Thursday, July 25, 2013

How I'm Spending My Summer

A common view for me these last few months
Not since sometime before 1976 have I had a summer like this.

Back in that time, I guess when I was around 12 or so, I inherited my brother's paper route.  From then on I have been working a "job".  On May 15th, I had my retirement ceremony after serving 30 years in the Coast Guard.  Since then, I have been doing things that aren't actually "work", although some of them are "work like".

I don't actually retire until September 1st, so I'm still getting paid.  Thirty years of service give you plenty of time to accumulate lots of vacation time.  We are given 30 days of leave a year.  There were many years when I didn't use all of those days.  Don't get me wrong, I liked taking my leave days, but playing the system right, I was able to take a day less here or there and garner days on the books.  My last twelve years of work also had a nice schedule where I worked an hour longer each day for 9 days and then got the 10th day off.  It worked out well.

The wars we have been involved in have also let me go beyond the usual 60 days on the books cut off, so I had a real nice 88 days or so sitting there waiting for me to take them.  You are also given 20 days of Admin time, so all in all I had about three and a half months of "time".

Yes, you can sell those days back to the government and add some money to the bank account, but I like to use them so much more.  To savor each one.  To go to bed when I feel like it and get up when the urge strikes me.  I still pretty much keep to the same schedule.  Nine o'clock usually sees me heading down stairs to read for awhile before I shut my eyes and 6:30 rarely sees me still in the sack.  I like getting up with (or before) the sun.  I like seeing the day arrive.  Now, I just make a pot of coffee and head to the computer room for some light reading and sometimes some writing and then I start my day.

But getting back to the mid 70's.  Those were the days when I would get up with the day.  No school, no grass to cut (I guess that was a job too), no pressing plans of any kind.  I would get my bike out and take it down the 13 steps of our house and hit the bricks.  Literally hit the bricks.  Irwin Ave. in Bellevue is one of the dwindling streets of the borough that are still as they were back at the turn of the 20th century, brick.

Irwin Ave - Brick Street
So, I would usually head up to Grant School to hang out.  This was a few blocks from the house and I could spend the whole day out there somewhere, hanging out.  Without a care in the world.  And my parents weren't worried either most times.

Later in the day we would maybe play some kickball on the street and when darkness arrived, hide and seek was a pleasant way to spend a summer evening.

We would have passes to Bellevue Pool and when we could get a ride, we would be there for a good portion of the day.  We also had a nice camp up by Moraine State Park where we spent many a week and weekend.  Also, there was always Conneaut.  Ahhhhh, Conneaut.

The day's just seemed to take forever and each one started with the song of robins, cardinals and blue jays and ended with the drone of cicadas and night hawks.  Gosh, I miss the creaky call of the night hawk.

So, the picture I just tried to paint was of a young me, with no worries and little obligation or responsibility, doing what I felt like and having a good time doing it.

These last two months have been somewhat like that.  I still have the adult obligations and responsibilities that most adults have.  Mortgage, bills, college tuition, etc, but my day is less structured than it has been in such a long time.  I lose track of what day it is.

I still have plenty of things to do.  If you have followed this blog or my Facebook 365day entries, you will see that I have been doing some work around the house.  The grass seems to be growing wickedly fast this summer also and today, I will once again whack it back to a reasonable height for the next week and a half or so.

I have also done some travelling.  Not the usual kind, but by foot and bike.  Shortly after my retirement ceremony, my Bride and I headed south, to Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia to do some Appalachian Trail hiking.  Our original plan (to hike two to three weeks straight) lasted about eight hours into the hike.  Lisa suffered a bad twist to her ankle that still is bothering her, but the freedom we had with our schedule left us to change the plan and do something a little different.  Our adventures the first couple weeks of my "vacation" are chronicled here, if you haven't already read them.

At the Arch to the Approach Trail
Fontana Dam
Clingman's Dome
Even though our original plan didn't pan out, we got to see some pretty cool places on the Appalachian Trail and I upped my competed mileage to over 200 miles.

In June I decided to take a little bike ride.  This one was a five day, 350 mile trek from Washington, DC to my Father's house in Bellevue, PA.  I had been hoping to do this ride for quite a few years and getting it done was very rewarding.  I'm still feeling the effects of the damage I did to my ulnar nerves in my hands, but I don't regret taking the trip one bit.  That trip starts here.

Ready to Start
Dam #4
Since then, I have pressure washed and repainted the back deck.  That is the most work-like thing I have done this summer.  It has been very therapeutic, but I'm definetly not as good a painter as my brother.  I had fun doing it, but I'm glad I can say the job is pretty much done.

This summer has also seen me travel up to Pine Grove Furnace, PA a couple times.  It looks like I may have found a job as the next AT Museum Manager.  It doesn't pay much, but it gets me that "in" I have been looking for working with the AT community.  The museum is an amazing place and the AT Museum Society has very big plans for the place and its expansion.  If all goes well, I will be a part of that.

These last two months have also given me the opportunity to grow my beard.  Not something I was doing back in the 70's, but something I have been jonesing to do for awhile.  I like to think that it is coming in nicely.  It was pretty white at first, so I added a little "Just for Men" to knock it down a little and to keep little kids from crawling into my lap and telling me what they wanted for Christmas.  Right now, it is just a toy that I'm playing with, but I think I will keep it a while.  As long as Lisa lets me.  :)

My last day of work
Just a little bit of a transformation.  My hair is starting to cover my ears again.  I can still remember back in 1983, in boot camp, when my ears first saw the light of day since I was about 8 or so.  They burnt, then peeled very nicely.  I don't have as much hair anymore to get back to what I had in the 70's, but it is nice not having to visit the barber for that military taper every couple of weeks.

And so it goes.  My summer continues.  We still have some things to do like spend a week in Cape May and I will continue to travel to Pine Grove Furnace and hike the nearby trails.  I have also planned out a short backpack trip to the wilderness of Dolly Sods in West Virginia.  The honey do list will continue.

It is now time to take Ginger for her morning walk and then I think the pool needs me to check its temperature... With my body...

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Porch Swing

On the Conneaut Swing
I'm dozing and there is a sound.  It is a rhythmic double creak that reverberates through the ceiling and off the walls.  It lulls me deeper into my sleep.  I feel comfortable.  The feeling of movement is anticipated and welcome.

I'm on the front porch swing of the cottage at Conneaut Lake, PA.  This swing is huge.  I remember it all of my life.  It was even bigger when I was a small child.  In fact it has repeatedly knocked unwary small children on their behinds.  You learn fast to respect the porch swing.  Then you learn to love it.

All my growing life, we had a swing on our front porch.  Always made of wood and always the most coveted place to sit when enjoying the porch.

You had to be careful when swinging.  If you went too high or fast, you would bang the porch railing.  Too many of those bangs would risk a curt word from my father or mother.  But swinging the perfect arc was so rewarding.

Since I left home when I joined the Coast Guard, none of my houses have had a porch swing.  Heck, a lot of the places we have laid our heads didn't even have porches, but the porch swing has always held a special place in my heart.

This latest walk down memory lane was brought to you by the fact that the porch swing legacy continues.

My niece was showing me pictures of her new house and I saw that her porch had a swing on it.  It brought all the memories of the swings I have placed my behind on and I felt happiness.

So here is to The Porch Swing.  May they always swing the perfect arc.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

AT Museum Visit

The Furnace of Pine Grove
A couple of weeks ago, I was reading through my daily AT news and I saw an advertisement for the job of the AT Museum Manager in Pine Grove Furnace, PA.

I figured this might be interesting, so I updated my resume and created a quick cover letter and sent it off.

Within an hour or two I had a response from the president of the AT Museum Society and a few hours later we had a nice conversation.

The manager job is basically organizing  and training all the volunteers and making sure all the maintenance and upkeep of the building are taken care of.  It also involves some fund raising efforts and other odds and ends.

As Larry, the president said, it is a lot of work for very little pay.  I wasn't immediately thrown off by this statement, but I wanted to look into the whole thing some more.

Last week I took a little trip up there and met the current manager, Howard, and learned a little more about the job. Howard showed me all around the place and told me of the grand plans that are awaiting the museum as it expands and grows.

Old Grist Mill, now the AT Museum
I also had an ulterior motive for going up to Pine Grove Furnace that day.  Jennifer Pharr Davis was going to be there to take a little hike and talk about her new book and other experiences.  She is kind of an AT hero for me.  When my interest in the AT started approaching its current level of intensity, her husband's blog, as she made her record breaking thru-hike, was one of the first I read.

I have also read her first book which chronicles her first thru-hike as a young woman fresh out of college.

My plan was to spend a few hours talking to Howard, then take the hike with Jennifer and her family and then head to Pittsburgh for my sister's annual wine party/niece's birthday party.

Even though I drove through rain all the way up to PA, the day wasn't too bad.  It was warm and humid, which is always expected in PA in July, but the rain was mostly holding off as the day wore on.

Around 3:30pm I looked over and saw Jennifer and her beautiful eight month old daughter Charley.  Charley can always be found facing outward in a baby backpack carrier.  She evidently likes to be checking everything out and truly gets excited when a hike starts.

I introduced myself and before long eight of us were heading south down the trail for a quick walk to the Halfway Marker.  This marker is an elaborate thing that marks the midway point of the trail.  Thru hikers that reach this point are halfway done.  They also have halfway to go.  It must be a bittersweet experience to reach this point.  Sweet to be half way done, bitter that you still have just as many miles left as you have hiked.
Me, Jennifer and Charley
The marker isn't really at the midway point for this year's trail.  Every year, all during the year, trail maintainers are working on the trail.  Re-routes of the trail make the total distance change and since I have been keeping track, it has continued to grow.  This marker is from a few years ago when the total length was 2,181 miles.  This year it is officially listed as 2,185.9, so the actual midway point is somewhere further south from where we were headed.

The hike was billed as a four mile hike, two out and two back.  Upon further review, we figured it was more like seven miles, 3.5 each way.  No worries.  We just planned to hike for a while and if it got too late, we would just turn around and head back.  Jennifer was scheduled to speak at 7:00pm and a decently large crowd was expected.

Off we went.  Jennifer is a fast hiker (even being the only one carrying any weight) and even though she said she wouldn't be going fast, we continuously pulled ahead of the others.  Janine, another hiker and I stayed pretty much with Jennifer and Charley most of the way and would stop every  once and awhile to admire some foliage and wait for the others to catch up.

Before long, we crossed a road and were thinking of heading back.  Larry mentioned that it was probably only about 3/4 of a mile to the marker, so we all decided to hike on.  Before too long we made it to the marker, took some pictures and started back.

Waiting for the others at the marker
The hiking group at the halfway marker
Brew, Charley and Jennifer
Jennifer wanted to get back in time to feed Charley and prepare for her talk, so she said she was going to hike fast.  Janine and I took on the challenge of trying to keep up with her on the way back.

I have to admit, I actually had to stop talking for a bit and concentrate on keeping up with her.  She is super fast.

We made it back with about 10 minutes to spare and I was able to buy a signed copy of her new book.  It was truly a pleasure meeting Jennifer, Brew and especially Charley.  She is such a happy baby and seems to be at her happiest when she is on the trail and leading a hike.

I headed out from the park around 7:00pm as Jennifer was introduced by Larry and made my way to Pittsburgh.

I arrived around 10:30 pm to a party that was still going strong.  It had been a truly eventful day.

The job seems interesting and I am still working my way becoming the next manager of the AT Museum.  I have been looking for ways to become involved with the trail on a regular basis and this seems like the perfect fit for now.

When Lisa and I were planning our hike of this spring/summer, I would tell people that I would be looking for my next job while out on the trail.  Perhaps, I have found it...

Friday, July 19, 2013


For me, writing has always been a kind of catharsis.

Wow, that was deep.  I had to go look up that word after I wrote it to make sure I had it right.

Catharsis (from the Greek κάθαρσις katharsis meaning "purification" or "cleansing") is the purification and purgation of emotions through art.

Yeah, I think that fits.

I have been told by quite a few people that I have a way with words.  I glow in the complement until I read someone else's blog or novel or column and see that I have a long way to go.

But for me, I write to tell the story of my life.  The things I do and see.  The things I feel and hope for.  

I know hardly anyone reads this blog, but I feel an obligation to both of you who do.  :)

I have a few posts in the works, both on the hard drive and in my head.

I want to write about my recent visit to the AT Museum in Pine Grove Furnace State Park, PA.  I went up there to visit the museum (for the forth time) and look into the possibility of become its next Manager.

As the President of the AT Museum Society told me, it is "a lot of work for very little pay."  But I'm still very interested for some reason.  Anyone who knows me (or this blog), knows of my obsession with the Appalachian Trail.  To get involved with the trail at this level is something I have been dreaming of for awhile.  To get paid for it is just gravy, even if it might not be enough to buy gravy.

So that is one.

Another I have been thinking of is about front porch swings.  

It is still just an idea in my head, but it came to me when I was looking at a picture of my nieces new home.  Front porch swings have been in my life from the beginning.  I think I can write a little about it.

If that isn't too boring, another idea I have for a post is about how I have been spending my summer.

As a teaser, all I will say it that I haven't had a summer like this one since about 1976.  Stay tuned for details.

And thanks for reading.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Class of 13

Even though my feet aren't on the trail, I still follow those whose feet are still hiking.

AT Map with tabs for each hiker I follow

Trail Name Start Date Last Entry Location Total Miles Avg/Day
Blues Man 16-Feb-13 4-Jul-13 Monson, ME 2070.7 15.0
Rash 17-Feb-13 6-Jul-13 Cooper Lodge Shelter 1690.9 12.2
Groundpounder 18-Feb-13 7-Jul-13 Guyot Shelter 1831 13.2
Boo Boo 21-Feb-13 8-Jul-13 Bear Mountain Bridge 1399.4 10.2
punkin pie 1-Mar-13 5-Jul-13 Mount Washington, NH 1787.2 14.2
HotDog 6-Mar-13 26-Jun-13 501 Shelter, PA 1189.3 10.6
Apple Butter 8-Mar-13 9-Jul-13 New York 1367 11.1
Karma 7-Mar-13 29-Jun-13 Harpers Ferry 1018.3 8.9
Lady Grey 8-Mar-13 9-Jul-13 Andover, ME 1939.1 15.8
50/50 15-Mar-13 17-Jun-13 Front Royal 964.6 10.3
Jacko 21-Mar-13 2-Jul-13 Delaware Water Gap 1289.1 12.5
Odat 25-Mar-13 31-May-13 Buena Vista, VA 823.5 12.3
Acorn 30-Mar-13 3-Jul-13 Harpers Ferry 1019 10.7

Blues Man continues to be the frontrunner of those I follow.  He is in the wilderness, the last 115 miles of the trail.  He should be done soon, if not already.

Right behind him is Lady Grey.  I passed her twice in PA when Lisa and I were hiking up there.  She is also getting close to the end.

Groundpounder and punkin pie continue to put up good miles and should be done soon.

Rash is still having fun and is in VT.

Boo Boo is also plugging away up in New York somewhere.  

Karma got to Harpers Ferry and decided to Flip/Flop.  She went home to Philly for a few days and is heading up to Katahdin now.  She will be SOBO from here with no time constraints to summit before the mountain closes for the winter.

ODAT and 50/50 are off trail and done.  ODAT got what he came for and 50/50 had an achilles injury.

HotDog is also done.  It had been in the cards for awhile.  It just took her some time to realize it.  She also got all she needed out of her hike.  I will miss her awesome blog.  She was hiking with Apple Butter, so I have added her to my list and continue to follow her.  She just entered New York and is still going good, even though she really didn't like PA and dissed my home state as she left it.  :)

A also keep track of the rest of Shanty Town (Clever Girl, Dump Truck, Whistle and Grim).  They are near the end of PA I think.  

Acorn is out there somewhere.  She went back to Chicago for two weeks to empty her apartment, but continued on around the fourth of July.  She is most likely in PA now.  

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Pittsburgh Visit

When I started out on my journey, I had made my plans vague on purpose.  I have been in the woods and on the trail enough lately to relearn the fact that plans change all the time.  I had left open the possibility of returning to DC on my bike after resting in Pittsburgh for a few days.

When I pulled up to the wall at the bottom of the steps at my parent's house, I couldn't feel my ring and pinky fingers on both hands and my grip felt as weak as a newborns.  Holding on to the the handlebar was causing a lot of pain in my whole hand and I had to change hand positions constantly with little relief.

As I mentioned early in my trip, I had remembered other people reporting this symptom when doing the trip, so I got out the phone and fired up the magical Google machine.  Within a few minutes I had diagnosed the problem (cyclist's palsy, an injury to the Ulnar Nerve as it passes through the wrist bones ) and had given myself the advice that maybe I should find another way home.  Thank you Dr Joe.

A few finger swipes and some thumb typing later, I had a reservation at Avis in the North Hills for an SUV to be picked up the next Tuesday.

Thursday evening was spent getting caught up with Dad.  He was doing real well and was much more mobile than the last time I was in Pittsburgh.  We had some Arby's sandwiches for dinner and I went and picked up a case of PBR 16 oz cans since Kristan was due to stop by and a Hipster needs her PBR.

Porch Party Palace
Friday was a nice day.  I spent most of it hanging out over Cath's and jumping in the pool whenever it got too hot sitting under the umbrella.

Megan and Hunter
In the early afternoon I was hanging out on the porch with Dad and I went to the edge of the porch and there was a freaking snake on the porch steps.  I ran in to get my phone/camera and took a couple pictures of it.  I'm not sure what kind it was, but it slithered down into the ivy and later hung out with just its head sticking out of the leaves.  Pretty cool.

We had a little cookout that night.  Cheese steaks and Hamburger among other nice things.  Tom came back down and we hung out on the porch late into the night talking about old times and the fun things we did as kids on the street and all around.

My phone doesn't take super moon pictures very well.

Saturday was a busy and fun day.  Tom and I headed up to Conneaut for the annual Boat Show that the Miklos' sponsor every year.  It felt like a mini family reunion as I saw aunts, uncles and cousins that I haven't seen in awhile.  There were more people there who were related to us than those who weren't.

Looking towards the cottage from the Burgh

After checking out the boats and hanging out for a while, we decided to ride around the lake.  We stopped at the park and walked around for a while.  There was an art show going on and there were some pretty cool pieces in the various tents.  We found my Mom's and Aunt Collette's boardwalk board as we walked around the park.  

When the day's show was done we all went over to the cottage to hang out and take a quick swim.  We ended up staying for dinner as there was all kinds of food flying about.  We did our part to help get rid of it.  Hamburger day number 2.

We took our leave of our cousins and the cottage and started heading over to Bruin where we would spend the night.  After stopping in Slippery Rock to fill Tom's Growlers, Tom took a short cut along one of the back roads.  As we moved up the road we could see a bear silhouetted on the road.  We hurried up to the spot she had disappeared and we saw her climb a rise in the woods.  Behind her were two small cubs.  I tried to take some pictures, but it was starting to get dark and I was all excited and all.  This is the best shot.

Those black spots are bear cubs
Me, Cath, Ed, Eddie, Austin and Tom sat on the deck into the night with the bug candles burning and enjoyed the evening.

The next day we headed over to Marty and Michele's and had a nice visit before they went out to one of Billy's games.  Marty is doing fine in his recovery.  It had been a long road, but hopefully he will be able to put some weight on that leg before too much longer.

On Sunday Turk came over and we were hanging out on the porch and over at the pool.  Kristan and Jeremy came over and it was cookout time.  Hamburger day number 3 was in the books and it was a fun night hanging out and watching the Pirates come back from a 6 to 3 losing eight inning to win in the ninth 10 to 9.  Kind of exciting if you are a baseball fan.  I would just check in every once and awhile to see what the score was.

From Tree
Monday was make some pies day.  On Friday, Tom and I had cut down a branch from the cherry tree and had picked all the ripe cherries we could from that branch.  We had some pie crust mix and as I was destoning, Tom was whipping up some mighty nice pies.  He got two full pies and I little one in the cast iron skillet.  It was quite delicious.

To Bowl 
To Pie

We also went out to the thrift store so I could get a cooler shirt.  My wardrobe was limited as you usually keep down the weight you carry when you are out on the trail.  I had very little in spare clothing.  We also did some junk picking on the way back.  Tom got some good painting supplies and found a fan that still worked fine.  It helped keep me cool that night up in the second floor bedroom.

The next day, Tom took me out to the North Hills and I picked up my SUV.  I started heading home.  I went a route that was close to what I had rode on the way up.  I took 51 out and then 40, crossed the Yough Lake and hit 68 then Cumberland.  From there it was all highway back to Pasadena, MD.

It was a lot faster going back...

Monday, July 1, 2013

I Want to Ride My Bicycle - Day 5

Day 5:

After another decent night in the hammock, I was up and out at 7:15am.  I knew today was going to be a long day, but the temperature was very tolerable, in fact I was actually cold for a while until I got riding.

Pretty early in the day, I came across a biker stopped on the trail and looking up across the river.  His name was Chris and he had just flushed an eagle from this side of the river.  It had moved across the water and was waiting for us to leave.  I couldn't get a view of it, but it was cool to know they were in the area.

I continued along the Yough in the morning coolness and before long, I came to Connellsville.  After going through the town, right down Third St, I started out of town and came upon a small park where they had two adirondack shelters with tables a grill and water nearby.  The shelters were a lot like the ones on the AT, but very new.  I checked them out and made a note for any future trips to the area.  Shortly after that, I passed the Rivers Edge Campground.  This is a developed campground, but could also be a resource for a night's stay.

Connellsville Shelter
The day just started to fly by.  It still wasn't too hot and even though it seemed that I was out in the open more, I didn't feel like I was getting baked by the sun.  More campgrounds and small villages passed by as I steadily pedaled to my goal of Bellevue, PA

At Cedar Creek Park, they have some very nice tent pads and good trees for hanging.  In the corner of the park, overlooking the river sat this shelter.  Modelled after the ones I have stayed in on the Laurel Highlands Trail.  It has a nice stone fireplace facing into the shelter.  Very cool.  I rested here and ate lunch on my last day of the trip.

Cedar Creek Shelter
Next I rode through West Newton.  From here into Boston, the trail seemed to get a little bland.  The trail is pretty far from the river and it seemed like I was riding behind a bunch of back yards, out in the open with the sun shining down on me.  One of the interesting places I passed was an old coal mining "company" town by the name of Whitsett.  They had an old picture from back in the early 1900s and you could still make out the same houses with their identical double chimneys off in the distance.  

Another place I stopped was some very fresh picnic tables and one of those pre-fab cabins with a bunch of bikes, kayaks and stand up paddle boards sitting outside.  I talked to the guy there and they were a new venture that had just started up.  The owner of the land had plans to make the area into a park.  It seemed pretty nice and would be a great place to work.  

I could tell I was getting close to the Burgh when I started seeing stores names like the one below.

Scoops N'at  
I had seen a couple other snakes on my trip, but I stopped and came around to get a picture of this guy sunning himself on the trail.  Not the best location to pick, but very visible for all passersby.

Black Snake
 When I got to Boston, I was resting and reading a sign that showed two possible routes into McKeesport.  I had my iPod on, which I had started using in the afternoons to help me motivate myself to keep going and I heard someone ask me which was I was heading.  When I figured out where the person was addressing me, I saw David, a trail volunteer and we had a nice conversation as I refilled my water bottles.  He asked for some help if I had the time as I was about the youngest person in the area.  He needed help moving some picnic tables so he could cut the grass.  It was a nice diversion from the constant pedaling and I quickly agreed to help.  It was an easy task and before long, I was back on the trail, taking the alternate route that David recommended that would bypass some of the road riding, avoid a hill and give me more paved trail.

 As I moved along the edge of McKeesport I was eventually led to this 100 year old railroad bridge.  I was now on the Steel Valley Trail which had become a part of the GAP.

I crossed the Monongahela River on this old bridge and continued along the South Side.   

Mon River
I passed through Duquesne and into Homestead.  The trail runs along the active tracks and every once in awhile would go up to a footbridge and pass over the tracks.  I passed the Pump House where one of the bloodiest battles of the labor/management conflicts between the steel workers and Andrew Carnegie occurred. The 1892  tussle was called The Battle of Homestead and was between thousands of workers, their families and supporters armed with sticks, rocks and guns against 300 Pinkerton Men hired by Carnegie.  Ten people were killed and the PA Governor sent in Militiamen at Henry Frick's (Carnegie's partner)  request .

Shortly after the Pump House is this interesting labyrinth.  I took a nice break here under the shade of one small tree and enjoyed the view.

Soon I passed the old Homestead Steel Works, which is now a shopping center with a big movie theater.  One of Lisa and my Adventure Races had us getting information off the stacks as a control point a few years ago.
Before long I was passing through Sandcastle the brand new last part of the trail.  This amusement park had been a stopping point in the trail for quite a few years.  The original owners had finally sold the park and the new owners were much more agreeable in making the deal that enabled the trail to continue all the way to the  Point.

After Sandcastle the GAP now incorporates the Three Rivers Heritage Trail.  This is the trail that I would basically follow into the Northside and home.

I took another rest outside the Steelers South Side Training Facility.  I always like checking this place out.

From there I crossed the Mon again on the Hot Metal Bridge and was now following the Parkway East for a while.  At one point I was actually moving faster than the traffic as it was now around 4:00pm and rush hour had started.
Cathedral of Learning

First view of the city buildings
 I stopped at a Golden Triangle Bike Rental shop that was another stop on our Adventure Race and talked to a girl working there as I stood under the mist spray and refilled my water bottle for the last time.

From there I just followed some green signs to the Point as I rode the streets of Pittsburgh.  A couple out on a bike ride started following me because I guess I looked like I knew where I was going, but after warning them that I wasn't an expert, we all saw the fountain and homed in.

I took a couple pictures of Heinz Field and the Fountain and then headed across the Ft Duquesne Bridge to the North Shore.

The Fountain at The Point
From there I followed the Ohio River on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail by the Stadium, the Science Center and the Casino and into the North Side.

When I came to the Penitentiary, I hit the streets and headed up to California Ave.  It was quite a climb and I had done it before, but with all the weight I was carrying I didn't even try to ride it.  The walk was a nice pace change and I was so close to my goal, I could taste it.

Once I got to California Ave, it was just a few short blocks until I was crossing the Bellevue High Bridge and was entering the Borough I had grown up in.  I literally hit the bricks of the Bellevue streets and pulled up in front of 199 Irwin Ave at 5:45pm on the fifth day of my trip.  I had accomplished my goal of riding "Home" from Washington, DC.

I walked into my house and my Dad wasn't even surprised to see me.  Others who had been following my progress had informed him of my quest.

I was home...

My bike computer said I had done 83.5 miles in 7 hours and 52 minutes of riding time and a total travel time of 10 hours and 30 minutes.  The computer also had a grand total mileage of 351.5 miles.

Other math says the 184.5 mile C&O + the 150 mile GAP + the two extra miles I did in DC + the 5.8 miles from the Point to my house. My total trip was somewhere around 342.3 Miles.  My side trips in towns and at Ft Frederick would knock that up a little more, so I'm good with saying it was a nice 350 mile trip.

Tomorrow: Five Days in Pittsburgh (and Conneaut and Bruin) Where I went for a record number of days eating burgers off the grill.