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Messages - Westinghouse

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General Discussion / Re: Learning a Foreign Language
« on: September 08, 2023, 11:05:45 pm »
There are hand-held electronic translators. Choose the language. Speak or write. Push a button. You get a written and spoken translation from the device. Same for Japanese into English.

General Discussion / Re: Hotel/motel vs camping
« on: September 04, 2023, 11:02:25 pm »
Wild camp and take showers at health clubs, planet fitness, LA fitness, 24-hour fitness, etc.  It can save you a bundle.

General Discussion / Re: Live to Ride
« on: September 04, 2023, 10:58:39 pm »
Where I live in south Florida is rich in opportunities for cycling.  In many your chances of being run over like a dog in the street are high.  You must carefully pick and choose those opportunities.  Generally speaking, here you should use those designated bike paths, rail tails, etc.

General Discussion / Re: The Big American Bike Ride
« on: August 29, 2023, 12:02:55 am »
I tried the link three times. It came up blank. Never heard of it.

General Discussion / Re: Boxed Bike on Delta Airlines
« on: August 24, 2023, 08:54:55 am »
Every time I flew with a bicycle in a cardboard box when I got to my destination one axle of a wheel was protruding through a hole in the side of the box.

Saturday September 3rd 1994. I woke early, ate a banana, packed, pushed the bike downhill directly onto the highway and pedaled for the border of Ukraine. I was soon at the border on highway 17. Getting across the border from Poland into Ukraine was a process involving seven stages. First, on the Polish side, the candidate had to present himself at an 8-ft by 4 ft shack where a guard dispensed a 1-in square piece of paper with a number on it. Second, the candidate had to conduct himself about 100 yards to a concrete building with an overhanging shed under which were three one lane roads for cars, each with its own guard shack with large Windows all the way around each one. At one guard shack a uniformed female guard asked about things should be declared and how much money the candidate carried in cash. If waved through from that point in the Inquisition, the candidate was permitted to advance upon stage 3 which entailed removing to yet another concrete building with a shed being managed by the Ukrainians. The Ukrainians were all uniformed government personnel. The fourth stage commenced inside the building where the man in the running had to show a passport, and stand interrogation from a guard who understood little English. They issued only 3-day Transit visas at the border at a cost of $15. If one filled out the application for the Visa and agreed to pay, he was privileged to enter upon the fifth stage of the negotiation which involved walking a few hundred feet to their Bank to make the necessary deposit. The bank accepted only two kinds of currency, Deutsche marks and American dollars. The sixth stage comprised walking back to the building with the shed to show the receipt for the $15. The 7th and last stage involved cycling about 1,000 ft up a hill to another small guard shack near the electrified fence at the border of Ukraine. A guard there asked more questions. What is your name? Where are you going? Why do you want to visit Ukraine? Where are you from? I explained that I had been given only a 3-day visa and that much more time would be needed to cycle through the country. He said that Visa extensions were available by applying to the bureau of police in any city that is a regional capital in Ukraine. Of course that Visa would cost more. He said that such a service is available only Monday through Friday. The border Police were competent, efficient, helpful and friendly. The last one even wished me good luck. When I told him I was from America he answered, "Ahhhhhh America." He said it in a whisper. It was obvious he wanted very much to live in America. Who could blame him for feeling that way after seeing Poland? There was a gate across the road with a narrow pedestrian path going around one end. That was my point of entry.

The western edge of Ukraine looked like the outside of a prison. On the border was a tall, metal, electrified fence. Beyond that fence was a clear strip of land about 100 ft wide. Another t-shaped barbed wire fence stood at the edge of the cleared strip. After that at first, Ukraine looked attractive. Large verdant green fields of Short Grass bordered both sides of the road. Cattle grazed lazily in the fields. Horse drawn wooden wagons hauled hay from the fields. Men hand-pushed bicycles loaded down with burlap sacks full of potatoes and other crops. In a short distance though came a perceptible decline in living standards, standards noticeably lower than in Poland. Side roads were dirty rutted muck holes. Buildings were dirtier and even more rundown looking. More human deformities were visible, adults and children with swollen infected limbs.

It was some time before a Ukrainian restaurant came into view. Hungry as hell and looking forward to a nice big nourishing meal with a small price tag, I had been in Eastern Europe long enough by that time to know that only the small price tag part of the fantasy would come true. But I was still permitting myself that singular delusion simply because it was so hard to shake that expectation after living 44 years in places where nice big nourishing meals were always taken for granted. The sickening smell was the first thing that distinguished that particular eatery as I entered it's small dark rectangular gloom. The place smelled putrid like rotting flesh or road carrying rotting in the sun. There must have been somewhere out of sight a big dead rotting animal hanging from a meat hook. The worn tile floor was covered in layers of ground in filth. The walls and tables look gloomy grimy and dank. A glass display case held a one foot in diameter round of cheese. On top of the cheese was a big hunk of rancid meat. There was no way in hell I would eat in that place. The few grimy characters standing at one small table looked more sinister than anyone pictured in the FBI flyers on the walls in American post offices. A small hardware store was in the same building in another room. I walked in to take a look. The few shelves contained a few small farming implements and a few jars of paint. Across the street was a drab gray one story elementary School. The children who filed out of that place were so clean and healthy looking they seemed incongruous to the entire setting. Their clothes were washed. Their hair and complexions were clean and clear. They presented something of a contrast to the rough, worn, soiled appearances of young and old alike in the rest of Eastern Europe. There was also a small food store connected with the restaurant building, but there was no sign of food anywhere.

I needed water and what better place to ask for it than there, or so I thought. Asking a woman behind the counter, she just shook her head no from side to side. Then a man appeared around the corner from a hall and motioned for me to follow him. He walked across the highway to a round Stone water well about 4 ft in diameter and 4 ft high. A inverted v-shaped wooden shed sheltered its opening. The man grabbed a galvanized metal bucket connected to a steel cable and dropped it into the well. He used a hand operated crank to pull the water filled bucket to the top. He filled my plastic water bottle with the cold clear liquid. I immediately popped in two iodine water purification tablets into the bottle and shook it vigorously. A mangy dog chained to a building near a house barked like crazy. Numerous Small potatoes lay on the concrete near the well. I thank the man and I took a photo and left.

Countless men and women were bent in stoop labor in the fields on both sides of the road. They carried their crops from the fields in push carts, and wheelbarrows and loaded onto old one speed bicycles. Life here was definitely a few steps down the ladder from Poland already.

Soon a small wooden roadside bistro offered another opportunity for food. Four men sat outside playing cards at a wooden table. I explained to them about being hungry and having only polish money, and asked them to sell me something to eat. The owner of the establishment invited me in and gave me bread, coffee, sausage, ketchup and a stiff drink of whiskey, all three of charge. Even there an old man and an old woman were bent in stoop labor in a small field of vegetables contiguous with the lot The bistro was on.

After a while more cycling down the road, after getting lost a few times, and after asking lots of directions, and cycling down a few gloomy back roads, I made my way into the city of Lviv. I had planned to avoid this metropolis of more than one and a half million people, but now it was the nearest regional capital for obtaining an extension on the 3-day transit Visa. I stopped for a haircut. The barber gave me a haircut, and then a shave with a hot towel treatment, both for about 20 cents. I gave him $2 which was damn good pay for a haircut and shave in that part of the world. Someone advised me to go to the hotel George on Ivan Franko Strasse to get in touch with the tourist office and the police. From there it was a matter of hand pushing the bike along the sidewalk. One distinguishing feature of Ukrainian people in general was that their everyday people looked like some of our worst down and outers in the United States. What we in the United States see in the most ragged, low-rent quarters was what was normal across the board in Ukraine, even in the uptown sections of major cities. People had that disheveled worn out appearance. There was plenty of body odor, as if most had not showered or bathed regularly, as if where they lived was bereft of water and soap. People were noticeably shorter than people in the West whose standards of sanitation and health are on a much higher plane.

A blonde-haired man about 5 ft and 8 in tall approached me on the sidewalk. The man was odd looking and he reeked of alcohol. His right eye was white and he was clearly blind in that eye. It appeared that at one time he had sustained serious injury to his head, for a considerable portion of his skull was covered in scar tissue where it had been crushed inwards. He asked something in German, so I told him in German that I was going to the hotel George. He said he would show me where it was, and he did. The hotel George had been a grand old hotel in its time, but now it was long past its Glory Days. Still it was quite an edifice for the likes of Ukraine. A blonde haired woman at the reception desk informed it would cost $46 to spend the night. The price was definitely out of line, so naturally I declined. She said the tourist and Visa services were around the corner at the police station and they would reopen on Monday. I thanked her for the information and left. As I turned to go I caught a glimpse of the old serpentine staircase leading to the dark upstairs hallway. The place must have been 8 or 10 stories high.

Back out on the sidewalk a chain smoking Ivan reiterated continuously about going to his house with him. Normally such an invitation would have been courteously received and readily enough accepted. ivan, however, had breath that smelled very strongly of alcohol, and his general demeanor was abnormal. He kept crowding me on the sidewalk, touching my arm and babbling over and over in broken English that we should go to his house. He must have repeated that 25 times. Knowing not to trust alcoholics, I looked for a way to avoid Ivan. There would be a more pleasant visit in Lviv without this man. So, I walked along, with Ivan nearby going on incessantly about going to his house, thinking of a polite way of extracting myself from the situation. I had already declined Ivan's invitations several times. He stopped at a street vendor for two bottles more of vodka and a few packs of cigarettes. The last thing I wanted to do my first night in Ukraine was stayi up all night swilling rot-gut alcohol with a chain smoking brain damaged alcoholic.

I saw a young man in dark dress pants and a white shirt. He had the look of an intelligent young man, so I said to him, "Hello, do you speak English?" He said he did, so we got to talking. I told him about this fellow Ivan, and asked the young man to tell Ivan that his invitation was not being received, and that I would seek other accommodations. The young man did that. Ivan said he understood and he left straight away. The man said that there are many hotels in Lviv, and when they find out a foreigner needs a room they charge 10 to 20 times as much as they charge Ukrainians. He said travelers in Ukraine are better off going to a person's home and offering a few dollars for a night's accommodation. Nine times out of 10 you will be offered a place to sleep. You are better off doing things in a less formal way in Ukraine, not the traditional. The fellow was nice enough to walk back through the center of town to show the location of some hotels. One hotel refused to take in foreigners. Another had no available rooms.

This fellow was a postgraduate student at the University of Physical Culture, physical fitness, in Lviv. He was 24 and had lived in the city for 7 years. He told me this much.  "Ukraine is very corrupt. We know that. The people wanted change, but there has been little change and it has come too slowly. Most Ukrainian people are not interested in physical fitness. The only change in Lviv after perestroika was the addition of a religious cloister near the University stadium. Under Gorbachev, people who had amassed savings were arrested and their savings were confiscated. While these people were imprisoned inflation increased at the rate of 3,000% and 4,000% per year. Later these people were released and their money was returned to them, but by then it was worthless. Young people are finding more work, but the elder people are being left out in the cold. Pensioners are paid $10 to $15 a month and get bread and milk only. But I believe that Ukraine is superior to the rest of the world, including the United States. I would like to visit the United States only temporarily." When I asked him where else he had been in the world besides Ukraine, he said he had been only to Russia and Kazakhstan.

He was living in a hostel near his university. He invited me to stay over there a few days. He seemed like a decent enough fellow, and it turned out he was at that. An hour of walking got us from the city center to the hostel. We carried the bike and panniers up four stories to his room. We had a cold shower in the first floor shower room. He prepared us a delicious dinner of fried eggs and salad. After dinner he invited over two of his friends to meet the American cyclist. One was Sergie, a patriot of the port city of Odessa on the black sea, and a champion boxer for Ukraine who had trained for 9 years. I did not get the name of the other man. They asked many questions. Where are you going in Ukraine? How long will it take? What routes do you plan to follow? What kind of work do you do in America? I answered these and many other questions. Everyone left after a while. We finally hit the sack around 2:00 a.m. . I could not sleep again, so I got up and took two sleeping tablets which pushed me over the edge around 4:00 a.m. .

Day 27 saw me 76 miles farther along than the day before. There was a passage through a seven stage process of leaving Poland and entering the former Soviet Republic of Ukraine where an even sharper decline in living standards soon became visible, standards worse by far than either in Czech or Poland, standards of which I was gradually growing more wary. Towns were dirtier. People looked rougher, less healthy and more soiled. Side streets in towns were often just muck trails, passable only by Jeep or mule. Buildings were smaller, grimier, more cracked and crumbling than anything visible from the hard top up to that time. The stench of poverty, of abject desperation was everywhere. The warnings given by the Polish cyclists, and the fact that I carried more money than most Ukrainians could hope to earn in 9 years were certainly not the more comforting. Quite the contrary, robbery and murder were both real concerns. Ukraine was a cash only economy. They wanted only Deutsche marks and American dollars. Everything else could go to hell. I had gotten into Lviv and made a friend who invited me to a hostel for a few days. There had been some recuperation from the illness contracted in Poland, so things were looking up once again.

General Discussion / Re: Barge and Bike in the USA?
« on: July 31, 2023, 06:57:09 am »
Barge rentals in England, yes.


ALL VOICE TO TEXT, some errors.  My flight from New York to Paris touched down in Orly airport at 6:20 a.m.. the sky was dark gray. A moderate rain cooled the air fully wetting the tarmac around the jet. Customs and immigrations were a breeze. There was hardly a check or a question as we moved through the various lines and booths to the luggage area. The French did not even require a Visa which was surprising. In 1988 I had gone to France to enlist in the French foreign legion. Then the French required everyone to have a Visa because of terrorist threats they were keeping a close watch on everyone's comings and goings. There had been a waiting in line at a special office in London along with other people who had gotten themselves and Tangled in the Visa crunch. Now though it was just walk through and get it done. Two cardboard boxes weighted at baggage claim. One contained a chromoly touring bicycle and the other held the remainder of the gear. Because the other passengers had made off with all the baggage carts the best way to move them was by placing the smaller box on top of the box containing the bicycle and skidding them along the smooth tile floor. To some people it might have had an effect similar to screeching ones fingernails across a chalkboard but that was the only way. The immediate goal was getting into Paris to some discernible point from which to begin the journey. People at the airport said to take an Orly bus to somewhere in downtown Paris but where I did not know. With the two boxes loaded onto the bus it was necessary to hold them tightly as they swayed from side to side during the serpentine 20 minute ride into the City of lights. The first likely place was a rain drenched sidewalk in front of a city bus station in the small square d e n f e r t r o c h e r e a u. There was a clear plexiglass bus stop shelter there to keep out of the rain. The first plan was to unpack the bikes there assemble the bike and be ready to go when the rain stopped. However the shelter was so small and so many people kept coming and going from the buses that it was not possible. There was a small green park with an earthen footpath running through it just across the street that would make a good assembly point when the rain stopped.

Two young women from California were in the shelter. One was crying. She said their vacation had turned out miserably. She described their experience as a horror a nightmare. She said she and her friend were lost and penniless nearly late for their flight home and unable to speak French without a way to the airport. That did not seem to qualify as a genuine horror or a nightmare. It was more the case of the spoiled poor little rich girl who upon experiencing some minor inconveniences overreacts and blows they predicament completely out of perspective and proportion. But there was no use saying anything about that. however her words did bring back memories of August the 1st 1980 in buttevant Ireland when my train was derailed resulting in the worst railroad disaster in the history of Ireland with 18 people who were killed and more than 75 who were injured. Those injuries were truly horrible and appalling. For 6 months before that there were clear terrorists threats and warnings from soldiers in the United States army who were protected by the United States government. That was a horror and a nightmare. A few minutes later both of them were speaking French and boarding their bus to the airport. They made a quick recovery.

Hunger was setting in. The red neon lights of a pizza restaurant down the street to the left called out and made the stomach growl and set the juices to flowing. The questions were these. Was eating worth the trouble of carrying all that weight for a block? If not was it safe to leave everything unattended? The answer or the best answer to both questions was no. Had to besides that a frugal budget was necessary as usual and eating in Paris is notoriously expensive. The rain stopped in 2 hours and a dark gray sky remained.

It took only 30 minutes to move the boxes to the park and spread out everything on two benches. The ground was a drenched red clay that had splattered up on everything and stuck there. Moving carefully to avoid dropping any parts into the sticky clay it took about 2 hours to assemble the bike pack the panniers and then put everything together. A man and a woman two benches away we're smoking marijuana. The camping gear clothing and other items weighing about 60 lb were distributed in two large rear panniers two smaller front panners and a handlebar bag with the rest stacked onto a rack mounted over the rear wheel. The bike itself weighing about 32 lb seemed to wobble under the strain of body and gear.

When I pulled out for the first time onto the streets of Paris it must have been a site. Straddling the bike at some street corner to confer with a map of Paris, it was time to set out through the bustling City traffic following road signs to Led Halle, g a r e. du  nord, there was a right turn to parallel a quay at the S e i n e River and after that there was a canal. Somewhere in town was a McDonald's which charge $6.50 for hamburger Coke and fries. The streets of Paris were lined with apartment houses, businesses of all sorts, and sites of historic interest.

Mary ettinger and I had been tourists in Paris in the summer of 1982. We were on a one month rail pass in Western Europe and visiting in Paris many of the attractions to tourists go there to see. Now those places no longer held an allure. For this was the commencement of a major bicycling Odyssey whose first task required cycling successfully through the world's fourth most densely populated city with its more than 4,082 streets, 314 places, 8,016 intersections, and more than 2.2 million people distributed at more than 54,000 per square mile. That according to an encyclopedia. And already there were feelings of apprehension about what conditions might be encountered in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics.

General Discussion / Re: TAT and mental health
« on: July 28, 2023, 02:14:24 am »
I don't know about bi-polar disorder. Well, except for this one girlfriend.  It did not last long, that relationship.  She had these times of elation, and super positive attitude, and bubbly, and highly intelligent and conversational, and everything about life was agreeable, etc.  Then she would plunge into depths of far-off-the-charts hate, negativity, screaming, vulgarity, epithets of any kinds.  It was wild.  When we first met, she was on the upswing. I had no idea what I was going to experience. I had been 13 years in 37 countries, and had never seen anything like it.  As for bicycle touring, I would not trust her at all.  I suppose there are different levels of severity of BPPD.  I am not a doctor.

General Discussion / Re: Stay Bear Aware
« on: July 28, 2023, 02:02:26 am »
Davey Crocket killed him a bear when he was only three.  Not sure I ever saw one on tour.  If I ever do see one, I will turn around. Hopefully it will be down hill.  There was a flyer at a national park out west on the northern tier.  It said grizzlies could hit 35 to 40 mph.  It was not comforting knowing my top downhill speed was 37.  I think I heard one in the woods at night.  I was speeding downhill west to east over Logan pass on going to the sun highway.

General Discussion / Cycling Ukraine September 10, 1994.
« on: July 25, 2023, 02:16:29 am »
I pushed the heavily loaded bicycle out to the road where a tall thin bearded man was cycling by on the highway. There was no luck cycling West looking for the campground, but there was that tall bearded man talking with another man across the highway. Both men were on bicycles which is normal for Ukraine. Perhaps my cycling across the road to ask some questions would elicit some useful answers. "Do you speak English?" "Yes I do," replied the bearded man. And indeed he did this fellow named Viktor. Not only did he speak English well, he was also an interpreter in Kiev for a US News agency called Intel news. Viktor was a native-born Ukrainian, and his friend Leonid, Russian, was a retired pilot and testing engineer for an aircraft company. Viktor said the campground was very expensive and reserved for tourists. He said hotels were running about $65 a day, but that there was one cheaper hotel near where we were. We cycled to the hotel which was only a few minutes away.

The hotel a dull, drab looking, few stories kind of place was located in a sports complex surrounded by a car race track. Viktor informed me that he cycled on the track on weekends. After going in and looking at the rooms Viktor negotiated a price of $12 a day. He explained to the woman at the desk about The travelers checks and how they would be exchanged for coupons the following day. The Ukrainian renter paid 50 cents a day. The American paid $12. Or the Ukrainian paid 25,000 coupons a day and the American 600,000. Frankly the room was not worth it and it would be too much even for the United States. However, a poor Ukrainian, seeing a foreign tourist in his market, especially an American, is like a hungry shark sensing blood in the water. He goes crazy. And who is without guilt that he can cast the first stone? It was a market economy. They do the same thing in Florida every year when the tourist season rolls around.

 Agreeing to meet Viktor later outside, I repaired first to the room to get cleaned up while he cycled around the track.  It was a little confusing where we had agreed to meet. First, I cycled along a rocky road and then doubled back and cycled to the top of a concrete bridge over the track. There was no discernible way of getting from the bridge onto the track. They showed up and gave me directions on which road to follow and which gate to go around and where to turn and soon I too was on the track and cycling leisurely along. During our one lap of the track Victor talked about the sports complex and answered questions about Ukraine. We cycled over to a set of bleachers near an airfield and sat a while. Sitting prominently in a green grassy field about 200 ft in front of us was an old flat-green biplane. Large black letters were printed on the plane's fuselage, and a large painted red star adorned its rear rudder. It looked like a relic from a bygone era of aviation history, like a display in a museum for looks only. At the rear of the plane five young people sat and lay in the grass. Suddenly, along with a billowing cloud of gray smoke, the two engines burst into a well-oiled well-maintained and very loud roar. It was surprising as hell. "You mean that thing actually runs," I exclaimed. "Of course it runs," said Viktor. He went on to explain that students from Nepal used the plane to practice skydiving.

At that moment a group of 15 young men and women walk single file from a building to the plane and boarded. With its twin engines purring The relic took to the air like an eagle. It flew completely out of sight. At the same time a green military helicopter landed on a round concrete landing pad near us.

Victor, Leonid and I cycled into the center of Kiev. We came across a store selling cheese and yogurt, which, of course, I snapped up immediately. There is no better yogurt than Ukrainian yogurt, and the same goes for their coffee, cheese and their bread but that is all. The store had a second story which sold sundry items including soap powder. I drank down all of the yogurt in front of the store. Victor said that Intel news would pay me to write an article on my first impressions cycling through Ukraine. I made no promises but told him I would write one if I could find the time. The most important thing on my agenda was getting a few days of sound sleep. I did not want to get tied into someone else's agenda. Most always I am better off deciding my own course and making my own decisions. Victor promised to introduce me to the editor of Intel news tomorrow. We made plans to meet on Sunday to cycle out to the area's lake district.

It was a relief heading back to the hotel back to rest and relaxation. While cycling up to the front door, seven mangy snarling curs charged from behind a hedge in the hotel's front yard. They were mean vicious acting mongrels, but they backed away when I stopped cycling and yelled at them. They acted as though they would have liked nothing better than tearing me apart limb from limb. A new woman at the front desk claimed to have no knowledge of the agreement to cash the checks and pay later. She started arguing about paying, insisting that I come up with the money then. It was pointless trying to communicate with each other. Neither one of us spoke the other's language. She finally called a female interpreter.  Over the phone we got things straightened out. I carried the bicycle up the stairs and kept it inside the room. Dinner was composed of Nutella sandwiches and cheese.

The room itself was abuzz with flies. There were no screens on the windows. The TV was a fuzzy black and white affair that brought in two channels with no sound. The small refrigerator did not work at all. A brown colored crud coated the walls of the shower room all the way to the bottom of the tub. There was running water, all of it cold as ice. There was a sit toilet that flushed. Pull the overhead handle and a powerful stream rushed into the bowl onto the floor against the wall and all over anyone standing in front of the thing.

This 34th day was spent cycling about 10 miles around the city of Kiev. I rented a hotel room for an exorbitant price for 2 days and saw kiev's sports complex. Cheese and yogurt from a local store were an unexpected treat. This was the first full body ablution, cold as it was, in 5 days. A pack of nasty mean curs had menaced. An old woman at a reception desk had hassled and harassed. What a reception. Welcome to Ukraine.

General Discussion / Re: Kickstands
« on: July 18, 2023, 04:01:06 am »
Walmart has, in some stores, adjustable, steel kickstands.

General Discussion / Re: cost per day to tour
« on: July 13, 2023, 10:19:34 pm »
I forgot to mention the so-called Continental breakfasts in the motels. For the most part it is garbage. You might see an orange here or an apple or a banana. Maybe maybe. It's not what you would call a breakfast at all. It's the kind of food that nutritionists and nutritional science warn you against taking at all. Mostly it's the kind of food that will shorten your lifespan if eaten continuously over a long period of time.

General Discussion / Re: Boxed Bike on Delta Airlines
« on: July 11, 2023, 03:10:39 am »
Call Delta and ask.

General Discussion / Re: cost per day to tour
« on: July 11, 2023, 01:11:24 am »

I like the idea of the Planet Fitness thought, I will have to get a card, now that I'm a senior citizen and a member of Silver Sneakers, but some Planet Fitness places accept Silver Sneakers and some don't, so I'll still need a card.  The only problem I see with this, is finding one near my route.
Planet Fittness' business model relies heavily on volume, volume, volume, so they tend to not be in places with relatively low population densities.  Also, unlimited access is for your home club only.

Unless you are touring a lot in highly populated areas, you would probably be better off trying to purchase showers from private campgrounds.  There is even a hotel along the GAP in Connellsville that sells showers to people camping at the nearby free camping area. The restaurant in Rexford, MT, on the Northern Tier, sells showers.  (The nearby federal campground has plumbed restrooms but no showers.)  Truck stops and local pools are other possible options. Rivers and lakes are usually free.  :)

Not quite. The black card membership gets you access to any Planet Fitness in the country.  Not only that, you can bring a nonmember guest.  Small towns will not have a PF, and probably not any chain clubs, only privately owned.  That is why you google your route, then decide for yourself.

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