Monday, September 13, 2010

A wonderful weekend

Nancy and I spent a wonderful weekend along the banks - of all places - the Youghiogheny River. Nancy took part in a bike ride on the trail that follows the right-of-way of the late, lamented P&LE RR. It is part of a system of trails that make it possible to hop on a bicycle in Pittsburgh and peddle your way to Washington, DC. Friday evening we drove to Boston, PA, a little town not far from McKeesport which had heretofore escaped my notice. There's not much there, but there is a very nice bed and breakfast that Nancy found on-line for $49 a night.

Saturday morning, almost before the sun was up, Nancy started down the trail, putting in 63 miles and then setting up her tent. A little later, I set out in my wheelchair and explored about five miles of the trail. Although it probably wasn't so peaceful when the long coal trains rumbled through, the trail is a wonderful place to spend a few hours. There are spots that are just so unbelievably quiet; all you hear are the birds and the rustling of the wind. Then, of course, the quiet is interrupted by a train, which you can't see through all the trees, going by on the other side of the river. Then the quiet returns. The funny thing about the section of trail I was on: most of the time I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere, but the truth was I was never more than a half mile from somewhere.

One of the many things Nancy has done for me is introduce me to the bike trails. There is a short trail in Geneva State Park and a longer one that follows abandoned railroad right-of-way from Ashtabula to Warren, OH, and will eventually extend to the Ohio River. Several times in the summer, when Nancy's bicycle group rides on the trails I've been able to go out with them. I usually get in four or five miles in the time it takes the group to do its twenty or thirty mile rides.

Saturday evening, oddly enough, only a week or two after Russ sent word that he got a royalty check from a greeting card company for his drawing of the GPS getting smart with the driver, the Guy Noir episode on A Prairie Home Companion had Guy being hassled by his GPS. The show was a repeat, but it brought to mind the time when Russ was in high school, and he and his friend Jason were doing "Stranger than Nonfiction" for the Star Beacon's teen supplement, and a cartoon very similar to one of theirs in the Star Beacon appeared in the New Yorker a few weeks . It really was stranger than nonfiction.

On Sunday, I went down to the little park by the river, and as I was heading back toward the bed and breakfast, I went by the trail parking lot, and as I did, a guy was looking at me as if he knew me. Finally, he walked over and asked, "Are you Nancy's friend?" Then he introduced me to another guy who had also been on the ride. We talked for a bit, and they said they got an early start and were the first ones back. A half hour or so later, Nancy got back. Across the street from the bed and breakfast, at the gift shop owned by the people who owned the bed and breakfast, they were selling fried bologna sandwiches for the benefit of the local food bank. So it was that lunch brought back memories of Jim slicing Jumbo at the Family Dairy.

Then Nancy loaded me and all the other stuff on to the van and we headed north. And it all worked out so well; it was a beautiful day, the Steelers won, but they didn't do so until we were into Butler County and well beyond the post-game congestion. A very good weekend, indeed.

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