Of Palaces and Jails

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“Be thine own palace, or the world’s thy jail”-John Donne

Welcome to part six of Bina’s gypsy life. This week I think I circumnavigated the entire state of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia to Williamsport to Raystown Lake and back to Philadelphia. I probably drove over 700 miles all told. If I’d been biking that distance… oh, well. It’s a good thing I had completed the much-needed repairs on “Jamal” my 1994 Infiniti J-30, so that he no longer sounds like a motorcycle. There were a couple of times that I gunned the engine just to make sure I hadn’t stalled, he was so uncharacteristically quiet.

Over the weekend I was at Dirtfest, a mountain bike festival on the Allegrippis Trails at Raystown Lake, which is the largest lake that’s entirely in Pennsylvania. Dirtfest is put on by our friends at Dirt Rag magazine. They had rides, an expo, clinics, live bands, beer (of course), and camping. I stayed at the Millstone Manor, though. Yeah, ritzy name for a no-star motel. Continental breakfast at Millstone Manor consisted of 2 bagels, jelly and some old bananas.

We were there repping the Heartland Velo Show (Fun fact: all products from Heartland Velo Show exhibitors so far are proudly Made in the USA. Awesome, right?), Philly Bike Expo, and Bilenky custom bikes. Among our collection on display was my 46cm touring bike (should have a name, I know!) who was hanging out with “Big Blue” the 69cm road frame. We also brought a couple retrofit demos, a fillet brazed cyclocross bike, and a mountain bike featuring 29” wheel in the front, 650b in the rear and a Rohloff hub.

There were tons of buddies (dogs) at Dirtfest, and there were lots of cool people there, too, including Brett from Pedal Pushers and Justin Kline from PrincetonTec (both Philly Bike Expo exhibitors). Next year, for Dirtfest 2012, we’ll go big pimpin’ style and get a BCW houseboat; Raystown will be Crazytown, guaranteed.

I’ve finally moved out of the Holiday Inn in beautiful downtown Williamsport, PA, where I’ve been living for the past month. It’s just as well. The night manager is on to me and my cookie habits. At first, I’d just take a couple of the free cookies set out in the lobby when I passed by on my way to my room, but after a while, I figured out their timing. I started undertaking special missions to the cookie dish at the precise moment when I knew they had finished re-stocking the stash. The other night I caught the two managers laughing at me (and then denying it!) when I made my secret (or so I thought) cookie run. I realized it was only a matter of days before I’d be confronted, but that’s all over. Now, my car is my closet and my parents’ couch is both my bed and my office.

After a trip to Texas next week to fetch the rest of our stuff, my fiancé and I hope to settle somewhere, although I’m beginning to think it might be best to just leave everything in various storage facilities across the country.

Last week, I brought my dad to be a pair of fresh eyes at one of our house-hunting expeditions.

“Isn’t there a prison in Allenwood?” my dad asked when I told him of our destination.

“Nah,” I said.

“What’s that?” my dad said indicating the floodlights not far from the charming farmhouse we were considering.

Turns out the charming farmhouse was on the property closest to Allenwood Federal Correctional Complex, containing minimum, medium, and maximum security facilities (and definitely the first place any escaped convict would arrive at.)

We decided against that house! The search for a home continues!



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