While at Majestic Trails I commuted to Bradford, PA each day to scavenge wifi. I tend to work very strange hours while on the road because I want to spend peak daylight hours adventuring. The nature of my job requires me to be accountable to the Internet for a tremendously draining amount of time. So every day, every single day, I find my way to free wifi, no matter what it takes. Whether it’s a library, a coffee shop, a bar, or a private business, I scout it out and make it work.
Bradford PA, Summers Night, 2am
In Bradford the wifi choices were limited so I spent many hours sitting outside of the Hospital on a bench, and at what I like to call my â€œMidnight Mobile Command Centerâ€, which was located in the parking lot of a strip mall across from a cafe which had terribly short hours. I have no shame, no comfort issues, and no need to keep up appearances. I need to exchange emails reliably with my clients, and that’s exactly what I do.
The goal of the trip is of course to seek out the greatest riding locations on the continent and ride them. However, the real priority on the trip is to my work, my clients, and my ongoing projects. Everything is a balance and a compromise.
I was able to find a lot of fun and interesting adventure riding around the Bradford and Rew area. It seemed a little goofy to be paying for a membership at a riding park, and then spending most of my time riding off the grounds. So be it. The entire area is very rural and sparsely populated. There are many roads off of 46 that just dissipate into the woods in the form of an ATV trail and eventually dump out onto other back roads and trails. I was told a lot of the land in the area is owned by a large logging company and is off limits to explorers, but I found it very difficult to determine what was public domain and what was private. I just ‘felt’ it out, and fortunately was able to find a lot of great off-roading.
There was however one fun hill on the Majestic Trails grounds. After it rained I found it extremely difficult with the dual sport tires fitted on the XL600. It was simply too sloppy.
Taking a breather.. . .
Tonight I sit in the Corner Bar in Bradford PA. I chose this bar over the others solely because it had a parking lot off the street. My bike doesn’t have a kickstand because I broke it off, so I have to lean it on things. I’ve been off the power grid for a while and I needed a place to relax and charge my laptop and phone. Besides, the bartender was cute. It also turned out that she wasn’t just the bartender, but also the hostess, the waitress, and the cook. She was the only person in the whole place beside a couple patrons and myself.
The bar is dead. Only 4 other people. An older frazzled looking woman turns to me in the silence and says, â€œWhat are you working on?â€
â€œWith the laptop â€“ what are you working on?â€
I responded briefly about building websites, the usual response, but quickly learned that this was not a conversation about me. This lady, who initially seemed pleasant launched into a tirade about divorce, her home foreclosure, how she can’t find a man, how everyone laughs at her, how she has no money, and she is stuck in Bradford. I tried to be as despondent as I could without being outright rude, but she continued. She hadn’t had a man in 12 years, her exes won’t speak to her, the other ‘princess’ girls in town are making her look bad, she can’t find a job, no one likes her. She spoke in a very narrative tone, as if the only way should could comprehend the calamity of her life was if it was the result of a great conspiracy. ‘The town of Bradford is all politics’ she kept repeating, â€œtheyâ€ wouldn’t let her be happy.
Things quited down for 5 minutes or so as she sipped on her bloody mary. Then, with a â€œshow me the website you’re working onâ€ she weaved between the empty tables and sat down right next to me.
It’s a sad sight seeing another human being in such disarray. It’s hard to quantify the emotions I felt when talking to her. She obviously just wanted to make a connection with anyone that would lend her an ear. Part of me wanted desperately to just turn my head away â€“ obviously this was impossible. Another part of me wanted to wrap her in a giant bear hug and let her cry it out. She was wiping tears away throughout our (mostly one sided) conversation, but I tried not to notice.
Upon parting ways she made sure to note that she didn’t want to bother me and she was sorry for venting. We shook hands and I gave her my name, she did the same and introduced herself as Sarah â€œLoserâ€ Johnson.
The incidental daily tragedies that must have befallen this woman over the preceding years to leave her such a bitter wretch would have to be extraordinary. It’s hard to imagine a person having such a negative opinion of the world, her surroundings, and herself. Glass half empty.
Now that she has left all the locals sitting at the bar are laughing at her expense, Mary is obviously well known in the town, but not necessarily as crazy as I initially assumed.