned stop in Chicago
Again we have to stop for a few days to wait for other spare parts as we keep improving our trailer.
In fact we will replace some of the panels as we have mounted them in a way that they got damaged. This is obviously not a good as we are reliant on sun power to achieve the goal of about 120k a day. The new ones should arrive in a few days hence we took that as an excuse to go into Chicago where we are as we speak (to be precise as we write).
Having learned from our mistake in New York to bring the bikes into a big city and to be unable to move, we have parked them outside the and took a train to the city centre. Now we are just normal funny looking (as we have barley any casual cloth) tourists in Chicago.
The skyscrapers are amazing. One of them is called Marina City it is a ridiculous construction. It is located near the river. In the building you can park your yacht in the basement from floor 1-20 your car and and live in the apartments above.
And now? We are going to do plenty of touristic attraction you will find in any online guide.