Saturday, June 19, 2010

Home Again

I made it in last night just in time for a big storm. Glad I was home rather than on the road for this one. Total mileage for the trip, a little more than 340. Lot's of fun seeing new things and sweating and stinking. Oh, and getting real muddy as well. And don't forget about the flat tires, or the chigger bites, or the rain. And did I mention the hills?

Here's the first of a couple installments of Shop Teacher Bob's Big Adventure:

Starting out in McKeesport, just outside of Pittsburgh, Pa. Nice morning and an early start. Bike and trailer ready to go. As always, Kevin is fiddling with something. The dude is always trying something new or working on his kit. He left the trailer home this time and went with both front and rear panniers. He also switched from a tent to a hammock setup. That seemed to work out well for him on both counts.

Typical mess while setting up camp. Unload the bag from the trailer, set the tent up, put sleeping pad and bag in tent, figure out where you packed all the rest of the stuff at. After a couple of days you remember which pannier contains what and a system develops. We rode 62 miles the first day and just about the time I was running out of gas we discovered we had to push our bikes a 1/2 mile up a really, really steep hill that had a trail made of big ballast stone. What a pisser! The lady was real nice at the park when we checked in. I walk up huffing and puffing and she's obviously seen this scenario before. She got us hooked up with a nice campsite and gave us the run down on the road ahead and the weather. Other than the big push up the hill, it was a good start to the trip.

That's me up on top of the tunnel portal. We went through several tunnels. One on the Great Allegheny Passage and one on the C&O Canal Towpath were both over 3000 feet long. One tunnel was closed so we had to ride over a mile to travel about 75 feet. That's what makes it interesting, though.

The weather and the trail was great for the first few days. I can recommend the Allegheny Passage without reservation. The C&O Canal had been hit with a lot of water issues this year as a result of the Potomac coming out of it's banks and a very wet spring, including the days immediately prior to our arrival. The trail wasn't anywhere near as nice as the Allegheny but help is on the way in the form of Federal Stimulus Package dollars. I took my cell phone but didn't have any reception for the first few days. They had a pay phone the second night we stopped, so I got a chance to use my calling card I've been carrying for a couple of years. Nice to have a back up plan. I'm not much of a phone guy to begin with, but I do like to call home every night if at all possible. If it weren't for traveling, I wouldn't go through more than ten minutes worth of cell phone time per year. They did have one spot that had a cell phone booster in a little shed along side the trail. As long as you stood within about three or four feet of the building you could make a call. Kind of a nice touch for the technologically dependent.

More to come.

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