While the parents were visiting, we ate very well, including an evening of raclette — lovely melted cheese eaten with vegetables grilled on a hot stone.
Where there is cheese, though, exercise must follow, so we all hit the trail, too.
The mountain bikes had their own pump, an extremely efficient model which is operated by foot. (“Pumps twice as fast as a hand pump.”) It’s twenty years old, and still serving proudly.
Wait, does that say “Slime”? Branding has changed a lot, it seems. I find the name kind of refreshing — if you’re using an industrial strength foot pump, odds are whatever you’re doing isn’t very effete, and might even be, at times, slimey.
We headed for the Schuylkill River Trail, beginning in Conshohocken. I didn’t know how many opportunities I’d have to snap a shot of Basil, so I quickly took one under this old trestle.
The trail extending to/from Alan Wood Road has been newly-surfaced, so it’s an especially easy ride here. The first part was a fun, stop-and-admire the scenery kind of ride, and I ended up with more pictures than I had expected to.
But I got an early shot of Argyll, too, just in case. Basil grows pale in direct sun, but Argyll becomes almost completely camouflaged in shadows and greenery.
It was another beautiful day, and the Schuylkill River was looking particularly good, at least at a distance, under that very blue sky.
Up close was a slightly different matter, with a lot of debris from earlier storms still evident. Not those little swimmers — they live in the river all the time.
When, that is, they aren’t sunbathing on the rocky shore.
Spring’s goslings are giants now, and a little more unfazed by bicyclists than they should be. On the other hand, they weren’t at all antagonistic, so that was a plus.
Three of us went on for a fast second half of the ride, out to Betzwood and back, including a stop at the Spring Mill Trailhead to check on progress on the system.
We all stopped at the Outbound Station, where I had the best grilled cheese sandwich ever — so crispy outside, and so melty inside; too wonderful!
At least three trains went by as we ate lunch; the Schuylkill River Trail runs parallel to the tracks here, between the trains and the café. This is a trilling plus, as far as I’m concerned.
The buildings in the background are typical of those in the city of Conshohocken, especially the one on the right. Someone must have gotten a virtually city-wide concession for the installation of those distinctive greenish windows; they’re ubiquitous.
There’s something new behind the counter at the Outbound — a magical Dyson fan. It’s blade-less; standing in front of it — the breeze is strong — is a very, very odd experience. There’s nothing there! Maybe that’s twice as disconcerting because the design seems almost sculptural — is is art or science?
The Outbound Station is extremely bike-friendly — they’ll fill up your water bottle, loan you tools for minor repairs, let you use their air pump, and they sell a variety of bike-friendly energy bars and snacks along with tasty sandwiches and baked goods.
There’s an ode to bikes or bicycling in nearly every corner.
Not much farther down the trail, we spotted this locomotive, pulling a maintenance vehicle. The orange structure just behind the engine is actually a rail car.
Standing on top was a crew working on the overhead wires. The locomotive pulling this fantastic structure is to the left, out of the picture, and, for some reason, there’s a passenger car linked to the maintenance car, just visible to the right.
That was a fascinating sight — we sometimes see track maintenance equipment, but rarely see it in use, and this particular car was not one I’d seen before.
It’s also unusual for us to see the Norristown high speed train when we’re riding, probably because we’re usually on the trail at the wrong time of day. There it was, though.
Further down the trail, these little guys startled us, and vice versa. They had the good sense to flee, fortunately. I think we’d just seen Mama, but I hadn’t reacted fast enough to catch her, too.
The guys changed out of their cycling shoes when we got back to the vehicle. Am I the only one who wears comfortable biking shoes? (In this case, mine are actually biking sandals, but my winter cycling shoes are quite comfortable, too.) I wonder.
Our Brompton bicycles got tossed — gently! — in the back of the truck (a first for them). Ancient moving pads make for good protection in unusual circumstances, and let us put the mountain bikes’ front tires on top of the little bikes. The mountain bikes themselves go on a roof-top rack.
This was just about the perfect ride for our from-out-of-town parents (and would be for other visitors, too) — the terrain is good for all skill levels, the sights are varied, there’s a fine place to stop, snack, and visit, and it’s also a great way to share an interesting, and perhaps not well-known, aspect of the Philadelphia area.
As some of you already know, response to comments and email will be non-existent over the next few days. Basil and his Diarist will return to these pages early next week.