Sunday, May 28, 2017

May 27,28 – To Ohiopyle State Park, Pennsylvania

The night before we left Virginia Beach, this great looking RV pulled in beside us. It must be very old because that design has not been built for a great many years. The renovation job was great as it looked almost new.

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Since we just cannot go on a trip without having seen a least one waterfall, we made a slight detour out of our way home to spend some time at Ohiopyle State Park.

This park had been a possible stop on our Blue Ridge Parkway trip two years ago but it got sacrificed when we ran out of time.

The trip yesterday was very long. The GPS said it should take 6 hours. With a lunch and gas stop and a few traffic slowdowns it took just over 8 hours. Traffic wasn’t too bad. I had been worried about travelling on Memorial Day Weekend especially since we had to go right by Washington DC. It was definitely slow around there but not terrible. Several times we did notice huge backups, on the other side of the road thankfully.

Our GPS has an RV mode where it knows the dimensions of out beast. When I tried to get a route it kept taking us way down around the southern end of Norfolk. In car mode it took me a much shorter way across the north side. I kept it in car mode and off we went. I now know why it was reluctant. You have to cross a very long bridge and a tunnel with a height restriction of 13’ 6”. We are only 12’ 2” but that is the only thing I can think of. I also had to stop beforehand to turn off our propane.

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When it is close I always feel like the top of the RV is going to peel off.

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I am missing the easy flat driving on the coast. The area we are in is called the Laurel Highlands and wow, are some of the hills steep and long. On one the hills, on the smaller highway just before we got to the campground, the RV could barely manage 10 mph crawling up.

The campground in the state park was not recommended for large RVs. Another blogger had stayed in one close by, called Yough Lake Campground, so I booked it months ago. As it is Memorial Day all I could get, even then, was a no hookup site.

The place is just packed and the sites are quite close together. Ours is at least a lakefront/view site.

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The lake was created by a dam. It is long with lots of little finger bays. Pontoon boats seem to be the favourite. I think most of the people in the campground are here for the lake.

Today we drove over to the park and the town of Ohiopyle, which is the center.

Right next to town, the Youghiogheny River does a horseshoe bend around the small Ferncliff peninsula. There is also a wide waterfall.

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We walked over to the state park visitors center that hangs over the river.

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Along the path were these great info boards with metal sculptures on each one.

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The Azaleas are starting to bloom and the Mountain Laurel are coming along.

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The displays in the visitors center were very good. Lots of interaction and interesting info. Each station had a press where you made an impression of an animal on a piece of paper. Jennie collected them all.

The view back to the falls.

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There are lots of rapids below the falls. There is a drop in point for all the rafting companies just below the visitors center.

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The weather today has been everything from bright sunshine to dark with rain and thunder. We decided to do the short (1.7 miles) Ferncliff Trail, which runs around the edge of the peninsula.

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The description said it was an easy trail so Jennie didn’t bring her hiking sticks. We were soon right down along the river trying to walk on all the rocks made very slippery from the rain. We carefully made our way to the opposite side of the falls.

Just before we got to the falls it started to rain. We had our rain gear but everyone else left so we had it to ourselves.

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And of course a photosphere.

We must have gotten to town just before things got busy. We even got a parking spot right next to the falls. The viewing platform was a bit busier now.

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When we got back from the hike the parking lot was full, with the vultures circling.

Moving on to another viewpoint we watched some fishermen reel one in.

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He even put his phone down to unhook and release it.

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The rest of the trail was high up on the cliff and we never really saw the river again. It’s down there somewhere.

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The next part was also very muddy.

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We always stop for flowers or fungus.

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The trail was pretty empty except when this huge family group went by.

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This chopped off tree was trying to make a comeback. Jennie was pointing to an insect on the leaf.

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I guess everyone decided that this was the “carve your name” tree.

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We actually missed our turn to complete the loop. In my defense it was unmarked. Once we passed under this old railway bridge I knew we had gone too far.

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We found the ferns of Ferncliff.

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Back in town we walked around for a while.

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The general store and restaurant was, I am sure on purpose, blasting out the smoke from its BBQ.

The Great Allegheny Passage Rail Trail runs through town. It is a 150 mile long trail that runs from Pittsburgh towards the coast to the east. At its end it joins the C&O Canal Towpath that runs the rest of the 184 miles to the coast. There were lots of bikes heavily laden with camping gear in town. All of the bikes were very muddy.

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I heard one of the bikers say that they got caught in a very heavy downpour. The most we had was a short shower. I think we will try to ride part of it tomorrow. Hopefully our fenders will keep some of the mud off.

We walked across river on the rail bridge that is now part of the trail.

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The other smell around town was all the lilacs.

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This mini golf place was not quite as elaborate as the ones we had seen in Myrtle Beach.

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We finally succumbed and bought some BBQ (for dinner) from the yellow house in the back. Its smoker was also belching out the delicious smelling smoke.

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Heading home we did a quick stop at this overlook right beside the road, after we had climbed about 1000 feet in elevation from town.

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I’ll bet it would be amazing in the fall. You can just see a bit of the river in the center.

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