Around Ohiopyle

July 21, 2008

I love the names, Ohiopyle, Confluence, Ramcat, Harnedsville, Markleton and many more too numerous to mention. These are really small communities along a remarkable bike path that runs all the way from southern Pittsburgh, PA through parts of Maryland,¬†and right into the heart of Washington, D.C. It’s a 335 mile bike/hike trail that is heavily used. Dan researched this trail before the trip and decided they’d ride part of it and then go off the trail and back on rural roads in order to go the shortest distance to the shores in Delaware. But that plan changed overnight once they began riding the trail.

Half of this trail¬†consists of¬†fine gravel that is¬†very well groomed which¬†is¬†a delight to ride. The other half is not as good but bike able. And since it follows¬†a riverbed and was the old railroad track, it is¬†flat with an exceedingly small¬†rise and¬†descent. Thus it made sense to all of us that they bike this trail into D.C. and then find rural roads from there to reach the Atlantic. Taking the path meant no more traffic to fight which includes very large coal trucks that move fast through narrow, winding, mountainous rural roads. They wouldn’t have to climb¬†mountains that go up for miles and can reach¬†18 degree¬†climbs in some areas and¬†they would no longer have to ride on roads without shoulders, where parts of the road disappears due to this truck traffic, and/or are in terrible, bumpy or stony condition. The decision to ride the trail was an easy one and it was made quickly.

As for me, I’m no longer stressed about their safety and that’s a really good thing so I am elated and relieved they made this decision. My only responsibility now is to meet them for lunch and at the end of their biking day. There’s no road along the bike path so I’m out there taking major highways until I have to meet them.¬† I then wind my way through beautiful mountains to do so.¬†Life is good.

Yesterday we went to Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Falling Water” house designed in 1935 for the Edgar J Kaufmann family, a very successful Pittsburgh deparment store owner. (His stores have been bought and sold over the years but are now the Macy stores that are so familiar to us). The setting of the house is over a waterfall within the Bear Run Nature Reserve and it’s well worth planning a trip around in order to visit this place. What a spectacular house. Once again, you can see how Wright integrated man with nature.¬† Much of the horizontal spaces are cantilevered out, jutting over the falls. It’s breathtaking and you wonder what holds up those spaces. Inside, the home is just as wonderful – simple horizontal lines everywhere, terrific use of local stones incorporated into the walls, stairs and floors, basic but well-designed furniture, low ceilings, large stone and wood fireplaces¬†everywhere, small but intimate rooms,¬†and large spances of¬†windows¬†with few obstructions¬†because of the view. He certainly was a genius and far ahead of his time. Oh yes, he loved stairs, simple and short ones¬†and they are everywhere in the house. To see this¬†was definitely a highlight of this trip.

There is so much more to report on like all the wonderful people we are meeting along the way. I now feel comfortable stopping people on the street, walking into any store, filling station, tavern, or restaurant to ask directions or to find out about roads, places to stay, etc. Everyone is so helpful and when they find out we’re going across the U.S. on bikes, they¬†become curious and ask lots of questions. What a great country we live in and 99% of the people are¬†terrific. This trip has reinforced that for me.

It’s now Monday. Last night it rained hard for a short period of time. Today, the guys ride the part of the trail that’s not well groomed so it could be muddy in part due to the rain. We hope not but they’ll soon find out. They changed their tire size to accommodate a soft surface so it’s on to the bike shop to pick up the bikes.

Anyway, have a great Monday.

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