In a previous post I wrote about my five star awards on the GAP and C&O. They are the winners that went above and beyond on my recent weeklong bicycle tour. I am supplementing my five star awards with an award for things that were unexpected and quirky during the week. It is that quirkiness that leaves memories that are the subject of many conversations in the years to come.
Schoolhouse Kitchen, Oldtown, MD
I found myself in Oldtown around lunch on my final day on the C&O Canal Trail. The stretch of the trail between Little Orleans and Cumberland is remote with almost no dining options. The Schoolhouse Kitchen was recommended by posters in the C&O Canal Trail Yahoo Group. It was just as promised; a 1960s era small town schoolhouse cafeteria converted into a restaurant. The staff was super friendly and the food was good old plain lunch fare. The atmosphere took us back to our school days. Our group goofed around on the cafeterium stage decorated with a farm backdrop. It is one of those stops you have to make along the trail to absorb the local atmosphere.
Waffle House, Williamsport, MD
Waffle Houses are a southern tradition. They dot the expressway exits with distinctive bright yellow and black signs. Their 24 hour a day breakfast offerings, particularly the waffles, are hearty and welcoming. Our group of cyclists was staying in the Red Roof Inn behind the Williamsport Waffle House. We were tired and looking for a quick dinner. The Waffle House fit the bill. It turned out to be a great experience. We had the perfect waitress. We had mentioned that our bikes were muddy and the hotel had no hose to clean them. The manager offered to put out their hose and let us wash our bikes behind the restaurant. We retuned the next morning to breakfast and were greeted by the same smiling waitress. The hospitality and friendliness of this waffle House was so appreciated.
Little Orleans Lodge
I must admit I am torn on what to say about the Little Orleans Lodge. It is a pretty rustic place with unstandard accommodations. Some rooms are nice while others are pretty rustic and unfinished. The rooms and common areas are cluttered, unorganized and not exactly spic-and-span. Steve, the inn keeper, is definitely not a Martha Stewart want-to-be. Looking beyond this quirkiness, there are some pretty nice things about the Little Orleans Lodge. It is convenient to the C&O. Steve is an interesting person who in his own way tries to make everybody welcome. He made a stellar breakfast of home baked French toast, eggs, bacon and sausage. I believe Steve does the best he can. Steve and his lodge are definitely unexpected and quirky things you will remember from your trip across the C&O.
Riverside Parks (Yough Park, Connellsville, PA and Great Falls Tavern, Potomac, MD)
One of the advantages of having SAG support on our ride was the chance to enjoy breaks and lunches along the trail. TVH, our SAG driver, kept our cooler iced and our snack supplies replenished during the week. We opted to eat lunch along the trail on two days. I hadn’t given much thought beforehand about these lunches other than offering convenience and speed. The picnic tables at Great Fall Tavern near Potomac, MD and Yough Park in Connellsville made for a nice lunchtime setting. They were both along the water with views of the trails and rivers. It reminded me of family picnics in the parks. Although it is nice to catch the local flavors at restaurants, it was a simple unexpected pleasure to enjoy a picnic with friends along the river. I urge anyone contemplating this journey to eat at least once along the trail and take in the natural beauty it affords.
Mason & Dixon Line
I have crossed the Mason & Dixon line numerous times on the GAP on prior cycling rides. In years past, it was pretty unassuming; a couple of posts with a chain strung between with a sign hanging from it welcoming you to Maryland or Pennsylvania. The Mason & Dixon line got a major makeover. On this trip the posts and chain were replaced with a granite marker and landscaped grounds surrounding it. Large granite blocks spelled out Mason & Dixon. It was unexpected and enjoyable. On our particular morning, workers were finishing the landscaping for a June deification. It is sure to appear on many cyclists Facebook posts. Be sure to stop and take some pictures.