Where the Pavement EndsMar 01, 2023 09:00AM ● By David Nowacoski
Okay, so this is not a main street. I remember the first time I saw an unpaved road. I had spent the first decade of my life in New York City where green grass was regulated to a handful of parks. But the summer I turned eleven my father decided to venture into Pennsylvania in hopes of finding a way out of that concrete jungle. We stopped at a real estate office along Route 6 in Towanda and asked to look at land for sale. The agent said we could ride along to put For Sale signs up on a new listing outside of town. We piled into his pickup and away we went.
As we rode along the agent answered a ton of our questions. And then he turned off the paved road. It probably was a non-event to him, but, to me, it was like leaping through a door into another world. No pavement?! Did they run out? Was it under construction? Were we even allowed to be driving here? As the dust plume eradicated my view out the back window, I felt like we’d just entered the Wild West and were pioneering to some unseen frontier.
My family bought that property that same day. Thirty-some acres tucked about a mile back on a tree-lined, one-car-at-a-time dirt road. There were two dairy farms and five houses on that road. It saw more cows than cars. It was exactly what we were looking for.
There were a ton of adjustments ahead of me. In the city, I was pretty used to riding my bike to see my friends, and I knew the “safe” routes and where the traffic let you cross the avenue. But out here, I had a whole new set of challenges.
First were the hills! You don’t have hills when riding a bike in the city. What would have been an easy one-mile ride turned into a leg-burning-have-to-walk-it workout that made my legs shake. But then on the other side...going down the hill on a bike with pencil thin tires hitting rocks that felt the size of footballs...well that was just plain terrifying. And those were your two choices on our dirt road. You were either walking up a hill or flying down a hill. There were no flat spots anywhere on those two miles.
At least there were no cars to worry about. But it didn’t take you long to know to slow down going past the neighbor’s farm. The cows crossed the road there and sometimes left their “pies.” Hit that going 15 mph and your pant legs would never smell the same.
I still live on that dirt road. Although I haven’t ridden a bike in a long time, I still get that twinge of excitement when I turn off the blacktop. We have so many absolutely beautiful dirt roads in our area. Stunning views around one corner and serene meadows the next. Some carve through forested areas that make you feel like you are that pioneer, blazing the trail for others. Yes, there is dust and mud and rocks that clank under your car to remind you to slow down. That’s part of the magic. Go explore. See where that little road takes you. All sorts of great adventures start where the pavement ends.