It Took a Long, Long, Time

Finally finished Volume 2 of Gary Giddins’ masterful biography of Bing Crosby. To celebrate, here’s Bing singing It’s Been a Long, Long Time. Inspired by VE Day in 1945, Bing’s version, featuring Les Paul on guitar and not much else, hit #1 on the charts in December of that year. According to Giddins, “Bing saw immediately that the lyric worked equally well as the entreaty of Odysseus to Penelope or Penelope to Odysseus.”

Biking Down Historic Gold Camp Road

The Gold Camp Road runs through the Rocky Mountains south of Pikes Peak in Colorado. For over a hundred years, it has been traveled by tourists, first on passenger trains and later in automobiles. The Colorado Springs & Cripple Creek District Railway was built around the turn of the twentieth century to bring gold ore down from the mines around Cripple Creek and Victor. By the 1920s, the railroad was out of business and the route was soon converted into an automobile toll road for tourists.

Our bikes. Source: TCM
Near St. Peter’s Dome, with our destination, Colorado Springs, in the distance. Source: TCM

It remains a popular destination. We rented a couple of KHS mountain bikes from Challenge Unlimited and they drove us in their van up the unpaved and potholed Old Stage Road to St. Peters Dome, roughly halfway between Cripple Creek and Colorado Springs. Our driver dropped us off with a couple water bottles, a photocopy of a hand-drawn map, and a little backpack with a pump and repair kit, in case we got a flat tire. From there, it was all downhill.

The first eight miles or so are closed to automobiles, and we were riding on a Monday after the summer tourist season ended, so we had the gravel road to ourselves. We rode through two tunnels, stopping several times to take in the views. After about an hour and a half, we reached Tunnel #3. In 1988, this tunnel collapsed (which is why cars are no longer allowed), so we had to walk the bikes along a trail that goes over the tunnel. Below Tunnel #3 there was a parking lot, cars, and more hikers and bikers, but it was definitely not crowded. We continued downhill through more tunnels and rock cuts.

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Visiting Paint Mines Interpretive Park

Paint Mines Interpretive Park. Source: TCM

There’s some cool geology on display at Paint Mines Interpretive Park, operated by El Paso County on the plains of Colorado, about 35 miles northeast of Colorado Springs. Colored bands of clay, about 55 million years old, are sandwiched between white sandstone layers. Erosion has shaped the landscape into a badlands of hoodoos and spires. The different colors of clay are striking, but many photos on the internet appear to have been aggressively photoshopped to accentuate the effect.

Paint Mines Interpretive Park. Source: TCM
Paint Mines Interpretive Park. Source: TCM
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E-Biking Along the Rancocas

Rancocas Creek. Source: TCM

Rancocas State Park is in Burlington County, New Jersey, where the North and South branches of Rancocas Creek meet to form the Forks of the Rancocas. A Lenape village was formerly located here and in the 18th century, agriculturalist Charles Read owned the land. More houses were built in the 19th century, but in the first decade of the 20th century, much of the land was mined for sand, permanently altering the landscape and likely destroying any archaeological remains. Some ruins survived to the present, and trees and other vegetation now cover the scars from mining.

My Radmini e-bike had no trouble with the trails, which includes loose sand, packed sand, lots of roots, a little bit of mud, and the occasional log.

Radpower RadMini. Source: TCM
Rancocas State Park. Source: TCM
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E-Biking Whitesbog

Whitesbog is where, in 1916, Elizabeth White and Frederick Coville produced the first commercial crop of blueberries. Before that, Whitesbog was a cranberry farm, and before that, it was part of the Pine Barren’s bog iron industry. It’s now part of New Jersey’s Brendan Byrne State Forest and sand roads surround its cranberry bogs.

Source: TCM
Source: TCM
Source: TCM
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Roebling’s Shaky Bridge

View of the Shaky Bridge from the Delaware River. Undated. Source: Photograph, collection of David Denenberg. bridgemaster.com
Shaky Bridge in 2019, Trenton, NJ. Source: TCM
Source: TCM

This little suspension bridge, which spans the attractively named Waste Weir, was built by the Roebling Company. While some internet sources say it is a miniature replica of one of Roebling’s more famous projects, either the Brooklyn Bridge or the Niagara Bridge. Although it uses the same suspension technology, the design is not identical. Other sources say it was built to demonstrate suspension technology, and then given to the city of Trenton. I haven’t seen a firm date for when it was built.

The Shaky Bridge sits between the Delaware River and Route 29 in Stacy Park. Route 29 runs over the alignment of the Trenton Water Power, a seven mile long canal completed in 1834  – the same year as the 65 mile long D&R Canal.

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