I love my job. I particularly love the drive I have nearly every day between Baltimore and Michigan. Not a day goes by that I don’t marvel at different points of my commute, from the Baltimore skyline with it’s massive dock infrastructure, importing and exporting millions of tons of food and supplies to and from the rest of the world, to the scenery and vistas along I-70 in Maryland and on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. As many of you know, I am on a constant quest to find new trails to ride and sights to see along my daily commute and to find adequate and safe truck parking nearby so I can visit without fear of having my truck towed while I’m out having fun.
This week I had planned on telling you about the Coal and Coke Rail-Trail in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania, but I almost didn’t make it. To make a long story short, getting to my chosen truck parking spot at the Mount Pleasant Wal-Mart wasn’t as easy as my GPS or even my truck atlas suggested. The best approach is to take turnpike exit 75 to US-119 and drive south aprroximately 5 miles to the Porter Road exit to get to Wal-Mart and to Mount Pleasant. Avoid PA-31, it is extremely hilly, with inclines as steep as 8%.
Once safely parked in Mount Pleasant, I had trouble finding the trail. After a brief stop at the Saint Pius X Cemetery to find the graves of some relatives (my mother’s parents’ families were both from Mount Pleasant), I went downtown to see the veterans’ memorial, and then looked for the Coal and Coke Rail-Trail. Most towns with trails that I’ve visited make a big deal about their trails, as they should. Most cities place signs alerting and directing visitors to the trails. This makes sense, because studies have shown that bike trails provide a significant boost to local economies. I saw no signs in Mount Pleasant though, and the few locals that I asked for directions did not know their city had a bike trail. That wasn’t a good sign.
I did eventually find the trail and though it wasn’t the nicest trail I’ve been on I got some good exercise riding up and down the local hills getting to it, and given it’s proximity to the turnpike, it provides an excellent opportunity to get out of the truck and into some fresh air. Besides, the leaves are beginning to turn, and I bet the trail will look spectacular in about one week.
Click here for a link to a map of the route I took in Mount Pleasant. You can see where I rode around looking for family tombstones in the cemetery and then how I got lost looking for the trail. I’ll know better next time.
So that was Monday.
For the last few Tuesdays and Thursdays I’ve been going back to Baltimore. Regular readers know I’ve spent a lot time here this past summer, and that Baltimore is easily accessible by bike or foot from the Travel Center truck stop on O’Donnell St. Click here for my past posts about how to best get around Baltimore or click here for a map of my latest route through the city.
On Thursday, I couldn’t help but check on the Chesapeake and Ohio National in Williamsport, Maryland, to see how the government shutdown was affecting one of my favorite trails. I saw more than the usual amount of bike traffic that day, suggesting that I wasn’t the only one wondering. My favorite Williamsport restaurant, The Desert Rose Cafe was busy, and an employee there informed me that they were still getting a lot of bike traffic from the trail in spite of Speaker Boehner’s shutdown.
The C+O Trail continues to be one of my favorite stops on my commute, and like the Coal and Coke Trail, should be very pretty in about one or two weeks as the leaves change.
Click here for more information on the C+O Trail or how to get from the Pilot Travel Center to the C+O Trail.
Next week, I’m hoping to re-visit one or two of my favorite spots along the Great Allegheny Passage in Pennsylvania. That is, unless I find someplace completely different to stop, because I’m always looking!