Monday, September 1, 2014

Day 2 on the Great Allegheny Passage

Frostburg to Rockwood (29 miles)
Frostburg was our starting point when we rode the trail two days ago, but instead of coasting downhill from Frostburg, today we will be pedaling uphill, at least until we hit the Continental Divide.  The first eight miles are all uphill--but not as bad as we had been dreading--it is only a 2% grade at most, after all.  We can do this!

Here are some of the highlights of today’s ride:
We stop to literally straddle the Mason Dixon Line with one foot in Pennsylvania and the other in Virginia.
On the elaborately commemorated line

The Pennsylvania/Maryland state line marker

The Big Savage Tunnel is 3,300 feet long--a bit of a thrill ride, and a cool respite.

Crossing the Eastern Continental Divide is a long anticipated moment--it’s mostly all downhill from here for the rest of the day (and our next two days of riding, too)!

Continental Divide--elevation 2,392 feet
We have a brief stop at the old Meyersdale Train Station, now a nifty visitor center that has some model trains and memorabilia on display.  It also sells maple syrup, since Meyersdale is also known as Maple City, host of the annual Pennsylvania Maple Festival.  The town looks charming, but we haven’t time to explore further. 
Meyersdale,  aka Maple City

 There are lots of sunny stretches with abundant wildflowers lining the path, and butterflies fluttering about nectaring.
 The Salisbury Viaduct is nearly 2,000 feet long--we ride it high over the cornfields and rail tracks and U.S. Route 19 in the valley below. 

This wind farm creates renewable energy on a ridge where strip mines once operated.


We stop at a combination berry farm, bakery, and winery for a break on the long bus ride back to Laurelville.  Road Scholar treats us to huge chocolate cookies with fresh raspberries and white chocolate chips--they are really almost too moist and rich to be considered cookies, but we don't know what else to call them but heavenly. 
Then we head round a garden path to the winery, which makes a wide variety of unusual fruit wines, in addition to the usual red and white vineyard varieties.   There is no limit to how many free samples they will pour, and only the shortage of time for this bus stop keeps us from trying a bit of everything.  The rhubarb wine is awful, but our taste buds are smiling for peach and pear, and we are so enchanted with cranberry wine that we buy a couple bottles for the holidays. 
The grounds are beautiful--vineyards stretching up the hill, cutting gardens full of colorful blooms down below.  It would be a delightful spot to stroll around while sipping a glass of wine and snapping pictures.  But, it is tome to hop back on the bus, and return to the retreat center for showers and dinner.




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