Friday, December 2, 2011

City Life

It is great to be out of the woods and in a place where beautiful women, bikes, coffeeshops, and great pubs actually exist (believe me, they are few and far between in the North Maine woods). I am statistically more likely to be mauled by a crazed moose than bike to a coffeeshop, or have an interesting conversation with an attractive woman at a pub I actually enjoy patronizing.

Living in the middle of nowhere is great, but I am happy to be out traveling, visiting friends, and biking around the Philadelphia. As I write this I am sitting at a brilliant coffeeshop named Town Hall Coffee Co, drinking what is almost certainly the best cup of coffee I have since moving away from Portland about a year ago - perhaps that is why it cost me 4 dollars!

I am also enjoying the varied and interesting places to run. The shore of Lake Erie was incredible – like running next to the ocean. Early evening was the best time to go, when the sky was just beginning to darken and the tide was at its highest – up against the cliffs in some places. I can tell you that is impossible not to laugh out loud as you sprint through waves crashing against cliffs, timing your bursts of speed to coincide with the receding water, getting completely soaked all the way but not caring in the slightest.

This week I am in Philadelphia, and while I had a very nice 9-miler around Haverford College – a beautiful 2.25 mile dirt trail that circles the campus – the best Philly runs always happen in the Wissahickon Valley. The park is a 1,800 acre stretch of contained wilderness bisected by the Wissahickon Creek and full of trails that climb up to the ridge lines of the park, and drop back down to cross and run along said creek – often in confusing and unpredictable patterns.

Greg (the friend I am staying with in Philly) and I discovered just how turned around you can get in the valley earlier this week when we decided to go out for a 'nice' little run in the pouring rain before dinner. After pulling on our tights and running shoes, I led us down a number of random trails thinking that when the time came, I would be able to find our way back. This was not the case.

Thinking that we had already crossed the river once, I led us back across the river and up the trail that was supposed to lead us to the general area we had parked in. “I think it is just a little further down that way,” I said to Greg, who was beginning to look like a drenched goat being drug around in a thunderstorm against his will. He had his glasses stuffed in the back of his tights because it was raining so hard he couldn't see out of them, and visibility was starting to become an interesting prospect as the sun slipped under the ridge and the entire park began to darken considerably.

(this is where I steal The Oatmeal's thang and draw silly cartoons because its fun)

“Should I check out where we are on my IPhone?” he asked, perhaps with a growing awareness of my dwindling sense of direction. I pondered that thought and looked around, realizing I had no idea where we were in relation to where we wanted to be. “Well,” I said, “that might be a good idea.”

“Yeah, we're not even close dude,” Greg said, showing me the map on his phone. “Shit,” I replied. Not only were we in the wrong area, we were on the wrong side of the damn river. Turns out the initial 'river' we crossed was just one of the meandering streams that branch off of the main river, which is technically just a creek. But rivers are way cooler, so I'm promoting it.

Thank you technology, I thought as we negotiated our way back to the vehicle. Wissahickon isn't a huge park, but considering how lost we were, our lack of lighting options and a map, the run sans IPhone could have turned into a very interesting evening/night.

I like to think that everything is an adventure. Watch out, because if you come running with me, it is bound to be true for you as well. Sorry Greg.

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