Monday, October 25, 2010

Can openers hate us

So... we're a little behind on the blog. Sorry! We haven't had much internet access. Anyways, today we had our 2nd day off in DC. We'll get there in a few more posts. In the mean time, I'll finish up where Ed left off last post..

In our lovely camping spot where we had pie (and beans...eventually) for dinner. Here's another picture of us with Liz:

Well, we've had a bit of trouble with our can opener. Our first one was an older one that I'd picked up somewhere fancy - like a gas station - and used to take on camping trips with me. It saw occasional use, but not every day. It was getting harder and harder for us to get a good clamp on the can. Not to mention, the mechanism holding the blade to the handle was plastic, so it (of course) split in half and suddenly became a really ugly paperweight.

We got to a grocery store in Belvidere (which, by the way, has one hotel on the bike map. We called thinking we'd stay there, and when I said 'bicycle', the guy almost hung up on me. I'm willing to bet he'd have slammed the door in our faces after we had ridden 60 miles uphill and in the rain, had we ridden 60 miles. Apparently the guy had a 'bad experience' with cyclists and doesn't let them stay any more. I'm serious. Lesson? Don't ever stay in Belvidere, NJ. Also, always call before staying at a hotel) and at this grocery store, we had a choice between two can openers... one for $3 and one for $8. Let's get the $8 one, we thought. It must be better-made and it has a nice twisty knob.

So, we get to camp and I have the privilege of testing our brand spankin' new can opener. Ooooohhh, it runs so smoothly and easily along the lip of the can for the first inch and a half. Until it falls apart in my hand. I'm not even joking. There were suddenly can opener bits all over the floor of my tent (yeah yeah, you're not supposed to eat in the tent. It was cold.) So, after a few attempts at repairing the thing, we gave up and used pliers on a multi tool and the knife on our wine opener (which, by the way, works like a champ). Score? Ed: 1. Can of beans: 0. Belvidere, NJ: -1000. Can openers: -1,000,000.

Begin rant: As an engineer, this kind of crappy design makes me furious. The problem was (if you care) that the outer guiding wheel was inside threaded and attached the sprocket and washer onto the body of the opener via the outer threaded screw in the twisty knob (yes, that's its scientific name). So, as you turn the twisty knob, the guiding wheel turns along the bottom of the lip of the can (like it's supposed to) and unscrews from the twisty knob, leaving parts of can opener all over your tent.  Since the thing was made of aluminum, the threads stripped very easily and couldn't go back together. Plus, you had maybe half a thread of attachment point in the first place, so voila... an $8 paperweight.  And superglue did nothing to help. We tried. (End rant)

Anyways, aside from can opener issues, we had a great time riding with Liz. It was fun making up songs and catching leaves while riding. There was more beautiful Delaware River scenery:

And then we came to Milford. We weren't expecting to start our BBQ tour so soon, but there was a couple there who had some stellar barbecue. We had pulled pork and beef sandwiches and cornbread that were out of sight. So good. They had two types of sauces: one that was molasses and tomato based (my favorite) and the other that was apple cider vinegar based. Yum.

We also stopped in Frenchtown, NJ, another cool town. Coffee, bike shop, back on the road. Had a nice bike lane for a while (wider than the cars' lane!) and then hopped on a bike-only trail for about 8 miles. We crossed into Pennsylvania (again..for the last time) in New Hope. Check it out:

We ended up camping near some railroad tracks (the local SPCA turned us down... but had a cute goat) that we were told were used by a steam locomotive that my dad would have loved between the hours of 11am-6pm. Perfect, we thought. They don't get an early start, and we can get some sleep. To be fair, we should have assumed there were other trains that might use the tracks. Around 9-10 pm (bedtime), we were awakened by a distant thundering that was slowly getting louder. Is that...what we think it is? Whoooooo whoooooo, went the whistle. Sure enough. We were hoping for some peace and quiet... we probably weren't supposed to be camping there. And we had about 3 meager trees hiding our two tents and three bikes. So the train stopped, right in front of our campsite. A couple minutes later, we heard voices. There were guys outside changing the cars around or switching the tracks or something. We got kind of scared.. what if they find us? What if they tell us to leave; where will we go? Finally, after what felt like eternity (it was probably 3 minutes total), the train pulled away and we were left in peace. Liz jumped into mine and Ed's two man tent in case the train guys came back. It was a little cozy, but it worked. Reminded me of Texas 4000! No more trains for us, though, thankfully. We were fine.

We rode our last 30-40 miles into Philadelphia, 11 of which were on a really nicely paved biking/running trail that led us right into the heart of Philly, where we had just enough time to meet up with Liz's sister, who happened to also be in town visiting some friends.

More about Philly in the next post (this one's long enough!)

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