About Lea's Foundation

In 1998, Lea Michele Economos, a young woman who died of leukemia at the age of 28, made a dying wish to her parents that others would not face the hardships she encountered by finding a cure for this disease. Her family started this charity to carry on that wish. Today, Lea’s Foundation takes an active role in finding a cure for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and myeloma and to better the lives of people living with these diseases. At the UCONN Health Center, the Lea’s Foundation Center for Hematologic Disorders sponsors research in this field. A new program covers the cost of bone-marrow testing to help recruit life-saving transplants for patients. Also, annual scholarships are given to children with leukemia who are planning to attend nursery school. For more information on other projects carried out by Lea’s Foundation, please visit their website at www.LeasFoundation.org.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Annoucement: Final Ride to Hammonasset

This Saturday, we will complete our coast to coast journey on a 40 mile ride down to Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison, CT.  We will leave the University of Connecticut Health Center at 8am (Academic Entrance) and make our way down to Madison.  We hope to arrive around noon, dip our tires in Long Island Sound and then make our way over to Malone's Restaurant in Madison for a celebration of our trip and Lea's Foundation.

All are welcome to join in on the ride and celebrations at the beach and restaurant.  We hope to see you there!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Day 54 - New Windsor, NY to Farmington, CT (91 miles)

We woke with excitement, we knew that we had completed the last century-ride of our trip yesterday, and all that stood between us and our family and friends tonight was three mountain climbs along with more miles of rolling New England hills.  After completing our morning rituals of peanut butter covered foods and other preparations, we rolled towards Newburgh, NY.  We headed for the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge pedestrian path.  One of the reasons we had come up to Newburgh was that this was the safest bridge for cyclists to cross the Hudson on, due to its dedicated bike path on the southernmost edge of the bridge.  We descended down into the river valley and then climbed up onto the bridge path.  Signs warned of bridge work, but we did not think much of them until 200 yards into our crossing we were obstructed by a construction fence.  There was no way to push around it, and a local pedestrian told us that they have been occasionally closing the walkway throughout the summer as they conducted maintenance on I-84.  She said the bridge work would not be done until August 31.

Jonathan and I fully intended to get to Farmington today, not in September, so the state of New York left us with no choice.  We unpacked our bikes, and systematically (and if I do say so myself, rather smoothly) carried our stuff over the barricade into the construction lane, and reassembled our bikes on I-84.  Right before our covert operation, a police officer had driven by, so we knew we had to be quick in getting across the bridge.  When we could, we rode in the construction lane, and before long we had crossed the bridge, and climbed back onto the bike path on the eastern side of the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge.  Looks like we had to use I-84 more than I thought we would in yesterday's post...

With more than enough interstate riding for one day, we headed off in busy New York rush hour traffic on state and county routes towards Connecticut.  One large obstacle stood in our way: Wingdale Mountain.  After exhaustingly steep rolling hills that robbed us of our momentum at each climb, we entered a rotary that pointed us up 6+% grade hill that we trudged up.  Around a few more corners, it became evident that this was the first of the three mountains that our elevation profile had warned us about on today's ride.  Eventually we reached the summit as sweat poured from our bodies.  We descended down to a marshy lake, and thought the descent had been a bit short considering our prolonged ascent.  We were wrong and soon we were dropped down more steep hills and turns that netted us new top speeds greater than 43 mph each.  Two days in a row we have set new top speeds.

A couple more rolling hills and we had passed into Kent, Connecticut.  Our final state border crossing, and once again we were disappointed to not find a sign welcoming us home to Connecticut.  We had not eaten breakfast yet, and with a deadline to get to UCHC by 4:30pm, we stuffed down some gas station food before heading off towards Cornwall.  We cruised up Highway 7 and onto Route 4.  Leaving Cornwall we knew the second climb of our day would be imminent as we neared Goshen.  A tailwind was building behind us that keep us moving, but allowed the humidity to keep up with our pace and did nothing to slow our sweating.  The pace we were keeping today was quite a bit faster than we have been doing for the past 53 days, and I do not think it would be sustainable if we knew we had to bike tomorrow.  We stopped at a convenience store halfway up the mountain to refuel with electrolytes, protein and caffeine (what else do you really need on a cross country bike ride?).  We rode quickly through Goshen and took in the gorgeous views of lakes, hills and agriculture that this portion of Connecticut offered to us.  Approaching Torrington we lost the elevation we had fought so hard for.

We had one last stop at Burger King in Torrington.  The workers there could not believe that we had come all the way from San Francisco and one of them even ran out to the parking lot telling us she would pray for us to finish the trip safely.  Ride outside Burger King's driveway we started the third and final climb that was keeping us from Farmington.  This climb was the shortest of today's three, but without a shoulder and in increasingly dense traffic, was still a bit exciting.  Reaching the top, it was time to begin an overall descent down to the Health Center.

At this point our 4:30pm planned arrival was impossible, but we still did everything we could to make it to Farmington as fast as possible.  We rolled up and down the hills averaging close to 18-20 mph, with the wind still pushing us from behind.  Finally reaching Collinsville, it was time to use bike trails to travel along the Farmington River.  We passed a number of other cyclists on the bike path, and despite biking as fast or faster than them, we unsurprisingly were carrying the most gear out of all of them.  We passed Jonathan's street in Unionville and continued on to cruise past the Farmington Meadow Land.

We passed Miss Porter's School and landed out on Route 4 once again, this time heading towards the I-84/Route 4 intersection.  Traveling through the jug-handle turn, we could finally see the Health Center.  Never before have I been so excited to see that building.  We rolled in the main entrance and through the new rotary that had appeared since we left.  We crept up the speed bump covered hill and the Academic Entrance came into view.  Our families, friends, deans and the media were ready for our arrival and cheered for us as we rolling up to them.  Hugs, kisses, champagne showers, flowers, pictures and TV interviews welcomed us back to Farmington.  It has been quite an adventure, but both Jonathan and myself are very glad to have been back.  We are grateful for the support we received from Connecticut and from the memories and friends we made across America.

Photos by Jonathan Kobles

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Day 53 - White Haven, PA to New Windsor, NY (113 miles)

Today start with another cool morning that slowly warmed and became very humid as we continued to bike.  We rolled up and down hills towards Pocono Pines, before we turned off onto even more remote back roads (to avoid the climb into Mount Pocono).  This road was rather uneventful, but slow due to its windy, hilly nature.  Unexpectedly we spotted a sign for a 13% grade descent that would last four miles.

 This was the steepest marked grade we have encountered so far on the trip, and we could not believe that we were seeing this here in the Poconos instead of the Rockies.  We bombed down the side of the mountain down to Tannersville, topping 42 mph, new highs for us on the trip.  As we descended, the drivers became more aggressive as more New York and New Jersey license plates appeared on the road.

Reaching Tannersville, we were in a busy commercial area that was in great contrast to the small mountain towns we had been biking through.  This whole area is catered to the needs of tourists, and appears to be quite popular.  We stopped in at a local diner and are breakfast in our spandex, while many other customers were stopping in for their pre- or post-church Sunday brunches.  We spoke to a number of our diners who were shocked to here that we had come all the way from San Francisco, and wished us well on the final days of our trip.  Somewhere in Ohio, those who asked about our trip began being impressed by the distance we had covered instead of always exclaiming: "Yous a long ways from home".  In Pennsylvania, everyone we talked to definitely was impressed with how far we traveled, but are still a bit doubtful that we plan to get home tomorrow.

We set off from monstrous breakfasts to head down to the Delaware Water Gap.  This area surrounding the Delaware River along the Pennsylvania/New Jersey borders is a National Recreation Area.  For 20 miles, commercial trucks and businesses are disallowed on Highway 209, leading to a very nice ride.  The area is very flat compared to the Poconos, with only some rolling hills that help us to keep us our momentum.  The temperature was hot though, and with the high humidity leading to lots of sweating, we had to make sure to have enough water for the 20 mile stretch with no options for water refilling.  We did not get to see as much of the Delaware River as we had expected, but the break from the mountains was well received.

Emerging from the Gap in Milford, PA, we decided to push on another five miles towards Matamoras to grab a Subway lunch.  We cooled off in Subway and grabbed the last few things we would need for our trip from the attached Walmart.  Off we headed through Matamoras and into Port Jervis, NY.  Unfortunately, the state of New York denied us a "Welcome to New York" sign, so our collection will be one short (I hope Connecticut also does not disappoint us).  We were now following Highway 6 as it mirrored I-84 (too bad we cannot just ride this back to Farmington).  Leaving Port Jervis, we had to climb our final mountain of the day, but the grade was easy and after 20 minutes of low gear grinding, we reached the top.

The hills continued to roll as we headed towards our dinner in Goshen, NY.  I had pancakes #4, 5 and 6 for the day, while Jonathan replenished his electrolytes (mainly sodium) with some Chinese food.  After dinner we were left with a 19 mile ride to the western bank of the Hudson River.  Per usual, we continued to roll over hills well after the sun set.  Also keeping with our usual pattern, we found ice cream a few miles before our motel and stopped to enjoy some soft-serve before cruising into our lodging.  Tonight's neighbors seemed to be really enjoying themselves as they starred off at nothing and yelled nonsensically.  Luckily we were unable to hear them from inside our room.

Today's ride left us with about 93 miles tomorrow to the Health Center, a distance that we are confident that we can cover.

Photos by Jonathan Kobles

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Day 52 - Mifflinburg, PA to White Haven, PA (83 miles)

We left the Mifflinburg Hotel early this morning and were finally able to see all the historic buildings of downtown Mifflinburg and take some pictures of our hotel.

Also this morning, we were able to take in the smell of the horse poop from the Amish horses that permeates throughout the town.  Thinking back, I am sure that some of this was flung up from our tires onto our bikes/gear/legs last night as we rode through the dark night.  We rolled over to the rail-to-trail and hopped on a great paved trail that headed east to Lewisburg.  Eventually the trail became packed stone, but was still so well maintained and well-used by the locals that our bikes traveled over this surface with absolutely no issue.  The trail ended up lasting a little over eight miles and dropped us out at a bike shop in Lewisburg.  We stopped in, as we often do at local shops, and browsed a bit, made a few purchases and then headed over to a Perkins to grab breakfast.

A quick breakfast later and we were heading past Bucknell University and further east towards the Pocono Mountains.  As Highway 45 came to an end, we merged onto Route 642 and caught up with the first unsupported bike tourer that we have met since leaving Daniel in Cody, WY.  This man was from England and had biked the Pacific Coast before heading to Kansas.  Once there, he took a bus to Charleston, SC and has been biking up the East Coast.  As we reached the second or third town called Danville of our trip, our new acquaintance headed off and we continued on to Highway 11 towards Berwick.  Highway 11 provided us with flat riding in between towns and we made great time despite the road being lined with many business entrances.

Once in Berwick we crossed the Susquehanna River and reached the start of the Poconos.  The town of Nescopeck started our trip on Route 93.  The "hills" began immediately and soon turned into mountains and we found ourselves climbing up to our first Pocono summit.  While the climb did take a decent amount of time, we found it was not nearly as steep or difficult to climb as the Rockies had been.  The one unfortunate part of this part of the trip was that each time we gained elevation up a mountain, we immediately lost it down the other side.  We encountered I-80 once again, the interstate that we had left behind in Nebraska after paralleling its movements for the better part of a week.  Unfortunately, Pennsylvania does not condone interstate travel by bicycles.  As we headed across the next valley, we passed a sign saying "Peacock Crossing".  I thought the homeowner was being ironic until we saw a peacock walking down their driveway...

The next climb was much steeper, but once again we shifted down and climbed it without much fanfare.  Reaching the top, we coasted down into the town of Drums, PA.  From this point we knew it had taken the 2013 riders 227 miles to reach Farmington.  With some mileage left in our ride today, it made our plan to get home in two more full days of riding, finally seem plausible once more.  We grabbed Subway after Drums and took a short rest.  The first thing we faced after eating was a steep climb up to the highest elevation we had seen so far today.  Luckily this time, the descent did not waste our hard work and instead we descended slowly over a number of rolling miles.  We much prefer this type of descent.  We soon reached White Haven and knew we had about 5 miles more of climbing before we reached our motel.  Luckily there was a McDonald's along the way so we were able to satisfy our nightly ice cream requirement.

When we reached our motel, the innkeeper could not believe we had pedaled all the way from San Francisco.  He called his wife into the lobby and they took turns starring at us and asking questions.  As we walked to our room, they moved to the parking lot and continued starring at us.  It was a bit odd, and definitely uncomfortable.  I planned to put my new tires on as I got flats today, but my old tires surprisingly held up. With the extra time afforded to us by getting in by 9:30, I changed out my tires for the new ones.  I hope they fair well tomorrow on the rest of these mountains.

Our mileage was not massive today, but with the climbs we covered, we should be set up tomorrow to have more descents than ascents, hopefully allowing us to get a good distance into New York.  Two more days until our homecoming!

Photos by Jonathan Kobles

Friday, August 8, 2014

Day 51 - Ebensburg, PA to Mifflinburg, PA (118 miles)

We started today with our drive back to Ebensburg from our Altoona hotel.  Unfortunately, the stretch of Highway 22 from Ebensburg to Altoona becomes limited access highway, and bicycles are prohibited.  Unfortunately for the state of Pennsylvania, they neglected to post signage about transition, so Jonathan and I headed down this more direct and safer (due to larger shoulders) highway.  Two and a half miles into riding, a 1.5 inch nail ruined my no-flat-tire streak came to an end.  For the first time since before buying a new flat-resistance tire in Grand Island, Nebraska, I found myself once more on the side of the road changing my tire.  A motorist actually stopped to make sure I had what I needed to change the tire, something that does not usually happen when we are stuck/stopped on the side of the road.  While I may have been slower at tire-changing than I was back when we got multiple flats per day, I was back to rolling down Highway 22 in no time.

Eleven miles into our day, we reached Summit, PA.  We had been slowly climbing since Ebensburg and now a sign informed us that we had earned seven miles of 5% down-grade.  Along with the break this afford our legs, we also got to take in fantastic views of the Pennsylvania countryside as we coasted down into Altoona.  We made great time here, but due to an expected lack of solid breakfast options before we would reach State College, we hunted down a Bob Evans.  Bob Evans, as usual, gave us a great breakfast for a great price, and we were now ready to ride for hours without needing to stop for a meal.  We headed northeast, mirroring I-99, and other than stops caused by stoplights, were making great headway to State College.

Before we reached Bellwood, we encountered another construction zone, telling us that the road was closed to through traffic in 1.75 miles.  With our past record of being able to walk/ride through construction sites, and the detour taking traffic on the Interstate, we decided to try our luck.  Unfortunately, the road work was actually a project that involved replacing a bridge over the Little Juniata River, and we were forced to water 3.5 miles of riding (with backtracking) and then take a detour to Bellwood.  Of course our unofficial detour also had a road closure, so we had to do even more "creative navigating" to emerge in Bellwood and resume our paralleling of I-99.  This road (Old Highway 220) was fairly straight and rather flat compared to other options leading to State College, and it allowed us to make much better mileage than our convoluted route around Pittsburgh did yesterday.  We passed an "amusement park" in Tipton, and continued on to the mill-town of Tyrone.

After we passed the paper mill in Tyrone, my "flat-resistant" tire was tested once more.  It failed.  To its defense, I am not sure any tire could have survived receiving a through-and-through double sidewall puncture from a 6 inch long screwdriver.  This caused a blowout that blew my tire off the rim, and threw the screw driver 10 feet across the road.  I was mad that my expensive new tire had been destroyed so completely by roadside trash, but honestly was quite lucky that the screwdriver had not broken my more complicated chain, spokes or derailleur.  Luckily I was still carrying my old rear tire that I had been too lazy to ship home.  Tire replaced, and nerves regained, we set off to our next gas station rest stop at Port Matilda.  Here, I called the State College bike shops, and once I found an acceptable tire, sent my mom to pick up a new pair of tires (I do not want to waste any more time of this trip on the side of the road).

As we made our way to State College, we had to climb the side of a mountain to catch up to the elevation I-99 had gained.  At the top, we realized that we had gone higher than I-99, but were rewarded with a great view of Happy Valley and the city of State College.  We rushed down the other side of the mountain and into State College.  Penn State was gorgeous and quite expansive.  Jonathan said that it reminded him quite a bit of Storrs.  Unfortunately when we met up with my mom, it was time for her to start heading back to Connecticut.  We consolidated our bags, and left behind our camping gear and anything else we could spare.  With our bags lightened, and a hotel reserved in Mifflinburg, we headed out to ride the last 45 miles.

We were very grateful that my mom was able to come out to Pennsylvania and help us over the past few days.  Taking our bags was immensely helpful during our hill climbs, and we do not think we would have made it successfully through the busy and steep Pittsburgh suburbs if we had been weighed down with our panniers. My parents also donated a nice hotel room to us, which was quite a step up from where we have been staying recently, and allowed us to get a great restful night's sleep.  Thanks mom!  See you soon in Farmington!

With our bikes and gear we headed along Route 45, and immediately found ourselves in flatter land filled with agriculture.  We felt more like we were in Illinois than Pennsylvania at this point.  When we reached a gas station containing a Subway, we stopped for our second meal of the day (around 5pm).  This time we only ate half our sandwiches and planned to eat the other halves further along on our trip.  Unsurprisingly, we felt much better after this meal and while we had more energy after our break, we also did not have stomach cramps from eating too much.  Looks like this "moderation" technique might be a winner.  As we continued on, the hills began to roll and we soon found ourselves among the Pennsylvania Dutch.  The presence of their horse and buggies gave us wide shoulders great for riding, and practice avoiding obstacles (horse poop).  We exchanged waves with the Amish, but did not take any pictures out of respect.

The cornfields disappeared after we ate the other halves of our sandwiches and were replaced with State Forests.  We felt more than ever, that we were almost back in New England.  The sun set, and before long we were riding under moonlight and light from our bike lights and headlamps.  Five miles before we reached Mifflinburg we found an ice cream place, Chilly Willy's.  Here we met Mandy who told us that our hotel for the night was a historic building that was potential haunted.  I was excited, Jonathan was not particularly thrilled.  Apparently employees stayed out of the basement and the third floor had burned down in a fire.  The hotel had been recently remodeled/rebuilt.  Mandy also told us of a 10 mile-long rail-to-trail we could take from Mifflinburg to Lewisburg tomorrow morning.  She said we would avoid a big hill between the two towns, something that excited us quite a bit.  After ice cream, we rode by graveyards and agriculture as we approached Mifflinburg.  Reaching the town, we took in what we could see of the historic buildings lining Route 45, before reaching The Mifflingburg Hotel and Scarlet D Tavern.  The waitress who helped us check-in told us the hotel was built in 1884.  She asked about our trip and donated to Lea's Foundation.  Our room is on the previously burned third floor...

Photos by Jonathan Kobles

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Day 50 - Hickory, PA to Ebensburg, PA (96 miles)

This morning we started by backtracking in my mom's car through Pittsburgh to the Subway parking lot we had stopped in the night before.  We set off on our unloaded bikes (which is such a nice feeling), and efficiently climbed and descended our way along Highway 50.  After our driven tour of Pittsburgh last night, we realized that the climbs and tunnels that would be necessary in order to ride directly through Pittsburgh was going to be too much of a hassle.  That being said, we still had to head towards the city before we could circumvent it through its suburbs (on the Yellow and then Orange Belts).

To begin, we had more downhill than uphill, and we made good time as Highway 50 became a divided highway to Bridgeville.  It was at this point that we had to take busier, sometimes shoulderless roads around Pittsburgh.  The roads were packed because it was still the tail end of rush hour traffic, and we were glad that we did not have our bags on our bikes that would serve to prolong our ascents, and widen our bikes.  When possible we road on sidewalks to avoid aggressive drivers, but this solution was often plagued with broken glass and other trash that was strewn about.  The hills were steep, but we were able to maintain a good portion of our momentum because we did not have our bags.  Eventually we reached the summit of our climbs and got to enjoy a steep downhill ride to the Monongahela River.  The traffic and stoplights slowed our progress and we found it frustrating that despite riding quickly, our mileage was accruing much slower than usual.

Around noon, we reached North Versaille.  We had only biked about 35 miles, but being on constant high-alert to avoid bad drivers and navigating in stressful areas necessitated that we stop for a meal.  Conveniently there was another Denny's and we sat down to enjoy another one of our "Build Your Own Grandslams".  My mom met us here and topped off our supplies of snacks and fluids, and after eating we set off to Monroeville (which is where we had stayed the prior night in a hotel).  Being Pennsylvania, the trip to Monroeville required more climbing and descending, but eventually we reached Highway 22.  The William Penn Highway promised to finally send us on a more direct eastbound route.

Highway 22, did not satisfy our expectations immediately though.  We found ourselves on more of a commercial turnpike than a highway, and we were once again dodging aggressive drivers, searching for usable road shoulders and being slowed by traffic lights.  Luckily, the further we got from Pittsburgh, the less traffic and businesses there were.  Along with this transition came an increasing number of mountains that were part of the Allegheny Mountain Range.

We climbed and fell for the whole afternoon and eventually made our way to a Subway.  After our sandwiches we decided to grab another 1.5 hours of riding before it became dark out.  The hills had definitively transitioned to being mountains at this point and we had two "opportunities" to test our climbing skills as we had to slowly trudge up mountain sides that lasted around 2.5 miles.

 Eventually we reached the town of Ebensburg around 8:30pm and when we rendezvoused with my mom, decided that we had biked far enough for today, and would head to our hotel in Altoona.  We hung the bikes on the back of her SUV and set off for Dairy Queen and beds.

Photos by Jonathan Kobles

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Day 49 - Cambridge, OH to Hickory, PA (94 miles)

We woke today with large ambitions:

1.  We needed to cross out of Ohio, through West Virginia, and into Pennsylvania.
2.  We were going to rendezvous with my mom who had volunteered to act as a support vehicle and carry our gear for us over the next couple days.

As we set off, the air was heavy with moisture and there was fog obscuring some of the road.  Clouds covered the sun, keeping it "cool".  The morning was not comfortable however, and even with the slightest exertion, sweat would pour off of us due to the oppressive humidity.  We passed through the historic portion of Cambridge before setting off to face some more hills.

I thought that Ohio would continue the Midwestern trend of having flat agricultural land, but instead it seems many of the hills I was expecting to find in Pennsylvania, have slipped over the state border and are attacking us earlier.  We climbed and descended too many times to count.  Unfortunately these hills were way too steep to maintain any momentum and we were working at our maximum effort, during our entire trip on Highway 22 to Cadiz.  To make the situation more fun, the shoulder was most nonexistent and the road was heavily trafficked by oil drilling and fracking equipment.

The humidity occasionally changed to 10 minute rain showers.  The rain did little to cool us, and only accomplished obscuring whether we were dripping water or sweat onto our bike frames and gear. The road to Cadiz passed through a few small communities, some of which housed Amish families, as was evident by some Amish men being driven to work at furniture and other woodworking businesses.

There were few places to stop along this stretch of road, but we did stop along Piedmont Lake and learn about Civil War battles that had taken place along the stretch of road we were following.  Right before Cadiz we were forced to scale the steepest hills of the morning, before reaching a pizza place.  As we had ridden quite a bit of distance and burned way more calories that we had eaten so far, our breakfast/lunch meals were rather large.  Jonathan ate a spaghetti dinner with salad, while I ate a 14" pizza.  While these heavy meals might have made our trip more difficult under normal circumstances, we were in luck.  Highway 22 became an actual freeway after Cadiz and we were allowed to ride it for about 12 miles before bicycles were prohibited.  These 12 miles flew by, and we were quite disappointed to have to exit the freeway and take older, steeper roads to Steubenville.

Steubenville was the most built-up city we had seen since Cambridge, but our excitement to escape the hills of Eastern Ohio kept us moving quickly through the city.  This was also helped by the fact that the last few miles were purely downhill to the Ohio River.  Waiting at one stop sign, a man pulled up in his car, rolled down the window, shouted "Meet my friend" and then proceeded to hold up a plastic spider and make a bizarre noise at us.  As we starred at him in disbelief, he pulled a bit farther forward, and continued to make the noise for another 90 second or so as he waited for an opening in traffic to pull out into.  I am not sure why people in this part of the state are so "interesting".  Maybe they hate the hills as much as we do.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the highlight of Eastern Ohio.  Jonathan and I have been playing the "Sign Game".  The object is to identify signs that begin with each letter of the alphabet... in alphabetical order.  Coming out of Columbus yesterday we had done quite well, but found ourselves stuck on "x" since Zanesville.  It was at the intersection with crazy-spider-man that we found "X-Tra Storage" on not one, but two signs.  With the letter "x" now found, we were sure we would be able to complete the game before Farmington.

After our descent we crossed into West Virginia and sought out a Subway for lunch.  I found a "shortcut" while eating, and we headed off to Pennsylvania.  Unfortunately the shortcut involved a steep gravel road, so I quickly found another road that would keep us headed towards Pittsburgh.  This was a small county road that had the steepest grade climb that we have covered on our trip.  Exhausted and sweaty, we finally reached the top of it, and then cruised over to Pennsylvania.  Our travels in West Virginia were only about 10 miles long, but they were definitely not easy.

Once in Pennsylvania, we headed off on Route 50 towards Pittsburgh.  By this point my mom was on the other side of Pittsburgh looking for hotels and we planned to head towards each other.  Between the towns of Avella and Hickory we finally spotted the CT-license plate clad SUV we had been hoping to see all day.  We ditched out gear in the back, and road the final miles into Hickory before my mom drove us back to our hotel.  Tomorrow morning we will come back to this exact spot and continue the trip.  Luckily for us, and perhaps unfortunately for my mom, there was a Denny's right next to the hotel!  Time for another late night "brinner".

Photos by Jonathan Kobles