And they are smart for a good reason

I received this from Michael Nardolilli, one of the commenters:

“Sounds like a great trip! I was the head of C&O Canal Trust for a while and did the entire Towpath twice (once in each direction).”

 

— Mike Nardolilli

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I have very smart readers

Here is a comment from my recent post.  The author is Brian Shannon.

“The change in the surface is at Big Slackwater.  It was a part of the the towpath that washed out during big floods to the point there was very little to rebuild.  They basically bridged the river at this point and it reopened as you see it just over 2 years ago.  Used to have to take a 4+ mile detour on narrow roads.   HUGE improvement!

To read more:

http://www.candocanal.org/news/slack-complete.html

And Michael Nardolilli sent this comment:

“Great to read about your adventure. The original “water gate” was a part of the C&O Canal and was a tidal lock between the Potomac River and the C&O Canal at the mouth of Rock Creek. This allowed canal boats to access the River from the canal and vice versa.”

And Brian Shannon again:

“Mike, if you noticed at Mile 0 there was a wooden gate there in the water.  It is the ‘water gate’ for the C&O canal.  That is where the name came from for the hotel and office buildings nearby known infamously as The Watergate….”

 

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Better Picture View

Don’t forget, as you read the blog, if you want to see more detail in the pictures, simply click on the picture and it will open in another window at a larger size for viewing.

Once you are through viewing the picture click on the back arrow button not the red X button.  The back arrow will take you back to the blog.

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Day 3–Harpers Ferry to Williamsport, Pa.

I probably would have started this blog a lot sooner but I have been working like crazy to get all the things done that Georgie told me to do while she was out of town.  Of course, she also said to rest.  “LIKE WHEN.”  Also I just talked to Frank, my roommate on the C&O Canal ride.  That is never a short conversation.  And now I find out that Georgie is stuck in Dallas as the result of some heavy rain showers.  Whew!

So lets get going on the bike trip.  We overnighted in Harpers Ferry.  In the morning we left the hotel and headed back to the trail, first passing by the old town of Harpers Ferry.

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Lots of tourist cruising the shops.  Then we headed for the towpath but first we had a group picture.

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Not sure who took this but one of the seven is missing.  That’s his shadow at the lower right of the picture.  Then we crossed over the river using the old railroad bridge.  It is actually a cool scene.  Here is the bridge.

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That’s me admiring the unique structure presented here.  Two railroad track entering the Harper’s Ferry tunnel at the base of a big mountain. I’m standing on the towpath. Quite an amazing feat of engineering.

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This is located a Lock 33 on the C&O Canal.

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Then it was back to riding the trail.  A beautiful coverage of trees lead the way along the trail.

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Along the way we encountered this small dam.

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Couldn’t resist a photo op as I looked over the side.

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And a map explaining the dam.

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A bit further up the trail we were surprised by the change of surface.  Suddenly the sandy base we were riding on changed to concrete.  No particular reason why, it just changed.  But I must say, it was a relief.  We could pedal faster and we had a full view of the river.

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Some really nice view along this stretch of the trail.  This picture is looking back at the concrete trail we had just encountered along that curve in the river.

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Finally we arrived in Williamsport, Pa., our official stop for the evening.  We peddled off the trail and up the hill to the town.  A bit of a tough climb after a long day.  But soon we arrived at the Candle Light Inn B&B where we were greeted by Tonya, the very helpful and resourceful Innkeeper, and her daughter, Sophia.

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Upon everyone’s arrival,Tonya opened the garage door and instructed us to hang our bikes on the hooks provided.  Good way to save space and keep the bikes secure.

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After checking out our rooms and taking a little break, we asked Tonya for a recommendation of a place to eat in town.  She directed us to the Desert Rose Cafe.  It was within easy walking distance of the B&B so we headed out.  The Desert Rose was a nice local cafe.  We received a friendly greeting upon entering and were ushered to a table for 7 in the back room.  Once we had ordered and the food started to arrive, I asked the waitress her name in case we needed to contact her.  She said, “It’s Rose”.  And I said, “I suppose your first name is Desert”.  She replied that it was.  Then she preceded to tell us the story of her birth in a camouflaged bus in the Arizona desert where her parent lived (in the 70’s).  Ergo “Desert Rose”.  Turned out she was the owner of the cafe and was very nice to us.  As we were leaving we asked if she would let us have a picture of her out front under the cafe sign.  She agreed.

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Desert Rose and Tonya, the Innkeeper, were friends.  They had obviously learned good hospitality from each other.  They made the customer feel welcomed.

You can always meet someone who has an interesting story if you are willing to take the time to ask.  Rose was certainly a credit to her name and the food we were served was very good.  Tonya likewise provide great service in her B&B.

Thus ended our ride from Harpers Ferry to Williamsport.  Tomorrow we head for Little Orleans.

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Day 2–C&O Canal, Leesburgh to Harpers Ferry

Day 2 is Sunday.  On Saturday we drew names to see which one of us would drive on which day for the rest of the week.  As it turned out, today I am driving not biking.  But it worked out well as my friends were coming to have breakfast with me at the hotel in Leesburgh.  First to show up was Nora.  She and I had worked together in the early 90’s and still kept in touch.  We had breakfast together before taking the riders to the ferry.

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When we finished breakfast the boys were just about ready to go to the ferry.  Now all of these guys are really good guys but occasionally there is a discussion about what the plan is.  Here you see Nora interpreting what is going on between Frank and George

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I asked Nora to ride with me to the ferry so that when we got back she could me our “other” daughter, April.  So we loaded the boys up and headed to the ferry boat.

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And off they went on the day’s ride.

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Back at the hotel we found April and her family just arriving in the parking lot.  We went inside and they had breakfast and we talked for about an hour.  Then some pictures.

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April, a long-time friend of our family, got married at our house in 2014.  Their baby, Caius, was born just a few months ago.  He, of course, is the star of the show but Caleb still makes a very cool brother and Brian a great dad.

After some hugs and kisses I left these good friends to get back on the road to pick up the boys in case they needed help.  I didn’t get any calls so I headed for Harper’s Ferry, our next port of call.

The ride to Harpers Ferry was very nice and relaxing.  But as I got closer to the town, I started to see an incredible number of vineyards and wineries along the way.  Finally I had to stop and take a look.  This one was particularly beautiful.

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The mansion set on the hill with vineyards all around.  Beautiful.

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I did not have time to do any  sampling as I needed to get to the hotel to off-load the luggage before everyone arrived.  But on the way to town I saw a couple of interesting signs.  This was the first one

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And obviously recognizing the impact this has on bikers, right across from it was this sign.

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Apparently there for those needing a replacement unit.

After arriving at the hotel, I had lunch in town and waited for the boys to arrive.  At about 3pm in the afternoon the first riders came in followed by others.  They didn’t like the hill.

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So after everyone got in we had a little happy hour and drove into town for a good dinner.  The rest of the evening was spent relaxing.  Tomorrow we head for Williamsport.

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Day 1 (Continued) C&O Canal

So I received a comment about the “Mile O” from a reader.  He said that there is a fence in the water near Mile O that has a gate.  Thus the term Watergate was derived.  The Watergate Hotel is within site of the Mile O post.  Very interesting.

Now we are on the path.

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First we negotiate the canal trail through Georgetown.  You can see this involved a lot of building along the path.

 

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But eventually we were on the real trail that for the most part was lined with beautiful trees, the Potomac on the left and the Canal on the right.  Very relaxing.  After pedaling for about 8-10 miles we approached Great Falls, Md.   Georgie and I use to live in Great Falls, Va., but I had never viewed the falls from the Maryland side.  Check it out.  These are the waters flowing south of the falls.

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And here is the beauty of the Great Falls of the Potomac.

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I use to visit the falls on the Virginia side.  There was a narrow shoot there that kayakers use to try and negotiate.  It was not for amatures.  And speaking of that, here is me with my roommate, Frank

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I think it was after the falls that we stopped for lunch at a restaurant in a small village.  Can  you guess the name of it?

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Wow, what a guess.  You were right.  It was THE BIG TOMATO.  Good food.

Back on the trail we pedaled past a civil war encampment.

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In addition, there were a lot of really cute chicks all along the trail.

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No need to tell my wife.  They were only geese chicks.  This must have been the time of year for hatching cause every time we saw a pair of geese there were at least 4 to 5 chickletts.

The other thing that is quite obvious along the path are the LOCKS.  There are a lot of them.  I stopped counting around 68.  The locks were used to move the canal boats down the river without having to deal with the treacherous rapids.  They would move them to the lock and when it was opened the boat would move down to the next level without fear of capsizing.  The boats were pulled by horses down the towpath.  Thus the term “towpath”.  Here are what the locks looked like.

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And here is the river waters that the canal allowed them to negotiate around.

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And then it was back on the trail.

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At White’s Ferry, we were ferried across to the Leesburgh, Va., side of the river where we would stay for the night.

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That pretty much takes care of Day 1 of the adventure.  Of course, refreshments of tasty beverages were later served but we won’t discuss that.  Tomorrow we head for Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

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The Adventure Begins–C&O Canal Day 1

This adventure started some months ago when a couple of guys from Hilton Head decided to do a group bike trip.  All of the guys were from Hilton Head or the near vacinity.  I was the only one from “out of state”.  My invitation came from my friend Frank, who you have read about in prior posts.  He really has a problem finding some one to room with so he invited me–kidding.  So to start the adventure, I drove from Flat Rock to Stateville, NC, where they would pick me up.  Our friend, Linda Ortiz, offered to let me park my vehicle at her house for the week so it would be secure.

Thus started the first part of the adventure.  With directions and address in hand, the boys from HH couldn’t find the house.  However, after some telecommunications they finally arrived and we were on the road to DC.  About 6 hours later we finally arrived at our hotel in Crystal City.

I had hoped to meet up with some friends for dinner but alast we arrived too late.  Good news was that I got to have breakfast the next day with my friend, Cheryl, and breakfast on Sunday in Leesburg, Va., with Nora, April and her family.  Then it was back on the trail.

About the C&O Canal Trail

The C&O Canal Towpath trail runs 185 miles along the Potomac River, from Washington DC to Cumberland Maryland.

About the Great Allegheny Passage

The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) trail runs 150 miles through the heart of Pennsylvania, from Cumberland, Maryland, to Pittsburgh.

This was Saturday morning, the first day of the ride.  We spent some time getting our bikes ready and the van repacked.

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And then we road about 10 miles to get to the start of the canal trail near Georgetown.  These were some sites seen along the way–the Washington Monument and the Navy Monument.

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Finally we arrived in Georgetown and caught our first view of the C&O Canal trail.

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It was decided that we would try and find Mile “O” before we headed north.  It proved elusive for quite some time.  Even the local could not tell us where it was.  Then we found it behind a boat storage building.   Unfortunately while making my way to Mile O I had a slight fall (the first of 4) and scraped a little skin off my elbow.

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Photo Op and we were on our way at last.

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“Come on guys. let”s get going”.  And we were soon on the trail.

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Continued in next post.

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The Blogger’s return

I’m back from the ride of the C&O Canal  from DC and the extended ride on the GAP, the Greater Allighany Passage, to Pittsburg.  I’ll be posting over the next couple of days.  I was unable to find a working computer to do any posting while I was on the bike trip.  We had a great time and as you will see from the many photos, the scenary was beautiful as well as refreshing.  Stay tuned.

Mike

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Picture View

Just as a reminder, if you want to get a better view of the pictures in my post, click on them and they will enlarge in another screen.  Then just click on the back arrow and it will take you back to the post.  Have fun.

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Riding the C&O Canal

It’s been a while since I last posted.  But tomorrow (May 8) I leave for Washington DC to ride the C&O Canal with 5 other guys from Hilton Head.  As you may know, the towpath for the Canal starts in Georgetown in DC and ends in Cumberland, Maryland.  But wait!! We will also be doing the Great Allegheny Passage that continues on to Pittsburgh.  The total ride will cover about 370 miles and should be filled with great sites.  It will be a nine day ride.

I may not be able to post every night but when I get back I will probably have a camera full of pictures to share with you.  In the meantime, in order to practice for this ride which is generally on a surface of dirt and rock, I borrowed a bike from my friend, Frank, who is one of the organizers of this adventure.  At first I had trouble adjusting to the shape and size of the bike but after several rides on the dirt/rock road around Lake Summit, I started to feel pretty comfortable that this bike will do the job.

And speaking of Lake Summit, what a beautiful place particularly with the weather we have been having.  The lake is about a 10 minute bike ride from our place and I usually ride the asphalt road that borders the lake.  However, there is a dirt/rock road that is available to the lake owners to get to their houses that are located right on the lake.  That is road I have used for practice as it most simulates the C&O Path.

I have really started to enjoy this ride and the beauty of the lake.  The attached pictures will give you the reason why.  Well I’m packed and ready to go.  I hope my butt is ready to do 370 miles.

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Lake Summit view.

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Another view for the other side.

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Some of the lake’s houses/cabins.

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One of the downhill dirt roads I had to navigate.

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When I get to the Lake, I park in a lot about a mile from the start of the dirt road.  This is the scene as I got ready to ride.

Hope you enjoy my C&O Canal ride.

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