Much to my surprise, I spent just two days at Bald Eagle State Park, a beautiful 5,900 acre spot in north central Pennsylvania. When I arrived early on Sunday, it was packed to the max; but by 2pm it was peaceful, and I enjoyed biking and trail walking and reading by the lake. I thought, I can survive a weekend crowd for 48 hours to have 12 days of this!
Fast forward to Monday night and just a few spots down the road, one guy was "prepping to fish" until midnight and then again at 4am. Across the way, a 3-tent group partied until 2am while their dog barked on and off for no less than 2 hours. Surprisingly, "quiet time" starts at 9pm here, but without enforcement why would anyone adhere to rules? By morning I was exhausted and got into it with a toxic person who made me feel unsafe and truly unhappy. So I packed, reported to the office, and was thankfully on my way to a friend's house one week early. Bad behavior wins, and I'm losing my sense of humor.
Enola, Pennsylvania -- an area of about 2 miles and 6,000 people -- has been home for the past 10 days. It's one of many small towns on the Western Shore of the Susquehanna River, directly across from Harrisburg, the state capital. As I pushed north, I knew this area was bike friendly (the Capital Greenbelt) but what drew me into this little town was an affordable and delightful Airbnb.
The house was built in 1906 for George W. Fisher, the first Yard Master at the Enola Rail Yards, the largest freight yard in the world until 1956. Externally, the three-story brick structure looks ho-hum, but the owner has restored and decorated the interior perfectly. I've been in comfort mode: waking with the sun beaming in through the bay windows, sipping cappuccino and eating homemade shortbread at 6AM. This host is amazing. Daily, I've headed in different directions, but within 5 miles, I was able to hike, sit by the riverfront, bike, trail walk, and play tourist. I'm still trying to figure out why this area has not been overrun.
Tomorrow morning I head just a few hours northwest for another 10-day stop in PA. It's back to the tent and lakeside at Bald Eagle State Park. It seems the summer is starting to fly by!
It was less than a two-hour drive from Capon Bridge to Catoctin Mountain so I was able to tour the sweet little town of Thurmont, Maryland by bike before heading to camp. I'd been off the saddle for a week, and was heading 12 miles uphill to camp, so I took full advantage of a few free hours to pedal.
Somehow I knew absolutely nothing about this national park after living in Maryland for 8 years. It has 25 miles of diverse hiking trails, fishing streams, a variety of camping options, and great prices! It also has bears, copperheads and rattlesnakes; none of whom joined me at camp or on the trails.
The Owens Creek Campground is primitive camping and other than the usual Friday night to Sunday morning crowd, it was incredibly peaceful. There were actually 3 nights where I had no other campers in sight for 8-14 campsites, though there was a host up the road. While there was a clean, old bathhouse and a water pump, the sole recreation is at your site or on 14 trails; so no big demand here. Just great.
I thoroughly enjoyed hiking 6 trails, heading into Thurmont for cycling, ice and books twice, and sheer relaxation day and night in this beautiful greenspace. There was one night of intense 2-hour long thunderstorms, but otherwise, hot and sunny. Near week's end, I was happy to have a friend visit and join me to hike, lunch, and chat for a few hours! I'm not forgetting how to socialize, I'm just not reaching out much to strangers these days.
I've now landed a little further north with two stops in Pennsylvania -- yes, one indoors and one out.
On July 1st I went from communal life to complete isolation in just 6 hours. Yes, I purposely opted to stay away from parks, campgrounds and other gathering places this holiday week. Instead I chose another interesting Airbnb setting in a cabin in the mountains of West Virginia, and while there was one other person in a nearby cabin, no conversation ensued.
Cyclist, writer, teacher, avid reader, bike/ped advocate, nomad, pie lover