As we have discovered, each day differs from any other because there are so many variables. Today was the first on the Great Allegheny Passage, a long-anticipated segment of the trip. Within minutes of departing the skies opened up and we spent the first 15 miles in and out of the rain. The unpaved trail performed amazingly well, just the opposite of the Katy Trail in Missouri, so we were able to keep rolling. Needless to say, we had the place all to ourselves.
Because of the delays we missed our second breakfast and dove right into lunch at the Chuck Wagon restaurant and bakery, so Bill had a second dessert instead. There were so many yummy looking choices! From that point on everything was wonderful. (Nonetheless, our theme song today, sung by the great lady Lena Horne, is Stormy Weather.) We saw 3 deer with long bushy white tails, a flock of wild turkeys, lots of cardinals darting across our path, a great gray heron, and a few fat groundhogs.
The trail follows the old rail bed along the Youghiogheny (pronounced yockahainy) River, with towering tree-covered hillsides to our right and a steep drop to the water on the left. Coal mining was a huge industry until 50 years ago. The photo of a gigantic cement cylinder is all that remains of the Banning #1 Mine; a trailside marker showed a picture of the complex that probably encompassed several square miles. Don’t forget to go the blog website to see Where We Are.
In a nearby patch (coal workers’ town) called Whitset, Percy approached us to chat. Right after his high school graduation, his dad asked Percy if he wanted to come work the mine with him. He replied, “only if I can wash windows in there!” and joined the Air Force instead. He then became a D.C. cop and FBI agent before returning to his roots.
We discovered yesterday that the weight we carry makes it very difficult to navigate the roads here. The motel we booked was too far to comfortably reach, but luckily we spotted a B&B a block from the trail and a room was available. The owners found this stray just a few weeks after their last dog died, and within minutes Odie was in my lap as I tried to get her photo.
42 miles and 1,834 so far. Connellsville B&B in, you guessed it, Connellsville, PA.