No matter at what age you learn to ride a bike, you never forget. Right? But! You need to refresh your body muscles to do 20 miles on a bike. Absolutely!
So we decided to practice. We took our bikes up to the top of Big Pocono State Park to re-educate our bodies in cycling. Okay, it’s true. We forgot about the road being on top of a mountain. The up and down and up and… well, you get the idea. We were thinking more about less traffic than mountainous roads.
We wobbled and grunted. We stopped—a lot! I tried to figure out the gears and brakes on my new bike. We struggled to climb up that mountain road on a bike. And I screamed if I flew down the road too fast. It didn’t matter that Santa brought me a mountain bike. Victoria doesn’t like to speed downhill on a bike.
We survived several practice sessions, although we needed to take lots of days off between them to hobble around the house, gingerly setting our bodies down on SOFT chairs only.
The time came to strap the bikes onto the car and journey to western Pennsylvania and the Pine Creek Rail Trail. Now we psyched ourselves up for this ride. We reminded ourselves that we were NOT going to explore the whole 62 miles of the trail. We would only do a section. The trail was flatter than our practice rides on top of the mountain.
We promised to take our time. We’d stop and see our surroundings. That’s one thing we had always done when camping with five kids. Stop and look around. We weren’t interested in racking up the miles. Simply put, we were interested in seeing nature. The mountains. The rock formations. The trees. The rivers and creeks. The wildlife, never forgetting to keep our distance.
And that we did. It took most of the day to ride 20 miles. We stopped along Pine Creek. We crossed foot bridges and watched an eagle hunt for a meal. A heron plied the waters. Saw a bear run across a field. Visited a small town adjacent to the bike trail. Unfortunately because of Covid, they had closed early for the season.
And after a long rest, we decided to check out Cherry Springs State Park in Coudersport, Pennsylvania. It is known for its dark skies.
I love gazing at the night sky. Always!
The night viewing area is a clearing on top of a tall mountain, surrounded by the huge Susquehannock State Forest. We weren’t permitted to use white light and had to cover any flashlights with a red filter to protect our, and our neighbor’s, night vision. Towns and nearby communities are in valleys, shielding any light that might affect the park. [info taken from website and park literature]
But that night, we simply spread out a blanket and watched nature put on a show. The moon was fuller than I’d like, but still we could see the mighty Milky Way and the splendor of the constellations, space stations, and planets. Truly a special place to gaze at the night sky. We need to come back to this area and explore further.
Thanks so much for reading Camping with Five Kids. Do you mind biking in the clouds caught in the valleys of mountains? Could you lie on a blanket and gaze at the night sky for a long time? There are no wrong answers here.
Oh and by the way, yes, I tried to crunch the damp leaves with my bicycle. It didn’t work. The leaves were all soggy. Not one crunch. Not even a soft crumple sound! This was difficult for me. I’m a born “cruncher,” as I’ve said before. I tested every leaf I found on the trail.
I’m looking forward to winter and snow. I know. I’m weird. But I love my seasons. It gives us a chance to use the fireplace. Stay warm everybody! And Merry Christmas!