Coffeeneuring: Day 7

Basil and I were home for only one day between trips out of state, so squeezing in our final Coffeeneuring event was on the tricky side.


We have virtually no coffee shops in our area, so that was a stretch, too.  Dr. Diarist mentioned an odd little business as an option.  Not far from the train station in Downingtown, PA is a combination pinball-and-ice-cream parlour.  He thought this might make an unusual Coffeeneuing stop.


And so it did.  We got hot chocolate; it was a cold and windy day.  Apologies were made for the too-big cups; the supplier had sent the wrong size.  That didn’t affect the flavor any.


Behind our table was quite an extensive display of ice cream parlour memorabilia, including old advertisements and antique scoops.  There’s a little something for everyone here.


Dr. Diarist may have taken a few minutes to relive a possibly miss-spent youth.

c8-dmThere was a crowd present, of quite varied demographics, enjoying the pinball games in a surprisingly light, bright, and welcoming space, moderated by friendly and welcoming owners.


The ice cream palour features more or less local ice cream, from nearby Pennsylvania Dutch country.  The motto, Nix Besser, means “none better” in Pennsylvania Dutch.


New versions of vintage candies cover the counter, including some rather horrifying examples of items perhaps best left abandoned by history.  Blue or pink bubble gum cigars, anyone, to announce the birth of a 1940s infant?  Or candy cigarettes (!)?   Maybe it’s easier to get behind the Jaw Busters, just like the ones from decades ago — all they do is contribute to cavities, rather than to outdated stereotypes or to cultivating habits that cause fatal health issues!

Day 7 Observation (for Basil):  Who knew a pinball parlour could be so  . . . nice!  (And still be enticing to pinball fans!)

Tally for the day

Day 7 Location (for Basil):  Pinball Gallery and Margo’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor

Mileage today (for Basil):  3.01 miles/ 4.8 km

Total Mileage for Coffeeneuring 2014 to date (Basil):  66.82 miles/  107.5 km


Day 7 Observation (for Argyll):  Combining complementary small business is a great model.

Day7 Location (for Argyll):  Pinball Gallery and Margo’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor

Mileage today (for Argyll): 3.01 miles/4.8 km

Total Mileage for Coffeeneuring 2014 to date (Argyll): 39.8 miles/63.6 km

Trip: 7/7

Basil and I are headed to a completely different part of the USA for the next week or so, and may have limited Internet access. Posts will go up through the magic of automatic scheduling, but response to comments and email may be slow, or even non-existent, until we return home.


Coffeeneuring: Day 6

Basil, my Brompton bicycle, and I are in Northern Michigan.  We rode from Traverse City to Suttons Bay (and back) to do our Coffeeneuring this weekend.  (And tried out a new GPS tool, but more on that later.)

c5-cfWe had hoped to stop in at an actual coffee shop, but this is now officially the off-season; many shops were open on Sunday, but our intended destination was not.


I had my latte at the aptly named 45th Parallel Cafe.  Basil tucked behind my chair, but I did get told later (nicely) that if they’d noticed he was a bicycle, they wouldn’t have allowed him in.  (The question didn’t come up until two cyclists asked to bring their full-sized bikes inside the cafe, well after I’d been seated.)  Tourist areas have their own sets of issues; staff here was very nice, but maybe a bit worn after a long summer season.

Day 6 Observation (for Basil):  A Brompton is a fine stealth companion.

Tally for the day

Day 6 Location (for Basil):  Cafe in Suttons Bay, Michigan

Mileage today (for Basil):  30.01 miles/ 48.2 km

Total Mileage for Coffeeneuring 2014 to date (Basil):  63.81 miles/  102.5 km


Back home, Argyll and Dr. Diarist were keeping up their end of the Coffeeneuring challenge by stopping in at a local Wawa — a much-loved local institution that, in another geographic location, might be described as a mini-mart.  To its many fans, though, Wawa is something else entirely. Wawa started as a local dairy and is now a favorite of thousands who swear by the coffee, which Dr. Diarist enjoyed al fresco.

Day 6 Observation (for Argyll):  That Argyll has an excellent sense of balance!

Day 6 Location (for Argyll):  Wawa Coffee (it’s beloved!), enjoyed alfresco.

Mileage today (for Argyll): 2.9 miles/4.6 km

Total Mileage for Coffeeneuring 2014 to date (Argyll): 36.7 miles/58.9 km

Trip: 6/7


Coffeeneuring: Day 5

With little time to spare, and some complicated plans in the offing over the next few weekends, Dr. Diarist and I took a brief, but exploratory, route to a chain bookstore’s coffee shop. We admit that this was a shameless ploy in order to get in a second Coffeeneuring trip, this weekend, as a hedge against an unknown future.

On Sunday, we set off on Basil and Argyll to check out the wild side of the asphalt wonder that is our largest local shopping center.


We’re short on cycle-able independent coffee shops where we live, and long on shopping malls, strip and otherwise — and, sometimes, pockets of unused land behind or around said malls. We discovered these retention ponds — formerly unknown to us — behind a huge Big Box store, well-hidden by an appealing overgrowth of various kinds of flora.


We drank very good coffee and shared an adequate, but only just, apple tart.

Day 5 Observations:  1) Say what you will about chain coffee shops — and there is much bad to be said of them — it is a good thing to find a predictably flavorful mug of coffee on a too-busy day on an unexpectedly stressed weekend and 2) hurray for Coffeeneuring, which got us out of the house for a second day in a row, when otherwise we’d never have considered it.

Tally for the day

Day 5 Location:  Chain Bookstore Coffee Shop

Mileage today:  2.6 miles/ 4.1 km

Total Mileage for Coffeeneuring 2014 to date:  33.8 miles/  54.3 km

Trip: 5/7


Coffeeneuring: Day 4

Day 4 didn’t go as planned.  We had a serious cat emergency, and shot off to the vet very early in the morning.  Our girl — a grey and white shorthair rescue — is OK, but will be on meds the rest of her life, which was a bit of a shock to all concerned. Once she was safely at home, we headed off.


We got back to the house nearly too late to get to the farmers’ market.  There was no time to change; we wore street clothes, or, in my case, tattered and furry cat-wrangling clothing.  Dr. Diarist made coffee while I pumped up Basil’s and Argyll’s tires.  This trip, we did Coffee Shop Without Walls, in which Coffeeneurs sip out-of-doors.


We made it to the market just before closing.  A lot of the stalls had already packed up, and there weren’t any food trucks in evidence.  Even so, there was no lack of variety in the vegetable department.


Basil was laden with goodies in no time; however, Argyll took the basket home.  I think I heard Dr. Diarist say something about Basil being a wimp, but I’m sure my ears deceived me — particularly as the bottom of the basket was filled with Dr. Diarist’s own potatoes.  Naturally he and Argyll would only be happy to haul them home, right?


The winds were very high:  Poor Argyll was blown over, after which I lay each Brompton, respectively, against tree and bench.  A vendor’s canopy blew down, too, and the vendor next to it spent a few minutes holding onto his lest it sail away, too.

c4-tpWe found a bench beneath a tree and drank our coffee.  (We might have had a bit of a treat, too.  Dr. Diarist chose a ham and cheese croissant from one booth, and I ate the best lemon pie I’ve ever had from another one: butter crust! tart, fresh, lemon with a minimum of sugar!)

c4-cfWe were a bit stressed from the morning’s events, and still a bit in shock, but we were pleased that our Coffeeneuring plans meant that we got out when we might otherwise have stayed home and fussed.  Drinking hot coffee amidst fall splendour was a much better way to reset our Saturday.

Day 4 Observations:   1) (From Dr. D) Farmers’ markets are so much better in the fall (!) and 2) (mine) Chemex coffee is the best ever!

Tally for the day

Day 4 Location:  Farmers’ Market

Mileage today:  2.4 miles/3.8 km

Total Mileage for Coffeeneuring 2014 to date:  31.2 miles/50 km

Trip: 4/7

Coffeeneuring Short Trips & Errands

Coffeeneuring 2014: Day 3

For Coffeeneuring Day 3, we took a circuitous route to a coffee shop on a somewhat distant highway.  Happily, we were able to take trails most of the way.  There was a certain amount of hill-climbing involved; we arrived hungry.  Dr. Diarist had coffee and a grilled cheese sandwich; I had a soy latte and a less-photogenic egg salad sandwich.


We unexpectedly discovered a car show as we headed out:  Basil checked out this stunningly immaculate 1939 Oldsmobile.  Nothing we own has ever been so pristine — not even our beloved Brompton bicycles!


Dr. Diarist wore street clothes; he’s working out the details of multi-modal commuting (train/bike).  This excursion turned out to be much longer than he’d calculated — he was missing his padded shorts by the time we returned home.


The shop was quiet, and we found a comfortable corner in which to fit ourselves and Bromptons.  We then proceeded to continue the weekend’s primary task:  configuring our smart phones.  It was not relaxing.


I’m a Luddite when it comes to phones:  this is the first smart phone I’ve used, a circumstance which didn’t exactly facilitate the process.  I’m getting used to the thing, though, and I like it.  It’s a lot easier to haul around than even a very small tablet.

We saw lots of fallen leaves, but colors were mostly muted. Argyll’s and Basil’s hues looked subdued, too, under this tree.


I forgot to take the protective film off the lens on the phone, but that doesn’t seem to have mattered much.  This phone’s camera may actually be better than my specific-use camera, which is a sobering thought.  (Maybe I should have joined the 21st century sooner?)


We noticed more earthy tones than bright ones, though autumn has just begun; this won’t be a flamboyant fall.  The weather, though, has been perfect:  cool and crisp.

Day 3 Observations: 1) Smart phone photo aspect ratios are all wrong!  and 2) Our usual coffee break conversations are a lot more invigorating than spending time programming phones.

Tally for the day

Day 3 Location:  Starbucks on Route 100

Mileage today:  19.8 miles/31.8 km

Total Mileage for Coffeeneuring 2014 to date:  28.8 miles/46.2 km

Trip: 3/7

Coffeeneuring Events

Coffeeneuring 2014: Day 2

The day did not start out with Coffeeneuring, but stay  with me; it ended up that way!  Dr. Diarist, Argyll, Basil and I joined Bicycle Club of Philadelphia leader George’s Sunday ride, along with five others.


Our route took us through parts of Fairmont Park in areas neither we nor our Bromptons had previously ridden, on a lovely crisp fall day.

George pointed out a community project on the way:  It looked oddly like an over-sized ant hill but turned out to be a ramped dirt track for stunt bicycling.


We eventually cycled through the Bala Cynwyd train station — one we hadn’t seen before — and rode on the Cynwyd Heritage Trail.  Downhill, as it happens, all the way to Manayunk, coasting all the way; Dr. D  pointed out that the reverse trip might have been a lot more arduous.


On the way we were treated to a spectacular view of Manayunk, which is in the northwestern section of Philadelphia, with an identity all its own.


George shared local lore along the way, mentioning, among other things, that the trail we had ridden goes past West Laurel Cemetery.

c2-ftWe had seen stone gates as we’d gone by; George explained that the entrance had only been discovered, buried in overgrowth, when a old rail bed was cleared to make the trail. The tracks were formerly used for funeral trains.

We stopped at a coffee shop in Manayunk that I will always think of as the Salon Coffeehouse; it has a stealth location beneath this awning.  The first time I went there — on a different BCP ride — I thought that “Salon L’Etoile” was a most peculiar name for a beverage business.


This was a correct assessment: it’s actually called Volo Coffeehouse, and a fine place it is.  However, Dr. Diarist and I did not have coffee here.  That would have been a violation of both the regulations and the spirit of Coffeeneuring:  Group rides may not be used to fulfil the requirements!


After some light snacking, the group headed out.  Kelly Drive was closed to traffic, which made the last stretch of the group ride blissful. The ride started and ended at the Azalea Garden, beneath the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a traditional cyclists’ meeting spot.

That part of our excursion wasn’t Coffeeneuring . . .  but we are permitted to count cycling either to or from a group event, as long as the ride is at least two miles/3.2 km, and, of course, we indulge in coffee or similar beverage.

Therefore, we rode two full miles, not exactly directly, back to 30th Street Station (which is under a mile from the art museum), and drank chai at Saxbys.


We’ve been to other Saxbys locations and liked them very much.  Sadly, this one was a bust. One of the employees (a manager?) fought with another employee in an attempt to get her to serve us, while simultaneously managing to never acknowledge us, himself, at any point during the prolonged and wretched transaction.


We got our chais, eventually, from a highly distracted server who was having a loud discussion with a friend, and two napkins from the guy, who tore them grudgingly from a dispenser that was jammed into position facing the inside of the kiosk, and inaccessible to patrons.

So:  ewww. Not quite the experience we had hoped for.  Clearly, Volo would have been the better choice!

Day 2 Observations:  1) The chai was excellent.  (Go figure!)  2) Worst customer experience either of us could remember having had in a long, long time.   It’s a toss-up as to who claims which observation — two Coffeeneuring teams are involved here — but, since Dr. Diarist and were in complete concordance, it hardly matters who claims which.

Tally for the day

Day 2 Location:  Saxby’s at 30th Street Amtrak Station

Mileage today:  2 miles/3.2 km

Total Mileage for Coffeeneuring 2014 to date:  9 miles/14.4 km

Trip: 2/7

Brompton Duo Coffeeneuring Events

Coffeeneuring 2014: Day 1

Basil and I have never done Coffeeneuring, owing to a scarcity of coffee shops within reasonable cycling distance.  This year we’re taking advantage of some flexibility in the rules, and stepping up to the challenge.  Also, we’ve drafted Argyll and Dr. Diarist.


We got our alternative Coffeeneuring beverages (hot chocolate on the left, chai on the right) at an alternative coffee shop — a “café” inside an upscale grocery store.  (Yeah, we live in a suburban wasteland.  Not our fault!) (Maybe our fault a little, actually, but hey, cut us some slack, OK?)


This was Day 1 for both teams, and a lovely, first-of-fall day it was.  (That’s observation 1; we need two, since there are two human/bike teams participating here.)  Observation 2 is that the faux patina on the faux copper in the faux courtyard in the faux coffeehouse in which we drank our beverages is pretty amusing.


Observation 3 (not required):  That was decent cocoa, and not made from powder.

The Brompton Brothers posed for fall portraits on the way back.  Here’s Argyll:


Basil hopped up on a stone wall overlooking a pond:


Tally for the day:

Day 1 Location: In-Store Café

Mileage today:  7 miles/11.2 km

Total Mileage for Coffeeneuring 2014 to date:  7 miles/11.2 km

Trip 1/7