The weekend of May 5, was very exciting to me. I went to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (with my mother and my sister) to visit my cousin because it was her son's first communion.
The high point of my trip was the walk I took after the reception. I was feeling energetic because that's the mood my cousin's presence tends to instill in me, and I wanted to go for a walk to think and explore.
Bethlehem is a crowded city compared to Rochester. The houses in Bethlehem tend to be very close to each other, and get the impression that the city is fairly cramped and crowded.
I went for a walk across a bridge over a river and railroad tracks. I noticed a train was coming and I walked over to the position on the bridge where the train would pass. How exciting it would be, I thought, to see this hulking machine pass beneath me! Then the train passed under the bridge on a different track. It apparently changed tracks and went on a curve away from me. I didn't feel like running back over the other track and went on.
I turned onto a road that I knew was parallel to the river, and I hoped I would find a path that leads to the tracks, so I could walk beside them. Instead, I found that the road ended at some woods, and I went into the woods. As I followed the trail into the woods, I noticed that this trail was once a road for cars, because it was wide enough for cars, it was sunken so I thought it had been often used, there were posts to the right which once marked the side of the road, and there were telephone cables to my left. It was obviously not used anymore because the road was overgrown with plants, branches from trees have fallen over onto the road, the posts were rotted and falling, and branches have knocked down the telephone lines and no one has taken the time to repair them. This path was used only for walks and bicycle rides, as I could see from the tracks in the soft dirt. This was, I thought, once an access road that is no longer used, and I wondered what it was meant to access.
Old things amaze me because some one at one time thought it was important enough to build that thing at some great expense. Then, sometime later, someone thought it wasn't important at all and let that thing go to ruins. Such changing values fascinate me.
All along, I could see the railroad tracks down the hill to my right, a road beside it, and trees lining the road beyond which was the river I had crossed. To my left was a hill overgrown with trees. I wanted to follow this road to see why it was created.
Then I can to fork in the road. The road continued straight, and another road went up the hill to my left. I decided to climb the hill because it seemed a more adventurous path. It was a long and steep hill, and I was getting tired of climbing it. (Actually, it only seemed that way because I don't exercise enough, now that I work in front of a computer all day.) I continued because I love to explore. I discovered that this used to be an access road for the high voltage power lines that must have been built many years ago. I continued until I came to another fork in the road, and decided to follow the road that went deeper into the woods. This road was level and was parallel to the river I could no longer see because of the trees around me.
One thing that amazed me was the fact that I saw no one else walking these trails. I felt that I was all alone in these woods. It was a good feeling, but I wondered why people didn't come to the woods to get away from the crowded city.
It was obvious, though, that people didn't respect the woods, because they dumped their trash here. Occasionally I would find discarded refrigerators, stoves, and even an abandoned car. (It seems, in Rochester, we keep our woods clean. Perhaps because we maintain our parks, and private landowners don't tolerate trash in their property.)
I was getting worried that I'm staying out too long; I didn't want my family to worry about me, so I wanted to turn back. I don't like going back the same way I came, because I would only see the things I've already seen. Fortunately, I found a foot trail down the hill to my right, and I followed it, thinking I would reach the road and railroad tracks I'd left behind. This time I noticed how heavy machinery had swept across the landscape to make a level road some time ago, and how nature was slowly reclaiming her ground. This path was somewhat treacherous because it was rocky, but leaves had covered the rocks; this made me walk as though the ground was flat, and I nearly sprained my ankle many times before realizing the true nature of the trail.
I came to a fence which surrounded an area which I suspected was used to load and unload trains with merchandise; there were railroad tracks and pavement, and an engine with a caboose in the area. I followed the path along the fence back towards the direction I'd started.
As I walked, I heard a chirp and a rustling of leaves to my left. I looked down the slope and saw a hole in the ground. I wondered what sort of creature was there, and I waited kneeling motionless, as I held on to the small trees nearby (to keep from sliding down the hill and to keep from making noise.) I was getting bored of this, but eventually saw a chipmunk poke its head from hole. It didn't see me, but it knew something was different and was as motionless as I was. I wondered if it would be fooled into coming out of the hole while I was near. Then a gust of wind blew through, and the chipmunk got scared and dove down.
The fence must've been built a few years ago, because now creeks have worn the ground underneath the fence, so one could easily crawl under it.
The trail continued past the fence to a point that had many retainer walls; perhaps there were railroad tracks here, where walls kept mud from sliding onto the tracks, and bridges ran over a creek. Now, there were no tracks and it was a bare, overgrown trails. This was another "old thing" that fascinated me.
I crossed the tracks and followed the paved road. This time I heard loader rustling in the trees to my left, and eventually found that there were blackbirds there. On this road, many people tended to walk. (I guess people here like to walk on more civilized roads. My friend, Mark, tells me I tend to have unusual interests compared to most people; most people wouldn't do for walks in the woods, he says.) Along this road, I found another wonder--an old diesel engine--a thing of the past. I walked up to it and looked at it in awe. Here was a great piece of machinery that is no longer used; another "old thing" that served its purpose in its time, and is now just left here.
I continued on--under the bridge I crossed over at the start of this exploration. To my surprise I found another monument--a historic landmark--another "old thing." It was the Bethlehem Steel factory. It was closed many years ago, and it was falling to ruin and vandalism. Here is a great thing that an entire community was built around. Now it is unimportant--a part of history, as were many things I found during this walk. I wanted to explore the length of this old thing, but I didn't want to stay out too long, so I headed back towards my cousin's apartment. I noticed, though, that there was a large path between the factory and the river, and that many people walked there and rode their bicycles there; I am inspired to return here with my bicycle and spend a weekend exploring Bethlehem some more.
Even the bridge I crossed, though still used, is an old thing, because part of it was closed to allow for the increased flow of traffic since it was built. It was made of stone, with magnificent arches. I imagine the railroads once passed under them, instead of the few tracks, roads and unused land that is underneath them now.
Nothing is forever except change.