There were very few birds today, but a few moments did stand out. First, was a near collision with a Winter wren as it rocketed across my path in a particularly scrubby area. This normally secretive bird appeared to hang in the air in front of my bike for a few seconds before disappearing into the thicket on the other side of the road. It was a very surreal encounter. I also observed a Pileated woodpecker fly across my path, albeit not at the close range of the wren. Lastly, I found several Bald eagles adjacent to the Conowingo Dam. At the right times, this is one of the premier places on the east coast to photograph eagles. They routinely fish in the outflow from the dam where they are within reach of even short telephoto lenses. I simply did not have the energy today to cycle down to the traditional fishing spot to take some pictures.
The most interesting interaction of the day, like yesterday, occurred completely fortuitously. I am a active member of an online photography community hosted at fredmiranda.com. I post my photos on the Nature and Wildlife board for others to see and critique. I also spend a large amount of time looking at and critiquing the photos of the other members. We all get along really well, and I enjoy greatly the time that I spend on the forum. I will be staying with people from the forum at some points on this trip.
So, today I was riding along when I passed a gas station about a mile from the Conowingo Dam. I then see a man with a camera running from his parked car at the station over to the roadside to meet me. "You MUST be Dorian" says the man. I quickly ascertain that this man is Michael Rucci, a photographer with whom I regularly interact on the photo forum. He lives in the area, and has been following my trip on online. He actually offered me a place to stay, but I had already secured another place in the area. He was, not surprisingly, headed down to the dam to take some eagle photos when he saw me on the bike. He correctly surmised that I was the only person crazy enough to be on the roads on this day, and he figured he would stop and introduce himself.
We talked for a few minutes, and Michael offered to escort me over the top of the dam. While it is legal to ride a bike over it, the lanes over its top are frighteningly thin. This means that if someone were to try to pass me in an aggressive manner, it could create a potentially dangerous situation for me if there was a car coming from the other direction. Michael fell in behind me as I crossed the dam with his hazard lights on; This ensured that cars could not pass him, and hence me, as I crossed the dam. Just to be clear, Michael did not take a page out of the Chris Christie Traffic Playbook. I crossed the dam in under 2 minutes. I am sure the handful of cars we held up hardly noticed the delay. I snapped a quick photo of my escort and me once we had crossed the dam. It was an amazingly nice gesture during what was a very challenging ride.
The real significance of this interaction did not hit me until several miles down the road. What I realized is what an incredibly small place the internet has made the world. It was the internet that facilitated this chance interaction between Michael and me, and it is the internet that allows each one of you to accompany me on this journey. As an example of this, I offer the some information on the readership of this blog.
There are people all over the world reading this blog! Personal letters of encouragement that I have received from all over the world have confirmed this. Beyond people following my humble efforts, the internet is now used as a substitute to traditional dating, to conduct near-instantaneos electronic stock trades, and even, in extreme cases, to organize political movements and topple governments. The power of the internet is near limitless, but it will never substitute for the type of real work interaction of the sort that Michael and I had today. I know I will unlikely meet all of the readers of this blog, but it is really exciting to wonder who I might run into next.