Good evening from the Allegheny National Forest somewhere near Marienville, PA. While I am well aware of where I am via the GPS, I have never been back on this road. Based on map I’m familiar with the road it connects with. It’s labeled a narrow, rough, dirt road, and while I didn’t think it was that bad in Big Red, it certain is narrow. I had to pass a hunter’s pickup, and I think we passed with about 5 inches between our pickups and he had to be 5 inches from the steep drop off from the road. The current temperature is 42 degrees under clear skies. The nice weather is expected to continue through Monday and then turn to rain for Tuesday. The rest of the week look okay after Tuesday. Tomorrow is expected to be 67 and partly sunny and Monday will be 70, at least in Marienville.
Today was a sucky day, but nothing went bad that will screw up the rest of the week. The main two things that went wrong was I simply planned to go too many miles in one day, and traffic was very heavy being Columbus Day. I think 90% of the time when I was on US 6, I was in a line of traffic. I like the open road, I hate to get stuck in a line of cars, keeping my eye on the road at all times to watch for stopped traffic. I-88 had the most traffic on it that I could remember, I spent most of the time either getting passed or passing cars. The foliage was wonderful most of the way across, although around Wellsboro it was green, and when I stopped at Kinzua Bridge the foliage was already past peak. With fall it always seems like you have either greens or foliage past done.
Getting started this morning I knew I wouldn’t get an early start. I did a lot of packing last night and shopping but I was dog tired after a long and stressful week. Work lately has been challenging. I’m glad I’m getting out of the office for the week. Rotating the tires on my truck and getting a state inspection proved to be a lot more of a process then I ever expected. The Quicky Lube I first tried to take my inspection at turned me away, because they said Big Red wouldn’t fit in the garage. Then I went to Gochee’s garage during the week, which did the inspection and rotated the tires, but forgot to do recalibrate the TPMS and left off one of the hub centric rings off of one of the wheels. It involved two trips back there, because I didn’t discover the TPMS error until I had driven 15 miles – the TPMS took a while to figure it was reading the spare tire and not one of the wheels that was actually rotating. Stupid shit, but it was early in the morning. I would be a little more concerned if it was something that could have left me broken down along the road – I’ll give them another try in the future, but if they screw up again, I will have to find yet another shop in Delmar. On top of all this, I was commuting out to my parents house every day, which meant I had little time to get ready at home during the week.
This morning I had to pack the food, the clothes, and few other things. I did do the water and most of the equipment last night. I decided to go to the laundromat in the morning, so I would have closer to the number of shirts and jeans I need for the week – I previously bought two additional pairs of jeans and shirts at Walmart – but I need 8 changes of clothes for the week, as I don’t want to have to visit some random laundromat in West Virgina or Virginia. I had to go to the bank, check the oil and fluids in the car, and top off the pressure in the tires, so they would be a nice 45 PSI, so I got a firm ride and not waste fuel or have excessive wear. Then I had to go to the bank, to pick up $200 in petty cash. I didn’t want to pick it up in advance, because I worried about losing it. I keep most of the petty cash in a locked box in my truck, until I need it, doling out when I get to firewood vendors, farm markets, tag sales, or campsites that requirement payments.
I have to admit I’ve gotten a bit bored with taking US 6 across Pennsylvania. I used like the trip and all the scenic vista and farm towns along the way, but I’ve made the trip a few too many times, and really need to come up with other places to go. Allegheny National Forest is fun, but I think I’ve done it a lot before. It seemed like a perfect stop over on paper on the way to West Virgina, although now I’m starting to think I’m a bit too far and will have to backtrack, even if I take US 219 south to West Virgina. I’m thinking the place I was originally planning to camp in West Virgina isn’t what I want, so I may have to head a bit farther east. Taking I-99 might have been a better choice. Driving all the way to Allegheny National Forest is a haul, especially on the way home. I have made this trip many times before in one day, heading back home, but never out to camp. Heading home, it’s a haul, but once you get on I-88 you set the cruise control on it and cue up a podcast, and nod off for about two hours. In contrast, going to Allegheny National Forest from Albany, puts all the small hick towns and the bulk of the trip after that long trip on I-88. When heading home, if you get home late, you can just collapse in your bed once reach home, the opposite is not true when you have to search for a campsite, as darkness is rapidly approaching.
I reached the Pine Creek Gorge at 3 PM today. Which sounds late, but it’s actually how long it takes after leaving Albany at 9:15 AM and stopping at the bank and Stewart’s for firewood plus multiple piss breaks because I drank too much coffee then water in the truck on the way over. I wanted to drive up to Colton Point, because in places the color looked perfect out there – and other hills it still looked green – but time wouldn’t let me. I knew I had a choice between Pine Creek George and Kinzua Bridge, and I chose later as I knew after today there was no chance I would get to Kinzua Bridge. The colors unfortunately were fairly dull and past peak on the bridge. Sunset was coming too fast, and even when I got to Kinzua Bridge at 5 PM, I knew I had only a half-hour because it was at minimum a half-hour to Kane, and whatever time I would take to find a campsite from there. I felt most of the day I was flying from place to place, and despite all the amazing color I saw, I didn’t get many pictures. It didn’t help that the best colors were along the expressways with no parking or on roads with absolutely no shoulder. Tomorrow may also be a rushed, long day – but not quite as many miles as today. But once I’m down in West Virgina, I don’t expect to be nearly as rushed for the rest of the week.
At Coudersport I stopped at McDonalds and got a coffee, which helped keep me awake as I headed to Kinzua Bridge and ultimately to Kane and then camp. I also stopped at a farm stand at Coudersport, and got some mushrooms and peppers. They didn’t have sweet corn, which was a disappointed. Probably the frost has ended the corn season in the Coudersport-area which is fairly high in elevation. I have a bit of Appalachian accent, but nothing like the farmer from Coudersport. Mid-western, Appalachian accent. Not like the more southern accents I expect to here once I reach the Virginas tomorrow. He seemed like a good guy, and had very affordable prices.
I got to Allegheny National Forest and wanted to camp near Kane or somewheres south. I remember the campsites along Forest Road 133 near Kane, but ended up deciding to take Forest Road 152 south from there, because I figured the farther south I went, the last south I had to go tomorrow. But it turns out there were no campsites on Forest Road 152 – despite driving 15 miles at the sky got darker and darker. Then I got on a forest road near Marienville, and ended up driving like 10 miles further south, not finding any campsites, until it was almost pitch black, and I found a campsite. Just in the nick of time. I had the firewood I bought at Stewart’s, so I got a fire started and got going.
And then stuff didn’t work. The 12-volt extension I have hooked from the deep cycle battery to my cellphone charger didn’t work when I plugged it in this morning. Total surprise. I think the fuse blew in the cord, but I don’t know. I will have to test it with a volt meter later in the week. I just plugged the cellphone charger into one of the main battery outlets, which works fine, but I like to have it run the accessory battery, in case I forget about it. Then later on the day, the brand new Halloween ghost lights I picked up at Walmart worked for 10 minutes until I bumped the string. $10 for 10 minutes of use seemed to suck. Then the string went dark. Eventually though the string started working again, once I played with the string. But it didn’t come back until I played every socket.
I am taking most of the photos on my Digital SLR or point and shoot camera, so I won’t be uploading most of the pictures until the evening each night, or when ever I have cellphone service. I’m not crazy about the quality of my new cellphone camera, so I have to download the photos from my other cameras to my laptop, then to the phone. But I will try to keep up with the photos as much as possible.
It was a crazy first day of vacation. Tomorrow is going to be another crazy day. I’m setting my alarm clock for 6:30 AM, which is coming fast. Unforutnately, out in Western Pennsylvania the sun doesn’t rise until 7:25 AM, so it will be a dark morning. But at least I have lights to help light the woods as I make breakfast and get going. I might just get coffee on the road, to speed camp tear down.
Good night! Sleep well.