Carlos and Nick dropped me off in the parking lot of the first of what I'm sure will be several strip malls so I could load up all my gear. Somehow everything fit in the back of the rickshaw, and I rolled out of South Plainfield, New Jersey at around 1:15. Got a little turned around at first, but eventually found my way again. So far there seems to be much fewer hills than I've been used to in NYC. No one has talked to us yet, but I expect that will change soon. It's my first day out here, and I've already had my first big test: the chain fell off the rickshaw. In times like these it's good to have friends, as my good buddy Katzander hooked me up with some knowledge over the phone, helping me to replace the chain and get back out there. Wasn't sure exactly where I was when it started to get dark. Eventually I pulled off onto a dirt road and set up illegally next to the Raritan River near South Branch. I figured I had gone about 20 miles. Made pasta for dinner. The combination of first-day nerves and Cooper's monstrous snoring prevented me from getting a decent sleep.
Got up with the sunrise and broke down camp while making oatmeal. After I dumped the oatmeal in the pot I forgot to turn down the flame, so everything boiled over and soaked my burner before the oatmeal was finished. Two years of fancy culinary education in New York and there I was, eating undercooked oats. Today's ride saw many more hills and fewer buildings. The recession doesn't seem to be affecting many of the nice homes I saw where lots of remodeling is taking place. Besides that, lots of stables and cornfields. Pulled into New Hope, PA, where I stopped at a farmer's market for some fruits and vegetables. I met Susan, the lady running the market, who graciously invited me to stay on her couch. The directions she gave me showed that her home was off my path, but I was grateful for this first offer of kindness. Most of the way there was uphill. My body was getting tired and I wasn't making good time at all. About 10 minutes from her place I stopped for an apple and met a guynamed Eddie who liked my ride and invited me to his place only a mile away. He also offered to help me with a few mechanical problems I was having with the rickshaw, so I took him up on it. The night turned into a welcome surprise of poker and beer with Eddie and a big group of his friends (an eclectic mix of teachers, masonry workers, and even a statistician), and the hot shower in the morning was definitely much needed. His next door neighbor, a German gentleman named Klaus, noticed the rickshaw and got really excited. He even gave me a few bucks and some joint oil for my aching knees. Danke schön, Klaus!
Eddie and the boys turned me on to a more level route than what I had planned, so I backtracked past New Hope and down to the Tow Path, which is an old Donkey trail from the early 20th century that runs along the Delaware River. The nice thing about this path for me is that it's strictly for bikes and pedestrians, so no cars to deal with. Cooper had a limp in the morning, so I took him to a vet. His paw is sore, probably due to a sticker or something. They gave me some antibiotics for him to prevent any infection. Cooper being on the DL means that he has to ride in the seat all day, so it was a good thing my new route is all flat. So far the ride is nice as I roll into Trenton to get him looked at further if necessary. I set up camp off the trail next to the river, made a small fire, and cooked up some rice, vegetables, and potatoes. Good eats, and this time no water boiling over!