In the Rain to Meyersdale, PA

Our host at the B&B we were staying at in Confluence, Sandy, was already there, busy at work in the kitchen, by the time I went downstairs from my room.   Ram and Koushik were chatting with her.

After having a cup of coffee, I decided to take a walk around town while breakfast was being prepared.

This is the house in which we stayed.  It was really charming, both inside and outside.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe early morning fog was rising over the hills, and behind the community center.  The population of Confluence is about 800.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere were people sitting on the benches in the park in the central area in town having an early morning chat.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe breakfast Sandy had prepared was quite grand – with scrambled eggs, chopped up potatoes with fresh vegetable mixed in, tasty sausage links, fruits of different kinds, orange juice, bread, and homemade jam.  It was all fresh and substantial.  Sandy fussed over us as we enjoyed the food, and she helped keep up a steady stream of conversation. We learnt a lot about the place.  By all appearances, Sandy seemed to be a very active member of the community.

The weather forecast was not optimistic.  The chances of getting rained on during the ride were significant.  But we were prepared, and we were determined to press on.

Sandy came out of the house to talk to us, to bid us goodbye and give us last minute directions, as we got our bikes out of the garage and got ready to ride once again.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe had to ride a short distance on the main road before we hit the trail once again.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was a steady climb right from the start.  There were places where the river ran well below the trail and the train tracks on the other side.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then it started to rain.  We had to bring out the rain gear.  I had to stow my camera away in my backpack and put on my own poncho.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the approach to the Pinkerton tunnel.  The bridge is over the Casselman river.  It was raining like crazy at this point.  I was in no position to take pictures and enjoy the view from the bridge.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe stopped at the entrance of the tunnel.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe boy in the picture above was riding the trail with his dad.  He must have been less than ten years old.  He was really pounding the pavement and appeared to be enjoying the experience.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe encountered many more riders who had stopped to take shelter within the tunnel while waiting for the storm to pass, but we pressed on.  I was actually enjoying the ride in the rain.

The funny thing was that we encountered many of the same folks that were waiting in the tunnel when we finally got to our destination for the evening at dinner.   And we might encounter some of the same people on the trail on the way to Cumberland today.  There is definitely a kind of fellowship that is generated between people who bike this trail.  I do not remember this from our ride in 2016.

The picture below was taken when we made a short stop for a restroom break.  Koushik and I rode over the bridge to the other side of the river.  It was still raining heavily at that point.  It was difficult to take pictures since I had to first take my poncho off to get to my camera bag underneath it, then extract the camera from the bag in the rain, and only then, finally, take the pictures.  I had to go over the process in reverse after I was done.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe finally arrived at the town of Rockwood as the rain was beginning to subside.  There was a group of cats on the trail.  It felt like they were there to welcome us.  Apparently, they have become rather well known on the trail.  I could not take a picture.

We rode off the trail to a place we had stopped at during our previous ride in 2016 to get some sustenance and warm up a little bit.  There were many other riders of the trail who had stopped there, most likely with the same purpose.

It was a nice atmosphere inside, and a general spirit of camaraderie.   We were all there with the same spirit of purpose.  Many folks seemed to be familiar with the drill.  This was not the first time they were doing the ride.

I had been imagining a turkey sandwich and a cup of hot chocolate during the wet ride.  I got what I wanted!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen it was back on the trail.  Our rain gear was put away.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABack on the trail, it was back to the steady uphill climb.

We took our time to enjoy the stops that we made.  There were many small waterfalls along the way.  The air was actually cooler as you passed these waterfalls. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere were also the waterfalls that were formed just because of the rain that had fallen.

In one section of the trail with walls of earth on both sides, we came across a young deer that was trapped on the trail in front of us.  It kept running ahead of us until it found a place to climb the slope on one side of the trail.   We slowed down for it.

And then the rain started coming down in earnest once again.

It was pouring heavily by the time we got to the long Salisbury viaduct.  We could not afford to stop too long on the viaduct since there was some thunder and lightning action going on around us – and we also happened to be the tallest objects on the viaduct.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI would have loved to have stopped and taken more pictures on the viaduct, but it was not to be.

It was an uphill slog the last couple of miles into town. There was water running down the the trail as we kept our heads down and pounded the pavement. A steady stream of water was picked up by the tires and a line of dirt coated our rain gear.

We kept at it until we arrived at Meyersdale, PA.  We found our way to the place for the night.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe first order of business was to clean up the bikes and put them away in the shed that you can see to the right of the above picture.  Then we had to clean ourselves up. There was an incredible amount of dirt all over us.. My shoes and socks had gravel all over them.  (The shoes are still wet this morning.  I will have to ride in my sandals today.)  A hot cup of coffee after a shower brought us back to normal.

This picture was taken from the front of the B&B.  There are only a few places close by to eat at, and this shows two of them.   The Donges Diner and the small motel next to it are very old, and both are still functional.  The Donges has a good reputation.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe went to the Morguen Tool Company for dinner.  There was a nice breeze blowing outside as we chatted.  We were joined by a few of our fellow riders on the trail, including the little boy and his father.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen it was back to the B&B for some more conversation.  The bottle of Scotch was demolished.  The people that we had stayed with at the B&B in Confluence stopped by to chat.  We headed for bed as late as usual.

We rode about 30 miles yesterday.  We have about the same distance to cover today, into Cumberland.  There is a good downhill stretch towards the end, after we cross the Continental Divide, that could make this a short run.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: H2O

This looks like a very broad category to me.  I have so many pictures that cover so many different aspects of H2O!  I remember the early morning scenes with the mist and fog over the river, reflections of the fall colors over the waters of a lake, the beauty of snow and ice of winter, the sea at sunrise or sunrise from a beach, the storms with the heavy rains and even flooding, and even the pollution of the H2O caused by humanity.  And that is not a complete list….

But this time I am going back to my recently completed bike ride from Pittsburgh, PA, to Whites Ferry in Maryland to address the theme.  It seems to be a good fit, because the ride, for the most part, took place beside rivers.  ( Read on and you might also get a short lesson in geography!) The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) rail-trail that we followed from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, MD, essentially followed some of the tributaries of the Ohio River (which itself is a tributary of the great Mississippi that empties itself in the Gulf of Mexico).  From Cumberland onward, we rode the C&O Canal towpath which runs along the Potomac river. This river runs east, the opposite direction to the rivers we rode beside up to that point, and it empties into the Chesapeake Bay and the mighty Atlantic Ocean.  The Potomac and the Ohio and its tributaries flow into two distinct watershed areas on the two different sides of the Eastern Continental Divide and the Appalachian mountains that we rode over.

The Ohio river forms in Pittsburgh at the confluence of Monongahela and the Allegheny rivers and flows in a northwesterly direction out of the city.  We began our trip by riding upstream along the Monongahela river  (in a southeasterly direction).  We crossed the river over a former railroad bridge at one point.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We got to McKeesport, PA, where the Youghiogheny River joins the Monongahela.  From then onward it was further upstream and continuing southeasterly along the Yough. The skies were clear on the first day. We crossed under the Banning Railroad bridge.  (I found a video of this bridge in use in 2011.  I don’t know if it is still in use.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The river was extremely muddy on the morning of the second day of the ride due to overnight rain.  You can see the mud from the abandoned railroad bridge below.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe sediment had cleared up by the time we crossed the Ohiopyle low bridge over the Yough into Ohiopyle, PA.

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The Casselman River meets up with the Yough at Confluence, PA, and from that point on the GAP followed the Casselman on its way upstream. It was misty early in the day when we left Confluence.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This is view of the town of Confluence from a bridge over the Casselman.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The skies had cleared by the time we got to Rockwood, PA.  The Casselman river looked more like a gentle stream at this point.

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We crossed the Eastern Continental Divide on the GAP and descended into Cumberland, MD. The rest of the ride up to the final destination of Whites Ferry followed the C&O canal along the Potomac river. This was what the canal looked like in the area near Lock 75.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a section near Hancock.

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The Paw Paw tunnel burrowed under a mountain to allow the canal a more direct route  that avoided the bends in a meandering section of the river.

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We saw many aqueducts over the canal along the way. The remains of the Licking Creek Aqueduct are shown below.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The river itself was quite peaceful for the most part.

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We also saw a couple of dams that were used to supply water from the river to the canal.

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And there there were some other H2O related experiences during the trip that I remember. This picture was taken on a pedestrian bridge over the Casselman river in Confluence early in the morning.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The following picture is of the house at Fallingwater built by Frank Lloyd Wright.  The house is built over a waterfall.  You can take steps down from your living room directly to the water that flowed under the house.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe red waterfall shown below is the acid mine drainage (AMD) from a former mine along a section of the GAP closer to Pittsburgh.  We did (and continue to do) a lot of damage to our environment!

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We experienced H2O everywhere during our trip (and hopefully H2O is also seen in all of the pictures I selected for this blog!).  And I should not fail to mention that without large quantities of H2O to drink, we would not have survived the long hot days during our bicycle ride!

 

 

The 2016 KVIITM75 Bike Ride – Day 3

This was a day of amazing experiences, riding about 60 miles from Confluence in Pennsylvania to Cumberland in Maryland.

It was still misty and cloudy outside when we started our ride from Parker House after breakfast at Sisters’ Cafe in what remains of downtown Confluence.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The mist cleared and we were soon riding under clear skies.  This is a view of the Casselman river from one of the bridges we crossed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This is the Pinkerton tunnel, opened only last year.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe stopped in Rockwood, PA for ice cream.  The surroundings are beginning to change. We had been riding in the woods beside rivers.  From now on it was farm land.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a random shot of a touch me not flower.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA We met some interesting people. Jim, in his 60s, was into extreme outdoor exercise.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is what you do to take care of the pain in the butt.  We took a few “butt breaks”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe have left the woods and are the riding past farms and fields at this point.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Crossing the Salisbury viaduct with the Casselman river below us.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALunch place in Meyersdale, PA.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese two gentlemen are friends from back in the Vietnam war days in the army.  They have amazing stories.  They do a lot of riding all over the world.  Really remarkable ordinary folks!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACrossing another interesting viaduct.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACalf with an interesting face.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMore rest stops (butt breaks) before continuing the ride.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Eastern Continental Divide!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe are about to enter the 3300 foot long Savage Tunnel that opened in 2004.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAView on the other side of the tunnel.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then we were crossing the Mason Dixon line into Maryland.  It was all downhill (in a good way!) from then on.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe went through a few tunnels.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter Frostburg, MD, we continued careening down the hill beside railroad tracks. There is usually a tourist train that runs between Cumberland and Frostburg during the summer, but the line looked like it was in a state of disuse.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then we were in Cumberland at the start (end?) of the Great Allegheny Passage!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe following picture was contributed by Ramgopal from his camera since I was not carrying mine.  We ended to evening with dinner at the Baltimore Street Grill.  It was Koushik’s birthday present to Shankar.

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And now it is onward to the C&O canal towpath!

The 2016 KVIITM75 Bike Ride – Day 2

Typing this early in the morning before daybreak.  Everybody is asleep (I think), and Parker House is quiet, expect for the whistle of the freight train in the distance.  This is Confluence, PA, where the Cassleman river meets up with the Yough.  This is my blog for the ride from Perryopolis to Confluence.

We left the hotel at Perryopolis early.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe following picture is taken on the road that we biked from the town back to the Yough river. The tunnel takes you to the bridge across the river. We did not cross, but took the road that you can barely make out on the right before the tunnel. This took us to the trail head.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then it was time to ride once again!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere had been a spectacular storm late the previous night that we had observed from the front of our hotel rooms. Fortunately, the trail was not too wet. This was the only place where a tree had fallen across the trail.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis chap is trying to get down from the trail to the river.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is an abandoned railroad bridge across the river that we encountered. It appeared to be falling apart.  You had to watch where you were stepping.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACrossing a gorge on a trail bridge. The GAP trail that we have been riding is a rail trail which was built where the railroad tracks once used to run.  This bridge would have been carrying train traffic in the past.

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A picture opportunity.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere was steady freight train traffic on the other side of the river.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe section of the trail that we covered today was just amazing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Yough river seen from one of the trail bridges just outside of Ohiopyle.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the bridges over the Yough carrying the trail into Ohiopyle.  The river meanders in a U-shaped loop in this section, and there are two bridges over the river.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt Fallingwater, PA.  This house was built by Frank Lloyd Wright in the the 1930s.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe house is spectacular, both inside and outside.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese are the folks in Ohiopyle who provided us with the shuttle to Fallingwater.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was quite late in the afternoon after the trip to Fallingwater, and had another 10 miles to ride to Confluence.  We were hungry and got a snack to eat at a waterfall.  We never found the waterfall, and ended up eating in the woods.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe made a few rest stops during the ride, including this one betwen Ohiopyle and Confluence.  The bike being examined was making some strange noise.  We will try to get it checked out in Cumberland, our destination for tomorrow.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is Parker House, the place we are staying in Confluence. It is a beautiful place with lot of space.  We are getting ready to go out for dinner.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe crew was famished!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was dark by the time we left the Lucky Dog Cafe.  The sky was spectacular (due to the absence of light pollution) and folks were identifying the stars and the planets.  We walked back to Parker House using the faint light from a smartphone to show us the way through the dark streets of Confluence.  Went to bed after a night-cap.  Goodnight from Confluence, PA.

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