Another cool morning as I left the motel after grabbing a bowl of cereal in the lobby dining area. I pedaled along the river walk to Market St, then followed Route J over to 2nd Street and followed that street north. It being Saturday morning at about 8 AM, there was little traffic in the city to contend with. After a few miles, I stopped to pull out and don my arm warmers -- it was that cool.
I had no intention of using anything but the shoulder!
Upon leaving the city, the route ran along the east shore of the Susquehanna, past Fort Hunter. Eventually, it reached a point where Route J turned onto PA 443, a limited-access highway. That's because with the narrow space available between the river and the looming mountains, there is room for only one road and the railroad. To accommodate the bicycle route, it must go on the limited-access highway for at least a bit. In this case, the route entered onto the highway and left at the next exit, so I didn't have to cross over any entrance or exit ramps. Even so, this wasn't especially pleasant riding. Although the shoulder was plenty wide enough to keep me well away from the traffic, the constant stream of vehicles rushing past at 60-plus miles per hour was loud and annoying.
Once off the highway, the route ran through a small town, where I stopped at a Hardee's for a breakfast sausage biscuit. When I got back on the bike, I noticed that one of my pannier rain covers was missing. I must have forgotten to secure it when I took out the arm warmers. It could have been lost anywhere, but most likely it was five miles back where I stopped. Oh, well, I'm not expecting any rain on this trip anyway. Besides, all of the really important stuff is inside a dry bag in one of the panniers.
Route J continued along a lightly traveled two-lane road running right next to the highway, separated from it by a concrete barrier. This was somewhat more pleasant, although still a bit noisy. I stayed on this road for several miles, but all things must come to an end, and eventually I had to get back onto the highway as it wound alongside the river and next to another mountain. After getting past the mountain, the road crossed the river (my third crossing of the Susquehanna on this trip, and not to be my last). It then turned north on the west side of the river, joining with US routes 11 and 15 and becoming a non-limited-access road.
McKees Half Falls, near Liverpool, PA.
From this point on -- for nearly 30 miles -- I was riding along a highway that was sometimes divided and sometimes not. Since the road runs right next to the river, there was very little on my side of the road in the way of buildings or roads. For long stretches the road has a guard rail on the right side and a concrete divider on the other. It can get a bit boring, and the high-speed traffic is no help. Still, the shoulder was wide, the river is pretty, and the ride is about as flat as any you are likely to find in Pennsylvania.
Because it was so flat, I made good time, getting to Selinsgrove, where Route J leaves the highway, well before 2 PM. I followed the route through the middle of town to the other side, where I stopped at a CVS for a cold drink and to replace the sunscreen that had been in the pocket of the lost pannier cover. Continuing, I found the motel that I had tentatively identified as a stopping point, but it wasn't well situated for my needs. There were no restaurants within easy walking distance, which would be inconvenient. So, I continued on as Route J jogged over to a back street to skip most of the busy commercial strip. As it returned to the strip, I found the alternate motel I had noted, an EconoLodge. This had a Mexican restaurant in the same building, so my dinner plans were all set.
After getting cleaned up, I dozed for a bit. About 4:30 I went over to the bar of the restaurant, where a couple of cold Dos Equis drafts cooled me off. After dinner I returned to the room and read for a while before calling it a night.