Rhinebeck 2009

November 2, 2009

Hey there! A bit later then I wanted, but here’s a quick little post about Rhinebeck.

Last year, my mom and I went up to the NY State Sheep & Wool for the first time and loved it. This year, we wanted to go again, and again loved it.

267/365 - 2009 | headed to that magical place called Rhinebeck

The drive up from downstate NY was full of pretty leaves and listening to music, and we arrived at a decent time to the fairgrounds. It was a bit chillier then we anticipated, so the first stop was for hot chocolate, of course.

Rhinebeck 2009

Not wanting to miss a thing, we went into every barn and tried to peak in every stand. Of course a visit to the animals was made…

Rhinebeck 2009

Rhinebeck 2009

As we exited the first barn, I ran into Christi (of Knitting Pretty in DC), which was super exciting since she now lives in Philly but we hadn’t met up and hung out yet.

This was just the first of internet knitterly pals I would come across today.

I had a mission to meet up with Jesh for a quick Honeybee Cardigan test knit photograph. Thankfully, she obliged! And after seeing hers in person, I still want to make another one in black. It’s amazing how the color choice really changes the whole look and feel of the cardigan!

The Honeybees Meet

As I was leaving one of the barns, Danielle (of aswim in knits) saw me and made sure to say hi! It was great to finally meet her, Caro (of Splityarn), and Pam (of Flintknits), in person.

Hey gals!

After so much flickr’ing and tweeting to each other, it was a delight to see them for real. And to see that the Splityarn strap I had gifted my mom with for Christmas last year was indeed a popular choice.

Samesies!

We had a brief lunch, while watching the sheep dog trials* and made sure to check out the last few barns before heading back downstate. Whitney (of Whit Knits), another flickr/twitter friend, saw me walk by and caught up with me. I’m so glad she did, since I didn’t see her and would have been sad to not have met up (cell phone service was non existent for me, so her phone msg wasn’t listened to until I got back to New Rochelle). Silly me. I didn’t take a picture of us! I will say this, though, I want to knit a version of her Rhinebeck sweater. It is even more amazing in person!

There were so many more of my internet knitterly friends at Rhinebeck that I missed. I blame it on my shyness keeping me away from the Ravelry meet-up. Next year, friends. I will be there. *Pinky swear!*

Rhinebeck 2009

It was great fun to go again, and next year my mom and I will totally make a trip again.

*Oh. Want to know where all the rest of my photos are? Including the ones of the adorable sheep dogs? They are in computer heaven because of the google redirect virus, the misconception that if the computer and my hard drive tells me all my photos were moved off my computer onto the hard drive that it is the truth, and the need to wipe my harddrive and restore factory settings. Yes, there were tears. Lots of tears. Back up your files guys. Like 8 times. Cause sometimes that one time might be a lie.

Maiden Voyage

September 1, 2009

This past weekend, the last of August, Kasy and I took a little adventure. We hopped on our new scooter and headed out to Bucks County.

Oh. Didn’t I tell you? We bought a scooter a month ago! It’s a 2008 Genuine Stella scooter, in lovely avocado.

YIP 2009 | 7.18.09 | Our Stella

We’ve zipped around Philadelphia a few times, and now that Kasy has his official motorcycle license, we decided to hop on and get out of the city. That’s pretty much the reason we purchased it, on a whim.

So, where did we go? Nockamixon State Park, in Bucks County, is one we’ve wanted to visit for a couple of years, but it’s proximity to Philadelphia and the lack of campgrounds always made us choose other places to go.

Since this was our first time out, riding a long distance, we didn’t want to load up the scooter with any gear. We packed our backpacks, strapped them to the scoot, and headed out – destination being the Weisel Hostel at Nockamixon.

Weisel Hostel, Quakertown PA

The hostel is an old summer home from a wealthy family from long ago, according to the friendly and welcoming hostel host family. The grounds are gorgeous and we were fortunate enough to be the only people staying in the hostel that night! At $20/person/night, that is an awesome deal!

YIP 2009 | 8.29.09

We arrived mid-afternoon on Saturday, got all settled in and explored the grounds a bit, then headed off to Quakertown to pick up some food and drinks for dinner.

Goofin' around

Over night there was a crazy downpour, but by morning everything had cleared up and we were greeted by a gorgeous day! We checked out and took some photos by the neighboring abandoned barn, of both our scoot and a finished test knit of a cardigan I just completed.

Here’s a teaser, for you knitting folk:

FO 2009 | Honeybee Cardigan

Let me just say, keep an eye on Laura Chau’s blog (cosmicpluto knits!) for when she releases the Honeybee Cardigan. Jesh and I have worked hard on our tests of the pattern and we loved it. I’m sure you will too!

Ok, back to our trip. We had a quick breakfast at a local private campground that has a cafe (Tohickon Campgrounds). Their camping rates were really cheap, surprising since it’s a private campground and the state park doesn’t have any camping, so we might find ourselves back there for a visit sometime in the future.

morning

We scooted through the Nockamixon State Park and explored a bit. Before we hopped on 611 back to the city, we decided to check out the dam on the map. It had an icon indicating that it was a photographer’s destination so we wanted to see what it was all about. Not thinking it would be very impressive, since when I think of a dam I think of something like the Hoover dam or something not very impressive.

YIP 2009 | 8.30.09

Well. I was wrong. We stopped on the side of the road where other cars were parked, and then looked up. And both of us uttered “oh my god.” Very gorgeous and very worth the 4 mile detour to see it.

225/365 - 2009 | dam girl, that thing is huge.

We got back to the city mid afternoon on Sunday and considered our weekend adventure a success. And we love our scoot even more.

on an adventure

Oh, don’t you worry! We aren’t hanging up our bicycles or bicycle touring at any point in our future. We just wanted to have a fun toy to help up explore further distances on weekends. We’re still all about bicycles and bicycle touring.

Day 6

So close to the end. We woke up on Day 6, knowing that the rain had been pounding all night and would barely stop during the day. Packed up our wet gear and soggy selves, and continued onwards.

Packing up in the rain

Even though the rain was steady all day, it still was nice to ride in the morning. We passed some great sites, had pizza for lunch in a little town, and enjoyed the wet ride.

River waterfall

And then there was more rain

(Since it was raining, we didn’t stop much nor did I take many pictures.)

McCoy’s Ferry to Antietam Creek Campground = 40.6 mi

We spent the night at Antietam Campground, which is near the historic battlefield. I spent the last 10 or so miles singing songs, since it was the best way to make the day less miserable since we were damp, cold, and hungry. Getting to camp was great since we knew that there would be hot food and the false belief that we could dry off. The C&O trail gets particularly muddy so we were dirty and our bikes and panniers were covered in mud in every place possible. We lost one of our riders on this stretch of riding, since his derailleur hanger broke off his bike and his rack started to break. Instead of trying to convert to a single speed (we tried. unsuccessfully. the chain was too long but taking out one link made it too short. it was tough) he had family come and pick him up from a house along the way (kind people who let us use their garden hose to hose off the mud from our bikes).

Campsite #6 | june 5, 2009

Day 7 (the final cycling day)

Woke up the next day, without much reprieve from the rain.

Breakfast in the rain

We were trail weary at this point and nobody had any dry clothing. Thankfully it wasn’t too cold, so once we started moving our bodies warmed right up. The rain wasn’t as constant as the day before, but there was a constant drizzle. Stopping for a hot meal in Brunswick was a great way to spend a few hours midday, drying off and eating food we didn’t make ourselves.

Rest Stop Matt

After a few hours of rest, we knew we had to push on. Only a few hours until the ferry ride and the trip is over. Hot showers, washer/dryer, beers, and our friends awaited us in Leesburg!

When we arrived at the ferry, the owner of the cafe allowed us to use the hose out back to clean off our gear before getting on the boat. Thank god. We really needed it.

Demuddifying is serious business

Demuddifying is serious business

Demuddifying is serious business

We hopped on the ferry at Whitehaven to cross over to Leesburg. The ride was a cable ferry and the ferry is one of historic importance (there is little info online re: the ferry, but that link takes you to a pdf newspaper article which details the long history).

Almost to Leesburg

When we reached the other side, we were greeted by a van for our hotel, where the Cirque du Cyclisme was being held. But before packing our stuff up in the van, we figured a nice group photo was in order:

At the end

Antietam Creek Campground to Leesburg, VA = 33.9 miles

Total trip from Pittsburgh to Leesburg = 290 miles

We went on this trip to attend Le Cirque du Cyclisme, which is an annual vintage racing and touring bicycle rally/symposium/event. It was awesome to enter the hotel and be greeted with hundreds of bicycles on display. HUNDREDS!

Bicycles take over the hotel!Bikes Bikes Bikes!

Over the weekend we rested. We drank beers. We ate awesome mexican food. We heard bike builders and painters talk about their process and how they got to where they are now. We went on a bike ride around the surrounding farm lands. We went to a swap and saw more lovely bicycles. And then we headed home.

Homeward bound

And felt accomplished. All the photos (lots more than on here) can be found in this flickr set. If you’re planning on riding either the Great Allegheny Passage or the C&O Trail and have any questions that weren’t covered in this blog series, shoot me an email or leave a comment. I will gladly assist!

Now…who wants to see some knitting???

On day 4, we awoke in Frostberg and continued on our way, knowing that very soon we would be leaving the Allegheny Passage and getting on the C&O Canal path. The two paths “connect” in Cumberland, Maryland, so it seemed to be the perfect place to stop for a bite to eat and to load up on groceries for the next couple of days.

Bicycle Tourists invade Cumberland!

Bicycle Tourists invade Cumberland!

The C&O Canal path is very different from the Allegheny Passage. Being a tow path, it runs next to the canal, making the trail muggy and mosquito heaven. The canal fluctuates between being completely dry and overgrown and full of water and fish life and even though one would think that the views would be the same the whole way down and be boring, it was quite the opposite. Or maybe I just have a high tolerance for lots of greenery…

YIP 2009 | 6.2.09

C&O Canal Towpath

Along the path are lock houses, all marked on the map. Some are restored and open to the public, on certain days (not any day we were there, though). I’ve been in locks before but was blown away at the wooden ones that are still on the canal. Can you just imagine what the canal was like, back when it was actually in use?

Lock House

Checking out the Locks

Of course, the C&O Canal never really had a proper hey day. By the time it was built up to Cumberland, MD, the railroad had already been there for 8 years, making the use of a canal system antiquated. The Canal was originally supposed to continue onwards past Cumberland and into Ohio, but that leg of the plan was scrapped at this point. Learning this broke my heart. I couldn’t help but think of all the back breaking labor that went into building the canal and the tow path, including the tunnels through mountains and locks. The frustration and sadness that must have been felt when these people learned that their efforts were in vain. According to the C&O Canal Association, there was a plan, in the 1950s, to bulldoze the canal to build a highway into the mountains. I am so thankful to the efforts of the Association in stopping that plan from developing, and saving the C&O.

The night of Day 4 we stayed at the campsite at Purslane. A hiker biker site, it was free, but unfortunately mosquito headquarters. Since those little critters love me, after dinner I dove into my tent and didn’t come out until morning.

Campsite # 4 - June 2, 2009

Frostberg –> Purslane = 45.1 miles

Day 5 we continued on the path, knowing that we would be entering a pretty sweet tunnel later on. The Paw Paw Tunnel is a famed location, and the pride of the area around the C&O in this section. Remember the previous tunnels we went through? Well, the Paw Paw is nothing like it. There are no lights. There is a canal to your right. There is only a thin wooden railing at the edge of the bumpy dirt path. It is scary!

Paw Paw Tunnel

Kasy had his headlights, but also had some trouble. I stayed close behind him so that I could benefit from his LED lights. When we got to the middle of this 3,118 foot tunnel, you really couldn’t see a thing. Nothing like the Paw Paw. If you plan on going to this section of the C&O, I would recommend having some sort of lighting system with you, whether it be a flashlight for walking, or a headlamp, or something.

In hopes of avoiding another mosquito situation, we opted to stay at the McCoy’s Ferry site, since it was better maintained than the hiker biker site nearby (cost $10 for the site, as opposed to the hiker biker site which was free). When we got to camp, we set up and pulled out the tarps, knowing that rain was coming our way.

Setting up tarps at camp

YIP 2009 | 6.3.09

Little did we know was how much rain that was really going to be…

Campsite # 5 - June 3, 2009

Purslane –> McCoy’s Ferry = 48.7mi

Day 2: Roundbottom Hiker Biker Site –> Confluence [approx. 39.8 mi]

On day two, we woke fairly early, packed up and headed back on the Allegheny Passage. Many great sites to see this day:

From old rail bridges covered in crazy neon graffiti (I totally think this is where the local kids come to drink and do it)…

Old rail bridge

To some adorb ducks who loved the camera…

Ducks! [YIP 2009 | 5.31.09]

Which reminds me, did you know that mallard ducks are seriously one of my fav animals? I grew up 2 houses from a lake that was full of ducks and geese, and I’m guessing that this has caused me to seriously adore these little things.

It was after our rest stop, with the ducks, that we started to cross the first of many intensely long bridges. Did you know that bridges are a big love of mine too? This day was made of magic!

Nearing Ohiopyle

Watching white water rafters

This bridge was right by Ohiopyle, which we were expecting to be kind of cool, and were disappointed to see that it’s some super recreation white water rafting town that is full of tourists and bro-dudes and overpriced and not that cool. Eh, you win some you lose some.

Onwards we went, since we still had a bit to go before our campgrounds that night. We were staying at Confluence, and had plans to eat at a diner the next morning. When Bob told us about the Confluence campsite, and that it’s run by the Army Corp of Engineers, we didn’t think it would be anything like it ended up being:

Campsite #2 | May 31, 2009

Seriously? Mowed, soft, squishy green grass to pitch the tent on, outlets by the grills (wtf? Though, I did charge my phone in it, but whatevs), and clean showers. CLEAN showers! It was kind of amazing. With very few mosquitoes to boot! So we filled our bellies and rested up, not knowing that even cooler sites would come on the following day.

On Friday, May 29, 2009, Kasy and I, with our friend Matt, boarded an Amtrak train from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. Our touring bikes and panniers were already waiting there for us. Arriving late in the evening, we reassembled our steeds and rode to Matt’s sister’s house for dinner and some shut eye, knowing that the next day would be the first day of our awesome bike tour. The first few days would be on The Allegheny Passage and in Cumberland, MD we would switch to the C&O Trail, which would take us the rest of the way to Leesburg, VA. (The C&O actually goes all the way to D.C., but we were headed to Leesburg for Le Cirque du Cyclisme, a vintage racing and touring bicycle show/event)

Day 1: East End Co-op in Pittsburgh —> Roundbottom Hiker Biker Site [approx. 35/40 mi]

Early Saturday, May 31, 2009, Kasy and I woke up and rode to the East End Co-op to meet with our friends, in order to get on the Allegheny Passage and begin the adventure.

Waiting for friends at the co-op

We stocked up on snacks and dinner supplies for the next couple of days, packed it all in our panniers, and made our way to McKeesport, PA. As you get closer to the trail head, bicycle emblazoned banners begin to appear along the road. We made it to the beginning of the trail, said goodbye to traffic, cars, and civilization as we know it, and left the pavement for the gravel/dirt path.

Coal Country

The Allegheny Passage is a rail to trail project that extends through south western Pennsylvania, old coal country. It’s no surprise when we saw AMD on the trail, with signs explaining the history of coal mining in the region, and the environmental issues related to it. Every time something coal related appeared beside us, I made sure to point it out to Kasy, as the coal history in Pennsylvania is something that is now near and dear to my heart.

Taking in the beauty of the trail is easy to do, especially when traveling by bike (or foot, I suppose). The colors and the smells fly past and you feel an incredible sense of being a part of everything. As your legs pedal, and your heart races, there is a connection with everything around you. It’s something you really can’t experience traveling by car. With a bike, it’s just you and the surroundings. Nothing in between.

Campsite #1 | May 30, 2009

We made it to our first campsite, at the Roundbottom Hiker Biker site, by 5pm. Set up our tents and started cooking dinner. After hours of biking, a nice warm meal is one of the best things imaginable.

Feeling pretty pooped from the day’s ride, it being my first day of bicycle touring since last fall (!!!), after dinner I grabbed my book (Odysseus’ Last Stand. A bicycle touring memoir. Totally recommended for bicycle enthusiasts, tourists, and those who love a great tale of adventure!), read for a bit, and then turned in for the night. After 40 miles of riding, and reading about the possibilities that lie ahead for me and Kasy when we tour the world, I managed to get a solid, great night’s sleep, for the first time in a long time. Funny how the stress of work and grad school will ruffle a person’s sleeping patterns, eh?

Day 2 | Leaving Camp

See you in 9 days!

May 29, 2009

We’re off biking the the Allegheny Passage and C&O Trail from Pittsburgh to DC and going to Leesburg, VA for le Circque du Cyclisme!

Checking the map

Brendan T. Byrne camp site

Have a lot of knitting with me, including a test knit for Through the Loops and a Madelinetosh Silk Lace Pi shawl. I wonder how big the Pi will be when I get back?

295 | 365 : prep knitting for my bike tour [134/365 - 2009]

Be back on June 7th! Have a great week, everyone!