More adventures! Sun/Mon, 6/5-6/6
We pulled out of Hocking Hills fairly early Sunday morning, like we usually do, in the rain as has been the case many a morning on this trip, caught up to I-70, and east into Pennsylvania. Happily, the rain quit before we left Ohio. We’d decided on staying at the Monessen Elks for a night or two. That’s just south of Pittsburgh. Lunchtime coincided with the first PA exit, which is where the VC is, so we went in. It’s nice to run into friendly, helpful people, because when I mentioned riding our bikes anywhere near Pittsburgh, a GAP bike trail map and trail guide appeared on the counter!
This Elks Lodge is high on a hill, with a fantastic and unobstructed view of the mountains far to our south. We could watch the cloud patterns march across the sky, too. Tergel is parked in solitary splendor and we are very pleased to be here. In the afternoon, we searched out a trailhead near Monessen and finally found it in Cedar Creek Park. The plan is to go for a nice little ride tomorrow. Meanwhile, the sun lost its battle with the stormy clouds and rain hit Tergel again after dinner.
Funny thing, tho, after the rain quit and the drips quit dripping, I heard a drip-like noise and it sounded like it was coming from the ceiling above the fridge. It was an off-on series of drips. My first thought was oh no, now what? We puzzled it out, and Jimmy reluctantly got on the ladder to the roof to see what was the matter. You’d never guess what he found. A cicada on its back, its wings flapping away on the roof, and sounding just like a drip. As soon as he knocked it off, the noise quit! Dang bugs!
GAP stands for Great Allegheny Passage, and it’s a bike trail (or combination of trails) that goes from the confluence (Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers) in Pittsburgh to Washington DC -- 334 miles. We're far from being that ambitious! All we wanted was a piece of it. As soon as we got out of Smartie, cicadas starting flying into us. And so LOUD here, 100 million of them! We thought, hoo-boy, this is gonna be some ride with these things hitting us in the arm, face, in our hair, clinging to our shirts. As soon as we got going, however, they left us alone.
Round trip, our ride was close to 32 miles, and the section of the trail we did was north from Cedar Creek Park along the (I have to look at it to spell it) Youghiogheny River. I've tried to pronounce it and can't. The fast-moving river (above) looked like chocolate milk, but I bet it wouldn't taste like chocolate milk! This river flows into the Monongahela River. The trail was wide, often in shade (thank goodness) and little burgs were interspersed with the green, green canopy.
You never know what you're gonna see ... a duck with a pacifier ....
For much of the ride, the river was on one side and a moderate cliff on the other, which made the whole ride so interesting and pretty, too. Water leached out at many places, and gushed out like a waterfalls in two. Iron oxide is making the water on the left turn red, and we don't know what's causing the whiteish water on the right.
I rode up next to this Yellow-shafted Flicker, who was busy poking at something in the ground. I stopped two feet away and said, "hello." It looked at me. I got out my camera. It ignored me and continued what it was doing. For maybe a minute, while Jimmy rode on ahead, I visited with the Flicker, and it paid me no mind whatsoever. It was still working the margin there when I rode away.
The bike trail passes thru several tiny towns like this. We got off the trail to ride thru a street or two. It was neat to check the gardens and yards (all of them freshly mowed. We'll always identify this section of the country with big grassy yards and mowing.) Most of the houses were simple and built long ago.
When we came to a boat ramp, this man hailed us. ("Hey, Buddy," he called out to Jimmy.) He wanted us to take his picture with the fish he'd caught. He got out his flip phone and I took several shots of him and this Flathead Catfish, which he called prehistoric. I said, "It's one ugly fish," and took a picture myself. He thought it was a she and full of eggs, so he released her.
We got off our bikes and walked around Dravo Cemetery. A Methodist Church was built here in 1824, and the cemetery contains the remains of both the War of 1812 and Civil War soldiers. It was well kept and hospitable to riders, with a picnic pavilion, water, and even places to pitch a tent for through-riders. Fact is, we ran into (figuratively speaking) quite a few long-distance riders, their panniers and packs full.
We turned around at Greenock, and it's a good thing we did. Riding north the sky looked kind of okay, with clouds, but nothing ominous ... till we looked south. That's when we quit lolly-gagging and put some speed on.
We made it back to Smartie, black skies all around us, but no rain. Above, the danged cicadas were all over Cedar Creek Park and their cacophony was ear-splitting. So, we drove back to Tergel, got inside and the sky opened up. Great timing! It thundered and rained off and on (mostly on) nearly all night.
But there was this break, after dinner, where we were treated to a full double rainbow!
Life is Good!