“If you wish to go fast, go alone. If you wish to go far, go together.” – African proverb
Our four-day journey up the Delaware River to its source begins on the hottest day of the year. It is near 90 degrees as my girlfriend, Cori, and I pack “Big Red” (my 2005 Suzuki V-Strom). We set off, happy to at last be underway and as always, to simply be together.
Traveling north along the easterly side of the Delaware on Route 29 from Lambertville, PA, we follow the twists and turns of the river, and enjoy the shade. After a brief jaunt on I-80 just across the river from Portland, we turn onto Old Mine Road, one of the oldest continually used roads in the U.S., which has become one of my favorites. Old Mine Road is a 250-year-old roadway named after the mines at Pahaquarry, which meanders through Worthington State Forest. It is closed during the winter, is a single lane in sections, and its terrain varies from pavement to dirt to stone. The road is completely isolated, and we feel at one with the forest.
Old Mine Road eventually brings us to the town of Port Jervis, NY, and one of the more exciting roads in the area that is part of the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway known as Hawk’s Nest. Route 97 through Port Jervis has heavy traffic but once through town we climb away from the noise. Hawk’s Nest was originally built as a one-lane dirt road in 1859. In 2002, it officially became part of the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway and is named for the birds of prey that nest in the area. This stretch of road features a sheer rock face to the right and breathtaking views of the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware to the left. It ascends hundreds of feet above the river, twisting as you ride, and features several overlooks for photo opportunities. The cautionary speed limit is 25 but the posted limit is 55. We take it at a fairly brisk pace until we run into some slower traffic.
An Evening High Above the Delaware
Our destination on day one is Barryville, NY, a tiny one-light town along route 97. We’re staying at the ECCE (pronounced et chay) Bed and Breakfast—the house is perched right on the cliff face. The Carriage House is highly recommended by a few of the other guests, so we head there for dinner and discuss our plans for the next day. We leave ECCE after having made new friends with owners Alan and Kurt, and with a promise to return for an extended stay in the near future.
May All Beings be Free
We take a slight detour south along route 97 to visit Kadampa Temple for World Peace in Glen Spey, NY. Upon hearing about the temple, Cori and I immediately agree we have to see it. I wear a bracelet Cori gave me as a gift engraved with one of the eight auspicious Buddhist symbols and this metta prayer:
May all beings be peaceful.
May all beings be happy.
May all beings be safe.
May all beings awaken to the light of their true nature.
May all beings be free.
Riding the few miles to the temple, we are struck by its size and detail. Set back on a long gravel road—the temple is ornate, beautiful, and peaceful. It opened to the public in 2006 and is dedicated to the development of every person’s inner peace and good heart. Cori and I are of a common heart and share a penchant for the Buddhist philosophy—so, it is only natural that we visit this serene oasis.
Another local landmark not far to the north is the Roebling Bridge—one of the more unique bridges I’ve ever seen. It’s the oldest wire suspension bridge in the United States—connecting Minisink Ford, NY, and Lackawaxen, PA. It was originally constructed between 1847 and 1849 as an aqueduct, carrying water to eliminate frequent collisions between canal traffic and timber rafts floating timber south to Philadelphia and Trenton. Eventually in 1898 the canals were closed, the aqueduct was drained, and opened to vehicular traffic. The bridge is an impressive sight. Its massive ice breakers and aqueduct walls were reconstructed according to Roebling’s original plans in 1995. Roebling went on to design the Brooklyn Bridge 20 years later. Moving across the 535-foot long bridge is fun—and a bit odd—since it is one lane only with stop signs at each end. Also, it’s impossible to see over the high wooden beams, so you actually get the feeling of riding inside the bridge—it’s an interesting experience and an engineering marvel.
Motorcycle & Gear
2005 Suzuki V-Strom DL650
Helmet: KBC Envy Modular
Jacket: REV’IT! Air
Pants: Joe Rocket Ballistic
Boots: Alpinestars Ridge
Luggage: Givi E-21,Hepco & Becker Journey 42
Communicator: Scala Rider Q2 MultiSet Pro
We continue north on 97 into Hancock until we intersect route 268, which connects to 17 and turns us off onto 30. We trek through the low peaks of the Catskill Mountains through towns like Harvard, Shinhopple, and Margaretville. Hancock represents the upper loop of our trip, which features some of the most remote, traffic-free riding I’ve done. Hancock is also the point where the east and west branches merge to form the Delaware River south. Our destination for day two is The Colonial Motel in Grand Gorge, NY. It’s the westernmost point of the trip and the source of the east branch of the Delaware River.
After a long, hot day we decide to head right out to dinner—lest we just collapse in the AC—so we are off for steak at Gabrielle’s just nine miles away in Stamford, NY, at the recommendation of our hosts. Gabrielle’s is just what the doctor ordered—excellent food, great conversation, and a cozy atmosphere. We are spent but excited to experience the mountains and cross the enormous Cannonsville Reservoir.
In the morning we depart on Route 23 to Stamford where we pick up Route 10. The drive along route 10 is nothing short of spectacular. Cruising with absolutely no traffic—passing farm after farm amid the lush, green soft Catskill peaks that seem to go on forever—it’s calming, relaxing, and awe-inspiring. We stroll through the towns of Hobart and Bloomville and stop in Delhi for a late breakfast at the Delhi Diner (cash only and opposite Jackson and Mason Furniture and Undertaking—I swear that’s what was painted on the building).