Open Road Press

Held Back August 12

The light of Sunday morning revealed more about our surroundings. After walking the streets for an hour looking for churches, we were disappointed in two prospective options–they were advertising but both appeared closed. One inquiry at a local eatery was consistent with our discussion at the motel’s front desk on the prior evening–church was not a priority here. We finally discovered one church, a long-standing institution whose attendees had plenty of gray hair, but who lacked the vitality of youth in their midst. Furthermore, their dwindled numbers suggested their large, aging facility would go the way of their counterparts. They were well-meaning people who were apparently committed in their beliefs, but their traditional church was seemingly not pulling in new blood.

Outside the motel after church, a local warned of a troubled area where drug abuse and prostitution abounded. We hadn’t seen overt evidence of this on our prior evening’s stroll, but, in our spirit, we had felt that all was not well in this area. On the other side of the river, we saw an area that seemed to lack cleanliness, well-maintained buildings, and industriousness. It seemed an impoverished town. Our hurried ride through town last night had revealed the same type of scene. People were hanging out smoking and bickering with family and friends. It seemed that life was not what it had been here in yesteryear, not what one might like to live in today, and certainly not what one might hope for their children’s future. Closed businesses and factories along the river suggested even harder times might be ahead.

With beautiful surroundings merely a mile or two outside of town, couldn’t the townsfolk break free from these circumstances to simply enjoy their surroundings? Yet the surrounding rural areas were ours for the taking, with nary a fellow recreator in sight. One can’t help but ponder whether a community drift away from God would help explain the conditions. Although this may not be a popular concept these days, it is still a fair question to ask.

After our late start due to church and bicycle maintenance, and still feeling the effects of yesterday’s long ride, we traveled more slowly today. The weather was ideal for cycling. We enjoyed the New Jersey side of the Delaware Water Gap park before crossing back to Pennsylvania where steeper hills and more traffic slowed us. We stopped at Delaware Water Gap (the borough) in Pennsylvania to eat. A review of the map and the clock suggested we lacked sufficient time (and energy) to reach motel accommodations before sundown, despite having several more hours to ride. We were disappointed because the weather was beautiful, but a more prudent decision was to stay in town and rest up for a bigger day tomorrow.


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