We drove WAWA into Confluence for breakfast at Tissue & Art, a coffee shop that also serves killer scones. They had nothing gluten free but Sandy pulled a frozen muffin out of the camper’s freezer and nuked it. While there, Bill posted some episodes to our website. Afterwards we took a short a ride on the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) trail.
Later, we drove WAWA to Ohiopyle to walk around. The town was busy, a great place if you’re riding the GAP, paddling the Youghiogheny, eating lunch or looking for tee shirts. I simplify but that’s really the essence of the place. It’s a beautiful area that also features hiking trails and swimming … if you’re careful to stay out of swift water that could take you through rapids or over a waterfall.
The big business is whitewater rafting. There must be at least half a dozen rafting outfitters who will guide you down the river, either the big rapids on the upper Youghiogheny or the smaller, but still exciting, lower rapids that we rafted a few years ago. Releases from the dam help manage the water level in the river so that, even in dry times, there is usually enough for an exciting but safe rafting experience.
Kayakers Play in Rapids in Ohiopyle
Many of the outfitters also rent bikes. And, as noted above, there are more tee shirts for sale in this town than any other place we can think of. Bill was on the lookout for a pocket tee shirt with a logo but, alas, none were to be found!
That evening we biked in to the River’s Edge for dinner. There we were seated outdoors on their side porch overlooking flower gardens and the river. It’s was a pretty view with very good food. We enjoyed this place on a previous visit and it didn’t disappoint!
August 19, 2023 – Confluence, PA
Bill biked into town to have the his bike’s derailleur adjusted. The shop owner is a really nice guy. When he noted that it was only a stretched cable he quickly adjusted it on the spot and only asked that Bill drop a donation to the fire company in a rubber boot on the counter. Then he was off to Mitch’s store and diner for breakfast, to update this website and take care of email. The area’s cell service is limited to AT&T, which we don’t have, but there is an Xfinity hotspot in town that performs well.
A second ride into town after 9:00 AM netted a couple of groceries. It’s actually a cool little ride. Our campground is right on the GAP trail. And off that trail you can take a walking/biking bridge across the Youghiogheny, through a residential area the locals refer to as “the island” and across a second walking/biking bridge that crosses the Casselman River into the little town of Confluence. Where the side trail across the first bridge branched off is a small information center that hands out a coupon for a free gift at the bike shop just across the second bridge. It’s a nice, little town booster touch! The gift was your choice of a bike tire patching kit, a pack of band aids or a post card.
Lake Side of Youghiogheny Dam
Sandy Touches Tranquilized Bear at Youghiogheny Dam Celebration
Corps of Engineers Play Redbud Tree to Mark Location of Time Capsule
Then it was onto our bikes to ride to the top of and across the dam to help celebrate the 75th anniversary of the completion of construction on the Youghiogheny dam. The earthen dam was begun during WWII as part of a federal program to prevent periodic flooding in the area and to protect riverside Pittsburgh steel manufacturing that was critical to the war effort. Final work was completed after the war in 1948.
There were displays by various organizations that featured a tranquilized bear that visitors could actually touch, pelts from local fur bearing species and a quick lesson on fly rod casting for Sandy. The Corps of Engineers colonel in charge of this area gave a good talk on the dam, it’s history and on the river. They then buried a time capsule and planted a tree to mark it.
After we ate dinner that evening we were invited to sit around our neighbor’s campfire. Rick & Ann Taylor are full timers mainly from northern Maryland/DC area. Having recently sold their home and belongings and moved into a large fifth wheel camper, they’ll eventually settle in a retirement community in the mid south and are exploring options as they travel.
August 20, 2023 – Confluence, PA
We started the day with a drive into town to use the WiFi hotspot to get email and to do some research on places to camp for the next few days. We also checked for openings to tour nearby Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. They were fully booked which is usually the case.
We decided to drive to Fallingwater anyway on the off chance they’d have a cancellation. No such luck! So we drove a bit past the entrance and noticed The Barn at Fallingwater which, today, functions as an event facility.
Behind the barn, however, was the parking lot for Bear Run Nature Preserve owned by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. The map at the kiosk indicated a number of walking trails so we headed off on the Yellow Trail, a two-mile trek through the woodlands. We dubbed the walk our “Tiny Wildflowers Walk”. It was a pretty trail featuring many varieties of tiny wildflowers that we did not recognize. So our Fallingwater foray wasn’t a bust after all.
A Few of the Tiny WIldflowers
Unidentified Fungus Sprouts from Pine Needle Carpeted Area
Sandy Braves Some Rushing Waters
Follow that Yellow “Brick” Road
These We Know We’ve Seen Before
We Know We’ve Seen These Before Too
Flat Rock Makes a Bridge
Tiny Yellow Mushrooms Decorate aDecaying Log
On our way back to the campground we stopped for luscious caramel sundaes at The Outflow Soft Freeze just a few hundred feet from where we were camped. The treat was worth the brain freeze!
Our camper gets a lot of interest wherever we camp. Small motorhomes seem to be a thing these days and ours is unique with all the solar panels on the roof, the large number of windows and the large storage garage in the rear. Neighbors across the campground road were in a new model Aliner, a successor to our “Tin Tent”, and we struck up a conversation. Janet & Bruce expressed interest in a tour of WAWA as a possible future camper for themselves. Tour accomplished, we had a nice conversation.
Later in the day we were loading our bikes in the garage to prepare to leave the next morning. Other campers from across the road came over asking to watch how we stored the bikes inside. They, too, said they’d like a tour. Matt & Cindy have a larger class C motorhome and are considering downsizing. Ours was of interest from the opposite point of view as Janet & Bruce.