Day 2: Connellsville to Rockwood PA – 48 miles

After arriving in Connellsville yesterday night, we got cleaned up and went to The Paintroom for dinner. We had some very tasty wings, most of a pizza, and two cold Blue Moons.  Along with some conversation and a few hearty laughs, we refueled and relaxed.  We returned to the B&B and tried very hard to stay awake. By 9:00, it was clear I was losing that battle and I turned in.  I slept like a log, tired out from our long day’s journey. 

Our accommodations at The Connellsville B&B were really great. Lucy and John have a super-clean place and the breakfast is the best B&B breakfast going.  Well prepared, well presented, and oh so good.  I definitely recommend their place if you are cycling through.   

Over breakfast, we talked with a new friend, Ben.  He lives in southern West Virginia and is riding solo on nearly the same itinerary as we are. In fact, we will run into him again at our B&B in Hancock.

We made it out in time for 8:00 AM mass at St. Rita’s church. Fr. Bob gave us a nice blessing as we left and pedaled towards our destination.  What a great way to start the day.  

The weather today was very beautiful and a touch on the hot side.  No clouds to block the sun, but at least the skies were pretty and blue.   

We arrived in Ohiopyle a little before lunch, about one third of our day’s distance.  We stopped by the brand new Visitor’s Center which has a lot of information about the area, the wildlife of the region, a little about its history, and some great views of the falls.        
Next up was lunch at the Firefly Grill.  A club sandwich, some hand-cut fries, and a bottle of Gatorade did the trick.  I hate to think about the number of calories I am eating … but I am very certain I am burning nearly all of them.      
Back on the trail and we hit a lot of bike traffic coming towards us. The Rails to Trails Conservancy had their annual Sojourn with 350 riders coming our way. It made it a little hard to navigate around sticks and branches, but we managed.

As we approached Confluence, we had planned on taking a little detour into the town.  I really enjoy these little towns along the path. Simple places with friendly people.  At the edge of town, some young ladies met us, wearing old-time dresses and encouraged us to head into town.  They told us of free ice cream to be had.  I’ve been craving ice cream, and haven’t been able to convince Joe to stop and get any so far.  Yay, free ice cream!

We detoured into town and went to the local bike store.  Joe bought a very, uh, cute bell to put on his bike. He says he is going to give it to his daughter when he gets home.  I promised not to tease him or ask for his man-card.  The bike shop was also giving away freebies.  I won a band-aid dispenser. Joe got a discount on a pizza – which we didn’t use.

With the local bike shop checked off the list, now for that free ice cream!  We finally found the distribution place only to find that they had already stopped giving it out.  Sadness.  I decided to go across the street to the tiny grocery store that advertised ice cream. I found an off-brand “Nutty Buddy” cone.  It sufficed but left me still wanting more.

The heat was picking up and we headed out of town, trying to get to Rockwood as quickly as possible.  I didn’t realize how low I was on water.  A little while later, Joe was able to share his with me.  One of the blessings of riding with a friend is watching out for each other.  I am thankful for such a great riding buddy.

We arrived at the Pinkerton tunnel and stopped to grab an energy bar and take quick look. The last two times I have been here, the tunnel has been completely blocked off because it was unsafe to go into. The ceiling was caving in and it was not safe.  The tunnel is pretty short, and to bypass it adds about 1.5 miles around the “Pinkerton Horn”.  They are making great progress at restoring the tunnel and it looks like they should be done pretty soon!   

A few more miles of beautiful scenery, runoff water falls, and a gentle climb brought us into Rockwood. We had about 900 feet of gentle climb today, and our legs were beginning to feel it.  It was nice to see the edge of town and know we were about done.  We checked in at the Rockwood Mills shops for our room at the hostel down the street.

We asked about places for dinner and the lady said “it is Monday, so, um, this is it.  We have pizza and sandwiches here.”  Pizza it is (again).  Last time we were here we stopped at the Rock City Cafe, and had some funny memories, so we thought we might go back. It is closed on Mondays.  Bummer.

After a shower, we returned to the shops and found Ben.  We had some nice conversation as we waited for a couple of Stromboli (what is the plural of Stromboli?).  We decided to buy a few pastries for our breakfast tomorrow so we can eat at the hostel and get out very early tomorrow.

So, after a great day, we are resting and making plans for our ride to Cumberland tomorrow.  Weather looks good early with storms late afternoon.  We hope to be in Cumberland by lunchtime to avoid the heat and rain.

The ride tomorrow has a lot of great stuff: tunnels, bridges, a steam train, the Mason-Dixon Line, and of course, the eastern Continental Divide.   Cumberland, here we come!