August 2, 1999 - Day 52 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Millburn, New Jersey
- 88.5 miles - 14.2 mph average - 3610 total miles - 36.5 mph top speed
Tonight I'm writing from my Aunt Ginny's house in Millburn, New Jersey. Millburn is in northern Jersey, which means I am perched on the brink for my assault tomorrow on...
THE BIG APPLE!! I have that good scaredness, like before a soccer game.
I'm going to try to make tonight's journal short so that I can get a decent night's sleep, but since it's already after midnight, that may not work anyway.
And you'll have to wait til tomorrow for a picture of my Aunt Ginny (Virginia), so you can compare her with Mom and Aunt Rosalie. I have now seen all three of my Grandpa and Grandma Hall's children. I'll tell you a little more about them as a group, and more about my musical Aunt Ginny tomorrow.
Peggy and Don Duff
Peggy is my third sister, the second oldest. (My oldest sister, Beth, lives in Naperville, so you won't see a picture of her until I get home.) Peggy teaches middle school in the Philadelphia Public School System. You want to see bureacracy run amok, just listen to Peg talk about trying to discipline her students and the "support" she gets from her administration. It's an illustration of cultural disintegration; no support from parents, undercut by administration, left hung out to dry with no alternatives and the kids know it before the year even begins. How do you teach under these circumstances? I couldn't.
Don is the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Don was born in Ethiopia of missionary parents (Clarence and Dorothea Duff) and that's where he learned his love of the mountains, which he helped pass on to me (see Dedication page). Don has had an adventurer's heart for as long as I've known him. I don't know how their marriage has withstood the number of times Don would screech to a halt inches from some precipice with Peggy screaming and half-fainting in the passenger seat.
When I pulled into their place the other night, they had their huge American flag hanging on the porch and John Phillips Souza's 'Stars and Stripes Forever' playing on the stereo.
Today was a magnificent day of bicycling. It's been hot and humid every day since leaving Chicago. I hadn't realized what a toll it was taking, but it was really getting me down, wearing me out.
The other day I did 65 miles from my Mom's house to my sister's house in Philly and I was really wiped out, maybe more so than any day I can remember. Today I did 88 from Philly to here and felt like I could have done 50 more. (Of course, the part of New Jersey I biked is pretty FLAT, so that helped.)
I was going into a lot of unmarked territory today. When you get to the East, the roadmakers make a lot of assumptions about what you know. So I asked a LOT of directions today of a LOT of people, and got a LOT of good advice.
Erika Lee and Ellie White
Erika and Ellie were standing in front of a WaWa (that's a Pennsylvania 7-11 - They say it means 'goose' in some Indian dialect - Yeah, right).
Anyway, I was only about four miles from Peg and Don's and they represent my first "directions" of the day. They're collecting money for their fast pitch softball team, the Vypers, to go to Nationals in Missouri. Ellie said they SHOULD finish in the top 15 in the nation, so I kicked in a couple of bucks. She said she'd report in.
Good luck, you guys.
I had to get going if I was going to get across the Delaware River and into New Jersey. Where should I cross the Delaware?
Where else? On Christmas Eve night in 1776, Washington pulled off the victory that the patriots HAD to have (because frankly, up to then, the Brits were pretty much wiping us off the map. Let's see: they controlled Boston, New York, Philadelphia...but NOT Washington, D.C.)
He violated Robert's Rules of Fighting, which at that time said "No fighting after dark, No fighting when it's cold, No fighting without informing us you're on the way, No fighting during Christmas fortnight, etc. etc.").
He risked his entire army in a dangerous river crossing on a frigid night and caught the Brits in their Christmas Eve drunk and chased them up out of Trenton, and then Princeton. Great morale boost for the Patriots.
I've seen the Brits. He could have waited til August when it was warmer and the river was down - they'd still have been drunk.
No, not THAT one! This one's in Princeton, New Jersey. Can you tell that's George up there at the top of this over-romanticized clump of marble? Seriously, the sheer scope of this monument tells you that people felt that Washington's contribution to the nation's existence via this battle was, well, huge. How many of us today even know the basics of it?
(I tried to get the sun coming over the top because I thought of Benjamin Franklin's remark at the Constitutional Convention about the 'Rising Sun' chair Washington sat in as chairman: something to the effect of, "Time will tell whether that is a rising or a setting sun."
The Delaware River is the border line between PA and NJ, and so when I crossed the Delaware it meant I'm finally out of Pennsylvania. It seemed interminable. I truly don't think I could have made it across that state without my family, so I want to thank all of them. You were very important to me.
Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia was established by people who broke away from the mainline Presbyterian Church in the late 1920's because they felt that the mainline church had allowed itself to be swayed by Modernist teachings. And they felt Princeton was propogating much of that Modernism. Many theologians of that time had gut-wrenching decisions to make about which way to go.
My great friend, Soren Johnson, will be attending Princeton this fall. (I think his faith is firm enough to handle the onslaught :-) Soren, I'm wondering how good my memory is. Is this the dorm you said you were going to be in?
This is why they call it the "Ivy League"
I'm glad to have the opportunity to show you a tiny bit of the Princeton University campus. It's one of those places where everything is just perfectly "academic". Your IQ jumps 35 points just being on campus.
And then a wonderful thing happened. After I took the preceding picture, I turned around and walked over to this building, Princeton's beautiful "Chapel", what most of us would call a cathedral.
As I walked closer I heard pipe organ music. Oh boy! My favorite musical instrument. It was blasting out the open front doors. Wait. I KNOW that song. It's on an album I have by one of the greatest pipe organ virtuoso's of all time, Virgil Fox. (see 'Wanamaker Organ' in my favorite links on my "Bio" page) I've played this song over and over and know it by heart.
What are the odds of my hearing a pipe organ on this trip? What are the odds of hearing one of my favorite pipe organ pieces?? It was glorious. I'm humming it in my head again right now. Man, there's no instrument on EARTH like the pipe organ. I walked down the aisle toward the huge rose window. I was about the only person in the building.
I walked up to the chancel. There was one of those red velvet ropes stretched across. The organ was behind it. The organist was hidden. What to do??
Robert McDermitt, Assistant University Organist
I climbed under the rope and made acquaintance with Robert McDermitt, who told me a little bit about the organ (it has 127 ranks). Robert was in today because the digital computer whose memory holds all the pre-set stops used by all the organists who use this organ, went kaflooey yesterday. Robert found this out as he came in to play for Sunday morning's service. Now he is manually going back through all his music and hand-setting all the stops.
Of course, he has to play some in order to do that. I think if I could play that instrument, I'd play and keep playing until I died.
You can see Robert's Princeton hit on the left side of the organ. On the right side is a video monitor so the organist can see what's going on outside his vision (for instance, the bride is almost to the end of the aisle).
And then, Robert played a Bach fugue... for me. I went back and sat down in one of the pews and was grateful to God for His gift of music.
Thanks, Robert. It was very special to meet you today.
The manager of the chapel met me at the door on the way out and informed me that I could take the towpath of the Delaware-Raritan Canal all the way up to the Raritan River, and stay off the roadways.
This was great news, so I headed out of Princeton and found it. Beautiful, isn't it? This canal connected the Delaware River with the Raritan River and was commissioned by William Penn, who understood a little bit about commerce and money.
But... the gravel was just a bit too loose for my bike, so after a couple of miles I asked directions and was told that if I switched over to the other side of the canal, I'd find Canal Road, paved. And so I did, and it was beautiful, too. Some of the most beautiful riding of the trip.
Lt. Jerry Andrews
It's only fitting that today's journal ends with another "Samaritan" who helped me with directions. Once more I was uncertain and didn't hesitate to ask Lt. Andrews for help. He guided me from Cranford right up into Millburn, and I got there without a hitch. Thanks.
Have you ever heard of Cranford, New Jersey? I hadn't. Log on to the Cranford Police Department web site at www.cranford.com/police.
Tomorrow. New York City!! Wonder if I'll see Hillary. Probably.
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