Friends Are Good

Naturally, I’m feeling very lonely these days. Having Lister along for the ride helps a lot, but it’s not the same as actual human contact. I have awesome friends, and they have stepped up to hang out and help me through this difficult time.

It was on the way, so I had to check out Centralia, PA. We don’t have many ghost towns on the east coast, but this is one of them. Where I’m parked used to be an active downtown area. Now the buildings are gone and this road is abandoned. A coal mine under the town caught on fire in 1962 and has been burning ever since. The town was abandoned during the 1980s and 90s, and nature is well on its way to reclaiming it. Unfortunately, the famous Graffiti Highway got buried last year, dashing my hopes of some awesome apocalypse pictures with my apocalypse-ready KLR650. It does look like this road I parked on is on its way to replacing it, though, slowly but surely, so it’ll have to do for now.

A couple of hours later, I reached my friend Angela’s place. Well, I reached the center of town, at least, and had to fire up my T-Mobile hotspot to enable my Verizon phone, which had no service, to ask her where to go from there. She led me to her place, I helped her with some antique sorting, and we caught up on life. I met her at the Black River Stages rally in 2011 where she co-drove for another old friend of mine. Our paths have continued to cross since, especially since she’s done some traveling similar to me in her Subaru Impreza wagon, a.k.a. “The Battlewagon,” with a rooftop tent. I’ve had a standing invitation for a while now and finally got to take her up on it. It was fun to catch up and geek out on car stuff.

The next day it was a hop, skip, and jump across the New York border to the Whiskyeye gathering. There’s a cell tower on the property, so I got there early in the day to ensure I had a good data connection for the day’s work meetings. I got somewhat distracted by minibikes buzzing around, as well as people coming to visit Lister, but managed to get through the workday.

After that, shenanigans ensued. I didn’t take many photos or videos. This weekend was for me. Sorry, not sorry. There were motorcycles, minibikes, and plenty of people in camper vans and even a short bus, yet to be converted. I even got my hair done a new way for the weekend.

There were lots of minibike trails throughout the property. I rode some of them on my KLR, because why not? I skipped the muddy sections, though, because my tires are worn and more road-oriented. It’s still pretty cool that I could use the same bike on the minibike trails and our group ride to the Roscoe Diner, though. I made some new #vanlife friends, all of whom recommended I head west — Arizona, in particular. In fact, one couple who has spent winters in both Florida, as was our original plan, and Arizona told me that Arizona is so much better. I’ll have to figure out renewing my registration this December while not in Florida if I do that, but that can be done.

On Sunday I packed up, then drove to Cheshire, MA to visit my friends Malcolm and Phred, as well as Catman and their new kittens, Fidget and Rupert.

They just moved there from nearby Pittsfield, and the new house is a huge improvement over their old place. It still needs a bit of work, but it’s a great place to start. They invited their friend Alex over as well, mainly to talk ham radio stuff with me and geek out a bit. We watched Black Widow, and then I retreated to the van for a good night’s sleep with Lister.

Today I’m getting some work done and figuring out my next steps, now that I’m back in New England. I have mail and packages on their way to my friend Allyson in Jaffrey, NH. That also places me close to my storage unit so I can unload Trisha’s stuff and pick up anything I might want and now have room for. My next definite date is the New England Forest Rally at the end of the month. At this point I can get there in a few hours from pretty much anyplace I’ll be in New England, so that part of my overall travel plan is accomplished. I’m back in New England and plan to visit the various people who have invited me during the next few weeks. I’m genuinely not sure when I’ll be back up this way again, so I might as well make a grand tour before I leave this time.

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