To Philadelphia – our last week on the road – first week of June 2008

To Philadelphia…our last week on the road…

It took us three days to bike from Maryland to my parents’ home in the northern suburbs of Philadelphia – our final destination.

The small, rural routes of Maryland made for great biking. We saw hawks, vultures, bald eagles, rabbits, deer, turtles, groundhogs, and other small mammals and birds. We biked past dairy farms, wheat fields and cornfields, and savored the occasional odor of fragrant honeysuckle wafting on the breeze. The road remained rural as we biked out of Maryland and into Delaware, where we biked alongside a State Wildlife Refuge near Dupont State Park.

But the ride along parts of Route 13 between Wilmington in Delaware and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania took us through some of the ugliest urban areas we have seen. Run-down, abandoned houses and buildings in bad states of disrepair sat side-by-side with unsightly oil refineries and industrial parks. On the up side, we did time it just perfectly so as to miss both morning and afternoon rush-hour traffic in Newcastle, Wilmington, Chester, and Philadelphia, which cities we biked through on our last day.

Familiar sights and sounds greeted us as we neared Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love: neighborhoods of rowhouses, steak and hoagie restaurants, pizza shops, delis selling cold cuts, roadside stalls selling soft pretzels, small corner groceries, shops advertising African hair braiding, and the sound of R&B music pumping from open car windows.

We navigated through the busy and narrow streets of South Philly, but once we reached Center City, we were able to take a bike path all the way into Fort Washington, in the northern suburbs. What a welcome surprise! In fact, the last several hours of our trip through Philadelphia, the country’s fifth-largest city, were spent entirely on a bike path running from Center City in Fairmount Park along the Schulkyll River, past Boathouse Row and Kelly Drive on up through Wissahickon Park and Forbidden Drive and eventually the Fort Washington State Park.

Who would have thought that we could have biked from Center City all the way into the northern suburbs without ever having to negotiate traffic on the road? Instead of the noise and pollution, we biked in lush green parks, on dirt roads by rivers and creeks and gorges and hills! What a perfect way to end our trip. Mom and dad welcomed us as we rode into the driveway just after sunset. Welcome home!!!


Independence Hall in the City of Brotherly Love:

Independence Hall in Philadelphia was the nation’s first capital and is considered to be the birthplace of the United States of America. The site is important historically and culturally, as the universal principles of freedom and democracy set forth in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (both of which were drafted and approved at Independence Hall) are of fundamental importance to American history and law and also have a profound impact on law-makers around the world. To read more about this UNESCO World Heritage site, click on the “UNESCO sites” link under the American flag.