I-70 to Connellsville

After last nights ordeal, today was great!  We got up and had some breakfast at the hotel, and then got on our way.  The slight hill on highway 981 was easy to crank up, knowing we were heading down the long grade to the Youghiogheny River.

When we got on the trail, it was obvious it had rained overnight, and so the trail was damp with almost no sign of tracks.  It looked like two other bikes had ridden the trail ahead of us.  We quickly got going through the beautiful green landscape.

This section of the trail had a very slight incline that I could feel as we got going.  In places the center of the trail had grown over.  We passed through various small “developments” … groups of homes along the trail … and past several small parks and ball fields, but overall the trail was quiet and remote.  Even passing near some of the more populated areas along the trail, the trees, forest, and hills made them hard to detect.  There were a few good camping spots along the trail … maybe to be used on a future trip.

What is interesting today is that although on the map the trail appears to twist and turn, it really was not that detectable when riding.  We saw the turns … but they didn’t seem that tight.

Today was quite on wildlife.  We didn’t see too much … birds, butterflies, one weasel or something.

Once we stopped at the Rivers Edge Campground for a burger (which was good!) then Connellsville was not far away.  We got to the B&B and dropped off our gear.  Walking around town has me realize that Connellsville has SO much potential as a town … really cool place!

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And so it begins …

For the last year I have been thinking about taking this journey … creating this experience.  It is an incredible feeling that my son Sam and I are about to embark on a trip of a life time.  I actually do hope to do this again … but this will be one that I remember for a long time.

Over a year ago I learned about the Great Allegheny Passage while planning our 2011 vacation to Pennsylvania.  I was looking for where we could rent some bicycles, and found this trail.  I was amazing that an impressive trail like this existed … through some beautiful country near where I grew up.  The GAP Trail starts with a few different rails-to-trails rides in the Pittsburgh area, which combine near McKeesport, PA to then follow a series of rivers, pass over the Eastern Continental Divide, and drop down into Cumberland, MD.  The entire journey continues on from there along an old canal to Washington, D.C.

At the end of 2011 I was committed to do this ride – or a part of it – in 2012.  And so I began the process of planning the trip.  At first, Sam was not very interested in the ride, but as I shared my plans with him apparently grew interested.  One day while driving in the car he said “Ok … I’ll go!“.  Uh … go where?  “I’ll go on the bike ride with you!“  And so things kicked into high gear.

I immediately picked the time frame, bought the plane tickets, and began the planning.  I found the bike rental company through the GAP website, and also the places to stay along the way.  I also began to plan for this … the website.

I had already created a site called RealTimeTrips.com, to create embeddable maps of SPOT Satellite GPS units, and so I revived the site and am using this as the first real test.  I’m also taking another GPS to record the full resolution track of GPS data.

I’m also taking my JVC Everio HD video camera, and plan to record the entire trip … in full resolution.  If all goes well, I’ll be posting the videos – fully integrated with the maps – to allow you to see any part of the trip by clicking the various waypoints on the maps.

So … we’re packing … and double checking … and getting things together …

… and so The GAP Experience begins!

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