Tammany Trace Trail, Covington to Slidell, Louisiana, March 5 – 7, 2018

Joyce on Shore of the Bogue Falaya River in Covington

Because we have decided to continue riding all the Hall of Fame Trails and because the Tammany Trace became a Hall of Fame Trail during the last two years, we decided to make an Amtrak trip to Louisiana and do this trail before summer heat set in. We rode down on Monday, biked the trail on Tuesday, and rode the train back to Atlanta on Wednesday. It was a short but good trip. Rain was forecast for Tuesday, which could have been a downer, but the overnight rain stopped by 10 a.m. that morning, and we were able to ride from 11 to 4:30.

Joyce on Tammany Trace

Why it has the designation of Hall of Fame, though, is a little bit of a mystery to me. Maybe because a lot of it goes through swampy areas, which is different, or maybe because it is one of the few bike trails in the south Louisiana area. It had rained a lot lately, so each side of the trail was bordered by a little swampy creek area. Besides the fact that it’s an asphalt paved trail, it has few amenities: no mileage signs, only a few signs indicating that it’s actually a Hall of Fame Rail-to-Trail, no bathrooms except at the ranger “office” at LaCombe and in the town of Mandeville, only scattered yellow wild flowers growing off some vines, only a couple of benches for resting along the trail, and no visible animals except one lone turtle. Alligators are supposedly in the nearby swamps, but we didn’t see any. It crosses several roads along the way, but most of them are back country roads, infrequently traveled, and not a hindrance to riding. In fact, we probably saw one car the whole time. Speaking of cars, though, we did pass two different security vehicles on the trail, so it seems pretty well patrolled for safety of the riders.

Lacombe Bayou Drawbridge

Near the end of our ride, maybe five miles from Slidell, we did come to an interesting feature: the LaCombe Bayou that has a crane operated draw bridge, complete with a ranger there to raise the bridge as needed, through which big yachts could pass from Lake Ponchartrain to the homes farther up the bayou. We couldn’t see any of the homes and didn’t see any of the yachts, but it was an interesting, unique part of the trail. The ranger came out to talk to us and said that a mother alligator is pretty consistent in caring for her breed of baby alligators each year (can’t remember the season) in the area close to the draw bridge, and he warned us not to approach any alligator we might happen to see.

Abita Springs, one of the first towns we went through, had a “crazy Louisiana stuff” museum, but they were charging to get in and it all looked like a tourist trap, so we went on.

Beach @ Fontainebleau State Park

In Mandeville, we got off the trail to see the Dew Drop Inn, an old wood framed jazz building, that is used occasionally (built maybe in the 1930’s). Its redeeming factor was its location under old oak trees with Spanish moss hanging. We then rode to the Ruby Road House, which is supposed to be another well-known jazz location, but which looked and smell only like a bar. We also bought a sandwich to go at Liz’s Where Y’at Diner. Interesting little diner. We took our sandwich three miles farther down the trail to a picnic area at Lake Ponchartrain at Fontainebleau State Park and had lunch while watching the pelicans on the lake. That was relaxing and pretty. We could also see the Causeway from New Orleans to Mandeville, about 25 miles long.

We rode 35 miles total, but the trail was only about 28.5 miles. We started at the old train station in historic Covington and ended rather abruptly near a shopping center in Slidell. The word is that the trail is being extended a few more miles, but that’s not completed yet. (It would have been nice for the trail to end closer to downtown Slidell, where we could have taken our bikes to the Best Western, but we can’t have everything go our way.) Our Amtrak rides each took about twice the time it took us to ride the trail, but then the train rides were part of the adventure. I’m sure Martha mentioned the long delays both down and back due to having to wait for freight trains to pass on the one track for both directions. This is just part of the trip, I figure, and a price we pay for no-stress riding, being able to take our Tern fold-up bikes with us on the train, and the opportunity to watch the countryside go by when I wasn’t reading, playing Cribbage with Martha, or talking with people we met on the train.

Camellia House B&B

The logistics were to use Uber from the train station in Slidell to our Camellia House B&B in Covington (we give it 5 stars for the ambience, the comfy beds, the delicious breakfast of spinach quiche, fruit, and pastries, and the friendliness of the proprietor). Then we used Uber from the shopping center in Slidell to the Best Western Plus motel for Tuesday night, and Uber over and back across the bridge for an evening in New Orleans. There we rode the street car (not trolley and ate delicious Beignets—not pastries—“you’ve got to get your lingo right” says the young Uber driver on the way to the Best Western) at the famous Café Dumonde on Decatur Street. And we walked around the old French Quarter a little before we took the St. Charles streetcar just for a ride and then called another Uber for the ride back. Our Uber drivers were all friendly, so that was sort of fun also.

On Wednesday morning, we awoke at 5:45 a.m. for the breakfast at the motel and then rode the three miles on our bikes over to the Slidell Train station, where we started our trip back. No flat bike tires, no train crashes, no rain, and good company. It was a fun trip.

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Tammany Trace – Day 3

Since our Amtrak train was scheduled to leave Slidell at 7:57AM, we had set the alarm for 5:45. We showered, dressed, and ate breakfast at the hotel before biking the 2 ½ miles through a residential neighborhood over to the train station. Although the train was supposedly running early, it actually arrived 30 minutes late. During our wait, we met two nice ladies, one was a retired teacher and theology professor who used to live in Smyrna, GA and the other was visiting her daughter, a student at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. After boarding the train, I slept until almost lunchtime. We decided to eat in the dining car again and were seated with a couple from Little Rock Arkansas who were staying in a roomette (something that Ed and I plan to do on our Great Lakes trip in May). He is a retired middle school music teacher and she writes technical government documents for a pharmaceutical company. After an engaging conversation and a good meal, we returned to the coach car where I tried to take another short nap, but the temperature was too cold! I decided to go to the lounge car where it always seemed to be much warmer. I worked for a couple of hours grading my students’ online tests and then joined Joyce and the theology professor for a discussion about religion. I ordered a salad from the snack bar for supper and also purchased a blanket so that I could sleep comfortably for the remainder of our trip. Although our train was more than three hours late returning to Atlanta, I still am an advocate of taking the train!

Joyce and I are already talking about our next bike ride, which will be the Hudson Valley Trail in upstate New York in the fall….

Tammany Trace – Day 2

Pool & Gardens

At 4:30 AM, I awoke to the sound of thunder and rain pelting down on the roof above my bed. I checked the weather app on my phone to verify that the storm was expected to end by mid-morning, and I quickly drifted back to sleep for a couple more hours.

Linda, the owner of the B&B, had prepared our breakfast before our arrival and placed it in our kitchenette. In addition to the spinach quiche and fresh strawberries in the refrigerator, there were also slices of banana bread and cranberry muffins on a glass-covered serving tray. While eating our breakfast in the terrace room overlooking the pool & gardens below, we realized that the rain had subsided.

HJ Smith & Sons General Store

I decided to take a walking tour of Covington following the map that Linda had provided us upon our arrival the previous night. I stopped at the HJ Smith & Sons General Store & Museum and admired the collection of antique farm equipment, hardware tools and transportation artifacts (stagecoach and hand-carved canoe) on exhibit.

Brooke’s Bike Shop

I walked over to Brooke’s Bike Shop, which displayed a wide range of vintage and new bicycles for sale and rent. Circling back to the B&B, I passed several charming shops and lamented that I didn’t have more time to peruse the local boutiques.

Southern Mansion in Covington

Joyce and I loaded our panniers on our bikes and thanked our charming southern hostess before embarking on a quick riding tour of Covington, the parish seat of St. Tammany Parish. I suspect that this historic  Northshore village attracts many tourists and locals who want to visit the specialty shops and enjoy the Cajun cuisine.

Covington Trailhead

With some help from a few local residents, we located the trailhead and began our 28 mile journey to Slidell. Heading east from Covington, the asphalt trail follows the original Illinois Railroad passageway. The Trace is lined on both sides with loblolly pines, live oak trees, and wetlands. Although it was still a little early in the season for alligators, I was on the lookout for them as we pedaled within feet of ideal gator habitat. We heard lots of birds (maybe waterthrush) that made shrill clicking sounds, and we saw a large turtle sunning himself along the banks of a swampy stream. When I turned around to take his picture, he quickly crawled back into the opaque water and out of sight.

Abita Mystery House

Between Covington and Abita Springs, we crossed the Tchefuncte and Abita Rivers. In Abita Springs, we saw the namesake brewpub and a vintage service station which had been converted into a mystery house full of southern Louisiana folk items and “junk.”

Liz’s Where Y’at Diner

Continuing east from Abita Springs, the trail turned south toward Lake Pontchartrain. We passed a large park and children’s museum about halfway to Mandeville. As we entered Mandeville, we turned south onto Florida Street and biked a couple of blocks to Liz’s Where Y’at Diner where we ordered a sandwich and chips to go. The service was fast and Liz, the owner, came over to personally introduce herself.

Dew Drop Jazz Hall

We pedaled back to the Trace and continued our ride through Mandeville. At the Lamarque Street intersection, we turned right and rode a few blocks to the historic Dew Drop Jazz & Social Hall (dewdropjazzhall.com), which was built in 1895 and is considered to be the world’s oldest rural jazz hall. Jazz events are still scheduled on select Saturdays throughout the spring at this rustic wooden structure surrounded by majestic live oak trees.

Ruby’s Roadhouse

We followed Lamarque Street two blocks north of the Trace to Ruby’s Roadhouse – a local pub and a stage for local, national, and international musicians. Poking our heads into the smoke-filled bar was enough for two teetotalers from Georgia 🙂 . We jumped back on our bikes and continued three miles south to Fontainebleau State Park where we planned to eat a picnic lunch.

Pier on Lake Pontchartrain

Entering the state park, the ranger waived us through without charging us a daily use fee. I’m not sure whether he assumed that we were over 62 or whether there’s no charge for bicyclists 🙂 . We rode through the park and down to the shore of Lake Pontchartrain where we parked our bikes and found a nice spot to enjoy our lunch. Although it was a little breezy, the temperature was close to 70 degrees, and a young man was learning to paddleboard in the murky waters stretching toward the horizon. We spotted pelicans diving for their lunch and marveled at the expansive 24-mile bridge connecting Mandeville to New Orleans. After eating our lunch, we walked out on the fishing pier and then biked over to the restrooms at the campground before resuming our ride on the Trace.

Cypress Knees

The stretch from Fontainebleau SP to Lacombe was remote and marshy. There were cypress knees in the swampy waters along the trail, and we spotted a yellow flowering plant which we aptly named swamp flower since we didn’t know its true identity 🙂 .

Bayou Lacombe was the most stunningly beautiful area on the trail! There was a well-maintained restroom facility and drawbridge operator office located on the west side of the bayou. The southern waterway fed into Lake Pontchartrain, and boat docks lined the northern inlet toward the village of Lacombe. The ranger who manned the crane-driven drawbridge told us that there were several exclusive homes with large yachts further inland. Fortunately, we arrived to the crossing before 6 PM, which is when they raise the bridge for the night. Otherwise, we would have had to turn around and bike back to the previous highway crossing to bypass the drawbridge.

Lacombe Bayou

After leaving the bayou, we rode 7 miles east to the Slidell Trailhead, which is actually 4.5 miles from downtown Slidell. Currently, the trail ends near a busy shopping center, and we decided that it was too dangerous to bike along the highway to our hotel. We called Uber and were rejected at least twice because the drivers did not want to haul our folding bikes. Finally, we got a driver with a large SUV, and we loaded the bikes with no trouble.

We checked into the Best Western Plus about 6 PM and pushed our bikes down to our room, which fortunately was located on the first floor. After a quick change of clothes, we hailed another Uber car to take us to New Orleans. Our driver was British and extremely friendly and helpful. He gave us good advice about when/how to visit New Orleans and some safe tips for taking Uber back to our hotel later that night.

Streetcars on Canal Street

It took about 35 minutes to drive across Lake Pontchartrain to the corner of Canal Street & St Charles Street in the heart of New Orleans. As soon as we stepped out of the car, I felt much safer than I had during my previous visit to New Orleans about 20 years ago. Canal Street was so lit up that it looked almost like daylight, and there were police and streetcar monitors everywhere.

Eating Beignets @ Cafe du Monde

We took a streetcar for a few blocks and then walked toward Decatur Street to Café du Monde where we each ordered three French beignets and milk 🙂 . Realizing that Aunt Sally’s, home of the New Orleans famous pralines (pronounced prawline in New Orleans), was closing soon, I left Joyce at the café and scurried next door to purchase boxes of the decadent sweets to carry back home. I rejoined Joyce where we gorged ourselves on the powdered sugar covered beignets while listening to the jazz band playing on the sidewalk next to the cafe. Deciding that we were no longer hungry for dinner, we walked back to Canal Street where we boarded another streetcar that made a loop down St. Charles Street toward Tulane University. Although it was dark and the ride was longer than expected, we enjoyed seeing the magnificently decorated southern homes along the route. When the streetcar returned to Canal Street, we called Uber and rode back to our hotel in Slidell. We arrived at the Best Western after 11 PM…yawn!

Tammany Trace – Day 1

When I broke my ankle in October, my bike riding was put on hold for a few months. After several weeks of physical therapy and a month of persistent stationary bike training, I was anxious to get back on the trail. As soon as my orthopedic doctor released me, Joyce and I planned a trip to Louisiana to bike the Tammany Trace.

Amtrak Waiting Room in Atlanta

On Monday, March 5th, we boarded the Amtrak Crescent in Atlanta with our folding bikes and loaded panniers bound for Louisiana. The 12 hour train ride to Slidell, located on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain, was relaxing and uneventful. We decided to eat lunch in the dining car, which was an unexpected treat. The food was delicious, and we enjoyed our conversation with two ladies from Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Due to freight train traffic, our projected arrival time was delayed by two hours. Fortunately, we were not under any time constraints that would make the delay any more than a slight inconvenience. The soothing motion of the train is better than a sedative, gently rocking me to sleep. While Joyce read her newspaper and her next book club selection, I took a long nap. After my nap, Joyce taught me how to play cribbage, and we spent several hours in the lounge car playing cards and staying warm. The coach cars were colder than I recalled from previous train trips, and I had to put on several layers of clothes to tolerate the chill.

Camellia House B&B

Since our anticipated arrival in Slidell was delayed several hours, we decided to eat dinner in the snack bar onboard. After deboarding the train about 9 PM, we arranged for transportation to Covington via Uber. The 25-minute ride to the Camellia House B&B passed quickly as we conversed with our driver, a local resident who shared insights about the Northshore and his family.

Camellia House Porch

When we arrived at the B&B, Linda, the owner, greeted us and gave us a quick tour of the restored, southern home filled with antiques and modern conveniences. Our suite had a large bedroom, bath, and a separate enclosed terrace with a twin bed and kitchenette. We had access to a private porch with a swing overlooking the pool and hot tub in the garden below. Exhausted from a long day on the train and feeling the one hour time difference, I had no difficulty falling asleep.

Thursday, June 29: Railroad, Pennsylvania to Cockeysville, Maryland

Cottage Entrance @B&B

Woke up at 7 am again and got our stuff organized and the panniers on the bikes before breakfast.  At 8 we had another delicious breakfast of eggs benedict with Canadian bacon, poached eggs, English muffins, and Hollandaise sauce, plus fried potatoes, grapefruit, fresh blueberries, fresh cherries, orange juice, and milk.  This time Pam ate with us, and we had a good conversation about the area (the then Pennsylvania Railroad’s fame in the 1800s, the Renaissance Festival in Annapolis, a little of the Kutztown Amish Festival in early July, the origin of the Jackson House, and the interior of the house itself.  She let us walk through and see all the neat rooms in the house with their 1800 furnishings, rock walls, hardwood floors, etc. I told her it reminded me of the Brigham Young Lion House in Salt Lake City and said it would make a good polygamous household house. They are trying to sell the house, so I hope they find a buyer who appreciates the historical value of the old place, which has been updated with modern bathrooms.

Gunpowder River near Monkton

Left this morning before 9 am, as we were trying to get back to turn in the bikes at 11:30 and had 19.5 miles to go  It was a little uphill for a few miles into New Freedom and then we got the long downhill, not real steep but steady for about ten miles.  We talked to an interesting “Army” guy at Monkton Station where we stopped for a potty break, snack, and drink.  After we told him about our having ridden 30 trails in over 27 states, he was impressed and said we must be in good shape.  That was nice to hear.  I think we are in good shape and excellent health.  A blessing for both of us.  Didn’t stop many times on the way back and got back to Kate to turn in the bikes at 11:35.  Good bikes, except for my fender coming loose in York, but I fixed it with a tie and it worked fine the rest of the time.  The big mystery was when she asked for the pump that she had loaned us along with the spare tubes and tire-changing tools.  I know she gave it to us and I thought I took all those bike tools into the room that first night and put it all in a plastic bag and then carried it the other two days.  I had completely forgotten to account for all she had given us.)  Therefore, I had no idea what happened to it.  (Later that day, Pam looked for it in the B & B, but couldn’t see it.)  No telling where I lost it.  We just paid Kate for the loss. She was very nice about it and also offered to drive us over to the PA Dutch Market about a mile and a half away.  (As in “Pennsylvania” Dutch Market; we had called it the “pa” Dutch Market.  I guess our brains were a little dead.) Our shoulders and legs truly appreciated that unexpected offer, as it enabled us to stay on our schedule and avoid that 30 minutes (at least) walk.  The panniers are heavy and a bit awkward.

Pennsylvania Dutch Marketward.

We were able to spend some time in the Amish market to buy some stuff to take back and a great piece of cheesecake, which we had for lunch sitting on the Amish rockers outside the store.  Then we schlepped our panniers up to the Giant food store where Martha had determined we could buy the great local Berger cookies that Dotty Bumbalough had told us to be sure to get because they were so good. Then we had 15 minutes to walk over to the Light Rail to catch the train to the Baltimore Airport.  Once again, the Lord was watching out for us, because we made it just in time, in spite of not exactly knowing where the stain on Schilling Road actually was. One lady we asked just kept saying, “It’s right there, right there,” but “right there” was not immediately clear until she finally said, “Cross the road and look left after you pass this building.”  It reminds me of an essay we read in freshman English:  “Clear Only If Known.”  Although we got on going north instead of south—the wrong way—we realized this at the next stop and were able to switch to the other train that was conveniently stopped at the station and so didn’t miss any time in this confusion.  We made it to the airport an hour and a half later, after relaxing on the Light Rail, which turned out to be free fare for two weeks, ending tomorrow, so our stress in trying to hurriedly buy the rail pass was for naught.  The walk at the airport was a little long, but the security line had no one in it, so we were at the gate in plenty of time and ready to fly back to Atlanta.  It was another good ride with Martha and relaxing for me, riding about 84 miles on our bikes over these three days.  I love being outside doing this.  And the weather was perfect!

Thanks again to Martha for posting my blog and adding the pictures.

Wednesday, June 28: Railroad, Pennsylvania to York, Pennsylvania, and back

Breakfast @ B&B

Woke up at 7 am—had gone to bed at 9 pm—refreshed and ready for another good day on the trail and doing some sightseeing in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  Our hostess at the B & B, Pam, fixed us a delicious breakfast of blueberry waffles, scrambled eggs, link sausage, fresh cherries, cantaloupe, blueberries, milk, and orange juice.  Very nice.  We ate with another couple who had also stayed there, who were from Pennsylvania (I think Harrisburg or close to Philadelphia) who had ridden down from York yesterday and were going a little further south their second day and then turning around and going back to York on this second day.  They said they were trying out the concept of riding more than one day and staying at a B&B, so they were interested in our adventures on other Hall of Fame Rails-to-Trails.  They told us about other trails they had done in Pennsylvania: the Valley Forge Trail and one along the Susquehanna River sounded the most interesting.  They also recommended a couple of food places for this afternoon when we had the car in Lancaster County.

Joyce on York
Heritage Trail

So we left at 9 am and started heading north on the Heritage Rail Trail up to York, Pennsylvania.  We could leave our panniers at the B&B because we’d be back that night, so the load on the bikes was a bit lighter.  Plus, we had reached the high point of the trail and had a nice downhill ride for the first four or five miles.  Good to go over ten mph again.  We were pleasantly surprised to ride this trail because it was much more scenic than the Northern Central/Torrey C. Brown trail.  It was better kept up, wider, went alongside actual train tracks that are in use occasionally for a tourist steam engine train.  Additionally, a fence bordered the trail from the drop off to the river part of the time.  All this made the trail a little more scenic. It’s a different river now—can’t remember the name of it, but it flows north, whereas the Gunpowder Falls River flows south into Chesapeake Bay. Really, it’s more of a large stream, but it was sort of wide.  Several old homes also dotted the sides of the trail, which meant that roads frequently crossed the trail, which made us slow down while crossing and riding between the gated bars across the trail.  That was okay.

Hanover Junction

Passed (and stopped for a water/trail mix snack break and pictures of novelty sculptures) at Hanover Junction, an intersection of the railroad—one track going to Gettysburg and one track going to York, although the Gettysburg track has been stopped short there.  In November,1863, President Lincoln purportedly was on the train from Washington, D.C. going to dedicate the National Cemetery in Gettysburg and there delivered the famous Gettysburg address.  He is said to have written most or maybe all of the Gettysburg Address while on this train. On certain evenings during the summer a speaker gives historical presentations on the porch of the train station.  Tonight’s presentation started at 7 pm, though, so we would not be able to make it work with our itinerary.

Log Cabin Quilt Shop

We made it to York by 11 am and then had to ride on the regular streets over to the Enterprise Rental Car.  That was a different experience, not only because of the increased traffic on part of this trek but also because we had to ride up a rather steep hill, which was done with the gears in 2 and 1 instead of 2 and 6, which I had been normally riding in.  We got the car, Martha had the navigational information, and I drove forty minutes east to Lancaster County.  I wanted to see some Amish country, as she and her husband Ed had seen this area a few years ago when we did a western Pennsylvania ride and Ron and I had chosen to go spend time at Gettysburg Battle land instead of Amish country.   We had lunch at the Millers Smorgasbord recommended by the couple this morning, and though it was good food, it definitely was not Amish “flavor.”  More like a nice buffet restaurant in any city. After lunch we drove through Intercourse and Bird In Hand—Amish town—and were able to see some Amish people and their wagons along the roadside and in a couple of shops we went into.  One was a neat Quilt Shop called Log Cabin Quilts that had really nice quilting materials and finished quilts.  But I have plenty of nice homemade quilts from my parents and grandparents, so I didn’t buy anything.  We got ice cream at King’s Creamery, which was good, and then started back to York.  I have to admit that I didn’t see as many Amish people as I thought I would.   The area seems more commercialized and touristy than I imagined it would be, but it was a good break from riding, and now I can know that I’ve been there.

 

Monument to Carolers in Glen Rock

We arrived back at the Enterprise place at 4 pm and were able to get a driver to take us and our bikes in a truck back to the start of the trail in York, which saved us 30 minutes and stressed riding with all the traffic.   So then we started back toward the Jackson House B and B. We stopped at Hanover Junction again briefly to talk to the station/museum person and then went on to Glen Rock, Pennsylvania, where we ate at a late 1700’s mill turned into a restaurant, the Glen Rock Mill Restaurant.  Dinner was good again, and then we had three miles of uphill (200 feet increase in altitude) to the town of Railroad, where the Jackson House is located.  Got back about 8:45 and then Martha did internet searching as we reconsidered our plans for Thursday on the way back to the airport.

Tuesday, June 27: Cockeysville, Maryland to Railroad, Pennsylvania

Torrey C. Brown Trail

Martha and I met at the airport in Atlanta, since she has now moved to Canton, Georgia, at 8:30 am to catch the plane to Baltimore to begin our bike trip. Unfortunately, the plane had engine problems and so we had to sit on the tarmac for 90 minutes while they fixed it, but they did, and so we arrived in Baltimore close to 1 pm rather than 11:30. We called the Uber driver, who picked us up about as soon as we called and drove us to the Hunt Valley Village Bike Rental on Paper Mill Road in Cockeysville, Maryland. It was about a 40 minute drive and cost us $46. We had pre –arranged with Kate there to rent two bikes that had pannier racks for the 3 days we would be gone, and so by 3 pm we had our gear all attached and were on our way on the Torrey C Brown Trail. To keep the panniers attached, we had to use some zip ties on her pannier rack, but it worked just fine. We rode about 22.5 miles that first day, through forested rural areas, and it was very shady and pleasant riding. We didn’t see many people along the trail, as it wasn’t going through a very populated area at all.

Little Falls

At Monkton, approximately eight miles in, we took a break and decided to forego our plan to rent an inner tube for a couple of hours to float down the Gunpowder Falls River in Gunpowder Falls State Park, which maintained the trail. The delay of the airplane basically knocked this out, because if we stopped to do the float, it might have been dark when we arrived at the restaurant or at the B & B. Besides, the water looked a little shallow and dirty. The Monkton train station/museum there was one of the few flush toilets along this part of the trail, so I take advantage when I can. There really wasn’t much to see besides the canopy of trees over the dirt and crushed limestone trail bed, but the trees were pretty, and the river was visible to our left. One small waterfall provided a bit of a scenic break, and a man-made “gnome hill” right by the side of the trail was cute to look at. A man had gathered and placed all these little gnome men all over a small hill so that it looked like a little gnome village.

Gnome Hill

The difficulty of the trail wasn’t bad, although for about ten miles we had a steady slight uphill climb, which slowed our pace down to about six to seven miles an hour. It lasted longer than it was difficult, and by the time we reached the high point in the trail at New Freedom, Pennsylvania, my legs could feel the ascent. One interesting feature of the trail is actually a lack of a feature: nowhere did we see any indication that we were leaving Maryland and entering Pennsylvania. We only knew because we asked some girls walking which state we were in because the trail looked a little different. Soon we saw a sign that said “Welcome to New Freedom.” The trail also had few mileage signs, but we had our odometer, so that we knew how far we had come.

Jackson House B&B

At New Freedom, we locked up our bikes at a restaurant, “Seven,” about a half block from the trail and ate dinner out on the patio. It was good food. Then we walked another 50 yards to Bonkey’s Ice Cream where they “make hot people cool,” and I had a tasty banana strawberry ice cream cone on a sugar cone that was coated with chocolate and chopped peanuts. Good. Then we got our bikes and rode another three miles to the Jackson House B & B in Railroad, conveniently located right on the trail and a nice old (built in 1859) rock and plaster house that looked a lot like we were in a European village somewhere.