Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Let's Go Autumn!

Autumn just keeps on giving! The temps are in the 70's making it quite delightful to leaf peek. While up in Cumberland, Seal and I took a drive to Spruce Village in Grantsville. It is a gathering of authentic log cabins, an old grist mill and a newly constructed Amish meeting house, all quaintly set in a grove of spruce trees.

Stanton's Mill, built in 1797, was the center of activity for nearly two centuries. It is again operational selling a variety of flour.

This newly constructed Amish museum house depicts how Amish lived in the mid 1800's.

Artisans occupy the buildings at Spruce Village, using the space as working studios. Crafts include an ironsmith, weaver, bird carver, potter, soap maker, wood worker and a visiting artist.

An iron gate crafted by the ironsmith.

We took back roads on the way home and had a picnic on Savage Mountain, near the wind turbines. There are perhaps a hundred or more of these whirring giants marching along the mountain ridge. I didn't find them too loud and quite enjoy watching the blades go round and round.

While pulling in to my alley back in Cumberland, I marveled at the maple tree in our back yard. It's the largest tree in our neighborhood and one of the reasons I wanted that particular house. Now I ust need to get back up there and rake the leaves!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Play Hard Part 2

Sandwiched between all my fiber shows were two very fun girl trips. The first was Chestertown, then all the shows, then my very big reward was a 3-day biking/camping trip with Tina, Bev and Penny.

We all had to hustle after shutting the doors to our studios on Sunday night, to finish business, get supplies and camping gear, pack it all up and head to Cumberland by Monday afternoon. We didn't forget anything either!

Tina and I hauled the ever handy Bob trailers and Bev and Penny carried panniers.

We started out at Garrett, Pa. on the Allegany Passage rail to trail bike path, riding 36 miles to Ohiopyle. This is the same trail that I did in the spring with Houston and Sue and I loved it so much I talked my girlfriends in to doing it this fall.

The trail passes through a few towns along the way and occasionally there are fall decorations. Someone fussed!

I had told the girls that this was a very easy trail, maybe a slight decline going and a slight incline on the return. This section of the trail follows the Casselman River to Confluence, then the Youghiogheny River to Ohiopyle. It is so breathtakingly beautiful, that I had a smile on my face that wouldn't go away.

Once you get pedaling, pulling a Bob trailer is really rather easy. We were probably pulling 25 pounds and it is so much easier than carrying a backpack.

Before taking off, we stopped at a local grocery/deli to buy sandwiches ($2.50!). We found a nice spot along the trail to wolf down our sandwich. Pedaling makes you really hungry!

The first 2 days were picture postcard perfect, with temps in the high 60's, sunny and clear with big billowy clouds in the sky. The trail was scattered with a carpet of gold, orange and brown leaves, our tires making crunching sounds as we traveled along.

There is a small section of the trail that has a detour because they are not finished with bolstering up the tunnel so it is closed. The detour adds maybe a mile but it is a delightful mile, meandering through the woods on a smaller trail.

I did warn my fellow bikers that there was a very steep push-your-bike-up-the-damn-hill to get up to the campground happening at the end. It is only 1/4 mile but after biking 36 miles, this felt more like a mile up a loose gravel path. As easy as it is pulling a Bob trailer, I can tell you it is not that easy pushing all that gear up a stupid steep hill. But the campsite at the top of the hill was worth it. No one was around so it was very private. We pitched our tents, had a celebratory glass of wine (that Penny, bless her heart, had bought for us back in Ohiopyle AND pushed it up the stupid hill!) then headed back down the hill to have dinner in town. Yay! No eating noodle glop around the camp stove. It is much easier riding fast down the hill with no Bob trailer following behind. We brought our blinky lights for the bikes and our headlamps so we could navigate back home in the dark. It really was fun (especially after a couple glasses of wine!) crossing two bridges, down the dark path, and back up the hill. We decided to lock our bikes up in the woods part way up and not push them all the way up the hill. We snuggled in our sleeping bags, two in a tent, with light banter between the tents. Penny got us laughing by having the best quote of the night, "We're pretty good for women our age. We just have to let people know our age!" Let's just say 56-63 is looking pretty damn good! Go us!

The next day was another perfect autumn day. We made coffee in Tina's purple French press (fancy!), ate some delicious oatmeal (really) and hiked back down to our bikes and biked the mile to Ohiopyle. We chose the middle day for hiking instead of more biking on the trail and hiked along the Laurel Highlands Trail...

...taking time to peek at the understory of the woods.

The town of Ohiopyle is situated right on the Youghiogheny River. In the summer, the town is bustling with rafters, with the Yough (Yock) offering class IV rapids. This time of year, the water is much calmer and the town much quieter with only a couple establishments still open.

We brought our lunch right down to the water's edge and enjoyed the sound of the falls.

While sitting on the rocks soaking up some sun, we were entertained by some kayakers downstream.

They were doing pop ups, rolls and other water tricks. They looked like three young hot guys having fun in the water. They got out right at the rocks where we were sitting and we were surprised that they were most likely in their 60's. You guys rock! 60 is the new 40!

This is one of the bridges, formerly a railroad bridge, that we crossed to get into town.

And this is the other bridge, closer to our campground.

Falls Market is almost the only show in town this late in the season. We bought our wine here, after a 'wine tasting', had a dinner and a breakfast here and even bought a few necessities like dark chocolate turtles.

Enjoying our wine and water that were served in the same plastic glasses. Classy joint.

The final day promised rain and it delivered. It never really poured (although it did the night before as we were nestled in our tents), but it dripped on us a bit and we kept our rain gear on all day. We walked our bikes down the hill as we really didn't want to get going too fast with 25 pounds helping to propel us.

The mist was rising from the river and the fog coming down from above.

Because this is a higher elevation and a bit further north, fall was about 2 weeks ahead of us back home. The colors were amazing, bold reds from the maples, golds from the oaks.

Penny told us to just bike ahead, that she likes going slow, but steady. We would stop at times, giving our bum a break and to nibble like chipmunks on seeds and nuts.

And sure enough, here would come Penny, always with a big smile on her face!

At trail's end, we high fived each other, loaded up the four bikes and two Bob's and happily drove through the Pennsylvania countryside to a hot shower and warm beds in Cumberland.

The rain lifted and left us with a big sky, amber fields and a peaceful, easy feeling!

Now I gotta get to planning out next trip!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Play Hard Part 1

A couple weeks ago, right before my string of festivals, we had girl time in Chestertown. I busted butt so I could go along on this getaway. I don't want to miss any fun. And this is fun... boating, kayaking, drinking wine, eating shrimp, swimming, biking. It is so restorative and relaxing.

Penny took us out each evening on her party boat, skooting up to to the shores of Chestertown where the tall ship, the Sultana is docked.

These are posts holding a fishing net that is partially submerged in the water. Various shore birds sit on top waiting for the fish to come in.

Up and down the river are boat houses but I especially like the old ones with their rusted tin roofs and dilapidated docks.

Washington College crew team out for an early evening practice.

We took the kayaks out for a cross river trip, meandering in and out of the bays and inlets. Tina is telling us of "The Musuem of Innocence."

The water was like glass, making paddling a dream.

The grasses along the Chester River are in their fall glory.

Farms come right down to the water's edge.

We always walk through the shops of Chestertown. I liked this sign on the local coffeeshop.

The sunrises and sunsets on the river are spectacular. I wake early to get the first glimpses of the sun coming up over the horizon.

I got to experience the weekly antique auction in Crumpton. The main auction houses the best and most expensive antiques, where the dealers tend to hover and bring up the bids. On the right hand side, Amish folks sell their homemade baked goods, meats and cider.

Quirky vignettes cover every table.

I was totally smitten with these vintage paper dolls. I had to play a bit and rearranged the models. Shirley Temple! I wanted to see what these went for but we were outside when they came up for auction.

I've always liked these pachinko games.

Outside on the left, lesser quality antiques and junk are placed in neat rows, covering at least an acre. Bidding begins at $10. A large golf cart like vehicle slowly makes its way up and down the aisles, with the auctioneer yelling out his rapid fire numbers and a person quickly typing in the winning bid amounts.

My girlfriends are pondering a purchase of a chain saw but this Amish man steps in to advise and tells them don't bother.

As the sun set on our last evening there, I let out a deep breath and told myself how lucky I am to have such wonderful friends and to enjoy another day in their company. Thanks girls!