Sunday, September 20, 2009

It's All Downhill From Here

Day Three: Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2009

Today dawned ..... cloudy again. Do you see a trend here? I don't know if we have seen any sun yet on this trip. But I'm not complaining. Cloudy is much better than sunny and hot. We enjoyed a yogurt granola parfait and a heart-shaped piece of French Toast for breakfast this morning. It was very good and the fanciest breakfast we had enjoyed so far on this trip.

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As nice as it was to sit on the porch and relax we had to get moving. After seeing how steep the hill was up to the trailhead no one was volunteering to ride their bike back up this morning.

How many people does it take to rack the bikes on the car? Evidently four, though in my opinion that may be three too many.

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Bikes were loaded, bikes were unloaded and riders were ready.

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Today's destination was Little Orleans (pronounced with a long e). We didn't know it then but Little was an understatement. As usual Rosy and I would be driving to Little Orleans and dropping off Chris's car. Then we would backtrack and meet the boys in Paw Paw for lunch. Highlights of the day would be leaving the Great Allegheny Passage and starting the C & O Towpath. It would prove to be an unforgettable day in more ways than one. But first things first.

The boys were off and so were Rosy and I.

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Rosy and I were headed for Little Orleans Lodge. Originally it was a one room schoolhouse that had been converted into its current form as a B & B. Because it sits 1/2 mile off the towpath it would be an easy ride for the bikers later that day. My only concern was some information Dave had told me earlier that morning. He had called all of the B & B's we would be staying at the previous week to confirm our reservations. When he had called the Little Orleans Lodge to confirm our reservation and obtain the confirmation number he was met with this response, "What do you need a confirmation number for? You have a reservation." Dave's advice to me, "I don't know what you're going to find". That sounds promising.

While I pondered the possibilities awaiting us in Little Orleans the guys were enjoying their ride. Their downhill ride. They said it was one of the most fun rides on the trail to date. I think my brother's theory of me cherry picking the best rides was disproved this morning. Downhills will do that. After less than a twenty mile ride they had arrived in Cumberland where the Allegheny Passage joins with the C & O Towpath.

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While the boys were enjoying a break in Cumberland had wound our way through the mountains to the Little Orleans Lodge. We later found out that Steve the owner of the B & B had just recently made this sign. He was quite proud of it.

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We drove up the road a bit and found this.

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Rosy pulled up on the side of the road and I pulled up behind her. Is this our B & B? This doesn't look like a one house school house let alone a B & B. We stood there looking at each other. I know I was frantically thinking of alternatives. As we stood there this appeared.

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A chow. Whoa. This is going downhill fast. As she slowly approached me I slowly backed up. I finally had backed up far enough that I had the car door between me and her. Then the door opened and Steve called out, "That's Brandy. She's just lonely and lookin' for some lovin'". Riiiiight.

I called out, "I think we have reservations for tonight".

His response, "If you don't know how am I supposed to know?"

Dave's prediction was coming true. He was going to be difficult. We were all now standing in the middle of the road. I am sure Rosy was thinking the same thing I was. How are we going to get out of this?

I asked, "Where's town?"

"You're here."

"No, really. Where is Little Orleans?"

"You're here. It's just me and Bill's."

I think the reality that we were really going to be spending the night there was sinking in. But another reality was sinking in too.

Steve asked, "How many of you are staying tonight?"

"Six."

"That's too bad. I only have beds for five."

I just smiled. I get you, Steve, and I like you. Things are starting to look up. This may not be so bad after all. When we asked him where the trailhead was he offered to go with us in our car to see it. So off we went. It was only half a mile away and Bill's was conveniently on the way. Bill's consisted of a grocery store

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and a bar. It seems this was the only choice for dinner tonight. Steve did warn us that tonight was gambling night, "Gambling comes first, customers come second". Sounds like our kind of place.

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It turned out that Steve was quite a character. We actually enjoyed our little tour of Little Orleans with him. As we were getting ready to leave for Paw Paw to meet the guys for lunch he had one more piece of information for us, "Rumor has it there's ice cream and fresh blueberries before bed". We're in!

While Rosy and I were having our adventure the boys were having an adventure of their own. They had reached the end of the Great Allegheny Passage and had started the trip to DC on the C & O Towpath.

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, abbreviated as the C&O Canal, and occasionally referred to as the "Grand Old Ditch," operated from 1836 until 1924 parallel to the Potomac River in Maryland from Cumberland, Maryland to Washington, D.C. The total length of the canal is about 184.5 miles (300 km). The elevation change of 605 ft (185 m) was accommodated with 74 canal locks. To enable the canal to cross relatively small streams, over 150 culverts were built. The crossing of major streams required the construction of 11 aqueducts (10 of which remain). The canal also extends through the 3120 ft (950 m) Paw Paw Tunnel. The principal cargo was coal from the Allegheny Mountains. The canal way is now maintained as a park, with a linear trail following the old towpath, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park.

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The towpath is overall much less improved than the GAP, as it was built for mules and not railroads.  Be prepared for ruts, tree roots, mud and mosquitos.

They left out rocks but that is a story that will come later. For now the guys were adjusting to a much rougher ride though still downhill and enjoying the sights along the way. From this point on the canal would be on the rider's left and the Potomac on the right.

Looks like there's a photo op.

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I was right. It was one of the locks on the towpath.

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Pace yourself, boys, you have 74 more locks to go.

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Rosy and I had found the trailhead in Paw Paw and had some time to kill while we waited for the boys. We did a little sightseeing of our own. This is the Paw Paw Tunnel which we would be walking through after lunch.

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The boys are back in town!

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The boys followed us to town where we all enjoyed a well deserved break and traded stories of our morning adventures. If one of us at known what the afternoon would bring that person might have lingered over lunch a little longer.

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to be continued....

4 comments....porters always have something to say!:

curlz said...

With your years of training, that Steve character shouldn't have been aproblem.

Jock said...

Steve was a character but Bill even more so. Since she isn't done with this day I'll let her continue because Bill's place can be a post all its own.

The other thing she didn't mention (probably because she was enthralled with Steve)was the train station where the C & O Towpath started in Cumberland is completely refurbished complete with all the original wood work. It is a definite must see on this trip. I should also mention I believe it is still a working train station.

carriegel said...

i didn't mention it because I never saw it. Some day I hope to ride the whole trail myself.

megawatt miler said...

she cares about blueberries and ice cream a lot more than train stations.

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