Maryland & Virginia & West Virginia Part 3

RW and I had made the highly questionable decision to bike in the rain.  Both Wonderful parents and two of their kids, along with Fiercely and Cleverly, decided to come along.  Mr. Fantastic was interested in bringing non-bikers to the Udvar-Hazy Center, a part of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum consisting of airplane hangars housing historic aircraft.  That quickly, the plan was made.
First, though, came breakfast!  We had checked out the Desert Rose Cafe the day before and decided to have breakfast there.  We had also discussed ordering bagged lunches from there.  Two great decisions! We biked to the cafe in the rain, had a cozy breakfast with all 12 of us, bought a couple of rain ponchos then split into our two groups. 

   
  Off we went back to the towpath. It was pouring rain nonstop, just as everyone said it would. The mud puddles were profound and unavoidable. I could not take pictures because there was so much rain. For about six hours we biked like this. Part of the path was a beautiful esplanade next to the river where the canal boats used to actually be in the river. I wish I had a photo, but, you know, rain. At one point we stopped and ate our sandwiches in the rain. Cleverly decided to bail out after about an hour (Mr. Fantastic was our support vehicle if we needed one) but then rallied and finished with us.

There were few bikers on the path. I noticed those in front of me had large mud splashes up their backs and after awhile it dawned on me that I probably did too. We all had mud caked on the inner sides of our legs and shoes. About an hour or two from our destination, the rain let up and we drip-dried a little. It was still cloudy. I thought again of the canal boats and how the workers would work in any weather until the canal froze.  We eventually came up to a bridge and into the historic town of Harpers Ferry.

   
    
    
    
 
We met up with the rest of our group, who had indeed gone to the airplane museum. We drove to get supplies and then to the Wonderful family’s cabin. This became another adventure since the steep gravel driveway proved too much for our car. We loaded our things into the Wonderfuls’ car and walked the short stretch to the cabin.

  
Above: our car trying and failing to get up the steep stretch of driveway. We ended up parking by the yellow car.

The cabin was beautiful and had all the modern comforts like running water and electricity. We all took showers, had dinner and went to bed. 

Day 7

We woke up in the cabin and had a great breakfast. Then we spent the day exploring the place. The Wonderfuls have a share in a cabin that is part of a larger Washington, DC-based spiritual group. The group has over 1,000 acres of hilly, forested land through which passes the Appalacian Trail. There is a pond, several hiking trails, and a number of buildings, including retreat center facilities.  We enjoyed hiking, playing the many board games there and a few we brought, and generally exploring the area. 

   
    
    
    
 

   

 Day 8

We headed back home today. First we went back to Harper’s Ferry where we had left a few bikes. It looked so nice in the sunshine!

   
    
 
And then it was time to drive home. It had been such a splendiferous trip! I loved it all- the history, the food, the biking in sunshine and in the rain. The kids had done great, and now most of us have biked most of the way between Pittsburgh to Washington DC. Not all at once, but this trip was 120 miles, and three years ago we did about 75 miles.

A postscript

One of our group, thankfully only one, unfortunately contracted Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever on this trip. It is a tick-borne disease and landed this person in the ICU and on some serious antibiotics. It is clear that taking precautions against insect bites of all kinds is wise when you are camping and hiking in the woods like this. We all had numerous bites on various body parts and luckily the ER staff identified the likely cause of our friend’s symptoms and prescribed the correct treatment. All is well as of this writing thank goodness!!!

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