Summer 2014

We spent a few days in June cycling the Great Allegheny Passage, a beautiful rail-to-trail running from Pittsburgh, PA to Cumberland, MD.  We took along a family friend to make the trip more fun for the boys.

Our itinerary follows the photographs.

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Te Great Allegheny Passage (http://www.atatrail.org)
Cumberland Trail Connections (http://www.ctcbikes.com) drove us to Pittsburgh, PA to begin our ride west to east. I settled on riding the trail west to east so that the climbing would be gradually spread over three days, so the last day would be a fast downhill ride, and so each day we were a bit closer to home. The mileage each day worked well for our group and left the boys tired but neither exhausted nor burned out.
We stayed mostly in B&Bs with one night in a cabin at a KOA campground.
We only experienced an hour of rain, and on most days the temperature peaked around 85*F.
The GAP itself is a well maintained treasure.
Here was our trip itinerary, inspired by a tour offered by Adventure Cycling Association: http://www.adventurecycling.org/guided-tours/family-fun-tours/2014-family-fun-great-allegheny-passage/:
Sunday-Drive to Cumberland, MD – Fairfield Inn and Suites

Monday-Pittsburgh, PA to West Newton 34 miles
Lodging: http://www.brightmorning.net/

Tuesday-West Newton to Connellsville, 22 miles
Lodging: http://www.campriversedge.com/cabins

Wednesday -Connellsville to Confluence 31miles
Lodging: http://www.riverviewkitchenettes.com

Thursday -Confluence to Meyersdale 31 miles
Lodging: Gram Grams Place http://www.gramgramsplace.com

Friday-Meyersdale, PA to Cumberland, MD 32miles
Lodging: Home

I highly recommend all the places we stayed, except the campground outside of Connellsville. They have a pool, which I thought the boys would use more than they did. I might look into a B&B in Connellsville if we do this again. The campground was fine, but it was located 3 miles outside town. Being in town would have worked better for us, and we wouldn’t have needed to carry the sleeping bags. If you wanted to camp each night, the Adventure Cycling itinerary (link above) would work well, as would the KOA campground.

More photos from the trip are here:

GAP Trail June-0166
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Grammy

My mom is undergoing a surgical procedure today, so I thought I would post this photo of her enjoying the company of her youngest grandson.  Hopefully, in a few days, she will be playing again with her grandchildren.

Road Trip 2009: Part III

After leaving Bryce we traveled through the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument on our way to Bluff, Utah.

We stayed at the Desert Rose Inn in Bluff, Utah.  Appropriately there was a view of the bluffs from the Inn balcony.

Will and Ben enjoyed their stay.

The highlight of the trip for Will and Ben was visiting Four Corners.

Mesa Verde National Park was our last stop.  I have wanted to visit Mesa Verde for many years and the park did not disappoint.

Will and Ben earned their Junior Ranger badges after demonstrating their knowledge of Mesa Verde to the Park Ranger.

I recommend staying at the lodge inside Mesa Verde since it takes over half an hour to travel from the park entrance to the visitor center.  In addition, the lodge motel rooms are comfortable with beautiful views. This was the view from our balcony.

Will spent part of his evening at Mesa Verde writing postcards.

road trip 2009: Part II

After departing Tucson, we drove north toward Flagstaff.  After countless trips to Flagstaff, I remain awed by the geographic transformation that occurs between Phoenix and Flagstaff as one proceeds from the desert floor around Phoenix to the pine tree covered mountains around Flagstaff.  The change in temperature is quite refreshing, too.  After lunch in Flagstaff we travelled north through the western part of the Navajo Reservation to Page, Arizona.  Upon arriving in Page, Arizona we visited Glen Canyon Dam and marveled at the vision and engineering that went into creating the dam and Lake Powell.

Of course you can’t visit Lake Powell and not get at least your feet wet. 

Many folks were enjoying the lake in their houseboats.

On our way from Lake Powell to Bryce National Park, we stopped at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary north of Kanab, Utah.  This is a wonderful organization; if you are an animal lover, please click on the above link to learn more.  (A timely aside, Best Friends took in 22 of Michael Vick’s pit bulls saving them from certain euthanasia.  They announced the first of these dogs had been formally adopted into a new home on July 17th, 2009.  Now that is very cool!)

After taking a tour of Best Friends and meeting several adorable animals, we continued on our journey to Bryce Canyon, though we all vowed we would return to Angel Canyon next summer to volunteer at Best Friends!  It is a remarkable place!

The Bryce Lodge was almost as scenic as the canyon and had the authentic feel I hoped for.  The hotel facilities were nice.  The boys enjoyed the view and clowning around!

Occasionaly, I get a brilliant idea. 🙂  Before we left on our trip, I packed two digital point and shoot cameras for the boys to use.  When we arrived at Bryce, I gave them to Will and Ben.  Ureka!  They spent the rest of our vacation taking photos.   They actually wanted to hike in order to take more photos! 🙂 

Below is Will’s favorite photo of the many he made:

Below is Ben’s favorite photograph of the many he made.

Below are a few of my favorite images:

Natures ability to persevere always impresses me.  Whether it be the weeds growing in a crack in my driveway or this tree seemingly growing out of  rock.

 


Bryce National Park surpassed my expectations and is a location I look forward to returning frequently.  There is a beauty and a sense of harmony that is difficult to describe.

road trip 2009: Part I

Earlier this summer we enjoyed the opportunity to take a road trip across the United States to visit my family in Tucson and to visit several national parks.  We had a fabulous time.  This post will highlight the fun we had in Tucson while subsequent posts will chronicle our travels through Glen Canyon & Lake Powell, Bryce, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Four Corners, and Mesa Verde.

Our stay in Tucson gave us the opportunity to spend time with my whole family.  Many evenings were spent playing games.

Will enjoyed matching wits with his Grammy at backgammon.

Will also enjoyed playing with his Uncle and Aunt’s cat.

We beat the heat by spending the afternoons swimming.

The cousins also enjoyed playing together.

One Saturday evening we visited the Sonoran Desert Museum, one of our favorite destinations in Tucson.  The museum stays open late on Saturdays in the summer.  Outside they have several statues of javelinas, which I always like to photograph the kids near.  While their cousins still enjoyed that, Will and Ben clearly feel too cool for that anymore. 🙂

I always enjoy the desert in the evening; and the evening of our visit to the museum was especially nice.

Our visit ended too soon as always.  But before we left I was able to capture a few additional images of my adorable nephew.