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TRIP 2014

Update #19 - August 10th
Ashland, Virginia
7,671.46 miles (12,274.34 KM)





After about a week and a half of riding basically 344 car-free miles along rails (the G.A.P. (Great Allegheny Passage) Trail between Pittsbugh, Pennsylvania and Cumberland, Maryland and the historic Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Towpath-Trail between Cumberland, Maryland and Whie's Ferry, Maryland), I've been riding with traffic for the past three days. I decided to not go to Washington, D.C. because there isn't really a safe way to ride in Eastern Virginia heading South from Washington, D.C. I extended the current leg to Yorktown, Virginia. From Yorktown, I will be heading South into the Carolinas. I'm still hoping to find someplace to volunteer for an extended period of time.

July 22 : Ripley, OH to Portsmouth, OH : 68.01 miles (108.82 km)

It was a bit of an off night because I had the impacted wax and there was a lot of light coming through the vertical blinds. I should have got out my sleep mask but it causes me to have a headahe and I already had one from my right ear. I probably got just two hours of sleep.

I left the motel around 7:45 a.m. I rode to Aberdeen. I waited at a gas station for the fog to lift over the Ohio River. The ride to Manchester went okay. There were quite a few rolling hills but they were not big ones.

I got into Manchester around 11 am. I was thinking about trying to stop beause the afternoon high was supposed to be in the low 90s. I rode around town to find the churches in town but I didn't find anybody around them. I took a while finding the Methodist church that I saw a sign for. The lady organist was giving piano lessons. She was friendly and she called the pastor. He had been there only a few months. After about twenty minutes, he came over to talk to me. He told me that he had stopped at the small local motel but there weren't any rooms because most of them were reserved for a crew putting up a new power line. To allow me to stay inside he had to get approval from the head of the trustees but they were out of the country in Italy. The pastor did give me permission to camp outside but there wasn't any place to secure Alice and hide my tent. There was one place and that was at the back door because there was an overhang. There wasn't any spigot to get water at night and no place where I could safely duck out of sight to urinate. Before the pastor left, he slipped me $20.

For about 15 minutes, I just kept repeating in my mind: "For I was homeless and you didn't house me.", "For I was a stranger, and you didn't welcome me", and "For what you have not done to the least of these, you haven't done unto me.". This wasn't a welcoming church. There wasn't even an offer to stay wih him at his house. The old parsonage was next door and that was also off limits to me. After about 5 minutes more, I left the church grounds and went looking for the police station. It was in the community center building. I had missed the officer who went on patrol by just a few minutes. One of the ladies at the community center, gave me the location of the Nazerene minister's house. It was a block away but nobody was home.

I really didn't want to head out to Portsmouth but I did. It was a little over 40 miles (64 km) away. I took the time to stop at every little store or gas station to get something cold to drink and to fill up the water bottles. I didn't want to have no water on the bike since the temperature was supposed to be in the 90s. It was nearly 7 pm when I got into the downtown area of Portsmouth.

I found the police station in the city hall but there was no after hours entrance, a call box, or a phone number to all. I had to wait for a police officer to come back to the station from patrol. The one that I connected was quite friendly. One of the detective's father was the pastor of the Central Church of Christ. He was contacted and there was an offer to get me a room at a motel that was close to the church. The motel was a couple of miles (3 km) away from the downtown area but it was only a half of a block off of US 52. After getting Alice situated in the motel room, I walked to a nearby Wendy's and got me something hot to eat.

July 23 : Portsmouth, OH to Ironton, OH : 27.55 miles (44.08 km)

It was an okay night at the motel. The curtain was thick and it blocked out the outside light. It was a little after seeing the weather on the evening news that I fell asleep. There was the chance for storms tomorrow afternoon. The pressure in my right ear and gone down enough that I was able to fall asleep. I got almost six hours in. I woke up early enough so that I could post a trip update and also to completely update the site.

I left the motel around 7:30 am. I wanted to watch the morning news. The bodies of the victims of the downed passenger jet are on their way back to the Netherlands by rain for identification and burial. The tension in the Gaza Strip is getting worse. Almost 1,000 Palestinians have been killed.

For about two or three miles (5 km) there was congestion through the rest of Portsmouth. Once out of the Portsmouth area, US 52 became a divided 4 lane highway with a paved shoulder. The terraign was mostly flat because I was riding through the river flats. The Ohio River was either close by or it was less than a mile away. I stopped a a McD's for a break. As I was tapping an email out, hese two guys stopped to talk to me. Before they left, one of them slipped me a GH of $13.

I got into Ironton a little after noon. I stopped at a Wendy's for some lunch. After lunch, I stopped a the United Methodist church. The pastor was friendly but he didn't have any real suggestions. His assistant usually handled things like this but he was out of town. The town did have a city rescue mission but we both agreed that it wouldn't have been a good place for me. The pastor called around to some of the other churches in town. He was able to talk with the pastor at the First Baptist church a couple of blocks away. The church was open to letting people stay in the gymansium building. It had been designated as a red cross disaster center and there were disaster things like army cots. I'm sleeping on a cot in the balcony of the gym.

July 24 : Ironton, OH to Chester, OH : 90.71 miles (145.14 km)

It was an okay night at the church. I was able to get some sleep but I had to turn the air conditioning off. I didn't have to use my sleep mask. I woke up around 5 am. I packed up the army cot, and moved it and the table and chair downstairs. It was good having hot water to get cleaned up.

I left the gym around 6:45 am and the sky was overcast and it looked like it had rained during the night. A couple of miles out of town, it started to sprinkle. I stopped at a gas station outside of oal Grove for a break to sit out the rain because it got a little harder. The rain lightened up a couple of miles out of Proctorville.

here was a construction zone where a bridge was being redone. During my wait for the green light, this couple in a truck pulled up besides me and we started to talk. Before the light turned green, the lady reached out her arm to give me a GH of $20.

I stopped at a Wendy's in Proctorville for lunch. The rain started to ome down really hard. I wasn't sure if the rain was going to last the rest of the day. I thought that I would try and make it an early day. I started to check out the churches in the area. There wasnt' anybody around them. I found some activity at the First Baptist church. The secretary was in. She couldn't let me come in because there was a day are there. Besides, the pastor wasn't in the office.

I hadn't really planned to ride to Gallipolis but I had no other choice. he ride to Gallipolis went okay. I just arrived a little later than I had planned to because of the rain delay. The rain did stop around 2 pm. By around 4 pm, it got warm enough that I was able to take my coat off.

I got into downtown Gallipolis around 6:20 pm. I checked out the churches in the downtown area but there were nobody around them or any contact numbers. It took a while finding the police station in the city hall. The office was closed so I was just able to talk to somebody through the intercom. After explaining my needs, the dispatcher asked me for my cell phone number and he told me that he would try and contact some ministers for me. Instead of waiting in front of the police station for a call back, I decided to check out a couple of churches that I had spotted.

At the Episcopal church, I saw a lady sitting out front smoking a cigarette. She turned out to be the janitor of the church. She was pretty friendly. She told me that the lady rector was at some kind of conference near Columbus. She found me her card and told me that the rector was the right person to help me because the church was supposed to have some kind of contract with a local motel. I was just able to leave a voice message. The janitor also tried to contact the rector for me. She also contated a deacon. After about a fifteen minute wait, I got a call back from the police dispatcher telling me that he had struck out. None of the ministers that he had contacted were willing to help me out. After about a 10 more minute wait, I decided that the rector wasn't going to help me out. I thought that I would go across the street to the Methodist church because I thought I had seen a ar there. There wasn't anybody around. As a courtesy, I decided to call the rector again just to leave a message. She answered but she was kind of gruff towards me. She told me that I had said or done something bad to the janitor which I hadn't done. The rector told me that I to leave the church grounds which is what I had. Before hanging up, the rector basically told me that there was nothing that the church could do for me. It is really sad that the rector had allowed drunks having an AA meeting use the church when she didn't want to help out a fellow pastor. Before she hung up, I asked her who was really in charge of her church and what she felt about Matthew 25.

I didn't want to leave town but I had no other choice. It was almost 8 pm when I headed out. I stopped at a McD's for some supper. I stopped at a motel but they wanted much more than what I was going to pay for a room there. The motel didn't rate the price that they had requested. There were a couple of more motels in the area but they were too expensive for me. I rode through the town of Kanugua.

I was getting dark so I had to use my lights. Between Kanugua and Addison, I rode passed a long stream of factories and power plants. There was nothing in Addison. Between the small towns of Cheshire and Hobson, the terrain was quite hilly and the road either went through steep valley or on steep ridge lines. I was too late to stop in Middleport and Pomeroy so I stayed on OH 7. Just passed Pomeroy, OH 7 started to go away from the Ohio River. I tried several times to find some place to stop but I didn't find anything.

It was nearly 12:30 am when I finally ame across some open land. There was a field where they were growing grass to make hay. I pushed Alice through the grass and found an open space near the edge of the field behind a tree so I should be hidden when the sun comes up.

July 25 : Ironton, OH to Chester, OH to Marietta, OH : 44.38 miles (71.01 km)

Once the pain in my right ear subsided, I was able to get some sleep. I need to get my ears professionally cleaned out somehow. I woke up around 6 am. I took my time getting ready to go out. It was around 8:30 am when I headed out. The ride to Belpre went okay but I was dragging. I got into the Belpre area around 2:30 pm. I found the secretary in at the Methodist church. The pastor was out but the secretary was able to talk with him. I heard the conversation from the secretary. She didn't mention that I was an ordained minister. The pastor's suggestion was for me to go across the River to Parkersburg, WV to the homeless shelter there. I tried a couple more churches but didn't find anybody else around them.

The ride between Belpre and Marietta went okay. OH 7 was a divided 4 lane highway and it was pretty level being that it followed the River. I got into Marrietta around 5:30 pm. There was some kind of street festival but there wasn't anybody there. There was this guy singing on a stage but the only person watching him was a tv reporter filming him.

I found my way into the downtown area. I was surprised at finding the police station in the city hall. There was this police officer coming out of the door. He was a captain and he was pretty friendly. He invited me into the station. I got to meet the other officers who were on duty. They started to call around to the ministers in town. I was told that if they didn't connect with a minister, they would pool their money together and get me a room somewhere. The seargent called this Nazarene minister. He offered to get me a room at the Super 8 near I-77. Instead of just giving me the directions, the sergeant offered to carry me there using the pickup truck of the fire station. Before I left the station, one of the officers slipped me a GH. After the sergeant helped me get into the room, the sergeant slipped me a GH also. The pastor came over to talk for a little while. He told me that the was getting kind of burnt out because none of the people he had helped out ever came back to the church for a service. He will also be starting an 8:30 am service on Sep 14.

July 26 : Marietta, OH to New Martinsville, WV : 47.18 miles (75.49 km)

I had an okay night. I left the motel around 8:30 am. I had a decent ride to Fly even though there was about a 5 mile (8 km) section where they were getting ready to repave.

I arrived in Fly around 1:30 pm. I opted to take the toll ferry to Sisterville, WV. The toll for me was $1. It was a swivel/ pivot tug. The ferry ride lasted about 10 minutes. In Sisterville, I got on WV 2 going North. Between Sisterville and Paden City, there was a long section of rock slides.

I got into New Martinsville around 4 pm. I rode into the downtown area. I found the police station in the back of the city hall. The dispatcher contacted the head of the ministerial association and they offered to get me a room at one of the local motels. The motel was operated by a Patel so I didn't expect much.

July 27 : New Martinsville, WV to New Martinsville, WV : 03.21 miles (05.14 km)

I had another rough night. The pain in my right ear was too intense for me to fight to sleep. I tried many times using the stuff that I had gotten from the stores to loosen up the wax but they weren't strong enough. I've got to get something strong like hydrogen peroxide.

I left the motel around 9 am. I was going to the First Baptist church close by but at the motel desk I found a pamphlet for the First United Methodist church. I was impressed with all of the social compassion ministries that the church was involved with. The church was almost two miles (3 km) away.

I got to the church around 9:25 am. The first service had started around 9 am. I possibly missed the first five minutes of the sermon. Black lady minister. Her message was okay. It reminded me of the African Methodist Episcopal sermons that I've heard before at black churches. When I tried to talk with her after the service she didn't really give me her full time. She passed me off to another person who did the social ministries. Even though the ministerial association had a one night limit at a motel a second night at the motel that I had stayed at last night was authorized.

I didn't really feel like staying on for the second more traditional service. There was supposed to be a sunday school class during the same time but I didn't feel like that either. The sky was getting dark so I decided to head back to the motel because they were talking about a bad thunderstorm coming through the area. On the way, I stopped a a McD's to get a takeout. After getting Alice situated in the room, I walked to a nearby Walmart to get some stuff including a bottle of hydrogen peroxide.

I'm about 37 miles away from Wheeling, WV. I'm not sure that I will get that far tomorrow because I heard that there is an 80% chance for more storms tomorrow.

July 28 : New Martinsville, WV to Wierton, WV : 70.01 miles (112.02 km)

I had another rough night. Even with giving my right ear multiple treaments of hydrogen peroxide, the wax plug still hasn't come loose. It became a little dislodged but still not enough to not cause a lot of pain. I maybe got three hours of sleep. Around 6 pm, it rained pretty hard. The area for a little while was under a tornado watch/ warning but there wasn't much on tv about the storm track. A couple of times the Indian owner came knocking at my door. He didn't really explain what he needed. I guess he needed something to do. There didn't seem to be that many guests. The motel was pretty worn down. The room that I was given yesterday was a little better than the one that I had Saturday night.

I left the motel a little after 7:30 am. A couple of miles down the road, I saw some storm damage from last night. There was some tree damage. There was one building (an auto repair shop) that was pretty well destroyed (could have been a small tornado or a microburst of straight line winds).

I got about 24 miles in by noon. There was a brief rain shower in Benwood. I stopped for some lunch. I had to find my own way into wheeling because the highway became a restricted access freeway. Just beyond downtown Wheeling, I came aross a paved bike trail that took me along the Ohio River till Wellsburg. I had to get back on WV 2.

I got into downtown Wierton around 8:00 pm. I took a while finding the police station. I had to wait about 10 minutes for an officer to show up. He went inside to check on a few things. When he came back outside he told me that the Salvation Army had been contacted to see if a minister could be contacted. The officer had to go out on a call but he told me that he would be back to tell me what he found out. It was almost 9 pm, when he got back from the call and he told me that the Salvation Army was going to arrange for a room at the Holiday Inn east of town. It was about 3 miles (5 km) away but there was a steep hill to get over. I was just able to ride up the first half and I had to walk the rest. I got to the Holiday Inn a little before 10 pm.

July 29 : Wierton, WV to Beaver, PA : 43.18 miles (69.09 km)

I had another rough night. I could not sleep much. I was hoping that there was going to be a free breakfast but there was a restaraunt.

I left the motel and headed out around 8 am. I carefully went down the steep hill that I had gone up last night and rode back into downtown Wierton. There were some hills to get over on WV 7 especially in the New Cumberland area.

At Newell, I got on the toll bridge across the Ohio River to East Liverpool, Ohio. There was a separate walkway. About halfway across the bridge, there was this young long haired kitten that somehow had gotten on the bridge. It was kind of skittish so I couldn't really get close to it. I was worried that it would fall off into the river below. Somehow I got around it. Near the Ohio side, there were two other people on bikes that were getting ready to go across the bridge. I told them about the kitten. The lady was able to catch it and she told me that they were going to take it to a relative's house nearby.

I got on OH 39 and took it to the PA State line. For about a mile it was a little trcky because US 30 joined for a little bit. Once passed US 30, the ride became okay. There wasn't a PA State sign to take a picture of.

I rode through the towns of Midland and Industry. I got into Beaver around 3:30 pm. I stopped at a Presbyterian church but the minister was out of the counry. The secretary told me that there was another Presbyterian church a couple of blocks away. When I got there, there wasn't a minister available but they were getting ready to have a community meal. I was invited but there was about a 90 minute wait. I sat wih a guy who was in a seminary to became a Presbyterian minister. He invited me to camp out in his backyard.

July 30 : Beaver, PA to G.A.P. Trail - Dravo Cemetary H/B Campsite - MP 121 : 55.54 miles (88.86 km)

I had an okay night camping out on the back deck. Ian got me a long extension cord so I had electricity in the tent and I had wifi. I woke up around 5 am. Ian left around 6:30 am to go to a men's bible study. I didn't feel comfortable staying there without him there so I headed out around 7 am.

I rode to Rochester and I took the first bridge across the Ohio River so I could get on PA 51. There were some hills to go over. The ride through Coreopolis went okay. I could have gotten on the Montour Trail but I didn't want to try it again since there were a lot of gaps in the trail. The Montour Trail made a wide loop around the western edge of Pittsburgh and went around the airport. It would have added at least 20 miles (32 km) to my ride.

I got into Pittsburgh around 12:30 pm. I stopped at a gas station for a lunch break. I had a bit of a problem getting into downtown Pittsburgh because I hit a long stretch of road construction. I found a group of adults who were taking some kids on a bike ride. They gave me some directions to the Three Rivers Trail that would take me to the new section of the GAP rail. I stopped to take some pictures of the Point, which was where the Allegheny and the Susquehenna Rivers joined to become the Ohio River. Downtown Pittsburgh was across the Susquehenna River. The Three River Trail followed the Susquehenna River.

I got on the GAP Trail. The ride to McKeesport went okay except there was a little rain. It was good getting on the GAP Trail. I rode on to the Dravo Cemetary H/B campsite. I wasn't able to camp out in the main campsite area because it was taken up by a family of three (mother, two boys) and a dog. I camped out under the picnic shelter up front next to the trail.

July 31 : G.A.P. Trail - Dravo Cemetary H/B Campsite - MP 121 to G.A.P. Trail - Cedar Creek Park H/B Campsite M.P. 118 : 12.95 miles (20.72 km)

I had an okay night camping out. I got back on the trail around 7:30 am. I rode on to Cedar Creek Park. I decided to make it a short day and stop at the H/B campsite. Instead of setting the tent on one of the pads, I set it up inside one of the Andirondack shelters. The shelter that I picked was sort of out of the way and it had a fireplace.

After getting the campsite situated, I took some pictures. There were a couple of people on bents. I was surprised when I saw that one of the guys was riding a Speedster like mine.

August 01 : Cedar Creek Park H/B Campsite G.A.P. Trail M.P. 118 to Garrett G.A.P. Trail M.P. 39 : 78.31 miles (125.30 km)

I had an okay afternoon and night camping out. I was able to take a long nap in the afternoon. The pain in my right ear had gone considerably down because I was using the hydrogren peroxide to remove it. Before it got too dark, I walked up to the main visitor center to plug in my electronics to charge them. Another recumbent rider showed up. He was riding a trike and he was going to Cumberland. He camped out in the larger of the two shelters. There was another guy and his young daughter but they camped out in a tent.

I got on the trail around 7 am. The ride to Connellsville went okay. I stopped to get a few supplies. It was hard following the trail through Connellsville. I missed a turn and almost went clear across a bridge but I got a glimpse of the trail below. Nothing much happened during the ride to Ohiopyle. There were a lot of rafters on the Youghingheny River going through the small rapids. Ohiopyle was packed with a lot of tourists so I didn't stop.

I got into Confluence around 4:30 pm. I tried to connect with a minister but I wasn't able to. I sort of did through the people at the bike shop downtown but he didn't call me back like he said that he would. I didn't want to try and camp out at the Outflow campground that I did four years ago. There was a campground outside of Rockwood but they wanted $10 for a campsite.

I had a good trip around the closed Pinkerton tunnel. I rode on to Packwood. I had to stop at an American Legion Hall to get some water because the faucet at the tourist stop didn't work. I kept on going till dusk. I rode passed several young deer. They weren't that skittish so I was almost able to ride right passed them before they scampered off into the woods. There was one young mother that had two small does.

I found a place to camp out in some woods a couple of miles North of Garrett. It was a little off the trail and I had to get through some tall weeds and down and up a small incline. I'm probably going to portage my gear and Alice back to the rail before loading her up. I'm about 39 miles (62 km) away from Cumberland, MD.

August 02 : Garrett G.A.P. Trail M.P. 39 to Meyersdale : 10.92 miles (17.47 km)

I had an okay night camping out. It didn't get too cold. I woke up around 6 am. Instead of loading up Alice and trying to get her back onto the trail, I portaged everything back onto the trail. It was around 7:30 am when I headed down the trail. The ride to Garrett was short and there wasn't much there.

About 4 miles (6 km) south of Garrett, I crossed the Salisbury Viaduct (1,908 feet long), which was an old railroad bridge. From the viaduct, it was a short ride to Meyersdale. I stopped at the visitor center that was in an old railroad station. There was free wifi and I plugged in my pda to charge it.

After about 20 minutes, I got back on the trail. My intention was to keep on going to Cumberland, MD but after a mile I decided to turn around to see if I could connect with a minister to possibly get off the ground tonight. I met up with the pastor of the Reformed church. He was going to go to a women's luncheon at the church. He offered to get me a room at one of the small motels in town. He also gave me a small GH so I could get a meal before going to the motel.

August 03 : Meyersdale, PA to C&O Towpath Trail : Irons Mountain H/B Campsite M.P. 177, MD : 44.63 miles (71.41 km)

I had an okay afternoon. I took a long shower and then I go all of my dirty clothes together and walked over to the laundromat. This was by far the most expensive laundromats that I have used but I needed clean clothes. They had new front loading washers and they weren't for small loads. On the way back to the motel, I stopped at a Dollar General and got a few things.

Around 5:15 pm, the pastor and his wife (also a minister) came by to pick me up to take me out to supper. Instead of someplace in Meyersdale, they drove over to a diner in the county seat of Somerdale. I had a pretty good meatloaf dinner and a piece of banana pie to go. The evening went okay but there wasn't much on tv to watch. I wished that there would hae been internet.

I wished that the evening would have been better. I didn't get much sleep. I should have gone outside and unscrewed the light in front of the room. The thin curtain in the window let a lot of light into the room. I was lucky to get about five hours worth in snatches. There wasn't any free breakfast.

It was a lot easier getting Alice down the narrow windy stairs than it was getting her up them. I left the motel around 8:30 am. and walked back to the Amity Reformed Church. There was to be a Sunday school class starting around 9 am. People didn't start showing up till around 10 till. It was in the downstairs fellowship hall. I was surprised at seeiing the bad condition of the carpeting. The putting down of this carpeting four years ago was the reason why I hadn't been able to spend the night in the church back then.

The pastor stayed around for a few minutes introducing me to the group and then he left. The demeamor of the group really shifted after the pastor left. They didn't really have an interest towards me. The pastor had introduced me as an evangelist but they didn't even ask me what I've been doing. I wasn't even brought into the discussion. The pastor did give me the password to the church wifi so I checked my email while half listening to what was being discussed about discernment. I was really feeling left out. All I could think to myself was "For I was a stranger and you didn't welcome me". The clincher to my feeling left out was amplified when I noticed that the guy next to me had shifted his chair so his back was towards me. This was a signal that I didn't need to stay around. There might have been just 10 or 15 minutes left in the class but I just got up and left wihout saying anything. I should have said something but I didn't.

I found my way upstairs to the sanctuary. It was pretty dark inside and not too many people noticed me. I sat in one of the front pews. The pastor was in the pulpit and he said something to me but I didn't hear him. The pastor's wife was there decked out in her black minister garb. She didn't smile when she saw me. She did come by to say something to me. I thought that it might have been to say hello or maybe ask me if I would be willing to saw something during the service but she said kind of gruffly that they were going to videotape the service and she wanted me to move because I would be in the way. Well, I moved myself right out the church and right to where I had parked Alice. Nobody came out to find out why I was leaving. I didn't feel like locating another church. I just wanted to leave town and get back on the trail.

I walked back up the hill to the train station and got on the free wifi there for a few minutes. I sent an email off to the pastor telling him how unwelcome I had felt. I told him that it was a policy of mine to never go back to a church that had passed me off on an earlier occasion. The minister had passed me off to the pastor at the Church of the Brethen and he had let me stay in their youth building for a couple of nights while my left wrist had gotten better. I had sprained it four years ago while riding on the Montour trail around Pittsburgh.

I was sort of good getting back on the trail. It was nice being my myself. About 8 miles (13 km) down the trail, I crossed the Eastern Continental Divide. This was the highest point on the G.A.P. at 2,392 feet. From there on, it will be mostly a downhill ride to Cumberland, MD. It would be dropping a little over 1,700 feet in elevation. I stopped to take a few pictures. It was too bad that there wasn't another cyclist there to take a picture of me and Alice.

A couple of miles more, I started the ride through the Big Savage Tunnel (3,294 feet long). The tunnel was lit inside but I still took some pictures with flash. Reconstruction of the tunnel had taken three years at a cost of $12 million and reopened for trail use in 2006. A couple of miles more, I crossed from Pennsylvania into Maryland at the Mason-Dixon Line.

From the Mason-Dixon Line, it was a gentle slope downwards to Frostburg and then on to Cumberland. I was averaging about 12 mph (19 kmph) coasting. A couple of miles before Frostburg, I went through the Borden Train Tunnel (957 feet long). I didn't stop in Frostburg because it would have been a climb going into town. A couple of miles passed Frostburg, the trail followed alongside the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. About 4 miles (6 km) more down the trail, the steam train rolled passed me on it's way to the station in Cumberland. The rain goes on tours between May and December. It's a 32 mile (51 km) trip and takes about three hours. Premium cost in the standard coach is $35 and the First class car costs $60.

It was an easy ride through the shared Brush Tunnel (914 feet long) since I didn't have to deal with a train going through it while I was there. he tunnel was built in 1911 and cuts through the Piney Mountain. The rest of the trail crossed over the railroad tracks four times before getting into Cumberland. The path and train goes through the Narrows and is a 900 foot wide mile long gorge between Willis and Haystack Mountains. There is also a half mile long curve called Helmstetter's Curve.

I was about 3:15 when I got into Cumberland. I stopped at the police station to see if there was either a deparment chaplain or a ministerial association. The sergeant who I talked with didn't know who to contact even though he had been on the force for twenty years. There wasn't anybody else to talk to. I checked out several nearby churches but I didn't find anybody around them or any contact information.

I rode over to the train station whih was also the beginning of the C&O Towpath trail. I stopped to get a couple of trail maps and to take some pictures. There was some activities going on near a small amusement center. Turns out that it was some kind of school bag give-away.

President John Quiny Adams broke ground for the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal on July 4th, 1828. The construction of the canal ended in 1850. The canal was supposed to have gone from Georgetown, Maryland to the Ohio River but it was only finished to Cumberland, Maryland. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad completed the link to the West. The railroad steamed into Cumberland in 1842. Between 1828 and 1850, thousands of immigrants found work building the canal. The canal closed in 1920 and was left abandoned for thirty years. Flooding and finacial ruin killed the C&O Canal Company. U.S. Supreme our Judge William O. Douglas redisovered the canal. In 1971, Congress established the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park. The towpath is about 184.5 miles long. here are 74 lift locks, 7 dams, 11 aquaducts, and a 3,118 foot long tunnel. At the height of the canal, each season 500 boats plied the canal. In 1870, canal boats moved almost a million tons of freight (building material, coal, flour, and lumber). In 1889 and 1924, there were devastating floods.

It was good getting back on the C&O towpath. I followed the trail about eight miles and I decided to stop at the Irons Mountain H/B Campsite. This wasn't my usual place to stop for the first night but the Potomac Forks H/B Campsite would have about 11 more miles (18 km). The campsite looked kind of nice even though it was near a train bridge across the Potomac River. The bridge was being rebuilt but there was no work on the bridge today. I found a flat spot next to a tree not to far from the river's edge.

I had ridden almost 45 miles (72 km) since leaving Meyersdale, PA. I'm going to stay on the towpath trail till at least White's Ferry and take the ferry across the river to Leesburg, VA. I'm not going all the way to Washington, D.C. I've got a little over 135 miles to ride on the towpath trail.

August 04 : C&O Towpath Trail : Irons Mountain H/B Campsite M.P. 177 to C&O Towpath Trail : Leopard Mills H/B Campsite M.P. 130 : 47.03 miles (75.25 km)

It was a decent night except that a group of locals had showed up about an hour after I had pitched camp and started to fish near me. They stayed around for about a couple of hours and before dusk they packed up and left. They were pretty loud. They might have been drinking even though the campsite had been designated alcohol free.

There were ca ouple of trains that had gone aross the bridge but they didn't make that much noise. I didn't get that cold during the night. I slept pretty good. I had a surprise when I woke up. I felt something kind of funny inside and when I checked it out I found out that the wax plug had finally dislodged itself. It was pretty large and it must have been as long as the ear canal itself. I took a picture of it on top of a quarter to compare sizes. It must have been at least six or seven years since my ears had been professionally cleaned out. I'm going to have to start the process of cleaning out my left ear with the hydogren peroxide pretty soon. I'll be surprised a seeing how big the plug of wax in there is.

It was around 7:30 am. when I headed back down the trail. After about 11 miles (17 km) , I came aross the Potomac Forks H/B campsite where I had camped out before. Just before getting to the Town Creek Aqueduct H/B Campsite, I had to carefully get over a tree that had fallen across the trail. A few hundred feet beyond the fallen tree at the campsite, I had to fix a flat front tire. I didn't find anything in the tire but I did find a pinhole leak. With the new pump, I had the hole patched and the tire inflated in about fifteen minutes.

About 10 more miles down the trail, I came to the PawPaw Tunnel. It was 3,118 feet long. This tunnel was just 174 feet shorter than what the Big Savage train tunnel was. Work started on the tunnel in June 1836. Engineers estimated that it would have taken just two years and $33,500 to complete the tunnel. I took 14 years to build and cost $600,000. Labor violence, funding shortfalls, nd work stoppages slowed the construction. It's located at a place called PawPaw Bends. The tunnel elimated six miles (10 km) of canals going around the mountain. In November 1848, construction was resumed and the tunnel was opened to traffic on October 10, 1850. Most of the workers were miners from England and Wales, German masons from Pennsylvania, and Irish labor forces.

The tunnel wasn't lit inside and you had to carefully follow a path next to the canal that was separated by a fence railing. About a third of the way into the tunnel I had to turn on my lights. I was glad that there weren't any cyclists coming through the opposite direction because there wouldn't have been any room for them to go passed me because of how wide Alice is. It took me about 15 minutes to walk through the tunnel . While walking along the wooden boardwalk on the eastern side of the tunnel, I noticed that there was something funny with the front tire. I looked like there was some kind of flat spot and bulge. I didn't look that bad. I was hoping that the tire would at least hold up to Hancock where there was to be a bike shop.

After about five more miles (8 km) , I felt the tire rubbing against the side of the fork. The inside of the tire was going bad. While I was checking out the problem, this group of four guys who were heading East stopped to see if I needed any help. One of the guys thought that I had somehow put a twist in the tube and this was why there was a bulge. After reinstalling the tube and inflating the tire, the bulge didn't go away. They were positive that the tire was on it's last legs. I was still about 25 miles (40 km) away from Hancock. Before they left, they helped me get the front fender off because it was hitting the bulge in the tire.

I carefully made my way down the trail. About 10 miles (16 km) out of Hancock, I could have gotten onto a paved rails to trails bike way but I wouldn't have had access to any of the H/B campsites on the towpath. The first H/B campsite that I came across (Cacapon Junction) wasn't that good. There had been a lot of trees that had fallen down in the area and the cleanup of the campsite wasn't that good. I hoped that the next campsite (Leopard Mill) wouldn't be trashed out. There would have been another campsite (White Rock) but it would have been just a mile or two out of Hancock. Halfway between the first two campsites, the front tire went soft again. I found another pinhole leak. Also, I noticed that the inside of the tire was really bad.

The Leopard Mill campsite was a little bad but there was a place for me to camp out next to a tree and a picnic table. I'm a least 5 miles (8 km) away from Hancock.

August 05 : C&O Towpath Trail : Leopard Mills H/B Campsite M.P. 130 to C&O Towpath Trail : North Mountain H/B Campsite - M.P. 110 : 47.03 miles (75.25 km)

I had an okay night camping out. I was back on the towpath by around 7:40 am. It was about a six mile ride into Hancock. I didn't have to wait long for the C&O Bike Shop to open. I knew that I was in a good place because they rented out recumbents. There were several 20 inch tires to choose from but I got a Kenda Kwest tire for $19.99. I bought a couple inner tubes. It didn't take long putting on the new tire. It's going to be a little different not having such wide a tire up front. I'm back down to a 20x1.5 tire from a 20x1.95 tire.

I stopped at a couple of stores to do some shopping. At the Methodist church, there was an emergency number for the pastor. I was just able to leave a message. Across the street was a park where there was a picnic pavilion. The electricity was turned on so I took the time to charge up all of my electronics. I stayed at the shelter for about three hours. I was hoping to get a call back from the pastor but I didn't.

It was around 3:30 pm when I headed out of town. Instead of getting directly back on the C&O towpath, I got on the paved Rails to Trails bike path. I followed it for about 9 miles near it's end and then got back on the towpath. I went down the towpath about 10 miles (16 km) and I decided to camp out at the North Mountain H/B Campsite. The campsite and the water pump were down a hill. I picked the spot next to the fire pit and the picnic table to pitch my tent. I'm going to portage everything back to the towpath and load up Alice there instead of trying to get her up the steep path loaded up.

August 06 : C&O Towpath Trail : North Mountain H/B Campsite - M.P. 110 to Williamsport (C&O Towpath Trail - M.P. 99) : 12.13 miles (19.41 km)

It was a mixed night. While I was having some supper, this group of eight people showed up (3 men and 5 boys). They were part of a boy scout troop from Newport News, Virginia. They had parked at the fee based campground a half of a mile back the towpath and walked to where I was. What was kind of strange was that they brought along several folding camping chairs and this white topped folding table. There really wasn't that much flat land at the campsite. Some of the boys had hammocks. I was debating on whether I should move on to the next campsite but it was nine miles farther down the towpath.

I didn't stay outside my tent long. It was a little noisy for a while but a little after dusk a thunderstorm came through the area. This pretty well got everybody inside their respective shelters. The storm lasted about a half hour. My taking the time to stake the tent down so that it was taught kept the inside of the tent from getting wet.

I woke up around 5:30 am. It was just starting to get daylight. Instead of loading Alice and trying to get her up the hill, I took three trips to get all of my gear and Alice back up to the towpath and I loaded her up there. Nobody in the troop was up when I go back on the towpath a little before 7 am.

The morning ride went okay. I didn't see any deer. There were just a few cyclists on the towpath. I got into Williamsport a little after 9 am. It looked like it was going to rain some more so I thought that I would try to connect with a minister and see if I could shelter inside tonight. I stopped at the Evangelical Lutheran Church but they were between pastors. The secretary called over to the Presbyterian church but their pastor was on vacation. It was suggested that I either stop at the Methodist church or another church called Calvary Temple.

I found the DCE in at the Methodist church. She called the pastor and I got permission to stay in one of the youth sunday school classrooms for the night.

August 07 : Williamsport (C&O Towpath Trail - M.P. 99) to C&O Towpath Trail : Calico Rocks H/B Campsite - M.P. 47 : 56.31 miles (90.10 km)

I had an okay afternoon and night. I got two hot meals. There was a free noon meal for kids and I was invited to take part in it. The DCE came by with a hot meal for me for supper that I microwaved it. I was told that I could pack up anything that I could carry from the pantry. I took a 90 minute nap in the afternoon. I caught up on my journal entries and worked on the photos that I had taken the past couple of weeks.

I woke up around 5:30 am. I left the church around 6:45 am and headed back to the towpath trail. Twelve miles (19 km) down the trail I started following the new path along the Potomac River. The new path was completed a year and a half ago. The path was made out of concrete and it was a couple of miles long. This got rid of taking a four mile (6 km) detour up a steep ridge line on some roads that didn't have any shoulders.

By noon, I got 31 miles (50 km) in. Around 2:30 pm, I started the ride through the Harpers Ferry, W. Virginia area. There were a lot of people river rafting. kayacking, and inner tubing through the small rapids on the river. There were a lot of cyclists at the railroad bridge across the Potomac to Harpers Ferry. There were a lot of bicycles with gear left at the bike parking area but I didn't want to take the risk leaving Alice and my gear there. There was a group of a dozen people with bikes that were pulling Bob trailers. Also, there were a couple of guys who might have been hiking on the Appalachian Trail. For about four miles (6 km), the Appalachian Trail shared the towpath trail.

Between Harpers Ferry and Brunswick, the large group with the Bob trailers passed me a couple of times. Around 4:30 pm, I came to the Calico Rocks H/B Campsite. Even though the campsite was down a small hill, I decided to stop. I set my tent up behind the only picnic table near the fire pit. It might be a noisy night. There was a railroad close by. Brunswick is a railroad yard and a couple of freight trains went passed. There was an Amtrak train that went passed going East. Brunswick is also the end of one of the MARC commuter rail line. Between 5 pm and dusk, there were a dozen commuter trains that headed west to Brunswick.

Around 6:30 pm, a guy and his three young daughters showed up. This was the first backpacking trip for the girls. I helped the girls set up their tent. They were from Baltimore, Maryland and had just walked less than a mile from the parking lot that I had passed. We talked for a while. The guy told me that they were Mormons. I got to share and witness. The father shared his meal with me and he slipped me a $20 GH. I gave him some drink mixes for the girls and also the oatmeal packs that I've been carrying for a while.

I've got about a 12 mile ride to the White's Toll Ferry across the Potomac River to Virginia.

August 08 : C&O Towpath Trail : Calico Rocks H/B Campsite - M.P. 47 (,MD) to Warrenton, VA : 54.17 miles (86.67 km)

I had an okay night. The noise of the trains was drowned out by cicadas. I was able to fall asleep. I woke up around 5:30 am. I packed up silently. Around 6:45 am I was ready to get back on the towpath. The family woke up to see me go. The temperature was just in the upper 50s and will only get into the upper 70s during the afternoon.

The twelve miles down the towpath went okay. It was good that I had stopped at the campsite that I did because the other two campsites were full. I got to the White's Toll Ferry about 5 minutes before the ferry left. There were just 4 vehicles on board. The fee for me was just $2. This was a ferry that ran on a cable and it just took one person to operate. The ride to the other side took about 10 minutes. The ferry landing on the Virginia side was about 5 miles out of Leesburg. I got on US 15 for the ride to Warrenton. I rode through Leesburg. There were some cyclists on the Washington and Old Dominion Rails to Trails. The bike path wasn't going the direction where I was going. It had started in Arlington and ended in Purceville. The path was on the Eastern side of the Potomac River. I've ridden on it several times before.

By noon, I got about 37 miles in. I stopped at a gas station in Haymarket for some lunch. The afternoon ride went okay. There were several paved bike paths that I followed but they didn't go very far. I stopped for some groceries at a grocery store about 10 miles (16 km) out of Warrenton. The hills were rolling and there was some paved shoulder to ride along. Traffic was pretty heavy the closer I got to Warrenton.

I got into Warrenton a little before 4 pm. I didn't think I could connect with a minister. I stopped at a motel that I had stayed at before. I got a room in the upper $40s. The room was okay but there wasn't any wifi.

August 09 : Warrenton to Hidden Acre Campground (near Antioch Fork) : 66.43 miles (106.28 km)

I had an okay night. I wished that there would have been wifi at the motel. I did get on the wifi at the McD's across the street to check my email.

I got on the road around 7:40 am. Traffic was pretty heavy on US 17. There were rolling hills but they got less the closer I got to Fredericksburg. I was still able to ride around 34 miles (54 km) by noon. There was a lot of traffic in the Falmouth area. It was a rolling traffic jam for several miles before I-95 but I had some shoulder to make it through. Once passed I-95 on Bus 17, the traffic was a lot less.

I rode across he bridge over the Tappahannok River into Fredericksburg. I rode through downtown Fredericksburg and got on VA 2 heading South. I tried contacting my friends in Bowling Green but they were not home. Since Bowling Green was relatively close, I decided to head there instead of following my planned route.

I got into Bowling Green around 5 pm. I stopped at the sheriff station. A pastor was contacted. There weren't any rooms available at the local motel so a cabin was offered at a campgrounds a couple of miles South of Bowling Green.

August 10 : Hidden Acre Campground (near Antioch Fork) to Ashland : 29.08 miles (46.53 km)

I had an okay night. The abin was KOA Standard with air conditioning and heat but there was also a small color tv with cable. The wash-house was close by and there was plenty of hot water. There wasn't a wifi network. About an hour after I had gotten situated, the manager came by with a plate of food for me. There were a couple of California style hamburgers with pineapple and a baked potato. I didn't stay up long.

I woke up around 5 am and I got back on the road around 6:30 am. The ride South went okay. I rode passed the Kings Dominion Amusement Park and then got on US 1 to Ashland. I got the first 20 miles (32 km) by 9:20 am.

I got into Ashland around 10:30 am. I rode into the downtown area. I stopped at the Ashland Presbyterian Church. The people were a lot more friendlier to me than what they were at the church in Pennsylvania last week. They made me feel welcome. The congregation was smaller and a little older. I got to meet the intern minister and the pastor before the service. The service was okay. The pastor added me in the prayers. Before the service ended, I was introduced and I got to speak for a few minutes. After the service, the lady who sat in front of me slipped me $5. I was blown away by the GH that one guy gave me. He pulled out 2 $50's from his wallet. He was one of the elders. He mentioned to me that there wasn't a good room for me to stay at the church but he wanted to make sure that I would have enough to get a room at one of the motels near the intersate. Before checking out the motels, I stopped for lunch at a McD's. I was thinking that I was going to have to find a coupon book but I was able to find a room in the upper $40 at the Motel 6.

The next trip update should be posted sometime between August 18th and August 25th.




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