Cycling the Greater Allegheny Passage // DAY 2
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Check out DAY 1 of our GAP Adventure here!
We woke up on Day 2 of our trip along the Greater Allegheny Passage in Connellsville, both of us very tired from everything we jam-packed into the last 48 hours. But we were ready for Fallingwater, the livable work of art designed by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright, tucked away in the woodlands of southeastern Pennsylvania. If you saw Day 1 of this adventure, you may be wondering why Wiehan isn't heading off on his bike this morning to conquer his goal of riding the GAP and C&O Canal trails in just 4 days. Well, this was a gem so close to the GAP trail, that we just couldn't pass up. We tried to pack way too much into this trip, but it was totally worth it!
I first learned about Frank Lloyd Wright's incredible architectural designs through an American Architecture course in college. During that time, I visited one if his modest home designs, located in Alexandria, Virginia, called the Pope-Leighey house. I was fascinated by his minimalist approach, the way he managed to design a house in which virtually all furniture and utensils were included. The only necessities the owner needed to buy were items like food, clothes, and toiletries. Lean years of the Great Depression left an imprint on Wright, who though commissioned for the grandiose Gugghenhiem in his late 70's, was also interested in experimenting with affordable housing design. In addition to user-friendly function and geometric play, Wright is also well known for incorporating nature into his designs. As is too often the case in the creation of today's cookie cutter quantity-over-quality houses, builders chop down inconveniently placed trees on a lot, and cut massive holes into the earth for basements, which let's be honest, for the most part just hold excess junk. Far ahead of his time, Wright could look at a plot of land and dream of the ways in which man and nature can peacefully coexist. Thus came about Fallingwater, a house which was built jutting out atop a waterfall - a structural conundrum that was brilliantly and poetically achieved. I've longed to visit Wright's crowning achievement for over a decade. So when I saw on the map, when planning our trip that the home's location was less than a 10-minute drive from the trail, I just had to sign us up for a tour! Tickets are pricey, at $30 per person, but the experience certainly did not disappoint! And our timing was perfect, because the notable rhododendrons were in peak bloom.
When the tour came to a close, we headed back to the car and drove a short distance to Ohiopyle. Due to the heatwave we experienced on this trip, the water looked so inviting in this town, that it was really tempting to skip out on the ride and just spend the day here. From the looks of it, Ohiopyle is a dream for those who love outdoor adventure. If you live within a 3-hour drive, this is a perfect day trip destination for summer water adventures, like kayaking and rafting, or even zipline, and of course cycling! From what I could tell on Yelp, as well as our drive into town, dining options are limited, especially for those of us who want healthier options. But if you're in the mood for pizza, burgers and ice cream, you're in luck!
The town sits along one of the most scenic sections of the GAP, so we parked the car in Ohiopyle and I cycled with Wiehan to the small town of Confluence, where we had lunch at a quiet, serene spot called River’s Edge Cafe, located, as its name implies, right on the edge of the Yough river. The indoor seating provided a much welcomed break from the searing heat. In need of something substantial to fill me up and hold me over, I broke from my AIP and gluten free diet, ordering a Lamb Burger, with feta, mint and yogurt dill sauce. I could have done without the pepper bits that were rolled into the ground lamb. But otherwise it hit the spot. Wiehan had the Black and Blue Angus burger, which he also enjoyed, along with his guilty pleasure, an ice cold root beer. After lunch, we parted ways as I cycled back to Ohiopyle to get the car, while Wiehan rode on to Meyersdale. I certainly didn't mind getting a second view of this section of the trail, and stopped along the way for a few photos and videos of streams running down the mountain toward the Yough River. I also spotted a few deer grazing off the trail.
Somewhere outside of Confluence, Wiehan lost his helmet. He wore it on Day 1, but didn't see a strong need for it along the straight, flat, lightly populated trails. So he strapped it to the bag on the back of his bike and didn't hear it fall. By the time he realized it was missing, it was too late to go back looking. What a shame. It was a really nice helmet. Here's hoping someone out there is making good use of it! Once you leave Confluence, the trail starts to climb upwards, all the way to Meyersdale and slightly beyond. It’s a gradual climb, maybe a 2% gradient at most, but the continuous climbing over such a long stretch does start to add up towards the end, especially with the heat.
My cellphone signal was really poor in Ohiopyle and it took a little while to get situated with GPS, but then the drive from Ohiopyle to Meyersdale was full of scenic rolling country roads. I stopped along the way at the Salisbury Viaduct. My plan, in thinking that it was a tourist attraction, was to park the car and get photos from the top. But as far as I could tell, the only way to access the bridge is from the trail, miles back in either direction. My best option, had there been enough time in the day, would have been to park the car in Meyersdale, at the trail head parking lot, and cycle to the viaduct, just two miles back. All Wiehan's climbing along the trail was worth it in the end and he was rewarded with some incredible views once at the top. The Salisbury Viaduct provides a great overlook onto the mountain-top windmills in the distance. By the time Wiehan reached Meyersdale, it was too late in the day, and he was too tired to cycle the satisfying and supposedly beautiful decent down into Cumberland, so he hitched a ride with me to our accommodation.
We didn't find many great options for accommodations in this town, so we won't mention the place where we stayed. For the most part, the town seemed in need of a facelift and we wouldn't want to stay overnight here again. But we were extremely happy to find a brand new, high quality restaurant called The Manhattan Social. I had the Orange-Cinnamon Pork Loin Chop. The meat was a little dry, but the dish, together with the sides of potato gratin and braised greens, provided a satisfying, well-balanced meal after a very active day. The apricot bourbon mustard sauce added a little tasty pizazz. Wiehan enjoyed the Sideling Hill Meatloaf. After dinner, we headed back to our accommodation, ready for some sleep after another long and full day! Be sure to check out our video from Day 2 here! And here's the link to the blog post for DAY 3!
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And tell us! Have you ever visited a structure designed by Frank Lloyd Wright?