Hiking the Appalachian Trail through Pennsylvania, New York, and Connecticut

Chris in Pennsylvania Appalachian Trail

After a somewhat restful four days at home, Chris was back on the trail and heading north from Harpers Ferry. After a quick jaunt through Maryland, Chris and his son Mike reached Pennsylvania, where in a rocky patch of boulders, Chris sprained his ankle. He rested for a day, hobbled into the next town of Palmerton, where hikers are allowed to sleep in the basement of the jail for free. He rested there, then kept going, even with a badly sprained ankle.

My friend Ann and I were able to visit Chris and Mike near Hamburg, and then they crossed over into New York. Chris saw a bear- on the same day that he could see the NYC skyline from the trail. Pretty cool. Near Bear Mountain, hikers can go through the Trailside Zoo for free, and see lots of animals. And not far from there, hikers can sleep for free at the Graymoor Spiritual Center, a monastery.

Eventually, New York gave way to Connecticut, and Mike went home and I came to visit. Still sore in the ankle, Chris wanted a couple of days off the trail, so we explored a bit of Connecticut and Rhode Island. We went down to Mystic Seaport, ate pizza at Mystic Pizza, and looked at the ships there. Then over to Rhode Island to visit Naragansett for lunch at Iggys Chowder House, and some beach time at Misquamicut Beach. Except the ocean was freezing so we never got in!

But eventually we had to get back on the trail. I camped with Chris at Housatonic Meadows State Park, and then he headed north. Just 722 miles to go!

Campsite in Connecticut near Appalachian Trail
Luxury camping- except I learned that a queen sized air mattress will NOT fit in this tent.

Next post: Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire!

A weekend in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Chris loves his National Geographic Traveler, so when they ranked Pittsburgh as one of the top 25 places to explore (in the world?!), we had to go.  And while I would have to say a visit to the fjords of Norway or the beaches of Bali might have been nicer, we did have a lot of fun.

It’s a four to five hour drive from our house, so we left mid-day on Friday and visited Falling Water along the way, Frank Lloyd Wright’s house that he designed for a Pittsburgh family.  Amazing blend of architecture and nature.  I could totally live there.  And never leave.

We got to Pittsburgh around dinner time, visited the Warhol museum (open late on Fridays and half price!), then found a bar downtown that was showing the Stanley Cup semifinals, where the Penguins were playing.  We had corned beef sandwiches and Iron City beer (a local specialty) and then wandered around downtown in the cultural district, winding up at Andy’s Wine Bar in the lobby of the Fairmont Hotel.  I tried a new drink: a ginger beam, made with Jim Beam, ginger, syrup, and ginger beer.  Yum.

On Saturday we visited the Mattress Factory, a very weird and yet very fun installation art museum.  I loved the room full of silver helium balloons, Chris loved the polka dot room with infinity mirrors.  Then we took the funicular up to the top of the hillside that overlooks the three rivers (a bit reminiscent of Khartoum), and then walked along the downtown and South Shore trails until we found the Hof Brau House.  I should have known better than to take Chris there mid-day, because we basically got stuck there and had not only lunch but dinner there as well, with several liters of beer between us.

Sunday, our last day, we visited the Carnegie Science museum, and watched Star Trak: Into Darkness at their OmniMax.  Big.  Maybe too big.  The science center was fun, especially their Sports Works section, and then we just had one final building to look for: Church Brew Works, an old church that has been turned into a brewpub.  Great beer and a great lunch, with a lot of ambience.

interior view church brew works pennsylvania pittsburgh
Inside Church Brew

Hopefully our next trip will be more along the lines of the jungles of South America, but Pittsburgh actually turned out to be pretty nice.