GAP – day 5

Leaving Meyersdale:DSC02589The final 8 miles of climbing brought us to the Eastern Continental Divide. It was all downhill from this point – yay!DSC02595DSC02598
The Big Savage Tunnel, built in 1911, 3300 feet (2/3 mile) long. DSC02607
About halfway through, it got foggy, the rider ahead disappeared at about 30 feet. Clear weather on the west side of the tunnel, fog on the east side.DSC02608DSC02609DSC02614We felt a few sprinkles as we left Frostburg. With just 9 miles to go, we had to stop and put on rain covers.DSC02617All our stuff stayed dry, but we were soaked and filthy from head to toe. But none of that mattered, we had arrived in Cumberland MD!DSC02619As we ate lunch at the Crabby Pig, we realized how lucky we were to arrive when we did. There was a torrential downpour with thunder and lightning for about an hour. The bike shop let us use a hose to get most of the mud off the bikes and our legs. DSC02624Then it was time to say goodbye to Donna, who had to drive home to Roanoke. This was Donna’s first multi-day bike tour and she had a great time. There will definitely be more bike tours in her future.
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Miles = 33. Total miles = 161.

GAP – day 4

It wasn’t as hot today, but we were up early and ready to ride by 7. DSC02554We left the Youghiogheny River to follow the Casselman River as we approach the Eastern Continental Divide. After the trestle crossing, it really looked like a dark tree tunnel was ahead.DSC02556Last year we had to take the bypass because the tunnel was being lined with corrugated metal. DSC02560Rest stop.DSC02568DSC02564The only place in town to get a bite to eat.DSC02567Another huge trestle across fields of corn, a freeway, local roads and railroad tracks. In the distance, windmills on the ridge.DSC02572We stayed at Yoder’s Guest House … on the third floor. DSC02577Check out these original glass mailboxes in the entry.DSC02580Innkeeper Denise was great, so friendly. We all went to dinner together at The White House Restaurant – Denise drove – the only way we would have made it.DSC02576Another fun day, but we are getting tired and in need of a rest day.DSC02585Miles = 30

GAP – day 3

Another early start today. There were 3 guys – from Seattle and Virginia – who also stayed at the Connellsville B&B. We ALL wanted to get on the road as early as possible.DSC02509DSC02511A wonderful morning: overcast, cool, riding through Ohiopyle State Park!DSC02513There aren’t many places along the trail where you can actually get a good view of the river, so this view was a must to capture.DSC02515Earl, John, and Mike caught up with us and it was dueling photo time.DSC02516From the bridge into Ohiopyle, I spotted a slew of rafters getting ready to run the rapids. Last year, we saw lots of people tumble into the water then scramble to get back aboard. This year, there seems to be a team of people ready to assist. DSC02520The first rafter is the leader. There are 3 kayaks stationed at critical points.DSC02523All but one made it through easily, but we could hear yelling in the distance as the kayakers tried to get the last raft unstuck.DSC02532On their way downriver.DSC02534Almost. Double-stuck.DSC02536We pulled into Ohiopyle and promptly parked in the WRONG place while we rested and had a snack.DSC02539Lunch at Sisters in Confluence.DSC02540Our B&B for the night.DSC02541Miles = 29

GAP – day 2

We were on the road at 6:30, it was going to be another hot humid day. DSC02485DSC02486The innkeeper packed us a traveling breakfast (because we refused to stay until 7 am when the kitchen officially opened). Six miles down the road at Dravo Cemetery, we took our first break and had a bite of food. The oldest grave dates back to the War of 1812. A Methodist church was built here in 1824, destroyed by fire in 1920, and never rebuilt. DSC02487At about the halfway point, we stopped at Jeff’s house. He has a sign on the trail to attract riders and a refrigerator stocked with all kinds of goodies which operates on the honor system.DSC02492Jeff first brought us, freshly picked from his garden, watermelon. Then cucumbers. Then picked 3 ears of corn and soon brought us hot, buttered, salted corn on the cob. Delicious!DSC02494Further down the trail were old abandoned coke ovens.DSC02497The arch into Connelsville was a welcome sight. DSC02499We had 3 hours to kill before we could get into our B&B for the evening, so we hung out at a local park. It was hot, but better than riding and being even hotter.DSC02500Once settled in and showered, we headed downstairs to Greenhouse Winery – a wine bar. DSC02502After tasting a few samples, we bought a bottle and went back to the B&B patio to enjoy itDSC02504before walking to the nearest restaurant for dinner.DSC02505Miles = 41

GAP – day 1

We were up early, it was going to be hot. We sweet-talked Laverne who was in charge of setting up breakfast in the lobby if we might be able to get some hot food early. She fixed us 3 big plates and asked us to sit far away to avoid other guests making the same request. We were on the road by 7, riding through almost-deserted downtown city streets – beautiful. At one point, I heard some popping. Maybe someone hitting something with a hammer? Then I heard Billie shout for me to stop. She also heard the popping sound, turned to look, and saw flames coming out of an old electric panel box on a row house. We called 911, but the fire truck was already on its way.DSC02439An exciting way to start the day!DSC02442We rode toward Point State Park. Ahead, four (Pittsburgh Steelers) yellow bridges and the lights at PNC Park (Pittsburgh Pirates). Pittsburgh has more bridges than Venice Italy.DSC02443DSC02455DSC02462Donna really needed to see Bicycle Heaven, but it only opened at 10 am. I was worried about how hot it was going to get, so I continued along the trail by myself while Billie and Donna went to Bicycle Heaven. I rode along the Monongahela River and crossed over the Hot Metal Bridge and a final view of Pittsburgh.DSC02464On the other side was the actual beginning of the Great Allegheny Passage.DSC02465 The river was on my left and trains on my right. DSC02471We crossed over the tracks a couple of times. DSC02472DSC02473Crossing the river, McKeesport ahead. But it’s so hot! Now the trail will follow the Youghiogheny (yock-uh-HAY-nee) River.DSC02474Relief ahead! As I crossed the blue bridge into Boston PA, the first business I spotted was Trailside Treasures: cold drinks, ice cream, a lovely deck, and blessed shade. DSC02483And the friendliest owners ever! Ralph and Barb.DSC02476I sat there for four hours waiting for Billie and Donna. It was still hot, but at least I was off the bike. At last, there they were crossing the blue bridge. I knew their ride was longer and way hotter than mine.DSC02478We sat and visited for another hour. As we were trying to figure out which nearby restaurant might deliver food to our lodging place, Ralph and Barb offered to go out, pick up 3 meals, and deliver them to us at about 6:30. That was so kind – they definitely fit into the Trail Angel category. Thank you Ralph and Barb!

Miles = 28

To Pittsburgh

Packed up and bikes loaded, we got an early morning start.DSC02419We drove to Cumberland MD which will be the end of our ride on the Great Allegheny Passage.DSC02423It is sooo hot. A “heat dome” is sitting over most of the country. We walked a few blocks to downtown and found a place for a cool drink. We sat only for a few minutes before going inside. DSC02426We unloaded only what we would carry for the next weekDSC02427and met our shuttle connection. Billie made sure the bikes were properly secured.DSC02430We were ready to roll … except the left side door wouldn’t close. Four guys from the bike shop tried to push it closed, but instead broke it completely. They got the other van out. An hour and 10 minutes later, we were finally on the road.DSC02432Checking into the hotel, our bikes went to the room with us:DSC02435We walked to a Mediterranean cafe called the Casbah for dinner.DSC02436Billie and I sang the chorus of “Rock the Casbah” by The Clash for Donna, but for some reason, she didn’t recognize the song. Our singing perhaps?

GAP: day 5

Early morning start.
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A rare iron bridge built in 1871.
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The windmills are on the top of the Eastern Continental Divide.
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Handlebar visitor during a “butt break.”
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The creek kept getting smaller and smaller.
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Ever closer to the top.
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The Eastern Continental Divide.
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What was accomplished:
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A nice downhill run to Cumberland ahead:
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Big Savage Tunnel.
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The Mason-Dixon Line, the border between Pennsylvania and Maryland.
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The small town of Mt Savage.
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The Western Maryland excursion train coming from Cumberland on its way to Frostburg.
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The Brush Tunnel: bike riders are warned not to enter the tunnel if the train is coming because the smoke becomes quite thick and sparks fly everywhere.
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Lover’s Leap: where an Indian princess and English trapper leaped to their deaths because they could not marry – according to the legend.
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Mid-afternoon lunch in downtown Cumberland.
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When I woke up this morning, I had a terrible sore throat but otherwise felt ok. By the time lunch was over, I was miserably stuffed up. After we got into our hotel room, I crawled into bed without even changing clothes, took a couple of decongestants, and fell asleep. Yuck.
Miles = 34

GAP: day 4

One of the best parts of B&Bs is meeting the other guests at breakfast and learning about their ride and where they’re from, like this family from a small town near Ottawa. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Today we rode to Meyersdale.
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Now we’re following Casselman Creek upstream. We have been gradually climbing toward the Eastern Continental Divide since we left Pittsburgh.
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The Pinkerton Tunnel was closed.
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A 2-mile detour around the mountain.
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Getting the scoop on the construction.
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The project should be finished by the end of July.
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Each day, Billie and I start out riding the trail while JD drives to our next destination and rides back to meet us. His riding has somewhat curtailed by a fall a couple of days ago, one knee is really banged up.
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Lunch in Rockwood.
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We stayed at the Morguen Toole Company in Meyersdale. While the restaurant is on the second floor, the salad bar is on the first floor and our room was on the third floor. That would be 40 steps to climb several times to get all our stuff into the room. JD was spared multiple trips due to his leg injury. We were in the FOE Tap Room named for a previous use of the building during the Prohibition era. FOE stands for Federal Order of the Eagle (not Evil).
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Miles = 33.

GAP: day 3

Most of the B&B-keepers depend on bicyclists, usually 50-75% of their summer income and many close up after the fall colors are done. Locked storage areas, hoses and bike rags are common (just don’t bring those bikes inside).
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Our goal today is lunch in Ohiopyle, B&B in Confluence.
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We were told this June has been the extremely wet, just 3 days with NO rain. For us, this meant an abundance of waterfalls. You could tell there was one to look for just by the sound.
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We rode upstream along the Youghioghenny River – and how do you pronounce this word? The locals say, “YOCK-uh-hay-nee”.
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As we crossed the bridge into Ohiopyle, we saw a large group of rafts readying to run the rapids.
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The first raft was successful.
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However, the next raft lost 2 passengers who had to swim to the raft and be pulled back aboard. One oar was never recovered. Billie, “And that is why I will never do a whitewater rafting trip.” The third raft made it through without losing anyone despite what it looks like.
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The confluence of the Youghiogheny, Laurel Hill Creek, and Casselman Creek-hence the name of the town.
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On the way to dinner, Billie pulled over to the side of the road because she recognized a bicyclist we’d met in Connellsville. At about 7 pm, Sharon was walking her bike and still 20 miles from her Rockwood destination.
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They loaded Sharon and her bike in the van and drove to Rivers Edge Restaurant. (I walked the half mile so there was enough room.) Sharon had had about 3 flats that day and was WAY behind schedule. Billie and JD worked to fix the flat, then we all had dinner together.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Sharon, a retired school teacher and librarian from Oregon was riding Pittsburgh-Washington DC by herself on a rented bike. We were thrilled to become her Trail Angels – so many people have helped us in the past with our various bicycle touring difficulties, it felt good to pay it forward. After dinner, Billie and I drove her the final 20 miles to her B&B in Rockwood. (NOTE: in the following days, we learned there was a small piece of metal in the tire which caused continual flats, the bike rental company arranged to have the tire replaced and for the next transportation rescue so she could keep on schedule. Sharon arrived in Washington DC on July 6 and plans to do the same ride next year – with greater success and fewer flats.)

GAP: day 2

Goodbye to Lynn.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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Dravo Cemetery.
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Mailbox formation, so said the sign anyway.
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A surprise lunch stop in Van Meter, at about the halfway point in today’s ride. A sign for bicyclists on the trail that said cold drinks, ice cream and lunch could be purchased. Just put the money in the can inside the refrigerator if no one is around. Two picnic tables too!
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But there was someone around, Jeff, who brought us fresh-picked and lightly-salted cucumbers from his garden and a small bowl of wild black raspberries. JD said his bowl of chili was the best he’d ever had. Such friendly service, everyone should stop here!
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We noticed a lot of caves farther down the trail which turned out to be coke ovens.
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Riding into Connellsville, our end point for today.
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Connellsville Inn B&B – the opposite of tacky. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
We were in the German room. Each room was named after an ethnic group who once lived in Connellsville. My little room with a single bed was through the far door.
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Matching bicycle pajamas, Angry Orchard hard cider, a bed big enough for all of us to sit on and watch a movie (Cake) – life is good.
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Miles=41